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Repost of Communion on the Moon: July 20th, 1969

February 25, 2013

 Eric Metaxas  gave an excellent posting on his blog relating to an important event in the history of humanity.  Here it is:

Over forty years ago two human beings changed history by walking on the surface of the moon.  But what happened before Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong exited the Lunar Module is perhaps even more amazing, if only because so few people know about it. “I’m talking about the fact that Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon. Some months after his return, he wrote about it in Guideposts magazine.

And a few years ago I had the privilege of meeting him myself. I asked him about it and he confirmed the story to me, and I wrote about in my book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask).

Moon and Elements

Christ’s sacrifice remains central to all human events, whether the society chooses to acknowledge it or not.

The background to the story is that Aldrin was an elder at his Presbyterian Church in Texas during this period in his life, and knowing that he would soon be doing something unprecedented in human history, he felt he should mark the occasion somehow, and he asked his minister to help him. And so the minister consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine. And Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth’s orbit and on to the surface of the moon.

He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement:

“This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion. Here is his own account of what happened:

“In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.  Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.”

I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this.  NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly.

I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility.  It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.

Bob Blincoe notes:  Here is a mini-series account of the event as well as an online article about what happened.

They Desperately Need Your Help! – An Update

January 30, 2013

Thank you for your generous respond to the need for shelters for families in southern Niger. They are victims of the Boko Haram, the Islamic bandits who  are disturbing the peace everywhere they go. The funds for shelters have arrived and the first “homes” have been established. Here is a first-hand report from the Christian to whom the money was sent: “This project has open me a door to preach to them the love of God.  Some already testify that they never seen this kind of love.  People taking care of them without knowing them this touch them so much.  Pray that God open their eyes to see the real love of God.”

Our hearts are glad, and the need is not fully met. Thank you for all you have done to give shelter to these people whose names are known to God.

Book Review: The Coming Jobs War

January 24, 2013

Jim Clifton, CEO at Gallup Poll, began leading his organization on a remarkable journey seven years ago. That’s when Gallup began a global survey of the opinions of people all over the world. Even more remarkable is that Gallup is committed to conducting this World Poll every year for the next hundred years!

book cover

As Islamist regimes grow in numbers, there might well be a equally burgeoning need for jobs for the people living under that rule.

For the first time ever we know what the opinions are of people everywhere. And an important fact has emerged. What do you think is the number one expressed wish in the whole world? The Survey says: Real jobs. That means working for 30 hours or more a week and taking home a paycheck. Forbes Magazine comments, “Gallup has discovered that having a good job is now the great global dream; it’s the number one social value for everyone. This is one of our most powerful findings ever.”[1]

No wonder “Business for Transformation” (B4T) is gaining a following in the mission world. Not many people realize that Islam prohibits its adherents from creating corporations, because a corporation is “an artificial person with all the rights of a living person” and Islam says that only Allah can make people. I have written about this elsewhere. So what you have in Muslim countries are family-owned businesses, usually involving trade. A family lives above a small store, selling items made in other countries. Nephews and sons work at the store for room and board, but not for a wage. And wages are what people all over the world are saying that they want.

There are corporations in Turkey and Malaysia and other Muslim countries, but if the Islamists have their way, as they are now in Egypt, the corporations will be dissolved. No wonder investors are pulling out of Egypt as fast as they can. “Stimulating job growth is the new currency, says Forbes, “because if you don’t deliver on it you will experience instability, brain drain, sometimes revolution — all of the worst outcomes of failed leadership. Because the Islamic world does not know how to create jobs, the future is there is predictable. I was recently in Iraq, where more than 75% of the work force is in the “public sector,” that is, government handed out by the so-called government that have no value.

It is easy to start a new corporation in the United States; and 80% of the work force is employed by corporations. We have something to give to the Muslim world: we have the know-how to create jobs. Jesus Christ would say today, I think “I was ashamed to have no work, and you gave me the dignity of a job.” Business for Transformation is creating dignity when it creates jobs.

[1] To read the entire Forbes article click here.

They Desperately Need Your Help

January 15, 2013

The news  from far-away Niger, on its southern border, is as heartbreaking as whatever you see on CNN. But in Niger no cameras were rolling to catch the tears of those Africans who saw their loved ones cut down by the Islamic group,  Boko Haram. My friend Pastor John Ramey, the only American within hundreds of miles, was there to see and interview the survivors. Here’s the thing: these people need help; they need shelter, and you can help them. My wife and I gave $120 to the Aslan Children’s Foundation. To provide shelters for one family.

See what I mean:  Watch this video:

Won’t you give $120 to provide tent shelters  for one of these 57 families? My wife and I gave; I hope you will give too. Here how you can give:

Click on and give by credit card

Or make your check to Aslan Children Rescue and sent it to:

1110 Rudger Way  Sacramento, CA  95833

Note the gift with a memo of  “Niger Shelters.” And thank you very much. This is an emergency. The winds are blowing hard and these survivors need shelters.

Sincerely, Bob Blincoe

P.S. I just learned that there is a matching fund; if you give before January 31 a donor will match your gift! Please give! Let’s provide  shelters for all 57 families.

We’re Not There Yet, But We’re Heading in the Right Direction.

January 10, 2013
Patrick Johnstone

Johnstone paved the way for tracking religious movements around the globe.

For most of history, writers guessed at the number of religious adherents in the world. Today, we see more clearly the state of the gospel in every country because one man started collecting the numbers and checking and rechecking them and correcting them. He did this so that we may pray for the further advance of the preaching of the gospel everywhere.  I honor the man who got the whole world of statistics in his hands: Patrick Johnstone. All of us owe Patrick a debt we cannot repay. Patrick collected his scraps of paper and typed them into eight pages in 1964, so that he could lead a week-long prayer meeting in Kenya.

Later he added some hand drawn graphs and printed a thin paperback called Operation World. Seven editions later, Operation World runs to nearly 1,000 pages and includes growth trends for all the major religions, and all the versions of Christianity. It is also online at: I was privileged to edit the entry on Iraq in the latest edition.

From Seed to Fruit

Johnstone’s work details how far we have to go to fulfill our mission.

We salute you, Patrick Johnstone, for gathering in one place all the statistics and getting them into print to help us know where to put the pushpins into the maps of where the preaching of the gospel has begun. Only then could we know what we needed to know: all the places and peoples in the Muslim world where the Gospel work has not begun, “where there are no push pins in any missionary maps.”

At the March 2007 meeting in Pattaya Thailand, Patrick Johnstone presented a fairly discouraging picture of the state of the Gospel in Muslim countries. You can read his remarks in the opening chapter of From Seed to Fruit, the collection of 30 valuable presentations made by field practitioners at the Thailand meetings (Note: the presenters were addressing 800 field workers, all church planters among Muslims—this conference was no mere academic exercise).

In his sobering report on the state of the gospel work in Muslim countries, Johnstone noted:

  • Militant Islam was battering the ancient churches of the East in Egypt, Iraq, and Iran and Palestine. There are actually fewer Christians in these countries than a few decades ago.
  • Muslim population growth. “Over the period 1900 to 2050, the world population will have grown nearly six-fold, but the number of Muslims will have grown more than twelve-fold and increased in population from 0.2 billion to 2.5 billion.”[1]
  • Massive decline in the number of Christians in Europe during the last century.

However (however!) Patrick had one hopeful fact to report as well:

  • Evangelical Christianity is growing far faster Islam. Moreover, while Islamic growth is almost exclusively biological (the number of converts to Islam is exaggerated), large numbers of new Evangelicals are declaring their faith in Jesus Christ for the first time.

Patrick then turned our thoughts to the question of whether some Muslims, or perhaps many Muslims, have come to faith in Jesus Christ—true faith that obeys—that go unreported and are in fact unknown. (What is known, all too well, is that numbers of Muslims who once declared faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord found the pressures too great, and returned to Islam. Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you.) “It is difficult to know,” Patrick concludes, “how many Jesus-centered believers there are who have come out or remain within Islam to one degree or another. We may never know until Christ returns just how many there are, but one day we may be surprised at the number of disciples of Jesus who rise from Muslim graves.”[2]

[1] Patrick Johnstone, “Look at the Fields: Survey of the Task,” in From Seed to Fruit, ed. J. Dudley Woodberry(Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2011). 3

[2] Ibid. 8

Book Review – Bridges to Islam by Phil Parshall

October 26, 2012

This book is Phil Parshall’s classic introduction to “folk Islam,” that below-the-surface off-the record version of Islam that Muslims don’t talk about with outsiders. “One can be surrounded by certain dynamic situations,” Phil Parshall writes, “and still be quite unaware of what is happening.”[1] What was happening around him, the author now realizes, was “folk Islam,” an unorthodox faith system that most Muslims practice—70%, he says—but never learn in the mosque. “Formal Islam is in tension,”[2] Parshall writes, with the animistic, saint-worshipping, power-seeking, fortune-telling, miracle-working practices of folk Islam.

This classic study of folk Islam offers insight as to how Christian missionaries can relate to Sufi Muslims.

Some words characterizing folk Islam:

Pir, a spiritual guide, a member of the guiding community to which followers attach themselves. “The pir should be worthy of imitation.”[3] In fact, “the pir is to be followed in blind faith.” [4]

Dhikr—from chants to trance, the importance of words which, when repeated rhythmically, lead to emotional crescendo and the silence of unconsciousness. The reading and chanting of the Qur’an may lead to ecstasy in Sufi orders, while music is often forbidden.

Using everyday words (Parshall cites perfume, wine, and Allah) express the mystic’s superior (gnostic?) knowledge.

The person of Mohammed may appear in dreams; such an encounter carries great important to the Sufi.

Steps to Enlightenment

The Sufi is on a journey of seven steps to enlightenment: Service to God; Love of God; Seclusion from the world; Contemplation and knowledge; Ecstasy; Truth; and finally, Union with God. “At the point of so-called union with God, the Sufi no longer is just a man, but is transubstantiated into “God.” He then declares “Ana ‘il-haqq” (“I am the real”), which utterance is blasphemous to the orthodox Muslim and Christians alike. [5] But there is a Christian parallel: “The Christian who also seeks illumination and closeness to God speaks of God dwelling in him and of being possessed of the Holy Spirit, but he does not go on to the excesses of Sufism.” [6]

What about the actual practice in folk Islam?

Animism, that “remnant from the days before Islam,” [7]continues virile in many Muslim areas—Parshall cites his experience in the Muslim region of the Philippines. Curing the sick by calling out the spirits, superstition surrounding graves, blood sacrifice, magical use of the Qur’an in healing.

Miracles are attributed to the Sufi saints, deliverance from jinn as well. Saints have also “willed” the presence of fruit, people, and objects. [8] “No proof of their assertions are ever advanced,” quotes Parshall, “but they give you wonderful illustrations and beautiful stories. Their words come straight from the heart.” [9]
Devotees seek favor from God by visiting the shrines of holy men. Many women visit the shrines for favors in this life, such as the birth of a son, financial success.

Steps to holiness for the Christian worker

Gateshead Bridge

Like England’s Gateshead Bridge, a non-linear approach is a method that should be considered by missionaries in spanning the chasm between Christianity and Islam.

Folk practices may reveal a desire to know God in a more personal way. The desire to know God’s power, God’s presence, and God’s answer to prayers may be a bridge to Christian faith. The church has always held seekers of the deeper life, the “yearning for personal communion with God.” [10] It is the Sufi, Parshall says, who carries the flame of mysticism within the Islamic faith. The Sufi wants that “mystic sweet communion” which many followers of Jesus have found. The mystic also wants deliverance from his fears; “his world is dominated by the evil eye, by sickness, death, sorcery, and curses.”[11] He also seeks fellowship; hence the tie between the pir and his devotees.

Parshall lists seven possible bridges between Sufism and Christianity:

1. The Sufi view of God. Allah is above all and totally in control of His creation. Parshall lists the 99 Muslim names for God[12]and encouraged their contemplation and missionary use.

2. The Sufi stress on personal relationship with God.

3. The de-emphasis of the value of ritual and form.

4. The necessity of a hunger for God.

5. An awareness of the working of God’s grace in the lives of men and women.

6. A community goal of being with God one day, a desire that is unrealizable in formal Islam.

7. A belief in intermediaries between God and man. This is a natural bridge to an effective presentation of Jesus as mediator for estranged mankind. “I never met a Muslim,” writes Parshall, “who could assure me that he knew he was going to heaven when he died.”[13]

The book of Hebrews as a bridge is detailed on page 132. The “mystery of the Gospel,” especially Colossians 1:25-27, 2:2-3 is cited and its use explained. Also, the wisdom passages of I Corinthians 2 and Ephesians 3:8-11.

Parshall encourages the worker to adapt, adapt, adapt; make concessions to allow Islamic customs and traditional forms.

[1] Phil Parshall, Bridges to Islam: A Christian Perspective on Folk Islam (Grand Rapids: Baker Book, 1983). Introduction

[2] Ibid. 15

[3] Ibid. 54

[4] Ibid. 57

[5] Ibid. 62

[6] Ibid. 63

[7] Ibid. 72

[8] Ibid. 84

[9] Ibid. 86

[10] Ibid. 24. Parshall is quoting Arberry.

[11] Ibid.120

[12] Ibid. 123-26

[13] Ibid. 129

2 Corinthians 1:15-24 (ESV) – From Memory

October 9, 2012

Bless the Lord for my friends at Scriptures in Use[1], who helped start me on the road to Bible memorization again.

2 Corinthians 1:15-24 (ESV)

Because I was confident of this, I planned to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. I planned to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. When I planned this, did I do it lightly?

Luther created his seal as a pictorial representation of how our souls are secure in the down payment of the Holy Spirit given to us.

Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner, so that in the same breath I say, “Yes, Yes,” and “No, No?” But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached to you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in Him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now, it is God who causes both us and you to stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, He set His seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy. Because it is by faith you stand firm.

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