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Archive for the ‘Persecution’ Category

A few days ago we posted Pray for a Persecuted Church Right now.  Just as a quick update all the pastors are released from government detention.

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This Sunday at Church I want to encourage you to do the following: Remember Pastors of Persecuted Churches.

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Quick update to yesterday’s : This is now day 5 of the pastors being detained.  Please pray for other Christians too since their phones have been taken by authorities which the authorities can reconstruct other Christian leaders and churches.  These are perilous times for Christians in that country in East Asia.

(For part 1 check out Persecution and the Believer Part 1)

Establish the need: Have you thought about Christian persecution?

Purpose: Today we shall see four more of eight truths the Bible teaches about Christians and persecutions so that you be strong in Christ when the time comes.

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Quick update to yesterday’s : The authorities have let go of others but the four elders/pastors detained from this persecuted church have been punished and sent to jail for two weeks.  Updates will probably be delayed because of security concern.  This post is timely and relevant, as it is about what the Bible teaches about persecution and believers.

Establish the need: Have you thought about Christian persecution?

 

Purpose: Today we shall see four of eight truths the Bible teaches about Christians and persecutions so that you be strong in Christ when the time comes.

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This is from my daily Greek exercise of sight reading some time ago, courtesy of Vincent S Artale Jr.

Our text is from the Greek translation of Matthew 5:10.  Here is my translation:

“μακάριοι οἱ δεδιωγμένοι ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης,

Blessed are those who are persecuted on account of righteousness 

ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. ”

because the kingdom of heaven is theirs

Here are some observations:

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This is from my daily Greek exercise of sight reading many months ago, courtesy of Vincent S Artale Jr.

Our text is from the Greek translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:16.  Here is my translation:

“SENTENCE 3 [TP Τὸ λοιπὸν TP] προσεύχεσθε ‹ ἀδελφοί › περὶ ἡμῶν
Finally brethren pray for us

SUB-POINT ἵνα [TP ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου TP] τρέχῃ καὶ δοξάζηται καθὼς ‹+ καὶ πρὸς
in order that the word of the Lord will spread and be glorified just as also for

ὑμᾶς +›”
you

Here are some observations:

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With all the news about Christians being persecuted, where Pastors are being arrested, members disappearing, churches being destroyed, even believers being killed, let us think of them.  Pray for them.  Think of their plights and their family suffering.

Our church this Sunday was led to really pray for the believers in difficult situations.  Especially for those who are persecuted by the government in which believers have been arrested or disappeared because Jesus is the reason for their treason.

As Bibleguy shared from Hebrews 13:3: “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.”

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kayla-mueller

This news story was quite sad to read.

Four former hostages who were held by the Islamic State terror group at an abandoned oil refinery in Syria in 2014 have revealed that Kayla Mueller, the Christian aid worker who was slain in IS captivity last year, refused to deny Jesus Christ despite being repeatedly raped and tortured.

Frida Saide of Sweden and Patricia Chavez of Peru and Belgium, who were held alongside 26-year-old Mueller in the oil refinery, said that despite what Mueller was forced to suffer through, she remained steadfast in her Christian faith, The Associated Press reports.

Chavez noted that Mueller acted like a big sister to the other captured girls, looking to keep up their spirits despite the grim situation they were in.

“They would scream at her and they would, you know, blame her for everything that America has done in the world,” Saide said, according to AP.

“She was amazing. She was a really strong girl,” Chavez said.

Mueller’s family in Arizona received news of her death in February 2015, after IS sent photos of her dead body in a white burial shroud, supposedly as a sign of respect. The humanitarian worker is believed to have been married off to a top IS official during her captivity.

The jihadist group claimed that Mueller, who was captured in 2013 after leaving a hospital in Syria, had been killed during a Jordanian airstrike on one of its targets.

Muller’s strong Christian faith was evident in her letters to her family, where she explained that faith gave her courage.

“I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no else … + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall,” she wrote in one of her letters.

You can read the rest over at Persecution.org.

It made me think about how evil ISIS is.

It also made me think about the reality of Christian persecution.  How God doesn’t promise us a rose garden in this life.

I hope the other hostages would come to know Christ as a result of her testimony.

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Armenian Genocide 2015

Today mark the 100th year of the Armenian Genocide. It was the first Genocide of the 20th Century and certainly not the last. Turkey still have not acknowledge their national sin.  In fact the headlines read “German President Enrages Turkey by Referring to 1915 Armenian ‘Genocide’” over at Times Magazine website.  I wished the American President would have the moral courage as German President Joachim Gauck.  For all the activism Google has for all kinds of Leftist causes, they can’t even have a Doodle to commemorate this sobering occasion.

I can’t help but to think how sad it is that a hundred years later the region seems to be repeating itself with the rise of Neo-Ottomanism in Turkey, an ongoing genocide against religious/ethnic minorities and persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria by Islamic forces.

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Unrelated author’s personal note: If you follow our blog, I want to give a personal update.  Much has transpired since I’ve been on vacation.  I think the Lord has changed me and my perspective in this unforseen event with our ministry while I was gone on vacation.  I think I have been challenged to grow deeper in Christ in a good way but much of it will never be told publicly.  Thank you all who have prayed for me online here this anonymous prayer request, in heaven you will know what was prayed for and that the Lord answered.

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I thought I take some break from some heavy stuff from my personal life to talk about another heavier topic: ISIS.

There are weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq; it’s called ISIS.

Coming from the US what people are posting of themselves that is trending right now in social media is the ice bucket challenge; meanwhile coming from the Middle East what people are posting of themselves that is trending right now in social media are graphic video of people kicking the bucket. Obama’s action against ISIS is a drop in the bucket and I think it has to do with his intent early in his presidency to end the war on terror being on his bucket list.

Somebody online has asked me in light of my rhetoric if that means i’m for a military operation involving massive ground troops.  Here’s my thoughts:

I propose a better plan than massive ground troops: I think a better plan is to hit this new Islamic State where it hurts; hit them logistically. I am sure you have heard the military maxim: “Amateurs study strategy ; experts study logistics” you can’t wage war unless you have capital to support your army; I don’t care if you are a die hard radical but you can’t establish any state without beans and bullets; even extremists will start having low morale. The resources that ISIS have to finance their army is stolen goods from their victims and oil that they sell in the black market.  Concerning captured assets, these can only last that long since it will be used up and then there is a need to continually expand and find more victims.  But expansion itself is costly and unpredictable.  The biggest stable source of funding the war is oil  But who do they sell it to? It has to be someone that can refine crude oil. Turkey? Saudi Arabia? Kuwait? Turkey want to expand their own brand of Isamic Neo-Ottoman empire vision and I doubt it’s them; Saudis and Kuwait has been supporting those against Assad and their are many Wahabi sympathizers if not Wahabis Sunnis themselves that share this particular ideologically. I submit we disable their ability to process oil by means of Naval blockade of the oil, and the use of air bombing and Special Operations Forces against oil assets in ISIS hands.

We need to stop our not so covert effort at equipping the Free Syrian Army as well since FSA are terrible fighters and their gear keep on falling into ISIS hands.  Just look at the uniforms, weapons and heavy vehicles ISIS has.

Hopefully Iran and Russia would continue to be opportunists and arm Assad in Syria and Iraq, both countries whom ISIS are fighting.  If these countries continue to arm both those countries it helps us not to give up more of our military hardware.   Don’t forget Iran has a strong motivation to expand in their region and be pro-Shiites (which ISIS is against) in Iraq and Sryia; Russia also has renewed their influence in the Slavic states and the Middle East (Russia is pro-Assad with a naval base in Syria and trainers right now fighting in Syria and they just recently entered the Iraqi scene by selling attack helicopters and having “trainers” on the ground in Iraq to teach and carry out actual Attack helicopter sorties).

The only thing we need to do is destroy the oil capability of ISIS selling oil and we will see the end of cash flow sustaining their Islamic State and we will see their ability to field an army dwindle (insurgents need to eat too, have weapons and ammo, maintain the wear and tear of fighting vehicles, etc). This weakened ISIS will become more like a loose network of thugs and terrorists than an Islamic that it is now.  Then Iraq, Syria and the Kurds (who have now sold their captured oil to their ironic historic enemy of Turkey which is how the Kurds fund their fighting) can then finally have the opportunity to reclaim territory the next few months from ISIS although I don’t think full control will be possible but at least it will become something more like Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas areas for terrorists than an actual Islamic state that it is now.

What do you guys think?

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It seems suddenly the world’s attention has shifted since last week to notice the horrific development in Iraq with ISIS.  Things has deteriorated for the worst the last four months and especially with this last week.

I think its important to see the bigger picture:  Its not just a bunch of terrorists guys running around as the “Junior Varsity” members of Al Qaeda as Obama called it in January 2014.  ISIS has begun making their Caliphate Islamic State.  They have taken over major cities, control oil centers and funding their state by selling them in the black market.  They have picked up the weapons left over from the fleeing Iraqi Government, picked up other weapons from other fighting groups in Syria and even controling a strategic dam.  Their Islamic Theocracy has begun with the violent cleansing of different Muslims, Christians and other minorities.

The following videos that are dispatches by Vice News gives us a little more perspective on the ground.  We can see that what we have here is really the breaking down of Iraq as a country, the fear that many had when the US was occupying Iraq.  The breakdown is now on sectarian lines.  These dispatches is fascinating in that you see every group mistrusting other groups and also how the Kurds are also taking this opportunity to advance their claims on territory in light of the Iraqi military running away.

As you watch these videos one must realize these were produced a few weeks ago and things have gotten worst since these were put online.  The Kurds are more involved with direct combat with ISIS.  ISIS has captured more grounds.  The Kurds have been running low on ammunition and there’s a major refugee crisis.  Two failing state (Iraq and Syria) are unable to put down ISIS and don’t forget the direct foreign involvement in weakening the two states that are trying to put them down (the US arm the FSA against Assad in Syria, etc).

I’m praying for the Christians and other minorities.  I’m praying that God will use this to bring people to Himself.  I’m praying for peace for the sake of people who have suffered so much.   I’m also praying for God’s justice and imprecatory prayers towards those who are in ISIS that will not repent.

 

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It is unfortunate that Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria and Iraq has achieved great strides pushing forth an imperalistic Islam upon other Muslims and Christians.  Its also unfortunate that many in the West don’t understand much of these two organizations, Al Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or better known as ISIS).  Apparently these two organizations aren’t getting along.

Here are two documentaries from earlier this year that gives a bit of perspective of  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The first is an incredible documentary by Vice who embedded with Al Nusra.

The second is the perspective of some who have quit the Free Syria Army and their encounter with ISIS.

It is frightening.  We need to be praying.

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Meriam Ibrahim Prayer

The world has been hearing a lot of the Sudanese wife and mother Meriam Ibrahim who married an American Sudanese man and became a Christian.  The development in the news have been a roller coaster.

Because she became a Christian, the Sudanese government arrested her and found her guilty for her faith in Christ.  She was sentenced to be executed but since she was pregnant it was scheduled for a time after she gave birth.  Then there was the fake news that she was released followed by silence.  It turned out to be inaccurate.  It was then on the news that she was freed.  According to the BBC yesterday when Meriam and her family tried to escape to another country at the capital’s airport, her whole family was detained.

Let us pray for her and her family and also for the Persecuted Church in Sudan.

I think we should go beyond praying and action as well.  We need to get the pressure on the Sudanese Government to let them go, and also get others involved as well.

1.) Contacting the Sudanese Government

It is important to remember that Sudan is different than Southern Sudan (don’t make the confusion of finding contact for South Sudan, a separate government and country at this time).

I think in the great of the world wide web to contact the Sudanese Government globally multiple times even outside of the contact of the Sudanese Government in your country.  Let them know how you feel very strongly about it.

Regular Contacts

Here is the information to the Sudanese Embassy in the United States:

Embassy Of The Republic Of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave
Washington DC,20008,
Ph: 202.338.8565
Fax: 202.667.2406

You can contact them on their page via an electronic message HERE.

Here is the information to the Sudanese Embassy in the United Kingdom:

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan3 Cleveland RowSt. JamesSW1A 1DDLondon

Email: info@sudan-embassy.co.uk

Phone: 020 7839 8080

Fax: 020 7839 7560

You can contact them on their page via an electronic message HERE.

Social Media Contact

What happens in social media today can often spill into mainstream news; we must take advantage of it and our effort can often “snowball” when others see it and get involved.

Unfortunately the social media presence of the Sudanese Government are not confirmed but it doesn’t hurt to try.  Send them a tweet.

Here is the twitter account to the Sudanese Embassy in Bahrain.

Here is the twitter account to the Sudanese Embassy in the US.

Here is the twitter account to the Sudanese Embassy in the UK.

2.) Contacting Western Government

Maybe a bit more unconventional but it might be wise to contact western government’s embassy as well for their staff to directly know how we feel about this.

Here is the information to the US government in Sudan:

U.S. Embassy Khartoum
P.O. Box 699
Kilo 10, Soba
Khartoum, Sudan

Switch Board:

  • International: (249)(187)-0-(22000)
  • Within Sudan (187)-0-(22000)

Here is the twitter account to the US Embassy in Sudan.

Here is the information to the UK government in Sudan:

British Embassy
off Sharia Al Baladia
Khartoum East
Khartoum
(PO Box No 801)
Sudan

Telephone+249 (0)156 775500

Fax+249 (0)156 775501

Here is the information to the Swedish government in Sudan:

House 70, Street 43,
Khartoum 2, Khartoum

Postal address

Embassy of Sweden
P.O. Box 2206
Khartoum
Sudan

Phone, fax, email:

Tel: +249 187 188 700
E-mail:

Here is the twitter account to the Swedish Embassy in Sudan.

Here is the information to the Irish Consulate in Sudan:

c/o DAL Group HQ
No. 1, 5 East Khartoum II
P.O. Box: 1840
11111
Khartoum
Sudan
Phone+249-1551-17886
Fax+249-1854-44847
Emailireland.consulate.krt@gmail.com

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Christ or Hitler Pastor Wilhelm Busch

Recently I have been reading several books about Hitler’s Germany concentrating on the church and philosophy during that dark era.  Reading this book gave me a new appreciation of what the German Confessional (non-Nazi) church must have went through.  This book is an autobiography of a German Confessional church pastor name Wilhelm Busch who lived from 1897 to 1966.  Most people might know about Bonhoeffer a prominent leader of the ConfessionalChurch but I wonder about what the average pastor resisting the Nazis infiltration of the church were like.  This book is a wonderful window into one such pastor whose ministry to youths clashed with the Nazis vision for young people to be under the control of the Hitler Youth with their ideology.  Technically, Wilhelm Busch never published an autobiography but the translator, Christian Puritz was able to compile enough autobiographical information from Busch’s writings and teaching to make this into a book.  The stories of what Pastor Busch has to endure as a faithful witness to the Gospel is encouraging and will no doubt inspire courage for Christians today to stand for what is true.  There were times when I was reading the book that made me imagined what seems unimaginable today:  spying from the Gestapo, harassment from the Hitler Youth, police looking the other way when Christians are harassed, imprisonments, shut downs, etc.  It was a reminder for myself that there is no guarantee that Christian ministry will enjoy the relative calm and rights granted in the United States currently.  With the way the title of the book is phrased, I was surprised that it took over half the book before one finally start seeing any mention of the Nazis.  However, I did appreciate the autobiographical account of Busch before Hitler’s rise to power; as a Pastor I got to gain a little insight of what the Lord was doing and how He used a young pastor working with the coal miners and eventually the youth.  Those involved with ministry will find his stories to be encouraging.  Also the account of World War One and his conversion was somewhat gut wrenching to a Marine veteran such as myself.  Throughout the book one also sees the loss Busch has experienced around him, with the death of his sons in World War two in the Eastern Front and also the suffering of the poor or true Christians under the Nazi regime.  I recommend this autobiography for the encouragement of Christian souls.

NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher Evangelical Press Books in exchange for my honest opinion. The thoughts and words are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

Where to Buy:

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In the Presence of my Enemies Gracia Burnham

 Available on Amazon

As we see the increase of Islamic terrorism worldwide, this story needs to be heard more than ever. It is a powerful story of forgiveness and of God’s grace and mercy. The book is an account of Martin and Gracia Burnham, who were missionaries in the Philippines that were captured by Muslim radicals in 2001 and held as hostages in the jungle for over a year. The story is told by Gracia, who survived the ordeal. Her husband was killed during the raid by the Armed Forces of the Philippines that finally freed (and for some, killed) the hostages. Between the time of her capture and the final liberation by the military, the Burnham has gone through seventeen firefights and countless other artillery shelling and terrible ordeals with the jungle. I was drawn by Gracia’s honesty of her shortcomings and struggle during her journey. She was honest in the book of how she felt, including her feeling that God has betrayed her and how she finally coped with the kidnapping. She was also honest about how she felt about the terrorist, and quite understandably. But perhaps most disturbing was her honest portrayal of what drove Abu Sayyaf, the terrorist group that kidnapped her and her husband. It is a frightening ideology of hate and readers but this will come at no surprise for those familiar with the ideology of Al Qaeda and jihad. Although the topic is sobering, the book is by no means hopeless, for as the book progresses you will see the faith of Martin and Gracia grow and being lived out of what it means to bless your enemies. The book also manages to have some funny moments with Gracia’s sense of humor coming out in the book and at times her sarcasm towards the irony around her. You will laugh—and you will cry. Readers will likely be tearful of the moment in the book when her husband is killed—and her final rescue. The book also has a lengthy account of her time after the hostage situation, and how the Lord has worked through this event. An excellent book that I totally recommend, a beautiful testimony of the Gospel applied and a moving account of what it means to be a Christian—even in the presence of one’s enemy.

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