“Secrets for Sufferers” From A Sufferer

Dear Reader the following was written by Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001) who was imprisoned in communist Romania for fourteen years because of his faith in Christ. In 1965, he and his family was ransomed out of Romania for $10,000 and eventually moved to the U.S where he started a global ministry that became known as The Voice of the Martyrs. He testified before the U. S. Congress to the cruel treatment of Christians under communism. Removing his shirt, he showed the Senators and Representatives the stripes and wounds he received from the communist. Pray for those who are suffering everyday for Christ. Pray that the comfort of the Holy Spirit would be with them and they would be faithful unto death if need be. Be encouraged, do your part for the church, and prepare yourself. Carl

“Jesus promised “not peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34), and ever since He uttered those words, committed Christians have been targeted relentlessly by pagan and religionist alike: crucified, burned at the stake; tortured on the rack; hunted in mountain passes, forests and caves; starved; beaten; brainwashed; tormented.

Only a devil could brew the consummate evil that has been meted out to Christ’s humble disciples over the centuries, reaching a horrendous climax in our own bloody era.

Is suffering, whether intended or circumstantial, a waste, or can it be redemptive? How should Christians respond? Jesus said, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) — but can you love the devil incarnate in another human being, evil personified?

I would like to propose that today’s Christians in repressive countries can provide a model for those of us in the free world.

Christians in the West often quote the text, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), giving it a positive spin. But Paul had just said he had learned to endure all things –humiliation, hunger and want, as well as the satisfaction of his needs. Persecuted believers take Paul’s words as a promise that Christ will strengthen them to endure suffering, because they know a Christian can’t escape tribulation.

I think of a young girl of our Romanian underground church whose activities were discovered by the secret police. She had been guilty of secretly distributing Gospels and teaching children about Christ. To make her arrest as painful as possible, they decided to wait a few weeks for her wedding day.

When she dressed for the event every woman looks forward to, the police suddenly broke in. Anticipating their intentions, she held out her hands, which they handcuffed roughly, looked lovingly at her groom, then kissed the chains, saying, “I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this jewel He has presented to me on my marriage day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for Him.”

She was dragged off to prison, leaving behind weeping Christians and a weeping bridegroom. Five years later she was released, haggard, broken, looking 30 years older. She had remained faithful. And her intended had waited for her.

A Soviet prisoner who was mocked unmercifully said, “Many fear suffering: in the past, I too feared. But the presence of the Lord in jail has given me so many happy experiences that I would not have changed them for years of easy living in freedom.”

How impressive is the prayer of a woman in a Siberian camp: “O God, accept all my sufferings, my tiredness, my humiliations, my tears, my nostalgia, my being hungry, my suffering with the cold, all bitterness accumulated in my soul….Dear Lord, have pity also on those who persecute and torture us day and night. Grant them, too, the divine grace of knowing the sweetness and happiness of Your love.”

How do the persecuted view their torturers, who often take fiendish delight in inflicting maximum pain? May are able to look at them with love, knowing that without Christ they are eternally lost. Believers exemplify what Jesus preached: “Love your enemies … pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” And they practiced what He taught: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Once when I was in prison, a pastor was thrown into our cell. He had been horribly beaten and was covered with blood. Some prisoners cursed the communists. Half dead, groaning in pain, he said, “Please don’t curse them. Be quiet! I want to pray for them.”

Once I was in the same cell with a man I had brought to Christ. He left behind a wife and six starving children. I asked him, “Have you any resentment toward me for bringing you to Christ and for the fact that your family is in such misery?”

His reply typifies the attitude of so many martyrs down through the centuries: “I have no words to express my thankfulness that you have brought me to the wonderful Savior. I would not have it any other way!”

In Ukraine, the Christian Terelya was put in a psychiatric asylum. The sadist psychiatrist told him, “The fact that you call yourself a Christian shows already you have a serious and irremediable sickness. Faith in God is a mass psychosis, a kind of schizophrenia.”

But instead of brooding about his suffering, Terelya brought officers of the secret police to Christ. They provided him with paper and pencil and smuggled out a whole notebook of his with joyous poems praising God.

Out of the mire of suffering grows the lily of joy in the Lord. ”

Richard Wurmbrand–faithful witness and pastor under Stalin’s communism, founder of The Voice of the Martyrs

Unenlightened

“Buddhism is more than 2,500 years old, but it came to widespread prominence in Europe and the U.S. only about 50 years ago. Since then, Buddhist thought has become deeply rooted in American popular culture through music, books and films. Many American’s encounter the teachings of Buddhism’s founder, Siddhartha Gautama, when seeking a way to empty themselves of desire and attachment while embracing peace of mind through meditation.

Gautama is called the Buddha (enlightened one) by his followers. The simple response God’s Word gives to the notion of human enlightenment is that our Lord Jesus Christ is the true light and life. Without Him, there is only darkness and death (see John 1: 1-13).

How enlightening is Buddhism? Having been a witness for Christ in Buddhist contexts both overseas and here in the U.S. for more than 20 years, I have come to view the Buddhism practices in the U.S. as a trick or illusion that contains just enough truth to provide false hope. Rather than offering its adherents truth with the power to save or set them free, it merely helps them marginally reduce the stress that overwhelms their peers who have succumbed to this world’s strivings and vanity. Jesus sets us free for eternity.

While Buddhism in the West is darkness masquerading as light, a very different kind of Buddhism is widely practiced in parts of Nepal and throughout Tibet. The spiritist Buddhism in the part of the world where Gautama was born is not disguised as false light –it openly reveals itself as the blackest darkness. There, Buddhists work to appease spirits whom they know to be evil.

When those of us who have served among Nepali and Tibetan Buddhists describe them as intentionally serving evil spirts and seeking to be filled with their power, it may sound to some as if we are overstating the religion’s dangers. Sadly, however, out description is no exaggeration, and millions of lost Buddhists remain enslaved to evil throughout Nepal and Tibet.

People in the U.S., including Christians, are also astonished when we describe the persecution of Christians in these countries by Buddhists. But it is important understand that children in these areas are forced to leave their families and enter Buddhist monasteries, that young adults who come to faith in Christ are disowned by their Buddhist parents, and that Christian families are driven from their home in Buddhist areas. All of this is done explicitly to appease and court favor with evil spirits we know to be demons — the fallen angels who, like their master, work only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

The stories in this magazine help us to understand the dark side of this supposedly “enlightened” belief system. And we hope they will encourage you to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are willing to pay the price to see Buddhists set free by the gospel’s power.

Source: Cole Richards, President —The Voice of the Martyrs

Before I Was Afflicted


Suffering – it’s never pleasant, and we do our best to avoid all forms of it, but suffering is inescapable in this fallen world. The biblical view is that believers should expect sufferings, not simply because they live in this fallen world, but because God uses various forms of afflictions to discipline us, test our faith, and cause us to have an eternal perspective. As a result of false teaching, many have the view that all suffering is a sign of deficiency at our end of the equation. What should be seen as a privilege (suffering that God permits us to endure) is seen as a curse. Suffering that God permits his children to endure, is not harmful, but beneficial. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.”(Psalm 119:67).
—Rick Becker, who with his brother minister in apologetics in South Africa

From Berean Call

Why Huguenots Came To America.

Dear Reader: After sharing about Saint Bartholomew’s Massacre and the Huguenots (French Protestants) in the pervious post, I wanted to share why they fled to various nations, including America. The following article is from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten.

God bless you. Carl

“Why is France today considered a mission field?”

The Wars of Religion began in France in 1562 between the Roman Catholics and the French Protestants called Huguenots. The Huguenots were led by the family of Henry of Navarre, a minor kingdom including a small portion of southern France and the present Spanish province of Navarre. Henry inherited the throne of Navarre from his staunchly Calvinist mother. When his cousin King Henry III of France died in 1589, he became heir to the throne of France. His Calvinism made him an unacceptable candidate in Catholic France until he embraced Catholicism in 1593. He was then crowned King Henry IV.

Once he became king, however, he did not forget his Huguenot roots, and in 1598 he issued the Edict of Nantes. This agreement gave the Huguenots freedom of religion in certain areas of the country, civil equality, and fair administration of justice. It provided the Huguenots with a state subside for their troops and pastors and allowed them to retain control of approximately two hundred towns. The Edict of Nantes was historically unique in that it was the first time freedom was granted to two religions to coexist in a nation.

By the late 1600s Henry IV’s grandson, Louis XIV, was king of France. But Louis XIV shared none of his grandfather’s empathy for the Huguenots and on October 18, 1685, he revoked the Edict of Nantes. All Huguenot churches were either destroyed or turned in Catholic churches. Huguenot clergy were given fourteen days to leave France, but the remaining Huguenots were forbidden to emigrate. All children within France were to be baptized by a Catholic priest and raised as Catholics.

[Dear Reader: As time drew near for Louis XIV to meet his Maker, he inquired of his Roman Catholic priest as to what could he do to atone for the wicked things he had done in his life. The priest told him to exterminate the Protestants. To read about this time of persecution read “Six Centuries of Carnage” on this blog. If you scroll down under this blog, you will find it. ]

Mounted soldiers were housed in the homes of Huguenots. The troops were given license to do anything they pleased, short of murder. They forced their hosts to dance until they collapsed. They poured boiling water down their throats. They beat the soles of their feet and pulled out the hairs from their beards. The soldiers burned the arms and legs of their Huguenot hosts with candles and made them hold red-hot coals in their hands. They forced women to stand naked in the streets.

Some four hundred thousand “converts” were forced to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. Those who spat out the wafer as they left the [Catholic] church were sentenced to be burned alive. Obstinate Huguenot men were imprisoned in dungeons and unheated cells. The women sometimes fared better as they were sent to convents, where they often receive unexpectedly sympathetic treatment from the nuns.

Of the 1.5 million Huguenots living in France in 1660, over the next decades 400,000 risked their lives by escaping across the guarded borders. Geneva, a city of 16,000, welcomed four thousand Huguenots. Although they were Catholic, English kings Charles II and James II aided the Huguenot immigrants in their country. An entire quarter of London was soon populated with French workers. The elector of Brandenburg gave such a friendly reception to the Huguenots that over a fifth of Berlin was French by 1697. Holland welcomed thousands and gave them citizenship. Dutch Catholics joined Protestants and Jews in raising money for Huguenot relief. Many Huguenots fled to South Carolina and to the other colonies as well.

At the height of the Reformation nearly half of the population of France was Huguenot. But as a result of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the intense persecutions that followed, today less than one percent of the French shares the faith of the Huguenots, making France a mission field for the gospel.”

The above history is from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. If you are looking for a daily, historical devotional, I strongly recommend this book.

Considering all of this, is it any wonder that some of the early American colonies prohibited Catholics from settling in their colony? And that the Huguenots risked it all to reach a tolerant nation where they would have freedom of religion.

Today, Christians are being persecuted in many nations. It is our responsibility as born again believers and children of Almighty God to remember out brothers and sisters who are being prosecuted, tortured, kidnapped and murdered for their faith in the Muslin countries, Nigeria, Vietnam, Communist China, Hindu India, Mexico, Central America and other countries. Hebrew 13:3 says:

“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated , since you yourselves also are in the body. “

Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to be with them and that they may persevere in the Faith, even unto death if necessary. Pray that their persecutors would be saved by the grace of God.

Thank you for your time.

Carl

Huguenots and St. Bartholomew’s Day

“The time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a service. This is because they have never known the Father or me.” John 16:2-3

My ancestors from Guernsey Island, France were Huguenots (French Protestants). Following is an account of Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, one of the most horrible days in the history of Christianity, when an estimated 70,000* Huguenots were murdered just for being Protestants.

“In Paris on August 18, 1572, there were hopes for peace between the warring Catholics and Protestants. On this day a royal wedding between the Protestant king Henry of Navarre and the Catholic Margaret of Valois brought together the two hostile factions. Margaret was the sister of young King Charles IX of France and the daughter of Catherine de Medici, the powerful Queen Mother. Protestant and Catholic nobles who had fought each other for ten years turned out for the celebration. Thousands of Protestants came to Paris for the wedding. The festivities lasted for days.

Calvinism had come to France in 1555. Soon there were two thousand French Reformed Churches, and nearly half of the population had embraced the Reformed faith. French Protestants became known as Huguenots.

Fighting broke out in 1562 with the massacre of Vassy, in which twenty-three Huguenots were killed and one hundred wounded. The Huguenots fought back in three successive “wars of religion.” Between 1562 and 1572 there were eighteen massacres of Huguenots, five of Roman Catholics and thirty assassinatons.

While Catherine the Queen Mother was planning her daughter’s wedding, she had also been plotting the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, a popular French war hero who had become a leader of the Huguenots.

On August 22 the assassination attempt failed. This ignominious plot so soon after the royal wedding threatened to embarrass the royal family. Near midnight the following night the twenty-two-year-old French King, brother of the bride, shouted to his mother in a fit of rage, ” If you are going to kill Coligny, why don’t you kill all the Huguenots in France, so that there will be no one left to hate me.”

Following this impetuous directive, Catherine ordered the murder of all the Huguenots leaders currently in Paris, including those who had attended the wedding. The massacre began August 24, 1572, which was St. Bartholomew’s Day. The gates of the city were closed so that no Huguenot could escape. Admiral Coligny was murdered first as he knelt in prayer.

Many of the Huguenot nobles who were guests at the royal wedding were lodged at the Louvre. They were called into the courtyard and shot one by one as the appeared. King Charles watched approvingly.

During the night the homes of Paris Huguenots had each been marked with white crosses. Before daybreak messengers were sent throughout the city screaming, “Kill! Kill! The king commands it.” A murdering frenzy fell on the whole city. Whole Huguenot families were taken into the streets and murdered. Unborn children were cut from their dead mother’s bellies and smashed on the pavement. The dawn of St. Bartholomew’s Day revealed thousands of martyred Huguenots.

But the savagery was not without cost to the king, Charles IX soon began having nightmares about the massacre. In less than two years at the age of just twenty-four he was dying. His last days were plagued with visions of his victims. “What bloodshed, what murders!” he cried to his nurse. “What evil counsel have I followed? O my God, forgive me! … I am lost!”

Reflection: The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre was one of the worst days in the history of Christ’s Church. But Jesus warned that another day is coming that will be worst than this day. Are you ready for it if you live to experience that future awful day?

“For that will be a time of greater horror than anything the world has ever seen or will ever see again.” Matthew 24: 21

(Source: The One Year Christian History – E. Michael and Sharon Rusten (2003))

Dear Reader: The Pocket Bible Handbook by Henry H. Halley states the following concerning the Roman Catholic Pope’s reaction to the Massacre:

“There was great rejoicing in Rome. The Pope and his College of Cardinals went, in solemn procession, to the Church of San Marco, and ordered the Te Deum to be sung in thanksgiving. The Pope struck a medal in commemoration of the Massacre; and sent a Cardinal to Paris to bear the King and Queen-Mother the Congratulations of Pope and Cardinals.”

* Pocket Bible Handbook -Henry H. Halley (1954)

Shocking isn’t it! Done all in the name of God! But what about you? Are you ready to meet your Maker. Are you at peace with God through Jesus Christ? For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We need a Redeemer. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourself, not of works lest any man should boast. No church can save you. It is by Christ alone, by faith alone, through grace alone, to the glory of God alone. Cry out to Him now while there is still breath in your lungs. May you be ready.

Carl

Six Centuries of Carnage

They will fight against you but will not overcome you. Jeremiah 1:19

1878: If there were a prize for Christian Group That Has Been Persecuted The Longest, the Waldensians would win it. Their story begins in 1173 when Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant in Lyons, France, began to take his faith seriously. He sold his estate and gave the money to the poor then had two priests translate the Bible from Latin into French and began to memorize passages. He began to attract followers who wanted to know the Bible, preach it, and put it into practice. His followers called themselves the Poor in Spirit, and they went about in pairs, preaching in the marketplaces. Their lives of poverty and service were an obvious contrast with the wealth and immorality of the [Catholic] church’s officials. Despite the fact that they were doing nothing wrong, they were branded as heretics and excommunicated. In the Middle Ages, thinking outside the box was dangerous.

The Poor in Spirit —- or, to use the more familiar name, the Waldensians —- were active in the Piedmont, the region where France, Italy, and Switzerland meet. In this isolated, mountainous area they found shelter from persecution —- but never for long because now and then, a ruler, with the approval of the [Catholic] pope, would launch a crusade against these Bible-centered people. In 1487 the [Catholic] pope decreed that anyone killing a Waldensian could receive pardon for all sins and confiscate the dead man’s property.

In the 1500s the Waldensians joined forces with the Protestants —- after all, Waldo and followers had been ahead of the curve in emphasizing the Bible as a guide to life. But since they lived in a area that was technically Catholic, persecution continued. King Louis XIV of France detested the Waldensians and in 1685 ordered his cousin who ruled the region to exterminate them.

(A side note on King Louis XIV: from another book on the Waldensians, I learned that toward the end of the Kings life, he asked his priest what he could do to atone for the horrible acts he had done in his life. The priest’s answer was: exterminate the Protestants. )

Finally, on February 17, 1848, came the Edict of Toleration, issued by Charles Albert, king of Piedmont. The Waldensians could finally live and worship in peace

The Christian History Devotional — J. Stephen Lang

Reader, Revelation 6: 9-11 says “And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth? And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also.”

A terrible day of Judgement is coming when the Lord Jesus moves off the throne of grace onto His throne of Judgement. Those who have slaughtered God’s children will be Judged for eternity and placed in the lake of fire, which is the second death.

Is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, your Shelter from this horrible day? I pray so. Thank you for your time. Carl

Critical Race Theory, Southern Baptist Convention, and a Marxist “Solution” That Will Not Work

Dear Reader

This booklet is from Lighthouse Trails and sheds light on what is behind certain actions in the USA and other countries at this time. God bless and remain free in the grace of Almighty God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Carl
— Read on www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/

A Roman Emperor’s Observations About Early Christians.

It causes one to consider his own Christian walk when you read early church history and see how the pagans viewed our Christian brothers and sisters. Most of the time their opinions are based on how Christians endured persecution, even unto death and remained faithful to Jesus. Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339 AD) , the first Christian historian, in his Church History relates the following incident where Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD) wrote the Council of Asia concerning the Christians they were persecuting. Note his observations about the Christians.

“The Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antonines Augustus, Armenius, pontifex maximus, holding tribunician power for the fifteenth time, consul the third time, to the Council of Asia, greeting. I know that the gods are also concerned that such men as these should not go undetected, for they would be far more likely to punish those who will not worship them than you are. But you hound them into trouble by accusing them of atheism and thereby add to their resolve to choose apparent death rather than life for the sake of their own god. They, then, become the conquerors when they sacrifice their lives rather than obey your commands. As to the earthquakes that have happened— and are happening— you lose heart whenever they occur and provide a painful comparison between our character and theirs. They repose greater trust in their god, whereas you neglect yours and the worship of the Immortal. But when the Christians worship him, you harass and persecute them to death. On behalf of such people many of the former provincial governors wrote our divine father, and he replied that they were not to be troubled unless they appeared to be plotting against the Roman government. Many have reported about them to me also, and I have replied in accordance with my father’s opinion. But if anyone persists in taking action against one of these people [as a Christian], the accused shall be acquitted of the charge even if it is clear that he is one, and the accuser shall be liable to penalty. Published at Ephesus in the Council of Asia.” (Emphasis and footnotes added)

The Christians were called atheists by the pagans because they would not worship the pagan gods and the Roman emperors.

They were evidently living out Paul’s teaching on persecution. He encouraged the saints in Philippians 1: 28 – 29 to be “in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake….” He wrote in Romans 8:37 “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

By being willing to die instead of worship the Emperor and false gods, their great faith in God, the Father, and Jesus Christ was manifested to the pagans. The historical records contain incidences of people being converted while viewing the patience of the saints, as they were being tormented, fed to the wild animals or suffering other forms of gruesome death. Others stepped up and confessed their faith in Jesus Christ and consequently were made to join the Christians in their suffering.

Many of our Christian brothers and sisters in Communist China, Nigeria, Islamic nations and other countries are going through similar persecution TODAY. NOW. May grace be multiplied to them and the comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31) be with them. Please remember them in your prayers.

Carl

Report: ‘Tremendous Progress’ Ahead for Religious Freedom Worldwide | News & Reporting | Christianity Today

Report: ‘Tremendous Progress’ Ahead for Religious Freedom Worldwide | News & Reporting | Christianity Today
— Read on www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/april/uscirf-tony-perkins-international-religious-freedom-2020.html

Michael Youssef warns entertainment-driven church ‘making people feel good all the way to Hell’ – The Christian Post

Prominent pastor and author Michael Youssef issued a blistering condemnation of the entertainment-driven church, warning that the judgment of God will fall heavily upon the Church if it fails to return to His plan for discipleship.
— Read on www.christianpost.com/news/michael-youssef-warns-entertainment-driven-church-making-people-feel-good-all-the-way-to-hell.html

Why communist and leftist governments hate Christianity – The Christian Post

Why is it that Communist and Leftist governments persecute and hate Christianity so much?
— Read on www.christianpost.com/voices/why-communist-and-leftist-governments-hate-christianity.html

Muslim convert on ‘miraculous’ ways God is ‘radically transforming’ Iran despite persecution – The Christian Post

Dedicating his life to sharing the Gospel with Muslims in Iran was never something Hormoz Shariat, head of Iran Alive Ministries and founder of the largest Muslim convert church in the United States, thought he would do. 
— Read on www.christianpost.com/news/muslim-convert-on-miraculous-ways-god-is-radically-transforming-iran-despite-persecution.html

A Former Muslim Shares The Cost of Leaving Islam


Leaving Islam meant death, meaning I would face death penalty, and not just from my own family, whenever they see me again, [but] the Islamic government, if I ever lived under, but also from any Muslim around the world. The apostasy law still applies on me today as I’m speaking, meaning once a Muslim finds out that I used to be a Muslim, that means he or she has the right to kill me. It would be easy, of course, for them to do it in a Muslim country rather than a Western country, because, according to Sharia law, they would get away with it! They are honoring Islam! They are doing away with the apostate. That is why when I share the gospel with a Muslim seeker, that he is really close and he wants to follow Christ, I must share with him or her the cost of following Christ. There is a sense of mourning. There is a sense of loss and loneliness and pain to follow Christ, all in the process of making that decision. That’s why it is so critical for the body of Christ, the church, to step in and help the converts who came out of Islam through this difficult time of transition and time of loss. The church must become his or her new family because they lost the family that they came with and the identity they had all their lives.—Elijah Abraham (founder and executive director of Living Oasis Ministries)

From Berean Call

New Law Requires Chinese Christians Fully Submit to Communist Party

The Chinese government has tightened its reign on its citizens by announcing that all religious personnel of any faith must submit to and evangelize about the Chinese Communist Party.
“In practice, your religion no longer matters, if you are Buddhist, or Taoist, or Muslim, or Christian: the only religion allowed is faith in the Chinese Communist Party,” said a Chinese Catholic priest, according to CBN.
Starting on Feb 1, all religious groups must adhere to the new rules, which consist of six chapters and 41 articles. They require government approval for any type of gathering and total submission to the Communist Party.
One law, Article 17, states: “Religious organizations must spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as national laws, regulations, rules to religious personnel and religious citizens, educating religious personnel and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, supporting the socialist system, adhering to and following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics…”
Manuscripts from each religion are also not immune to censorship. The Daily Mail reports that the Communist Party intends to complete a “comprehensive evaluation of the existing religious classics aiming at contents which do not conform to the progress of the times.” As Christian Headlines previously reported, this means that books such as the Bible or the Quran will be rewritten to “reflect socialist values” and any paragraphs that the government deems “wrong” will be changed.
“In many ways, the Chinese government’s control, including censorship of the Bible and the Quran, has twisted the doctrines of these religious texts and thus the religions,” said Patrick Poon, a China Researcher at Amnesty International. “There is simply no genuine religious freedom.”
The new laws come after finishing off 2019 with the “worst religious persecution in the country’s history,” according to the Federalist. A pastor of house church Early Rain Covenant Church, Wang Yi, caught international attention last year when he was arrested and later sentenced to nine years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business activities.” His family wasn’t even sure if he was alive until they heard about his sentencing.
(Mikaela Mathews, “New Law Requires Chinese Christians Fully Submit to Communist Party,” ChristianHeadlinesOnline Tuesday, January 7, 2020)

Andrew Brunson: US ‘increasingly hostile’ to Christianity; following Jesus will come at personal risk – The Christian Post

— Read on www.christianpost.com/news/andrew-brunson-us-increasingly-hostile-to-christianity-following-jesus-will-come-at-personal-risk.html

Communist China and The Christian Church: A Glimpse Into The Future

Chine Creating “system of persecution for the future”, Open Doors warn.

WASHINGTON — China is creating a “blueprint” “system of persecution for the future” that could be sold to persecute people across the globe, head of the prominent Christian persecution watchdog agency Open Doors USA has warned. 

Open Doors CEO David Curry, joined by pastors from China, issued the dire warning about how China could be shaping the future of international religious minority oppression through its use of surveillance technologies to monitor Christians and other religious adherents. 

Open Doors, which operates in 60 countries, released its influential annual World Watch List data report Wednesday at an event attended by representatives of the Trump administration, Congress and human rights activists. The annual report ranks the top 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted.

During a briefing, Curry warned that the “greatest threat,” in his opinion, to human rights worldwide is China, which rose in the rankings from No. 27 to No. 23 in the 2020 report. 

Although the communist nation is not ranked as highly as other violators on the list, Curry stressed that the implications lie in China’s development of surveillance to control its people. 

“Its implications are not just for Christians within China but for every country and for religious freedom generally,” Curry said. “Let me put it together. It is like a puzzle. The pieces are there but it is not until you put it together that you see it clearly. When you see it clearly, it is frightening.”

David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, addresses the rise of global Christian persecution at the 2020 Open Doors’ World Watch List press conference in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 15, 2020. | Open Doors USA

The pieces of this puzzle, Curry said, involve China’s use of a social score system that grades its citizens based on their actions and the government’s creation of a network of surveillance cameras that have been put on street corners and in churches. 

“Imagine a system where citizens are given 2,000 points and every time you do something they government disagrees with, you are marked down for it,” Curry detailed. “Eventually, your travel is restricted, your children won’t get into the best schools. You lose points for taking your children to Sunday School. That is what the experience is like for many Christians in China.”

Curry traveled to China just a few weeks ago. 

“I saw with my own eyes the surveillance on the street but also in the churches, watching their congregation,” he said. “Facial scans when you come in and then tracking you and generating reports [with] assumptions built into their artificial intelligence system that is tracking Christian behavior.”

Curry said that the more often a person is seen going to church, the more often they are to be labeled a “radical.”

“They are shutting down house churches at a massive rate — 5,596 churches shut down, many because they refuse to put surveillance cameras up to watch their congregation.”

Pastor Jian Zhu, who was raised in China but now is the director of the China Institute at Lincoln Christian University in Illinois, told those in attendance that China’s persecution against house churches is now the worst he has seen since 1979. 

“The Chinese government now has placed severe restrictions and policies on the house churches, asking neighbors to spy on one another, pressures school teachers and college professors to betray and sign a statement to denounce their faith as well as to do the same to the students,” Zhu said. 

Zhu explained that many churches are asked to take down crosses inside and outside their buildings and put up pictures of President Xi Jinping at the center of their worship stages. Underground churches are also accused of illegally fundraising because they collect offerings from congregants. 

Zhu said he has heard of cases where some cities have shut down all house churches.

“Now, they are trying to eliminate Christianity from public life,” he said. “Cameras are all over to watch church and Christians go to Sunday service. Families are threatened to not go to church or they will be punished or their relatives could be in trouble.” 

One Christian from China who attended the Open Doors event told The Christian Post that he and his family fled from China after the house church he attended was shut down.

Curry stressed that the data “seems to point to the fact that China seems to be resurrecting the god-as-government state.”

“We are all threatened by this: atheists, Jews, Muslims, everyone,” Curry said. 

“They are using this artificial intelligence and surveillance to a whole new level,” he added. “All indications show that in 2020 — and this is why we are highlighting this — they are bringing these two systems together. They are merging the social scoring system and surveillance and artificial intelligence to give them the tools and the power to oppress the people.”

Curry said that the indications are not “just fear” or “unfounded.” 

“It is already happening in a very grave way: not to Christians but to Uighur Muslims,” he said, noting that hundreds of thousands if not millions of Uighur Muslims have been sent to “re-education centers” in Western China. 

“Muslims are forced to give up their faith and their culture. It’s only a matter of time before the world is going to jump on this technology because China is selling it to Iran, they’re looking to sell it to Egypt and other countries as well.”

When asked why China was not ranked lower on the World Watch List, Curry told CP that the World Watch List scores across measurements of private life, national life, violence, and others. 

“So while China is No. 23, we are highlighting it because of what I think is this blueprint,” Curry contended. “They are creating a system of persecution for the future and we have to call it out now. Otherwise, it will be too late. Otherwise, they will sell it to Iran and others to oppress their religious minorities. That is why it needs to be really highlighted. Within five years, it would be almost too late to stop them.

Curry said that Open Doors has asked the White House and others to support proposed legislation that he says would provide steps to “control the use of artificial intelligence and facial recognition around the world.”

“What assumptions are being built into this that we need to know?” Curry asked. “Does going to church make you a terrorist in China? These are things we need to know.”  

From The Christian Post

The Insanity of Sacrifice

“Coming out of an environment of debilitating persecution and death in the Horn of Africa, we set out to visit other believers in similar settings to discover for ourselves if Jesus was trustworthy. Is Jesus able to accomplish in the Somalias, the Afghanistans, and the Syrias (and in every other place!) of today what He did among the Roman Empire of His day? Was His resurrection simply an isolated historical event –or is that same resurrection power available to those who walk with this Living Jesus today?

Within a brief time, we were given the opportunity to travel the world and learn from brother and sisters in Christ who had survived —and who were continuing to survive—in settings of severe persecution. Over the next decade, we visited more than seventy-two countries, and interviewed more than six hundred followers of Jesus who live in environments of persecution and the possibility of imminent death. Much to our amazement, we discovered that these fellow followers of Jesus were not merely surviving —they were thriving in their faith. And God was blessing them in remarkable and startling ways.

What we learned were life lessons from believers living in persecution, who are living out the resurrection —even today. Our search through countries revealed dramatic testimonies of believers who have come to know God intimately as a faithful friend —a friend who calls us to a life of sacrifice modeled after His own.

This matter of sacrifice is a challenge for all of us. And we will be wise to approach any conversation about it with a spirit of humility and prayer. It is our sincere hope that, through the stories contained in these devotions, God will change all of us. It is our prayer that God will give you a heart for the world. It is our desire that you will embrace the privilege of sacrificing for His glory.

God, we are so thankful for Your sacrifice that allows us to know You as Father, Savior, and Lord. God, we recognize that You have sacrificed Your Son for us. And we wonder if maybe that sacrifice should be the end of the story.

But You invite us to join You in sacrifice.

Why is our sacrifice still needed? Following You is so much harder than simply studying about You. Please give us courage as You call us forward.”

Excerpt from The Insanity of Sacrifice, A 90 Day Devotional by Nik Ripken with Barry Stricker, p. 6 – 7

Other recommended books by Nik Ripken:

The Insanity of God

The Insanity of Obedience

Please pray for an abundance of God’s grace and the comfort of the Holy Spirit to be with those suffering persecution and the possibility of imminent death, in many nations today, for the cause of Christ. Do not forget them. May God fulfill every desire for good works that are in your heart and the desire for resurrection power.

Carl

The Importance of Kindness

To him who is about to faint and despair, kindness is due from his friend, lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty.

Job 6:14 Amplified Bible

Though I have read the Book of Job several times, I did not remember this verse until I heard a sermon on kindness.

Job is addressing one of his friends who came to “comfort” him. Job was faint and in despair from the trial he was undergoing and he needed “kindness” from his friends instead of judgementalism. Satan’s goal in Job’s trials was to have him curse God to his face which would amount to forsaking the “fear” or “reverence” of the Almighty. He would cease to conduct himself in the healthy, wholesome, overwhelming, profound, adoring, awed respect (reverential fear) which manifested itself in obedience.

After hearing this sermon, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times I had walked right by another Christian who was “faint and despair” and did not stop to offer a word of encouragement or to tell them that God had not forsaken them, but would see them through the deep waters they were going through. I wondered if a brother or sister in Christ had turned their back on the Lord due to my lack of sensitivity and just common kindness.

God put several Christian hospital workers in my wife’s path when she was receiving treatment for breast cancer. They were an unbelievable encouragement to her and me during this time of spiritual fainting and despair. Just to know that the Lord had not forgotten us, was such a blessing.

Do you know anyone that is fainting and in despair due to some trial they are undergoing? If you do, show them kindness. Encourage them to not let their trial deter them from continuing to offer the Father the profound, adoring awed respect that He alone is worthy of. Remind them that He chose them in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, to spend eternity with Him as His adopted child. And how He has lavished His grace upon them by sending the Lord Jesus to die on the Cross for their sins while they were yet sinners.

In closing, remember our brothers and sisters in foreign lands that are being persecuted and murdered for their faith in Christ. One way to express our kindness is to ask the Father to strengthen their faith, give them an abundance of grace and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Let us heed the Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews:

[Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God.

But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him]. Hebrew 3:12-13 Amplified

Carl

Encouragement for the Persecuted Christians

“But God is never defeated. Though He may be opposed, attacked, resisted, still the ultimate outcome can never be in doubt. Every day we see fresh proof that indeed all things—-even evil ones—-work together for those who are called by His name.” Brother Andrew – God’s Smuggler

Brother Andrew wrote this statement in 1966 or 1967 after he and his partners had successfully smuggled tens of thousands of Bibles into the communist countries of Eastern Europe.

May his statement be an encouragement to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith in China, Nigeria, North Korea, the Muslim nations, Vietnam, etc.

May God’s abundant grace be upon you and the comfort of the Holy Spirit be with you.

We have not forgotten you.

Carl

Reformation Day 2019

“It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic priest and professor of theology, nailed his thesis protesting the Catholic Churches sale of indulgences. It was a single day and single act of bravery that forever changed the history of the world. The celebration of Reformation Day has been the yearly practice of Bible Christians starting as early as 1567. Today this great Christian celebration has been completely overshadowed by the overtly pagan Roman Catholic practice of All Saints Day or better known as Halloween.”

From Berean Beacon – a ministry of former Catholic priests “whose sole purpose is the promotion of biblical Christianity.”

When Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the Wittenberg church door, he had no idea what these questions would precipitate. The resultant Reformation changed the western world for the better. As Luther and the other Reformation leaders read the Bible in the original languages in which it was written and put aside the traditions of men, the Light of the true gospel enlightened their understanding of God and His ways. As they communicated what they learned from the Bible, multitudes of people were set free from the bondage of the dominant church of their day.

May the Reformation continue for another 501 years or until Christ returns.

May the Light of the Bible continue to light your path!

God bless,

Carl