If everyone knew what the dead know, the whole world would be worshipping Jesus. Author Unknown
“Trials rightly faced are harmless, but wrongly met become temptations to sin.” (A.T. Robertson)
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
The apostle Peter exhorts those in the dispersion along the same line:
“ In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6-7)
James says that though we may be surrounded by trials, let our joy be whole or unmixed, not just “some joy” mixed with grief. I must realize that the very foundation of my religion, my faith in what God has done through His Son Jesus, will be tested by the devil using circumstances, accusations, condemnation, people of other faiths or no faith (communism) and people, some close to me and some unknown.
We are all are in need of “endurance” or “patience” that James says these trials will produce in our lives IF we allow it. Robertson says the original Greek word means “remaining under, staying power”, that under the pressure of trials you will have the ability to stay faithful to Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, in Revelation 2:10 tells the believers in Smyrna (modern day Turkey),
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
We in North America or Europe, read this and go ho hum, but this is a daily reality for many of our brothers and sisters in communist Red China, Vietnam, North Korea and other countries ruled by communism. It is also a daily reality in countries ruled by Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other false religions.
Religious persecution is coming to the United States, Europe, Canada and other currently free countries. Are you ready? Have you made up your mind? Are your children and grandchildren ready?
May no trial, person or set of circumstances cause us to deny our Savior today or ever. May our faith in Jesus and God the Father be the most precious thing in our life… so much so it is worth dying for. Tens of millions died for their faith during the Inquisition, under the Romans, and under communism in the 20th century and today.
May you walk in “hupomonen”….staying power. Holy Ghost empowered staying power!
Suspected al-Shabaab militants tortured and killed at least six Christians, five of whom were reportedly beheaded, in a terror attack on a village in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region that borders Somalia, according to reports.
“It is an ugly sight of people’s bodies lying dead and houses smoking with fire. This is undeniably an awful terrorist attack,” said Pastor Stephen Sila, who was at the site of the attack in Widhu village in Lamu West on Monday morning, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported.
“I counted seven houses that were torched down, four bodies of people burned beyond recognition inside the houses,” he was quoted as saying. “A body shot dead right outside a burned house and another beheaded body next to it. Other villagers escaped into the dark and the police are still looking for them.”
The attack took place at about 4 a.m. local time while people were still sleeping, Lamu County Commissioner Samson Macharia told local media.
Five of the six killed had their hands tied from behind before they were beheaded, reported Kenya’s The Standard newspaper. “All the deceased persons had their hands tied from behind. Also several houses were torched within the locality and property of unknown value burned,” it said, citing a police report.
The pastor who spoke to ICC added: “The residents have gathered and are asking why the security officers were not doing enough to protect the Christians from being attacked by the Somali militants. There is a standoff now, but more police officers are arriving to pick the bodies and also evacuate those who need emergency medical attention.”
Commissioner Macharia also called it a terror attack and said security forces were hunting for the militants in a nearby forest, where they might have disappeared after the attack.
In the country’s northeast, the al-Shabaab terrorist group has been a constant threat.
Al-Shabaab has fought for years to overthrow the Somali government. The group has been responsible for attacks on both sides of the Somalia and Kenya border as it has long vowed to retaliate against Kenya for sending in troops to Somalia to fight the group. UnmuteDuration 23:59/Current Time 1:29Advanced SettingsFullscreenPauseUp Next
In April 2015, al-Shabaab carried out one of its deadliest attacks when it stormed the campus of Garissa University. On that occasion, militants were said to have separated Muslims from non-Muslims and proceeded to execute all non-Muslim students. At least 148 people were killed in the attack.
Kenya was ranked 49th on Christian support organization Open Doors USA’s 2021 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
While it’s a Christian-majority country, persecution has spread in Kenya, Open Doors says. “Particularly, Christians with a Muslim background in the northeast and coastal regions live under constant threat of attack — even from their closest relatives. Our research revealed that Christians were attacked and forced to flee their villages, and Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab has infiltrated the local population to monitor the activities of Christians in those areas.”
Organized crime is also a serious problem in the country, Open Doors adds. “Corrupt officials often fail to take measures against persecutors — increasing the potential for further incidents against Christians.”
A church leader overseeing the Lamu West Africa Inland Churches told ICC that believers are still at risk in the country. “The enemy is still roaming free within our region,” he said. “We are saddened that six Christians have lost their lives and left their families, and the entire body of Christ is hurting. We call upon the government to heighten its commitment to protecting the people of this great nation of Kenya.”
Dear Reader: please remember in your prayers our brother and sisters in Kenya who are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. Also pray for the salvation of their persecutors and that they would be brought to justice.
Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith's door And heard the anvil ring the vesper chimes; Then looking in, I saw upon the floor Old hammers worn out with beating years of time. "How many anvils have you had," said I, "To wear and batter all these hammers so?" "Just one," said he and then with twinkling eye, "The anvil wears the hammers out, you know?" And so I thought, the anvil of God's Word For ages skeptics' blows have beat upon. Yet, though the sound of falling blows was heard, The anvil is unharmed, the hammers are gone. John Clifford
“ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” Peter – I Peter 1:24-25
There is a simple shortcut to truth: start with the Bible first and investigate it thoroughly. Why start there? Not just because the Bible claims to be the only inspired Word of the one true God who created us. It also claims that all of the world’s religions and their scriptures are false and actually in the service of Satan. The Bible calls Satan “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and thus the author of its religions. So if the Bible is true, we have saved ourselves a lifetime of vain searching through false systems.
In fact, we can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that every word in the Bible is true. The Bible has several unique features not found in the scriptures of the world’s religions, making it possible to substantiate its claims. Christianity is not a philosophy, mystical experience, or esoteric practice [but] is based upon undeniable and historical facts. The Bible stands on a four-fold foundation, every part of which can be examined and verified: 1) prophecy foretelling events and doctrines in advance, 2) fulfillment of those prophecies in detail, 3) secular history testifying to the fulfillment of prophecies and events, and 4) factual data corroborated by archaeology and science. None of this is the case with the teachings or scriptures of any of the world’s religions. —Dave Hunt[Excerpt taken from Seeking and Finding God (Bend, OR: TBC, 2007), pp 66-67) – Berean Call
As a relatively new believer in Christ, who spent over two decades as a devout Muslim, I am often asked for the best way to introduce the Gospel to Muslims. There are many opinions on this topic, ranging from using apologetics to just being a “good Christian.” Though most Christian’s natural inclination in approaching Muslims is apologetics, it often turns into arguments about doctrine and hurling insults about Islam that alienate the listener. I believe the real power lies in the reality of the Trinity– God the Loving Father, His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
God is Love. In over 20 years of being a devout Muslim, I never heard God referred to as being love or commanding us to love others. Islam teaches that God is merciful and kind, but the word love is never mentioned. A Muslim must worship and sacrifice for a God that does not ever tell you he loves you. You cannot rely on him to console you in times of trouble, and he was mainly there to judge you. Quite frankly, it was incredibly depressing since I could never maintain the countless set of rules and laws that demanded strict obedience.
Compare that to the Bible, God’s infallible, living Word where God describes Himself as love.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16
In a life filled with disappointment from people who claim to love you and a God that doesn’t consider love significant enough to mention, the simplicity of this Truth was very appealing. Our Heavenly Father is the originator and fulfiller of everything we know and experience of love. He so loved humanity that He sacrificed His only Son to rescue us. Not only does God extend His love to His children, but love for Him and those around us is the foundation of our faith.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31
Being loved unconditionally and learning to love others the same way has brought me extraordinary joy. Never underestimate the power of explaining to a Muslim how significant love is to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is God incarnate. In Islam, you never really know if your good deeds are enough to enter God’s Heaven. On the Day of Judgement, God will decide if you were “good enough” and that terrified me. What if there was one big sin He could not forgive despite my hundred acts of obedience? It was very unsettling to live every day, wondering whether I would spend eternity in hellfire. Then I learned that God would guarantee a place in His eternal Heaven if I put my trust in Christ as God incarnate. I needed to accept that Jesus was God wrapped in flesh, who came to Earth and died on the cross, then rose again from the grave to pay for my sins.
The Divinity of Jesus is the most significant point of contention between Islam and Christianity. However, if you know all the miraculous qualities Christ has in Islam, unpacking what they think happened on the cross may be the key to their salvation. All Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin birth resulting from God’s Divine Spirit impregnating Mary. They know Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and performed countless miracles during his life. They also believe Jesus ascended to Heaven and will descend from Heaven in the End Times to defeat the Anti-Christ. However, Islam claims Jesus did not die on the cross. Instead, they claim Judas Iscariot’s soul was placed inside Jesus’ body so people would think it was Jesus, but God took him to Heaven. So, Muslims attribute many Divine abilities and manifestations to Christ but only deny the crucifixion because His death and resurrection would prove the integrity of the Bible. When you state these facts to most Muslims, it immediately leads them to question their understanding of Jesus. How can they believe that he had so many God-like abilities, but He is not God incarnate based on some illogical explanation for who died on the cross? Therefore, planting the seeds of doubt about how Islam portrays the crucifixion is essential.
Receiving the Holy Spirit. In Islam, it says God is closer to you than the veins on your neck, but he will not speak directly to you. In fact, it claims it is not befitting of God to do so. There is no intermediary between the Muslim and God, but prayer is a one-way communication. As a Muslim, I had no way of knowing whether he ever heard me or even accepted my prayers and pleas of repentance. There was no conversation between us. Conversely, when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, God dwells within the believer in the form of the Holy Spirit who speaks directly to us, continually.
…He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18
Once I was saved and baptized, I was excited for what would happen next. I kept asking my mentor, “so now what?” She would lovingly but persistently keep saying, “wait to hear from the Lord.” I had no idea what she meant by this. I did not know how to talk with God, and I surely did not expect Him to talk back! It was not until I studied what it meant to receive the Holy Spirit that it made sense. Learning and experiencing the Holy Spirit’s guidance within me is how I know that I am in a relationship with the one TRUE God. Many Muslims have no idea that accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior leads to God’s indwelling through the Holy Spirit. It definitely piques their curiosity to think they would be able to hear from God directly.
Be sure it is clear the Trinity is three manifestations of the one true God and not three separate gods. We have God the Father who loves us; He came down in His Son to save us and leaves us His Holy Spirit to guide us. Muslims accuse Christians of being polytheists because they do not understand this, and unfortunately, many Christians cannot properly articulate it.
Having left Islam, it saddens me to hear even Christians make the false claim that we all worship the same God and each religious path can lead to the “truth.” Do not be content to give false or comfortable versions of a “truth” that leaves the individual without salvation and the love of God that comes through faith in Christ. The listener may not readily accept it, but that is not our concern. There is only one God, and no one will reach His presence except through faith in Christ. I understand and believe that now but I did not think that as a Muslim. I wish someone would have had the courage to say it to me earlier in my life.
Finally, I always end the discussion, challenging a Muslim to pray for God to reveal Himself and the reality of Jesus Christ. Their mind may fight the Truth of what you have told them but if it is His will, trust in the power of our God to lead them.
Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel. She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations, and her daily podcast LivingFearlessDevotional.com.
Source: Christian Post
|For some believers in restricted nations and hostile areas, following Christ means beatings, torture and even death. For others, the decision to follow Christ means losing jobs, income, homes and relationships. That was the case for a Pakistani man after he placed his faith in Christ.|
Asif was a well-liked supervisor at a garment factory in Pakistan. As a Christian, he led 10 coworkers in prayer before work every morning. But the factory owner, a Muslim man, wanted Asif to convert to Islam and told him to stop the prayers. Asif responded by giving the man a Bible so he could learn about the Christian faith.
The factory owner continued to harass Asif. He brought an Islamic cleric in to persuade Asif to accept Islam, and he tried to force Asif to join in Muslim prayers. But Asif refused each of the owner’s efforts to convert him. Finally, the owner gave him an ultimatum: Accept Islam or lose your job.
“My God will provide me with everything,” Asif replied.
Asif’s commitment to Christ cost him his job, and it may be difficult for him to find another source of income. Many Christians in Pakistan are trapped in poverty because they have few job opportunities. “Good jobs are hard to get for Christians in Pakistan,” VOM’s field leader for Pakistan said. “Asif knew exactly what the consequences could be for him, and he chose to remain faithful.”
VOM has been supporting Asif and his family, who are now in hiding after receiving death threats for refusing to convert to Islam.
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
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
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
NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Sheikh Hassan Podo, a 28-year-old imam in Kerekerene village in eastern Uganda, missed mosque prayers for three consecutive weeks and was seen entering a church building around noon on March 16.
He had kept his faith in Christ a secret for three weeks. The young Muslim who saw Podo enter the church building in Katira Sub-County, Budaka District, went straight to Podo’s parents and brothers to report him.
When Podo arrived at the house that evening, his family interrogated him about where he had spent the better part of the day.
“Without my completing answering them, my brothers immediately began surrounding me, with sticks,” Podo told Morning Star News. “It was difficult to escape. They began shouting, beating and insulting me as an ‘infidel’ and enemy of the Islamic religion.”
His wife and two children managed to escape to the home of a nearby Christian neighbor, he said.
With sticks and other blunt objects, Podo’s relatives injured his left arm from the shoulder to his fingers, said one of the area residents who found him unconscious. He also sustained a head injury.
“There was a loud cry emanating from Podo’s homestead, raising a big concern from the neighbors who arrived at the scene of attack and helped Podo to escape,” the source said. “He bled as he fled for his life. Later he was found in a pool of blood a kilometer away from the homestead, unconscious.”
They rushed him to a clinic in Katira, and he was discharged after two days and taken to a pastor whose name is withheld for security reasons. His wife and two children later joined him at an undisclosed location.
The pastor said Podo’s father, Mwanamwoiza Juma, has since mobilized a group of Muslims from different mosques “to hunt for the life of his son, declaring a fatwa and disowning him, and giving his land to the brothers for bringing blasphemy into the family. Sheikh Twale and Galami Abdulmutwalibi have been carrying out a series of prayers to curse Podo’s family. But we know the blood of Jesus will protect the family.”
The pastor has been giving Podo discipleship lessons to strengthen the family’s faith in the midst of the ordeal, he said.
Podo put his faith in Christ on Feb. 24 after hearing the message of His saving death and resurrection from another pastor. His wife became a Christian one week later, he said.
Before his conversion, Podo was part of a Muslim extremist group that had attacked the Church of Uganda’s Katira congregation.
“Please family of Christ, our humble request is that we covet prayers for Podo and his young family for God’s healing, medication, protection, provision and to get to a safe haven for the young family,” the pastor said.
The attacks were the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in eastern Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.
Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.
Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, but with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.
If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit https://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.