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Former Egyptian-Muslim converts to Christianity

This is the story of Amani Mustafa, a Egyptian women who left her country and moved to the US. In this video she explains the danger and abuse she was faced with in Egypt and about her conversion to Christianity.

Bishop blames Government for Fulani Massacre in Nigeria

(Voice of the Persecuted) On the evening of April 15, 2017, while Christians had gathered for an Easter vigil, heavily armed gunmen entered Asso village in Kaduna state and began shooting sporadically at their victims. 12 people were killed and many were injured in the attack.  Fulani herdsmen are suspected of carrying out the attack in the Christian community.

In a press statement concerning the Asso village massacre, Bishop Joseph Danlami Bogobiri accused the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai of taking sides with herdsmen. He said that, “Having presided over the mass burial of at least 10 Catholics along with their parish priest Revd Fr. Alexander Yayock the following day, I’m by conscience compelled to make the following statements.”

1. The attitude of the state government has been marred by lots of complicity and bias which exacerbated rather than ameliorated tensions. The Governor in most cases seemed to have abdicated his responsibility of being Governor to all us, and instead gave in to the luxury of waging an unrelenting media campaign against Southern Kaduna people. He unabashedly takes sides with the armed herdsmen (His kinsmen) thereby failing in his responsibility as a true statesman, becoming therefore a biased umpire who blames and criminalizes Southern Kaduna victims as the cause of the mayhem. The Governor has made several efforts in the media to discredit figure of casualties that were arrived at through painstaking research, and is known for trying to change the true narrative by presenting the victims as the villain and the aggressors as the prey. The Governor has the penchance of using state apparatus to insult, denigrate, intimidate, arrest and put in prison all voices of reason from Southern Kaduna who dare to challenge his handling of this crisis. Among those that have fallen victims of his tyranny are: traditional rulers, journalists, youths, political leaders, academicians, while threatening our lawyers and other leaders (Religious and Unions) with arrest for daring to speak out against the genocide.
2. The primary responsibility of government as enshrined in the constitution is the protection of life and property of citizens irrespective of ethnic and/or religious persuasion. Any breach of this fundamental principle of social contract contravenes the very reason for which Government exist for. Unfortunately, our government both at the Federal and State levels have failed woefully in this regard because of their inability to rise above ethnic and religious bias. If anything, government has shown outright partisanship in favor of the herdsmen to the disappointment of the majority Southern Kaduna indigenes. Because of Government’s inability to serve as an un-biased umpire in the face of these crises, we are sometimes tempted to belief that there is a well-planned Jihad against the people of Southern Kaduna, and Christians generally in Northern Nigeria as this is amply demonstrated by the incessant attacks and atrocities committed against the aborigines of the Middle Belt region in Northern Nigeria. The sole aim of these attacks is to conquer our people and occupy their lush lands and turning same into grazing fields for the marauding nomads. The Governor of Kaduna State is pursuing this detestable policy by his plan to forcefully take over lands in Southern Kaduna and turn same to Grazing Reserves and Routes for his kinsmen. To show Government’s insensitivity on this volatile matter, there are ongoing expansionist plans to annex more land to the already existing grazing reserves at Ladduga in Ikulu Chiefdom of Zangon Kataf Local Government area and transmute that locality from being a district into an emirate.
3. The killings continue unabatedly in fields and bushes, thereby preventing farmers from visiting and cultivating their lands. This is happening today as the Military and other security forces mount road blocks in towns and major roads while bushes remain un-safe for farming. In the Godogodo and Pasakori attacks in Jemaá Local government area for example, the military merely watched and supervised the killings and burning of homes on the pretext that their mandate did not include fighting the herdsmen. When the youth mobilized themselves to repel the attackers, the soldiers deliberately blocked them from entering the town. The herdsmen and their collaborators turned the towns into killing fields and killed mostly women, children and the elderly who couldn’t run for cover. The level of barbarity was such that pregnant women got their wombs blown out and massacred before their children. And these innocent children were not spared either. This level of viciousness was never witnessed even in the brutal tyranny and regime of Adolf Hitler. What is most intriguing is the level of sophistication of weapons; Ak 47, Machine Guns and many other deadly instruments of death are being freely used by the Herdsmen, leaving wondering how these weapons got to their hands.
4. The Governor has described the Fulanis as vindictive and un-forgiven people. This may simply be the projection of the Governor’s own mindset to an entire people. Our experience living with Fulanis for decades does not prove this. The indigenous communities of Southern Kaduna have been living peacefully with the Fulani herdsmen who came to join them as neighbors until the architects of the view that the average Fulani man is vindictive and un-forgiving came into power. The mayhem and killing with impunity in Southern Kaduna and the Middle Belt region and beyond by the Fulani Herdsmen, using sophisticated weapons is a recent development fueled by this kind of philosophy. To present any person or group of persons as revengeful and to go ahead to support and sponsor a praxis of retaliation as we are witnessing in Kaduna State today, is not only a detestable behavior but an evil mentality that will not engender social cohesion and harmonious coexistence in a plural and heterogeneous setting such as ours. The natives and herdsmen of Southern Kaduna have always had their differences as is common in herdsmen and farmers relationship everywhere in the world.  These differences sometime end up in clashes and skirmishes resulting from invasion of each other spaces, but such differences have assumed an un-precedent height under the current government with the use of very sophisticated weapons of destruction. What we are witnessing in Kaduna state is not the so called un-forgiving spirit of the Fulani people towards others, but the transfer of a hate mentality from a handful of people in leadership within the State to an entire ethnic group, with disastrous consequences. All humans are created by God with rationality and the milk of human kindness in their hearts. This often shows itself in love expressed in mercy, compassion and forgiveness. No rational human person is created without the disposition to overlook some offences committed against him or her. Only those with dead consciences are indisposed to show compassion and forgiveness. A world that does not forgive is doom to fail. An eye for an eye philosophy renders the whole world blind it is said. Describing an entire people as un-forgiven is not a plus but a minus for such people. If the Fulanis stop the aggression in Southern Kaduna today, there will be peace in the environment and the entire State. The non-retaliation of Christians to great abuses and violations of their human rights is termed as weakness, which is not correct. God has put the feeling of mercy and compassion in each of us regardless of our ethnicity and religious affiliations. If the Southern Kaduna had been trouble shooting people, they too would have established militia groups and go on rampage in domains other than their own. But alas this is not what is happening. They are being attacked in their sleep and places of worship right in the land that divine providence has given as their own. And even at that, they are told not to defend themselves in the face of aggression. The earlier we rediscover this truth of conscience (that all rational beings are imbued with a spirit of mercy and compassion) and begin to live this truth to the full, the better for our Society. Therefore the promotion of the philosophy that any offence committed is like a debt that must be avenged for either now or in the future is not only false and un-wholesome but it is the figment and projection of the personal idiosyncrasies of a few but powerful people. This mindset if not checked and corrected has the potential to erode the fabric of any social organization.
5. The killings with impunity in Southern Kaduna must not be allowed to continue. And Government in the State has a special and irreplaceable role in bringing this scourge to an end. The current Government in the State must follow the example of past Governments by initiating measures that would unify rather than divide the people of the State on ethnic and religious lines as this Government has been doing since its inception. We have had our challenges on harmonious coexistence in the past. But past Governments demonstrated statesmanship in Governance by bringing stake holders across board to parley on how to resolve our indifference. The current administration in the State seems to dread this kind of interface which had proven to be effective in the past. Government must change its attitude from alignment with people of one ethno-religious group in the State, she must resist the temptation of acting as the mouthpiece of one group against others and begin to display true statesmanship in seeing and treating the entire state as its constituency. The current Government got it all wrong right from the beginning when it openly stated that she will treat the citizens of the State not on the merits of their being Kaduna state indigenes but on the basis of who voted and who did not vote for the party that won the election. This is a wrong premise to operate under a democracy such as ours, which promotes and respects diversity particularly on political matters. We cannot all become members of one Party in Kaduna state. It is unfortunate that this kind of segregational mindset seems to be teleguiding government’s policies, utterances, appointments, and the distribution of infrastructure for development and social initiatives. This Government has taken discrimination on religious and ethnic lines to a height that has never been witnessed in the history of Kaduna. Today we are left with a situation where there is much concentration of development in the North and Central Senatorial districts to the utter neglect of the Southern Senatorial District which is predominantly Christian. The Northern part of the State monopolizes the Executive, the legislative, the Judiciary and occupies all slots of federal appointments such as the ministerial and those of parastatals. This disgusting mentality of premeditated discrimination and marginalization is shown by the lopsidedness in both political appointments, locations of infrastructural facilities, and worst still the delineations of political constituencies and polling units which institutionalizes rigging at source. While the Hausa/Fulani dominated areas in Kaduna State have cornered over 48 Federal Institutions to their domain, southern Kaduna can hardly boast of one of such institutions in her domain. Instead of the current government to work towards redressing this disturbing, inhuman and unjust imbalance, she is rather shamelessly contemplating the removal of the Kaduna State University (KASU) Campus and the College of Education (COE) from Southern Kaduna to his Fulani dominated space. What a shame and a slap to justice, fairness and objectivity in dealing with people.
6. In all these we have watched with pains and patience for about two years now how Government in the State is being managed as a personal estate in a way that excludes many stake holders from the State. We want to state emphatically that Kaduna State is for all of us, regardless of political, ethnic and religious affiliations. Therefore, the Governor should stop running it as his personal establishment. Kaduna State is the only State that we can call our own. And because Kaduna State is our State, we are contributing significantly for its progress not only on the Spiritual level, but also our works in the areas of education, medi-care, social upliftment and building of capacities of the people cannot be ignored. Government must recognize us as equal stake holders in the management and running of the affairs of the State. We do not accept being treated as aliens in our State.
7. Despite these imbalances in our Nation and in our State, here we are again celebrating another feast of the resurrection of Christ. The fact of our Lord’s resurrection revolutionized the lives of the Disciples of Christ. It transformed them from being a timid and sometimes a seemingly clueless group of disciple, to a fearless and courageous team that turned Jerusalem at some point upside down. Our faith therefore in the risen Christ must so influenced and transformed our lives as it did to the lives of the Disciples of Christ particularly at the times of persecution such as we are facing. The injustices in our Society notwithstanding, we exhort believers not to be fainthearted but courageous in facing the challenges of our time. We are to renew our faith and commitment to the living and resurrected Jesus, who triumphed over death and evil as the way to surmounting all the abuses and discrimination that we suffer in Nigeria today.
SIGNED:
Most Revd. Dr. Joseph Danlami Bagobiri
Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese and Chairman, Southern Kaduna Christian Elders Association

At the delegation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in March, Bishop Bagobiri said,

Christians of Southern Kaduna have taken their case to God in prayer. They want God to fight their battle for them because He is the only one who can rescue them from the systematic elimination of Christians in the area which has the support of both the Federal and State governments as well as the country’ security agents.
In his words, “Since we have no government that would listen to our plight, we have carried our case directly to God. It is only God that can save us from our present situation. Our hope in Him is never in vain since he knows our problem and He will deliver us one day just as he delivered the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians.”

The Bishop raised concerns of injustices for the survival of Christianity in northern Nigeria were premised on structural injustices which have become institutionalized. Some of the challenges he described included inequitable distribution of amenities, infrastructure and discrimination in appointment to political and public office. The Bishop suggested the Church focus on enabling the faithful stand for their faith in the face of persecution.

“We as a Church must evolve new ways on how we can face violence without losing faith. It is our prayer that God will give us strength and the needed direction on how to make Christianity survive despite the constant attacks and persecution.”
“…we must use Constitutional means to fight for our rights. Where it becomes necessary, we must go to court and use human rights lawyers that are sympathetic to the course of justice; not only as a Church but also as citizens of this country.”

Begging To Be Heard

Nigerian Christians are expressing their great concern for the ongoing silence of international media outlets of Christians massacred in Southern Kaduna. “It’s an issue the Christian leadership must urgently address,” one claimed. In Voice of the Persecuted’s years of communication with Nigerian churches and Christian communities, much is vaguely covered, or never reported by the MSM.

They want the world to know the genocide that is taking place on the Christian faithful in Nigeria. They are praying all information will be sent and covered by CNN , FOX, BBC and all international media. One claimed,

“Once the world begins to pay attention to the massacre and beheadings by Fulani terrorist herdsmen, who killed and occupy farmland and villages, only then will we see a change.”

In 2016, ‘Fulani’ terrorist ‘herdsmen’ killed over 700, almost twice the number Boko Haram had killed that first quarter. They fear Governor El Rufai nor President Buhari will do anything to stop who they call ‘their own’ meaning the herdsmen. Both men are from the Fulani tribe.

We pray with these brothers and sisters for the world to take notice of the extreme abuse North Nigerian Christians continue to face. Please pray with us for a blessed change to take place. For now, the Body of Christ is all they have. Hold on dear brothers and sisters. We hear you!

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christians experiencing brutal persecution. If you would like to show your love and support for those who’ve faced unimaginable persecution, please support our Nigerian mission project, today.

We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support. Your gifts have brought many smiles on the faces of these youngsters below. THANK YOU!

orphan-306x4601We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
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If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. Donations always desperately needed

ISIS claims attack near historic Monastery in Egypt

The AP reports the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a check point near the historic Orthodox Christian St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt, killing one police officer and wounding four. ISIS has vowed more attacks against Egyptian Christians, who make up 10 percent of the country’s population.

One of the world’s oldest ‘working’ Christian monasteries, St. Catherine’s, officially “Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai”, was built between 548 and 565 in a remote desert area at the foot of Mount Sinai. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and a popular tourists destination. The site contains the world’s oldest continually operating library, possessing many unique books including the Syriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus.

Militants ascended onto an elevated hilltop overlooking the police checkpoint several hundred meters outside the monastery. Then they opened fire. Some of the gunmen were wounded when police returned fire, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said.

Please pray for our Christian family in Egypt.

Photo By Berthold Werner via Wikimedia Commons

 

Prayer Conference Call Event: Abiding in Prayer for the Persecuted

Open 12-hour Prayer Conference Call for the Persecuted. April 29, 2017

 MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Saturday April 29, 2017

The New Testament is a book written by the persecuted for the persecuted.  Indeed, the best way to understand the New Testament is against the backdrop of persecution.  Many of the New Testament letters are written to believers who were in the context of persecution.  They were being persecuted because because they were followers of Jesus.
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….
 
The command out of Hebrews to remember the prisoners as though in prison with them conveys the idea to pray for them.
The exhortation of Paul to the Colossians to remember his imprisonment is conveying the same idea for them to pray for him.
Colossians 4:18
…Remember my imprisonment…
Over 2000 years ago, persecuted believers asked that they be remembered in prayer. Today the persecuted believers ask the same, “PRAY FOR US!”.
 
Our brother Paul reminded his readers 2000 years ago to weep with those who weep. He also reminded them that if one member of the body suffers they all suffered. This is equally true today. We have brothers and sisters who are weeping and suffering in the shadow of the cross. We ourselves, by the Spirit, are to weep and suffer with them because we are united with them by the Spirit and feel their pain and suffering. Our hearts should be moved by the Spirit to pray for those who are in prison and who are suffering. If hearing news of Christians coming under attack crushes you, it should not be a surprise. We are all one in the Body of Christ. 
Brothers and sisters please join with us on Saturday April 29th as we lift up our brothers and sisters in a 12-hour prayer conference call for the persecuted church.  Call details are below.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Location: Any location from your phone

When: Saturday April 29, 2017

Length of call: 12 Hours (Note: You’re not required to commit to 12 hours. Come on the call and pray as your time allows.)

Time of the Call:

9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Eastern time

8 a.m.-8 p.m.  Central time

7 a.m.-7 p.m.  Mountain time

6 a.m.-6 p.m. Pacific time

Call number: 712.775.7035
Access code: 281207#

We believe prayer works. Stay on the call 5 minutes, 5 hours, or as long as you feel led. Your prayers make a huge difference in the lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.

Lord willing, I look forward to praying with you on the 12-hour call.

Your brother in Christ,

Blaine Scogin

pwprayercall@gmail.com

Serving Jesus as Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

PRINT PRAYER CALL FLYER: View and download printable PDF flyer here

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier.Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

Available International Conference Call Numbers

(Note: If you will be using one of the call numbers below, you may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Click on VoIP dialer, go to this number 712-775-7035 in the drop down menu—enter access code 281207 (do not add the # symbol)—enter your name and click on the ‘Place Call’ button.

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Love So Amazing – Christ Took Our Punishment so that we may have Life

The Crown of Thorns

John 19 

Pilate then took Jesus and [a]scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. Pilate came out again and *said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate *said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate *said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid;and he entered into the [b]Praetorium again and *said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority [c]over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12 As a result of this Pilate [d]made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king [e]opposes Caesar.”

13 Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called [f]The Pavement, but in [g]Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the [h]sixth hour. And he *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 15 So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

The Crucifixion

16 So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

17 They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, [i]bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in [j]Hebrew, Golgotha. 18 There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 20 Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in [k]Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the [l]tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven [m]in one piece. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; this was to fulfill the Scripture: “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast [n]lots.”25 Therefore the soldiers did these things.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Care of the Body of Jesus

31 Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath ([o]for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him;33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be [p]broken.”37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a [q]mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred [r]pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

 

A MESSAGE TO THOSE WHO KILL US – Fr. Boules George (Egypt)

Fr. Boules George, St. Mark, Cleopatra (Cairo, Egypt)

Video Transcript:

What will we say to them?

THANK YOU

The first thing we will say is “Thank you very, very much,” and you won’t believe us when we say it.

You know why we thank you? I’ll tell you. You won’t get it, but please believe us.

You gave us to die the same death as Christ–and this is the biggest honor we could have. Christ was crucified–and this is our faith. He died and was slaughtered–and this is our faith. You gave us, and you gave them to die.

We thank you because you shortened for us the journey. When someone is headed home to a particular city, he keeps looking at the time. “When will I get home? Are we there yet?” Can you imagine if in an instant he finds himself on a rocket ship straight to his destination? You shortened the journey! Thank you for shortening the journey.

We thank you because you gave to us to fulfill what Christ said to us: “Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). We were lambs; our only weapons: our faith and the church we pray in. I carry no weapon in my hand. We are so grateful that you helped us fulfill this saying of Christ.

Thank you for helping us achieve our goal. You’re helping us, and you don’t even know it. I know you don’t understand, but I’m trying to explain it to you. There are people we visited at home to encourage them to come to church–three, four, five times. Still they won’t come. What you’re doing here–you’re bringing to church the people who never come. Believe me–it’s bringing to church the people who never come!

People who were living in sin and away from God, after the bombing of St. Peter’s Chapel in the Cathedral, they were saying, “You never know when your number’s up. Better take more care [in our spiritual lives].” All these vistations we do–you’re so much more effective. You’re filling up our churches! You’re filling our churches!

Let’s speak plainly here… Usually attendance at the Eve of Monday Pascha is very little. People are usually so tired after a long Palm Sunday Liturgy and the General Funeral, and they don’t come to the Eve of Monday services. When I came in tonight, there were people on chairs outside the sanctuary, there were people in the balcony seating. The church is completely full. There isn’t even one empty nook. Thank you. We are so grateful that you’re helping fill up our churches.

When you do this, you irritate the soul of the person who was lazy before. You wake his conscience and the love of God within him prods him to come to church.

Can you see why we thank you? We’re not being deceptive. A priest holding a microphone can’t lie to you! I say to you: THANK YOU. Thank you for all you have done for us without even noticing.

WE LOVE YOU

The second part of the message we want to send to you is that we love you. And this, unfortunately, you won’t understand at all. Maybe you won’t believe us when we say we’re grateful. But this–you won’t even understand. Why won’t you understand it? Because this too is a teaching of our Christ. I want to explain to you about our Christ. I want to tell you about how wonderful He is.

See what Christ said: If you love those who love you, you have no profit or reward with me. Even thugs and thieves love those who love them. Any gang loves its members. Even the drug dealers all like each other and take care of each other. Right? But I want to tell you that “if you love those who love you, what reward have you… But I say to you, love your enemies”(Matthew 5:46, 44).

We Christians don’t have enemies. We don’t have enemies; others make enmity with us. The Christian doesn’t make enemies because we are commanded to love everyone. And so, we love you because this is the teaching of our God–that I’m to love you–no matter what you do to me.

I love you very much. And I want to say one last thing to you: we’re praying for you. Because the One who told us to love you told us to “bless those who curse you… and PRAY for those who spitefully use you” (Matthew 5:44). So my instructions from my loving God make it my duty to pray for you.

In one of the dioceses, there is a bishop. In that diocese, there is a man who gets on the microphone every week to say terrible things about Christians–unheard of things. So the servants [of the diocese] are hearing this man and are so upset. We didn’t do anything to this man. He’s just taken a vow to curse us. Every Friday he comes out and curses the Christians.

So the bishop is sitting with his servants, and he asks them, “Are you upset by what this man says?” And they say, “Of course! We are so upset! What’s he doing to us!” The bishop gets quiet and his face darkens with sorrow. The servants say to him, “You have a right to be upset from what he says, Your Grace. You have a right.”

“I’m not upset with him,” the bishop says, “I’m upset with you! You are servants–you? How many of you pray for him every day? Because if he tasted of the love of God, if he knew who our Lord is, he could never hate again because God is love.

“How many of you are praying for him? Aren’t you servants! Aren’t you Christians! So you are a servant teaching in the Sunday School here, and you’ve broken the commandment of Christ to pray for this person?!”

So what do you think? How about we make a commitment to pray for them? Pray that they know the God of love? Pray that they experience the love of God? Because if they knew that God is love and experienced His love, they could not do these things–never, never, never.

They are a wretched lot. And because they are wretched, we must pray for them. But when someone loves God, he won’t know except love.

We need to pray for them so they can sleep at night. A person who has all this inside them, how can he sleep comfortably?

Can you imagine? We are being slaughtered and the King of Peace gives us peace to sleep. And the one who slaughters, all night he can’t sleep.

You know where this happens in the Bible? With Daniel and the king. Daniel is put in the lion’s den and he stays up all night praising God and praying for the king. And the king is up all night, tossing and turning, unable to sleep.

Pray for them. Take it as a command. Take it as a duty. Take it as the application of Christ’s instructions.

We must ALL pray for them today that God opens their eyes and open their hearts to His love.

Because if they knew Him, they could NEVER do this.

I don’t want to take too long. God comfort us. God give us understanding. God give us JOY because Christ’s promise is truth. He said, “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy NO ONE will take from you” (John 16:22).

I’m embarrassed to say at the beginning of Holy Week that the Church, though she is in pain, rejoices because today–I don’t know what the final count is. They said 40-something, and, of course, many people in the hospitals will catch up to them. All of these are crowns. They are rejoicing with God. And they will attend the Resurrection up there. And they are praying for us. The rest is on us.

O, you lucky, lucky, lucky ones! And until it is our turn.

To our God be the glory now and forever. Amen.

 

Two Pastors in Burma Detained More than Three Months Without Trial

Pastors Dom Dawng Nawng Latt (L) and La Jaw Gam Hseng. (Courtesy of Burma military

Burma (Morning Star News) – Two assistant pastors arrested by the Burma army have been jailed without trial for more than three months, sources said.

Pastors Dom Dawng Nawng Latt, 65, and 35-year-old La Jaw Gam Hseng were arrested on Dec. 24 after helping local journalists cover military conflict in northern Shan state, eastern Burma (Myanmar), where a Catholic Church building was bombed by Burma army jets in November. They are charged with unlawful association with an armed ethnic group, an accusation the Kachin Baptist Convention church leaders deny.

U Brang Di, attorney for the two pastors, told Morning Star News that normally suspects can be held for only 28 days without trial under Burmese law.

The prosecutor, Maj. Kyaw Zin Htun, has filed charges accusing the pastors of recruiting and spying for armed ethnic groups such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Under Burma’s Unlawful Association Act, the Christian leaders could face as much as three years in prison under Article 17/1 for making contributions to or assisting an “unlawful association,” and as much as five years under Article 17/2 for assisting in the management or promotion of one.

Brang Di said the case has been slowed by prosecution absences and the army’s effort to transfer the accused to a court in Lashio, in northeastern Shan state. Citing ongoing fighting between rebel and government forces in Shan state, the prosecutor sometimes has been unable to show up at court hearings, Brang Di said.

“The pastors can’t be detained for such a long time without trial, according to the law,” Brang Di said, adding that he was only stating the law, not complaining, as such delays are common in cases involving the army. “I will try my best to make them free in accordance with the law.”

The pastors on Dec. 24 went to the Byuha Gon military base to negotiate the release of a civilian couple who had complained to army officials about the destruction of their house, sources said. Military officials released the couple and detained the clergymen, they said, adding that the arrest was linked to the pastors helping journalists cover the bombing of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church building on Nov. 23-24.

The Unlawful Association Act, often invoked during Burma’s decades of rule by military junta to arrest suspected rebel sympathizers, is still used to stop Kachin state residents from making contact with KIA rebels, according to Radio Free Asia. Burmese and international rights groups have called on the government to amend or rescind the law so that Non-Governmental Organizations are not targeted under the act.

Armed conflict between Burma and ethnic separatist organizations erupted anew in northern Shan state in November 2016, forcing over 50,000 refugees in total to flee to other areas of the state and the border with China.

Zau Rau of the Kachin Baptist Convention in Muse Town, where the pastors are detained, said the KBC wants the trial completed as soon as possible.

“There is no development,” Rau said. “It seems they make the process long. We want the trial to begin soon.”

Also slowing the proceedings, he said, was the prosecutor adding charges to the case, most recently charging Pastor Latt with damaging the reputation of the army by allegedly telling media that soldiers burned rice stores belonging to civilians.

Human Rights Watch has decried the arrests as arbitrary and called on Burma to release the pastors immediately.

After more than five years of intensified conflict since Burma violated a 17-year cease-fire in 2011, many Kachin face protracted displacement and are desperate to return home, according to a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Burma army launched major offensives against the KIA for several months last year and took over several strategic military bases.

The KBC has provided aid to internally displaced people fleeing fighting between the government army and ethnic militias in both Kachin and Shan states, according to Radio Free Asia.

Burma is about 80 percent Buddhist and 9 percent Christian. The government has recognized the special status of Buddhism in Burma and promoted it as a means to consolidate support.

Burma ranked 28th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Secularist Group complains to Mississippi university about religious tweets by football coach

Hugh Freeze OM Football coach

The Oxford Eagle reported that a secularist legal organization that seeks to separate church and state has complained to Ole Miss that head football coach Hugh Freeze and an assistant football coach are wrongly using Twitter to promote religious beliefs.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter this week to Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter questioning what it calls “overly religious social media postings of football coaches at the University of Mississippi.”

“A concerned citizen reported to FFRF that University of Mississippi head football coach Hugh Freeze regularly promotes religion on his Twitter page,” the foundation attorney wrote in a letter sent to Chancellor Vitter.

“Recently, Freeze has tweeted statements such as ‘Lead us by your truth and teach us 2day, for you are the God who saves us! All day long I put my hope in you. Ps 25:5 – be a blessing 2day’ and ‘Here’s the best news ever, your eternal standing with God doesn’t depend on your goodness, but on God’s unshakable faithfulness’ via his twitter handle @CoachHughFreeze. Read more

The Oxford Eagle also wrote an opinion piece encouraging the coach to keep on tweeting.

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