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They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. Heb.11:37-38
My Brothers and Sisters,
On this day, 3 years ago, the Islamic State terror group (ISIS) shared video footage of 21 followers of Jesus being martyred on the shores of Libya. The 20 Egyptian men and 1 from Chad/also linked to Ghana, had traveled to Libya for jobs as laborers to make a living and care for their families back home. They were captured and had their throats slit by ISIS for being ‘people of the Cross’. Each one died with the name of Jesus on their lips.
Shortly after this tragedy, the Bible Society Egypt quickly printed and distributed a scripture tract with encouraging verses and promise of blessing amid suffering to the nation. More than 1.6 million copies of the tract called, Two Rows by the Sea” was printed and shared with the churches. It was designed to be given to any Egyptian and included Bible verses to comfort the mourning and challenge people to commit to Christ.
In response to their execution, the tract also included a poem written by Dr Shady George. In the link below a brother reads this moving poem in his heart language of Arabic, but with English subtitles.
Based on the poem, a dear sister put together a beautiful music video remembering these martyrs of Jesus.
Richard Wurmbrand had often commented that it was never considered a first century church service unless the martyrs were remembered. Dear saints, let us remember those who paid the ultimate price in following their Savior, the martyrs, the witnesses of Jesus who lay down their lives on the altar and slain for the word of God and the testimony that they maintain. For sure they will be honored by Jesus and receive the reward of their inheritance.
Then I saw thrones and they sat on them and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, Rev. 20:4
Posted in honor of those who have been slain for Jesus.
Serving as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch,
In honor of the Feast Day of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, 326 A.D., we are posting once again this commentary on the defender of faith against Arianism with an update on this year’s aggressive American Atheists’ attacks on Christmas.
The following article contains a section that originally appeared on the American Spectator in 2008, and is reproduced with permission.
It is Christmas, the holiday that dares not speak its name, that may alienate the American Atheists. But unlike the angry atheists, somehow hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens who are not Christians, and may or may not have their own exclusive holidays to celebrate, manage to slog through the Christmas season with their feelings unscathed and even enjoying Christmas festivities along with their Christian neighbors!
This year’s attack comes in the form of telling people to skip church and calling the birth of Christ “fake news.” They also go after President Trump, naturally.
“When people are brought down to being just equal after occupying a position of privilege in the country, when they’re made to be equal or just another one of the multitude of religions, I can understand how they think it’s an attack,” the uber-defensive Nick Fish, National Program Director for the American Atheists, told Newsweek. “But it’s not. It’s equality. The government not giving special treatment to you is not an assault on your rights.” Wow! I can’t wait to see the billboard going after Muslims for “fake news” and telling Sharia-pushers that they do not deserve special treatment.
Newsweek said, “The organization is wary of increasingly partisan divides in the government — like Trump’s vow to end the “War on Christmas” during his term — but Fish said it made the group ‘even more excited to sound off’ this year.” Because of course there were no partisan divides in Obama’s administration.
The militant atheist groups — the ones that are really mad at God — have been at it for a while now. Here are some examples:
Christmas 2013: The non-believers launched a 40′ x 40′ digital billboard in New York’s Time Square on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, according to their press release. “Who Needs Christ During Christmas?” the billboard demands. Next, a hand appears and draws an “X” through Christ and the billboard purports to answer its own arrogant question, “Nobody.” Then the display advises, “Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas” and offers its own reasons for the season: charity, family, fun, lights, food, hot chocolate, snow, Rockettes, Chinese food.
The American Atheists seem to believe, as some non-liturgical Christians do, that “Xmas” is taking the “Christ” out of Christmas! In reality, the X in “Xmas” comes from the Greek letter Chi, the first letter in the Greek word Χριστός, or Christ. It is combined with P, the Greek letter Rho, as a symbol of Christ both in artistic treasures such as the Book of Kells as well as in the gold glitter-covered Styrofoam Chrismon ornaments for Christmas trees.
But before the Atheists were on billboards urging people not to go to church on Christmas, saying “you hate it, it’s boring; you probably only go because you feel guilty or obligated” (obviously the American Atheists have never visited my church!), the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the American Humanist Association were peppering the skies with secular tidings.
In the Christmas season of 2010, the FFRF, more recently known for its atheists “out of the closet” campaign, littered the greater Albuquerque area with such pithy sayings as Imagine No Religion, Praise Darwin, Reason’s Greetings, and Yes, Virginia, There is No God.
Wow! Albuquerque gets hammered with heresy a lot! This year’s American Atheists’ billboard design about skipping church and fake news appeared in the Albuquerque and Dallas “markets.”
In 2009, the American Humanist Association (AHA) launched a National Godless Holiday Campaign. Ads that ran in five major American cities (but not Albuquerque!) declared, “No God? No Problem!” AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt explained, “Religion does not have a monopoly on morality–millions of people are good without believing in God.”
The AHA has also maligned Santa. In mid-November 2008, ads began appearing on Washington, D.C. area Metro buses and ran through December. The ads featured a strange Santa-garbed person with Rastafarian braids. They also included the admonition from the familiar Christmas song “Here Comes Santa Claus” to be “good for goodness’ sake.” The American Humanist Association spokesman, Fred Edwards, said that there were “an awful lot of agnostics, atheists, and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion.”
AHA’s second reason to deck the halls and Metro buses with posters of apostasy was to declare that “humanists have always understood that you don’t need a god to be good.” According to Roy Speckhardt, executive director of AHA, “Morality doesn’t come from religion. It’s a set of values embraced by individuals and society based on empathy, fairness, and experience.”
Morality definitely does not come from “religion.” In fact, sometimes immorality, downright evil, comes from religion. It all depends upon the object of worship. The Swiss philosopher/poet Henri Frederic Amiel confirmed this when he said, “The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man which it forms. If a system injures the intelligence it is bad. If it injures the character it is vicious. If it injures the conscience it is criminal.”
Mr. Speckhardt did not explain from where the empathy and fairness originate. What is the source of that sense of fairness, the sense of right and wrong? Does it just spring from nowhere? C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity gives a reasonable answer to this question. It begins with a brilliant exposition on “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.” And Christian apologists such as Frank Turek follow in Lewis’ footsteps, debating regularly this moral conundrum, even with the likes of the late Christopher Hitchens.
So what would Santa think of AHA’s attempt to identify him with their Advent attack? Even the Santa portrayed in the lyrics of Gene Autry, who is not exactly remembered for his theological prowess, is said to “know that we are all God’s children.”
But would the real Santa Claus have a stronger reaction to AHA? (Yes, FFRF, there is a Santa Claus.) St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra, in 4th century Asia Minor, now Turkey. In addition to being remembered for his generosity and compassion to the poor and to children, Bishop Nicholas was the kind of “muscular Christian” that makes the folks at the National Council of Churches shudder. He was a staunch defender of Christian orthodoxy and would not be too pleased with the “Why believe in a god?” mentality.
During his tenure [as] bishop, he attended the first ecumenical council of the Church, which had been called to deal with the growing heresy of Arianism. Arianism, named after Arius, a North African priest who was its key proponent, denied the full deity of Jesus Christ and said that he was a created being. Nicholas struck a blow for orthodoxy, slapping Arius in the face after he spoke. My former colleague, Bart Gingerich, has written about this, as well.
Nicholas might well deal with the American Humanist Association in the same manner in which he dispatched poor Arius, but probably, being older and wiser, and “good, for goodness sake,” he would refrain from physical violence and just urge those who believe in God to assert their right to believe, and to flaunt their belief as publicly as AHA flaunts its unbelief. That’s good advice from St. Nick.
A group of liberal clergy gathered at a Fort Worth, Texas abortion clinic to “bless” its staff and patients, sing “Hallelujah,” and support abortion as a woman’s “God-given right.”
The Texas Observer reported liberal clergy organized by the Religious Institute gathered last Thursday, November 9, to pray for God’s blessings over the abortion clinic and counter the narrative “Anti-abortion advocacy is often inextricably tied to religion.”
The pro-abortion prayer event was organized by Kentina Washington-Leapheart, a minister who earned her Master of Divinity degree from the United Methodist-affiliated Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and director of programs for reproductive justice and sexuality education at the Religious Institute. READ MORE
HELP stop the #profiteering by T-Moble that attacks your right to #pray for free! What can you do right now. SIGN and share this petition not only because it affects our mission’s prayer call for the persecuted, but your ability to join a prayer line without being charged a fee.
Prayer should never come with a cost.
The right to pray for free is under attack by T-Mobile. Despite its aggressive advertising campaign – including Super Bowl spots – positioning the company as the #Uncarrier for offering the “first unlimited subscription” void of surcharges, bogus fees and assorted taxes, the mobile conglomerate is waging a war on prayer. T-Mobile is blatantly, but surreptitiously charging an additional $0.01 per minute to customers who call prayer lines using free conference call services. One such service that has been affected is FreeConferenceCall.com, of which tens of thousands of prayer line callers have been affected by these charges and have taken to social media to voice their opinions about T-Mobile.
Many T-Mobile customers call into prayer lines multiple times a week to pray with others for long periods of time, resulting in hundreds of dollars a year added to their service plan costs. By forcing them to pay additional fees for these calls, T-Mobile is effectively cutting off a spiritual lifeline for its loyal customers who cannot afford these charges.
We are asking for your help to take action to prevent T-Mobile and any other greedy cellphone carriers who follow suit from gouging and targeting prayer customers with unnecessary and unfair costs. We strongly urge everyone interested in maintaining religious liberty to support the right of all people to pray together, free of costs and other barriers. Please call upon T-Mobile and any other corporations considering similar action to stop charging customers unfair, punitive and discriminatory fees that were designed to prevent faithful people of all religions from praying for free. Help the millions of individuals who utilize these services for prayer by signing and sharing this petition.
Come pray with us! International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted IDOP 2017 Conference Call Events.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
The Apostle John wrote about a war that Satan is declaring on the Saints.
So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17
Paul describes this as a spiritual war and he exhorts the believers to stand strong in the Lord.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13
John and Paul understood the spiritual war to be manifested in persecution as they suffered for their faith in Jesus. John was exiled and imprisoned on the island of Patmos. Paul was imprisoned and beheaded.
Two thousand years later the war continues. Satan is still waging war against the faithful, which is clearly evident, through increasing persecution of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. They, who are in the shadow of the cross, who dare to stand for Him.
This raging storm, our persecuted family faces, is that spiritual war. One that cannot be fought with fleshly means. For this is a war against demonic forces that can only be defeated by spiritual means. It’s a battle to the end that must be waged spiritually with the word of God on our knees in prayer. I recall that Brother Andrew once said that prayer is the battle.
Our brother, Paul wrote in Ephesians exhorting believers to pray for one another.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
What can we do?
This coming November, individually and corporately, we will have the opportunity to join with millions of other believers around the world to lift up our persecuted family in prayer. The first two Sundays in November (11/5 and 11/12) have been designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP 2017). Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted, in collaboration with International Orality Network and other global ministries(TBA), will unite to host two 12-hour IDOP prayer conference calls for our persecuted family. This is your opportunity to come and pray and be the voice of the persecuted Church through those prayers. Please mark your calendar to stand in the gap and join the calls to lift-up our brothers and sisters suffering for Christ.
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.
Meet you on the call!
Your brother in Christ,
Serving Jesus as Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch
Participating Global Advocates
SPEAK UP against persecution—DEFEND those discriminated—HELP those in need—PRAY for those suffering.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
Location: Any location from your phone
PRINT/DOWNLOAD FLYER IDOP 2017 Prayer Conference Call (please share with pastors, church members, prayer groups)
Sunday November 5
Sunday November 12
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time
6 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain time
5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time
International numbers and Mobile App links available
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 IDOP Prayer 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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The weekly Persecution Watch Prayer Call meets at 9pm EST every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
As in former years, Easter was under attack in various Muslim nations, most spectacularly in Egypt. On April 9, two Coptic Christian Orthodox churches packed with worshippers for Palm Sunday Mass, which initiates Easter holy week, were attacked by Islamic suicide bombers. Twenty-seven people—mostly children—were killed in St. George’s in Tanta, northern Egypt. “Where is the government?” an angry Christian there asked AP reporters. “There is no government! There was a clear lapse in security, which must be tightened from now on to save lives.” Less than two hours later, 17 people were killed in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. Since the original building, founded by the Evangelist Mark in the first century, was burned to the ground during the seventh century Muslim invasions of Egypt, the church has been the historic seat of Coptic Christianity. Pope Tawadros, who was present—and apparently targeted—emerged unharmed. About 50 Christians were killed in the two bombings, 126 wounded and many mutilated. (Graphic images/video of aftermath here.)
A few days earlier, on April 1, 3,000 fatwas [opinions by Islamic authorities] inciting the destruction of churches in Egypt had been circulated throughout Egypt. A number of Egyptian Christians interviewed after the twin bombings said that government-funded mosques regularly incite hatred and violence for Christians over their loudspeakers. In other mosques, according to Michael, a middle-aged Christian, “there are prayers to harm Christians. They incite to violence, youths are being filled with hatred against us and acting on it. It concerns us all. It leads to terrorism and to Christians being targeted.” Separately a Christian woman said, “The problem starts at school where children are treated differently. In school some refused to speak to me because I was a Christian.”
In Nigeria, Muslim Fulani herdsmen randomly opened fire on a Christian village. According to Bishop Bagobiri, “The attack came when the people were in the church for the Easter Vigil celebration.” The Muslim gunmen killed “at least 12 persons on the spot, with many injured,” including women and children. Instead of celebrating Easter Sunday, the bishop and a local priest presided over the burial of “at least ten Catholics.” The bishop publicly accused the local governor, a Muslim, of complicity with the perpetrators and bias against their victims.
In Pakistan, a “major terrorist attack” targeting Christians during Easter celebrations was foiled, according to the nation’s military. An Islamic militant was killed and four soldiers injured during the raid. Among the Muslim terrorists arrested was a female second-year medical student who said she was preparing to “martyr” herself as part of a suicide attack on a church during Easter Sunday. Last year in Lahore, an Easter Day Islamic attack left more than 70 people dead.
In Indonesia, 300 Christians from two churches that remain sealed by authorities in West Java, celebrated their fifth Easter by protesting outside the presidential palace in hopes that the president lifts a banning order preventing them from holding services in their own houses of worship. Both churches are legally registered but “are being persecuted by local authorities who refuse to allow them to worship in (more…)
(Forum 18) reports that after ten years’ service as a parish priest Fr Robert Maciejewski was forced to return to his native Poland because Belarus’ senior state religious affairs official refused the Catholic bishop’s request to extend state permission for him to continue religious work.
Another foreign Catholic priest has been forced to leave Belarus after the authorities refused to extend permission for him to continue to serve in the country. Polish citizen Fr Robert Maciejewski – who served as parish priest in Mstislav in Mogilev [Mahilyow] Region for almost ten years – had to leave Belarus on 25 April.
Fr Maciejewski left Belarus because the authorities had not extended his permit to carry out religious activities, the spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Fr Yuri Sanko, confirmed to Forum 18 from the capital Minsk on 23 May. Fr Sanko did not explain the reasons for the denial.
Fr Maciejewski’s enforced departure from Belarus came two weeks after the diocesan head, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, had called for the state to end the requirement that foreign citizens need permission to conduct any religious activity (see below).
Another Polish Catholic priest who left Belarus at the end of May after 28 years’ service had seen his application for Belarusian citizenship rejected five years ago.
Meanwhile, organisers of a bike ride in mid-May to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the publication of the first translation of books of the Bible into Belarusian were told both the ride and meetings they had planned in several towns along the route were banned.
And court bailiffs visited New Life Full Gospel Church in Minsk in late April in a renewed attempt to force it to vacate the building it bought and has used for worship for 14 years. Church leaders hope that negotiations with the authorities will resolve the dispute. Read full article.
An Indonesian court has found Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison, in a trial that is widely seen as a test of religious tolerance and pluralism in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.
Following the verdict, the five-judge panel ordered Ahok’s immediate arrest. Ahok has said he will appeal.
A Christian with ethnic Chinese roots, Ahok is a double minority, and the case against him has sparked uproar in Indonesia.
Thousands of police have been deployed in the capital in case clashes break out between Ahok supporters and opponents who have demanded he be sacked and jailed. read more
Pray for Indonesia!