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(Voice of the Persecuted) Today, Christians are facing unprecedented persecution simply for being followers of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Warned, “These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” John 16:1-2 (NASB)
Why, because we do not worship their god.
“These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.” John 16:3-4 (NASB)
On Thursday, the U.S. government even declared genocide was being committed against Christians in the Middle East. Though not yet officially recognized, Christians in other parts of the world are also facing or on the verge of experiencing the same. Please pray for them.
When we are facing great trials, Jesus will either calm the storm or become our anchor for us to hold on to and stay afloat. Still at other times, Christ offers Himself as the shelter so that we can ride out the storm under His wing and protection. You can count on Him to be with you through it all. We were never promised that our lives as Christians will be easy, but we are promised that we will never be alone. As revealed in the Scriptures, He will never leave us. There is a victory in Christ, no matter the outcome!
We choose to respond to trials and hardships either with or without God. We were told that in this world we will have trouble. When it comes our way, instead of becoming bitter and angry or giving in to the despair, let us turn to the Lord for hope, comfort, guidance and peace. A divine peace that can be found nowhere else.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NASB) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Father God, we pray that your Almighty hand be on our suffering brothers and sisters. Be with them, holding them in their grief, mourning and sorrow. Father, calm the stress they’re experiencing and give them strength to endure all attacks from the enemy. Silence the Evil One who deceives with whispers, that You have forgotten us. May the Holy Spirit rain down grace and comfort on them. May they feel Your presence and know you are with them through it all. Give us Your heart for those that suffer, may we remember to keep them at the forefront of our prayers and to care for their needs. Lord, we ask that you guide us in the struggles of this life. Teach us Father, to respond not in our flesh, but in Your will. Help us to rely on and rest in the peace that is found only in You. In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Joshua 1:9 (NASB) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
God bless you, brothers and sisters. Don’t give up! Let go of the today’s struggles and Just Be Held.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate the horrific suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
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:
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If you’ve knelt beside the rubble of an aching broken heart
When the things you gave your life to fell apart
You’re not the first to be acquainted with sorrow, grief or pain
But the master promised sunshine after rain
Hold on my child joy comes in the morning
Weeping only last for the night
Hold on my child Joy comes in the morning
The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight
To invest your seeds of trust in God in mountains you can’t move
You have risked your life on things you cannot prove
But to give the things you cannot keep for what you cannot lose
Now, that’s the way to find the joy God has for you
Hold on my child joy comes in the morning
Weeping only last for the night
Hold on my child Joy comes in the morning
The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight
Yes, The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight It’s just in sight
Who has held the oceans in His hands? Who has numbered every grain of sand? Kings and nations tremble at His voice. All creation rises to rejoice
Behold our God seated on His throne
Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!
Who has given counsel to the Lord? Who can question any of His Words? Who can teach the One who knows all things? Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?
Who has felt the nails upon His hands bearing all the guilt of sinful man?
God eternal humbled to the grave. Jesus, Savior risen now to reign! (Behold Our God, original lyrics)
STOP, be still. Turn off the all that distracts you. Shhh, be silent and listen. Can you hear that? The ONE who loves you is calling your name…Go to HIM!
The Christian civilization is in great danger. Today about 100 million followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ are being persecuted. People are suffering or sometimes even dying for their faith not only in the countries of the Middle East, Northern and Southern Africa but also in South East Asia – regions that are essentially non-Christian. The believers in Europe and America, i.e. residents of the states where the adoption of Christianity in the past determined their development and formation, increasingly often face anti-religious prosecution.
“The last few decades have been tied to the process of final separation of the European values from the religious values. The secularization of modern Europe is going very fast. Its goal is to leave the religious values only for private, absolutely individual use by the people. A few years ago when the European Constitution was adopted, they seriously debated the issue whether the word God could be left in the document. Back then it was decided that the word God should not be mentioned in that document. In other words, the entire religious component, traditional for the many centuries of Europe’s development, back then was left out of the modern view of the world. That is why they are currently trying to take out all the religious symbols and referrals from use”.
The persecutors are no longer shy to demonstratively give up their spiritual roots, to adopt laws that contradict the biblical rules, to ban all mass festivals with Christian attributes and try to replace the traditional faith by a non-traditional one. A couple of days ago the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom officially accepted scientology as a religion. In today’s EU, the cases when Christian churches and sacred objects are sold, desecrated or sometimes completely destroyed are taking place more and more often. With the silent consent of the European society about 200 unique ancient churches of Kosovo and Metohija have been lost. The Hagia Sofia, the famous church of Constantinople (now Istanbul) is also under threat. That grand cathedral-monument that goes back to the first centuries of Christianity might soon be turned into a mosque once again. With such an attitude towards the historic religion, muezzins’ call to prayer will soon be heard all over Europe. Pavel Svyatenkov, a political scientist, expressed the following concern:
“As the sacred place does not remain empty for long, the European Union is most likely in for islamization. Today Islam is actively spreading. Representatives of that religion come to Europe from Middle Eastern and African countries. However, I am convinced that with the current persecution of Christianity, the conservative layers of society will start protesting more loudly. For example, the decision made by the French president François Hollande to make legal same sex marriages, which this year went through the parliament, caused great protests in the country”.
Not only secular politicians, liberals and atheists are to blame for Christianity leaving Europe, but also the followers themselves. Despite the fact that the rights of Christians are violated practically every day, many people are in no rush to defend them. The appeals to the European Court to restore religious freedoms are quite rare. Meanwhile, there have been several cases at the European Court of Human Rights when the fairness in the area of faith has been restored, says Philipp Ryabykh, a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church at the Council of Europe:
“At some point a woman from Italy tried to prove that the schools in the country have no right to place a crucifix on the walls. Initially the ECHR passed a decision in favor of the woman and enacted that the country’s authorities took down all religious symbols from state schools. But then the same court revised its decision and passed a different verdict. The decision protected the presence in schools of crucifix as a symbol of Christian culture and identity”.
However, the revision of the crucifix case became possible only due to the protests expressed to the ECHR by many countries, including Russia. By the way, the Moscow Patriarchy has repeatedly expressed sharp criticism of any demonstration of Christianity-phobia and has appealed to the European community with a request to protect Christians. In 2011 a special document was passed at the meeting of the Holy Synod, in which Russian bishops called upon the political authorities, social activists and scientists, as well as international organizations to apply maximum effort in fighting the persecution of Christians.
(Voice of the Persecuted) “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:12-16).
Some tell us, “There is nothing we can do about persecution, it’s predicted in the Bible.” We disagree.
And, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:18-20)
Yes, it is true, Jesus warned in advance that those who have faith in Him will see persecution. But we believe there is much we can do to help aid in their suffering and is expected of us as their family in Christ.
The topic of persecution can be overwhelming, disheartening and at times very depressing for many to hear or even consider. The Bible says we are one in the Body and special care should be given to every part. It also says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; and if one rejoices, all rejoice with it.”
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”(verses 18-20)
“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (verses 21:26)
We are expected to care about each other, to encourage one another for strength and building up in faith and love. Sometimes, it is hard for many of us to know exactly how to pray for those being persecuted. Let’s take a look in the Bible for an example of an early Christian suffering persecution for his Christ-centered faith and his reaction to it.
In prison, the Apostle Paul’s dire situation and his hopeful outlook is shown in one of his four prison epistles. It was a message of joy. The word joy is repeated 16 times in the letter. Having spiritual joy and rejoicing in Christ is the main message.
Paul wrote to concerned believers “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice” (Philippians 1:18) while under house arrest in Rome. He also tells them, “for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”(verse 19). Paul was confident in the outcome of his situation. No matter how hopeless it seemed, no matter what or how dark, God’s will shall be done.
He also had faith that the power of the Holy Spirit would see him through his predicament. Through Christ, he could face the worst and come out on top. What may happen to him in the future was not a concern for him.
Paul’s being in prison was not easy. However, that was not the issue for Paul. He learned to be content in all occasions, good and bad. He encouraged others, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”(Philippians 4:12)
Paul was uncertain of the trials before him. He then encourages the church to have hope, joy and peace. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”(Philippians 4:4-5) In essence, commanding the members to feel victorious. Suffering in prison, he tells them: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (verses 6-7).
In another letter, to the Ephesians and with little to look forward to, Paul again is in chains. But he is passionately thankful for God’s spiritual gifts. It is these gifts of joy, peace, faith and hope that got Paul through his trials. Gifts we need to sustain us in life. Paul tells us the source of these blessings. “Praise be to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) If Christ lives in us, these gifts have been given to us. They are indestructible because they have their source in Christ, who is always with us and our spiritual blessings are secure.
2 Thessalonians 3:2 (NASB) and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
Romans 15:30-31(NASB) Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints;
2 Corinthians 1:11(NASB) you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
Philemon 1:22 (NASB) At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.
Romans 1:10-12 (NASB) always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Romans 1:8 (NASB) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.
1 Thessalonians 1:6-9 (NASB) You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to Godfrom idols to serve a living and true God,
1 Thessalonians 3:10 (NASB) as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?
Hebrews 13:18-19 (NASB) Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.
I have heard some say, including Christians that there are those who long to become martyrs. For most of us, our human nature does not welcome pain, abuse and suffering. If we are willing to receive the pain that comes from persecution, it is not for the purpose of achieving a special status. It is because we are grateful for the gift of being called into the Body of Christ!
When praying for those persecuted, pray specifically for the strengthening of faith and God given gifts. “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3) Pray often as we would want our family in Christ to pray for us if we too were in the same situation.
Be blessed and encouraged, God is with us! The sufferings in life including persecution, can not be compared with God’s purpose and eternal future for each of us. The good news is we can have the strength to endure all the hard times that come into our lives. As believers, we are told that we do not face life’s problems alone, but do so with the Holy Spirit through Christ in us.
Philippians 4:13 (NASB) I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
In other words, We can endure all things through Him who strengthens us. We can overcome!
By L. Kanalos, Voice of the Persecuted
SHELBY COUNTY, TN,- Initially, when told of the assignment, Erin asked if she could right about God. Erin’s teacher said no. Undeterred, Erin did two assignments. When she attempted to hand in her assignment about God, the teacher rejected it and told her that Erin had to take her paper about God off of school property because it might violate the First Amendment for it to remain in the classroom! For her second try, Erin chose Michael Jackson, which her teacher said was deemed acceptable. Afterward, students openly mocked Erin’s belief in God, causing her to ask her mother about whether she is allowed to talk about God in school.
Liberty Institute reminded the school district of Erin’s religious liberty, this week Erin was able to turn in her assignment with God as her subject.
“Of course students can talk and write about God in school,” said Liberty Attorney Jeremy Dys. “Young teachers, like Erin’s, have been barraged with so much false information for so long that they are afraid that a 10-year-old student’s coloring assignment might violate the First Amendment. That kind of intimidation by the ACLU and Freedom from Religion Foundation is wrong and is precisely what Liberty Institute was founded to combat.”
After discussions with Liberty Institute attorneys, Shelby County Schools reversed the decision of their teacher and allowed Erin to turn in her original assignment about God. And, she earned
Erin’s mother told reporters that she simply “wanted Erin’s right to be able to express herself not to ever be taken away again.”
“I just wanted every Christian to know that we have a right to be able to express ourselves,” she told the news reporter. “We understand that they’ve taken prayer out of schools, but they cannot take God out of our children.”
Black Christian News shares that in an exclusive interview, the Rev. Billy Graham tells Newsmax that President Obama’s “hope and change” mantra is nothing more than a cliché and warns that the nation faces increasing threats to civil and religious liberties from its government.
Graham, who is preparing for possibly his last crusade, this time via video, said America is drenched in a “sea of immorality” and suggested that the second coming of Christ is “near.”
“Our country is turning away from what has made it so great,” he continued, “but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly, is to know that God knows our every thought; he knows our hearts need transformation.”