Platitudes, Proclamations, and Twisted Scripture

July 29, 2014 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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When I see people post statuses by famous megachurch pastors talking about how we are conquerers or how we have God’s favor or how we’re blessed beyond measure: I can’t help but wonder:

Are the Christians in Mosul who are being murdered by Muslims solely because they profess Christ actually false believers? Or do they just lack the amount of faith it takes to be conquerers/have God’s favor/be blessed beyond measure. I mean, surely, if they were REAL Christians like the megachurch pastors, they wouldn’t have their houses burned down, they wouldn’t be fleeing the city that 4 generations of their family has lived in, and they wouldn’t be watching their children be slaughtered before their very eyes before being martyred themselves. Continue Reading Platitudes, Proclamations, and Twisted Scripture…

News Bites 05/04/14

May 4, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Glenn Beck Invokes Joseph Smith, Mormon Beliefs During Liberty University Speech
http://christiannews.net/2014/05/04/glenn-beck-invokes-joseph-smith-mormon-beliefs-during-liberty-university-speech

Radio talk show host Glenn Beck gave a speech to the Liberty University student body in which he talked about atonement, Joseph Smith, and his Mormon theology. He told those gathered that he shares their faith and that he had been given a special message for the Liberty students. Beck talked about Joseph Smith being martyred and made a connection between Smith and the students. He told them that they had to figure out what purpose God had sent them here to accomplish. Continue Reading News Bites 05/04/14…

Persecution Fridays – Pakistan – New Blasphemy Charge

March 16, 2012 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Pakistan: New Blasphemy Charge

Dildar Yousaf, 28, was arrested and charged with blasphemy after defending his 8-year-old nephew from a group of Muslim boys on June 10, 2011. That morning, Dildar’s nephew, Ehtasham, was taunted by a group of boys as he passed the madrassa on his way to the market. A madrassa is a school where Islamic students study the Quran.

As Ehtasham walked by the madrassa, seven boys gathered around him and tried to force him to become a Muslim by repeating the phrase, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” Ehtasham refused, and the boys began to scream at him and beat him.

Ehtasham’s uncle, Dildar, happened to pass by at that moment. Dildar pulled his nephew away from the boys and took him back home. Dildar then went on to his job. That afternoon, the news spread that Dildar had disgraced the Muslim proclamation of faith; the news was repeated from one mosque loudspeaker to another. Soon Muslim crowds began to shout, “Kill him! Death for the blasphemer!”

Police picked up Dildar from his workplace and put him in protective custody. They also filed a blasphemy charge against him under Pakistani law 298A, which carries the lightest sentence for blasphemers. (Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who was charged with blasphemy under 298C, was sentenced to death. Her case is on appeal.)

Dildar remains in prison as his case progresses through the justice system. His blasphemy charge carries a potential three-year sentence, with the possibility of parole. Dildar’s wife, Naseem, and two children have had to leave their home and move in with her family in another village because of ongoing threats. Ehtasham and his family have also had to leave their village. VOM is supporting the family and providing legal assistance to Dildar.

Dildar’s village has a history of persecution. In the past, a Christian’s house was burned, a pastor was killed, and believer Ayub Masih was charged with blasphemy. “Muslims have always looked down on us,” Ayub told VOM workers. “We cannot send our children to school, and we cannot feed our animals because we cannot go into the fields. We live under the fear that anything can happen any time.”

Persecution Fridays – Pakistan – Praying in Prison

March 2, 2012 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Pakistan: Praying in Prison

What do you do while imprisoned in solitary confinement for more than two years? The answer for one Pakistani Christian is “pray.” Asia Bibi has spent almost three years in prison on charges that she blasphemed Islam’s prophet Muhammad. She was convicted and sentenced to death, and she now awaits the ruling on her appeal. To protect her from other inmates, she has been kept in solitary confinement. She cooks her own food to ensure that no one tries to poison her.

VOM has supported Asia’s family during her long imprisonment and has stayed in touch with Asia through her faithful husband, Ashiq. In January, a VOM staff member was able to visit Asia in prison for the first time since she received the death penalty. Ashiq and the VOM worker spent 25 minutes with Asia, but they were separated by a tight metal screen.

“She had a smiley face full of joy and thanksgiving,” said the VOM worker. Asia said she was thankful for the visit and that she was happy and fine. She reported that jail officials were taking good care of her and that the superintendent, sympathetic to her extreme loneliness, promised to bring her any books she wanted. A female guard is with her at all times.

Asia told the VOM worker about another way she has been blessed. “There is a beautiful thing that happens every day in my cell. Two days after they announced my death penalty, I was brought into the death cell [death row]. Every morning around 3:30 or 4, a brown bird with a long beak appears and sits on the boundary wall. This bird also comes every evening around 5. He sits there for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Later on he became my friend. I talk to him and he also talks to me.

“As I watched this bird every day, I tried to understand the meaning of him coming day after day. I think this is a messenger from God giving me his message. When the bird comes, I feel encouraged and peaceful. I feel comforted after his visit. I think this is very significant sign from God.”

Asia is allowed to walk in the courtyard every day for a few minutes, but she is always accompanied by guards. Other prisoners attend religious services in the jail every week, but Asia is not allowed to attend. So in her loneliness, she prays.

“I am praying every day,” she said. “I am strong in my faith. I know that this is a test of my faith and I know to make gold, it must be purified; it has to be put in the fire.

“I am not worried about myself, but I am worried about the VOM workers who are helping me, which is very dangerous. I pray for them every day.

“I don’t know the names, but I know the people from USA are helping me; I pray for them also. I pray for the people around the world who are praying for me.” Asia also prays for the families of two men, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, both of whom were killed for their support of Asia.

“I am very thankful to them that they sacrificed their lives for me,” Asia said. She is also thankful for the financial support provided to her family. “I know you are the people helping me and my family and fighting my case in the court. I am very thankful to Lord for this.”

Asia asked how her two young daughters are doing. She wanted to make sure they are going to school and church, concerned they might stray from what she wants for them. Ashiq assured her that the girls are attending school and church. “I am thankful they are doing this,” she said.

Asia, Ashiq and the VOM worker finished their time together with prayer. They prayed for the court, the judge, the attorneys and the jail’s staff. And Asia prayed that God would bless her and make her life an example to the other prisoners.

She ended with, “I pray that God will forgive the people who blamed me. … I know God helps his people and he will release me. I want to appeal to the world to pray for a miracle to release me from jail and that I stand strong in my faith.”

Please join Asia in her appeal for release by signing the petition at www.CallForMercy.com. And above all, pray.

Persecution Fridays: Indonesia – Pastor Arrested

November 18, 2011 at 10:05 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Indonesia: Pastor Arrested

After closing the Indonesia Pentecost Church (Gpdi) in Sumedang, Indonesia, for using an illegal building permit, authorities arrested the church’s pastor for forcing others to attend church. The church was built more than 24 years ago, and it has experienced threats only within the last few months.

“This church building is a permanent building, and it has been there for more than 24 years,” said Theophilus Belo, director of Jakarta Christian Communication Forum (FKKJ). “During that time, everything was going well. But on July this year, this congregation got a problem. Their church has been closed by local administration.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, a local administrative group threatened to close the church. The church had previously received a letter urging them to stop Christian activities, and the district head of Jatinangor in Sumedang, Nandang Suparman, said the church building had no legal building permit.

“Until today we have not yet received their building permit documentation application,” Suparman said. “We have checked if they are already submitting it from a district administrative level. On May this year, if I’m not mistaken, we sent them a letter to urge them to start applying for their building permit. We are already giving them a chance to start applying, but they don’t do it.”

Suparman urged the church to move its services into a church building belonging to the Institute of Public Administration (IPND). “I’ll talk with the leaders of IPND that this congregation is permitted to use their institute’s church building,” he said.

The Indonesian Christian organization Kabar Gereja reports that the IPND cannot accommodate the congregations of any more closed churches. At least 14 churches have been relocated to the IPND’s church building.

Gpdi’s pastor was put on trial on Oct. 3 at Sumedang Government Court, and he faces up to three months in prison for forcing others to attend church. The church’s closure adds to the long list of churches that have been closed by Indonesian authorities. Other church leaders have also been arrested after their churches closed, according to Kabar Gereja. According to the FKKJ, at least 30 churches have been closed or burned in Indonesia in 2011.

Persecution Fridays – Egypt – Video Sparks Protest

November 4, 2011 at 9:49 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: http://www.persecution.com

Egypt: Video Sparks Protests

A YouTube video of 25 Egyptian soldiers beating Coptic Christian Raef After Faheem prompted a protest by thousands of Coptic Christians on Sunday, Oct. 9.

“[I] would like to let you know that millions of Egyptian Christians will go out to the streets all over Egypt — from all the cities — to demonstrate against the army leaders because of the video,” a VOM contact wrote the day before the protests. “The Muslim group and Salafi movement are threatening the Christians, saying that we do not have any rights in the country. We do not know what could happen tomorrow, but we decided to go out and [use] our voices against persecution.”

The military fired at demonstrators when the protests began Sunday afternoon, and videos posted online show increased violence as military vehicles ran over protestors. According to VOM contacts, the Egyptian military eventually attacked the hospital where injured Christians were being treated and even tried to kill hospital employees. International news agencies report that at least 24 people have been killed, including at least 17 Christians.

The violence began after Muslim extremists attacked a recently rebuilt Christian church in Sohag, near Cairo. The governor of Sohag protected the church’s attackers and said, “If the Muslims did not destroy the church on that day, I would go destroy it myself.” Shocked by the governor’s comment, the Christians held a demonstration at a TV and radio building, and the Egyptian army responded to the demonstrations. A VOM contact said, “They were very [tough] in beating and attacking the Christians instead of restoring their rights. [This] situation is too hard and really unbelievable. We are waiting for the Lord to show mercy on the martyrs’ families. Please keep praying for us, and ask our beloved friends everywhere to pray.”

Genesis 18:16-33

October 17, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in Bible Study | 1 Comment
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Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. “I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD. Continue Reading Genesis 18:16-33…

Persecution Fridays – Iran – Government Takes Child

October 14, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Iran: Government Takes Child

Agents of Iran’s intelligence ministry recently took a Christian couple’s adopted child, demanding that the couple file a complaint against other Christians being held in prison, according to Mohabat News. The couple was taken to the hospital because of emotional stress caused by the loss of their child. “This is the first time I have ever seen this tactic — taking a child hostage,” said a VOM contact. “In the past, it is always the parents.”

The Christian couple legally adopted their child after years of waiting, according to Mohabat News. Security officers reportedly took the child as a way to pressure the Christian family and other Christian converts. Mohabat News reports that the security agents threatened the couple, saying, “If you want your child back, you must file a complaint against your fellow Christians in prison.”

Within the past year, Christians have been arrested, falsely charged and imprisoned for extensive periods of time. House and church raids are common occurrences, and the Christian community faces continual threats and pressure. Please pray that this Christian couple will get their child back soon and that they will rely on God during this time of extreme emotional stress.

Design of the Week – Leaves Change

October 12, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This week’s design is called Leaves Change.

The design shows a photo of fall leaves that fades out from color to black and white to nothing. You’ll also see that the design has an ornate frame and the phrase “I, the Lord, do not change” which is found in Malachi 3:6.

The basis for the design is the idea that everything we know changes. Time continues on and almost nothing stays the same. People get older, days get shorter/longer, and seasons change. In the fall the leaves of deciduous trees all change colors and fall off in preparation for winter. With all of these changes going on, we get used to it. We also take for granted that things change and expect all things to be like that. This can be difficult when we’re facing problems and need something/someone to be consistent.

There are numerous places in the Bible that talk about God’s unchanging character. He always has been and always will be the just, holy, righteous Creator of the universe. He will also always be the forgiving, merciful God that sent His Son to take our place. The fact that God doesn’t change is something that bring solace to all of those who are Christians. Regardless of the trials and tribulations we face, God doesn’t change. He is always there and always will be…

Genesis 18:1-15

October 10, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. “Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes.” Continue Reading Genesis 18:1-15…

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