Pray for Christians in Egypt Facing Jihad

Egypt is the country which provided sanctuary for our Lord Jesus during His early life on Earth.  Egypt was also a Christian country for centuries before Islam took over, and the remnant of those Christians are called Coptic Christians today, a variation of Eastern Orthodox believers.

It is extremely dangerous to be a Christian today in Egypt.  The same goes for many countries in the region where the Arab Spring has swept or attempting to sweep through.  The result of the US backed revolt in Egypt had disastrous consequences in Egypt.  A counter-revolt by the more secular Army has put the country in a power struggle and the Christians are the ones suffering the most.

Unable to resist the Army, the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamic affiliates are lashing out at Christians simply for the fact that they are Christian, and they have PUBLICLY announced this.  Innocent Christians are slaughtered for their faith and their churches are destroyed without shame.

Delight in Truth readers, please realize that when someone converts to faith in Jesus in that region of the world, it is essentially a death sentence.   It is difficult for us to understand that level of persecution because we have not seen it the western world.  I remember the words in the Hebrews 12:3-4

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. “

Christians in Egypt not only have to fight everyday battles against sin and walk the straight ‘n narrow, but they have to resist to the point of shedding their blood.

As we go to sleep in our comfortable houses, go to our nice jobs and sit in our cushy pews, we need to remember to bring these martyrs and their families before God.   We need to pray for wisdom to be given to our government to no longer support the Brotherhood and elements who love to do violence against believers.

When we go to church on Sunday we worship in peace without having to worry that the place will blow up.  Not in Egypt.  Not in the place that was once a cradle for the Son of God.

“Deny Christ… and Return to Islam”

That is what pastor Saeed Abedini is refusing to do in an Iranian prison where he is sentenced for at least 8 years after being convicted of evangelism in a sham trial.

He recently wrote this letter about what his tormentors are telling him:

““Deny your faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam or else you will not be released from prison. We will make sure you are kept here even after your 8 year sentence is finished.” These are the threats that prison officials throw at me.

My response to them is Romans 8:35-39. The reality of Christian living is that difficulties or problems do arise in our lives. Persecution and difficulties are not new occurrences, but are seen often in the Christian life. It is through the suffering and tribulations that we are to enter the Kingdom of God.”

He has suffered physical and emotional torture so far, but this letter shows that he is spiritually strong.

He is a well-known case because he was arrested there while visiting Iran from the US, but there are countless Christians like him in prison in Iran for their faith. It is impossible to know the real statistics on this due to the secretive and manipulative Islamic regime in that country.

When we are persecuted intellectually or emotionally for our faith in Christ right here in America, when we are called bigots for believing in the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus and for standing on biblical principles, we must remember our brothers who also suffer physically for Christ.

There are many martyrs across the globe suffering and dying for Christ. We don’t know of them, but God knows them. He has prepared for them a special crown after they have finished running the race.

Continue to keep Christians like Saeed in prayer so that their faith will remain strong.

image credit: ACLJ

Chinese Propaganda… in Our Christian Media!

I had written a post (here) about the online magazine Christianity Today, questioning whether it can be called Christian based on some the articles, editorials, and opinion pieces they publish.

So, it was not surprising to see an article in Christianity Today entitled “China Isn’t Trying to Wipe Out Christianity” which is basically an apologetic piece on the claim that persecution is really not that bad in China.

Having lived in communist Romania until age 13, and having seen the persecution methods employed by that government against my local church, I can testify that what I read in this article was a message influenced by communist propaganda.  The communist Romanians had freedom of speech, religion and assembly as part of their core values.  Allegedly. And theoretically.  But they were vehemently persecuting the existing ne0-Protestant churches for their FAITH under the banner of national security.  Any prayer meeting was seen as a national threat.  Every church was suspected of being a potential western ally.  Every faithful Christian was a potential revolutionary.  All of these to cover the real motive which was religious persecution.

They used the seemingly legitimate national defense excuse to accomplish their atheistic goals of suppressing the truth and stamping out religious practice.

And the propaganda disseminated in this article by Christianity Today follows some of the same old techniques we have seen in the former eastern communist bloc.  For example:

1. The government is really not after those practicing their faith in house churches.  Oh no.  They are after anti-government elements that pose a national threat… So I ask… National threat from whom?  Is the US or western Europe about to go to war with China? How ridiculous does that sound? Are they afraid that individual house cell meetings for prayer are going to topple a massive totalitarian government?  Even that is highly improbable!

2. The Chinese government is not persecuting the faith, they are trying to suppress protests which can be embarrassing.  So I ask… Why are Christians trying to protest in the first place if they are not persecuted for their faith?

3. The Chinese government is not persecuting Christians… only the ones who are trying to publicize human rights violations.  Again, when freedom of religion is suppressed, that is a human rights violation translating into religion persecution.

Quote from the article: “The point here is not in any way to minimize the seriousness of these cases, but simply to point out that these believers were not persecuted for their faith or even for belonging to a house church…”  This is exactly what the propaganda is!  That the persecution has nothing to do with faith but with anti-government activity.  We have seen this cover story time and time again in Romania.

This is an old trick and we are not going to fall for it!

Can we now see how ridiculous it is to blame Christian “trouble makers” to divert attention from the real underlying impetus of the atheist Chinese government, their real motive being the  persecution of the Christian faith? And Christianity Today is buying it despite multiple other reports and assessments with respect to the intense persecution of the faithful in China!

Even though Christianity Today may not (want to) discern the truth, we know that our brothers and sisters in China are suffering at the hands of an atheist totalitarian regime which wants to inhibit their faith in God.  We will continue to pray for these Christians and remember Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

image credit

Less Americans Believe Alternative Life Styles are a Sin

In just 14 months there was 7 point drop in the percent of Americans who believe that homosexuality is a sin from 44% to 37%.

LifeWay Research conducted these studies, and their president commented that the country is rapidly shifting position on this issue, partly due to president Obama’s “evolving” view on gay marriage.

“There is little doubt that the President’s evolution on homosexuality probably impacted the evolution of cultural values.  This is a real and substantive shift, surprisingly large for a one-year time frame – though this was hardly a normal year on this issue’

These findings are revealed in the wake of pastor Louie Giglio’s withdrawal from the presidential inauguration prayer.  The White House has already announced that Giglio will be replaced by a pro-gay pastor as a means to not alienate anyone.

Christians believers who hold to the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible will now be a rapidly shrinking minority in the US.

I am writing this to warn the body of Christ of our status in modern society.  Even though the Constitution gives us the right to believe the Bible as it is written, without taking Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and many other pages out, we will be labeled as bigots, anti-social retros, and obstacles to progress.

Will this lead to religious persecution?  I believe yes.  Especially if Congress working with this Administration takes up “hate-speech” legislation which will prevent preaching from church pulpits from the above mentioned Bible passages.

At this point I do not envision pastors being put in jail for preaching against homosexuality.  But there is a real possibility of other legal methods being used to curtail religious freedom and free speech if such legislation is used.  Canada has already experimented with “hate-speech” legislation, and pastors there have confessed they are being pressured to not expose anti-sin views from the pulpit.

The world is changing.  Views are evolving.  A constant and confusing flux of public opinion is inundating us everyday.

Despite this we must remain anchored in the Word of God.  Anchored in Truth.

The 113th US Congress and Religion

According to the Pew Research Center, the current (113th) Congress includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none,” continuing a gradual increase in religious diversity that mirrors trends in the country as a whole. While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago, when nearly three-quarters of members belonged to Protestant denominations.

Catholics have seen the biggest gains, adding seven seats, for a total of 163 and raising their share to just over 30%. Protestants and Jews experienced the biggest declines in numerical terms.

There is a large disperity between the percentage of U.S. adults and the percentage of members of Congress who do not identify with any particular religion. About one-in-five U.S. adults describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – a group sometimes collectively called the “nones.” This is a rapidly growing group.

This country was never a “Christian” theocracy, but it was founded by Christians on biblical principles. We are now a far cry from our origins. I believe this trend is set, and we will see a continuing secularization of our society and our institutions to the point of religious persecution against Christians.

Please see the table below for details on the religious breakdown in the current US Congress. Among neo-Protestants there are a 73 Baptists and… one Pentecostal… (one for oneness?)

In Our Season of Joy We Pray for Nigerian Christians

We live in a country where we can still freely worship God without having to worry about losing our physical life, unlike the early Christians and many Christians across the Globe.

In Nigeria, having the courage and fortitude to proclaim the Christian faith means one may ultimately pay with his or her life for such proclamation, especially during major Christian holidays.  Such was the case for two Christmas seasons now.  Last year 44 Christians were killed while attending church service (report), and two days ago 12 Christians were massacred in two separate church attacks (report).  Muslim extremists have made it their life mission and service to their god to accomplish such carnage as directed by their scripture:

9:123 “Believers, fight the unbelievers who are near you. Let them find firmness in you.”  

2:193-“Fight against them (unbelievers) until there is no dissension, and the religion is for Allah. Fight until no other religion exists but Islam.”

These facts stand uncontested and we cannot understand their gravity until we put ourselves in the position of these Christian martyrs and their families.  Can you imagine singing “Silent Night” during the Christmas Eve service, and all of a sudden having full automatic fire ravaging the audience of worshipers? Or a car bomb blowing up the church?  These are daily fears for Nigerian Christians.  When they confess Christ as God Incarnate, and His death and resurrection as the only way to salvation, they understand they signed up for possible martyrdom.

They read, understand, and take God’s Word at face value in John 16:2 “a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.”  They understand this verse as none of us can because their neighbors are killing them as a service to Allah.

They understand martyrdom just like Peter understood his upcoming martyrdom.  The Lord hinted at this in John 21 when He told Peter:

18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he [Peter] was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Just like Peter glorified God with his death by upside down crucifixion, so these Nigerian martyrs glorify God with their last breath.  And so year after year, Christmas after Christmas, Easter after Easter, they continue to go to church and worship the God of their salvation despite the threats and possibility of death.

These stories will not make the front page on CNN or Fox News sites.  This become the norm in many African and South East Asian countries… it is not extraordinary enough to be worthy of prime time coverage and discussion.

But we know about them.  We pray for them and the families left behind.  We know they are now with the Lord “and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:17)

In our season of joy, we must pray for these Christian martyrs and their families.