Archive for the ‘Pray for the Persecuted’ Category
Posted on July 21st, 2014 by Jonathan
Every once in a while, it’s good to get a refresher on concepts we generally think we understand. When’s the last time you’ve heard a good explanation of persecution?
Below, you can listen to a good overview of what persecution is, how it may look, and why it occurs from Jonathan, the (well-traveled) Pastor of Global Disciple-Making at The Church at Brook Hills.
~ The goal of persecution is to silence witness. ~
Posted on June 18th, 2014 by Jonathan
If you’ve been keeping up with the news over the last few weeks, you know that the situation in Iraq is quickly worsening at the hands of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The al-Qaeda offshoot is one of the most extreme Islamist organizations in the world, and they are rapidly overtaking cities throughout the country; the most recent to fall under their control–Baqouba–is only 40 miles from the capitol city, Baghdad.
Currently, ISIS also occupies Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. That siege induced 500,000 of Mosul’s 1.8 million residents to flee. Among those who fled were Iraqi troops and up to 1,000 Christians (almost emptying Mosul of believers).
Christians in Iraq have become increasingly sparse over the last 25 years, decreasing from around 1.2 million to 300,000. ISIS brings a whole new threat to the already hostile environment of Christians living in Iraq. It is feared that ISIS will impose strict anti-Christian laws and restrictions on believers who fall under their authority … a fear that increases with each ISIS gain.
Christianity Today’s “Thousands Flee as Terrorists Take Over Iraq’s Christian Heartland” was the main source for this story.
(HT: Trevin Wax)
Posted on June 6th, 2014 by Jonathan
It almost seems inappropriate to label it a “top” ten list. As a believer, you’d never want to see your country come in at number one.
Over a 17-month period, the World Watch List team set out to specifically research which ten countries were most violent toward Christians. Different than the World Watch List–which takes into account political restrictions and social pressures–the new list is based only on the number of persecution acts. Such incidents include physical abuse, destruction of property, and killings. North Korea, because it was impossible to collect data from the country, is not included. Four continents are represented in their final rankings.
- Central African Republic
Posted on May 22nd, 2014 by Jonathan
In a recent article for the Christian Post, Chelsen Vicari points out a group of people who are often the object of gross injustice and even more often overlooked–Christians. Reading that sentence might make you cringe, because even if you agree with it, you know that most people don’t. There’s an unspoken rule in the world of social injustice: don’t make much of suffering Christians. But the reality is, people all over the world are the object of egregious hate crimes and violence because they are Christians.
Vicari pointed this out in light of the recent #BringBackOurGirls social media outcry over Boko Haram kidnapping almost 300 Nigerian school girls. “And so the problem,” Vicari points out, “is not that young evangelicals focus heavily on injustices like human trafficking. The problem is that too many only focus on issues like human trafficking, because they are deemed politically correct.”
Simply put, everyone is willing to fight against human slavery and sex trafficking (both of which are feared to be possible for the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram). Doing so will even make you look good. But to go to bat for marginalized or mistreated Christians… well that’s just not too trendy. In the words of Vicari, “Unfortunately, young evangelicals (and the broader world) did not take notice of this tragedy because the girls were Christians, but because their captors intend to sell them into human trafficking. Something is very wrong with this ‘social justice’ scenario.”
Here is an extended excerpt from her article:
Among Millennials, the term “persecution” is a dirty word when applied to Christians. Society continues to paint Christians as “clamoring and crying” over nothing when we decry discrimination targeted our way.
Let’s face it, if media outlets were calling the Boko Haram travesty what it is, a matter of severe Christian persecution by Islamists terrorists, then many of us Millennial would shy away from voicing our outcry, all for fear of being called Islamophobic. Why do I suspect this? Because kidnapping Christian girls is not the first attack by Boko Haram. Far from it. Yet the evangelical world has remained largely silent.
Hanging on her office wall, Faith McDonnell, the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Director of Religious Liberty programs, has a calendar documenting all of Boko Haram’s attacks on Nigerian Christians during 2012. It was put together by the Nigeria Working Group Washington, Justice for Jos+ Project, and Jubilee Campaign. To list just a few of a myriad of Christian-targeted assaults, the calendar included:
- January 20, 2012 -Boko Haram attacked and killed more than 200, including Christians
- March 11, 2012 -a Boko Haram suicide bomber attacked a Catholic Church, killing 13
- July 7-9, 2012 – 50 Christians were killed, 187 homes were burned and 200 families were displaced. Boko Haram took responsibility.
This is what injustice looks like.
Millennial evangelicals have big hearts. We know that social justice is an important facet of Christianity. So why are we ignoring the voices of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being harassed, kidnapped, arrested, beaten, beheaded, and burned alive for their faith?
Read Chelsen Vicari’s entire article here.
Posted on May 15th, 2014 by Jonathan
Since Islamist militant group Boko Haram abducted 200 Nigerian school girls last month, a social media storm as erupted to #BringBackOurGirls. Yet this was not the group’s solitary act of violence. Far from it. For years, Boko Haram has been actively killing people in Nigeria, and Christians are among their favorite targets.
Below is the story of one such act, reported by NBC News and recounted by Denny Burk. Even as you feel the weight of this story, be encouraged by the grace of God in Habila Adamu and the worthiness of Christ. May we be driven to our knees in prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters, for the steadfastness of our own faith, and for the advancement of the gospel.
NBC News has the story of a Nigerian Christian man who was shot by Boko Haram terrorists for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. This man’s name is Habila Adamu, and he was attacked by the same group of terrorists who recently abducted 200 Nigerian school girls. They broke into his home, shot him, and left him for dead all in full view of his wife and son. It’s a miracle that he is alive. It’s even more a miracle that he stood.
You must read his story in his own words. Below is an extended excerpt from the NBC News report:
A father who was shot point-blank in the face by Boko Haram recounted how the militants asked whether he was “prepared to die as a Christian” and then left for dead.
Habila Adamu, 40, was so badly wounded in the attack that he said goodbye to his wife as blood poured from a gaping wound.
The father-of-one said the April 15 capture by Boko Haram of more than 200 girls from a boarding school brought back painful memories of the night he was shot and beaten in his home.
“When I heard about those girls I started to pray,” Adamu told NBC News on Tuesday. “Boko Haram have no mercy. All they want to do is drive the Christian community out of northern Nigeria and they won’t stop until they do it.”
Many of the minority Christians in Yobe province were fearful of Boko Haram because the militants had attacked homes and businesses in the region, according to Adamu.
“They asked whether I was prepared to die as a Christian … My wife was crying but I could not deny Christ”
The businessman initially thought they were soldiers on patrol near his home one night in November 2012.
“But when I saw their robes and AK-47 rifles I knew they were not from the army,” he said. “They told me they were there to do the work of Allah.”
With his wife Vivian and son David, now aged seven, looking on, four men forced their way indoors and asked whether he was a member of the police force or army. He told them he was not.
“Then they asked me whether I would convert to Islam and when I refused they asked whether I was prepared to die as a Christian. My wife was crying but I could not deny Christ. I felt powerful, unafraid, I don’t know why.”
Before he could refuse a second time, a bullet pierced his neck.
“I fell on the ground,” Adamu said. “They thought I was dead because they stomped on me twice and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ or ‘God is great.’”
Adamu mustered the strength to talk to his wife before slipping out of consciousness.
“She was crying so many tears,” he said. “Neither of us thought I would survive so I told her that to live in this world was to live for Christ. I told her to look after our son and herself.”
“A doctor told my wife there was no point in treating me”
Recovering her composure, Vivian ran to find help from fellow members of the Christian community – only to find that militants had killed 12 others.
Too scared to leave the house, she tended to her husband for eight hours. At first light, she was able to arrange transport to a nearby medical center.
“When they saw the wound, a doctor told my wife there was no point in treating me,” Adamu said. “I had lost so much blood.”
However, they gave him painkillers and transferred him to the Jos University Hospital, hundreds of miles further south, where doctors funded by the non-profit organization Voice of Martyrs were able to treat him.
Adamu’s condition gradually stabilized and he was discharged about two weeks later.
I thank God that He spared Adamu’s life. I thank Him even more that He gave Adamu the courage to stand. Read the rest here.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12
HT: Denny Burk
Posted on May 1st, 2014 by Jonathan
As we commit to pray for Turkey throughout May, here are some compelling figures to keep in mind. The following information was taken from Joshua Project and Hope for Turkey–our official prayer focus website. Check HopeForTurkey.com regularly for updates and prayer requests this month, and be sure to take advantage of the 31-day prayer guide.
People Groups: 60
Unreached People Groups: 42
Evangelical Christian: (0.01%); 4,000
Posted on April 30th, 2014 by Jonathan
If you missed Secret Church on Good Friday and have not yet been able to participate in the simulcast replay, then you may have also missed our prayer focus. Together, throughout the month of May, we’ll be focusing our prayers on the Peoples of Turkey. You can find out about Turkey, the people groups that live there, and the unique culture of the country at HopeForTurkey.com, our official prayer focus website.
To assist you in knowing how to specifically pray, we’d encourage you to use this beautiful 31-day prayer guide. It includes various general topics as well as specific requests.
We are praying with expectancy, excited to see what our Father in heaven does as thousands of people lift up Turkey on a consistent basis for the next 31 days. We hope you’ll join us, starting tomorrow!
Posted on April 1st, 2014 by Jonathan
Several weeks ago, we told you of reports coming out of North Korea that told of 33 Christians who were awaiting execution for their involvement in planting 500 underground house churches. We cited theWashington Times and the Christian Post, and it has since come to our attention that their source may not be entirely accurate.
A seemingly more reliable report confirms that many people were detained and for their alleged involvement in helping South Korean missionary Kim Jung-wook sneak into North Korea, though they may not have all been Christians:
North Korean authorities have detained dozens of people accused of helping a South Korean missionary smuggle himself into the country, a local source said, as a report suggested that some of them face execution on charges of conspiring with him to set up underground churches.
As you can see, while it is still entirely possible that underground Christians face execution, we simply don’t know for sure. The report goes on to say that some of the detainees “include guards,” which means that it’s also entirely possible that not all the detainees were Christian and that the motivation for their detention may have had nothing to do with underground house churches.
We would still urge you to pray for Kim Jung-wook, whose current plight is far from favorable. And while one Christian blogger cautions us to stop referring to the detainees as “underground Christians,” we should still pray for them, too. Whether or not they’re all believers, it’s undeniable that they are in danger. Although the nature of news coming from North Korea can be murky and disputed, at least two facts do remain: the government is impossibly harsh toward its citizens and vehemently opposed to Christians.
Posted on March 17th, 2014 by Jonathan
In case you missed it, the prayer focus for the upcoming Secret Church (“The Cross and Everyday Life”) is the peoples of Turkey. Today, Turkey is 99% Muslim. Though there are only a handful of believers there now, there was a day when Christianity thrived in the region. Join us as we learn more about this country and the rich Christian history of a region now dominated by mosques.
Secret Church 14, “The Cross and Everyday Life,” takes place on Good Friday, April 18, 2014. You can find out more information and register for the simulcast at SecretChurch.org.
Posted on March 14th, 2014 by Paul
Pillar 5: Hajj (Pilgrimage)
What is the Hajj?
Every Muslim, anywhere in the world, is obliged to perform, at least once in a lifetime, the Hajj. The Hajj is the Muslim ritual pilgrimage to Mecca. Mecca (Saudi Arabia) is the holiest city in Islam. Every Muslim that is physically and financially able is expected to make the trip to Mecca. This pilgrimage occurs during a fixed time on an annual basis. Every year during the 12th month of the Islamic calendar (Dhul Hijjah) Muslims from all over the world assemble in Mecca to worship Allah. This gathering of Muslims is very diverse and signifies the global influence of Islam around the world.
An estimated 3 million Muslims perform the Hajj on an annual basis. Over 60% of the visitors to Mecca during this time come from outside of the country. While on Hajj, Muslims focus on ritual cleansing and purification. Pilgrims will wear white Ihram clothing that typically consists of two white un-hemmed sheets (like towels) that are intended to make every pilgrim look and appear the same. It is important that the cloths do not have any stitching or color. The top sheet is draped over the chest and torso while the bottom sheet covers the hips and the legs. Muslims celebrate the sense of unity that is created when everyone is dressed in the same Ihram clothing.
Once in Mecca for the Hajj, Muslims will enter the Grand Mosque and perform a series of rituals over a four to five day period. Each person will walk counter-clockwise seven times around the Ka’ba. The Ka’ba is a small square building in the middle of the Grand Mosque that Muslims consider to be the original House of God built by Abraham. During the Hajj, Muslims will also run back and forth seven times between the mountains/hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah. Muslims will also drink water from the Zamzam well. According to Muslims, the Zamzam well is a miraculous source of water that is often associated with Abraham’s son, Ishmael. Perhaps the most interesting ritual during the Hajj is the stoning of the Devil. Muslims will throw seven stones at one of three walls in the city of Mina, which is nearby Mecca.
What is the significance of Hajj for Muslims in Turkey?
While many Muslims in Turkey desire to go on the Hajj, the reality is that very few have made the pilgrimage to Mecca. The cost and the ability to get from Turkey to Mecca is a barrier to many Muslims in Turkey. In fact, the Pew Research Center on religion estimates that only 9-10% of Muslims around the world have actually made the pilgrimage to Mecca. When Muslims in Turkey are able to go on Hajj it is a special event. In smaller towns, it is common to have a celebration, send people off, and then welcome them back. If you are in a Turkish airport around the time of the Hajj, you will likely see some Muslim pilgrims dressed in Ihram clothing and sandals. In the end, the Hajj is a once in a lifetime event for Muslims and exposes them to both the diversity and global influence of Islam as they gather with Muslims from all over the world in the birthplace of Islam to worship Allah and perform sacred Islamic rituals.
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