Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’
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 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 15th, 2014 by Eric Parker
Have you ever struggled with getting started in prayer each day? D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives this really helpful encouragement:
I have come to learn certain things about private prayer. You cannot pray to order. You can get on your knees to order; but how to pray? I have found nothing more important than to learn how to get oneself into that frame and condition in which one can pray. You have to learn how to start yourself off, and it is just here that this knowledge of yourself is so important. What I have generally found is that to read something which can be characterized in general as devotional is of great value. By devotional I do not mean something sentimental, I mean something with a true element of worship in it. Notice that I do not say that you should start yourself in prayer by always reading the Scriptures; because you can have precisely the same difficulty there. Start by reading something that will warm your spirit. Get rid of a coldness that may have developed in your spirit. You have to learn how to kindle a flame in your spirit, to warm yourself up, to give yourself a start. It is comparable, if you like, to starting a car when it is cold. You have to learn how to use a spiritual choke. I have found it most rewarding to do that, and not to struggle vainly. When one finds oneself in this condition, and that it is difficult to pray, do not struggle in prayer for the time being, but read something that will warm and stimulate you, and you will find that it will put you into a condition in which you will be able to pray more freely.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers, 181-182
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 25th, 2014 by Eric Parker
George Müller’s biographer, Arthur T. Pierson (1837-1911), touches on a topic especially relevant to this year’s Secret Church topic on “The Cross and Everyday Life.” We live in a fast-pace society whose mantra is literally “Time is money,” so that the more we get done then the more efficient we have become. While this is not necessarily wrong in all cases, many of us have been indoctrinated with this way of thinking to the detriment of our souls. Pierson has this to say about the necessity of prayer for the quality of our work,
George Müller was conscious of being too busy to pray as he ought. His outward action was too constant for inward reflection, and he saw that there was risk of losing peace and power, and that activity even in the most sacred sphere must not be so absorbing as to prevent holy meditation on the Word and fervent supplication. The Lord said first to Elijah, ‘Go, hide thyself’ then, ‘Go, show thyself.’ He who does not first hide himself in the secret place to be alone with God, is unfit to show himself in the public place to move among men. Mr. Müller afterward used to say to brethren who had ‘too much to do’ to spend proper time with God, that four hours of work for which one hour of prayer prepares, is better than five hours of work with the praying left out; that our service to our Master is more acceptable and our mission to man more profitable, when saturated with the moisture of God’s blessing—the dew of the Spirit. Whatever is gained in quantity is lost in quality whenever one engagement follows another without leaving proper intervals for refreshment and renewal of strength by waiting on God. No man, perhaps, since John Wesley has accomplished so much even in a long life as George Müller; yet few have ever withdrawn so often or so long into the pavilion of prayer. In fact, from one point of view his life seems more given to supplication and intercession than to mere action or occupation among men.
Arthur T. Pierson, George Müller of Bristol, 130
Join us for the Secret Church simulcast on Good Friday, April 18, 2014, 6pm – midnight (CT) to learn more about how the cross should affect our everyday lives.
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.
The following post originally appeared at Voice of the Martyrs. Let this report guide your prayers for Pastor Zhang, the members the church still imprisoned, and the rest of the church family suffering from threats and opposition. His trial is tomorrow, but be sure to pray today with the time change!
Three of the 12 Nanle County Christian Church members who have been imprisoned since mid-November 2013 have been released, but their pastor still faces a criminal trial on Feb. 12. The three women, Zhao Xiping, 47; Yang Miling, 40; and Sheyin Duanmu, 44, were released on Jan. 24 from Nanle County Detention Center.
Pastor Zhang Shaojie, 49, was arrested on Nov. 16 after a meeting with local government officials. About 20 people who protested the pastor’s arrest were detained or arrested in the following days.
The pastor now faces charges of “fraud” and “gathering a mob to disrupt public order.” Although he was allowed to see his attorney on Jan. 16, government officials have postponed his trial date of Jan. 28 to Feb. 12. Lawyers involved in the Nanle County case have been beaten and even threatened with having their credentials revoked. Local officials have also tried to prevent Zhang and other church members from hiring particular lawyers.
Pastor Zhang’s family and other church members have continued to face persecution from local government authorities. Zhang’s eldest daughter received harassing phone calls in which authorities threatened to “wipe out her entire family” for trying to contact higher authorities and report on the persecution of the church. Fearing for her life, she fled to another town with her husband and 10-month-old child.
Zhang’s youngest daughter was held in the detention center for a short period of time. The family’s Internet service was stopped and the tires on their vehicle were slashed in apparent attempts to prevent them from connecting with those outside the Nanle County area. The local government has also prohibited church members from worshiping at the church.
Among those still imprisoned is Wu Guishan, the 43-year-old husband of Zhao Xiping, one of the women just released from the detention center. The couple was detained in November because of their interaction with the church. They have two school-aged children. Their eldest daughter dropped out of school to try to locate Wu, who was taken by authorities when he tried to appeal his case. His location is currently unknown. The couple’s 15-year-old son was taken to an orphanage while his parents were imprisoned.
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