Category Archives: Persecution

He is Risen Indeed (Hallelujah!), and this Terrorized World Needs His Return

Isaiah 5:20 by Vicki PriestAt the close of this year’s Easter, please enjoy this passage from Zechariah 12, prophesying Christ’s second coming.  With so many in the world calling evil good and good evil, which has allowed the growth of the murderous terrorists, we need His return.  Look for His return, and pray you are ready.

Zechariah 12:1-2, 9-11:

“A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel.  The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling . . . .  On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.  And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.  On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo’.”

As Matthew Henry commented:

“It is a mourning grounded upon a sight of Christ:  They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for him.  Here, it is foretold that Christ should be pierced, and this scripture is quoted as that which was fulfilled when Christ’s side was pierced upon the cross; see John 19:37.  He is spoken of as one whom we have pierced; it is spoken primarily of the Jews, who persecuted him to death (and we find that those who pierced him are distinguished from the other kindreds of the earth that shall wail because of him, Rev. 1:7); yet it is true of us all as sinners, we have pierced Christ, inasmuch as our sins were the cause of his death, for he was wounded for our transgressions, and they are the grief of his soul . . .”

Tragic Times of Persecution

I don’t go looking for evil acts, but my son brought to my attention a couple of attacks carried out by Muslims recently, that is, after the Brussels bombing.  So I looked into them, and found some other things, too.

Today in Pakistan, 65 Easter celebrants were killed and about 300 injured.

A Muslim shopkeeper, a Mr. Shah, was murdered for wishing Christians and his country well at Easter time.  He was apparently a very kind and humanitarian man, who sought understanding and good relations between Muslims and Christians.  He therefore was killed.  I very much disagree, however, with someone who left a note saying “Mr Shah, [a] true Muslim, thank you, from a Christian brother.”  Christians follow Jesus Christ, who was nonviolent, taught against violence, and died after having performed healing miracles and leading a sinless life (including never having had sexual relations).

Muhammad, in contrast, killed many and had his men kill many (including those who had surrendered to his army and others who simply criticized him, even a woman poet); apparently this isn’t taught in schools.  He did not perform miracles and he was polygamous.  Muhammad represents Islam and therefore it’s reasonable that adherents would look to its founder and leader as the prime example in carrying out the faith.  That’s what Christians do (or are supposed to be doing), so a good Muslim would do what Muhammad did.  (And getting back to the Christian who called Mr. Shah “brother,” I wonder how John or Paul would react to calling a person “brother” who denied the resurrection and deity of Jesus?  Perhaps Mr. Shah was in fact saved [God knows], but Muslims do not believe in Jesus; it makes for a very huge difference between the faiths.  Brothers and sisters in the New Testament are fellow believers in Jesus Christ.)

Besides not seeming to know what Muhammad was like, the Muslims who are kind and caring don’t seem to know what the Koran and its important commentaries seem to say either.  It’s like the experience of the Boston Bombers.  The mother tells her older son that he needs to stop being so worldly and get into his faith more.  When he does, he sees what the Koran says and what Muhammad did, and acts accordingly.  The mother realizes her son is right and becomes “radicalized” too.   The Judeo-Christian scriptures aren’t corrupt as Muslims think–as Muhammad made out–but promote love for all humans and faith in the creator God, so anyone who comes along later with a different message is obviously not of God.  How much more bad fruit needs to fall for people to realize this?

Teacher Brutally Murdered by Afghan Migrant

Germany: Muslim Rape Crisis Worsens (from Gatestone Institute)

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Thanks, WordPress, for reminding me of the Noahic Covenant

Imposed and inappropriate symbol at WordPress
Imposed and inappropriate symbol at WordPress

 

So I’m working at my WordPress site today (June 26), and when I view the stats page this colorful banner confronts me.  Huh.  Looks kind of tacky.  I don’t go around imposing my Christian symbolism on sites that are public and have users from all different backgrounds, beliefs, creeds, and whatnot, but hey, I guess WordPress can do what it wants.

Anyway, thanks for putting up a reminder of God’s covenant with humankind, given through Noah, after God destroyed the Earth and most that was in it by water.  God had judged the Earth’s inhabitants to be too far along in their selfish and evil desires.  But instead of destroying humankind altogether, He chose Noah and his family to start the human race all over again.  It’s a good thing they could all have kids.  While we’re all descendants of Adam and Eve, we’re also all descendants of Noah and his wife, too.

Continue reading Thanks, WordPress, for reminding me of the Noahic Covenant

Review: “Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate”

Reason, Faith, and Revolution by Eagleton, cover
Reason, Faith, and Revolution by Eagleton, cover

by Terry Eagleton (Yale University Press 2009)


“This straw-targeting of Christianity is now drearily commonplace among academics and intellectuals—that is to say, among those who would not allow a first-year student to get away with the vulgar caricatures in which they themselves indulge with such insouciance”
(p 52).

Terry Eagleton’s invective against anti-theist’s claims about religion, and Christianity in particular, is one of wit, humor, and sauce.  One hopes that those that are curious about the popular anti-God rhetoric, but who are basically outsiders—neither informed and faithful Christians or card-carrying anti-theists—will be the prime readers and beneficiaries of this “lecture series” book.  Not that there isn’t a good deal that those in the other groups can get out of it.  Indeed, as the Booklist review asserted, “serious Christians may be [Eagleton’s] most appreciative readers.”  But on the opposite side Eagleton himself opined that there was not a “hope in hell” that Ditchkins, that is Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, would read his work or be moved by it.

Eagleton, who is a professor both of English literature and culture theory, and who also writes philosophically (in fact, this book has been rated as important in philosophy), presents how the various arguments against religion that Dawkins and Hitchens vehemently espouse are very seriously misinformed and flawed.  “. . . the relations between these domains [poetry and other language types] and historical fact in Scripture are exceedingly complex, and that on this score as on many another, Hitchens is hair-raisingly ignorant of generations of modern biblical scholarship” (p 54).  He shows how Dawkins’ views, which reflect Victorian era progressivism, are simply unreasonable and unrealistic.

“We have it, then, from the mouth of Mr. Public Science himself that aside from a few local hiccups like ecological disaster, ethnic wars, and potential nuclear catastrophe, History is perpetually on the up.  Not even beaming, tambourine-banging Evangelicals are quite so pathologically bullish.  What is this but an example of blind faith?  What rational soul would sign up to such a secular myth?” (pp 87-88).

Regarding Ditchkins and science, Eagleton discusses how “Dawkins falsely considers that Christianity offers a rival view of the universe to science” (p 6), and that “His God-hating is by no means the view of a dispassionate scientist commendably cleansed of prejudice.  There is no such animal in any case” (pp 65-66).  “[Scientists] are peddlers of a noxious ideology known as objectivity, a notion which simply tarts up their ideological prejudices in acceptably disinterested guise” (p 132), and Dawkins, for example, “castigates the Inquisition . . . but not Hiroshima” (p 133).  While anyone is welcome to criticize superstition, the current culture has sunk into scientism, which refuses to take anything seriously that “cannot be poked and prodded in the laboratory” (p 72).  “Ditchkins does not exactly fall over himself to point out how many major scientific hypotheses confidently cobbled together by our ancestors have crumbled to dust, and how probable it is that the same fate will befall many of the most cherished scientific doctrines of the present” (p 125).

In chapter 1, Eagleton presents basic Christian beliefs not only to show that Ditchkins does not have an understanding of them, but to also promote them as quite respectable.  Of course, throughout his book Eagleton gives little quarter to “fundamentalists;” he praises Jesus and his radicalness, and those who actually follow His teachings to help the poor and seek justice.  He also contrasts this Christian mandate to love socially to the liberal humanist (of which Ditchkins is an example) legacy of love being kept private.  Yet another significant difference between Christianity (and for persons like Eagleton who hold a more socialist view) and the liberal humanism of Ditchkins is the matter of sin and redemption.  To Ditchkins, there is nothing to redeem.  Humanity is steadily progressing, even if catastrophes like World War II have happened.

“In my view,” Eagleton writes,  “[scriptural and orthodox Christianity] is a lot more realistic about humanity than the likes of Dawkins.  It takes the full measure of human depravity and perversity, in contrast to . . . the extraordinarily Pollyannaish view of human progress of [Dawkins’] The God Delusion” (p. 47).  Christianity believes that there are “flaws and contradictions built into the structure of the human species itself,” and so violence in history is not just due to historical influences; and Christianity is hopeful.  It is “outrageously more hopeful than liberal rationalism, with its apparently unhinged belief that not only is the salvation of the human species possible but that, contrary to all we read in the newspapers, it has in principle already taken place.  Not even the most rose-tinted Trotskyist believes that” (pp 48-49).

There are all kinds of fun passages like those already quoted in Eagleton’s book.  It can be very useful to Christians who want to be able to cite a seemingly non-Christian critique to the anti-theist crowd.  Conservatives be warned, however, that Eagleton presents and is supportive of Liberation Theology (he is a Marxist who aligns himself with “tragic humanism”), and is very critical of modern capitalism and western foreign policy.  He has good, though general, arguments for the atheism of capitalism and the disconnect between the West’s religious rhetoric and its actual practices (which, interestingly, he often places on liberal humanism).   Indeed, Christianity’s lack of following its leader has brought much criticism upon itself, “Christianity long ago shifted from the side of the poor and dispossessed to that of the rich and aggressive” (p 55).

Eagleton points out the good that historic Christianity has done, which Ditchkins refuses to acknowledge, while pointing out hypocrisies of some liberals.  Some examples:

“The values of the Enlightenment, many of them Judeo-Christian in origin, should be defended against the pretentious follies of post-modernism, and protected, by all legitimate force if necessary, from those high-minded zealots who seek to blow the heads off small children in the name of Allah.  Some on the political left, scandalously, have muted their criticism of such atrocities in their eagerness to point the finger of blame at their own rulers, and should be brought to book for this hypocrisy” (p 68).  

“Such is Richard Dawkins’s unruffled impartiality that in a book of almost four hundred pages, he can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has ever flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false . . . . and this by a self-appointed crusader against bigotry” (p 97). 

Speaking of empiricism and truth, I found chapter 3 more interesting the second time I read it.   It’s really a pleasant read and borders on the mystical in places.  Eagleton writes lucidly on how we understand truth and what is reasonable and rational.  A set of examples about what is reasonable and rational, relative to what is true, is (1) that of humans previously thinking that the sun circled the earth – since it certainly looked that way it was rational to think – and (2) what we know of certain nuclear particles in our present time.  These particles are said to go through two different spaces at one time.  This is not rational or reasonable, yet we think that it is true.  He continues with a discussion that promotes the concept of “love” being a precondition of understanding, concluding that “The rationalist tends to mistake the tenacity of faith (other people’s faith, anyway) for irrational stubbornness rather than for the sign of a certain interior depth, one which encompasses reason but also transcends it” (p 139).

“Yet the Apocalypse, if it ever happens, is far more likely to be the upshot of technology than the work of the Almighty. . . .  This, surely, should be a source of pride to cheerleaders for the human species like Ditchkins.  Who needs an angry God to burn up the planet when as mature, self-sufficient human beings we are perfectly capable of doing the job ourselves?” (p 134).

____________
© Vicki Priest 2012 (previously posted by author at Examiner.com, 2011, and at withchristianeyes.com)

Easter message from Pastor Abedini, imprisoned in Iran

Saeed Abedini with one of his children.  From http://beheardproject.com/saeed#sign
Saeed Abedini with one of his children. From http://beheardproject.com/saeed#sign

The following is posted at the ACLJ website, where you can read many different articles about Pastor Saeed Abedini’s imprisonment–his current unhealthy condition, President Obama’s response, how his family is doing, etc.–and sign a petition for his release (this link takes you to a separate site where you can learn about Abedini’s case as well).  You may think that these petitions don’t do any good when directed at a country like Iran, but, recently Abedini wasn’t being treated for his illnesses and international outcry did cause the Iranian government to at least move the pastor to a hospital bed.  Abedini wrote this message from the hospital.

Happy Resurrection Day.

On the Eve of Good Friday and Easter I was praying from my hospital room for my fellow Christians in the world.  What the Holy Spirit revealed to me in prayer was that there are many dead faiths in the midst of Christians today. That Christians all over the world are not able to fully reach their spiritual potential that has been given to them as a gift by God so that in reaching that potential, the curtain can be removed and the Glory of God would be revealed.

Some times we want to experience the Glory and resurrection with Jesus without experiencing death with Him.  We do not realize that unless we pass through the path of death with Christ, we are not able to experience resurrection with Christ.

We want to have a good and successful marriage, career, education and family life (which is also God’s desire and plan for our life). But we forget that in order to experience the Resurrection and Glory of Christ we first have to experience death with Christ and to die to ourselves and selfish desires.

Jesus said to His Disciples:  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

This means that we should not do things that we like to do (that God does not want us to do) and to do things that we do not like to do (but God wants us to do) so that He may be glorified.

So in addition to spending our days and night in doing the works of faith as described above, we should also transform our dead faiths into living and active faiths through the resurrection of Christ which is an active and constructive love that is effective.

In conclusion, let us resurrect our Dead faiths to living faiths by first dying to our selfish “resurrected” self and experiencing the cross of Jesus. Then we are able to experience the Glorious resurrection with Christ.

A Glorious life with Christ starts only after a painful death (to self) with Christ.

We will start with Christ.

Pastor Saeed Abedini
Prisoner in the Darkness in Iran, but free for the Kingdom and Light

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Jihadists Kill at Least 68 Non-Muslims at Mall in Kenya

This isn’t a perfect article on the attack that happened yesterday, but it’s still very good.  The latest reports indicate that at least 100 more have been injured.

Attack on Nairobi Mall Shows Al-Shabaab’s Ominous Reach

Here is the start of the article, and more, but please click the link to read the rest.  This might be an eye-opener for many.

In a horrific mid-day attack on Saturday, September 21, 2013 in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, jihadist assailants invaded an upscale shopping mall, slaughtering and injuring dozens of terrified shoppers with grenades and automatic weapons.

As of early Sunday morning, even as the stand-off between the attackers and Kenyan security forces continued inside the mall, the death count stood at 59, a number sure to rise in coming hours.

According to reports, at least an additional 150 have been injured. People fleeing from the modern Westgate mall reported that the attackers had singled out non-Muslims to kill after telling Muslims to get out. . . .

Local mosques in U.S. areas with a heavy Somali immigrant population, such as Minnesota, play leading roles in recruiting young men, often born and raised in the U.S., to sign up for jihad in Somalia. . . .

[One of these is ] Al-Hammami, a 28-year-old from Alabama . . . The son of a Christian mother and a Syrian-born Muslim father, al-Hammami likely was recruited to jihad at the University of South Alabama, where he was president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the original and still one of the largest Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the U.S.

Youcef Nadarkhani Re-Arrested on Christmas Day

Youcef Nadarkhani Re-Arrested by Iranian Authorities on Christmas Day.

This is just flat-out persecution, Iran thumbing their nose at Christians and any country that is associated with Christianity.  Iran also went against it’s own agreement and arrested Saeed Abedini, an American Iranian, earlier this year (https://withchristianeyes.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/dragonborn-dlc-playability-and-the-skaal-religion/).  Come on, everyone, write to your representatives and ask them to do something about iran.

Iranian American Pastor Unlawfully Imprisoned in Iran

Saeed Abedini and his family.  From Fox News online.
Saeed Abedini and his family. From Fox News online.

The situation for American reverend, Saeed Abedini, is getting desperate as no progress has been made in having him released from Iran’s worst prison.  He was arrested in Iran on September 26, 2012, while visiting his parents and relatives.  His immediate relatives were placed under house arrest as well.  32 year old Abedini has a wife and two children.

The court in Iran implemented a bail for Abedini, which is large but which his family had acquired,  but no one has actually accepted the bail after several attempts at officially paying it.  Officials reject their paper work and funds and tell them to get lost.  Making the situation grave is the lack of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran.

When Abedini still lived in Iran he had converted to Christianity and helped found underground churches.  Having had many run-ins with the government, he moved to the US and signed an agreement with the them.  If he did not do any more Christian evangelical work, the Iranian government would leave him alone when he visited the country.  The government has failed to keep their side of the bargain, however.  Abedini has helped, and continues to help, in setting up an orphanage in Iran.  He has visited his family and helped with the orphanage during a number of visits to Iran in recent years, but during this year’s trip he was imprisoned without charges.

Please pray for Abidini and his family.  To find out more, visit this article:  American Pastor Imprisoned without Notice of Charges While Visiting Family in Iran.  See BosNewsLife and Persecution.Org for news of other Iranian detentions.

Just prior to Abedini’s arrest, there was great news that Iranian Pastor Yousef Nardakhani was released from prison there.  He had been imprisoned for almost three years and had faced execution.  Compass Direct on Yousef Nardakhani’s Release.

Couldn’t have said it Better: Christians persecuted throughout the world

Western media generally ignores Christian persecution (photo by baikahl, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/250630).

There is now a high risk that the Churches will all but vanish from their biblical heartlands in the Middle East.

Wow.  I just wanted to share this article (below, in part) because I certainly couldn’t have said all that better myself.  I’ve been bad about not posting persecution updates, and it is partly due to the fact that the persecution is just so persistent and depressing.  The killing, maiming, threatening, imprisoning, etc., of Christians goes on everyday in just so many places, that I pray generally for my persecuted brothers and sisters.  It’s a tough one.  Jesus told us we’d be persecuted, so it’s natural to the faith; we are told to take joy in it, since the persecutors are really persecuting Jesus – it’s an acknowledgment of the truth of our faith and of the truth about God.  Still, it’s sad and horrible on an emotional level, and we are to pray without ceasing . . .

Here is the first part of the article by Rupert Shortt, as published in The Telegraph yesterday.  Please click on the link that follows it to read the rest of the article.

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.

Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts – more than the entire population of Manchester – have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.

Why is such a huge scourge chronically under-reported in the West? One result of this oversight is that the often inflated sense of victimhood felt by many Muslims has festered unchallenged. Take the fallout of last month’s protests around the world against the American film about the Prophet Mohammed. While most of the debate centred on the rule of law and the limits of free speech, almost nothing was said about how much more routinely Islamists insult Christians, almost always getting away with their provocations scot-free.

Christian Persecution Updates: August 8, 2012

July 31; reported August 6, 2012  Bhutan

Location of Bhutan.

If you’re like me, you tend to think of Buddhists as peaceful, nonviolent people, but as you will see from this report, they are not necessarily so.  Reports from various areas tend to tell of the violence of  “radical Buddhists” against Christians, but Bhutan is officially against Christianity.  On July 31, Pema Sherpa, a house church leader from the town of Gelephu, was beaten and threatened with death by a government official.  The reality of life for the Christian in Bhutan is distressingly the same as in many other anti-Christian countries:  “The practice of Christianity is technically illegal, and Bhutanese who become Christians can pay a high price. They may lose their citizenship and associated benefits such as free education and healthcare, their job, and even access to water and electricity. Some face harassment and beatings.”  About 2% of the population in Bhutan is Christian.

Source:  Barnabas Aid

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August 6 & 7; reported August 7, 2012  Laos

In an action that is against the constitution of Laos, the village leaders of Nahoukou village ordered five families to stop practicing their Christian faith – to stop meeting together and to recant their faith (which is considered a “foreign religion.”).  They were threatened with harm if they do not comply with the village leaders and fellow non-Christian villagers.  When the church leader there, Tongkoun Keohavong, was questioned in the village, he said:  “God is real. When we believe, we are healed from sickness and immediately delivered from the possession of evil spirits.” He further stated: “We cannot deny the reality of God’s power.”

Source:  Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom

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April – present, reported July 23, 2012 Uzbekistan

Baptist house church leader Yelena Kim has been charged with illegally teaching religion in the country of Uzbekistan; the sentence for this is 3 years or less.  Her house church was raided during a Sunday service in April, but police returned in June with a warrant and confiscated bibles, computer discs, a copier, and more.  Yelena’s husband is being charged too, apparently, but the source was unclear.  Another church member, Losif Skaev, also had his house raided and Christian items were removed.  This “comes amid international concerns about President Islam Karimov’s perceived autocratic style towards groups and individuals deemed dangerous [to] the former Soviet state.  Critics say Karimov takes a ruthlessly harsh approach to all forms of opposition” (BNL).  The Kims had been fined a number of times prior to the raids and sentencing.

Source: VOM CanadaBosNewsLife

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Please pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.