You Are Members of the Devil’s Household
COLOMBIA: PASTOR MARTYRED
On Sept. 21, Pastor Manuel was shot and killed by The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in San Jose del Guaviare, Colombia, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts.
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
FARC guerrillas made an appointment with Pastor Manuel and his family. “He thought they were going to authorize him to have a church officially, which he had discuss[ed] and asked [for] before,” said VOM contacts. “One of them came in [the house] with the pastor’s wife, Gloria, and his daughter while the pastor was outside. He was shot five times.”
Pastor Manuel and his wife had been pastoring a church in Chopal village, south of San Jose del Guaviare for about eight years. They faced numerous challenges, and many churches in the area had been closed by FARC guerrillas. Pastor Manuel decided to open the church regardless of the threats and risks. In April, the pastor was part of an evangelistic event at which three FARC guerrillas and seven members of the paramilitary militia accepted Christ. Praise God for this family’s faith.
INDIA: PASTOR ATTACKED
On Oct. 4, Pastor Prakash was attacked by 25 Bajrang Dal extremists while he was ministering in Kaiwara village, Bangalore Rural District, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts.
The extremists assaulted the pastor and accused him of cheating people. After the attack, the pastor was questioned and held on complaints of “illegal activity.” Fortunately, other believers provided evidence that the pastor had not broken any laws but had visited their homes for prayer. At last report he was still in custody.
Pastor Prakash has been in ministry for more than 10 years and pastors a church of 80 members. Recently, he had expanded his ministry to Kaiwara village, where 15 believers had been meeting for prayer on Sundays evenings.
SOMALIA: CHRISTIAN LEADER KILLED
On Sept. 28 an Islamic extremist shot and killed Mariam Muhina Hussein, an underground church leader, after discovering six Bibles in her possession, according to Compass Direct News.
The day before the shooting, a leader of the Islamic extremist group al Shabaab reportedly sent his wife to visit Hussein’s home in Marerey villange. She pretended she was interested in learning about Christianity. During the visit, Hussein read passages of the Bible and told the woman that she could visit regularly to discuss God’s Word, according to Compass.
The following day, the al Shabaab leader, identified as Sheikh Arbow, went to Hussein’s house with several other men and requested a Bible. When Hussein gave one to him, he revealed that he was looking for “Christians who have defiled the Islamic religion” and ordered her to show him the other Bibles that she owned. When she handed them over, Arbow shot her three times, killing her instantly.
In recent weeks, several Christians in Somalia have been killed because of their faith in Christ. The Voice of the Martyrs rejoices in the life of Mariam Muhina Hussein. Praise God for her faithfulness. VOM encourages you to pray that those who mourn for her will draw near to Christ for comfort. Pray that God will grant Somali Christians encouragement and strength as they face trials for their Christian witness. Also pray that God will draw persecutors into fellowship with Him.
INDIA: CHURCH DAMAGED IN ATTACK
On Sept. 9, St. Francis De Sales Church in Bangalore, India was attacked by more than 15 Hindu extremists, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts.
Extremists armed with weapons broke into the church, damaged window panes and statues inside the church. A house behind the church was damaged. The church has about 3,000 members who attend services performed in different languages such as Tamil, Malayalam and English. Following the attack, the church priests, Father Aloysius and Father Selvaraj filed a complaint with the police.
VOTM FAQ: How many Christians are killed for their faith every year?
The most common question has to do with how many Christians have been killed for their faith in a given year. After reading this article, perhaps you will understand why it is impossible to know with absolute certainty the exact number.
According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith. David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, and Peter F. Crossing in their 2009 report in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol. 33, No. 1: 32) estimate that approximately 176,000 Christians will have been martyred from mid-2008 to mid-2009. This, according to the authors, compares to 160,000 martyrs in mid-2000 and 34,400 at the beginning of the 20th century. If current trends continue, Barrett, Johnson and Crossing estimate that by 2025, an average of 210,000 Christians will be martyred annually.
It is worth noting, however, that many have asked whether the figures cited by the annual Barrett/Johnson/Crossing reports are reliable. Indeed, many persecution experts have concluded that they are untenable. Queries to the researchers have shown that these figures are, in fact, projected averages or statistical guesses rather than based on hard figures or actual documentation. Hence, it should be understood that The Voice of the Martyrs does not stand behind this report’s findings as being indisputable facts.
The fact is, much of today’s persecution still takes place in remote areas of countries often cut off from or with restricted access to modern communications. Most martyrs suffer and die anonymously, unknown, forgotten, their deaths unrecorded except in heaven. Even email, which most of us consider a basic everyday tool is a struggle to use in places like Ethiopia, Burma, and much of central Africa. Even where it is more readily available, it is not secure. Much goes unreported or is reported months, even years later. For many, persecution is such a part of life that it hardly dawns on the afflicted to tell the world. They don’t know who to tell anyway and there are only so many organizations like VOMC with limited staff to seek them out. Even then, many are nervous about sharing what they know for fear of retribution.
In short, persecution, by its very nature, defies being statistically analyzed with any degree of certitude.
Our speakers and writers used to refer to the statistics above in their messages as a means of capturing the attention of the hearer/reader. But we found that while it got people’s attention, it often ended there too, as the large numbers tend to overwhelm, leaving one with a sense of hopelessness in actually being able to make a difference. We realized that we didn’t need to use statistics in order to make a strong claim that persecution is an urgent issue that needs greater attention by the worldwide Body of Christ. We just needed to tell the stories and remind the church what the Bible said about the matter of standing together with those who were suffering for their faith.
That’s why we at The Voice of the Martyrs would rather focus on the people involved as we try to put faces on the figures and stories on the statistics. That’s why we would rather spend money putting together our newsletter with its testimonies of faithfulness in the face of tribulation, our email news service with its up-to-date reports, and our videos with actual interviews with persecuted believers than investing in putting together reports that few read and compiling statistics that are ultimately disputable. As we often reminds ourselves, we need to say what we know and leave the rest unsaid.
Now I know I probably messed-up pronouncing a bunch of the names of people and places…
But the point is how recent the dates are…
And how easy it would be for me to spend the rest of the day with you giving examples of Christian persecution
But that’s all “over there”…out of mind…out of sight…How about here?
Promises of Persecution
Let’s see what the Bible says about us and persecution
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
2 Timothy 3
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and sat Lystra–which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
The Greek lacks “they will malign” so perhaps the Today’s International Version is more accurate in translating it:
24“Students are not above their teacher, nor servants above their master. 25It is enough for students to be like their teacher, and servants like their master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul,a how much more the members of his household!
Basically, Jesus is saying if He’s been called the Devil, how much more you and I who are members of Christ’s household!
Have you been called Satan for your faith yet?!
Have you truly been persecuted for your faith as Jesus promised you would?
(As a quick side note, if you look at the conversion of Paul in Acts 9, and how Jesus knocks him off his horse…Jesus says that when people persecute His church they are persecuting Him…)
What not to be persecuted for…
Now we know that we will be persecuted…but the Bible has a bit more advice about persecution…here’s some from Peter…
1 Pet 2:20
20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
1 Pet 3:13-17
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
If we are going to be persecuted…let’s be sure that it is because we are doing good…not because we really deserve it.
Is it really possible that it could happen in the U.S.?
To answer that, let’s first look at Rush Limbaugh…
Yes…Rush Limbaugh ☺
No…I am not saying he was being persecuted for being a Christian, but…let’s read the beginning of Toby Harnden’s article entitled, “The Rush Limbaugh media lynch mob”:
Which public figure can be quoted as having said something bigoted and disgusting and it doesn’t matter whether he did or not because he might have? Who can Big Media brand a racist without checking the facts? Who has to prove he did not say something racist, rather than the accuser proving he did?
A pat on the back for anyone who guessed the answer: Rush Limbaugh (OK, the blog headline was a clue). From CNN to MSNBC to ABC, it’s been put about that Limbaugh said this:
I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.
It’s also been spread around that he said this, about the death of the man who assassinated Martin Luther King:
You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honour? James Earl Ray. We miss you, James. Godspeed.
Rush never said those things…and what caused people to repeat them in major media outlets? Did he say something racist and this was just assumed further proof? Did he accuse someone else of doing something nefarious?
No…he had the audacity to want to be a part owner of an NFL team–the St. Louis Rams.
Not only did they smear him–they succeeded in getting the consortium to drop him from the bid.
I know, I know…it would be easy to say that what happened to Rush won’t happen to Christians because he has said some pretty controversial things.
But let’s consider how quickly (and successfully) he was demonized as we reflect on some other information…
New Mexico commission orders $6,000 fine for Christian beliefs
A Christian law firm will appeal a ruling by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission fining a photographer who refused to take photos of a homosexual commitment ceremony.
Elaine Huguenin and her husband Jon, who co-own Elane Photography in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are both Christians. So when a lesbian couple asked them to photograph their “commitment ceremony” in Taos, the Huguenins politely refused. In response, Vanessa Willock filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission claiming the Huguenins discriminated against her because of her “sexual orientation.” On Wednesday, the Commission found the Christian couple guilty of discrimination under state anti-discrimination laws and ordered them to pay more than $6,000 in costs.
House approves gay hate crimes bill
Baptist Press: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=30410
Posted on May 1, 2009 | by Tom Strode
WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. House of Representatives has easily approved hate crimes protections for homosexuals and transgendered individuals that opponents believe could seriously hinder religious freedom.
The House voted 249-175 for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the current categories — such as race, religion and national origin — protected from hate crimes. “Sexual orientation” includes homosexuality, while “gender identity,” or transgendered status, takes in transsexuals and cross-dressers.
The legislation awaits action in the Senate, which passed a similar measure in 2007. President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.
Evangelical Christian and conservative leaders expressed dismay over the April 29 vote. They warn the legislation, when combined with existing law, could cause problems for Christians who espouse the biblical teaching that homosexual behavior and other sexual relations outside marriage are sinful.
If a person commits a violent act based on a victim’s “sexual orientation” after hearing the Bible’s teaching, for instance, that homosexual behavior is a sin, the teacher or preacher could be charged with inducing a person to commit the crime, some critics of the legislation say.
“Make no mistake about it — the House of Representatives has voted to condemn the belief that homosexuality and many other biblically offensive sexual behaviors are contrary to God’s design,” said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“No one should engage in acts of violence against someone merely because he is a homosexual, but neither should a person’s religiously held beliefs about homosexuality serve as grounds for federal prosecution,” Duke said.
One more current event:
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN DINNER
Barack Obama at Human Rights Campaign national dinner, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009, in Washington…
“For nearly 30 years, you’ve advocated on behalf of those without a voice. That’s not easy. For despite the real gains that we’ve made, there’s still laws to change and there’s still hearts to open. There are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors, even loved ones — good and decent people — who hold fast to outworn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; who would deny you the rights most Americans take for granted. And that’s painful and it’s heartbreaking. (Applause.) And yet you continue, leading by the force of the arguments you make, and by the power of the example that you set in your own lives — as parents and friends, as PTA members and church members, as advocates and leaders in your communities. And you’re making a difference.”
“My expectation is that when you look back on these years, you will see a time in which we put a stop to discrimination against gays and lesbians — whether in the office or on the battlefield. (Applause.) You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman. (Applause.) You will see a nation that’s valuing and cherishing these families as we build a more perfect union — a union in which gay Americans are an important part. I am committed to these goals. And my administration will continue fighting to achieve them. “
“It is no secret that issues of great concern to gays and lesbians are ones that raise a great deal of emotion in this country. And it’s no secret that progress has been incredibly difficult — we can see that with the time and dedication it took to pass hate crimes legislation. But these issues also go to the heart of who we are as a people. Are we a nation that can transcend old attitudes and worn divides? Can we embrace our differences and look to the hopes and dreams that we share? Will we uphold the ideals on which this nation was founded: that all of us are equal, that all of us deserve the same opportunity to live our lives freely and pursue our chance at happiness? I believe we can; I believe we will. (Applause.)”
Christians who believe in the Bible and read it the way it actual reads are:
- Holding fast to outworn arguments and old attitudes
- Have old attitudes and worn divides
And Obama won’t be satisfied with just giving more rights to gays, lesbians, and transgenders…he wants people to see a gay relationship as admirable as a heterosexual one.
Is it possible that we’ll be persecuted?
Let’s consider a Scripture in Revelation…
11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,5 to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
If things progress the way they have the past few years, and you have the audacity to say homosexuality is wrong…
- Could you see not being able to buy or sell? (Think of the Huguenins.)
- Not being able to be in government? At least as an appointee? Would you really be able to get past a Senate confirmation committee?
- Not be able to teach?
- Be in jail because you preached and were convicted of a hate crime?
It is VERY IMPORTANT to make it clear that homosexuals are no worse humans than we are. Sin is sin…we are just as in need of a savior as they are. God loves them as much as He loves us. Jesus’ blood is as much for them as it is for us. I am only giving one example of how what seems to be “over there” could readily come “over here” for some Christians.
Additionally…I really don’t think the mark of the beast is going to be related to speaking out against homosexuality…just finding it ironic that not having the mark of the beast means you can’t buy or sell while thinking of the Christian photographers…
How should we react to being persecuted?
We should pray for and bless those to who persecute us:
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
1 Pet 3:8
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
And don’t lose heart…
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them min the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Nothing can separate you from Jesus…for He is always with us…to the end of the age.