Posts Tagged ‘Christianity

06
Oct
09

Secret Believers

Discipleship(1)

Testimonies of Discipleship Training for Secret Believers

Open Doors has developed special training courses for secret believers and the impact of those courses is wonderful. These are some of the testimonies that we have received from those who have been a part of our discipleship training programs.

 
Samuel
“I am the only Christian in my family. This makes it difficult for me. When I first became a Christian, I was very open and enthusiastic. I could not stop telling everybody about Jesus and invited many people to my house to talk about Him. It did not take a lot of time before people got offended. I then got arrested by the police and spent two months in jail for my faith.  

 

“What I loved about this training is that I finally learned about the truth. In Iran I had learned many things, but some of these would speak against each other. I also like to learn about the concept of sin. Not just what is a sin, but the broader perspective. This made a huge impact on me and my daily life.” 

 

Omid
“Before coming to the training I had a big problem. I saw ‘things’ that were very scary, like dark creatures in my bedroom. I could see them walking around. Sometimes these happenings would have a bad influence on me and I got depressed. The trainers talked to me about this and advised me what to do. What to pray before entering the room, what to pray next, and so on. This helped very well. I did all of this after coming home and since that time the creatures are gone and the problems have been solved, it is over. I am so happy about that.”  

 

“Also for me the big influence of training was the concept of sin. To know what is sin, the explanation of how it started and what it means for us today. Not just to talk about individual sins and sinners, but the total concept of it, to be away from God. That really helped me.” 

 

Salar
“I am the only one in the group who was brought up in a Christian home, I am a genuine Christian Background Believer (CBB). Growing up in a Christian home, I knew the Bible well, and knew all the stories. The training helped me putting all the separate stories together. It showed a line in the Bible, that I had not seen before. I learned how to find different Bible verses with the same meaning. This opens a way for giving service to people, helping them in a better way. I see a big need for good teachers and leaders. We have a need for more interaction, discussions and meetings with people. A week like this is so good to just be able to discuss matters and learn from each other.”  

 

29
Sep
09

Inspired by Daniel

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”- Daniel 6:10-11

So many things about this verse inspire me. First of all is Daniel’s passion for prayer. He prayed three times a day every day! And not just little blurbs prayed in the shower or on the commute to work, but serious, set apart pray times with no distractions. Not that I think there is anything wrong with prayers in the shower or in the car, but this verse reminds me of the importance of spending some serious one on one time with God. Something else I love about Daniel is that, when he heard that his government was doing something wrong, he didn’t go complain to his friends or rant and rave on his blog. The first thing he did was pray to God for help. I would say and do a lot less stupid things if my priority was to pray first.

Please join me in having committed prayer every day this week and in praying for the following people/events.

1) Rifqa Barry. I’m sure many of you have heard of this Muslim teen by now, who fled her family in Ohio because she was afraid they would kill her. There is lots of speculation as to whether or not she is really danger. Pray that the truth comes out, that she is protected and pray for wisdom for everyone involved in this case. Pray especially for wisdom for the pastors and Christians involved, as they will probably be scrutinized and be accused of hating Muslims. Pray that the way they handle the situation is a good example of Christ.

2) A tropical storm hit the Philippines this weekend and the consequential flooding has killed hundreds and left thousands without homes. hat same storm, Typhoon Ketsana, hit Vietnam today. Pray for the victims and pray for restoration in both regions. http://www.christianpost.com/article/20090929/typhoon-ketsana-carries-deadly-rampage-over-to-vietnam/index.html

3) Please pray for everyone who is unemployed across the country. I know times are really tough for some people. My dad has been out of work for 6 months and I have many recently graduated friends who cannot get jobs. How about you, readers? Are any of you looking for jobs? Have any of you found jobs recently?

4) Open Doors is hosting an International Day Of Prayer for the persecuted church on Nov. 8. Pray that it helps further educate people about the persecuted church. For more information click on the following link. http://members.opendoorsusa.org/site/PageNavigator/IDOP_2009_LP

5) Please pray for a friend of mine, Jaime, who is pregnant with twins. Pray that she is able to carry them to full term and that there are no complications. I also have a praise report along those lines. My nephew, Logan, was born on Friday night. Totally healthy, no complications, and he’s pretty cute to boot.

Do any of you have prayer requests or praise reports? Let me know and I’ll include them in next week’s Monday=Prayday.

09
Sep
09

world watch list: saudi arabia

While communist North Korea does not support any religion, Saudi Arabia rejects all non Islamic religions. Ruled by King Abdullah, the Islamic monarchy arrests, flogs, deports and tortures those who practice Christianity in public. Of the 24.7 million citizens, only 2.2% are Christian. In the past, those who worshipped privately were generally left alone. However, in the past year, there has been an increasing number of arrests of those worshipping privately. Christians risk arrest, honor killings and persecution everyday. Please pray that those who are learning about Jesus through the internet and sattelite television are able to find fellow believers and have questions answered and recieve spiritual encouragement.

Saudi Arabia has a religious police force,mutawwa’in, who threaten and persecute Christians. In January of 2009 a house pastor named Yemane Gebriel was forced to leave his hometown under threat of the religious police. He is a personal driver who pastors a 300 member house church in Riyadh. He found anonymous notes in his van telling him to leave the country. When he did not comply, Abdul Aziz, a member of the mutawwa’in, threatened him face to face. He was forced to leave to an unknown location. For more information on this story, visit the Compass Direct Link http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/saudiarabia/1906/

Pray that Gebriel’s church, as well as other churches’ whose leaders have been captured or forced to leave, have the strength and encouragement to continue meeting and persevering in thier faith.

07
Sep
09

World Watch List: North Korea

North Korea has been at the top of the WWL for seven consecutive years.  Of the 28.3 million citizens of North Korea, 70% have no religious belief.  People are told they must worship the country’s political leader, Kim Jung Il. Only 1.7% of the population are Christian.  The borders are closely monitored and people caught trying to leave N. Korea are sent back and forced into prison camps, beaten, tortured and often executed. Many try to escape to China, but Chinese government actively looks for North Korean refugees and sends them back. The amount of people in labor and prison camps has risen since 2008 and there are an estimated 50-70,000 Christians in camps.  In your prayers for North Korea, pray that spiritual and physical aid reaches the estimated 400,000 believers in the country. Also pray for wisdom and strenght for those trying to escape.

While Christians are specifically targeted due to the fact that they are viewed as threat to the government, most people in North Korea are suffering under the oppresive rule of Kim Jung Il. The government violates all international human rights laws and many different groups are concerned with the situation in N. Korea. I found the following video on YouTube and although its a bit long , I encourage you to watch it all the way through. It has alot of interesting facts and the pictures demonstrate the horrific situation better than this humble blogger can.

07
Sep
09

Persecution and the World Watch List

Every day this week, we will feature a different country whose Christian citizens face severe persecution on a daily basis. Every year, Open Doors creates a World Watch List, a list of 50 countries around the world with the most severe persecution. We will blog about the top seven countries: North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Maldives andYemen.

Here is some information on how the list is formed:

 The World Watch List is compiled from a specially-designed questionnaire of 50 questions covering various aspects of religious freedom. A point value is assigned depending on how each question is answered. The total number of points per country determiens its position on the WWL. The questions differentiate between the legal, official status of Christians (e.g. Does the constitution and/or national laws provide for freedom of religion?; Are individuals allowed to convert to Christianity by law?) and the actual situation of individual Christians (Are Christians being killed because of their faith?; Are Christians being sentenced to jail, labor camp or sent to a psychiatric hospital because of their faith?). Attention is paid to the role of the church in society (Do Christians have the freedom to print and distribute Christian literature?; Are Christian publications censured/prohibited in this country?) and to factors that may obstruct the freedom of religion in a country (Are Christian meeting places and/orChristian homes attacked because of anti-Christian motives?).” -WWL

03
Sep
09

The Power of the Pen

There are so many ways we can support the persecuted church. The obvious ways are through prayer and donations, but Open Doors has several programs that allow us to reach out in different ways. My favorite is their letter writing program.  You can write a letter s to Christians in China, Columbia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mexico and Uzbeckistan.  Here’s how:

1)      Visit www.opendoorsusa.org. Click on the “Get Involved” tab

2)      Download the “Letter Writing Guide.” It gives suggestions of things to write and gives specifics on what is not okay to write. It also tells you where to send the letters. It is very important to read this guide as it will help protect your identity and the identity of the recipients.

3)      Scroll through the list of people you can write letters to, pick one, and start writing. Open Doors has done a great job of posting basic personal histories of people who receive letters. There is the story of Brother Ning who spent 7 years in prison for illegal house church activities and is now having a hard time readjusting to life outside prison. Or you could write to Jemima, a Nigerian widow who lost her husband in an attack by Muslim extremists and now cares for her her 11 children by herself.

This is such a great way to minister to our brother’s and sister’s being persecuted. I recently participated in this activity by writing to the children at the Children’s Home in Columbia. I wrote down some encouraging song lyrics and I had the kids I babysit draw pictures and write little notes. They loved it! The letters, pictures and lyrics were hand delivered by one of our staff that recently went on a trip to Columbia.

Not only was this a great way to encourage the persecuted, it was a great teaching tool for the kids I babysit. It taught  them a little bit about the persecuted church (without being too graphic or scary)and showed them that there is something they can do to help.  This would be a great project for homeschoolers. The whole project took about 30 minutes and didn’t cost me anything, but I know its going to bring a smile to those kids.. Thank you in advance for giving up a small part of your day to support and encourage the persecuted.

one of the children we wrote letters to.

one of the children we wrote letters to.

06
Aug
09

3 years is nothing

What goes through a Christian prisoner’s mind on his day of sentencing? In a letter written from his prison cell, Shi Weihan allows us a rare opportunity to re-live with him the events of June 10, 2009. Shi, 40, a Christian bookstore owner in Beijing, was originally arrested by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) Nov. 28, 2007 along with one of his employees Tian Hongxia. He and his family have gone the through the ups and downs of the Chinese legal system since then.

The prison guards didn’t give me any prior notice of the trial. That day, I was summoned so swiftly after breakfast that I didn’t even have time to change but left in my yellow prisoner’s garb.

As I got into the court van, I saw 15 other prisoners packed inside – six aside on benches with no room to move and three crouching in the middle – all with hands cuffed behind their backs. I could see two other vans which were also packed with 15 prisoners each. A jeep carrying policemen from the courthouse escorted the convoy at the back. We weren’t allowed to talk in the van, but we could hear the policemen’s conversation: except for my case which would be tried in the “Collegiate Hall,” all the other prisoners’ cases would be tried in the “Simple Hall.”

I was praying all the way, entrusting my whole self to God. These words sounded in my ears again: “You are part of My plan. Every step you take brings you closer to victory. You are My child; My grace is sufficient for you.”
My eyes welled up with tears and I tried my utmost to hold them back. I prayed, “Whatever Your will, Lord, please give me strength!”

The van drivers were speeding like cows on a rampage. Suddenly, two vans braked to a halt. The momentum was so strong that my handcuffs cut into my skin. At that moment, I felt like we were being treated worse than pigs.
I’d been cut off from the outside world during the last two months, but I was in no mood to peek out at the scenery on the streets. I kept praying in my heart that I would not throw up.

Very soon, we arrived at the entrance to the basement of the courthouse and some policemen came to take us inside in a single file. In the basement, they handcuffed my hands in the front and locked me in a small glassed cubicle while the other prisoners were divided into groups of seven or eight persons and locked in three or four other cubicles. I sat down on a bench to rest, waiting for the nauseous feeling to pass.

The policemen in the courthouse gathered outside our cubicles for their instructions. The air felt thick with tension. I tried to calm my breathing so that I could eavesdrop on their conversation through the glass partition. The policeman in charge gave them each a small electric baton and said, “If any prisoner
is unwilling to accept the judgment when it’s passed, don’t strike them in the courtroom. Do it after you bring them back to the basement. Is this understood?” They replied in unison, “Understood.”

After they were dismissed, several of them tested their batons. The crackling sound of electric sparks reached my ears. It was a frightening sound. A thought struck me: “If I am the only one being sentenced, why are there so many policemen?” It felt like an ill portent.

The court policewoman had called my name three times. She sounded so serious that I wondered if it was a good sign. How long a sentence would I receive? An acquittal? One and a half, three, five, eight, 10 years? Anything seemed possible. But I told myself that I am a servant of God with a clear conscience – never have I failed my country, its society, people and church!

I heard my name called the fourth time. I responded that I was in the first cubicle and two policemen opened the glass screen and brought me out. At the first floor, I was made to squat facing a wall with my head bowed. A tall and stout policeman came to snap an unflattering photo of my profile – barefoot, in prisoner’s garb and head bowed towards the wall.

The judge came in, surrounded by several uniformed and plain-clothed policemen. They talked and handed the court secretary a document, then instructed her to bring me into the courtroom. After a policeman violently pushed me back down on the floor before releasing my handcuffs, I finally walked into the courtroom followed by Tian and five others from the printing factory. I prayed, “Please give me strength.”

Two policemen grabbed me by the shoulders and escorted me to the first defendant’s chair. I quickly scanned the faces of the people seated on the other side and saw Dad, Mum, Zhang Jing… I missed them so much.
After a few minutes, the judge entered the room. He asked a couple of brief questions and then made us stand up to receive our sentences. But I couldn’t hear what he was saying. My emotions ran wild because I was so happy to see my family again. I tried to calm myself and hold back the tears that filled my eyes.

When the judge called my name, I very quickly came back from turmoil to reality. “Prison term of three years, fine of 150,000 Yuan ($22,000),” he pronounced. I took it most calmly. I had expected a term of 12 years at least for the 2.57 million Bibles that were discovered and the tens of millions that had been distributed before that. Three years was acceptable – they would pass in a blink. If the government had wanted to be lenient, they would have done something much earlier. This case was thorny for them as well.

After each one of us heard our sentences, we were handcuffed again to leave the courtroom. I turned around to face my family, raised and waved my hands, and smiled at them. Though no words passed between us, my eyes communicated God’s blessing to them. We would be strong in God!

The policeman tugged at my hands to rush me to leave. As I lowered my hands and turned away, I heard my wife yell, “Shi, I love you!” This time I could no longer stop the tears from running down my face. I
walked out of the room with my head lowered and without turning back because I didn’t want my wife and parents to see their husband and son crying.

We were taken back to our cubicles at the basement. No one resisted, so the policemen had no opportunity to use their electric batons.

Alone once more in my cubicle, I had no reason to hold back my tears, so I cried my heart out until there were no more tears. As I calmed down, I fell to my knees facing the wall and offered up my thanks to my Father. I heard the same voice ring over and over again in my ears: “My child, My grace is sufficient for you.”

I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and watched the passers-by on the streets as we rode back to the prison. I could sincerely say in my heart, ‘Lord, You are so great!’ The rest of the day passed with joy.

It is only around a year before I will be reunited with my family. Three years in prison in exchange for millions of souls – that’s totally worthwhile! A portion of Scripture that has been my source of strength came back to me:
“’We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.’ (2 Corinthians 4:8-12, NIV)

“Three years in prison in exchange for millions of souls – that’s totally worthwhile!” That statement had such an impact on me. I’m barely willing to endure three minutes of social discomfort or embarrasement to share the gospel…much less three years of imprisonment! Lord grand me the courage you gave Shi…courage to share your word, will and love at whatever cost. Then grant me the joy to celebrate having to pay that cost.

Pray for Shi and his family…that his last year of imprisonment will be full of opportunities to further the kingdom of God, that they will have strength to endure the seperation and that they really will be reunited at the end of the sentence.




The purpose of the blog

To EDUCATE, ENLIGHTEN and ENCOURAGE. To be a voice to those who have none, a voice that is LOUDER than their persecution, oppression and pain. A righteous voice that is LOUDER than the enemy.

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