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Letter writing campaign encourages persecuted believers from North Korea

North Korea (MNN) — With the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church approaching this Sunday, November 5th, there is an obvious focus on praying for persecuted believers. But there’s something else you can do as well to encourage them: write a letter.

Each year, the Orange Letter Campaign with Uncharted Ministries focuses on a specific group of believers suffering for their faith to send letters to – and these letters are from fellow Christians around the world.

Two years ago, they sent encouraging letters from believers to the widows of the Egyptian men who were martyred on the beach in Libya by ISIS. In fact, the Orange Letter Campaign was so named in honor of these men for the orange jumpsuits they all wore as they were led to their deaths for their faith in Christ.

Then in 2016, Orange Letter Campaign’s letters went to Syrian Christian leaders on the frontlines. The past few years, they’ve been able to send around 2,000-3,000 letters, and this year they’re hoping for even more!

This year, the letters will be going to persecuted North Korean believers who defected out of the country. Tom Doyle, author of “Standing in the Fire” and with e3 Partners, explains, “This year, we felt like our focus should be North Korea. We have a partnership with Voice of the Martyrs Korea and we know this that there is at least 100,000 believers in North Korea, which is phenomenal when you think about that it is the worst country in the globe to live as a believer…. There are at least 100,000 believers, but 30,000 of them are in prison.”

North Korea has been at the top of Open Doors’ World Watch List for 14 years in a row as the country with the harshest persecution of Christians.

“So we’re writing letters to North Korean defectors, new believers that have come out of North Korea that we’ll meet with and encourage them. Also, Voice of the Martyrs and our new ministry, Uncharted, will be broadcasting into North Korea by radio to read some of the letters to believers there that have radios that hide at night and listen to Christian broadcasts coming out of South Korea.”

 

If you’d like to write a letter of encouragement to a North Korean Christian, you can send your letter in an email to info@unchartedministries.com. Or you submit your letter through 8thirty8’s Facebook page here!

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BreakPoint: International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Wake up, Speak out, Pray

 

 

 
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More Christians are persecuted today than ever before. Which is why we need to join in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

On a sunny day last May, several families climbed onto a couple of buses, happily looking forward to visiting a monastery together.

They never made it. Instead, half of them, including ten children, were slaughtered. You see, these families were Egyptian Christians.

Islamic terrorists dressed in military fatigues stopped the buses and ordered the riders off. As one eyewitness later said, “As each pilgrim came off the bus, they were asked to renounce their Christian faith and profess belief in Islam. But all of them—even the children—refused.”  The terrorists murdered 29 Christians before fleeing.

This Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It’s a time to focus our attention on our brothers and sisters who are being arrested, tortured, murdered, and driven out of their homeland, simply because they worship Jesus.

The attack in Egypt was just one of many around the world last spring. In Germany, a Muslim stabbed a woman to death—one who had converted from Islam to Christianity.

In Pakistan, a Christian pastor was sentenced to life in prison and tortured for blasphemy. He reportedly has been tortured many times.

In North Korea, entire families are thrown into labor camps, where they often die from torture, beatings, and starvation.

In Turkey last year, American missionary Andrew Brunson was locked up on the absurd grounds that he was a terrorist.

Islamists have also swept through Niger, setting fire to Christian churches, orphanages, schools and homes. I could go on.

According to Open Doors USA, the worst offenders are North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan. Sometimes Christians are persecuted by a hostile government, as in China. But in the majority of countries, Islamist extremists are at fault. Tragically, western governments and the United Nations are not doing enough to prevent genocidal efforts, according to the Catholic News Agency.

They should—and they must. More Christians are being persecuted today than ever before in history. Some one hundred million believers are at risk. And yet, the world press largely ignores this massive humanitarian horror.

Why, you may ask, are Christians being persecuted in such great numbers today? In part, it’s because they’re considered part of the “imperial” West. And in many countries, Christians are the ones who are speaking out against the exploitation of the poor.  Third, Christianity is spreading rapidly in predominantly Muslim countries. And totalitarian leaders hate Christians because our ultimate allegiance is always going to be to God and not to a government.

Finally, writes Laura McAlister on the blog site Ignitum Today, “the hidden reality behind all persecution” is revealed in the book of Revelation: It teaches that Satan “makes war” on “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”

Folks, we need to wake up, speak out, and urge our leaders in government to do what it can to fight atrocities committed against innocent men, women, and children around the world.

Above all, we need to pray for them fervently. Lifting them up before God’s throne is what persecuted Christians say they need most.

There are two websites I urge you to visit. First, go to opendoorsusa.org, you’ll find resources to help you and your church observe this international day of prayer for the persecuted church.  Then there’s the Voice of the Persecuted.

Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and I’ll link you to them both.

Finally, to those who are suffering for their faith, I leave you with the words of Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid . . .for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: Wake up, Speak out, Pray

It’s not a cliche: We need to intercede for our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering because they proclaim the name of Christ. So pray, and get engaged with organizations that offer support for persecuted believers across the globe.

A Mom Looks at Halloween from a Christian Perspective

Sue Bohlin takes at hard look at Halloween celebrations, applying a biblical worldview. As Christians, we cannot shield our children from this popular cultural event, but Sue provides some ideas on bringing a Christian perspective to this time of year.

A number of articles are available advising Christians to have nothing to do with Halloween. And I do agree that Christians have no business celebrating a holiday that glorifies something that delights the enemy of our souls. And potentially opens us up to demonic harrassment, to boot!

But if we’ve got kids, especially kids in public school or who hang around other kids in the neighborhood, it’s entirely possible that parents can feel pressured to do something about Halloween. After all, it’s pretty hard to hide under a rock for the whole month of October. A number of houses on our street are more decorated for Halloween than for Christmas!

It seems that the costume manufacturers have really cranked up production of all sorts of costumes to a degree we’ve never seen before. Gone are the days of burning a cork to blacken a face, put on some thrift-shop oversized clothes and dressing up as a hobo. (There’s probably some politically-correct term for “hobo” these days anyway. . .)

Is there anything intrinsically wrong with dressing up in a costume and getting a bunch of candy from consenting adults? I don’t think so; hey, the Bible tells us that God instructed the children of Israel to ask their neighbors for silver and gold their last night in Egypt in a VERY early version of “Trick or Treat” (Exodus 11:2). But we can cooperate with the forces of darkness, however unwittingly, by participating unwisely in Halloween festivities.

 

It is essential to exercise discernment in how we handle Halloween. If you can get away with ignoring it, wonderful! That would be the best solution. But you may find yourself in a place where you want to provide some way for your kids to have fun in a Halloween-immersed culture without compromising on our Christian values and beliefs. For instance, your child’s school may invite all the students to dress up in a costume on October 31. I know a number of Christian schools that do this. May I make these suggestions:

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BreakPoint: House Passes 20-Week Abortion Ban Time to Make It Law

Congress has a chance right now to end one of the most grisly types of abortion. Pro-lifers, it’s time to get loud.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 36, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” on a vote of 237-189. If enacted, this bill would criminalize abortion after twenty weeks of pregnancy except in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. While it’s similar to laws already in place in a few states, it’s also similar to federal bills that failed in 2013 and 2015.

The crucial difference between then and now, of course, is the Republican president in the White House—one who campaigned on an explicitly pro-life platform and has pledged to sign this bill. That means the only thing now standing between the Pain-Capable act and the president’s desk is the Senate—which is no small hurdle.

Why is this legislation so important? Well, as the name suggests, babies at twenty weeks of gestation have nervous systems developed enough to feel pain. Now, in a consistent pro-life worldview, functional abilities have nothing to do with human dignity, and so all abortions are wrong. But abortions conducted just two or three weeks prior to the current point of viability are particularly and obviously gruesome.

Chances are, you may have met someone who was born prematurely at around 24 weeks. Killing any child should be unthinkable, but just before viability? In fact, former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino explains how gruesome second trimester abortions are in a disturbing video for LiveAction. We’ve linked to it at BreakPoint.org, but I’ll tell you this much: It involves literally ripping a baby limb from limb.

On a purely political basis—and contrary to claims by Planned Parenthood and others—this bill is popular on both sides of the political aisle. A 2013 Gallup poll found just 27 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal after the first trimester of pregnancy which, by the way, ends at 12 weeks of gestation.

A Knights of Columbus poll in 2014 found an incredible 84 percent of Americans want to restrict abortion to the first three months of pregnancy or less! And—are you sitting down for this?—62 percent of those who are strongly pro-choice support a 20-week ban. These are folks who support paying for abortions with tax dollars. As Will Saletan at Slate admits, “even most pro-choice people aren’t sold” on killing babies within a hairs breadth of viability.

And this legislation would also moderate America’s extremely liberal federal abortion laws, making them more like those of other Western nations. Now, I’m no fan of modeling America after Europe as some are, but as Cassy Fiano explains in a video for Prager University, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and France all heavily restrict or effectively ban abortions after the first trimester. Only seven other countries have abortion laws like America, and two of them are North Korea and China.

So, where’s our challenge? CNN reports that GOP Whip Senator John Cornyn of Texas, when asked whether his chamber would take up this legislation, said “That’s not a near-term priority.”

Say what? If ending abortion isn’t the reason pro-lifers vote overwhelmingly Republican, what is? Look, for too long we’ve heard lots of pro-life rhetoric on the GOP campaign trail, only to see the unborn take a backseat to other priorities in Washington.

So it’s time to send a clear message to Cornyn and other Senate Republicans: This is why your constituents elected you. Get busy.

And for Democratic senators, we say, “Look at the poll numbers. Listen to Americans. The majority of your voters—the pro-choice crowd—supports this legislation.” Listen to them, not to Planned Parenthood or the increasingly irrelevant abortion lobby. End this most grisly form of abortion now.

 

Now make no mistake—all abortion should be illegal. But this is a huge step in the right direction. Come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll help you get in touch with your U.S. senators. It’s their job to listen. And it’s our job to speak for those who can’t.

Bring your Bible to school is October 5th

 What book is most needed in our public schools, but least likely to bethere? I bet you can take a guess.

Not all that long ago, Teddy Roosevelt could say without fear of contradiction, “A thorough understanding of the Bible is better than a college education.” In more recent times, Ronald Reagan said, “Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.”

Now aside from the Christian worldview it teaches and the moral lifestyle it commends, the Bible also tells us how to know and love God and how to love and serve our fellow man. No wonder it was at one time required reading in practically every school in America.

But today, this Book, which laid the foundation for modern science, political freedom, and Western culture, is seen as unacceptable in American education. Yes, politicians in both parties often selectively quote the Bible when it serves their purposes, and educational progressives will, reluctantly, allow the Old and New Testaments to be studied as an academic subject in our public schools.

But since 1963, if there’s even a hint of moral teaching or proselytizing, well, forget it. And yet we wonder aloud where the increasing levels of suicide, sex, and drug abuse in our young people have come from.

That’s why I’m thrilled to tell you about a growing movement to re-introduce the Bible in our public schools—not by teachers or administrators, but by the kids themselves. It’s called Bring Your Bible to School Day, and this year’s event is tomorrow, Thursday, October 5th.

With a tagline of “Bring It. Share It. Live It,” Bring Your Bible to School Day began in 2014 and is sponsored by our friends at Focus on the Family. Last year more than 350,000 young people participated. This year, they expect half a million public school students in all 50 states to bring their Bibles to school and tell their friends about the hope they have. And the best part is, it’s perfectly constitutional.

“Over the years,” says Focus President Jim Daly, “we’ve heard from many kids and teens who want to meaningfully engage in conversations with peers to share their perspective on important issues. The good news is—they can.

Daly adds, “The Constitution recognizes students’ rights to share their biblical viewpoints in a way that doesn’t disturb instruction time, and to exercise their faith at school. ‘Bring Your Bible to School Day’ celebrates these rights and gives Christian students a chance to share a bit about their faith, which is an important part of who they are.”

Indeed. To see what it’s all about, just go to bringyourbible.org for all the details. You’ll see testimonies there of students boldly standing up for Jesus at their schools. There are sections for parents, for pastors, and for teachers, plus vital information on what’s legally permissible. And an awful lot is permissible! As the Supreme Court has noted, “It can hardly be argued that students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech at the schoolhouse gate.”

Look, let’s be honest: a big part of the reason there’s so little Christian influence in our public schools is that, as our friends at Gateways to Better Education have argued for years, people on both sides of the argument simply don’t understand what’s legal and constitutional and what is not. But an even bigger part is because too many of us have become afraid or passive in the face of our culture’s growing unbelief. As Chuck Colson used to say, Christians need to courageously break the spiral of silence. Bring Your Bible to School Day—again, it’s tomorrow—is a great way do just that, winsomely, and completely legally.

 

For you and your children to learn more about how they can take important early steps in standing up for Jesus with their friends, visit bringyourbible.org. It has all the resources you’ll need to be a part of this superb movement.

 

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught ( something a Coach of third grader football players should have done )

Just a couple weekends ago in Belleville, Illinois, every single player on a football team of youngsters—eight years old and under—took a knee during the national anthem.

The coach, Orlando Goodin, said his kids knew all about why people were protesting in the streets of St. Louis over the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley. He saw a teaching opportunity—and explained Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. The kids asked if they could do the same.

So, sure enough, when the national anthem played, these third graders immediately took a knee, their backs turned away from the flag.

 

There’s a line from the old musical South Pacific that says, “You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

(Billy’s thoughts –  Read the rest this spot-on commentary, or listen to it by clicking here.)

“What Are You Willing To Do”

Listen to a short commentary about the church of Jesus Christ in the Middle-East.

A Message for the NFL, and some of her players

What does it really mean to make America great, again

Make America Great Again. It’s the mantra that’s become ingrained in the nationfal consciousness over the last two years, both embraced and scorned by millions.
We spoke with George Durance of TeachBeyond, who explained how to Christians, the phrase should involve something much deeper than politics.
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