Category Archives: Evil Leaders

The Iranian Protests and the Church

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The protests currently shaking Iran have enormous implications for U. S. foreign policy—and for the Church.

Iranian citizens are rising up against their oppressive Shiite government. They shout, “Death to the Dictator!” while enduring tear gas, water cannons, arrest—and death.

The demonstrations initially had to do with the sagging economy, high unemployment, and the increased cost of basic foods. As one protester quoted in the Washington Post said, “When we don’t have bread to eat, we are not afraid of anything.”

But these protests may have evolved into “an open rebellion against Iran’s Islamic leadership itself.”

The outcome of these protests of course will have enormous implications for the Middle East and for U. S. foreign policy. The Iranian government is a staunch ally of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, supports Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group and arch-enemy of Israel, and is fomenting unrest (and that’s putting it mildly) throughout the Middle East.

And no doubt you’ve heard about the Iranian government’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

But there’s another reason Americans—and especially American Christian—should be following events there: the growth of Christianity in Iran.

In the online journal “The Stream,” my friend Michael Brown writes that Iranian converts, Christian leaders, and missiologists all tell him the same thing: “Iranian Muslims are converting to Christianity at an unprecedented pace.” Indeed, according to the Iranian Christian News Agency, Islamic clerics are alarmed at the growing number of Iranian youth who are abandoning Islam, converting to Christianity, and joining house churches. That despite the enormous risks of conversion in a country that openly suppresses the Christian faith.

The news comes as no surprise to Reza Safa, a Muslim convert to Christianity and the author of “The Coming Fall of Islam in Iran.” Safa, who now lives in the U.S., notes on his website that “Despite severe persecution by the Iranian government against underground churches, God’s Word is spreading like a wildfire all over Iran.”

That’s exciting news. And the protests against the regime raging across Iran may be a sign of hope for Christians, according to Iranian journalist and Christian convert Sohrab Amari. Amari told the Catholic News Agency that “the Iranians who are pouring into the streets have had it with an ideological regime that represses them.” Many are even chanting “nostalgic slogans” about pre-revolutionary Iran—a time when religious minorities like Christians, Jews, and Bahai’s could live well enough alongside their Islamic neighbors.

The outcome of the protests remains to be seen. Will they lead to more freedoms, or to even worse repressions?

And as the number of conversions continues to rise, will the government target churches even more fiercely, or will those who have tasted the freedom to become children of God through Jesus Christ act as leaven in Iranian society, inspiring more people to seek freedom from their authoritarian overlords?

We don’t have to look far back in history to see epoch-shaking movements of God’s people. As Chuck Colson documented masterfully in his book “Being the Body,” the fall of communism in Poland, in Romania, and throughout eastern Europe was fueled by Christian faith—and the human desire for freedom kindled by that faith.

At one time, those of us old enough to remember the Cold War couldn’t have imagined the demise of European communism. But it happened. The fall of an authoritarian Islamist regime should not be beyond our hopes and prayers.

So please, join me in prayer for our brethren in Iran—for safety, for wisdom, and for the conversion of many more to freedom in Jesus Christ.

 

The Iranian Protests and the Church: Bread, Freedom, and Faith

As events are unfolding in Iran, believers everywhere have the opportunity to intercede for Christians and new converts in that country. Read more about this critical news and its implications by clicking on the links in our Resources section.

Resources

What No One Is Telling You About Iran

  • Michael Brown | Townhall.com | January 2, 2018
Could Iranian protests bring religious freedom for Christians?

  • Michelle La Rosa | Catholic News Agency | December 29, 2017
Christianity is Rapidly Growing in Iran

  • CBN News | August 15, 2017
Being the Body: A New Call for the Church to Be Light in Darkness

  • Chuck Colson and Ellen Santilli Vaughn
  • Thomas Nelson
  •  

  • 2004
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A Date of Infamy

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Today is December 7 – a day that President Roosevelt said would be “a date which will live in infamy.” On that fateful morning of December 7, 1941, America was attacked without warning. More than 2,400 Americans died and 1,100 were wounded. Our country was changed forever. This attack led us into war, and the citizens of America responded with courage and resolve. So it may be well to reflect on what took place and how we today must also rise to the occasion of the attacks on America by Islamic extremists.

Today is known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It is a day when we honor the lives lost in that attack on Pearl Harbor and also honor the veterans of World War II. But it can also be a day in which we pay tribute to the men and woman who are currently serving in the armed forces in an effort to promote freedom and justice around the world.

( Read the rest of this spot-on commentary. )

China ready to depose NK troublemaker

China should pay an economic price for propping up North Korea’s regime, says a national defense analyst, while a second analyst predicts China will orchestrate regime change in the near future.

North Korea’s provocative launch of an ICBM into Japanese waters – after a flight time of 53 minutes and reaching space before re-entry – has heightened nightmare scenarios of tens of thousands dead or, worse, a nuclear exchange on the Korean peninsula.

 

“I think, if you trigger a military option, it’s going to escalate unbelievably quickly,” leaving “tens of thousands” dead, warns Kirk Lippold, a retired U.S. Navy officer who commanded the USS Cole when terrorists attacked it in 2000.

( Read the rest of this story. )

BreakPoint: Communism’s Failed Promise

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This week marked a century since one of the darkest chapters in human history began, and a truly evil worldview was put into practice.

One hundred years ago, Bolshevik revolutionaries stormed the Winter Palace in Petrograd, the seat of the Provisional Government of Russia. They also seized post offices, train stations, and telegraphs in the dead of night. When the people of Russia’s capital city awoke, they were in what Rhodes Scholar David Satter described as “a different universe.”

That universe was a communist one. Vladimir Lenin’s so-called “October Revolution,” which took place in November on the Gregorian calendar, sought to establish the first-ever Marxist state. After a lengthy civil war, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics emerged, marking one of the greatest setbacks Western Civilization has suffered since the fall of Rome. Communism would eventually rule one-third of the planet, condemning one-and-a-half billion people to lives under brutal, totalitarian governments, and leaving behind a trail of over 100 million corpses.

So many people died because, as Satter explains in The Wall Street Journal, the communist worldview sees the state as supreme, replacing God, Himself. It’s infallible, it transcends morality, and it demands absolute loyalty from its citizens.

Karl Marx taught that only such a state, acting for its people, could break the chains of economic oppression and private property, creating a “new man.” This type of person, depicted in Soviet propaganda posters with bulging muscles and steely eyes, would work willingly for the common good, seek only to advance the interests of his comrades, and usher in a worker’s paradise.

The communist ideal was nothing short of a godless eschatology—a Heaven on earth.

What we got instead was hell on earth. Through political purges, forced population transfers, manmade famines, gulags, and a so-called “Great Leap Forward,” dictators like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot presided over some of the worst mass murders in human history, all directly motivated by the desire to bring about that communist paradise.

It wasn’t until Christmas 1991 that the darkness which had fallen on Russia in 1917 began to lift. The Soviet sickle and hammer descended over the Kremlin for the last time, quietly announcing the end of what President Reagan had dubbed the “evil empire.”

But for millions of people the world over, this godless worldview remained and remains a political reality. China’s forced abortions, Cuba’s political repression, and North Korea’s persecution of Christians are just some of the atrocities that have continued in communist countries since the fall of the Soviet Union.

And here in the United States, communist ideology enjoys a kind of immortality in our universities, where many professors openly identify as Marxists, and students sport those ever-popular Che Guevara t-shirts.

One recent survey by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that half of millennials would rather live in a socialist or communist country than in a capitalist democracy. More than 20 percent have a favorable view of Marx, and thirteen percent think of Joseph Stalin as a “hero.”

The only good news is that 71 percent of those surveyed couldn’t identify the correct definition of communism. They don’t understand what they’re praising.

As we look back on the aftermath of that October revolution, we should commit ourselves to teaching our kids, our friends, and whoever else will listen where communism belongs: squarely in the dustbin of history.

Perhaps the best way to commemorate communism’s 100thbirthday is to pray that we can fully and finally bury this evil worldview in our lifetimes.

 

Communism’s Failed Promise: Heaven on Earth Without God

As Eric has urged, educate your family and friends on the failed utopian promises of communism, as well as the results of its worldview on humankind. And continue to pray that the scourge of communism will end on the earth.

 

 

Resources

100 Years of Communism—and 100 Million Dead

  • David Satter | Wall Street Journal | November 6, 2017

100th anniversary of the Bolshevik communist revolution in Russia

 

October 2017 marked a very important anniversary, the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik communist revolution in Russia that led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The 20th century represents, as one major historian has named, “the century of megadeath”; and at the center of that “megadeath” is the great lie…

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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.

China Cracking Down

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China wasn’t kidding. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

Last month the Chinese government announced new crackdowns on religion in order to, so they say, fight extremism and protect national security.

A house church pastor, her daughter, and her toddler grandson have been arrested for singing and preaching in a public park. No one knows their whereabouts.

According to Christianity Today, local officials are already cracking down in several areas around the country, even though these new regulations don’t go into effect until February. In one province, authorities are warning Christian parents not to send their kids to Christian summer camps or even to Sunday school. Missionaries are being expelled “in record numbers.” And virtually all religious activities—publishing, accepting donations, religious education—are coming under intense scrutiny.

Eric Metaxas and I have told you before that within the next couple of decades, China is on track to have the world’s largest population of Christians.

But it’s clear that this miraculous growth of the Church there will be accompanied by severe growing pains. So please, pray for the Church in China.

 

Resources

Red Tape: China Wants to Constrict Christian Activities with 26 New Rules

  • Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra | ChristianityToday.com | October 3, 2016

Either we go to war or we do nothing, but there might be some other things we can do

Listen to, or read a commentary.

North Korea, Nukes, and President Trump The Prudential and Moral Considerations of a Just War

BreakPoint: North Korea, Nukes, and President Trump
The Prudential and Moral Considerations of a Just War

by: John Stonestreet & G. Shane Morris

The war rhetoric between North Korea and the U.S. turned nuclear this week, literally. Thankfully, Christians have thought about these things before.

U.S. intelligence now believes that North Korea—currently under the rule of a despicable, evil, irrational dictatorship—has capability to mount a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Kim Jong Un has said he’ll never give up his pursuit of nuclear weapons, and just this week, he threatened attacks on the U.S. mainland and the
U. S. territory of Guam.

In response, President Trump warned that if these threats continue, North Korea will face “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Rhetoric aside, the President does face a very grave dilemma: how to prevent North Korea from following through on its threats. The prudential and moral considerations here are colossal. He and our entire national security team need our prayers.

What he doesn’t need is bad advice. One evangelical advisor made headlines saying that the president had been anointed by God to “take out” Kim Jong Un by “by any means possible.”

“By any means possible” is a Machiavellian response, not a Christian one. And I know Chuck Colson would have said so too.

Chuck, a former Marine Captain and advisor to President Nixon, was no pacifist. But he was a disciplined Christian thinker who talked frequently about “just war theory.” He knew the rich wisdom about war from those who had gone before was an antidote to hyper-emotional reactionism.

To give you a taste, here’s Chuck, from 2009:

Chuck Colson: For nearly two millennia, Christian thinkers starting with Augustine… have developed what is known as the just war theory. For a war to be seen as just, it must meet several conditions. It must be waged by legitimate authority. The cause itself must be just, as well as the intention behind going to war. War must be a last resort, waged by means proportional to the threat. We must not target non-combatants, and we must have a reasonable chance of success.

John: Let’s unpack this criteria. First, the intent of the war has to be just. Is preventing an irrational dictatorship from using nuclear weapons a just cause? Yes, but it raises other questions. Is a preemptive strike morally just? Chuck felt so in certain cases and he cited Christian precedent. But in the years after the preemptive invasion of Iraq, he admitted that hindsight showed the intelligence leading to the attack was faulty. So U. S. intelligence must be correct about the status of North Korea’s capabilities.

Second, for a war to be just, there must be a reasonable chance of success. That means success must be achievable, and it must be defined. In this case, is it the toppling of Kim Jong Un, or just removing his capability of producing and delivering nuclear weapons?

Third, is war a last resort? Are all other avenues closed? This is almost always the final hinge on which a just decision swings.

Fourth, we must not target non-combatants. A U. S. attack on North Korea should focus on their leadership and nuclear facilities. But we must also consider civilian cost to our allies. If North Korea has time to retaliate against an attack, experts warn of hundreds of thousands if not millions of South Korean, perhaps even Japanese, civilian casualties.

Fifth, is our response proportional to the threat? “Fire and fury like the world has never seen” is a vague answer to that question. Are we talking cruise missiles here, or tactical nuclear weapons?

As Chuck said back in 2009, these are tough questions for any leader. And he knew, having served in the White House at the side of a president.

So Christian, we must pray to the God of history and nations for wisdom for our leaders and for a just end to the evil regime in North Korea. And, in our words, whether we’re advising the President or own children about this situation, we must be thoughtful and morally considerate, not emotionally reactive.

The Bloodshed of Atheists

Listen to a radio commentary about those who have done evil who opposed the works of God.
( Audio )