December 21, 2007

Let’s Remember Our Brothers and Sisters This Christmas Season

It is unbelievable that the year is already nearly over. It seems the years are going by faster and faster. As 2007 draws to an end, I find myself reflecting on the many challenges that our persecuted brothers and sisters faced this year. I have been encouraged and challenged by the many testimonies I was honored to read this past year. Many were from believers who risk their lives time and time again, for the sake of the gospel. What seemed to tie all the numerous experiences together was the love our brothers and sisters have for the Lord and for lost souls. The passion these courageous Christians have and continue to show has been both exemplary and challenging.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I encourage you to remember our brothers and sisters around the world who do not have the freedom to celebrate this Christmas like we in a free country. Pray the Holy Spirit ministers to them and their families as the year draws to an end. Especially ask God to grant them grace and courage to faithfully serve him in 2008. I wish you God’s blessing in the new year.

Works Family Share Their Memories on ABC News

WorksfamilyToday ABC News has an exclusive interview with the Works family.  Click here to read the story or to watch the video update.


Opposition May Work In Your Favor

What made them really angry, angry enough to murder, was that this convert used to be a terrorist like them.

Maria Elena Moyano had screamed with them for revolution in Peru. She had pleaded for feeding the peasants by the power of the gun. Then she met Jesus Christ and found a different kind of revolution—a revolution of love in her heart.

She became the vice-mayor of Lima’s largest shantytown. She organized far-reaching relief efforts among the poorest of the poor, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and tending to the orphans.

“They call us Christians ‘firefighters of the revolution,’” she said, “because they say we extinguish the fires they set. They want the population to have absolutely nothing to eat, hoping that then the people will resort to arms. But we must not fear terror. We must oppose injustice and savagery to help those in need.”
Maria knew she would suffer, but she also knew that she must share Christ’s sorrows before sharing his glory. Maoist terrorists attacked with a violent rage, blowing up the building where the food for the poor was housed. “Sometimes I fear,” said Maria, “but I insist we should never resort to violence. It is difficult to defeat terrorism, but not impossible.”

Angry at the effectiveness of Maria’s work and unable to stop her, the guerrillas killed Maria on February 1, 1992.

The Pharisees were not exactly tactical experts. Like the terrorists in Lima, their strategy for discouraging people from following Christ brought unintended results. Both the Pharisees and the terrorists worked hard for the people’s allegiance. The Pharisees tried starving the people’s souls while the terrorists tried starving the people’s stomachs. However, the people in Jerusalem and the people in Peru followed the revolutionary teachings of Jesus all the same. The harder the opposition works against Jesus, the more it works to advance his cause. The opposition can work against you and your efforts, but it will never defeat you when you work for the kingdom. In fact, the opposition may unwittingly work in your favor.


December 20, 2007

David Works Attends Daughters Memorial Service

There is a little bit of news to share with you concerning  Matthew Murray, deemed the killer of the missionaries at Youth with a Mission and New LIfe Church.  New reports are saying that there was 1300 cartridges of ammunition, a knife, a homicide textbook and Xanax found in the home of Murray. Authorities are declining what this may have meant regarding a greater attack.

Meanwhile, David Works, the father of two of the girls who were killed at New Life Church, spoke at his daughters memorial service yesterday.  The Works sisters were survived by their mother Marie, and their two sisters Grace and Laurie.


Concern for Persecuted Rises During Christmas Season

Earlier this week one of my favorite missions organizations, Mission Network News posted about the dangers during Christmas season for Christians in persecuted areas.  Here's a short snippet from the MNN article.

Over several years, it has become evident that the Christmas season causes an increase in persecution in places that are already notorious for it.

Glenn Penner of Voice of the Martyrs Canada says this is because "Christians want to share their rejoicing with their neighbors, and religious militants look at these things and they see Christmas. They recognize very much that it is a Christian celebration, and  they're determined to stop these things to put an end to the expansion of the church."

You may read the full article here.


Christmas In North Korea

A few weeks ago I mentioned on this blog that I felt really burdened for the Christians in North Korea, and as a result of this burden, I often look at the news going on in North Korea.  Today I found this article from the Christian Post titled Lonely Christmas for Christians in North Korea which is a gentle reminder for all of us to keep praying for our brothers and sisters in North Korea.

The article states that Christians may celebrate the birth of Christ because  "believers in North Korea can usually only gather two at a time on a given Sunday. A Christian would sit on a park bench and another Christian would come sit next to him. If no one is around, they may be able to share a Bible verse they know by heart and briefly give a reflection.  They also share prayer topics with each other, said Simon."

The article goes on to say that Christmas is celebrated mainly in the heart of the believer and that the persecution of Christians is in the tens of thousands in North Korea.

Please keep North Korea on your prayer list.


Pastor Assaulted During Prayer Meeting

Prayer_2

On December 13, Pastor John Samuel, a pastor of one of the Assemblies of God churches in Bangalore, was brutally assaulted by Hindu extremists, while he was holding a prayer meeting at a local believer’s house.

According to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts in India, “While Pastor Samuel was praying with the family members, a group of Hindu extremists forcefully entered the house to stop the prayer. The group snatched the Bible from Pastor Samuel and assaulted him. He was attacked so brutally that he wasn’t even able to stand up without assistance.”

After the attack, the extremists took Pastor Samuel to a police station where they filed a false complaint against him, claiming he had caused a disturbance. VOM sources added, “Pastor Samuel was denied any medical assistance, although he was badly beaten. Pastor Samuel’s family is deeply concerned about his safety and the current condition of his health.”

Pastor Samuel has been in ministry for five years, serving with the Siloam Full Gospel Church at Kamakshipalaya in rural Bangalore. Pray for Pastor Samuel’s healing and ask God to protect him as he courageously pastors his church and shares the gospel. Pray his testimony will draw nonbelievers into fellowship.


December 18, 2007

Todd Nettleton on Janet Parshall's America Today

Todd_nettletonEarlier today Todd Nettleton appeared on the radio program Janet Parshall's America to discuss the latest news from The Voice of the Martyrs.  To hear an excerpt of the interview, please click here, to listen to part of Janet's interview with Todd.

Todd speaks about the forgiveness that the ladies of the husbands who were killed earlier this year in Turkey, as well as China and human rights abuses and Prisoner Alert.com as well as news from Iran.


Being a Voice

It’s a fine line we walk as we attempt to be the “voice” of the martyrs. VOM’s ministry is unique in that we don’t just try to be a news provider, nor are we exclusively an aid provider. VOM does both, as I’m sure you know, with the purpose of joining the American church together with the persecuted church through prayer, awareness and involvement.

As part of the news staff, sometimes we struggle to hit our target. We want to get our message out, to convey the urgency of the need, yet we don’t want to be sensationalist. We want to be accurate in what we tell readers, but we are often bridging cultural differences as well as language/translation difficulties.

What we aim for, as one colleague said, is to “let the story tell itself.” How do you think The Voice of the Martyrs is doing?


December 17, 2007

VOM Video Blog for December 17th - Colorado Shootings

Last week was a horrible week for many families in Colorado.  We would ask that you would keep the members of New Life Church, and the staff at Youth with a Mission in your prayers, as well as all the families and friends of those wounded and martyred.  This video is in honor of them.