Lenten Focus: the Church in China

For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.

From International Christian Concern: “The lady is saying: ‘Thanks be to God, we need this book so much. When I see this book, I think of the brothers and sisters who have helped us and brought this to us with their blood and spirit. This is what our church needs so much right now.'”

While the Chinese Church is not facing the same sort of imminent threat that Christians in other parts of the world face, China is considered a nation where moderate persecution exists. Open Doors lists China as number 29 on their World Watch List of persecuting nations. From their website:

“The Communist government under China`s new president Xi Jinping aims at controlling religious activities. While in most regions in China, Christian activities have been watched rather than controlled, the unregistered house churches could be affected by a program started to eradicate so-called “evil cults.” Concerning the ethnic Han churches, some observers speak of three kinds of churches: the “black” ones which are illegal and which the state is fighting against (for example Vatican loyal Roman Catholics), the “red” ones which are state-approved and controlled and the “grey” ones which are not registered, but tolerated, and which form the majority of the Christians.”

Churches are demolished and Christians are imprisoned.  And of course, they are always watched.

Open Doors suggests these prayer points for our Chinese brothers and sisters.

  • For Christians in the southern province of Zhejiang where local authorities started a campaign against religious structures, especially churches, last year
  • That Christians will continue to grow in their faith and spread it to other countries
  • For Muslim Background Believers in the state of Xinjiang as they cope with pressure from their families and friends as well as the government

Lenten Focus: Pray. Act. Give

For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.
doa-header

In Defense of Christians is calling for a Day of Action for Christians in the Middle East:

As the global Christian community enters into the season of Lent, our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East enduring unimaginable hardships this winter due to violence and persecution.

Faced with religiously motivated persecution, Christians have been a particular target in Iraq and Syria, where the UN estimates that 13.6 million people have been displaced by recent conflicts. Hundreds of thousands are being forced to abandon their native homes, while Christian churches, schools, and monasteries continue to be closed, occupied and destroyed. Meanwhile, the targeted abduction of Coptic Christians by extremist militant groups in Libya has headlined the news this week, exposing the vulnerability of Christian communities in the region’s shifting political landscapes.

IDC invites you to pray, act, and give this Lent in solidarity with Christians in the Middle East. We have named Wednesday, February 25th a national Day of Action, launching a campaign of personal and community prayer, political action raising awareness of this humanitarian and human rights crisis, and charitable giving to aid communities in the region.

This Lent, unite your voice with thousands of others in solidarity with Middle East Christians.

Join the Day of Action: Pray. Act. Give.

Pray

  1. Join the national campaign of prayer in solidarity with Middle East Christians!
    This Lent, unite yourself with thousands of others, offering February 25th as a special day of prayer and sacrifice for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
  2. Get others to pray with you!
    Invite others to pray for Middle Eastern Christians. Spread the news of the plight that they face. Check out IDC’s website, share IDC’s flyer and bulletin insert with your church and local community, and promote the campaign through Facebook, Twitter, and social media.
  3. Share the story of Middle Eastern Christians!
    Inform yourself and your community about the persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Download IDC’s fact sheet and videos from the Day of Action website and get informed.

Act

Join thousands of American citizens in encouraging our nation’s leadership to make the Christians in the Middle East a priority. It’s easy!

On February 25th make THREE SIMPLE PHONE CALLS:

  1. Call the U.S. State Department, asking Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to ensure U.S. aid is reaching Christian refugees in northern Iraq!
  2. Call your Congressional Representative and ask them to join the newly formed Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle East, so the urgent needs of religious minorities are not forgotten in American foreign policy!
  3. Call the White House and ask President Obama to appoint a U.S. Special Envoy for the protection of religious minorities in the Middle East! President Obama signed the bill to appoint a Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom in the Middle East last August, but a Special Envoy still has not been appointed.

Give

Many charitable organizations serve the material and spiritual needs of Middle Eastern Christians, including those
who have been displaced. But resources are limited and they need your support!

Lenten Focus: Kidnapped Assyrian Christians

For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.

 

Early Monday, ISIS forces raided several villages in Syria and kidnapped dozens of Assyrian Christians.

“Islamic State militants have kidnapped at least 90 people after sweeping through Christian villages in Syria, it has been revealed. 

The abductions are said to have taken place after ISIS seized two Assyrian communities from Kurdish forces in the northeast province of Hassakeh.”

There are an estimated 3,000 refugees who fled the attack.

We know what these monsters did to the Coptic Christians they kidnapped, although there is speculation that they may be attempting to use the Christians in a prisoner swap.

Pray for these 90 men, women and children. Pray that God would deliver them from the enemy..

Pray for their families and friends, and for the 3,000 people from those villages who have fled for their lives and are now homeless.

Pray for leaders and authorities, that they would do their duty to protect the innocent and stand against evil.

Terrible Tuesday: Visual edition

Second day iced in. Although I’ve been wanting a snow (ice) day all winter, the timing is really inconvenient on this one. Because of course.

Lots of pictures. Cuz that’s what I’m doing today.

These are the greatest movie speeches are all time. How did I internet before Clickhole? (More at the link, do click through.)

hoosiers

Hit it, doggie.

Relevant to my recent post on life pre-internet.

80s kid

Elaine the dog.

elaine dog

My youth in less than 5 minutes. Well, that’s a depressing thought. The cinema of my youth in less than 5 minutes!Whew, that’s better.

 

 

An aurora from space by @AstroTerry. Oh, you know you’d have “astro” in your Twitter handle if you were an astronaut. Heck, I’d legally change my name to Astronaut April.

Stay warm!

thinking of you

Lenten Focus: North Korea

For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.

 

Sixty-two years after the Korean War ended, and the country became a fortress; it seems impossible that there are any Christians left in North Korea. In a country of perpetual famine, where whole families are imprisoned for the “crimes” of any member, where children are encouraged to report their parents, the fact that the Church exists in North Korea at all is a testimony to the fact that Christ alone sustains his people.

From Open Doors International:

For the 13th consecutive year, North Korea is ranked No. 1 on the World Watch List of the 50 countries where persecution is most extreme. The god-like worship of the leader, Kim Jong-Un, and his predecessors leaves little room for any other religions and Christians face unimaginable pressure in every sphere of life. Meeting with other Christians is virtually impossible. Anyone discovered engaging in unauthorized religious activity is subject to arrest, arbitrary detention, disappearance, torture and/or execution. Those Christians who attempt to return to North Korea from China are sentenced to life in prison or executed. Leader Kim Jong-Un purged 10,000 North Koreans last year, including some Christians.

Pray the tiny, hidden Church in Korea. Pray for those brave souls who risk their lives to bring the Word of God to Koreans. Pray for the 50,000 to 70,000 Christians in the infamous labor camps. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

The Great Cloud of Witnesses: Polycarp

For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.

"All Saints" by Fra Angelico

“All Saints” by Fra Angelico

 

For Sundays during Lent, I thought I’d look at some of the examples of the faith from Church history. As the author of Hebrews, after listing the the heroes of the faith in Chapter 11, writes in chapter 12, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Polycarp was an early church leader who bridged the apostolic and post-apostolic age. St. Jerome wrote that he was a disciple of the apostle John and was ordained by him. He is one of the first church father’s whose writings survive. Traditions holds that Polycarp was martyred on February 23, 155.

After his death, witnesses sent a letter giving an account of his death. I pray that if I were in the same situation, I would be faithful. I could not hope to be as witty.

And when finally he was brought up, there was a great tumult on hearing that Polycarp had been arrested.  Therefore, when he was brought before him, the proconsul asked him if he were Polycarp. And when he confessed that he was, he tried to persuade him to deny [the faith], saying, “Have respect to your age”—and other things that customarily follow this, such as, “Swear by the fortune of Caesar; change your mind; say, ‘Away with the atheists!'”

But Polycarp looked with earnest face at the whole crowd of lawless heathen in the arena, and motioned to them with his hand. Then, groaning and looking up to heaven, he said, “Away with the atheists!”

But the proconsul was insistent and said: “Take the oath, and I shall release you. Curse Christ.”

Polycarp said: “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

And upon his persisting still and saying, “Swear by the fortune of Caesar,” he answered, “If you vainly suppose that I shall swear by the fortune of Caesar, as you say, and pretend that you do not know who I am, listen plainly: I am a Christian. But if you desire to learn the teaching of Christianity, appoint a day and give me a hearing.”

The proconsul said, “Try to persuade the people.”

But Polycarp said, “You, I should deem worthy of an account; for we have been taught to render honor, as is befitting, to rulers and authorities appointed by God so far as it does us no harm; but as for these, I do not consider them worthy that I should make defense to them.”

But the proconsul said: “I have wild beasts. I shall throw you to them, if you do not change your mind.”

But he said: “Call them. For repentance from the better to the worse is not permitted us; but it is noble to change from what is evil to what is righteous.”

And again [he said] to him, “I shall have you consumed with fire, if you despise the wild beasts, unless you change your mind.”

But Polycarp said: “The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little; for you do not know the fire of the coming judgment and everlasting punishment that is laid up for the impious. But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.”

And when he had said these things and many more besides he was inspired with courage and joy, and his face was full of grace, so that not only did it not fall with dismay at the things said to him, but on the contrary, the proconsul was astonished, and sent his own herald into the midst of the arena to proclaim three times: “Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian.”

From The Martyrdom of Polycarp

Lenten Focus: The Church in India

For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.

indian christians

Since December 1st, five churches in New Dehli have been attacked, and Christians protesting the attacks have been arrested.

Christian’s have been denied government benefits related to caste discrimination if they don’t renounce their faith.

Radical Hindi have vowed to eradicate Christians and other religions from India, and a ban on any conversion other than a conversion or “re-conversion” to Hinduism has been proposed.

Attacks on churches, homes, and violence including sexual assaults has been increasing.

Pray for our brothers and sisters in India. Pray that they would stand firm in the face of persecution, pray for justice and protection. Pray that the Word of God would continue to spread.

Lenten Focus: Nigeria’s Christians

For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.
nigerian church

Nigeria has a slightly larger Christian population than Muslim population, but it’s still considered to be a hostile nation by Voice of the Martyrs  because of the systematic and devastating attacks from those who want to wipe out Christians and establish Sharia law.

Last April, the world was shocked by the kidnapping of more than 200 mostly Christian girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Recently, as many as 2,000 people have been killed by the group, and over the last four years, 1000 churches have been destroyed. Now, there are reports that the group is on the verge of invading Maiduguri, putting 200,000 Christians at risk.

Pray for the children–both boys and girls–kidnapped and subjected to untold horrors.

Pray for the families of the thousands who’ve been killed.

Pray for the Christians who’ve lost their churches.

Pray for the 200,000 Christians in Maiduguri living in imminent danger.

Just…pray for Nigeria.

A century of trans fat history

A couple of years ago, I started writing for the Washington Times Communities Pages. That eventually moved to Communities Digital News. And then I realized I’m homeschooling four kids, one of whom started high school this past year, and what am I crazy? But it was fun while it lasted. While you can find my old articles at Communities Digital News, the Washington Times Communities Pages scrubbed my stuff. So I thought I’d recycle some of it here.

Coming on the recent stories of multiple “oops” from government minders about cholesterol and fat, I thought I’d repost my article on the history of trans fats. Since this was a news article, it is decidedly lacking in snark and frippery, but I hope you find it informative. One thing I hope you don’t miss is that there was evidence as far back as the ’50s that trans fats were very much not good for us. Yet is was 30 years later that the “Center for Science in the Public Interest” began pushing them on the American people. (That’s Ralph Nader’s group, FYI). It was only a year ago trans fats were finally banned. Trans fats were pushed on us by government policies (subsidies, rationing programs, etc.) and busybodies (Nader & co) and finally banned by the same. Nannies and bureaucrats: trying to solve the problems they’ve created since the dawn of time.

crisco ad

This was originally published November 2013.

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Lenten Focus: Saeed Abedini

For more on my Lenten Focus, see yesterday’s post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.

Pastor Abedini

Today, I’ll be praying for Saeed Abedini, an Iranian born U.S. citizen who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than two years. He was imprisoned in 2012, and in early 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison for sharing his Christian Faith. Pastor Saeed’s wife and two children are living in Idaho.

From the Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini Facebook page, which seems to be managed by his wife Naghmeh: “Continued prayers appreciated for Saeed’s health, his nutrition, and for clean water. The quality of the prison water is very poor and so is the nutrition (lack of protein). Saeed has not been able to purchase mineral water or protein from the prison store as they have stopped providing them for purchase which has affected his health.”

Following is an excerpt from a Christmas letter from Pastor Saeed.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

For more on Pastor Saeed, see the Be Heard Project (scroll down for his story.) Pray for Pastor Saeed, his family, and the Persecuted Church.

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