Tag Archive: people

Report: Govt.-sponsored persecution rose 42 percent in 2012.
Morning Star News
[ posted 2/18/2013 10:04 ]  [Note: Our prayers need to go out to those being persecuted around the world]

China’s Christians felt a noticeable rise in persecution in 2012 as the Communist government began the first of a three-phase plan to eradicate unregistered house churches, a new report says.

Incidents of persecution of Christians rose by about 42 percent last year compared with 2011, according to the report by human rights group China Aid. Many of these incidents involved groups of Christians. In total, the number of individual persecuted Christians rose by roughly 14 percent and total individual detentions increased by nearly 12 percent. China Aid said overall total persecution in six categories was about 13 percent worse than in 2011—though China Aid termed its statistics just “the tip of the iceberg.”

At least 132 incidents of persecution affecting 4,919 Christians—442 of whom were clergy—were reported in the country last year, according to China Aid’s annual report. The Texas-based group tracked detention of at least 1,441 Christians, the sentencing of nine of them, and the abuse (verbal, mental and physical, including beatings and torture) of 37 Christians.

Beijing, administered directly under the central government, witnessed the highest number of persecution cases, at 62, affecting 934 Christians; Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China followed with at 11 cases involving 382 Christians. Persecution was also high in central China—comprising Henan and Hubei Hunan provinces—where 1,056 Christians were affected, and in east China, which includes Shandong, Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Jiangxi provinces, which witnessed harassment of 750 Christians.

The report also notes that persecution last year was 61 percent worse than in 2010; 85 percent worse than in 2009; 120 percent worse than in 2008; 308 percent worse than in 2007; and 372 percent worse than in 2006.

Ending Unregistered House Churches

The recent appointment of Xi Jinping as the new leader of China’s Communist Party has made no difference in treatment of Christians, said a member of the Shouwang Church in Beijing, a congregation authorities have harassed for more than two years.

“I recently went to see the founding pastor, Jin Tianming, and his wife [under house arrest since April 2011] in their rented apartment in west Beijing,” the source told Morning Star News. “I was not allowed to enter their home, and the pastor was not allowed to go outside. We chatted for a while at their home’s doorway, as two plainclothes police officers watched.”

Pastor Tianming was granted the right to do his workout outside his apartment every afternoon from November 2011 to early January this year. But since he attended a Shouwang weekly evening prayer meeting in the rented facility of Xinshu (New Tree) Church, a sister congregation of Shouwang, after jogging on the afternoon on Jan. 9, Tianming has not been allowed to leave his home.

The continued rise of persecution is not the only dynamic raising serious concerns; authorities have targeted unregistered house churches in a planned manner, according to the China Aid report. In 2008 and 2009, officials “targeted house church leaders and churches in urban areas,” China Aid notes. In 2010, they “attacked Christian human rights lawyers groups and using abuse, torture and mafia tactics.” The focus in 2011 was on increasing the intensity of attacks against Christians and house churches.

In 2012, a new three-phase approach was adopted to wipe out unregistered house churches, which the government saw as a hostile group of dissenters, and force them to join the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church system. In the first phase, from January 2012 to June, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) secretly investigated house churches across the country and created files on them, the report says. This was followed by a wave of crackdowns on house churches, which has continued into 2013, as part of the second phase. The second phase will also entail strongly encouraging unregistered churches to become part of the TSPM—at which point they would become known as “house gatherings,” with the government banning the term “house churches.”

Some house churches have registered with authorities to avoid arrests and harassment, but most do not as they object to the beliefs and controls of some TPSM leaders. Barriers to evangelical churches registering with the TSPM include theological differences, adverse consequences if they reveal names and addresses of church leaders or members, and government control of sermon content.

The number of Protestant house-church Christians has been estimated at between 45 million and 60 million.

The third phase is expected to begin from 2015 through to 2025, when the government would shut down house churches that do not comply with the requirement to join the TSPM, according to a joint-memo issued in September 2011 by SARA and the ministries of public security and civil affairs, the report says.

With this objective in mind, authorities in 2012 stepped up long-time tactics of banning and sealing churches, pressuring churches to join the official Three-Self structure, detaining church leaders and sending them to labor camps on the pretext of “suspicion of organizing and using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” and strictly restricting the spread of the Christian faith among students, the report points out.

China Aid cites Shouwang Church as an example of closures by authorities.

“Landlords were pressured to terminate lease agreements with church members, church members who had purchased real estate were unable to take possession of them, church leaders were placed under house arrest and church members were evicted – all of which was done to make it impossible for the house church to operate normally so that it would eventually disband,” the report notes.

Last September, Shouwang Church leaders said members were detained 1,600 times, 60 members were evicted from their homes, and more than 10 lost their jobs because they attended the church’s outdoor worship services or simply because they were members. Many others were sent back to their hometowns, and some were confined to their homes on the weekends.

In February 2012, two Christians in Yulin, Shaanxi Province, were sent to a labor camp on charges of being a cult. In April, seven leaders of a house church in Pingdingshan, Henan province, were arrested and tried on this charge. In August, nine Christians from Ulanhot, Inner Mongolia, were placed under administrative detention for engaging in evangelism while providing free medical services, and two of them were sentenced to two years of re-education-through-labor.

Many summer camps for Christian students were raided, and the crackdowns were severe last year, the report adds.

Just as the Bible warns, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads,” the approach of the Chinese government is “ignorant,” concludes China Aid President Bob Fu in the report. “House churches will not be eradicated. What will be eradicated are any ideology and forces that try to resist the truth of Christ.”

Editor’s note: This Morning Star news account is based in part on a research report from China Aid. It was not produced independently by the CT news staff.

As a Christian and American citizen, this should  be a difficult and troubling view not to be missed. Yet, totally enlightening. If you Love America, this is a MUST SEE film… it will, without doubt, explain what’s REALLY going on in America, and it’s take over.  Why the Administration is pushing so hard their agenda and so much more. A must view for American who love America. Please reblog this to help get the word and truth out to all!!!!!

I want to share this powerful video….. It is heart felt and moving to the spirit. I believe it’s one of the finest productions by Stan Moore available. Also, the song, “The One I’m Dying For” is by the Isaac’s. Such a powerful and moving song. By far my most favorite song and I hope that it becomes at least one of your favorites too. Settle back and enjoy what i call an “excellent” production.”

Video production by Stan Moore

To watch the video, please click on “The One I’m Dying For.”  Thank you!


Look for it anytime on my side bar!

“Lord Heal Our Nation”

Romans 8:31-39

Far too many relationships in today’s world are uncertain. Disunity is found in marriages, churches, and international alliances. Yet there’s one relationship that is sure and permanent.

The Lord designed people for intimate fellowship with Him. His love toward each of us is evident throughout the Bible. In fact, there is nothing tangible, intangible, past, present, or future that can separate believers from the Father’s love. John 10:14 draws a comparison between Jesus and a good shepherd—a man whose ultimate task is providing for and protecting the flock. Christ’s character is one of passionate care for His people. First John 4:16 clearly states, “God is love.” If we believe the Bible, then we cannot deny this fact about His nature.

We also see evidence of divine love through the Lord’s gifts and actions. For example, He created us in His image (Gen. 1:26). He sent His only Son to die in our place, and He forgives us of our sin debt (1 Cor. 15:3). John 15:15 tells us that Christ calls us His friends—and what’s more, when we trust in Jesus, God adopts us and considers us His children (Rom. 8:15). He even blesses us with an Intercessor and Helper—the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). The Word is clear: God loves us passionately.

The affection we experience in our families is only a glimpse of the great compassion and care that God has for you. Think about the people you treasure most. Imagine what you would be willing to do if they experienced a need. How much more will our heavenly Father be devoted to you!

In order to know what to look for in a local church, we must first understand God’s purpose for the church—the body of Christ—in general. There are two outstanding truths about the church. First, “the church of the living God [is] the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Second, Christ alone is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18).
In regard to the truth, the local church is a place where the Bible (God’s only Truth) has complete authority. The Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Therefore, when seeking a church to attend, we should find one where, according to biblical standards, the gospel is preached, sin is condemned, worship is from the heart, the teaching is biblical, and opportunities to minister to others exist. Consider the model of the early church found in Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
In regard to the second truth about the church, Christians should attend a local fellowship that declares Christ’s headship in all matters of doctrine and practice. No man—whether pastor, priest, or pope—is the head of the church. All men die—how can the living church of the living God have a dead head? It cannot. Christ is the church’s one supreme authority, and all church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are appointed through His sovereignty, as found in the Scriptures.
Once these two fundamentals are in place, the rest of the factors (buildings, worship styles, activities, programs, location, etc.) are merely a matter of personal taste. Before even setting foot inside a church, some homework is in order. Doctrinal statements, purpose statements, mission statements, or anything that will give insight into what a church believes should be carefully looked over. Many churches have websites where one can get a feel for what they believe regarding the Bible, God, the Trinity, Jesus Christ, sin, and salvation.
Next should be visits to the churches that seem to have the fundamentals in place. Attendance at two or three services at each church will be helpful. Any literature they have for visitors should be scrutinized, paying close attention to belief statements. Church evaluation should be based on the principles outlined above. Is the Bible held as the only authority? Is Christ exalted as head of the church? Does the church focus on discipleship? Were you led to worship God? What types of ministries does the church involve itself in? Was the message biblical and evangelical? How was the fellowship? You also need to feel comfortable—were you made to feel welcome? Is the congregation comprised of true worshippers?
Finally, remember that no church is perfect. At best, it is still filled with saved sinners whose flesh and spirits are continually at war. Also, do not forget the importance of prayer. Praying about the church God would have you attend is crucial throughout the decision-making process.

“Children are precious, no matter where they come from. Shouldn’t they have a chance.”

It seems that one of the hardest things for Christians to remember is that it is not a sin to be pregnant. It’s not a sin to be pregnant out of wedlock. And it’s not a sin to be born to unmarried parents. It is a sin to have sex outside the marriage relationship—and it is just as much a sin for the man as for the woman. But an unbiblical intimate relationship is a much easier thing to hide from critical eyes than a pregnancy and, sadly, less damaging to a family’s reputation in the Christian community.
As disappointing and overwhelming it may be to learn a teenage daughter is pregnant, it’s crucial to keep a kingdom perspective. The sin is done. Whatever influences the teens have been under to lead them to sin can’t be avoided now. This new situation is not about the morality of out-of-wedlock sex or the reputation of a family. It’s about the development of a child. All children are blessings from God and He has a plan for each one (Psalm 139:13-18). Even if the circumstances in which they come may be less than ideal, that child is as precious and loved by God as any other.
The pregnant daughter is also precious to God. The role of parents is to teach and guide their children to live godly lives in whatever they face. This is a prime opportunity to do just that. The girl may be scared, ashamed, and emotional, and it is her parents’ responsibility to help her push past emotion and turn to her Heavenly Father.
Some parents fear that giving their daughter the love and support she needs will encourage the behavior that led to the pregnancy. But, again, being pregnant and giving birth to a child is not a sin, and there are so many other benefits to actively and publicly standing with a pregnant teen. It fosters an environment in which the child is valued as a blessing. It encourages the father to take responsibility without fear. And it makes abortion look like a much less desirable option.
If a family abandons their pregnant teen—even emotionally—she will be much more likely to make harmful decisions. She may think marrying the baby’s father is the only option. She may not know how to take care of her health and that of the baby. Other pregnant teens may see the volatile relationship and keep their own condition secret.
Conversely, the girl will be able to make much wiser decisions about her and her baby’s future if she can rest in her parents’ acceptance and loving guidance. Making this journey more emotionally difficult for her will not encourage clear thinking. Wise parents will help their daughter walk through the options of keeping the child or adoption. It may also be beneficial to involve the father and his family; he needs to take as much ownership as the mother. After careful prayer, parents should be clear about the level of support they can give in raising the child. Make use of Christian crisis pregnancy centers.
Our God is a powerful God who can bring joy and blessing even out of our sin. There may be incredibly tough times ahead for the pregnant teen and her family, but our God is the God who redeems.

So often when we deal with difficult  people, it’s easy to form judgments about them based on their behavior or  attitudes. But have you ever stopped to wonder what has made that person so  disagreeable or foolish? When the Bible says God “repays the iniquity of  fathers into the bosom of their children” (v. 18), it is speaking about  generational cycles of sin. Unless someone in the family line makes a deliberate  choice to change, sinful and dysfunctional behavior will be passed from parent  to child for many generations.

This is really just a confirmation of  the principle of sowing and reaping. We pass down standards for conduct and  character traits that we received from our parents. If we are unwilling to  change our sinful habits and attitudes, they will very likely find their way  into our children’s lives.

What is true for sin is also true for  wounding. When a child is emotionally bruised in the home, his behavior and  character may be negatively affected. With this in mind, think about a  difficult person that you know. What hurts do you think shaped his or her life?  A heart of compassion originates from a willingness to empathize with those who have been wounded.  This doesn’t excuse someone’s sin, but it does aid in opening our hearts toward  the individual.

What  about you? Have childhood wounds contributed to who you are today? How have  they affected your life? If you haven’t dealt with them, you’ll probably pass  similar hurts down to your children. But with God’s help, you can break this  cycle and begin a new one that will benefit future generations.

You must have a flexible spirit. That is one of the first principles of revival. A meeting that cannot become elastic and subject to the movements of God, becomes a dead block in the way of the Spirit. The human spirit must be so sensitive to the Holy Spirit that just as He spoke to Philip, and said “Join yourself to this chariot,” so He may make known His will to you, and get as ready a response.

An adaptable spirit is essential to fulfil the will of God. Christ’s spirit was adaptable enough to respond to the needs and questions of Nicodemus. The will of God will be known in your spirit according to the attitude of the person who comes to you. If your spirit is closed, you can pass on no living truth to that person, probably because they are not ready.

If you traced and followed the delicate sense of your spirit it would become acute, and God could then make His will known to you—all in harmony with the written Word, for the Holy Spirit revealing in your spirit God’s mind cannot contradict Himself in God’s Word. It would mean a great deal if we all walked in the spirit and knew when we were speaking from the spirit and when merely from the mind, and therefore empty of spiritual power.

The spirit should illuminate the mind, but when the spirit drops out of co-operation with the Holy Spirit, the mind is left without the needed assistance, and its product is very poor. When you are in the spiritual plane and know the Holy Spirit in your spirit, you recognise there are grave consequences attached to all you do. You cannot go back from the spirit life without stepping into a pathway of failure. The moment you drop from the plane that you have reached you begin to lose spirit strength, and if you do not recover your place quickly you will ultimately sink into deeper failure. The loss not only affects yourself but everyone with whom you have to deal. You may wrongly interpret or reject the
words of a servant of God, and that would cause you to go back without knowing it. This hindrance to your spirit life will be maintained while that wrong thought or attitude is held.

If the Holy Spirit has once had the quickening of your mind so that your mind becomes capable of doing what it could not accomplish naturally, then in order to maintain that you will be obliged to live up to the highest point you have attained, and be satisfied with nothing below.

If, after reaching an altitude in the spirit life, you descend, even without knowing it, you will find yourself in the realm where the powers of
darkness can buffet you almost as they like. God only manifests His Divine power when you are living and acting at the point to which you have already attained (see Phil. iii. 16).

the church can change the course of a generation, one relationship at a time.”

I believe  in “Mentoring .” I believe as men and women we need to intervene in fatherless children’s lives. Having a faithful and intentional relationship will change their direction and their lives. After all, faithful and intentional relationship is essentially how Jesus built the church. He didn’t feed 5000 people every day; He mentored a few disciples.  “It’s one of the things Christ modeled for us—what many call the Great Commission,” says Sowers. “In His public ministry He preached and taught and healed, but He spent most of His time gathering 12 guys around Him and pouring His life into them. So it’s an implicit challenge that we’re called to do the same: to gather a few around us and pour our lives into them. To me, mentoring a child is mirroring that Great Commission lifestyle. For us to reach this next generation, we’ve got to go to them and seek them out, just as Christ seeks us out.”  At the very bottom of this page you too can learn how:

By Erin Gieschen

One of John Sowers’ earliest memories is of hanging onto his dad’s ankles as the man tried to walk out the front door. His father’s visits were always a roller coaster: Sowers would be giddy with an attention-induced high for a few days, and then plunge right into the familiar low of rejection every time his dad left again.

For a while, Sowers was a kid living on daydreams and Polaroids of those rare weekends together. But each time his father left, hope died again. And as the silence between visits grew, hope became just too painful to hang onto. So he buried his big red album of cherished photos and decided not to care anymore.

This is the story of millions of American kids—in fact, one out of every three is growing up without a dad. But it’s also a story that Sowers believes can be rewritten. He’s now the president of a nonprofit called The Mentoring Project, whose aim is to stand in the gap for fatherless boys by equipping church communities to mentor them. “This is such a huge issue that the church needs to step into,” he says. “So much destruction happens when a father leaves.”

The statistics are staggering: between 70-85 percent of juvenile offenders and men in prison grew up with either absent or abusive dads. And that’s not all. Over 70 percent of high school dropouts, 63 percent of youth suicides, and 75 percent of adolescents at drug and alcohol abuse centers come from fatherless homes. And while society tends to simply associate gangs with crime and drug trafficking, it’s sobering to consider that the vast majority is made up of boys and young men without fathers. Most join for protection and a sense of family.

“It’s a bleak picture,” says Sowers. “But according to the Bible, God cares deeply about kids. The problem seems overwhelming, but we have an amazing opportunity to really change lives. And if we engage with it, we can redeem the story of a generation.”

The Mentoring Project really started with elephants. When author Donald Miller was writing a book about growing up without a dad (Father Fiction), it struck him that he wasn’t just writing about his own story. He knew something needed to be done for the millions of kids dealing with the same kinds of struggles.

And then he saw a documentary about 25 orphaned male elephants. Just entering their “teen” years, they’d gone into an early and abnormally prolonged musth cycle—a hormonal phase that usually lasts only a few days. The orphans had isolated themselves from the herd and were spiraling out of control, attacking each other, uprooting trees, and even killing unsuspecting rhinos to relieve their pent-up aggression.

But then scientists working with the wildlife trust intervened. They found older elephants from other herds who’d already fathered their own young, and introduced them to the wandering orphans. What happened next was fascinating: the mature bulls recognized what was wrong and came alongside each adolescent, traveling with him and showing him how to, in essence, be an elephant. And the raging musth cycles stopped.

The story felt allegorical. Having grown up without a dad, Miller found himself identifying with the aimless frustration of the orphaned elephants, as well as with the impact of older men who’d stepped in to guide him. “When I was in junior high,” he recalls, “I had a mentor named David Gentiles. He was a youth pastor who brought me into his life; we developed a great friendship. Without him, there’s no telling where I’d be. It wouldn’t be a very good place, I’m sure of that.” Later, his college Bible study leader, John MacMurray, invited him to move in for a season, and it was the first time Miller got to see up close how a healthy family actually worked. Prior to that, “Life was a confusing series of emotions rubbing against events. I wasn’t sure how to manage myself, how to talk to a woman, how to build a career, how to, well, be a man. Life was something you had to stumble through alone.”

Sitting in a Portland restaurant with Sowers and a few other like-minded people (who would become The Mentoring Project’s board), Miller told the elephant story to explain his vision for a foundation he believed they could build together, starting in their own city. His dream was to create a model of a sustainable mentoring community that could grow into a countrywide movement. The initial goal would be to give 1,000 churches the tools and support to train 10,000 men to befriend a generation of fatherless boys—and change the course of the nation.

When Miller first started the organization (as The Belmont Foundation in 2005), he tried to find existing mentoring programs in churches. “I was amazed that there just weren’t many at that time,” he says. “But I do remember one that was mentoring and recruiting the so-called brightest and best—‘tomorrow’s leaders.’ I think the church, for some reason, bought into a very worldly system. It’s really a Darwinian mindset—a sort of ‘survival of the fittest’ while you let the weak die off. But we really wanted to go to ‘the least of these’ the orphans.”

Three years since that pivotal dinner meeting, The Mentoring Project has moved toward Sowers and Miller’s dream—besides ten robust mentoring communities in Portland, they’re now partnering with about 600 churches across the country. “It takes a whole church body to get behind the vision,” says Miller. “But usually, it starts with an individual who champions the program. Then we provide training for the men they’ve recruited and help them get things off the ground.”

Recruiting mentees, however, is never an issue; even in Portland, there are still 1,000 kids on the waiting list. Miller explains, “Once a church starts a program, we see kids come out of the woodwork. There’s such an enormous deficiency—if we provided a million mentors, we’d have    several million kids needing mentors.”Willie-and-Lehzan

But stories are rewritten one at a time.  And each life that’s changing shape is, in turn, shaping the future of this country.

Lehzan and his mentor, Willie

Other than a few a few monotone, one-word replies, Lehzan barely said anything their first meeting. According to his mom, who signed him up, he didn’t interact much with anyone at school either. Willie, one of The Mentoring Project’s first volunteers, says it took a whole year of hanging out weekly before Lehzan really opened up. “Now,” says Sowers, “he’s come out of his shell and is one of the more social kids at school. It’s been really exciting to watch. And when Willie talks about Lehzan, you can just feel the affection and sense the relationship that’s developed between them.”

Last year, the foundation sent them to the White House for the National Mentoring Summit. When they came back to Portland, they went to Lehzan’s school to share their experience. Miller, now a bestselling author, remembers how much it meant to him as a kid the first time someone pulled him aside and told him he was a good writer. “It was all because David gave me a column in the youth group newsletter to write,” he says. “So I think about what it would mean for Lehzan’s entire school to sit down and listen to him talk about meeting the president with his mentor—what that does for his future is pretty awesome. We’re seeing kids’ lives radically changed by these relationships.”

Many mentors and mentees bond quickly, but for men like Willie who had to be tenacious for weeks on end without any visible response, it might be easy to wonder if their presence alone is doing any good. “Actually, the most amazing and epic thing you can do for a kid is to just show up in his life,” says Sowers. “It might seem overly simplistic, but it’s so deeply true when you look at Scripture. God promises over and over to be with us always, and then Christ came to be Emmanuel (‘God with us’). There’s something about presence—about just being with a kid who doesn’t have a dad present in his life—that makes such a difference.”

Miller still laughs about the day he met Christian, the first boy he mentored. “I was scared to death. There I was, the founder of this foundation, thinking, What do I have to teach him? But then he asked me how fast my car was—and I showed him! And after that, we bonded.”

Even if you grew up without a dad yourself or don’t have your own kids, Sowers insists that any mature mentor has something priceless to give a fatherless boy. “Some guys might feel awkward or not be sure what to do, but even if it’s just washing your car together and asking about his life, what it does for him over time is so massive when you’re faithful and intentional.”

After all, faithful and intentional relationship is essentially how Jesus built the church. He didn’t feed 5000 people every day; He mentored a few disciples.  “It’s one of the things Christ modeled for us—what many call the Great Commission,” says Sowers. “In His public ministry He preached and taught and healed, but He spent most of His time gathering 12 guys around Him and pouring His life into them. So it’s an implicit challenge that we’re called to do the same: to gather a few around us and pour our lives into them. To me, mentoring a child is mirroring that Great Commission lifestyle. For us to reach this next generation, we’ve got to go to them and seek them out, just as Christ seeks us out.” 

For more information on how you or your church can get involved in mentoring, visit www.TheMentoringProject.org.