If you missed the last blog about the 75th Liberation of Auschwitz, I would highly recommend that you go back and view it. Link: https://boyerwrites.com/2020/01/28/75-years-since-liberation-are-we-turning-our-backs/
In this blog, I am writing about the non-Jews that knew the risks they were taking when defying the Nazi Regime. We honor them and the”righteous gentiles” who risked everything to hide the Jewish families during World War II. One of the men who stood up again Hitler was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Christian pastor.
Few twentieth century theologians have had a bigger impact on theology than Bonhoeffer, a man who lived his faith and died at the hands of the Nazis. For Bonhoeffer, the theological was the personal, life and faith deeply intertwined—and to this day the world is inspired by that witness. (Google Books by Diane Reynolds)
…Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to Nazi dictatorship,, including vocal opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews….Bonhoeffer’s efforts for the underground seminaries included securing necessary funds… By August 1937, Himmler decreed the education and examination of Confessing Church ministry candidates illegal. In September 1937, the Gestapo closed the seminary at Finkenwalde, and by November arrested 27 pastors and former students.
It was around this time that Bonhoeffer published his best-known book, The Cost of Discipleship, a study on the Sermon on the Mount, in which he not only attacked “cheap grace” as a cover for ethical laxity, but also preached “costly grace.” He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Tegel prison for one and a half years. Later, he was transferred to Flossenburg Concentration Camp. (Flossenburg concentration camp, located outside Weiden, Germany, close to the Czech border, was established in 1938, mainly for political prisoners. Once the war began, however, other prisoners and Jews were housed there as well.Apr 11, 2008)
After being accused of being associated with the July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler,he was quickly tried, along with other accused plotters, including former members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office), and then hanged on 9 April 1945 as the Nazi regime was collapsing. 21 days later Adolf Hitler committed suicide. (Wikipedia)
Quotes by Bonhoeffer:
Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him.
On the cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers.
For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God.
So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes.
We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing
for that is nothing but fear. ‘Open your mouth for the one who is voiceless
for who in the church today still remembers that that is the least of the Bible’s demands in times such as these.
The U.S. LIBERATION OF FLOSSENBURG:
…At approximately 10:30 hours on April 23, 1945, the first U.S. troops of the 90th Infantry Division arrived at Flossenburg KZ,. They were horrified at the sight of some 2,000 weak and extremely ill prisoners remaining in the camp and of the SS still forcibly evacuating those fit to endure the trek south. Elements of the 90th Division spotted those ragged columns of prisoners and their SS guards. The guards panicked and opened fire on many of the prisoners, killing about 200, in a desperate attempt to effect a road block of human bodies. American tanks opened fire on the Germans as they fled into the woods, reportedly killing over 100 SS troops.
Additionally, elements of the 97th Infantry Division participated in the liberation. As the 97th prepared to enter Czechoslovakia, Flossenburg concentration camp was discovered in the division’s sector of the Bavarian Forest. Brigadier General Milton B. Halsey, the commanding general of the 97th Division, inspected the camp on April 30, as did his divisional artillery commander, Brigadier General Sherman V. Hasbrouck. Hasbrouck, who spoke fluent German, directed a local German official to have all able-bodied German men and boys from that area help bury the dead. The 97th Division performed many duties at the camp upon its liberation. They assisted the sick and dying, buried the dead, interviewed former prisoners and helped gather evidence against former camp officers and guards for the upcoming war crimes trials.
One eyewitness U.S. Soldier, Sgt. Harold C. Brandt, a veteran of the 11th Armored Division, who was on hand for the liberation of not just one but three of the camps, Flossenburg, Mauthausen, and Gusen, when queried many years after the war on his part in liberating them, stated that “it was just as bad or worse than depicted in the movies and stories about the Holocaust. . . . I can not describe it adequately. It was sickening. How can other men treat other men like this’” (portion of an article By Colonel John R. Dabrowski, US Army Heritage and Education Center)
REMEMBER THE LIBERATION AND DIETRICH BONHOEFFER
Video of the Remembrance of the U.S. Army Liberation of Flossenburg concentration camp where Bonhoeffer was executed. (filmed in 2019)
Turn up sound:
After a trip to Greece this year to follow the “Footsteps of St. Paul”, the inspiration came to share my photography and words of Holy Scripture that St. Paul spoke to the early churches. He and the men and women during the years of spreading the Gospel through missionary journeys suffered greatly the persecution that eventually led to his beheading in Rome. Because of them, we have the writings of the Holy Scriptures today of the good news of the Christian faith.
Follow with me now some of his words to the Jews in the Synagogues, the faithful in the churches and to us, the modern day church. I have included archeological finds and ruins as well as the amazing monasteries of Meteora.
This devotional is now available on Amazon in paperback and e-Book form.
All books written by N.W.Boyer for adults and children (click on each book for more info)
We know that we in the West can’t solve all the world’s problems. Nor can we be the “Policemen” of the world. We have problems of our own to solve. Nevertheless, it is not a bad idea to consider what the ordinary people of the world go through when there are such things as ethnic cleansing and unstable governments as well as years of war.
We complain that our Congress “can’t get things done” in a timely manner. We worry about the future, but nothing can compare to the PRESENT distresses that many in the world are going through. That is why I titled this….”Feeling sorry for yourself?” I also want to highlight the women who are mothers, sisters, and wives around the world.
If you are for any reason feeling down, consider what is happening each night when you go to sleep in a warm bed. Consider also those who have no food when you cook a delicious meal. Think about the children who had no voice in coming into this world or where they would be born. If you have a husband who cares for you, kisses you “goodnight” and treats you with respect, think about the women who are under great restraints and persecuted through cultural beliefs.
When you sit down with friends to watch football, have a drink and put your feet up to relax…consider that mud is not under your couch or chair as it may be for those who are fleeing their countries. Is all this to make you feel guilty….NO…just THANKFUL… that you have freedoms to do and be what you want to be and where there are no wars at your doorstep.
Say your prayers for those who are the persecuted. We know a loving God cares for them…that He can help them through their crisis times. God does not promise that it will be easy going when men, or women, with evil intents, carve out brutal paths for their people to take. He did ask us to humble ourselves and to seek Him. So much of human suffering is made by mankind and by government leaders.
Our heavenly Father won’t force goodness in the minds of the wicked who would persecute the innocent, intimidate their women or harm innocent children. Dictators and Government Officials are decision makers, who through greed and power, often care little for the needs of their people. It has always been that way and will be…until the day of the coming of Jesus Christ. That will be when every knee will bow and everyone will become accountable for all that has been said and done to those around us.
In Afghanistan, there is a resurgence of the madrassa, which is, in this case, a fundamentalist Muslim religious school for young girls. They are taught only religious beliefs and rarely math, science or literature. The building program for these schools is said to be wide-spread, with thousands of female students. One may think there is nothing wrong with teaching the young the religion of the region and praise the fact that girls are attending schools, but there is also the concern by some Muslims that this teaching is indoctrination that their more moderate practice of the faith is not according to the Koran…as well as being anti-West. To learn more about this Madrassa teaching, read this article: Madrassa
I recently found online an award-winning photojournalist named Paula Bronstein. Paula has spent time in dangerous and interesting places around the world. Her years in Afghanistan have given her the ability to talk to the women of the area, whereas her male photojournalists did not have that access.
Here is a video that will shed some light on the history of the living conditions as well as cultural rules that are forced upon women in many parts of the world. Perhaps there will be a change in the future, but change is often difficult… especially in war times and with certain cultures.
VIDEO Turn up sound (taken from u-tube, Paula Bronstein)
Deception is an act or statement intended to make people believe something that is not true. Recently I was sent an email that gave a long, flowery presentation on how one political presidential candidate may be God’s messenger to save the United States…and maybe even the free world. The email was directed at Christians. I could not help but think that all people, especially Christians, may want to consider carefully that deception is a great possibility when following one who decides to lead or comparing one to divine intervention. This is risky business for who knows the mind of God outside of His divine word.
Everyone wants evil to go away. We would like someone or some leader to fix things, but this is truly wishful thinking. There is great fear when one learns about a beloved Christian priest being brutally murdered in his own church, in front of the altar and cross of Christ. The Scriptures have told us that we will be hated for being followers (Mark 13:13) and there will be great anguish in the world (Mark 13:19), but there is hope and we should not be deceived or listen to deceivers.
Below are some verses from the Holy Scriptures, book of Mark and chapter 13. Pay close attention to Mark:13:22 about deception. If one is interested in the world’s future, he or she may want to read what Jesus, Himself, had to say about this. Be wise and be alert to “off the wall” things being written and said in this modern world. God would not have us be deceived.
New Living Translation Holy Scriptures Mark 13
- Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls.”
- Jesus replied, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
- Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him privately and asked him,
- “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?”
- Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you,
- for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.
- And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.
- Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.
- “When these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.
- For the Good News must first be preached to all nations.
- But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
- “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed.
- And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
- “The day is coming when you will see the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing where he should not be. Then those in Judea must flee to the hills.
- A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack.
- A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat.
- How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days.
- And pray that your flight will not be in winter.
- For there will be greater anguish in those days than at any time since God created the world. And it will never be so great again.
- In fact, unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, not a single person will survive. But for the sake of His chosen ones He has shortened those days.
- “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it.
- For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.
- Watch out! I have warned you about this ahead of time!
- “At that time, after the anguish of those days,the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light,
- the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
- Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory.
- And He will send out his angels to gather His chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
- “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near.
- In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door.
- I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene before all these things take place.
- Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
- “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
- And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!
- “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return.
- You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak.
- Don’t let Him find you sleeping when He arrives without warning.
- I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for Him!”
Trust in God with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6
GREAT is the FAITHFULNESS of GOD to give WISDOM,
not DECEPTION, to ALL AGES, RACES, and PEOPLES
Turn on sound
For those who love mystery and intrigue, I would again like to introduce to my readers my novel, THE SEEDS, which is fiction with a few historical characters thrown into the plot. Chapter by chapter the mystery unfolds. I have set up a special blog so that my audience may read from the beginning. Click on any chapter missed. Simply leave your email if you’d like to be notified as each chapter is published. It would also be great to hear your comments as you get into the story. THE SEEDS
When someone has damaged your very soul and your meaning of life, it is easy to replay that situation mentally… in that it takes over much of one’s thinking. The result: that person or persons who did this thing has intruded into your life and taken over one of your most precious freedoms…your attitude, mind and your human spirit. The privilege was not theirs. They have stolen it. Only you can take it back.
This was brought to me clearly when listening to a recent CBS news cast on the effect of terrorism and brutality on us psychologically, especially children. In fact, it was an “Epiphany”(realization) of sorts to me personally in that I had experienced some deep sadness over the past year. I found it a struggle not to think of this situation throughout the day….over and over again.
When I heard the words written by Antoine Leiris to the terrorists who had killed his wife and the mother of his child, I knew this was a profound truth.
“You WILL NOT have my hatred.”
The report continues to tell of Viktor Frankl who had lost his wife in the Holocaust.
“Everything can be taken from a man (or woman) but one thing: the last of the human freedoms to choose one’s attitude.”
It was these words that made me take hold of my sadness…my attitude…and confront within my own life, that my JOY will not be destroyed. Neither will my ability to LAUGH…and appreciate the good things of life. It made me look around me at the ones who show me love and the simple pleasures of sharing a meal and giving love back.
To those who read my blog, I ask that you will seriously consider your own hurts, disappointments, tragedies and sadness of life. Speak out in your prayers and even your voice, “YOU WILL NOT HAVE MY MIND, THOUGHTS or ATTITUDE. Your action WILL NOT ruin my life.”
The impact of terrorism on the human spirit
A special video on one of our last FREEDOMS. (enlarge screen for best viewing)
If the terrorists of the world think that the WORLD will sit by and not have its say…think again. The pictures shown below and throughout our media show that throughout the world, people not only mourn for the innocent victims…but are calling EVIL what it is. If the extreme ideology of those religious fanatics is to take over the world…also think again. Surely, the free people of the world will say “enough is enough” and remember the past and the evils of WWII. “Those who do not remember the past, will live it over again.” All people must stand together. The leaders of each free nation must put into action …not just in talk…a deciding moment to do something about such a scourge on the earth.
We should not fear, but act….for fear is the paralyzing result hoped for by every terrorist. If the countries together do not act, one can expect that this will be become a way of life, taking away the freedom so enjoyed and appreciated by those of us who know it and live it.
Exactly what do the Jihadist want to accomplish? I recently read an article on this very question, which I feel needs repeating here. Perhaps it will shed some light on the subject and waken those who have given it little thought.
Article written by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY February 7, 2015 (before the attack on Paris)
(Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute.)
“There is a method to their barbarism. The Islamic State’s barbaric murder of Lieutenant Mouath al-Kasaebeh, the Jordanian air-force pilot the jihadists captured late last year, has naturally given rise to questions about the group’s objectives. Charles Krauthammer argues that the Islamic State is trying to draw Jordan into a land war in Syria. It is no doubt correct that the terrorist group would like to destabilize Jordan — indeed, it is destabilizing Jordan.
Its immediate aim, however, is more modest and attainable. The Islamic State wants to break up President Obama’s much trumpeted Islamic-American coalition. As the administration proudly announced back in September, Jordan joined the U.S. coalition, along with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar. The only potential value of the coalition is symbolic: It has enabled the president to claim that Muslim countries were lining up with us against the Islamic State. Militarily, the coalition is of little use. These countries cannot defeat the Islamic State. Moreover, even the symbolism is insignificant. Symbolism, after all, cuts both ways. As I pointed out when the administration breathlessly announced the coalition, our five Islamic partners have only been willing to conduct (extremely limited) aerial operations against the Islamic State. They would not attack al-Qaeda targets — i.e., the strongholds of al-Nusra (the local al-Qaeda franchise) and “Khorasan” (an al-Qaeda advisory council that operates within al-Nusra in Syria). Obviously, if the relevance of the five Islamic countries’ willingness to fight the Islamic State is the implication that the Islamic State is not really Islamic, then their unwillingness to fight al-Qaeda equally implies their assessment that al-Qaeda is representative of Islam. The latter implication no doubt explains why the Saudis, Qatar, and the UAE have given so much funding over the years to al-Qaeda . . . the terror network from which the Islamic State originates and with which the Islamic State shares its sharia-supremacist ideology. I’ll give the Saudis this: They don’t burn their prisoners alive in a cage. As previously recounted here, though, they routinely behead their prisoners.
In fact, here’s another report from the British press just three weeks ago: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have publicly beheaded a woman in Islam’s holy city of Mecca. . . . Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, a Burmese woman who resided in Saudi Arabia, was executed by sword on Monday after being dragged through the street and held down by four police officers. She was convicted of the sexual abuse and murder of her seven-year-old step-daughter. A video showed how it took three blows to complete the execution, while the woman screamed “I did not kill. I did not kill.” It has now been removed by YouTube as part of its policy on “shocking and disgusting content”. There are two ways to behead people according to Mohammed al-Saeedi, a human rights activist: “One way is to inject the prisoner with painkillers to numb the pain and the other is without the painkiller. . . . This woman was beheaded without painkillers — they wanted to make the pain more powerful for her.” The Saudi Ministry of the Interior said in a statement that it believed the sentence was warranted due to the severity of the crime.
The beheading is part of an alarming trend, which has seen the kingdom execute seven people in the first two weeks of this year. In 2014 the number of executions rose to 87, from 78 in 2013. Would that the president of the United States were more worried about the security of the United States than about how people in such repulsive countries perceive the United States. In any event, the Islamic State is simply trying to blow up the coalition, which would be a useful propaganda victory. And the strategy is working. It appears at this point that only Jordan is participating in the airstrikes. While all eyes were on Jordan this week for a reaction to Lieutenant al-Kasaebeh’s immolation, the administration has quietly conceded that the UAE suspended its participation in bombing missions when the pilot was captured in December. The explanation for this is obvious: The Islamic countries in the coalition know they can’t stop the Islamic State unless the United States joins the fight in earnest, and they know this president is not serious.
The White House says the coalition has carried out a total of about 1,000 airstrikes in the last five months. In Desert Storm, we did 1,100 a day. Seven strikes a day is not going to accomplish anything, especially with no troops on the ground, and thus no search-and-rescue capability in the event planes go down, as Lieutenant al-Kasaebeh’s did. With no prospect of winning, and with a high potential of losing pilots and agitating the rambunctious Islamists in their own populations, why would these countries continue to participate? The Islamic State knows there is intense opposition to King Abdullah’s decision to join in the coalition. While the Islamic State’s sadistic method of killing the pilot has the king and his supporters talking tough about retaliation, millions of Jordanians are Islamist in orientation and thousands have crossed into Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. There will continue to be pressure on Jordan to withdraw. Without a real American commitment to the fight, this pressure will get harder for Abdullah to resist. Jordan has no intention of getting into a land war the king knows he cannot win without U.S. forces leading the way. But the Islamic State does not need to lure Jordan into a land war in order to destabilize the country — it is already doing plenty of that by intensifying the Syrian refugee crisis, sending Jordanians back home from Syria as trained jihadists, and trying to assassinate Abdullah.
I will close by repeating the larger point I’ve argued several times before. We know from experience that when jihadists have safe havens, they attack the United States. They now have more safe havens than they’ve ever had before — not just because of what the Islamic State has accomplished in what used to be Syria and Iraq (the map of the Middle East needs updating) but because of what al-Qaeda has done there and in North Africa, what the Taliban and al-Qaeda are doing in Afghanistan, and so on. If we understand, as we by now should, what these safe havens portend, then we must grasp that the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and the global jihad constitute a threat to American national security. That they also (and more immediately) threaten Arab Islamic countries is true, but it is not close to being our top concern. Ensuring our security is a concern that could not be responsibly delegated to other countries even if they had formidable armed forces — which the “coalition” countries do not. The Islamic State and al-Qaeda are OUR problem.”
It will not be enough to shine beautiful lights on our monuments and buildings…if we allow the lights of civilization to go out.
Everyone wants peace, but the Holy Scriptures tells us “…Peace, Peace…but there is no peace.” It warns us to turn away from evil. It also warns us about the way we live and judgments to come for people and nations.
(2nd Timothy, Chapter 3:1-5 New Testament) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.... For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
Yet, we still hope and believe. (Isaiah 2:4 Old Testament “He shall judge between nations and shall decide disputes for many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”) The present is the present and what we do with it during these perilous times may be a long, dangerous road before the final judgment.
To enjoy one’s faith, without fear of persecution, is one of life’s greatest privileges. Unfortunately, it is not the reality of many in the world today. Each time one has the opportunity to walk through the church door or listen to the ringing church bells, it is a day to be thankful. Our founding Fathers had the foresight to give this to us as they established a new and free country. Many of our young people are not taught the history or the significance of religious freedom if they are a product of our public schools. Separation of church and state does not mean that we should not know history…and appreciate its benefits.
“National Religious Freedom Day falls on January 16 every year in honor of the day the Virginia General Assembly adopted the Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786.
The statute disestablished the Church of England in Virginia as the official religion of the state and paved the way for religious freedom for Catholics, Jews and other underrepresented religious minorities. Thomas Jefferson, who drafted and presented the legislation to the assembly, considered it to be among his greatest lifetime achievements.
The U.S. consistently ranks among the countries with the least religious restrictions, and roughly 88 percent of Americans believe the country was founded on the principle of religious freedom.
From the Huffington Post
“Today we commemorate International Religious Freedom Day, which marks the 17th anniversary of the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. This landmark legislation sought to infuse America’s first freedom into our foreign policy, and it has made great strides in doing so. One of the ways it did this was by establishing the bipartisan, independent, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom…
“Beyond having the institutions to defend religious freedom, much remains to be done, as we see relentless assaults on religious freedom around the world. Today is a day to not only remember the foundational importance of international religious freedom, the birthright of every individual, but a time to renew America’s commitment to advocating for this most basic right whenever and wherever it comes under assault. We have a moral responsibility to stand firmly on the side of people who simply want to live and worship in peace.
“Nowhere has intolerance and evil combined to destroy people of faith more than it has in the Middle East, where ISIS is engaged in a systemic, genocidal effort to wipe out all religious minorities, including Christians and Yezidis. Just over a year ago, ISIS swept through the Nineveh Plains, uprooting thousands in a matter of days. Faced with the choice of beheading, enslavement or forced conversion, entire villages fled with nothing more than the clothes on their back. Their historic convents, monasteries and churches have been destroyed or seized and re-purposed into prisons, weapons facilities, or torture chambers. For the first time in 2,000 years, there was no Christmas Mass in Mosul, and this exile is now stretching into a second winter. In Syria, the situation is no better…”
Portion of a Speech by Marco Rubio
Any religion that would want to destroy a person’s right to choose his/her own faith, is a religion that does not understand or care about the principles of freedom of choice. We, as free people, must stand for these rights and give honor to those who have gone before to assure us of this privilege. A very important fact is that even today we have men and women being held in countries around the world because they were serving as religious people to improve education, health, and welfare of those less fortunate. Our government has done little to try to get the release of these Americans who are being tortured in places like Iran when we had the leverage to do so. One has to ask if this would have been the action…or inaction…of those who have gone before us to give us religious freedom? The significance of this important part of our freedom cannot be over-looked or ignored.
How serious is the threat to religious freedom around the world? Very serious. We can only take the word of those who know and have no reason to tell us something untrue. We have seen the videos of the Christians being beheaded and we are told that the same is happening to children in the Middle East. Do we know what is happening in places like China? Perhaps we should take a look and once again take a long, hard look at the religious freedom we still have in America.
There are those who will deny the basics of faith…and will spread this as truth. We are warned not to be deceived. Frankly, with world-wide conditions, it may not be enough to set aside certain days to talk about or write about “religious freedom”, which could so easily be taken from us…. as these videos will show.
We in the 20th century rarely think of those who endured…eaten by lions; burned at the stake; crushed by heavy stones because of their religious beliefs. After them, great cathedrals were built to honor God and those are often mostly empty today except for a few who come to pray or for the many who come with a tour guide to marvel at the architecture and the stained glass.
What has it cost to give us the religious freedom that we enjoy today? I use the word, “enjoy” because unless we are a Coptic Christian in the Middle East or in some other remote areas of the world, we do not have to worry about being persecuted for our beliefs. We can go into any church, synagogue, or masque and worship. This leads us to wonder if we will indeed be spared from persecutions …since we treat it so lightly.
How often do we read and reflect on the writings of Fox’s Book of Martyrs? Not only Christians men under Nero, but Jews under Titus suffered for their beliefs.
How little do we know about the death of the early Christians and disciples of Jesus? What do we know about men of more recent times who became martyrs for their faith?
- William Tyndale
- Master John Hooper
- Ridley and Latimer
- Thomas Cranmer
- and many others
When my husband and I were in England and Scotland, we visited York. There we visited the little chapel in The Shambles dedicated to the martyr Margaret Clitherow.
Margaret lived in the 16th century when there was great turmoil between Catholics and Protestants. She was married to a man of influence in the community who tolerated Margaret’s strong faith. Having been raised as a Protestant, she converted to Catholicism and was imprisoned many times for hiding the priests who were being persecuted. Unfortunately, it depended on who was on the throne whether persecution and fear for one’s life was a common problem. Queen Mary persecuted the protestants. Queen Elizabeth had Catholics imprisoned and executed.
Margaret was loved by the people of York. She was not only a young mother with a family to look after, but was willing to endure whatever came her way as she reached out to help those in danger of their lives…primarily at this time, the Catholic priests. . It was said that Margaret would slip out of her house at night; go to the gallows..praying for the victims and return to her home. An Act had been passed that to shelter anyone accused of heresy would be considered high treason and punishable by death. Margaret knew her dangers. In March, 1586, her home was raided and she was arrested. Included in her charges was not only her harboring priests, but that she had sent her eldest son out of the country to study with the intention of becoming a priest.
As the wife of an influential man, she had attended many elegant banquets at Guildhall, but now it became her place of trial. The court judge gave her the sentence, ” Margaret Clitherow, …you must return to the lowest part of the prison; stripped naked; laid down your back upon the ground and as much weight laid upon you as you are able to bear…and so continue three days without meat or drink, except a little barley bread and puddle water and the third day be pressed to death; your hands and feet tied to posts, and a sharp stone under your back.”
When visited in prison by a Protestant minister, Margaret said, “I am fully resolved in all things touching my faith which I ground upon Jesus Christ and by Him I steadfastly believe to be saved, which faith I acknowledge to be the same which He left to the Apostles and they to their successors from time to time, and is taught in the Catholic Church and through all Christendom. And by God’s assistance I mean to live and die in the same faith. For if an Angel came from heaven and preach any other doctrine than we have received the Apostle biddeth us not to believe him.”
Margaret sent her hat to her husband (signifying him as head of the house) She sent her stockings and shoes to her daughter, who was twelve. (signifying for her to walk with God)
As the heavy stone weight was placed on her, she called out “Jesus, Jesus have mercy on me.” She then died at age 33. Her road was short…but throughout the ages, the martyrs have paved a long road of faith with tears, blood and love.
John Bunyan was the author of the famous Pilgrim’s Progress. His life had some interesting twists and turns.
EARLY LIFE: “ John chose a job ‘on the road’ by adopting the trade of tinker, the mender of pots and pans. Few people could afford to purchase new pots when old ones became damaged, so pots were mended time and time again. Tinkers were regarded, by some, in the same poor light as gypsies. John enlisted in the Parliamentary army and from 1644-1647 served in the Newport Pagnell garrison. The English Civil War was nearing an end and it was told that John was saved from death one day, when a fellow soldier volunteered to go into battle in his place and was killed while walking sentry duty.”
SPIRITUAL JOURNEY: It was sometime later that John wrote in his autobiography, Grace Abounding, that he had led an abandoned life in his youth and was morally reprehensible as a result. He began to hear voices urging him to “sell Christ” and that he was tortured by fearful visions… claiming to have heard a voice that asked: “Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven or have thy sins and go to hell?” John believed that this had been the voice of God, chastising his indulgent ways. John’s spirituality was born from this experience and he began to struggle with guilt, self-doubt and to believe in the Bible’s promise of damnation or salvation. He sometimes was despondent and struggled with mental turmoil until his spiritual journey led him to St. John’s Church in Bedford.
BECOMING AN AUTHOR AND PREACHER: He began writing. His first book, Some Gospel Truths, was written in 1656 and his second book, Vindication, was published. Pilgrim’s Progress was to come later.
PERSECUTION: Bunyan’s persecution began when Charles II of England was crowned. Meeting-houses were quickly closed and all citizens required to attend their Anglican parish church. It became punishable by law to “conduct divine service except in accordance with the ritual of the church, or for one not in Episcopal orders to address a congregation.” Thus, John Bunyan no longer had the freedom to preach in whatever way he felt lead, something he had enjoyed under the Puritan Commonwealth. He was arrested on 12 November 1660, when preaching privately. John was brought before a magistrate where he refused to desist from preaching. Bunyan was told that all the authorities wanted was that he not preach at private gatherings, as it was suspected that these non-conformist meetings were being used by people plotting against the king. In answer to the court, John argued that God’s law obliged him to preach at any and every opportunity and so he was duty bound to refuse.
Bunyan was brought before the courts again and was incarcerated for 3 months for the crimes of “pertinaciously abstaining” from attending mandatory Anglican church services and preaching at “unlawful meetings”. He was put in and out of jail at various times for a total of twelve years.
THE WRITING OF PILGRIM’S PROGRESS: It was during 1675, in Bedford County Gaol, that John Bunyan conceived his allegorical novel: The Pilgrim’s Progress. In 1666, John was briefly released for a few weeks, before being re-arrested – again, for preaching – and sent back to Bedford’s County gaol, where he remained for a further six years. During that time, he preached to his fellow prisoners – a congregation of about sixty. In his possession were two books, John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, the Bible, a violin he had made out of tin, a flute he’d made from a chair leg and a supply of pen and paper. Both music and writing were integral to John’s Puritan faith. John Bunyan was released in January 1672, when the Declaration of Religious Indulgence was issued. ( The Declaration granted broad religious freedom in England by suspending penal laws enforcing conformity to the Church of England and allowing persons to worship in their homes or chapels as they saw fit. It ended the requirement of affirming religious oaths before gaining employment in government office.)
JOHN BUNYAN WROTE ONLY ONE HYMN: “To be a Pilgrim” (also commonly known as “He Who would Valiant be” is the only hymn John Bunyan is credited with writing. The hymn recalls the words of Hebrews 11:13: “…and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
WORDS TO JOHN BUNYAN’S HYMN: “To be a Pilgrim” as they have been slightly modified in recent years.
He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim. Who so beset him round with dismal stories Do but themselves confound—his strength the more is.No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight, He will make good his right to be a pilgrim. Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,We know we at the end, shall life inherit.Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,I’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.
Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of England requested it sung at her funeral. Read the words above as you listen.
Another version: St Paul’s congregation music (Enlarge screen)
Someone died this week, August 10, 2013, who should have died much sooner. Laszlo Csatary was 98 when he passed away in Poland, waiting for a trial that never came.
Csatary had lived in the West since WWII…even ran an art gallery in Canada, where he had become a citizen until Canada got wind of his connections to the Holocaust. Interesting that he fled back to Poland where his war crimes had been committed. Later he was arrested in Hungary. There were many ghosts to meet him there…some still living after torturous conditions in the camps.
According to an AP writing,Holocaust survivor Edita Salamonova, whose family was killed in the Auschwitz death camp after their deportation from Kosice, said she remembered Csatary well. “I can see him in front of me,” Salamonova said. “A tall, handsome man but with a heart of stone.”Salamonova remembered Csatary’s presence at the brick factory… and would make sure to keep out of his sight when he was around.”
“Hungarian authorities said Csatary was the chief of an internment camp set up in a brick factory for around 12,000 Jews in Kosice — a Slovak city then part of Hungary — in 1944, beating them with his bare hands and a dog whip regularly and without reason. He had also been charged with “actively participating” in the deportation of thousands of Jews to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps….On June 2, 1944, Csatary rejected a request by one of the deportees to allow a ventilation hole to be cut into the wall of a railroad car on its way to a death camp and crammed with around 80 people.”
We would like to know that all war criminals had their lives cut short by a swift justice that was handed down to them by high courts. That is, unfortunately, not the case. We are told by Efraim Zuroff, one of the last Nazi hunters and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem Office, that they were “deeply disappointed” in Csatary’s death ahead of his possible trial in Hungary…“It is a shame that Csatary, a convicted … and totally unrepentant Holocaust perpetrator who was finally indicted in his homeland for his crimes, ultimately eluded justice and punishment at the very last-minute,” Zuroff said in a statement.
We would question whether Csatary truly eluded justice and punishment …..for his day is coming. No earthly court sentenced him to a shorter life when it should have, but his secret hours and sleep may have been one of nightmares and torment…for the “wicked have no rest”. The Great Court and Judgment Day is Coming from which he and no other person will escape. Many people do not want to consider this part of the Word of God because it is not comfortable to consider. Nevertheless, if we are to believe even one word of the the Scriptures as truth, we cannot dismiss this part. The other side of the grave will have much more than we can imagine.
The New and Old Testament Holy Scriptures tell us the following…let those who have ears to hear…hear….
Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Ezekiel38:17-23 “Thus says the Lord God: Are you he of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel, who in those days prophesied for years that I would bring you against them? But on that day, the day that Gog (may refer to most of the middle eastern countries surrounding Israel) shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord God, my wrath will be roused in my anger. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord God. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many people who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
We serve a just God…a merciful God to those who repent….a kind and generous God…whose patience will not endure forever.
IT IS FINISHED
As I walked outside the main gate of Auschwitz in Poland, a man sat by the roadside. He carefully held a piece of wood. It was a part of a birch tree and carved in the middle was the face of Christ. Large, sharp thorns had been placed across the forehead. This man looked at me with the hopes that I would buy this from him, which I did. The workmanship was extraordinary, even though crude. It said so much about this man and what he had made, but more so about this place where he sat.
Just inside these gates, millions of innocent Jews had been put to death. This man had made the carved face of a Jew Who was put to death and no one could find any wrong in him. As Pilot said, ” I find no case against him.”
THIS WAS A SUFFERING JEW CARVED ON A TREE OUTSIDE THE GATE OF SOME OF THE WORST OF HUMAN SUFFERING.
Jesus also sat outside the gate where he would be taken before a mob, mocked, and put to death. He prayed for the people of the world who would believe in Him, saying His hour had come and His work on earth was finished. Even though He knew the suffering that He was to endure, His thoughts were of protection and love for those who believed the words He spoke and saw the miracles He performed. Jesus said:
“Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me so that they may be one, as We are One….
I have given them Your word and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world…I ask not only on behalf of these but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me…
Father, I desire that those also whom you have given Me may be with Me where I am… to see My glory which You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
Inside the gate of Auschwitz, just a few feet from where the man was sitting…many years before… horrors happened. One of the things that I saw in one of the torture chambers was a wall where someone had scratched a cross. We know that Christians suffered and died there also. Nothing in Auschwitz can be romanticized. Neither can the crucifixion of Jesus.
Even though great art masters have painted beautiful portraits to inspire us, the crucifixion was real torture given perfection by the Romans. The preparation for a glorious Easter Sunday when Christ rises from the dead is a solemn time. This is why the altars of the churches are stripped bare of all ornamentation or flowers. There was nothing lovely about death.
The video below is realistic with the music asking a question, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Perhaps we need realism when we actually consider what Christ endured.
Readers around the world may not understand some of the rituals of the Christian Church. Because today is called Ash Wednesday, it may be good to help in this understanding. The observance even varies from one Christian church to another.
“Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and it marks the beginning of Lent. Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent’s way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults.”
I think there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we all have faults, even if we do not always call them sins. Most people know when something is considered a real sin. So, why in the modern world… when we are asked to think on the positive, should we set aside 40 days for reflection, prayer, and being sorry for things done? As mentioned, this day begins the forty days of Lent. Some take it lightly and joke about giving up candy or a latte for this period of time. To others it is much more a serious matter.
Job, who had suffered so many unbelievable things, said the following:
. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. The other eye wandereth of its own accord. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6)
The prophet Jeremiah, for example, calls for repentance this way: “O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes” (Jer 6:26).
The prophet Daniel recounted pleading to God this way: “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3).
Jesus spent 40 days praying and fasting in the wilderness to His Father in heaven for the people of the world.
How does Ash Wednesday get its name? It comes from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of believers as a sign of repentance before God. These ashes typically are gathered from the palms used the year before at Palm Sunday, which is a celebration of Jesus riding into Jerusalem. The palms are burned to make the ashes. Some think of this as only a Roman Catholic practice, but it is also celebrated each year by those in the Episcopal and Anglican churches, as well as Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and some Baptist denominations.
Does this Ash Wednesday, or any other Christian observance, forgive sins?
No, of course not, for it is not what we as believers do that forgives and gives eternal life. Only Christ, our Savior, who died for our sins…taking our place…can forgive. He said on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Jesus Christ was not just another prophet as some of the major religions believe. His resurrection from the dead makes Him different. His disciples who observed Him die on the cross also saw Him three days later very much alive. Thomas, who was much like any of us, wanted to see proof. He asked to actually see the nail prints in His hands and the scar on His side. Yes, the resurrection, which is celebrated by Christians at Easter, is the only hope for our own resurrection. The Apostle Paul said, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
By the way, for anyone who has not studied Paul’s writings in the New Testament, I would suggest that you do so. Paul, first known as Saul and a powerful member of a Jewish group, had persecuted the Christians and actually held their robes while they were stoned. God had other plans for him and later he found Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Hopefully, this writing has helped our non-Christian readers understand better some of the rituals of the Christian church. Persecution of Christians is happening around the world today, especially the Coptic Christians.
It is important to pray for peace and understanding. I am certain there are those in cyber-world who are searching for the truth. You are wrestling, but God also has a plan for you. Like it or not, we must remember that we are dust and to dust we will return. It is important to be ready.
If you have any questions, please feel free to write to us at Boyer Writes. email@example.com We will try our best to answer any questions.
VIDEO FOR ASH WEDNESDAY AND THE BEGINNING OF LENT
I was impressed by a video and several news articles that I saw during the Christmas holidays. I think they speak for themselves. Leadership is extremely important to a nation and to the world. Political correctness has mired us down in the lack of ability to speak in faith and in truth.
Christmas was not a happy place for those who walked to church in Nigeria …only to worship, not to be murdered. In this place that was supposed to be a place of peace came the ugly reality of those who would wipe out peace. Christians around the world are under attack. This is the truth of persecution that has always been a part of the Christian faith throughout history. Taking up one’s cross is exactly that. It was never expected to be easy. However, one needs to call it what it is and be unafraid to speak for faith and truth.
Christmas Day in Nigeria …..Five Christian Churches bombed
“A string of bombs struck churches in five Nigerian cities Sunday, leaving dozens dead and wounded on the holiday, authorities and witnesses said.
The blasts mark the second holiday season that bombs have hit Christian houses of worship in the west African nation. In a statement issued late Tuesday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan called the bombings “a dastardly act that must attract the rebuke of all peace-loving Nigerians.”
(The following news article on leadership to protect a nation)
“Nigeria lacks competent leaders to tackle its security problems”, a former military ruler said on Monday, following Christmas Day bomb attacks on churches by Islamist militants that killed more than two dozen people.
Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner who lost the last presidential election in April to incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, said in a statement in a Nigerian daily that the government was slow to respond and had shown indifference to the bombings.
The Boko Haram Islamist sect, which aims to impose sharia law across Africa’s most populous country, claimed responsibility for three church bombings, the second Christmas in a row it has caused carnage at Christian houses of worship.
Security forces also blamed the sect for two explosions in the north and fear is growing that Boko Haram is trying to ignite a sectarian civil war in a country split evenly between Christians and Muslims who for the most part co-exist in peace.
“How on earth would the Vatican and the British authorities speak before the Nigerian government on attacks within Nigeria that have led to the deaths of our citizens?” Buhari said in the statement published by Punch newspaper.
“This is clearly a failure of leadership at a time the government needs to assure the people of the capacity to guarantee the safety of lives and property,” Buhari said.”
Yes, leadership is most important. Perhaps we all need to listen again to an inspirational message from a former President of the United States.
Kim Jong Un, shown on left before the death of his father, has the opportunity to bring N. Korea out of misery into the light. Pictures from space show N. Korea at night almost in total darkness as compared to S. Korea and Japan. Below is a writing sent to Boyer Writes by Wanda that tells of the plight of Christians in North Korea. Many sing in silence.
“A group of Korean business leaders—all Christians—visited the United States
recently with news about the plight of believers in North Korea. “There has
been terrible persecution,” they reported, “and thousands have died for their
faith; yet many still worship despite danger and death threats. When they
gather, it’s in complete secrecy; and when they sing, it is done in silence. They
open their mouths in unison, but they allow no sound from their voices for
fear of being overheard.”
Imagine what it would be like to attend a Christmas Eve service this year and
have to simply “mouth” the words of our great carols. Imagine being unable
to hear the hand bells, the chimes, the swelling crescendos of the “Hallelujah
Chorus,” or the pensive harmonies of “What Child Is This?”
What a privilege to sing the songs of Christmas! Yet we’re so deluged by
Christmas music each year that we’re in danger of not hearing it at all….” (a portion of a writing on Music by David Jeremiah)
Even in our shopping areas and in the public places, the wonderful music of Christ and Christmas can be heard. What a freedom! We do not have to sing in darkness or in silence, so this Christmas sing out! What a contrast to those who have no voice and must sing in silence.
Hallelujah Chorus in the most unexpected place.
Refusing to give anyone his gun to kill black people of Rosewood, one man said he would not have his ” hands wet with blood”.
With a fever-pitch, this small town in Florida had gone from peaceful to a terrible blood bath. The reason? One woman lied about being attacked by a black man.
This was the south…the deep south. Slavery was no longer, but slavery in the hearts and segregation drew deep lines of tension and suspension between the races. Hard working blacks, then called “colored” worked in the timber mills and the pencil factory of Cedar Key. Many blacks were Masons and had black churches of faith. They were land owners in a predominately black community. The white people had moved to Sumner, Florida.
Blood revenge; stringing up from the nearest tree, or running blacks into the alligator, mosquito-ridden swamp was the order of the day. For those who lived through this terrible period of history, it is hard to imagine the difference in opportunities for all races today…including their own. Those were frightening, terror-filled hours. Houses were burned. Children saw their parents murdered and the white people of the area were drawn into this dangerous time.
Few understood the effect that it would have on generations to come. Few cared. Few looked past the moment. Only those who refused to take part could walk away from such a disaster with some sense of dignity. But the community guilt was still there. Every black person was driven out or left Rosewood.
Years later, Florida became the first in the nation to compensate victims of Racial violence. “The legislature passed and Florida Governor, Lawton Chiles, signed the Rosewood Compensation Bill, a $2.1 million package to compensate survivors and their descendants. Seven survivors and their family members were present at the signing to hear Chiles say,
“Because of the strength and commitment of these survivors and their families, the long silence has finally been broken and the shadow has been lifted…
Instead of being forgotten, because of their testimony, the Rosewood story is known across our state and across our nation. Now, across the world. This legislation assures that the tragedy of Rosewood will never be forgotten by the generations to come.”
May it be a reminder everywhere that there can be light…even in darkness…if people will do what is right regardless of the terrible wrongs.
Jesus promised an astonishing power would come through the Holy Spirit of God.
This would give the believers, who were frightened at His death and amazed at his His resurrection, the courage to preach the good news of salvation to both the Jews and the Gentiles. This they did.
The persecution that followed them has shown throughout history that to be a follower of Jesus would be no Sunday picnic. The true believer will be misunderstood in today’s world. In years past, a committed Christian could look forward to being burned at the stake or other atrocities. All the disciples of Jesus died martyrs’ deaths. Stephen was stoned to death. We could go on…listing.
Missionaries of Christ and messengers of the Good News have gone throughout the world serving the sick and the poorest of the poor. Taking God’s message to the world was the command Jesus left before his ascension into Heaven. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was the power God sent to them to make this command possible. Otherwise, they would have been the weak and afraid people who denied Him before His death. Peter, who became the pillar of the Church, said he never knew Christ.
Later, they were baptized by the Holy Spirit and miracles began to happen. They could understand one another even though they spoke different languages. They could heal the sick as Jesus had done. The message the believers were to take to the people was to be followed by a baptism with water. This usually was in a river, but baptism today takes many forms. The Power is the same. Power to be all Christ wants His followers to be is available to those who want it.
The salvation Christ brought cost Him the agony of the cross. Sometimes a Christian says he is “taking up his cross to follow Jesus”. Hardly is this true for most of us. Foxes Book of Martyr’s tells us of those who truly took on death and the Power was theirs to endure until the end. The Coptic Christians, as well as others, are suffering great persecution around the world today for simply being Christian.
Do we as Christians count the cost ? The power of the Holy Spirit coming upon those believers years ago is what Christians call Pentecost. This power was sent also to us. It is the third Person of the Trinity: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is real and will be your help in time of trouble. He will be your teacher. Do not be afraid for whatever comes your way, God will be with you. Simply call on Him to help you and make your way plain…..for He will teach you all truth.
HE IS RISEN….CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED.
As the Christians of the world begin a time of reflection before observing the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will take a look at Christians in Ukraine. The Ukrainian people lost religious freedom after WWII. It was buried in the ashes of a crippled nation; but rose to gain faith again. Christ and His Church has once again found a place in the lives of the Ukrainian people. Having spent a part of a summer with the people of Kiev and Donetsk in Ukraine, I know first hand of their love and dedication to their Saviour.
20th Century History: This was a difficult and painful period. Western Ukraine was absorbed by Poland after the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This lasted until World War II when there were a number of changes in the country’s regimes. Russia invaded Ukraine and then the Germans occupied it from 1941–1944. Historians have written it like this:
“After the war, Ukraine became a part of the Soviet Union, which was the beginning of cruel persecution. Christianity was declared illegal….It is the tragedy of the 20th Century, the epoch of terror and violence, which has most affected the development of religious life in contemporary Ukraine. Approximately 17 million people are estimated to have died a violent death in Ukraine in that century…The war on religion was the ideology of the Communist regime and no effort was spared.
Church buildings were ruined, burnt down, profaned; priests and faithful, Orthodox, Catholic and representatives of other religions were shot, arrested and deported to the Siberian gulag; church communities were persecuted, confined to underground activities or entirely destroyed. Both the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church at the beginning of the 1930s and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1946 in Halychyna and in 1949 in Transcarpathia were liquidated. The Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches survived in only a handful of carefully monitored churches. Even the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church (which functioned as a state church) were limited and it furthermore suffered from infiltration by Soviet security organs. There was a progressive spiritual vacuum and a deepening demoralization of society.”
The Underground Church: In the 1980s, persecution of Churches ceased. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church emerged from the underground and communities of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church became active in 1989. The declaration of Ukrainian independence from Russia in 1991 paved the way for a new religious freedom in Ukraine. The blood of the martyrs have soaked the land, but the people of Ukraine now know and love the freedom to worship. As they look at new elections in the government and the Russian influence within the country, they must decide if these freedoms are precious and worth preserving…or will they fall back into the bondage from which they have freed themselves?
The video below gives a history of some of the Martyrs of Ukraine’s Christian church. ( For best viewing and reading enlarge to full screen and turn on sound.)
We are now in great debt to China. This is no secret because we have placed ourselves as a nation in their care…financially and in the economic market place. Because of this, we have turned a blind eye on the suffering that goes on in this communist nation. We have refused to speak out when it comes to those imprisoned for attempting to use the human rights that we in America enjoy. These include freedom of speech and freedom to worship as one chooses.
How soon we forget the Tiananmen massacre. How soon we forget those who died for speaking up and those who are still imprisoned today.
Financially we are also becoming this country’s slave. This is not all. We no longer speak up in horror when persecutions take place on their soil. Who am I speaking of? Why am I writing this? Let me give you an example or two among the thousands:
Christian Pastor Wang Dao of Guangzhou
The following is a quote from a China Aid press release:
“GUANZHOU–At noon on September 3, 2009, the administrative reconsideration office in Zhuhai notified Pastor Wang Dao of Guangzhou Liangren Church that the Guanzhou court had ruled in favor of his application for reconsideration on behalf of the church, and requested he come to the office to pick up the award. At 5:00 PM, four public security officials came to his home in Donghai Garden Community, and requested that he join them for an investigation in Luoxi Police station. They claimed they were from Guangzhou Bureau of Public Security, but when Pastor Wang demanded they show him the warrant of investigation, they could not furnish one. Instead, they instructed him to “lighten up,” claiming they just “wanted to talk.” The security officials then took Pastor Wang to the residential police office and “conversed” with him for two hours.
According to Pastor Wang, the men were primarily interested in the details surrounding his signing the Chinese Christians Statement on 20th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, released earlier in June. They further threatened him: as his “friends” they urged him to think about wife and children, “You will have to consider your future and security.” Pastor Wang refused to succumb to the intimidation; he thanked them for their concern, but asserted, “Since I follow Jesus and am determined to be a servant of God, I have prepared myself for those consequences.” The officials did not release him until 8:00 PM that night.” (Click to read more article details} The update to this article is that Pastor Wang has now been kidnapped and taken to an undisclosed location.
China Aid explains that exposure and public opinion has had some good results. The internet is also a means of exposure.
“China Aid seeks to uncover and reveal the truth about religious persecution in China, focusing especially on the unofficial church. We do this through conducting investigations, press releases, annual persecution reports, the China Aid News brief, media campaigns and advocacy. National and international media outlets including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, the BBC, The Wall Street Journal, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia rely on ChinaAid’s timeliness and accuracy.
As soon as China Aid verifies a persecution report from inside China through a network of investigators. A press release is sent to the international media, U.S. embassy staff and other NGOs. These, in turn, launch inquiries of the arresting agents or agencies, putting enormous pressure on the Chinese government that they not torture the victims.”
“Gao Zhisheng is a 2008 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Chinese army veteran and prominent Christian attorney. He cares deeply for the nation of China, and is a loyal citizen. Since 2005, Gao has been repeatedly kidnapped, arrested, imprisoned and tortured by Chinese authorities for his work defending those persecuted for their faith. He, his wife and two children have been monitored and tormented by authorities for more than two years. On January 21, 2010, the Chinese government publicly acknowledged Gao Zhisheng to be in their custody, for the first time since his abduction more than 365 days ago.
In response to a reporter’s inquiry, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu said: “The relevant judicial authorities have decided this case, and we should say this person, according to Chinese law, is where he should be.” Mr. Ma then added, “As far as what exactly he’s doing, I don’t know. You can ask the relevant authorities.”
Almost everything we purchase in America is made in China. If we have a choice, determine to make the right one…. or will we turn a blind eye? Backing ourselves into an economic corner does not mean we do not have a voice…or a pen. Use it where we can….or while we can.
A graphic account of this story and video of his testimony may be seen. ( Do not have children present when watching the video)
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
In a previous post, we talked about the modern-day martyrs in Egypt. Today, we are sharing with you a little known Christian martyr named Haralambos.
Christians were persecuted during the reign of Septimius Severus. When a person was accused of being a Christian, there were only two choices: deny Jesus or make an offering to the Roman gods. Execution followed if the Christian refused. It was that simple.
St. Haralambos’ reputation as a man of God had spread throughout the area and many people came to the faith through his preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. During a period of extreme persecution, Haralambos did not hide, but openly and boldly preached the Christian Orthodox Faith! When Haralambos was finally arrested for having the courage to preach the Gospel, his persecutors devised a plan for everyone to witness. During one of these times of torture, Haralambos was stripped of his clothing and his body was ripped with iron claws. He withstood the torture with courage.
One of the dukes became enraged. Taking the iron claw, he began to rip him repeatedly. At this point the first miracle occurred. The duke’s hands became paralysed. Screaming, he asked Haralambos to help him. Seeing the Duke’s plight, the governor spat in the Saint’s face. Immediately his head twisted in an awkward position, where it remained. The onlookers were terrified and begged the Saint to pray to Christ to save them. Haralambos beckoned them to pray and ask forgiveness for their sins. The duke pleaded with him to pray to Christ to recover the use of his hands. When the Saint finished praying, the duke’s hands were healed. He was then baptised and became a devout Christian. There were other miracles that followed before he finally died during one of his times of torture. St. Haralambos was 113 years old when he was martyred for the Christian Faith.
He was known for being a shepherd to his flock. He is now considered to be the protector of shepherds and their flocks. His body is now in the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Meterora, Greece. The Christian faithful who pray there tell of miracles that continue.
Jesus said if there is one lost sheep, He would find it. Do you feel like a lost sheep? Pray and Jesus will find you also. He knows your need and your pain….just as those who brought the good news of Christ…suffered pain and death to bring this message of God’s love to many generations to follow.
When one talks about dying for the faith, it usually makes us think of the first Christians or the Inquisition. How about Christmas Eve 2009? Coptic Christians in Naga Hammadi, Egypt were murdered as they left the church after Christmas Eve services. The target was Bishop Kirollos who is head of the church in this area. President Mubarak of Egypt has been asked for only rights to have worship in safety.
So far, most police are turning their heads the other way. Extreme measures are being taken by some Christians who are being denied identity cards simply because they are Christians. They are tattooing “Christian” on their wrists. Some are even doing this to their children. Not having a national ID card causes extreme problems.
Probably you will not hear anything about a rally for human rights by the CAFA (Coptic American Fellowship Association) as they gather in front of the American White House gate on January 21. Their plea is for Christians to be treated with respect, not only in Egypt but throughout the world.
Do you know what countries are the most oppressive to Christians or Christian converts? It is hard for Americans to believe it is truly happening in a modern world, but martyrs are not a thing of the past. The top 10 countries are listed because of their strict laws on faith and because people are daily being persecuted or dying for their Christian faith.
Click on this video link to see the 10 countries listed.