The Message Can’t be Stopped

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“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV

ISIS swept through the Near East like a wildfire leaving havoc in their wake. But just like a fire, they burnt out. The ideology still persists among the radical Islamic populous, but movements are not sustainable. Even though that is the case, one cannot ignore the impact they had. But persecution and hate don’t have the final say. In a recent article, I read, the hot spot of death during the peak of ISIS has seen a rapid rise in followers of Jesus. Kobani was once in the spotlight for horrific reasons. Now, its making headlines because lives are being transformed and God is sweeping through the region with a revival and message of hope.

Kobani is just one example of how the word of God pervades all generations and all obstacles. As the western world becomes more hostile towards Christians, it is only skimming the surface of persecution that Jesus followers have faced around the world. But no amount of threats or violence have been able to extinguish the message of the Gospel. Check out these statistics below:

Africa: Home to many Islamic terrorist cells, Christians have long been the target of hate crimes. But the numbers of Christians are exploding. In 1900 there were around 9 million Christians. Today, there are over 600 million. Polls suggest that Africa will be home to the largest number of Christians by 2050. Nigeria, for example, just surpassed Russia, is way higher than former Christendom (European nations), and are estimated to catch the United States (highest Christian population) in the next couple of decades. Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania are seeing similar rises in believers.

Asia: This continent has a long history of religious struggles. It’s a broad mix of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and more. The rising faith, however, is Christianity. In Nepal, the world’s only Hindu kingdom, there are more than 500,000 Christians. This is amazing considering that the first modern church was planted in 1959. In Mongolia, the four Christians of 1989 have exploded to over 20,000 today. Cambodia is equally fascinating. In the late ’70s, there were around 2,000 believers. Today it’s approaching 250,000. What makes that even more incredible is that the communist wave swept through the country between 1975-1977 killing around 2 million people, many of whom were Christians. The most inspiring, in my opinion, is China. The introduction of communist persecution in 1949 caused a tidal wave in conversions and a burgeoning underground church. The Christian population went from just over 1 million in 1949 to over 100 million today.

Looking back through history, it was persecution that drove the spread of the faith. As psychotic Roman Emperors cracked down on followers of Jesus, the faith ignited into a world-shattering movement that eventually overtook the Empire itself. No ruler, ideology, or armed hate group can ever put down the Gospel. The message of Jesus transcends time. Its power is far greater than anything this earth has ever seen. Hope is rising in this world of darkness. The Gospel has prevailed and always will!

Don’t forget to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world who are choosing Jesus ahead of comfort and conformity. Their bravery is a beacon of hope and courage for the world to pursue.

I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Job 42:2 ESV

Peace brothers and sisters. The victory is His!

A Refuge for Refugees

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This is one of the most heavily debated topics in US politics at the moment. As the crisis worsens in the Middle East and more and more people try and flee the region, nations are faced with the question of whether or not to allow them in. Not only is this dividing politicians but it’s also dividing society.

There seems to be a pretty clear division in terms of party opinion. The House of Representatives, dominated by Republicans, voted a measure to limit Syrian refugees into the states. Governors have voiced their opinions as well. Thirty one state governors have openly objected the idea of allowing refugees into their states, all but one is Republican.

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The main arguments for closing our borders to refugees is safety. Many believe that letting refugees in could open the door to terrorists slipping through our borders. Even some involved in the information gathering business for our government (names to remain anonymous) believe that it would too difficult to monitor those coming in who cannot be traced and have no records.

While this is a valid concern, I cannot get over the fact that these people need help. I have talked with some who think that most of the refugees are Muslim men who share extremist views and pose a threat to our nation. If that were the case I would have a heightened level of concern myself. The problem is that most of the people affected by this displacement are women and children. Take a look at the data below:

#1-The problem is getting worse as people in our nation debate:

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#2-Women and Children are by far the largest population hurt by the conflicts in Syria:

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The arguments against allowing the refugees into our nation sound all too familiar. They are far too similar to what our media was voicing in the 1930’s over the issue of allowing the flood of European Jews into the US due to persecution by the Nazi and Fascist regimes. The main concerns were that the Jews posed a safety risk to our nation and that we had no way to support the large numbers of refugees. Sound like anything you’ve heard on the news lately? I’m convinced that the root concern then, as is the root concern now, is prejudice. However, Jews have never been a threat to the world, quite the opposite actually. Islamic Extremism is perhaps the greatest threat our world has faced ever since Muhammad began his bloody campaigns well over a thousand years ago.

James 1:27 states, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

As a follower of Christ I find myself at a crossroads. On one hand I have no doubt that allowing anyone into the United States who could promote Islamic Extremism poses a major threat to our country and i’m sure some ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ WOULD find their way in. On the other hand I feel it is our responsibility to look after the millions of women and children (and yes the men too) who are in distress. Actually I don’t even think distress is a sufficient word to use. In addition Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

There’s no doubt that this is a hard topic but as a follower of Christ I cannot deny His call on our lives. The call of compassion, love, action, mercy, service, etc…We are also called to be wise and discerning so it’s not as clear cut as it may seem. However, millions need a home, a bed, food, clothing…hope. Who better to offer that than those who proclaim the God of hope? The God who is our refuge and strength.

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No matter which side of the debate you are on, please join with me in praying for these millions who’s lives have been shattered. And if you can, do  your part to extend a loving hand and speak hope.