PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS ESCALATING IN CHINA

A U.S.-based persecution watchdog says it has documented more than 100 incidents of Christian persecution in China between July 2020 and June 2021 as the country’s communist regime seeks to forcefully convert independent religious groups into mechanisms of the Chinese Communist Party.

A significant trend throughout the past year was an increase in church raids, says a report published by International Christian Concern. It notes that “not only were churches shut down or demolished, but pastors and church attendees were often arrested.”

One example of this crackdown happened earlier this month when more than 30 officials from the CCP, including SWAT officers, police officers, religious affairs bureau officials and local school district administrators raided Maizi Christian Music High School in Harbin city in China’s Heilongjiang province, the U.S.-based rights group China Aid reported at the time.

In August, officers from Chenghua District Mengzhuiwang office in Sichuan province forcibly entered the home of a church member, He Shan, where the small group of Early Rain Covenant Church members were meeting for worship, CBN News said at the time.

ICC has also tracked 23 incidents of authorities demolishing religious structures and symbols during its reporting period. “The CCP has torn down, destroyed, and removed numerous churches in China, especially those that refused to submit to its control,” the report says.

The persecution watchdog adds in the report that it recorded 14 cases of “Sinicization,” which is a state campaign to forcefully assimilate religious groups into CCP-defined Chinese culture.

As an example, ICC highlights the plight of a church bookstore that was forced to display Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book instead of the Bible. The Administration for Religious Affairs also ordered Christians to study President Xi’s book and memorize his speeches.

Chinese authorities are also removing Bible apps and Christian WeChat public accounts as new highly restrictive administrative measures on religious staff went into effect earlier this year.

The ICC report says that almost every province in China has seen an increase in Christian persecution, and this rise has been especially apparent in Sichuan, Hebei and Fujian provinces where the independent churches have been very visible and active.

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This persecution of Christians is escalating all over the world and is evidence we are in the “end times” that Jesus spoke about that precedes His return. Jesus gives us many signs in the following passage from Luke. The same is given by Matthew. Jesus tells us that He is providing opportunities to witness for Him and that the Holy Spirit will even give us the words to speak. This is training and preparation for us to rule and reign with Jesus on this earth during the Millennium.

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.Luke 21:10-19

SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

This Scripture tells us we need to let God’s Word and the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and actions so that we can view the world through God’s eyes and live our life according to His principles. May this be true particularly in the area of our finances but may it be true in every area of our life.

Even the money we work hard to earn ultimately comes from God. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

Knowing that it all belongs to God should convince us to welcome God into our financial lives! We have the opportunity to walk with God, even in this sector of life knowing that He will use it wisely and it will bear much fruit that will have eternal value.

We need not be concerned about provision for our family if we are truly seeking first the kingdom of God.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

God is the source of all good things—our provider. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). 

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalms 24:1).

How important it is during this time of testing that God has sent with Covid19 to hold to these truths of God. There is no doubt that if you have “all joy and peace in believing” people around you that are fearful will want what you have. Opportunities are opening up for me to talk about the scriptures particularly “end times” prophecies, as I have never had before, particularly with my non believing family members.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7

The persecution that Christians are experiencing now will escalate in the years ahead. Scripture reveals Christians will be refined during the time of tribulation that precedes the Rapture but will also be used mightily by the Holy Spirit at this time. It is time to start living with an eternal focus knowing Jesus prophesied return is near.

What role will Jesus assign to you during His Millennial reign?

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.Revelation 20:4-6

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:7-10

The Second Resurrection and Judgment Before the Great White Throne

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.Revelation 20:11

GODLESSNESS IN THE LAST DAYS

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 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.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:9-13

These two verses show us we cannot claim Jesus did not tell us that Christians will face persecution in the last days as God refines His church before the Rapture. It shows the Pretribulation position held by much of charismatic church in the USA and Australia is untenable. The church will go through a refining process with the tribulation and even great tribulation but Jesus tells us that we will kept from the wrath of God that is poured out on the world with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements.

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.Romans 5:9

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.Revelation 3:10

It is at the sixth seal that heralds the coming wrath of God

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:15-17

The trumpet blast at the seventh seal is when the Rapture of the Saints on earth takes place and it is then John sees the Saints in heaven in their glorified bodies.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10

Hold steady by keeping close to Jesus, by following the leading of the Spirit and by keeping short accounts with the Lord.  Confess sin quickly and be restored from all unrighteousness. Pray and seek guidance so that we can walk on the Highway of Holiness prepared for the ransomed, doing the things He has prepared beforehand for us to walk in – all for His glory. 

HARD WORDS OF JESUS RELEVANT FOR OUR TIME

In the days ahead we will need to take these words of Jesus’ seriously:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.Mark 8:34b-35

Agabus (one of several prophets who came from Jerusalem to Syrian Antioch where Paul was ministering) prophesied that, if Paul went to Jerusalem, he would be bound by the Jews there and handed over to the Gentiles. Paul’s followers pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Paul’s response;

Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” Acts 21:13-14

What a challenge this is to us.  Even today, while we enjoy relative safety in our country, many brothers and sisters in Christ in countries under anti-Christian regimes are making the same decision as Paul, and they and their families are suffering intense persecution and deprivation as a result. 

Who can forget this image?

Islamic State Beheads Egyptian Coptic Christians

God has used the sacrifice of these twenty Coptic Christians and one Ghanaian for His purposes. The relatives of the Coptic Christian recently shared their pride in the men’s refusal to deny Jesus and how the tragic deaths of their loved ones has strengthened the faith of the local community.

Three years after their relatives were murdered by ISIS in the infamous “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross” video, members of the Coptic community of Minya province, Upper Egypt, gathered for the inauguration of a new church, The Church of the Libyan Martyrs, dedicated to the memory of these men.

What a challenge this is to all of us. I am not sure how I would respond but I cling to the firm promise of Jesus that He will give me the courage when I need it.

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is GIVEN YOU AT THE TIME, for it is not you speaking, but the HOLY SPIRIT.” Mark 13:11

10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR ESTABLISHING A HOUSE CHURCH

Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh was convicted by an Iranian Court May 2017 to 10 years in prison on charges of “acting against national security through the formation and establishment of an illegal church organization in his home,” according to the Jubilee Campaign.

He has been in the notorious Evin Prison since January 2018 and had appealed his detainment and conviction, which was rejected.

Nasser has written open letters to the Iranian authorities, questioning his conviction.

“Would it even be possible for a committed Christian — who was born and raised in Iran and whose forefathers lived in this land for thousands of years, and who is a servant to the God who has called him to a ministry of reconciliation — to act against the national security of his own country?” he wrote in August 2018, according to World Watch Monitor.

“As the charges against me in my indictment states: ‘Action against national security through establishment of house churches,’ is the fellowship of a few Christian brothers and sisters in someone’s home, singing worship songs, reading the Bible and worshiping God acting against national security?” he continued.

“Isn’t it a clear violation of civil and human rights, and an absolute injustice, to receive [a] 10-year prison sentence just for organizing ‘house churches,’ which is a sanctuary sanctified as a place to praise and worship God due to closure of churches in Iran?”

Fortunately, Jesus told us that persecution of His children, Christians will increase in the “last days” before His return. Satan knows His end is near and is doing His utmost to take as many of the people God created in His image down with him. Note the strong warnings in the following Jesus prophecy, but also, that only when the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is proclaimed to all the world then the end will come. The Saints are taken up to heaven and then the wrath of God is poured out on an unrepentant world.

Only a Christian who knows his salvation is assured can smile and declare “I’m proud to be a Christian” before being put to death

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:9-14

END TIMES PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IN MOZAMBIQUE ESCALATING

report released this month by Save the Children, Plan International and World Vision showed how the extent of the conflict in Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique has worsened in the last 12 months and how children are suffering disproportionately. 

Violent attacks by Islamic rebels in the Cabo Delgado province have led to the deaths of more than 2,838 people, including over 1,400 civilians, though the actual number is expected to be higher. 

Amy Lamb, director of communications for Open Doors, told The Christian Post that the “fresh wave of violence” in Mozambique has had a “devastating” toll.

Lamb said that for the first time, Mozambique was added to the World Watch List as being among the most persecuted countries “because of the fresh wave of violence coming into Mozambique primarily driven by radical jihadist extremists.” A March attack on Palma, a town in the northeast of Mozambique, led to an estimated 67,848 displaced people as of June 4. 

The south-eastern African country is home to about 17 million Christians, which is over 50% of the population. Lamb said it’s also home to one of the fastest-growing evangelical populations in the world. 

Mozambique
A volunteer sings with children during activities directed toward the healing for displaced children that witnessed atrocities in northern Mozambique, at a displacement settlement in Metuge on May 21, 2021.

“Because of [the rise in Christianity], we’re seeing jihadist groups including those who are affiliated with the Islamic state, with al Shabab, with Boko Haram, al Qaeda,” Lamb explained. 

“It’s just organizing together in order to expand their territories throughout the African continent, and their goal is really to eradicate Christianity from this territory and, unfortunately, in some ways, it’s working,” she continued. “Even specifically from this northern part of Mozambique, an estimated 800,000 people have fled the region, and those who remain, including women, children, families, are facing starvation even if they’re spared from … violence.” 

Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” 1 John 4:2-3

What we are seeing is prophesied by Jesus as the “end times” signs prior to His second coming to earth this time to rule and reign the nations from Jerusalem. Saints we need to be aware that we will be on the earth during the time of tribulation. There is no place in heaven for lukewarm Christians. God will purify His church before the wrath of God is poured out on an unrepentant world.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:9-13

Jesus does appear in the heavens and we are told all the world will see Him. He sends out His angels to gather the elect from the four corners of the earth. but He does not come to earth at the time of the rapture of the Saints.

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.Matthew 24:30-31

AROMA OF LIFE OR AROMA OF DEATH

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For to God we are the fragrance (the sweet smell) of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life and who is sufficient for these things?’ 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

As we go about our daily business, walking in the works God has prepared for us, The Holy Spirit is with us and, if we seek and ask, He will be answering our prayers. Read the scripture again He is always leading us in triumph. This should be our experience and if we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us the aroma of Christ is being diffused, released around us.  We may not be aware, but others pick up the scent for life or for death.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesian 5:2 or Philip 4:18

As we approach the time spoken of by Jesus in answer to the the disciples question: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?Matthew 24:3, we know from His response that in the “last days” the world by and large has turned away from God and therefore we are the aroma of death leading to death to them.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus tells us that Christians living at that time will experience intense persecution.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.Matthew 24:9-12

Make sure you are one of the faithful: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13

EBRAHIM RAISI ELECTED PRESIDENT OF IRAN

Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief won a landslide victory Saturday in the country’s presidential election, a vote that both propelled the supreme leader’s protégé into Tehran’s highest civilian position. However, the voter turnout was the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.

Mass executioner, Ayatollah crony wins Iranian election, Amnesty Int’l calls for war crimes prosecution
Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, whom Amnesty Int’l accuses of war crimes. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The election of Ebrahim Raisi, already sanctioned by the U.S. in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, became more of a coronation after his strongest competition found themselves disqualified from running.

That sparked calls for a boycott and many apparently did stay home — out of over 59 million eligible voters, only 28.9 million voted. Of those voting, some 3.7 million people either accidentally or intentionally voided their ballots, far beyond the amount seen in previous elections and suggesting some wanted none of the four candidates.

“That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran,” Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said.

Previous President Hassan Rouhani, who in 2017 dismissed Raisi as an opponent in his re-election as someone only knowing about “executions and imprisoning” people, met the cleric Saturday and congratulated him.

Raisi’s election puts hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though still short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

I would suggest the election of Raisi moves the world one step closer to the prophesied “end times” war with Israel, the appearance of the Antichrist on the world scene, and the escalating persecution of both Jews and Christians. The good news is:

Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28

TIME TO BECOME ELIJAH’S

America has entered into the times of Baal, says Jonathan Cahn. His latest Prophetic Message is timely and challenging. However, it also demonstrates that God is totally in control as the events that have unfolded in America are exactly in line with a template assigned by God that has played out before in Israel’s history. The timing is mind blowing.

As Jonathan reveals in this video, Christians in America have entered a time when they will face the greatest challenges and the greatest darkness in their history. Survival as Bible believing Christians will be impossible unless we become like Elijah.

What prepared Elijah for what God had planned for him to do? It was in his isolation at Kerith Brook when he was being fed by ravens, sent by the hand of God. Camped in the wilderness, isolated from everyone, Elijah was totally dependent upon God and God alone to meet his every need. It was in his time of greatest fear and need, that God prepared Elijah for his later ministry.

Like Elijah and many of God’s heroes He had to strip them of everything that was important to them and take them to a place of utter brokenness. And like Elijah, there, in isolation by our Kerith Brook, he will carefully tend to our needs. In the most unreal ways, he will provide for us, feed us, clothe us. And, in the process, we will learn how much he loves us and that we can trust him.

It is in our seasons of hurt and isolation that he does an amazing work in us. But that amazing work in us is not for us alone. It is to prepare us for the amazing work God wants to do through us.

Your Kerith Brook might look quite different from Elijah’s. However, regardless of circumstances, God’s plan is the same: he wants to use this time of isolation, this time of pain and loss, to mold you into His image. He wants to meet your every need. He wants to prove that He is good, loving, faithful. He wants to show himself as the Great I am. He wants to build your faith so that you can eventually leave the Kerith Brook.

Then, when He sees that you are ready, He will use and lead you in ways you can not even imagine but for certain it will be to a place where His power and might can shine through you.

GOD CREATED INDIVIDUALS NOT SOCIETIES

Prior to the advent of Christianity individuals belonged to the city, body and soul. If an individual had any value at all it was only by reference to some organised collective. Christianity changed all of that, the proclamation by the apostles that God had become man obliterated this view that individuals had no value that had predominated in the ancient world.

If Jesus is a person as the apostolic and patristic fathers of the early church proclaimed and He died and was raised as a representative of the entire human race then we are infinitely more valuable than society and the state makes of us. Suddenly, our identity is in view, we were created by our Heavenly Father in His image.. Our separation from Him was of our own making i.e. our rejection of His lordship over our lives.

How liberating is the following verse.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28

This concept of the value of the individual is being attacked as society increasingly rejects God and His followers. People are increasingly identifying themselves and others in terms of the groups they belong to. The God group is of course being increasingly marginalised. It is from the group they obtain their solidity and source of meaning. Critical Race Theory and Black Lives Matter are good examples of this onslaught. The unique person made in God’s image that is underneath these labels, the person Jesus died on The Cross to redeem is lost. Jesus said that in the last days lawlessness will abound and that Christians will be persecuted. Sadly, many will fall away but the one who endures will be saved.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another… And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:9-10, 12-13

Start living your lives now with an eternal perspective. Trust God and His promises and He will use you for His purposes in these last days. The Holy Spirit will direct your steps and you will move in power with the gifts of the Spirit evident. You will truly be a light in a dark place. Many will be saved through your witness and acts of kindness.

Prophesied end times signs