The watchdog organization Open Doors USA says levels of Christian persecution are at a record high around the world, revealing that the number of Christians murdered for their faith rose 60 percent in 2020. Biblical prophecy of the end times prior to Jesus return predicts increased persecution of this magnitude along with pestilences, famine and increased earthquakes in “divers” places. All of which are taking place in our time.
Open Doors announced the 2021 World Watch List this week, ranking the top 50 countries where it is the most dangerous to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Their latest data indicates one-in-eight Christians now suffer for their religious beliefs worldwide.
In a broadcast carried on CBN News YouTube, Open Doors USA’s CEO David Curry said, “A shocking number this year is that 340 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination.” The top 10 countries on the World Watch List include North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India. “The big surprise on the World Watch List 2021 is that extremists and governments are using COVID-19 as a justification to increase persecution against Christians and we see this in several places,” Curry told CBN News.
“In India, where local governments are using pressure on Christians to withhold food and medical care – over 115,000 incidents of this that we can document,” explained Curry. “It’s also extremists like in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram which is attacking Christian villages, knowing that there is nowhere for them to go and they’re taking food and medical supplies. We’ve documented this. This is happening more and more and that’s on top of the other incidents of persecution. So, there’s this level of intensity that’s been added to because of COVID.”
Curry explained, “There’s 100 million Christians right now in China, and they (the regime) are using their technology to surveil the church. They’re watching their every move. They’re seeing when they go into church. They’re using facial recognition. They’re looking at their searches online. They have a massive surveillance system which is monitoring religious practice in China and it is absolutely chilling, and I think it poses the greatest threat to human rights.” Also, according to the report, extremist attacks spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond. In Nigeria alone, 10 Christians a day are murdered on average due to their religious beliefs.
The rise of violent extremist groups throughout Africa, as well as the constant attacks against Christian communities in the continent’s most populated country, has religious leaders fearful that “the next jihad” is underway.
“I know one thing has never really changed: No one gives a damn about Africa except for their natural resources or if there is going to be a big party because there is a peace treaty being signed,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of the global social action agenda of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization with over 400,000 family members.
Cooper teamed up with Rev. Johnnie Moore, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, to author the new book The Next Jihad: Stop the Christian Genocide in Africa. The book was written after the unlikely duo traveled together to Nigeria earlier this year to meet with dozens of Christian victims of terrorism from five different regions. “After our journey there, we want the world to know that you haven’t heard half of it,” the faith leaders said in a joint statement. “The terrorists’ aim is to ethnically cleanse northern Nigeria of its Christians and to kill every Muslim who stands in their way.”
Their trip came as thousands have been killed by Boko Haram (an Islamic militant group in Nigeria’s northeast with a splinter faction that has claimed allegiance to the Islamic State) and radical Fulani herdsmen who have in recent years increasingly raided predominantly Christian farming villages in the country’s Middle Belt.
In the natural this genocide is horrific and fearful but for Christians who truly understand God is working out His plans and purposes in His world and want to be in the centre of His will for their lives understand the truth of this Scripture.
“And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles“ Matthew 10:16-18
“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” Matthew 13:20-21, Mark 4:16-17
“strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, andsaying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22
“For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.” 1 Thessalonians 3:4-5
Here is the BUT
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” NO, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
Peter explained how Christians should respond when they suffer because of their beliefs. Called the “apostle of hope,” Peter’s primary message is to trust the Lord, live obediently no matter what your circumstances, and keep your hope fixed on God’s ultimate promise of deliverance. Suffering is to be expected, but it is temporary and yields great blessings for those who remain steadfast. Peter probably wrote 1 & 2 Peter in the mid-60s A.D.
God ordains, or appoints genuine believers to suffer, with the explicit purpose of bringing us to final glorification. It tests our faith, removes the impurities thereof, and produces perseverance in us so that we might behold Him face to face and enter the Kingdom of God. Naturally then, it must be restated that those who do not endure cannot obtain the crown of life. Suffering then not only waves a banner for us to see Christ more clearly and behold Him in faith, it separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 13:20-21).
Juan Riesco and his brother, Jose, were heirs to a flourishing family business — Nini’s Deli — in downtown Chicago. But it all came crashing down in early June, when the beloved eatery, owned by their foreign-born parents, found itself in the crosshairs of the increasingly progressive Black Lives Matter movement.
Having since left Chicago in the wake of the restaurant’s forced, permanent closure, Riesco told Faithwire he and his brother are focusing on ministry.
“If they’re gonna protest,” he said, “we’re gonna preach.”
Riesco, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba and Mexico, was once lauded by numerous publications as an up-and-coming entrepreneur with a knack for viral branding. He had enjoyed so much success with the deli and his personal business, Chicago Native, that brands like Nike and Adidas launched collaborations with him. But when Riesco refused to wholly endorse the official Black Lives Matter movement, he and his family were made villains on blogs and news outlets, many of which labeled them as “racist” and “homophobic.”
Rather than kowtow to the demands of a movement with which they harbor many disagreements, the Riescos stood firmly by their convictions. In early June, after being asked if they “believe Black Lives Matter,” Riesco published an official statement on the deli’s since-shuttered Instagram account. In it, he wrote he and his family believe “all people were created equal in the image of God.” The lengthy statement continued, “We believe that all black lives matter and we know that only God can bring about justice that is deserved.”
Riesco told Faithwire that, because of the success of Nini’s Deli, which had a five star rating on Yelp, locals were eager to see the restaurant throw its weight behind the Black Lives Matter campaign. Rather than totally embrace the movement, though, Riesco said it was important to use his platform to share his faith.
“I had felt in my spirit that I needed to, yes, take a stand [against] injustice, but also take a stand, most importantly, for Christ,” Riesco explained. “Because my business was so successful, by God’s grace, we had a lot of eyes waiting on us to make a statement about what was happening.”
“We used that platform — all those eyes on us, waiting to make a statement — to say, ‘We believe black lives matter, but we believe that because they’re made in the image of God,” he added.
However, by distancing themselves from the overarching Black Lives Matter movement, as other Christians have done, the Riescos drew the ire of many progressive protesters. After posting a statement to the restaurant’s Instagram handle on June 3, Riesco said “all hell essentially broke loose.
The Christian entrepreneur recalled receiving an onslaught of threats and promises to protest his family’s restaurant as a result of his statement on racial injustice. On Friday, June 5, just two days after the initial post to Instagram, Nini’s Deli shut down permanently as liberal protesters descended on the once-popular eatery.
Tensions only rose when Riesco’s brother Jose began brashly preaching during the raucous protest outside the deli, calling out many of the protesters for their “wicked agenda.” With his at times confrontational style, he talked about how his brother once identified as gay but “Jesus fixed him, straightened him
He also spoke out against the Black Lives Matter campaign’s affiliations with Planned Parenthood, the LGBT movement, and calls to defund the police.
Ultimately, the social pressure proved to be too much: the constant protests, the endless stream of social media posts slandering the restaurant, and the cancelled partnerships with big-name brands resulted in Nini’s Deli having to permanently closed its doors after a decade of business.
The pain of what they’ve lost remains fresh. Through tears, Riesco said he and his family “poured our hearts into loving our community, despite gender, despite sex, despite whatever you want to identify as.”
Nevertheless, even though the family company is gone, the Riesco brothers — both of whom became Christians at the deli — said they are “blessed.”
“I was just sharing with our team yesterday that my circumstances have changed, but my identity in whom I trust hasn’t,” Riesco said, adding he is still in “a position of gratitude toward our God.”
Moving forward, Juan and Jose Riesco plan to dedicate themselves to ministry.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Philippians 4:13 is likely one of the most misquoted, misapplied, and misunderstood passages within the New Testament. Suffice it to say, it is not about how one can literally do anything you put your mind to simply because you are in Christ. Paul has a specific context in mind here—and it is not about attaining your personal goals and aspirations, developing a healthy conception of self-worth, nor is it designed to be a coping mechanism to deal with the hardships of life. The passage isn’t even about finding the secret of contentment in all things, despite insistence from many that this is the focal point of this passage. This interpretation has more validity due to the previous verses:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Philippians 4:11-12
Paul undoubtedly affirms learning contentment in all circumstances. However, the overarching point of Paul to the Philippians in this passage is not contentment, but one of enduring through suffering, particularly, a suffering brought on through no fault of their own.
The thing that is rather sad about focusing on both the ability to do “all things” and “contentment” is that we don’t focus properly on the message of Paul, which is Christ Himself. Not only does emphasizing the “all things” profoundly miss the point of the passage, but it just doesn’t stand the test of basic logic. It isn’t even an adequate application of this passage, because “all things” to Paul here has a specific context, and that context is enduring through suffering for the prize gained through the glorious gospel of our Lord. Even more clearly, they stand to be glorified with Christ, as they too share in His sufferings. Yet equally as sad, though perhaps in a less heinous way, is the focus on learning contentment that is often also presented as the point of this passage. Again, it must be restated: contentment is the fruit, not the root. The root is Jesus Christ
A rather large focus in Philippians surrounds the idea that the knowledge of Christ and His great work is the means by which the Christian is able to endure persecution. What that means is that a true knowledge of Christ leads to us seeing Him as greater than everything else—even our suffering. A true knowledge of Christ will produce in us the heart attitude that believes all else is to be considered as loss, and that to live is Christ. The one who sees Christ as the preeminent One will actually remain stable in the midst of either incredible prosperity or incredible duress, because their eyes are fixated on the risen Christ Himself (Hebrews 12:1-2). They are not lured away to treasure or trust in wealth, yet neither are they acting as if the sky is falling in the midst of even the most horrendous of circumstances. They are able to say with Paul that they may be, “…hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Why? Because it is invariably through weakness that the Lord is pleased to show His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). They are content, yet their contentment is born exclusively out of seeing that their “light and momentary” afflictionsproducesan eternal glory, which is the hope of the resurrection that the gospel of Christ brings (2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10).
Taken from article by Grayson Gilbert (Patheos) “Philippians 4:13 is not about your life goals”. Grayson completed his Masters of Divinity degree at Moody Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing church planting under the umbrella of his home church.
Freedom of speech is essentially dead on major media and social media platforms, and because they have such a dominant position in the marketplace of ideas, that means that freedom of speech has been severely crippled in US society as a whole.
Freedom of religion is being greatly eroded as well. States such as California continue to ban large church gatherings in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but meanwhile they don’t have any problem with the large groups of protesters that are gathering night after night in the major cities to riot and commit acts of violence.
If conditions are good enough for thousands upon thousands of rioters to get together and cause chaos, and if conditions are good enough for thousands upon thousands of people to go shopping at Wal-Mart, then conditions are certainly good enough for Christians to go to church.
The way that Republicans and Democrats in Congress are responding to this crisis is deeply un-American. The USA is supposed to be a free market capitalist system, socialists were always regarded as enemies of the Republic. But now there are very few Democrats that are not socialists. One has to wonder at how many Republicans see socialism as the only option left.
This week government announced that another “stimulus bill” is on the way. This one is going to involve more direct socialist payments to the American people, but at this point hardly anyone is even bothering to point out that this is pure socialism. Never before in American history has such a thing been done. The USA has been through the Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and a whole host of other difficult times, and yet they have never passed out “free money” to everyone in the country before. And of course the country can’t afford any of this extra spending that Congress is doing. This new stimulus bill is “only” going to cost about a trillion dollars, but that is another trillion dollars that government will have to steal from future generations of Americans. At this moment, government is more than 26 trillion dollars in debt, and soon it will be 27 trillion dollars. They are systematically destroying America’s future, and the founders of the USA would be absolutely horrified at what they are doing. Mind you look at household debt levels in the USA they are already at a record high. A country in crisis.
Of course, the founders have witnessed America abandoning most of the values that they held dear long ago. What was “right” in their day is now “wrong”, and what was “wrong” in their day has now become “right”. In essence, the nation is literally turning into the exact opposite of what they originally intended for America to be.
It looks like this pandemic is not going away soon. What is next? The government is running out of options. Debt levels are off the charts and interest rates at or below zero. The only feasible option is to hit the RESET button and that is probably what we will see next – a digital currency. Paper money and coins will go, for sure. A microchip is certainly a good option for Governments. It would give them total control over the population. They would not only know how much you have spent, where you have spent it and on what. In fact, they would know your every move. Whatever happens next , let me tell you that it will be one step closer to the “end times” mark of the beast.
[Matthew 5:11, 44] “Blessed are you, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. … But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;“
[Matthew 10:23] “But when they persecute you in this city, flee into another: for verily I say unto you, You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.“
[Luke 21:12] “But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute [you], delivering [you] up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.“
[John 15:20] ” Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.“
[Romans 12:14] “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.“
[Luke 17:33] “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.“
[Mark 4:17] “And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.“
[2 Thessalonians 1:4] “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:“
In the USA they, as a society (Supreme Court), have now said as a matter of law that to hold beliefs about marriage and gender and human sexuality that are consistent with the Bible is discrimination, that it’s hateful and bigoted.
Now, society might give some of those hateful religious people an exception because their Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act tell them that they have to do that. But, when you think about the political and cultural trajectory of the USA, how long do you suppose that the religious liberty exception is going to last when everybody thinks that this is a bigoted and evil view?
We should not be surprised, Jesus told us beforehand.
Jesus told His disciples “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” Matthew 10:22a but also “But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:22b
Thankfully, there are many prophecies warning us of escalating tribulation in the seven years preceding His Second Coming. World events indicate we are approaching that last seven years but IMO we are not there yet.
Spiked Online Editor, Brendan O’Neill says the fallout from the death of George Floyd has transcended into “a kind of explosion of political correctness” in Britain.
“There is a politically correct mob running around the country who are expressing all sorts of dangerous, backward, strange ideas.” He said protesters who are now smashing statues “looked to me like the woke-Taliban”. “This idea that we must cleanse the public sphere of every bad person, every bad idea, every bad way way of thinking”. “I think that’s incredibly intolerant, it’s not progressive and it certainly has nothing to do with the awful killing of George Floyd”
Because “racism” is the rationale of the Woke Taliban’s lawlessness and those who applaud and defend them, then nothing is safe from this lawlessness. Any monument to our Founding Fathers is eventually doomed to these mobs and vandals . . . and then they will come for the Christian Church — a Church the media and left have spent decades smearing as racist and homophobic.
Those Christians who know that persecution is coming and that we will not be “raptured out of here before the bad things begin” are not fretting over this. We expect this and thus our posture is one of soberness and humbleness to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ.
The temptation to apostatise is real. The majority of the Evangelical church is folding like dominoes at this time. But you brother and sister stand firm and have endurance to weather the spiritual storm that is upon us and will only continue. The world hates us, but only because they hate Jesus. It will be difficult to endure, as there will be no recourse, except for the ultimate reward of Jesus that awaits us.
“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
The following incident clearly demonstrates that if you share God’s truth with others in your workplace you risk losing your job. John Piper does an excellent job of unpacking “Corona virus and Christ”. You might want to consider getting his book.
Well known and respected Reformed theologian John Piper clarified his stance on whether the coronavirus is God’s judgement of sin and what the Bible says about homosexuality after a legal group called for an Army chaplain to be court- martialed just for sharing Piper’s new book, Coronavirus and Christ with 35 other chaplains.
John Piper responded to claims made by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and its founder, Mikey Weinstein, in a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Defence Mark Esper last month.
Weinstein claimed rightly that Piper’s new book “pushes the belief that the coronavirus is God’s judgement” and could even be judgement for homosexuality.
MRFF called for Senior Chaplain Col. Moon H. Kim, the command chaplain of U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in South Korea, to be court-martialed for sharing a PDF copy of Piper’s new book with 35 other chaplains via email.
Piper’s book does rightly declare that Romans 5:16 states that all death is the result of God’s judgement on the human race because sin entered the world. Piper further notes that God is “sovereign over the coronavirus, and sends it and ends it when He wills.” Piper added that “homosexual intercourse is a sin” and “that the coronavirus is a call for repentance to all of us to bring our lives into alignment with the infinite worth of Jesus.”
In an interview with Christian Post, Piper was asked if he thought Weinstein and MRFF’s criticism of his new book is fair.
“Well, some of it is. I think it would be fair to say that some of my views about what the Bible teaches, even rightly understood, the author of that letter hates. He hates what I think,” Piper said.
“‘They are,’ he says, ‘incendiary,’ ‘bigoted,’ ‘vulgar’ — not just because he misunderstands, but, in part, because he does understand, and that’s how he thinks and feels about some of what the Bible teaches.”
Piper said there are three areas where Weinstein seems to misrepresent his stance in either the letter to Esper or an earlier interview with The Christian Post.
“For example, when I say that ‘some people will be infected with the coronavirus as a specific judgment from God because of their sinful attitudes and actions,’ he assumes that I know who those people are, or at least what kind of people they are,” Piper said.
“But here’s what I write on page 72. … The coronavirus is … never a clear and simple punishment on any person. The most loving, spirit-filled Christian, whose sins are forgiven through Christ, may die of the coronavirus disease. But it is fitting that every one of us search our own heart to discern if our suffering is God’s judgement on the way we live.”
Piper explained that God “does judge people with sickness.”
“That’s very clear from 1 Corinthians 11:32, and there it’s even talking about Christians,” Piper said. “But John Piper or you or anybody else can’t determine from outside who is experiencing the coronavirus as a judgement in a punitive sense, and who’s experiencing it, say, as purification or who’s experiencing it for other reasons that God may have.”
Piper said his point is that God does many things for many reasons and people should “do sober-minded self-assessment to discern” what “God’s purposes are in all that happens to us.”
Piper also underlined that he is not saying “every person who engages in homosexual acts and who gets the coronavirus is being punished by God for those acts.”
“In Romans 1:27 the Bible says that living in homosexual behavior is sometimes punished by God with a ‘due penalty,’ which could be a disease, but not always,” Piper said. “And sometimes disease comes not as punishment, but as a merciful wake-up call that results in repentance and reconciliation and hope. God’s ways are simply more complex than the letter acknowledges.”
“I suspect though, that this clarification won’t even come close to satisfying the author of this letter since he considers it drivel and vulgar to even suggest that God controls this disease and would judge anyone with it,” Piper added.
Weinstein told CP that MRFF and the 22 Christian clients it’s representing in the chaplain case do not have a misunderstanding of Piper’s book. Weinstein doubled down on his disdain for Piper’s Christian views.
“Piper’s despicable assertion of ‘misunderstanding’ is a wretched insult to those 22 Christian armed forces chaplains who desperately came to MRFF for civil rights advocacy help to engage this superior military officer,” Weinstein added in an emailed response to Christian Post.
“As for ‘not liking’ Piper’s declaration that the coronavirus is God’s judgment on sinners, and particularly for the ‘sin’ of ‘homosexual intercourse,’ [darn] right MRFF doesn’t like it! Nor should ANY thinking, compassionate and caring human being ‘like’ such blatant and brazen prejudice, bigotry and bullying!”
In the interview, Piper also responded to Weinstein’s claim in the letter that there is no “pastoral care and comfort” in Piper’s beliefs about the coronavirus.
“My response is Sir, no. You are profoundly wrong. We have the best news in the world for the hardest moments in the world — the best care, the best comfort,” Piper said. “The very heart of Christianity is that, through Christ, God rescues guilty sinners. That’s me and you and all of us. Through Christ, God rescues guilty sinners from his own wrath.”
Piper then cited Romans 5:9: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by [Christ’s] blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
“That’s what God sent Christ to do: rescue us from his own righteous punishment,” Piper added.