LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails has been following this story for over seven years. We are advocates for the protection of children, even if that sometimes means breaking laws of the land if the laws of the land have become immoral and outrightly harmful to children. Today, still in hiding with her mother, Isabella is nearly 14 years old. The man discussed below helped Lisa and Isabella Miller escape to safety.
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
BUFFALO, N.Y. — An American missionary to Nicaragua entered a guilty plea on Wednesday to a charge of conspiracy in international parental kidnapping for helping an ex-lesbian flee the U.S. with her child seven years ago.
“Timo Miller is a good man,” his defense attorney, Jeffrey Conrad of Pennsylvania told the Buffalo News. “He made a mistake and he wants to put this behind him.”
Several supporters sat in the courtroom as Timothy Miller, also known as Timo, entered his plea. Miller lives in Crossville, Tennessee, but conducts missions work with Christian Aid Ministries in Managua, Nicaragua. He appeared in court in Buffalo, N.Y. as that is the location where the stated crime occurred. Click here to continue reading.
LTRP Note: Carolyn recently mailed this letter to Lighthouse Trails. She wrote it shortly after Ray passed away (on October 16th). Carolyn is the author of Castles in the Sand and Dangerous Illusions.
Update: After posting this letter on November 30, a reader wrote to us concerned that Carolyn was writing this letter to Ray, that it might give the impression that Carolyn or Lighthouse Trails endorsed talking to the dead. So that there is no misunderstanding and so that we do not mislead anyone, we want to clarify that neither Lighthouse Trails nor Carolyn Greene believe one can talk to the dead or should one try to talk to the dead. Carolyn’s letter was meant as a tribute to Ray and not intended in any fashion as an effort to communicate with Ray. Because of this concern, we have reworded Carolyn’s letter into third person.
Dear Lighthouse Trails,
How I have missed Ray Yungen, and always will.
The first time I heard about Ray, I read his book, A Time of Departing, on the contemplative spirituality that had crept into my church. I had been questioning it, and his book gave me the confidence to stand in the truth.
The first time I met Ray was when he came to speak at my church . . . the new church we found and loved where the truth was being taught.
The first time I got to know Ray was a few days later. We had lunch in the Greek restaurant, and we talked about all the things that had put us on the same page for such a time as this. One touching thing he told me that day was that he was a romantic at heart. His dream was to have a picnic with a checkered tablecloth and a basket of food on a grassy hill with someone he could love. A beautiful girl with a British accent perhaps, with whom he could wax eloquent. It was sweet that he shared his hopes in many conversations to come, and I wished it for him, but it was not to be.
The first time he came to our family’s home was some time later, to discuss my research on a current faith healer who was telling everyone to “come get some” Holy Ghost fire at a big so-called revival in Florida. He walked in, and I was prepared to get down to business and show him all I had found. But he asked if I had any coffee, and if he could just sit on the leather couch and take it all in. It was my first introduction to the idea of having an awareness of the ambiance of a moment, that life was not all about work. Life was about taking it in and enjoying the gift of it. I saw that in Ray— a home was a place to cherish. I remember how he so enjoyed the roast beef dinner at our table, how relaxed he was, how he enjoyed every moment, and took interest in everything. It was not a fancy meal but one he would refer to years later as “a wonderful dinner,” even though we didn’t have the HP sauce he requested. After dinner, we watched video clips together on my computer of the madman who shook and flailed wildly on stage, claiming it was the Holy Spirit anointing, like a wolf deceiving the sheep. Ray were so stunned by it that he stood up, walked to the view windows and looked out at the hills . . . deep in thought at first; then very excitedly, he began to pace and explained how this was the connection between Brother Lawrence (who danced like a madman when he went into “the presence”) and this modern-day movement. And sure enough, as I researched further, this false teacher did indeed “practice the presence,” and even taught it. Ray thanked me profusely. I was simply honored.
Then Ray made a temporary move to Canada and lived with some brothers in the Lord. The first time I dropped by to discuss his research, he greeted me with such delight and enthusiasm. We were always on the same page and had many interesting conversations. Together, we led an evening addressing questions about Yoga to concerned parents at a local elementary school that was introducing it to kids.
What also impressed me was that Ray knew the Bible very well. He loved attending our church when he could and was a wonderful addition to our fellowship, often joining the lunch crowd at the restaurants for Sunday dinner. I always sensed God’s strength and joy in him. He couldn’t suppress the sparkle in his eye or subdue the constant grin that lit up his face. Especially when we would visit the local Christian bookstore, and he would bounce from book to book, excitedly expressing his exasperation, for all to hear, that such a store would sell books written by the mystics.
The time came when he had to go back home to the U.S., and we lost contact. From what I saw in the time he was with us, he embraced life as much as he did his calling. His passion was the ministry God gave him . . . to warn the church of false teaching disguised as the truth.
Surely he changed the direction of so many people walking the paths of error. Looking back on time, I now realize that God used Ray to change the course of my life. I was told he picked my pen name for the novel I wrote for his publisher, the publishing company that would not even exist were it not for Ray. I was so honored. How I wish I could have told him these things before he left us.
The first time I heard of his illness, I had hoped to share these thoughts with him. But then suddenly, he was gone. I was so sorry to hear the final news. That day I pictured him walking in a golden meadow with Jesus, picnic basket in hand, a sparkle in his eye, waxing eloquent, and enjoying the ambiance of eternity.
I miss Ray. He truly was, and forever will be, a RAY of SON SHINE.
LTRP Note: If you have not read Castles in the Sand and its sequel Dangerous Illusions, we would highly recommend it, especially if you have or are a college-aged person.
The Calvary Chapel Association Announces Complete Separation from Brian and Cheryl Brodersen, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and the Calvary Chapel Global Network
Understand the Times, International posted the following letter yesterday (November 28th) that was sent out worldwide to Calvary Chapel Pastors by the Calvary Chapel Association.
November 28, 2016
Calvary Chapel Pastors,
Pastor Chuck Smith chose a group of men to lead the Calvary Chapel movement after his passing. The Calvary Chapel Association Council was a plan he reiterated on numerous occasions. A Council provides checks and balances, and a collective wisdom to help steer us in the right direction.
The CCA Council consists of men from across the country who are committed to the core values that have made us Calvary Chapel. Like many of you, we have given our lives to build Calvary Chapel churches. What makes the 1700 churches “Calvary Chapel” are the values Pastor Chuck instilled in us – our doctrine and philosophy of ministry. The principles we were taught and the transformative power of God’s Spirit have proven to be more than sufficient. The CCA Council’s primary goal is to maintain what has been our Calvary Chapel identity for fifty years, while seeking the Holy Spirit for fresh power and wisdom to advance God’s Kingdom.
We believe Calvary Chapel has a unique and important role in the Body of Christ. Pastor Chuck left us a glorious legacy. Yet the new Calvary Chapel Global Network, established by Brian Brodersen, now threatens that legacy. This network goes by the name “Calvary Chapel,” but has no framework for affiliation or required commitment to the Calvary Chapel core values. Such a network will ultimately de-emphasize our Calvary Chapel distinctives. The CCGN establishes a different version of Calvary Chapel, and will cause confusion. Brian claims the authority to represent, and even more critically, to define, what Calvary Chapel is and is not. In a recent letter to the movement, Brian quoted Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” Brian’s resignation from the Council, acknowledges he disagrees with the way the CCA Council would lead and define Calvary Chapel. This has created a crossroads that none of us on the Council wanted. To continue reading this letter, click here where UTT has posted it in its entirety.
For many years now, Lighthouse Trails has been trying to warn the body of Christ about the book that first introduced contemplative spirituality into the evangelical/Protestant church. That book, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, was released in 1978, and in that first edition, Foster said, “we should all without shame enroll in the school of contemplative prayer.” Since then, and largely because of the influence of that book, contemplative spirituality has saturated the church in no small way, and many Christians have truly “enroll[ed] in the school of contemplative prayer.” Through our research, we have determined that over 90% of the Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities (the places our future pastors are trained at) have, to one degree or another, accepted Richard Foster’s spirituality via their Spiritual Formation programs (which always use textbooks either by Foster or ones that point to him). What’s more, from years of research and correspondence from believers, we estimate that a copy of Celebration of Discipline sits on the bookshelves of the majority of Christian pastors and leaders today.
While we have dedicated ourselves day and night for 15 years to bringing this issue to the table of present-day Christianity, hoping to see Christian leaders at least acknowledge that there is an issue here, our message has, for the most part, been rejected or simply ignored by the evangelical leadership. And yet, one of the most prominent, well-known, and respected evangelical leaders has himself put into print that Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline promotes New Age practices. Here are Jeremiah’s own words from his book, The New Spirituality in the chapter titled “New Age Influence in the Church” (subtitled: In this lesson we see how the New Age movement is changing the church):
Sometimes false doctrine—and in the case of this present study, New Age ideology—gets into the church from within, and sometimes from without the body. Once it infects the church it can spread like an infection. . . .
Dr. Norman Geisler, Christian apologist, was attending one of the most respected, and largest Baptist churches in the country. He was astounded to hear the huge choir singing a song whose lyrics included: “I [meaning God] am the grass you walk in, I am the air you breathe, I am the water you swim in.” That is pure pantheism. God is not the grass, nor the air, nor the water. Those are all elements He created, and He is totally distinct from them. It is shocking that someone in the leadership either didn’t have the discernment to recognize what the lyrics were saying, was too busy with musical things to notice. But that’s how New Age influence enters the church—when no one is watching.
Dr. Geisler has also made some notes on the contents of one of the best-selling Christian books of our day, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Geisler noted some 15 different places in the book where New Age and Eastern practices were recommended for Christians—thing such as Transcendental Meditation, turning from “manyness” to “oneness,” meditating on the void (nothing), and others. (The New Spirituality, David Jeremiah, Turning Point, 2002, pp. 106-107; emphasis added)
David Jeremiah acknowledges that once New Age ideology “infects the church it can spread like an infection.” And surely, we have seen this take place.
Two things are sad and confusing: First, Christian leaders must not share David Jeremiah’s concerns about Celebration of Discipline because 14 years after Jeremiah stated wrote this, Foster’s influence has only escalated within the church and Christian colleges. Second, and this we find most confusing, one year after The New Spirituality was published, Jeremiah’s book Life Wide Open was released. In that book, as we have written about in the past on a number of occasions, Jeremiah says there are a handful of people who have learned the secret to living a passionate life (for God), and then he proceeds to name a number of these people which include New Age sympathizers, a Buddhist sympathizer who converted to Catholicism, ecumenist and contemplative advocate Rick Warren, and a Catholic contemplative mystic. You can read about this in our article “David Jeremiah’s Book Life Wide Open – Still Sold on His Website – Still Includes New Agers.”
While we cannot understand how David Jeremiah could favorably point to those with New Age persuasions shortly after warning about the New Age in The New Spirituality, nevertheless, a major player in today’s Christian church warned about Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and the practices that book endorses.
Perhaps not too many pastors and leaders read David Jeremiah’s book, The New Spirituality. Perhaps they have no idea what David Jeremiah (and Norm Geisler) think about Richard Foster’s book. If you have a pastor, and you think he might have a copy of Celebration of Discipline in his pastor’s library, you might consider printing this article and giving him a copy. Tell him, this time it isn’t Lighthouse Trails saying it but rather is a leader whom they most likely respect saying it.
To Lighthouse Trails:
On November 22 on TBN, Samuel Rodriguez promoted Catholic priest Father Cedric, who apparently has been on TBN before. http://www.tbn.org/watch-us/our-programs/live-with-passion-hosted-by-fr-cedric-pisegna
Rodriguez, as you know, is New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) affiliated.
The Catholicism/New Apostolic Reformation theological unity is coming on rapidly. Seven weeks ago, I sent a certified letter to Mike Bickle of IHOP-KC concerning the Catholic contingent that will be at Onething 2016. Precedent has been set as the Catholics were at Onething 2015.
The four IHOP-KC worship leaders who were pro-Catholic at Onething 2015 also got a copy of my letter.
Unfortunately, all five of my warning letters were returned to me unopened.
We now have well-known people like Rick Warren, Mike Bickle, Samuel Rodriguez and others essentially functioning as pro-Catholic advocates.
Homosexuality and Catholicism are key components of the rising false church; of this I am more convinced than ever.
A Concerned Believer
NEW BOOKLET: Remembering the Persecuted Church and Why We Need to Pray by Susan Moore is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. This booklet contains photos. To order copies of Remembering the Persecuted Church and Why We Need to Pray, click here.
per-se-cute (transitive verb): to oppress people; to systematically subject a race or group of people to cruel or unfair treatment, e.g. because of their ethnic origin or religious beliefs.1
My family and I had been burdened and praying for the Soviet Union for many years. Then, in 1994, our dream came true—a door opened for us to serve as missionaries in Moscow, where we were able to encourage the saints and help disciple the harvest of new believers that the end of the Cold War had afforded. In 1996, we were asked to travel to Rybinsk, a rural town ten hours (by train) north of Moscow on the Volga River. We were to deliver children’s Bibles and other Christian literature to the House of Prayers Evangelical Christian Baptist Church. During our three day visit, we stayed in the guest room of Pastor Kravtsov and his family. In this single-story wooden house with a large vegetable garden, the pastor and his wife raised five children and held secret worship services every Sunday for the better part of twenty-five years.
I asked Pastor Kravtsov if I might ask him a few personal questions. The translator interpreted, and it took no encouragement for him to nod his approval. “Tell us when you started your walk with God,” I asked. His eyes sparkled as he began to reflect.
“I have carried my cross since childhood,” he said, “from the first years of my life. My father was arrested for preaching about Christ. Most of what I know of him has been told to me. He was killed in 1933. I was only 3 years old at the time.
“But I do remember my grandfather. Because of him everything [the spread of the Gospel] started in our village. During the First World War, he was captured by the Austrians. A few years later, he came back as a believer—not an Orthodox believer, but a Christian Baptist. For that time, 1917, that was something new. People in our village somehow felt the presence of the truth, and they started coming to his house. And his house became a house of prayer. I can hardly imagine that in this little wooden house every Sunday for twenty-five years from different parts of town, believers would come to worship in spite of the high risk of persecution.”
I asked my brother, “What has been the most difficult time in your life as a pastor?”
“This was the time of the greatest persecution of the church—the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s,” he told me. “I would not live a day without someone from the KGB harassing me or tempting me to compromise my faith. In 1965, a brother from the United Baptist Organization came from Moscow and asked me to be the recognized pastor here. At that time, I was preaching and leading the people but was not called pastor. My wife and I stayed awake the whole night discussing the difficulties of this decision. The KGB already knew about the offer, for the following day they came and informed me that if I decided to be the pastor, they would take me straight to prison. My wife said to me, ‘Leonid, to be a pastor is a calling from God. You need to make up your mind if you will follow. God knows. He will take care of your family if they put you in prison.’ God did protect me, and I did not go to prison for some time.”
On the last day of our visit to Rybinsk, I stood near the back of the narrow church hall of the House of Prayers. There were about 300 other saints standing with me: Women in dark-colored dresses, scarves covering the hair of the married ones; men in white shirts, buttoned to the top. All were solemn, yet somehow the sense of joyous awe was palpable. This was the close of the more than two-hour church service we had just shared together. Sixty-two-year-old Pastor Leonid Kravtsov was serving Communion from a stoneware chalice—personally, individually—to all 300 members of his Baptist congregation. As I waited for him to reach our pew, I reverently surveyed my surroundings, noticing the wall of honor covered with the faded images of church members who had served prison time for their faith in Jesus Christ during the harsh years of Communist repression. A poster depicting this mural had hung on the kitchen wall of our California apartment in years gone by. We had used it as a family reminder to pray for the health and safety of these believers as they languished in prison and labor camps. At that moment, I found it difficult to believe I was actually standing there sharing in the oneness of the communion of saints with such courageous believers.
We Should Pray Because God Answers Prayer
We should pray for persecuted Christians because God answers prayer. I have first-hand evidence of this. In 1978, we started praying for Lida Vashchenko and her six relatives who sought asylum in the United States Embassy in Moscow. Known as “the Siberian Seven,” for five years, they feared for their lives if they stepped foot outside the sanctuary that the embassy provided. Due to political pressure from the West and God’s intervention in answer to prayer, they were allowed to emigrate in 1983 and settled in Washington State.
In that same year Christian musician Valeri Barinov was institutionalized in an insane asylum for his “crazy” insistence that Jesus Christ was alive and a personal friend of his. A prayer campaign was launched on his behalf, and today he is living free in England.
God’s answer to prayer results in captives being released. He also answers prayer by bringing spiritual and physical comfort to those who are suffering as a result of their faithfulness to Christ. Soviet prisoner Mikhail Khorev, at a time of deep despair and suffering, had even thought about praying for his own death. Then one morning, everything changed. He was summoned by the authorities from his dank and cold cell and allowed to shower and change into fresh clothes. What was the cause of this sudden kind treatment? He had no idea. But later he discovered the secret.
I did not know about the international attention to my case. The letters that had been printed in Vestnik Istiny had attracted a lot of attention. Many believers all over the world were praying for me and the other Christians in Russian prisons. Pressure was put on the governments to do something about our situation. That was the reason for my reprieve. But God orchestrated all of it, I am sure. His perfect will was being done.2
In August 2016, Russian president Vladimir Putin resurrected an old law which prohibits the free preaching and sharing of the Gospel. Those in violation of this new law will be issued severe fines. In the 1960s and 1970s, Georgi Vins, a young Baptist pastor in the Soviet Union, was in a similar situation. By the time it was over, he had spent eight years (starting at the age of 32) in Soviet prisons. Vins, a leader in the underground church in the Soviet Union until he was imprisoned, recounts one prison experience in his book The Gospel in Bonds. After being classified as a “Red Stripe” prisoner (one who was at risk of escaping the labor camp), Vins was subjected to the cruel treatment that this designation entailed. Even though he assured his captors that as a Christian he was compelled to obey any rules they inflicted which were not directly contrary to the Word of God, the Christian prisoner was awakened every two hours throughout each night, this after the usual ten-hour day of back-breaking hard labor. The additional undeserved harsh treatment nearly broke his spirit. He wrote:
Never had I felt so forlorn, so abandoned in that strange prisoner world. It was as though nothing existed except the desolate camp, nothing but prisoners and guards, pressure and slavery.3
Then one day without explanation, the red stripe was removed, and he was allowed to resume the routine of a “normal” prisoner. Vins sang hymns of praise to the Lord, his Deliverer.
Life was easier without that red stripe. I felt as though I were already halfway to freedom! Years later, I learned that Christians in my country and around the world had prayed for me and petitioned the Soviet government on my behalf. How thankful I am that they remembered the prisoners, including me.4
We Should Pray Because the Bible Tells Us To
Jesus warned His disciples that those who follow Him will face persecution. The Book of Acts records the beginning of the fulfillment of this prediction. Some of the apostles were arrested and beaten. Stephen was stoned to death. James, the brother of John, was executed by sword. John Foxe recounts the martyrdom of James:
No sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than . . . he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians and determined to make an effectual blow by striking at their leaders. . . . when James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the apostle’s extraordinary courage. His accuser fell down at the feet of James requesting his pardon, professing himself a Christian, and resolving that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. Hence they were both beheaded at the same time.5
Shortly after this, King Herod put Peter in jail, chained between two guards with additional guards posted outside the cell door:
Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. (Acts 12:5)
I don’t know about you, but I have always found the account of what happens next in this story to be somewhat amusing. A bright light shone in the prison, an angel appeared, and Peter’s shackles fell off. But the angel had to poke Peter to wake him up. Peter must have still been half asleep for we read the angel’s sharp commands as though Peter couldn’t figure these things out for himself. “Get up! Now get dressed! Put your shoes on! Now your coat. Come on, follow me!” And the angel led him out of prison and into the city and then left him.
Peter then made his way to a home where he must have known the believers would be gathered. But the very saints who had been praying for Peter could not believe it was him knocking on their door. Much confusion ensued before they opened the door and let him in. The Scripture says, “They were astonished.”
I think I am a bit like that too. I pray for the persecuted church, for captives to be delivered. God hears. God answers! And then I am astonished.
The writers of the New Testament epistles understood our reluctance to pray such lofty prayers, so they left us exhortations to “remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body” (Hebrews 13:3) because when “one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). There are others:
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; Ye also helping together by prayer for us. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. . . . Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Ephesians 6:11-12, 18)
We Should Pray Because Persecution Continues
We should pray for the persecuted church because the need is greater today than ever before. In fact, reports from organizations whose mission is to keep track of persecutions committed against Christians worldwide reveal that more than twice as many Christians were killed for their faith in 2015 than in the previous year—which makes 2015 “the deadliest year for Christians worldwide.”6
When the statistics are broken down, the numbers are staggering. Whether by firing squad, stoning, beheading, being burned alive, or some other horrific means, it is documented that thousands of Christians suffer some form of violence because of their faith (including beatings, rape, or destruction of property) every year worldwide.7
According to a 2016 report from a persecution watch-dog group, North Korea ranks number one in countries that persecute Christians:
For the 14th consecutive year, North Korea was listed at No. 1 on the World Watch List, again making it the greatest persecutor of Christians in the world with a persecution rating of 92 out of 100. As the Kim regime continues its intolerance toward religion, between 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are suffering in regime labor camps.8
A 2013 news article titled, “North Korea Executed 80 People for Watching TV and Owning Bibles” reports on religious persecution in the Communist country:
The North Korean leadership forces its citizens to embrace the Juche ideology “which mixes Marxism with worship of the late ‘Great Leader’ Kim II Sung and his family . . . Practicing the Christian faith is illegal in North Korea, where merely owning a Bible is considered criminal. . . . any person caught with one is sent—along with three generations of his or her family—to prison.9
Sadly, some North Korean believers choose to keep their faith a secret. Still others courageously flee their homeland in an attempt to find safety in neighboring China. There, they not only find themselves unwelcome refugees, but they are placing kind-hearted Chinese Christians at risk as well. In 2016, Chinese Pastor Han from the city of Changbai was hacked to death. Authorities said his murder was to warn Chinese Christians not to assist North Korean Christian refugees.10
In fact, China has stepped up its efforts to quell the rapid spread of Christianity. A recent tactic of razing churches under the guise of “zoning conflicts” resulted in Chinese Christian Ding Cuimai being buried alive as she attempted to block the bulldozing of the church she attended.11
One article revealed that persecution in China against Christians has exploded:
China’s sentencing of Christians exploded more than 10,000 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to a new report from China Aid Association, an organization that exposes religious freedom and human rights abuses.12
According to this article, the persecution has intensified due to the growth of Christianity in China:
In response to the growth of Christianity in China, the Chinese government has instituted various campaigns to persecute both house churches and government-sanctioned TSPM churches throughout China by harassing, abusing, arresting, and, in many cases, sentencing pastors and church members to prison.13
Because we have all seen the ghastly images on the news, it comes as no surprise that nations in the Middle East and Africa—such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Nigeria—are leaders in nations where Christian martyrdom most often occurs.
One report states that Islamic extremism is the main source of persecution in 41 of the top 50 countries—that is, 82 percent of the world’s persecution of Christians is being committed by Muslims. As for the top ten worst countries persecuting Christians, nine of them are Muslim-majority—that is, 90 percent of nations where Christians experience “extreme persecution” are Muslim.14
In the regions of Iraq where ISIS has gained a stronghold, Christian families are aware of the life or death choices they may be forced to make. As the Koran instructs, all non-Muslims must choose one of three choices: convert to Islam, pay a tribute fee (which is most often their home, business, and all possessions), or be put to death. Along with this, their daughters may be forced to marry ISIS fighters, and their sons may be compelled to join the fight. Faced with such unimaginable decisions, most choose to join the growing flood of refugees fleeing their homeland.
Needless to say, I could give pages and pages of examples of persecution against Christians. Satan and his minions have waged war against the saints down through the ages using governments, ideologies, and false religions as their earthly instruments. A quick read through the table of contents of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs will bear this out. Christians face danger and difficulties for worshipping as they desire in a large portion of the world. Islamic ideology is spreading throughout the globe, seeking to eradicate or neutralize those perceived to be a threat to the progression of their religion; it is clear to see that Satan’s methods have not changed down through the centuries; he has merely chosen Islam as his newest tool.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:10-11)
We Should Pray for Those Who Persecute
Let us not forget to pray for those who persecute. Unless such wretched souls repent and turn truly to the Lord, they will spend eternity in Hell. The Bible says, “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not” (Romans 12:14). And Jesus said:
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 despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
This poem by Georgi Vins is a good reminder for us to pray for the persecutors as well as the persecuted:
To My Persecutors
My persecutors, I do not curse you,
And at this hour under the burden of the cross
I pray for you and bless you
With the simple humanity of Christ.
I am pure before you: by word and deeds
I have called you to good and to light.
I have so much wished that your hearts
Would be possessed by the lofty ideal of love.
But rejecting this kind summons
You answered with rabid enmity.
My persecutors, I do not curse you,
But I am saddened by your fate.
The immortal examples of history
Speak of the futility of persecution—
The fires of love and abundant faith
Burn enthusiastically through the whole land!
My persecutors, I do not curse you,
And at this hour under the burden of the cross
I pray for you and bless you
With the simple humanity of Christ.15
—Georgi P. Vins
Anyusha Prison Camp, 1968
What Can We Do?
What can we do in the face of such overwhelming evil as persecution for our faith?
First, we can remember that God is on His throne, and in the end, He will make things right.
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Revelation 6:9-11)
We can identify with those who are suffering, as the Bible instructs us. It helps to remember that each number in the statistics represents a real person. Stay informed and learn the names, faces, and stories behind the numbers; though many of them will never be known by you and me, God knows each and every one.
We can remember that the battle the persecuted church is facing is a spiritual battle. And the weapons of our warfare on their behalf are spiritual as well.
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
And therefore, we must pray without ceasing.
Persecution—Will We Be Ready?
At the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Salt Lake City, where speakers such as Brian McLaren, the Dalai Lama, and Marianne Williamson spoke to over fourteen thousand attendees, eye witnesses reported that in the midst of this interfaith event, there was an overstated hostile sentiment regarding Bible-believing Christians. One eye-witness stated:
The Christian view of “salvation” has the inclusion/exclusion message of “we are in—they are not.” The interfaith movement cites this as an evil. In other words, to say salvation is by Christ alone, and there is a Hell and there is a Heaven is not accepting of other faiths. It is exclusive, unaccepting of other religions, especially because they believe “God accepts all, God is in all.” The Christian orthodox view of Heaven and Hell will no longer be tolerated as they says it divides humanity.16
Christians in the Western world should realize that persecution and martyrdom have been the norm for countless believers in the past centuries of Christianity and now in much of today’s non-Western world. The question we have hanging over our heads is, will Western Christians have what it takes to stand for their faith and even die for their faith? With all the comforts and freedom Western believers have enjoyed, will this ease of being a Christian believer help or hinder our ability to live (or die) for our faith. Suppose a government threatens to take away our homes, our jobs, and our comforts if we refuse to stop standing for the truth of the Gospel and sharing it with others—would we be willing to lose all for the sake of Christ? It’s a question every Christian needs to ask himself. In the meantime, let us remember the persecuted church, and let us continually pray for those believers who make up this important and suffering segment of the body of Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies. . . . Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. (Psalm 119: 157, 161)
To order copies of Remembering the Persecuted Church and Why We Need to Pray, click here.
(Susan Moore is a free-lance writer and researcher who has done editing, formatting, and researching for Lighthouse Trails and other discernment ministries, such as The Berean Call and Understand the Times, for many years.)
1. Encarta Dictionary
2. Harvey Yoder, A Small Price to Pay (Berlin, OH: TGS International, 2006), p. 226.
3. Georgi Vins, The Gospel in Bonds (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2014), p. 43.
4. Ibid., p. 46.
5. John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails, 4th printing 2014), p. 22.
6. Samuel Smith, “2015 Deadliest Year for Christians Worldwide, Open Doors’ World Watch List Finds” (Christian Post, January 13, 2016, http://www.christianpost.com/news/open-doors-world-watch-list-2015-deadliest-year-christians-killed-for-faith-jesus-christ-154875/#LkRkiwVfOjTUWLw6.99).
9. Sharona Schwartz, “North Korea Executed 80 People for Watching TV and Owning Bibles” (The Blaze, November 12, 2013, http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/11/12/reports-north-korea-executed-80-people-for-watching-tv-and-owning-bibles).
10. Bob Unruh, “North Korea suspected in fatal attack on Chinese pastor” (WND, 5/7/2016, http://www.wnd.com/2016/05/north-korea-suspected-in-fatal-attack-on-chinese-pastor/#x21TjPoZ2Ybroa7g.99).
11. Brynne Lawrence, “Church Leader’s Wife Dead After Buried Alive During Church Demolition (China Aid, April 16, 2016, http://www.chinaaid.org/2016/04/church-leaders-wife-dead-after-buried.html).
12. Bob Unruh, “Sentencing of Christians explodes 10,000% in China” (WND, April 25, 2015, http://www.wnd.com/2015/04/sentencing-of-christians-explodes-10000-in-china/).
14. Raymond Ibrahim, “Muslims Claim Lion’s Share of Christian Victims” (WorldMag, March 7, 2016, http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/262036/muslims-responsible-worst-year-modern-history-raymond-ibrahim).
15. Georgi, Vins, The Gospel in Bonds, op. cit., p. 13.
16. Lynette Irwin, “Eye Witness Account at Parliament of the World’s Religions 2015 Reveals Growing Animosity Toward Biblical Christians” (Lighthouse Trails Research blog, October 21, 2015, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=18411).
To order copies of Remembering the Persecuted Church and Why We Need to Pray, click here.
By Philip Gray
Free-lance writer and contender of the faith
What Do Hitler, Alice Bailey, and Replacement Theology Adherents Have in Common? Basically, the answer to that question is that in all three cases, they reject the Jews as God’s chosen people. Those who embrace Replacement Theology probably don’t realize that the thinking behind Replacement Theology is some of the thinking behind occultist Alice Bailey as well as Hitler when it comes to the Jews. Now we are not saying that people who adhere to Replacement Theology would want to kill the Jews as Hitler did; but Replacement Theology adherents need to understand that behind this view of the Jews lies a far more sinister aspect. Satan hates the Jews (partly because he knows God will use them in the culmination of things in the last days to end Satan’s days). That view of the Jews can start “innocently” by saying the Jews and Israel are no longer significant with regard to Bible prophecy. But it is not a far step from that thinking to anti-Semitism. Let’s just take a brief look at Alice Bailey and then Adolph Hitler and see what they thought about the Jews:
Consider these statements by Alice Bailey in her book The Externalization of the Hierarchy.
The force emanating from that section of humanity which is found in every part of the world and which we call the Jewish people. What I say here has no specific reference to any individual; I am considering the world problem, centering around the Jews as a whole. . . The Jew, down the ages, has insisted upon being separated from all other races but he brought over from the previous system the knowledge (necessary then but obsolete now) that his race was the “chosen people.” The “Wandering Jew” has wandered from System One to this where he must learn the lesson of absorption and cease his wandering. He has insisted upon racial purity . . . this insistence has been carried down the ages . . . When humanity has solved the Jewish problem (with the understanding cooperation of the Jew) and overcome ancient antipathies and hatreds, it will do so by fusing the problem in one vast humanitarian situation. When that happens, the problem will be rapidly solved and one of the major difficulties will disappear off the face of the earth. Racial fusion will then be possible. Our earth humanity and the group of human beings who are far more ancient in their origin than we are, will form one humanity and then there will be peace on earth. . . . .
The solution will come, as I said, when the races regard the Jewish problem as a humanitarian problem but also when the Jew does his share of understanding, love and right action. This he does not yet do, speaking racially. He must let go of his own separative tendencies and of his deep sense of persecution. (p.40-42, 1998 edition, Lucis Trust)
As for Hitler, we know without a doubt that he did not consider the Jews God’s “chosen people.” Rather, he wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth. But where did he come up with this demonic evil idea? While there are different factors involved in the answer to that question, Mike Oppenheimer provides the documentation to show what was perhaps the greatest influence on Hitler and his views about the Jewish people:
Hitler’s ideas about the Aryan race came from the Thule Society. Thule was supposedly a lost island inhabited by an ancient race that were “masters of wisdom” (much like the mythology of Atlantis or Lemuria and the spiritual hierarchy, the White Brotherhood today). Though unseen, they are a superior highly intelligent beings working behind the scenes (as Benjamin Crème states). Hitler believed he was in contact with them and that they gave him power and energy. Through his alleged contacts with this mythical superior race, he believed he was destined to lead the Aryans to rule the world. Hitler’s vision of the world was that Germany would unite the world under his leadership which would last for 1,000 years.
Contance Cumbey, in her book The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, summarized Hitler’s path to being Germany’s messianic figure: “While still a very young child, Hitler was initiated into the finer mysteries of the occult. He attended a Benedictine monastery school near his German home. “The occult interests Hitler gained in this school, stayed with him all of his adult life and helped to shape his future spiritual philosophy.” . . .
Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels were Catholic in their background before they indulged themselves into a new spiritual worldview. Occult books were some of Hitler’s favorite reading. It was in the early 1920s Dietrich Eckart introduced Hitler to The Secret Doctrine, by [Helen] Blavatsky. He was taught its secrets by Professor-General Karl Haushofer (Suster), who was a member of the Berlin Lodge of the Vril Society. One of the primary qualifications for one to be admitted to the Vril Society was to have a minimum ability in Blavatsky’s “Secret Doctrine.” Karl Haushofer was alleged to be a master of the secret doctrines espoused by Blavatsky, and it was he who initiated prisoner Adolf Hitler at Landsberg Prison. . . .
Cumbey notes: “Hitler rightly believed he had established communication with Lucifer, from whom he openly coveted possession” (Secrets of the Rainbow p.101). It should not surprising to find that he was led to The Secret Doctrine that glorifies Lucifer.
The “Secret Doctrine” held that they originated in Atlantis and that one of the seven Atlantean races was that of the Aryans.” The Aryans were the master-race or supermen of the Atlantean races.” The myth of Aryan superiority was the basis for Hitler’s Nazism and ethnic cleansing of the Jews. . . .
Hitler seemed to have favored Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine above other books he had. We do know that U.S. Army historians catalogued Hitler’s personal library and found numerous occultic volumes heavily annotated in Hitler’s fancy handwriting. Among the books was one that Hitler often kept by his bedside, the occult standard The Secret Doctrine by Madame Helen P. Blavatsky (Kubizek). (Adolf Hitler, The Occult Messiah, Gerald Suster, 1981).
Blavatsky not only claimed these masters were directing the work of the Theosophical Society but were also guiding the evolution of the human race throughout history. Thus Hitler found his place in the grand scheme of these masters. (“Hitler’s Spiritual Master – Maitreya,” Let Us Reason Ministries)
We can easily say that Helen Blavatsky shared a similar view about the Jews as Alice Bailey. In fact, Bailey probably got at least some of her anti-Semitic views from Blavatsky. In Blavatsky’s book The Secret Doctrine, she wrote:
Judaism, built solely on Phallic worship, has become one of the latest creeds in Asia, and theologically a religion of hate and malice toward everyone and everything outside themselves. (Blavatsky, H.P.. The Secret Doctrine (Kindle Locations 20502-20503). Chios Classics. Kindle Edition)
Blavatsky also said the Jews were “degenerate in spirituality” (Ibid. Kindle location 15961).
The point of this commentary is to show Christians, especially adherents of Replacement Theology, that occultic influences have worked their way into the church and altered the way Christians think about the Jews, Israel, and the Word of God. It’s tragic to think about Martin Luther and how he turned against the Jews in a most vehement manner; then Hitler, centuries later, used the sentiments of Luther to convince the German people that the Jews were an inferior people so that he could more easily commit the horrendous atrocities against them. (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, LT edition, endnote section)
At a time when a clear and biblically sound understanding of Bible prophecy is most important, we find the church, paradoxically, having less knowledge of it, especially as it relates directly to Israel. Most evangelical Christians throughout history have supported the Jews and the modern state of Israel, but things are changing. The church, from its infancy, believed God had a future plan for Israel based on Scripture (Acts 3:19). This plan included the national restoration of Israel to the same land from which they were eventually dispersed. As time went on and the church drifted further and further away from her Jewish beginnings, many began to erroneously believe the church had replaced Israel. But in this day and age when we see biblical prophecy being fulfilled on such an unprecedented and unparalleled scale—with God’s continual protection and restoration of the Jews to their land, there should not be those who walk in disbelief with regard to God’s promises. But there are! . . .
God says that we are to bless them and not curse or turn against them. Of the Jew, Paul stated “unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). Jesus Himself said that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). And though they have been dispersed throughout the world, God has blessed and prospered them wherever they went. We, therefore, owe a great debt to the Jewish people; and Israel is still Israel and will continue to have a special place in God’s heart and significance in the future of our planet. Remember, God has said of the Jew: “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
Thanks to people like Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations with God author), who said in his book that sold millions of copies that Hitler did the Jews a favor by killing them, or people in the emergent church like Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren, who reject the notion that the Jews and Israel have any significance in the present day or the future, people’s (including many evangelicals and other Protestants) views of the Jews and Israel are fast changing. When you consider how anti-Semitism is growing throughout the world, as Christians, let us ask ourselves, “Are we to think as the world thinks? Are we to think as occultists think?” God forbid.