Archive for the ‘FREEDOM’ Category
LTRP Note: Posted for informational and research purposes.
The Guardian (UK)
A yoga teacher in Russia has been charged with illegal missionary activity under a controversial new law designed to fight terrorism.
Computer programmer Dmitry Ugay was detained by police in St Petersburg in October while giving a talk at a festival about the philosophy behind yoga.
Ugay says he was stopped 40 minutes into his discussion, put into a car and taken to a police station without being informed of his apparent offence.
The 44-year-old now faces a fine for allegedly conducting illegal missionary activity, an administrative offence under the new Yarovaya law, a package of legal amendments intended to fight terrorism that is named after its author, the MP Irina Yarovaya.
Ugay’s court hearing in St Petersburg has been adjourned until next week, the state legal news agency Rapsi reported. Click here to continue reading.
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.
Commentary: The American Media, the Change in Control of the Internet, and the Threat to Freedom & Truth
By Bill Randles
(Used with permission)
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. (John 9:4)
The Internet is an amazing phenomenon. In spite of all of its many uses for evil, the cyber-world is the last bastion of free speech available to the world, a kind of international “town square” of communication, inviting one and all into the various “conversations” breaking out since its inception and explosive growth.
Anyone who can type (or speak into a recorder) has a voice on the Internet. Because of that, some truly great writers and journalists have emerged, who never would have gotten past the cultural gatekeepers in the old (leftist dominated) media, successful such as Matt Drudge and Michelle Malkin.
I am truly amazed at how little official opposition there seems to be to the relinquishing of control over the Internet by the Obama administration. The Internet is virtually a “made in the USA” phenomenon, having been financed at first by the US taxpayer, utilized by the military, and eventually opened up to “whosoever will” but under limited administration of domain names by the US Commerce Department.
U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move that pleased international critics but alarmed some business leaders and others who rely on the smooth functioning of the Web.
Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.
The change would end the long-running contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit group. That contract is set to expire next year but could be extended if the transition plan is not complete.(“US to Relinquish Control Over The Internet,” by Craig Timberg, Washington Post, March 14, 2014)
The long-anticipated handover took place on October 1st, 2016 and is being virtually ignored by the “legacy media.” There has long been an international call for international authority to monitor the content of the Internet by foreign nations, but the pressure on the US to relinquish control of the Internet has intensified with the revelations of the National Security Agency spying on foreign governments.
The present system is US operated, licensed, and with limited content oversight. It is true that people can literally say anything, and every point of view can be aired and debated. Under US supervision, this amazing means of communication has remained basically a free-speech forum.
The turnover to foreign entities will change all of that, no doubt. Most of the world languishes under heavy blankets of censorship; for example, try criticizing Mohammed in any way in the Muslim world, or write an editorial against the Russian government, or the Chinese chairman in Russia or China. In those places, speech is uniform, no one can freely dissent without paying a heavy price for speaking out, even the ultimate price. Only the religio/political elite can speak their mind in most of the world.
Leftists, like Obama love this, they actually envy the absolute power dictators have over their own people, particularly the power to stifle dissent and criticism. Obama once wistfully opined, “It would be so much easier to be the President of China…” He also once prophesied that the future, “would not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam!”
The Internet, as it has grown and developed, flies in the face of all of this suppression. Thankfully, as in the recent Brexit vote in the UK, the people can actually side step the will of the ruling elite, and get alternatives to the official narrative, dutifully spoon fed to us for decades by the alphabet clone networks, ABC,CBS,NBC, CNN, NPR, and rags such as TIME magazine, NEWSWEEK, and the NEW YORK TIMES, the so called “legacy media.”
Time and again, we find that far from the “objective journalists” that they pretend to be, the Walter Cronkites, Peter Jennings, Sam Donaldsons, Wolf Blitzers and George Stephanopilis’s of the world are nothing more than highly biased partisan hacks.
How many times have we made the discovery that NBC or some other legacy organ has actually rigged stories and outright lied to the American public? Brian Williams and Dan Rather come to mind. These people are not above this; they hold the average person in contempt and are sell-out leftists for the most part.
At one time in my lifetime, this is virtually all we had for “news” and “information.”
As the Internet has exponentially expanded and grown, so also has an entire “alternative media,” such as the DRUDGE report, FREEREPUBLIC, FRONTPAGEMAG, NATIONAL REVIEW and TOWNHALL, not to mention the untold thousands of truly valuable bloggers who have undertaken the important journalistic work that the “official media” has refused to do (to the immense harm of this nation). Pajamas Media and Bill Whittle have done so much to counter the lies and spin also.
Our nation has been virtually betrayed by the traditional media. There would be no eight hellish, horrible, destructive years of Obama had the media even pretended to do its job of being true investigators and watchdogs, rather than the shameless political hacks they have proven to be.
The relentless whitewashing and cover up of Islam by the media is another treachery perpetrated against the American people. We have to put on “Anger Management” after every massacre or horrendous outrage perpetrated upon us by the followers of Mohammed, for the media pushes constantly the myth of the nonexistent “backlash” which Moslems supposedly fear so much.
Thankfully, there are Robert Spencer or William Warner and countless others, ignored for the most part by the traditional media, but through the Internet, they have a vast constituency of people sick and tired of being “gas lighted” and lied to about Islam, and who rant to inform themselves about the truth of this plague which has come to confront us.
The media lies in its coverage about crime and race; and those lies have brought this nation to such a toxic situation, people are dying because of it. The rage and sense of injustice carefully stoked in great part by the media among minority communities has poisoned our nation’s racial environment, setting back relations sixty years.
You would never know by the legacy media that there are black conservatives, who hold to a different point of view than the racial arsonists such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the many newer exploiters of the black-rage industry. They are carefully avoided and treated as oddities or non-entities. But not on the Internet—their voices are heard.
Finally and most importantly, through the Internet, the Word of God goes everywhere, even into the “closed world.” Christians have jumped on the Internet to use it for evangelism, discipleship, publishing, teaching, and examining the prophecies. I thank God every day that I live in this time when we can do it, for I am sure none of my seven books would be read by anyone had I had to go through the compromised bottleneck of today’s Christian publishing industry.
People are getting saved, lies are being challenged, Islam is being criticized (This almost has never happened, because people would be killed for daring to do so).
With all of its flaws and vanities, I believe we are in a period of light while the Internet remains under US supervision. It is still basically free. People can express themselves openly.
Obama, like all of the other elite State worshippers, is very uncomfortable with that. It is too obvious that the emperor is not wearing anything and that the New-World Order is a fascistic nightmare coming at us.
I don’t know what will happen, but I believe if the Internet is relinquished to the UN or to Russia, China, or the Muslim world, (or some combination of the above), Websites are going to be shut down, and we will be back where we were in the 1990s and before, with only the viewpoint of the left as our form of “News.” Night is falling.
If they shut down the Internet, a light goes out. I will then be relieved of the responsibility to write as copiously as I have (1000 articles, several books). I will know the darkness is descending and that soon the Lord will return . . . we must work while it is light . . . Maranatha!
*Note: Bill Randles is the author of a Lighthouse Trails booklet, Beware of Bethel: A Brief Summary of Bill Johnson’s Unbiblical Teachings
Graphic Artist Challenges State Law Forbidding Her From Declining Creation of Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Sites
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
DENVER, Co. — A graphic artist in Colorado has filed a preemptive lawsuit to challenge a state law that she says forbids her from turning down orders to create websites in favor of same-sex “marriage.”
Lorie Smith runs 303 Creative, where she creates custom websites for clients. Smith, who identifies as a Christian, believes that God has called her to “promote and celebrate His design for marriage by designing and creating custom wedding websites.” This would therefore not include designing websites pertaining to homosexual nuptials.
But Colorado law states that it is “unlawful for a person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation.”
Businesses are also prohibited from publishing or posting any information that advises their intent to refuse such accommodation. Smith had planned on outlining on her website why she could only accept site creation orders pertaining to the union of a man and a woman. Click here to continue reading.
NEW BOOKLET: How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire
NEW BOOKLET: How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire by Chris Lawson is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet is 14 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 a portion of the content of the booklet. The full booklet has 101 questions. To order copies of How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire, click here.
By Chris Lawson
Do you know a loved one, a neighbor, or a co-worker who is in a cult or an abusive church or group? Or perhaps you yourself are in such a situation. The Spiritual-Abuse Questionnaire in this booklet will help shed light on this issue.
Spiritual abuse occurs when a leader, a church, or a belief system, whether well intentioned or not, dominates, manipulates, or castigates individuals and even entire families through fear tactics, mind control, or some other psychological or emotional abuse.
Sadly, the mask of spiritual abuse deception can be worn by anyone. The following two Scriptures are reflective of what happens when the position of authority is abused within a spiritual/church setting (e.g., self-exaltation, heavy-handed leadership, etc).
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means [by their own authority]; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:31)
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. (3 John 9-10)
It is my hope that this booklet will help people who have been through or are experiencing things similar (or worse) to what my family and I personally experienced years ago.
If you have been spiritually abused, take heart; the true Jesus desires to help and heal you as He has helped countless others.
Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire
This questionnaire is designed to help the reader think through a number of areas he or she may have never seriously considered before. As you read each question, circle either YES or NO. When you reach the end, go back through the list and prayerfully consider the questions you have answered YES to.
Answering YES to any of the following questions may be an indication of an unhealthy problem in your group or with your leaders. Answering YES to more than just a few questions is a definite cause for concern.
If this is the case, it is recommended that you take a much closer look into your group or organization’s history, purpose, and goals. Observe closely the methods, activities, and lives of the leaders. Are they using abusive and manipulative tactics on people?
The basic Yes or No questions of this questionnaire enable the reader to think critically on his or her own—something generally not allowed in abusive systems.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note also that while this booklet can be a useful tool in helping to bring clarity to difficulties in a church or ministry, the questions offered here should also be tempered with careful thought and godly counsel. Answering yes to just a few questions does not automatically mean you are in a cult or abusive situation. One thing for certain is that every church or group is composed of fallible people who are not always as loving as they should be. Nor should we expect to be in a place where there is no authority over us. Be reflective, therefore, to your answers to the following questions with the goal of being fair to both your church or group and to yourself.
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR CHURCH OR GROUP’S LEADERS
- Are you in any way fearful of your leader(s)? YES / NO
- Does your church or group revolve around one main charismatic personality who is the final arbiter of “truth”? YES / NO
- Do your leaders make claims of being “Anointed,” having “Elijah’s Mantle,” having “Apostolic Authority,” etc.? YES / NO
- Does the main leader or the leaders in your church or group always insist that they are right? YES / NO
- Does your group, church, or movement employ a corrupted modern-day version of the Moses/Aaron style of leadership where the pastor/leaders allegedly—by themselves—hear directly from God, like Moses? (This form of leadership is unlike the balanced plurality of elders found in the New Testament.) YES / NO
- Does the pastor/leader of your group, church, or movement surround himself with “people-pleasers” rather than with qualified men whose personal and public lives maintain the biblical leadership characteristics as found in I, II Timothy and Titus? YES / NO
- Is you group, church, or movement set up like a pyramid, with a hierarchy—with one single man at the top? YES / NO
- Are you discouraged or prohibited from freely asking questions about the background of your leader(s) and your group? YES / NO
- If so, are you looked down upon and considered to be divisive? YES / NO
- Would you be rebuked or chastised/punished by your leader(s) if you researched the background and history of the group and its leader(s)? For instance, would doing a background check on your leader be considered “disloyal” or “sinful”? YES / NO
- Are you discouraged or prohibited from freely discussing teachings, “prophecies,” or so-called new revelations that your group leader(s) has/have stated in the past or present? YES / NO
- Are you allowed to ask your leader(s) questions regarding their background in ministry, education, teaching, policies, etc.? If not, why? YES / NO
- Do you view those who are assisting your group or church pastor/leader as ones who simply “do what they are told” rather than people who can rationally think for themselves and if need be would not be afraid to confront the main leader(s) if questionable practices/teachings arise? YES / NO
- Are the leaders of your group, church, or organization above reproach (without blame) in morals, ethics, teaching, and the handling of your groups finances? How do you know? YES / NO
- Do any of your leaders have a criminal record? YES / NO
- Would your leader(s) allow you to freely ask questions or research their background in order to find out if they have a criminal record? If not, why? YES / NO
- Has anyone in your group ever tried to persuade you to NOT research the personal background of the leaders? YES / NO
- When issues are brought up about abusive situations, do your leaders say, “You just need to have more faith!” or, “You are being disloyal to leadership!”? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GROUP AND ITS TEACHINGS
- Do you feel your group twists or takes Scripture out of its historical context and consistently or often misapplies Bible verses? YES / NO
- Does your group or church “allegorize” and “spiritualize” Scripture instead of utilizing a literal, grammatical, historical approach to interpreting documents, like you would in any legitimate Bible college or court of law? YES / NO
- Are you told what you will believe; and is questioning authority and doing further research on your own, aside from the group, discouraged or frowned upon? YES / NO
- Are you guided through the Bible by your leaders but at the same time not allowed to study the Scriptures on your own, apart from the group or organization’s own published materials? YES / NO
- Do your leaders claim to receive “new revelations,” a special “anointing,” and so-called “words” or messages from God? YES / NO
- Do your leaders withhold or avoid providing you and your group with a written “Statement of Beliefs” or “Statement of Faith”? YES / NO
- If you attend a group that is a recognized charity organization, have the leaders illegally withheld from you the organizations written bylaws when you have asked for a copy? YES / NO
- Is it difficult to get a straight answer from the group leader(s) on the group’s teachings? YES / NO
- Is your group secretive about any of its teachings, practices or meetings? YES / NO
- Does your group take “oaths” or have you commit to unrealistic expectations? YES / NO
- Are your leaders ever “harsh” in tone with you, or do you ever feel like an animal that is “driven hard”? YES / NO
- Have you been taught, told, or commanded not to share any of the teachings, doctrines, or practices that your group is involved in? YES / NO
- At any time of involvement with your group, have you ever been instructed to cut all ties with the past, with relatives (spouse, children, in-laws, etc.), or with friends? YES / NO
- Do your leaders favorably quote and endorse known false teachers and false teachings in their own sermons/teachings, messages, and materials? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GROUP OR CHURCH’S POLICIES
- Does your group have any written or unwritten policies that allows leaders to use threats, pressures to conform, bribes, intimidation, verbal abuse, out-loud shaming, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or substance abuse, etc.? YES / NO
- Is foul language (cussing) or public humiliation used in any way as part of the public or private teaching within your group? YES / NO
- Would you say that your church or group has an extreme policy or guidelines for “disciplinary actions”? YES / NO
- Is, or could, your group’s policy on “discipline” be dangerous, illegal, or abusive in any way? YES / NO
- Do you think law enforcement officials would have a problem with the disciplinary guidelines and/or practices of your church, group, or organization? YES / NO
- Does your group restrict you from “visiting” other churches? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GROUP’S LITERATURE AND MULTIMEDIA
- Do you rely completely, without question, upon the literature and information that your church/group gives you—for your own spiritual growth? YES / NO
- Will you be disciplined if you ever, at any time, listen to, read, or view literature and multi-media materials that are not from your group, church, or organization? Materials could include such things as books, journals, tracts, magazines, newsletters, CDs, DVDs, audio cassettes, videos, websites, etc. YES / NO
- Are you only allowed to use study aids, books, etc. that are from your group or organization? YES / NO
- Have your leaders ever told you that all Bible study materials outside of your group are considered worldly, bad, apostate, “of the devil,” or evil? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT MORALS AND ETHICS, HEALTH, AND CONSCIENCE
- Are you emotionally dependent on or require the “approval” of your leaders for what you do—what you eat, what you wear, where you go, what you say, who you spend time with, who you marry, the music you listen to, etc.? YES / NO
- Do you feel as though your life (or ministry) is being “micromanaged” by others? YES / NO
- Are your leaders cruel, vindictive, intimidating, or overbearing? YES / NO
- Do any of your leaders justify sexual immorality by telling you or anyone else things like “God told me it is okay for us to do this,” or “The Lord revealed this to me,” or “No one will ever know”? YES / NO
- Have you ever been instructed, led, forced, or coerced into any type of sexual activity with any of your group’s leaders—or anyone else in the church, group, or organization? YES / NO
- Are you or have you ever been commanded, forced, coerced, extorted, or manipulated into financial giving, tithing, “sowing your seed-faith offering,” etc.? YES / NO
QUESTIONS ABOUT MAKING PERSONAL CHOICES
- Do you feel you are manipulated when making personal choices about diet, clothing, time commitments, church/group service, tithing, friendships, dating, spouses, purchases, etc.? YES / NO
- Are choices ever made by any of your leaders that go against your own conscience? YES / NO
- Do authority figures within your group ever demand answers from you or use threats to get their way? YES / NO
- Do your leaders or the group-dynamics implemented in your group make you feel as though you cannot come and go as you please; meaning, you feel as though you’re expected to be at all or most of the meetings, and if you are not, you are in trouble? YES / NO
- If you are experiencing abuse in any way, very likely you are fearful or nervous about leaving your group, church, or organization. Are you fearful in any way that if you left, you would be hounded and harassed? YES / NO
- Do your leaders, or the group itself by consensus, make choices to involve you in things that you don’t like or would prefer not to be a part of? YES / NO
- Are you pressured, manipulated, or coerced into making decisions—any decisions at all—regarding anything with the group and its leaders, members, and activities? YES / NO
- Do you feel guilty or “dirty” after making decisions because . . . “that is just what our group does”? Or, is the proverbial “red flag of conscience” waving inside of your heart and mind saying, “This is just not right at all,” or, “This is weird” or, “We should not be doing or allowing this!”? YES / NO
- Is pressure put upon you in any way to avoid “outside information” about your group—like online reviews, assessments, and critical essays that contain quotes from your leaders and/or your organization’s published resources? YES / NO
- Are you fearful that if you make an accidental “wrong choice” your leaders will punish you or purposefully humiliate you in front of your peers, family, or the group/church congregation? YES / NO
- Have you ever been punished or abused in any of the following ways: Physically abused, out-loud verbal shaming in front of others, given the non-verbal “silent treatment,” given coded non-verbal abuse such as “the look,” financially mistreated or extorted and as a result suffered financial repercussions, sexually abused in any way, emotionally manipulated, purposefully betrayed, been the victim of sexual innuendos, spousal divisiveness, etc.? YES / NO
- Are spoken or unspoken must-obey “dress code rules” implemented in your group, and, if broken, will this lead to “disciplinary action”? (This is beyond simple personal modesty in dress in social, cultural, and cross-cultural settings.) YES / NO
- If you are a woman, are you taught or commanded that you absolutely must wear long skirts, have long hair, avoid all make-up, and wear a head covering in order to please God? Will you be chastised or considered “carnal” if you do not comply with these rules? YES / NO
- If you are a woman, do your group leaders tell you that you are to submit to your husband no matter what he does to you or tells you to do even if it is illegal or physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive to you or your children? YES / NO
- If you are a husband and father, are your church leaders overly involved in telling you what to do with your wife and children (beyond the normal parameters of biblical counseling and advice)?
This has been a portion of this booklet. In the full booklet, there are 101 questions. You may purchase a copy of the booklet in its entirety by clicking here. The cost for one booklet is $1.95 (quantity discounts for 6 or more copies)
LTRP Note: Earlier this month Putin, the leader of Russia, brought into existence a 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 spent eight years (starting at the age of 32) in Soviet prisons. Below is an account of his father’s own persecution and the years leading up to Georgi’s persecution and imprisonment for his faith. Christians today in the Western world should realize that persecution and martyrdom have been the norm for countless believers in the past centuries of Christianity and even in much of today’s non-Western world. The question we have hanging over our heads lately 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 your home, your job, and your comforts if you do not stop standing for the truth of the Gospel and share it with others, would you be willing to lose all for the sake of Christ?
From The Gospel in Bonds
In 1926, an American missionary named Peter Vins left the United States for the mission field of Siberia. Young Peter had finished his seminary training in Kentucky, then for a time pastored a church of Russian immigrants in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There he fell in love with a Christian woman and asked her to marry him. She agreed, and the two announced their engagement. However, when Peter told his fiancé that God was calling him to Russia, she refused to go along. Her ultimatum to him was “Either me, or Russia.” So, broken-hearted, Peter called off the engagement and departed for Russia alone.
In Russia, the Lord’s blessing was on Peter Vins. People responded to his preaching, and many joined the church. Also, before long, a Russian woman who was a dedicated Christian attracted his attention. Peter began courting young Lydia Zharikova and married her in 1927. In 1928, in the city of Blagoveschensk, Lydia bore her husband a son whom they named Georgi.
However, Peter Vins’ hopes for a long life of ministry in Russia were not to be: the NKVD (secret police, forerunner of the KGB) began arresting Russian pastors and closing churches. They gave Peter Vins a choice—quit preaching and return to America or give up his American citizenship. He decided to stay and relinquished all rights as an American. In 1930, he was arrested and given a three-year term.
When Peter was released, the authorities probably expected him to be too intimidated to continue teaching the Bible. But they were wrong. He continued meeting with small groups of believers, encouraging and edifying them despite the dark days of persecution. After a short time of freedom, he was re-arrested and held for nine months. A third arrest soon followed when dozens of fellow Christians were seized in the same night. This time he was sentenced to ten years of labor camp without the right of communication with his family. He never returned.
Years later, in answer to Lydia’s repeated requests to authorities for knowledge about her husband, she received a statement that Peter had passed away in a labor camp on December 27, 1943. However, almost six decades later, in 1995, Georgi Vins was permitted to go to the KGB archives in Moscow and read the file the NKVD had kept on his father. Labeled “Top Secret,” its pages revealed that the authorities executed his father with a bullet in August 1937 at the age of 39.
Georgi committed his life to the Lord and was baptized in Omsk Baptist Church in 1944. Two years later, Lydia moved with her son Georgi to Kiev, Ukraine where he graduated from the Kiev Polytechnical Institute as an electrical engineer.
In time, the Lord brought a young Christian woman named Nadia into Georgi’s life. Their friendship grew into love, and the couple married on January 27, 1952. As the years passed, the Lord blessed them with five children of their own.
However, even though Soviet law required him to hold a secular job, in 1962 Georgi was ordained as a Baptist evangelist. Following in his father’s footsteps, he began preaching at meetings of the persecuted church.
In the early 1960s, many laymen and pastors of “registered” Baptist churches (i.e., churches which the Soviet authorities allowed to function legally but only under supervision and within harsh guidelines that contradicted the Scriptures) determined to worship freely without the yoke of government interference in the life of the church. They began meeting independently in private homes, apartments, and even in the forests. Georgi Vins became one of the leaders of the movement, making him a special object of concern for the KGB. In 1966, he was arrested in Moscow and sentenced to three years imprisonment. He spent one year in Lefortovo Prison and two more performing hard labor in prison camps in the Ural Mountains.
After his release, Georgi Vins resumed his ministry. However, when he learned that the authorities were preparing a new case against him, he went underground, living clandestinely while traveling and ministering. In 1974, he was arrested again, this time sentenced to ten years. The story you are about to read is Georgi’s account of his years spent in Soviet prisons.
d to ten years. The story you are about to read is Georgi’s account of his years spent in Soviet prisons.
(From the Prologue of The Gospel in Bonds by Georgi Vins)
By Victoria Arnold
President Putin has signed amendments imposing harsh restrictions on sharing beliefs, including where and who may share them, and increased “extremism” punishments, introduced with alleged “anti-terrorism” changes. There are widespread Russian protests against the suddenly-introduced changes, and may be a Constitutional Court challenge.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed into law legislation on so-called “missionary activity”, further restricting the public expression of freedom of religion and belief, including in the media and online, Forum 18 notes. The amendment – which has been rapidly introduced – caused widespread protests, but was signed on 6 July and the signing was made public at Moscow lunchtime on 7 July. It was published on the presidential website that day and comes into force on 20 July.
Lawyers working to protect the right to freedom of religion and belief are already preparing for an appeal to the Constitutional Court. At the same time, they are preparing advice to individuals and religious communities on how to abide by the terms of the Law. One Protestant leader, though, has warned that some of the restrictions “a good Christian cannot fulfil.”
Against international human rights obligations, the amendments to the Religion Law restrict those who can share beliefs to people with permission from members of state-registered religious groups and organisations. This excludes people from groups which have chosen to operate without state permission, such as certain Baptist congregations. The amendments also bar even informal sharing of beliefs, for example responding to questions or comments, by individuals acting on their own behalf.
The amendments also restrict the beliefs that can be shared, specifies a restricted list of places where beliefs may be shared, and explicitly bans any beliefs from being shared in residential buildings, or on another association’s property without permission. An allegedly “anti-terrorist” part of the amendments bars the conversion of residential property to religious use. Click here to continue reading.