Newsletter Vol. 36

  • Religious Persecution in the Name of Religion | VOL. 36 NEWSLETTER JAN./FEB. 1999 |

     

    Dear fellow citizens and co-heirs,

    “Shalom shalom” from Israel in Yeshua’s precious Name. I pray all of you are well and filled with the joy of His salvation and His all surpassing peace.

    I was not able to write this issue of the newsletter on time because the Lord was silent — until the evening of February 20th. That evening I was checking links in the “newsletters” pages of Or Tzion’s Website, The Electronic Tabernacle (renamed Virtual Tabernacle), when I came upon reports of persecution of Christians. As I read, the Lord moved upon me very strongly and said, “That’s it! That is to be the main topic of your newsletter!” Immediately a stream of other topics followed like water running from a faucet. But the main one was persecution!

    1
    Revelation 6:9-11: When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

    Many Western churches, if not most, ignore the fact that some of us are called to martyrdom. All of us are called to walk in the works our Heavenly Father prepared in advance for us2. Some of us, however, will die for the Word of G-d and for our testimony. It is a predetermined, specific number of brethren whose “works” include martyrdom.

    We need to understand that G-d is building the heavenly Jerusalem with those materials that are brought forth by our works, the works of the saints: building stones radiating like diamonds, precious stones for the foundations of the wall, gold so pure it is transparent, and pearl for the 12 gates3. Let us take note that pearl is produced only through suffering, as is purest gold through the “heat” of trials and afflictions!

    While suffering is a carefully avoided topic in most Western churches, the flock is ill prepared for the days ahead. Our Lord did speak on the suffering of the saints in the end days, and so did Paul4. It will be a worldwide phenomenon during the time of the “beast” system.

    Blessed is everyone who already has it settled in his/her heart and mind that suffering with Messiah is part of the Christian walk, and a great privilege5.

    In the book of Revelation, chapter 7, saints are clothed in white robes, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. During their lifetime on earth they had suffered great tribulation, hunger, thirst and scorching heat6. Revelation 14:12-13 says that during the time of the “beasts” we will need much endurance and that there will be those who die in the Lord — apparently from persecution. However, they will be blessed and their deeds will follow them.

    Already millions of brethren are suffering persecution: the loss of all possessions, imprisonment, torture and death for Yeshua’s sake. How can we, who have so far escaped, blind ourselves to what is already going on and to what our Lord has said to the churches?

    Revelation 2:9-11, to the community of saints called “Smyrna”: “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death.”

    Revelation 2:13, to the community of saints called “Pergamum”: “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; you hold fast my name and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” 2:14 “But I have a few things against you…  2:16 Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

    Revelation 2:19, to the community of saints called “Thyatira”: “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jez’ebel… 2:22… those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings; 2:29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

    Revelation 3:8, to the community of saints called “Philadelphia”: “…You have but little power [a little strength], and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name3:10 Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial… 3:13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

    Not all will suffer for the sake of our faith alone. Some will suffer for having entertained immorality in their midst; the lust of the eye and of the flesh; pride; vainglory; false prophets and teachers; for having idolized ministries and ministers instead of having been jealous for the Lord, His Name and His glory. Rather than letting them go to perdition the Lord will war against them and throw them into great tribulation, so they might come forth purified and worthy of the Kingdom of G-d.

    As Peter said, we are to put away all malice, all guile, insincerity, envy and all slander 7a, and instead have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind 7b so that, even if we suffer for righteousness’ sake, we will be blessed 7c. Since Messiah suffered in the flesh we must arm ourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin7d. Above all we are to hold unfailing our love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins7e.

    Indeed, as the Lord’s words to the Philadelphia saints show, neither size, great works, nor prophetic powers and signs and wonders qualify one for belonging to “Philadelphia”. Rather, to love one another as He has loved us, to keep His commandments8 with patient endurance, and not compromise His Name for anyone or anything, are what count.

     

    1 2 Tim. 3:12 2 Eph. 2:10
    3 Rev. 21:10-14, 18-21 4 Mt 24:9-10; Lk 21:12-19; Ro 8:17; Ph’pp 1:29; Heb. 12:3-4; and many more
    5 Mt 5:10-12; Lk 6:22-23 6 Rev. 7:9-10, 14-16
    7a) 1 Pe 2:1; 4:18-19; 7b) 3:8; 7c) 2:19-20; 3:16-17; 7d) 4:1; 7e) 4:8;
    8 ! Cor. 13:1-3; Jn 14:21, 23-24; 13:34-35; 15:12-13

  • The Plight of Christians

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    Let Those Who Suffer According to G-d’s Will…
    Entrust their Souls to a Faithful Creator9

    It is hard to imagine (especially for the American saint), that many have suffered, are suffering and will be suffering according to G-d’s perfect will. It is His perfect will for some.

    The following are excerpts from MessiahNet Intercessory Prayer Reports10; from web pages of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem; Canadian Friends of the ICEJ; and Christian Friends of Israel.

    11
    The FBI has become concerned about terrorism from within the country of the United States, as we approach the new millennium. Their main worry comes from the many militia groups springing up around the country, that proclaim their beliefs are based on the Bible – even anti-Semitism and white supremacy. Pray that the true believers in Yeshua will be prepared for a persecution never before known inside the boundaries of the United States.

    The State Department recently published the first ever report on the state of religious freedom around the world. The details of Christian persecution are gruesome and widespread. Christians have become the most persecuted group on earth with over 250 million believers attacked, threatened and even murdered for wanting to live as Christians. Only recently has the question of religious persecution of Christians become at all a concern of the foreign policy establishment.

    More than 6 millian Copts, descendants of the ancient Egyptians converted to Christianity12 by one of the twelve apostles (believed to have been Thomas), feel increasingly threatened amid growing Islamic fundamentalism. When Bishop Anba Wissa (local head of the Coptic Church) protested to the regional police chief, he said ‘you haven’t seen anything yet’. The bishop and two priests are now facing the death penalty for bringing the persecution to the attention of the world. 29 American Congressmen have written to President Hosni Mubarak demanding an end to the torture by Islmaic militants and Egytpian police.

    Britain’s Sunday Telegraph (“Electronic Telegraph” on the Web) reported on Oct. 25, 1998, that during that month Egyptian police reportedly detained about 1,200 Christians in Al-Kosheh, near Luxor in Upper Egypt, seizing groups of 50 at a time. Many were allegedly nailed to crosses or manacled to doors with their legs tied together, then beaten and tortured with electric shocks to their genitals, while police denounced them as “infidels”. An 11-year-old boy, Romani Boctor, was hung upside down from an electric ceiling fan and tortured as the fan rotated. Young girls were raped and mothers were forced to lay their babies on the floor of police stations and watch police beat them with sticks.

    Joseph Assad, a project co-ordinator with Freedom House, the Washington-based centre for religious liberties founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, said: “This is not an isolated incident. I fear Egypt is turning by stealth into an Islamic state” (see my newsletters for predictions in regard to Isaiah 19).

    Mustafa Shukravi, human rights activist who converted to Christianity and is now in asylum in England (Sept. ‘98), was jailed for 10 months. He said: “I was beaten with sticks and electric shocks. I was hung, blind-folded, made to stand for five days and five nights.”

    YUYZYUYZYUYZY

    In India, certain Middle Eastern and African countries baptizing has become a criminal act which endangers the lives of all participants — the church community included.

    This particular situation among our brethren in India has burdened my heart for about 8 years already. They, too, must be ingrafted by baptism into Messiah’s death and resurrection in order to partake of His divine nature and to receive a glorified body. A Christian community in the mountains of India has invited me to come and minister. But funds are lacking.

    In certain African and Middle Eastern countries believers suffer constant harassment, confiscation of church buildings and personal homes, and imprisonment. It is a criminal offense to gather for worship; and Church offices are ransacked with all registers, financial statements and personal correspondence gone. Interrogations are frequent, while travelling within the country is restricted and trips abroad are extremely difficult.

    One of the Christian leaders said: “So we are always praising G-d and give him thanks for this tremendous privilege. Because it is a privilege. The state of joy you see, people suffer but they are joyful. They suffer with thanksgiving. Suffering can be devastating as well, not always building up, unless you do it as a companion with Jesus. You identify with His cross.”

    “The situation in our church is the status Jesus had when he ‘handed himself over’ at the time of his passion… We are in that state of just being with Christ. And we have to be obedient to our call, and to respond to what G-d wants us to be. We cannot do much. It is not doing, it is just being. Being in the hand of G-d and trying to be obedient moment by moment. We cannot have any plans for tomorrow even. We cannot plan for anything because any moment everything changes.”

     

    9 1 Peter 4:19
    10 MessiahNet Intercessory Prayer Report: intercessors@messiahnet.com
    11 MessiahNet Report, Feb. 8, 1999;
    12 See “Coptic Church” in The New Encyclopædia Britannica

  • Christian Suffering across Continents

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    The list of Christian suffering is almost endless: more than 100 masked men invaded the Solid Rock Kingdom Church in Nigeria 13, attacking the congregants with machetes, and destroying the building. In the Sudan 14 about 3,000 Christians (and animist15 children) were abducted from the South and forced into slavery in the North where they are beaten and tortured. Young girls are used as concubines for Muslim troops, while boys are shipped to army camps and forcibly converted to Islam and turned into soldiers. All Christian assets and buildings are to be confiscated and all Christian books burned by the Khartoum regime. Christian students have been chased off universities.

    In Saudi Arabia where Evangelism is severely punished, five Filipinos and a Dutchman have been imprisoned since June, while the exact number of Christians being held is unknown. Other Christians are to be deported. The arrests began after some church members were arrested for distributing Bible materials in Riyad.

    Palestinian converts are threatened, beaten and jailed by PA officials. Their shops are burned down, their homes confiscated and their cars defaced with Islamic slogans. Some are jailed for years without charge, or are sentenced in midnight trials in a matter of hours. There were once tens of thousands of Palestinian Christians in the areas Israel was pressured to hand over to the PLO. Now there remain only a few thousand, who fear for their lives. The others have fled into exile.

    Only Hanan Ashrawi – whose anti-Israel venom can frequently be heard on CNN and BBC – seems to feel secure despite the fact that she claims to be “Christian”, and a descendant of the first Christian converts. But apparently she had never read the Bible, for she asserted that “Jesus Christ was born in my country {speak: Palestine), in my land. Bethlehem is a Palestinian town.” YU When she was told that the first believers in Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMahiach) were Jews she retracked her claim!

    In a profoundly dangerous return to Soviet-style control of religion, Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the new anti-religion law (September 26, 1997). This law delegitimizes virtually all religious institutions other than the official state religion, the Russian Orthodox Church (which was among the sponsors of the law), and provides a legal “hunting” license for provincial authorities to persecute all non-Orthodox bodies (which are not in the spotlight of the Western media and of human rights organizations).

    Hector Tamez, a native of Mexico, who has worked for 34 years on four continents on behalf of Open Doors with Brother Andrew International, and was a regional director for the Mexican Bible Society, estimates that about half the Latin American Christian church is suffering persecution in some form, with some Christians “paying a higher price” for their faith than others. A Peruvian evangelist who worked for Open Doors was recently found murdered, with his hands and feet cut off, and his heart and tongue cut out. Mr. Tamez said that drug lords and their armed forces are often the instigators of persecution against Christians in leading drug-producing areas such as Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and southern Mexico. They demand that the church help in drug production. “Its a continuous struggle,” Tamez said.

    In October 1998 the United States Senate approved the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act under which President Clinton is obliged to take some form of action against all countries cited by the State Department as not allowing religious liberty. Egypt is prominent on the listBut the Clinton Administration sees Mr. Mubarak as a key player in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and seems unlikely to risk upsetting him by reducing its £ 1.3 billion aid package.

     

    13 MessiahNet Report, Feb. 22, 1999
    14 MessiahNet, Feb. 18, 1999; http://www.MessiahNet.com/Prayer_Requests; membership with username and password is now required.
    15 Belief in spiritual beings concerned with human affairs and capable of intervening in them; see The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Micropædia, Vol. I, 15th edition
    YU Yeah, right, and Yeshua a Palestinian, a “Philistine”??!! I guess G-d made a mistake when He said, “But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, who are little to be among the clans of JUDAH, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel…” (Mic. 5:2; 1 Sam. 17:12; Lk 2:4) — and NOT in “Palestine”! How Ashrawi has the “chutzpah” to utter her brazen lies with such assertiveness is beyond me. My only explanation is that she banks on the ignorance of most people regarding the land and people of Israel, and that she actually believes her own lies.

  • Ministry with Commitment

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    A Jewish believer in Yeshua, Jonathan Bernis 16, founder and executive director of “Hear O Israel Ministries” (and now president of “Jewish Voice Ministries International”), went recently to India to proclaim the year of Jubilee and good news. Here are excerpts from his report:17

    “Walking in the footsteps of Thomas (the Apostle who brought the Gospel to India) aroused many forces in the spiritual and the natural realms to repeat his martyrdom… It was as if all hell was seeking to prevent me from going up onto that mountain and blowing the Shofar. Beyond that, the danger to my life by those opposing the mission was so intense that at one point the chief of police called for a hundred extra guards and a team of commandos.”

    “On January 23 (1999) I ascended the mountain and blew the Shofar of Jubilee. The next day I stood before over a hundred thousand people, many of them in robes and sitting on the grass of an enormous expanse. Most of them had never seen a Jew before. When I lifted up the Shofar of Jubilee, it was as if spontaneous revival broke… When I blew the Shofar, screams of deliverance swept through the multitudes. When I spoke the Aaronic blessing another wave of release and revival broke out. There were continual reports of healing and sight given to the blind.”

    When Bro. Jonathan gave an altar call an estimated 70,000 people responded that night and gave their lives to the G-d of Israel for the first time. Hallelujah!

    Many times I have said that investing in the salvation of the Jews and in Jewish ministries is the best investment one could make. Why? Because Jews are better? No, because G-d opened the gates of salvation by the Jewish people, and He’ll also close the gates by them. Jewish believers will go to every people, nation, tribe and tongue and fulfill their G-d ordained destiny and mission to be G-d’s witnesses and blessing to the nations. What a loss not to recognize the hour and to fail to invest in G-d’s anointed harvesters of the time.

    On Israel’s campuses the Gospel is openly shared by Jewish believers. On the campus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem an information booth was set up and among the various materials offered, the Hebrew N. T. (“Brit Hadasha” » “New Covenant”) was the most popular. Orthodox Jewish students set up their own information booth alongside that of the believers, and discussions ensued. These Orthodox students are as zealous for their beliefs as Paul the apostle was. Imagine what impact an army of “Pauls” would have upon world evangelism?

    “Salvation is of the Jews,” the Lord said. Yet, few acknowledge the debt they owe the Jewish people who gave them the knowledge of the only Living G-d, His Word and His Salvation. How pleasing it would be to G-d for prominent TV ministries and mega churches to support not only their own agenda but also their Jewish brethren and their work in the Gospel. This is Scriptural and righteous, and blessed be everyone who makes a generous return for the blessings they have received from and through the Jewish people18.

     The Death of King Hussein of Jordan
    Following the events of the so-called “peace-process” and the personalities involved, we can observe an awe-inspiring pattern: whoever challenges the Holy One of Israel by defying His irrevocable oath19 will fall.

    The main personalities involved in the “Camp David Accords” shortly thereafter disappeared from the world political scene: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was killed by Islamic fanatics; President Jimmy Carter was humiliated by them, and not re-elected; PM Menachem Begin literally stumbled, suffering a lasting hip injury, the loss of his wife and government Y ; President Bush was not re-elected; PM Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated; President Clinton harassed, humiliated, exposed as a liar and made a worldwide spectacle; and now another major player in the process of dividing up Israel “piece-by-piece”, King Hussein of Jordan, died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

    Each of these were praised by the world as “peace makers”, yet the Word says: “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill… Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be WARNED, O rulers of the earth…”20 And, “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehosaphat and enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage, Israel… because they have divided up >MY land…” 21

    Personal Note
    In closing, let me share a little of my heart with you. I am deeply discouraged and the words in Isaiah 49:4 seem to be unbearably true in my life, for indeed I feel “I have labored in vain, and have spent my strength for nothing.” I see so very little for almost 20 years of toil and faithful labor. I have sought His Kingdom and His righteousness with all my might, and have given freely, yet I feel like a beggar for the Lord, as one who finds no room in the inn.

    I can only do this: continue in hope, while persevering. My soul is cast down within me, and my will to go on at its ebb. Truly, may “my right be with the L-RD, and my recompense with my G-d.”

    Apropos, “G-d”: some of you have asked why I use the dash inside the word G-d, instead of the “o”. This is a common practice among the Jewish people so far back, I don’t even know when this started. There were so many pagan gods and so many lords, while we worship only one G-d and L-RD, the Holy One of Israel, the only living G-d. Out of reverence for His Holy Person and the first commandment – and to visibly differentiate between Him and the many pagan gods and lords – Jews leave the vowel letters out in whatever language we write G-d and L-RD. Thus these names are legible but not pronounceable.

    Now may the Lord bless and keep you, prosper and preserve you in health. Until He comes

    I am yours in Him,

    Annelore-sig-blue

     

     

    16 MessiahNet Report, Feb. 12, 1999
    17 Embrace Israel Ministries Prayer Focus, Feb. 19, 1999; mailbox@embraceisrael.org
    18 Ro 15:26-27; 2 Co 8:1-4, 7, 14; 9:1-2, 11-12
    19 Genesis 5:17-21 Y see www.ortzion.org/Bibi_1.html
    20 Psalm 2:6, 10 21 Joel 3:2