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Surviving Persecution

Conrad Vine
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Conrad Vine

President of Adventist Frontier Missions

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  • August 21, 2021
    1:00 PM
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Anyway, as good to be with you here this afternoon, we're going to have to type 2 sessions here. The 1st one, as you see on the screen is the question of surviving persecution in the 2nd one is look at the history of the sexual revolution. The United States, and these are, as you can tell, they aren't easy topics to discuss. But we pray for a spirit of wisdom as we discussed them together. I'm talking about persecution 1st because america is becoming increasingly more thorough terry in society. We can see it happening in front of our eyes. Actions that are admittedly of the administration admits are entirely unconstitutional, such as ment rent more eviction moratorium which has no basis in law just happen around us. I'm not saying that right or wrong, just saying that they're in constitutional, whether it's lawful or unlawful, doesn't mean it moral a moral difference. So anyway, we can see authoritarianism, to tell attorneys in writing in America and around the world. As a missionary, we see that persecution is increasingly the norm of christians. Persecution is not a rad one off events. It's fast becoming the norm in our world today, for anybody who bears the name of christ. So we're going to look today To make sure this is on here. Okay, So Can we go to the next slide or do we have another? Oh it's gone. Ok, thank you. So there's a basic passage in writing. Some poll 2nd trends, one of us 3 through 4. It says that bless you, be the god and father of our lord jesus christ, the father of mercy, from the god of all consolation. Who consoles us in all our affliction so that we may be able to console those who are and who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by god. And what is poor thing that is essentially saying that the free church needs to learn lessons about garden, his grace from the persecuted church. Those who are yet who have experienced afflictions, name of christ, have important spiritual lessons apostle, those who have yet to experience persecution because they bear the name of christ. And so was we tend to divide the world into christian, orthodox movement, buddhist hindu, et cetera. And even within christianity, we divided into catholic orthodox, charismatic and protestant, for instance, then adventist, another way of looking at the world, the christian world is look at the free what the free christians in the persecuted christians. And so we're going to look inside some of the lessons we can pick up from persecuted christians. Those are some excellent websites and take a picture, but if you want persecution dot com is from voice of the marxist voice. The martyrs stablished by pass the rich warm runs and see and nodding head. Here he was a pass to imprisoned by chesko in the communist regime in the seventy's and romania faced a lot of brutal treatments in prison. He was of let out of prison and came to the states as a political asylum seeker. And he established voice of the martyrs to speak about christian marches all around the World today. And then open doors, usa and evangelical group that tracks and numbers of christians who know of a being killed in the world on a weekly basis for their faith. Not for my christians, have road accidents in this city doing about christians who are being killed because they name of christ. Then you have the ripple effect series is a nice things to take through your teenagers with talks about the practical impact of persecution than the U. S state Department has the U. S. Commission on international religious freedom and they produce a report every year. You can download it for free on encourage you to do it. It's kind of like a state of the union address of every nation on earth. What's happening in terms of religious liberty trends, and it's worth downloading that and encourage you to, if you're not involved in religious liberty to become engaged with this. We understand what is happening, the world around be knowledgeable about what is happening. So we then have the structure of our presentations afternoon. So there are 8 sections, you know, and I was a preacher that people remember things and threes that way. You know, if you have a parcel that says now there are 2 points or would things are he couldn't think enough to get a 3rd point. And if he said, there are 4 points that nobody remembers 4 points. Because remember a, B and C, then conclusion, somehow brains remember thing. So say we're going to have 8 points or 7.2, that's the perfect number. Then our conclusion, right? So I could have broke it down to 3 headings, but then maybe 2 big and so forth, too broad. So that's the structure of our presentation this afternoon. We'll have time for q and a when we get to the end of this. So if you have questions, want to keep them in your mind and we'll take your questions when, when I finished. So 1st for why is there religious persecution today? There's actually a variety of reasons why put religious persecution takes place today at the 1st of which is foreign government seats control or religious thoughts and expression. Classic examples, north korea, all of the communist countries and there are still communist countries today, like vietnam is still a communist nation, their communist nations. Now Well today in se asia, that's not the only one in se, asia that do not want christians because christians have a harder loyalty. Our ultimate loyalty is to jesus not to their premier or the prime minister or the secretary of the central party, whatever they may call themselves. And because jesus taught that, you must render him to seize the things to the caesars, which is you pay your taxes, etc. And you but then you must render to God the things that a god's answer. But the way he words it is that you might you pay you earthly jews. But above that is your heavenly jews. And jesus expects us to honor both the civil authorities and God above. And he also expects the civil state to respect and honor the civil, the Human rights of the individuals of worship god, according to thy conscience and so's secular state such as the communists. Totalitarian regimes do not want a christian presence in particular because we have a higher loyalty to another king. I just, I mean we may not see it this way. Save it, say the gospel of mark the opening verse of mark I don't have it with me. This is the good news of jesus christ, the son of god. If I'm in the right, and when a roman emperor was announced, just coming to a city, it was announced the galley on the good news of emperor type barriers, and prin, narrower and per click eula. And the roman emperors were also known as the son of god tells on their official titles. So when mark announces jesus to the Church of rome, this is the good news of jesus christ, the son of god. He's essentially saying you live in Rome under the roman emperor, but I'm telling you there's another king that you owe you a priority agents too. And so the book of mark is a direct challenge to the authority of rhone. And at the end of that chapter that book romans 15, that is a roman centurion, who has probably tattooed on his on the S P q are that the roman soldiers have person, artist populace crave romano, senate people in Rome. So he's killed for rome. He's just killed jesus in the name of rome. Then he looks up at jesus and he says, truly, this man was the son of god because he was a 7th of the earthly son of god, emperor of rome. So you see at the climax of that gospel, that even a soldier who kills for the son of man in Rome can be converted and become a 7 to the true son of god. So jesus is a, is a, is a, is a, is a threat to every authoritarian government. Secondly, there is often hostility towards non traditional minority will just groups such an shari'a compliant nations. Now this is an important point because if the government, the government may sign up for you in the creation of Human rights, for instance, or the International convention that's been find a covenant and put the instructional cognitive civil political rights. Go through those in a minute. But if the government doesn't like you, it will turn a blind die when militants will kill you. Okay, so the government doesn't have to do the persecuting itself. It can turn a blind eye and it can stand the sides. And we know in America the police can sometimes stand aside and let things happen on the streets. These do these things do happen in many parts of the world. So the government may say, officially, we welcome all faith here, but do nothing to stop militants killing christians. In that country so that the official re out official voice and as the reality on the ground. And we often see this in shari'a compliant nations, countries where there's no kind of franchise either is like mcdonalds has multiple franchises around the World are tighter is not some organizations in Elgin, you have all kinds of filipino psychiatry in the ma grabbing west africa, all the cards in the re being peninsula, isis was eve, the subs, the, the, the descendants of ice of I, set of I arcada in iraq and so forth. So you have persecution, injury, and other complaint nations. You also have a around the World, a basic refusal to recognize human rights. We see this normal, every nation on the Human rights are being infringed upon in our modern day and age. It doesn't matter where the country calls itself christian or communist or muslim or hindu human rights. Even though countries sign up to them as a gulf between what countries say they do and what they actually do within them. We, we aspire in America to whenever more perfect union and yet we still have a lot of troubles in America, don't worry. And so we aspire to, which is good, but we know that sometimes that which is not so good. And so there is often a discrepancy between what we say we are and what we actually are. So when you come to the oscillating the declaration of Human rights, it states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience in religion. This right includes the freedom to change his or her religion or belief and parallel to that have article 18 of the International covenants of civil and political rights. Which states everyone shall have the rights of freedom for conscience and religion. They strike to include the include the freedom to have all to a doctrine, religion or belief of his or her choice and freedom, or the individual and community with others and in public, private, to manifest his religious belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. And that's quite a mouthful, isn't it? So if you grew up in egypt, you did, they respect this, right? And since that you can change your religion from muslims. Are christian on your from christian to muslim on your government id card. But you cannot change your religion from christian from muslim to christian when your ID card. They don't allow us. While they will allow you to go from muslim to atheist. They rather say you could, you can become a christian the course of an atheist on your ID card, but they don't want you to show that people transitioning from england to christianity. And so, even though over a 150 countries of signs these conventions in these articles, in many, many countries as a real discrepancy between practice and theory. Within those countries, we go on to say that in social competence of civil and political rights, no one shall be subject to corrosion, which would impair his religion to have or to Dr. Religion or belief of his choice, very applicable to america today. Actually, no one shall be subject to coercion, sickly when it comes to a deeply held private religious belief. So this is why persecution is happening today as of right, of reasons for it. When it comes to the current reality of persecution of christians, his a map of iraq, and we have a young lady sitting in the back. They may be waive your hand stress, sister. No, no, no shoes, sarah. Yeah, to stand up for us. She wasn't expecting this. Alright. Okay. So why do I ask her to stand because she signed up to launch with us out to where you see on the screen. And in 201-314-2014 isis was conquering their way across the northern iraq. And they conquered their way from syria to shooting job. They hit the g, c, D 's round, who came to mosul, which is ancient nineveh. And then they came to the borders of curtis down. This is Curtis down here. And curtis don is inhabited by the courage who are different ethnic group to the arabs and the syrians and the turks and iranians, who surround them on their borders and isis, when they came to mosul, they painted that symbol on the christians, doors, the symbol here. It's an arabic, it's dancer n N for Nancy marine. And they gave the christians because you say, put on your door, your was proven as a rain. They said you have 48 hours to leave, converts or die. So what would you do? Everybody laughed. Mean everybody and you left with what you could carry. And on the way out of mosul, isis basically shook you down for anything of value. So tens of thousands of christians fledge in summer, 2014 and into 2015. Out of most what they fled to herbal, which is here, it's about 50 miles. It's like half an hour on the road because just straight desert. And there was no military forces between isis in mosul and kurdistan. At the time the iraqi army just fled. There's a reason why the iraqi, on the flat, iraqi army is mostly sheer, there from the South of iraq. And they see no reason to defend sunni iraqis in the north against isis, which was a city force. So that's where their religious tensions within islam took over. And the iraqi army just pulled out and left the civilian population to the depredations of isis, where the christians left. And I was out there and you can see there are some living conditions. These people have lost everything because they bear the name of christ. You meet people who are next door in you read about nest, dorians in the history books from the 2nd, 3rd century. The story out there, mary nights, church of Mary, eastern catholics, a few protestants. But the mostly branches of catholicism and some ancient sex, like the stories they lost everything because they bear the name of christ and literally everything they lost their families. The daughters were put into the brussels. The husbands were executed if their military age and they came out with the clothes that they stood on women of giving birth in the streets. It was 50 celsius stuff like a 130 fahrenheit. The streets were soft, the ta, microsoft and the christians were living in, in, under trees in parks and churches in building lots and building sites. In malls, they will pack you go to a church like this at the time. You have one family or 2 families to every peer, and that's where they were living. And that's what happened there. Not that they were not persecuted because they were maronite, or no story in orthodox. They were being killed because they bought the name of christ. And I came across a lady, the architect, many stories i won't, but there's one lady she was sitting there and beside her, the statue of the virgin. Mary. She had brought this big. Why didn't think it was a good time to talk about the 2nd commandment. There's a time and place for everything. And she told me her story and it was heartbreaking. And she said it then she said, well, they can take my husband, they can take my family and take my children and take my house to take my job. They take my car, they take my money, but they can't take my faith. And that statue of Mary was the symbol of her christian faith. Now, we may dispute the theology, but we would be no better position. She was being killed and the family being killed because she bought the name of christ. However, in perfect elegy might be this was the reality of northern iraq. And when you asked, did the christians go back to mosul after it was liberated in 2019, when isis, we're kind of bombed into smithereens. The answer is mostly no. And the reason for that is if you ask the question is why don't we go back? And he said, well, today it's isis tomorrow, it's out mr at tomorrow, the day after that it's all kind of the day after us it has below the day after that it's ice as it never wrench the, the terror keeps coming in waves. So we're not going back. And this lady here was a west africa to the dream of jesus. He appealed to her to follow these 2 young girls. Next morning she got up when she went to the front door and there there's 2 young girls whose habits morning. She followed them and went to an adventist church. You only adventist church in the Capital of that country. And when she was that she heard the gospel and gave her life to jesus, she goes home and tell us that devout muslim parents were horrified. And they locker in her room. This is about 22 and a half years ago and they hired someone to be dropped to give up her faith and she wouldn't. They tied to bed and electrocuted her. She wouldn't give up her faith. They hired someone to come and slice a body open with razor blades, and you see some of the scholars go down her legs. That wouldn't make a give up her faith. And she, the father said, well if I kill you for getting pregnant, adulterous top brings less shame on the family. But if I kill you is killing for becoming a christian. So we hired sharman, nodded, listening to come and impregnate her forcibly what she did. And she turned to jesus in despair, and jesus patron told her to go to a certain city where he found an adventist frontier missionary, who herself was, is a former muslim and knows what it's like to go through this. And so that lady is still locked down in a house in summer, in that country. She's given birth to a child is being raised by the local church and also muslims. And she's in permanent locked down with no hope of ever leaving lockdown because her tribe wants her blood. So we complain about cov lock downs is nothing compared to what christian's going through around the World today. The current reality of christians, today's with the christians, experience level, harassment, hostile feelings, and beatings, physical torture, lawful and unlawful imprisonment, isolation, the systemic rape of women in some parts of the world. Severe social, economic, and judicial public punishments, slavery get places like pakistan. We are christians or an indentured labor for generations. They can't get out of that. They will never get out of it because the, the local community wants to eliminate the christian faith, discrimination in Education, employment, and even death. Those are the reality of post a few secretions around our world on a daily basis today. So it's a kind of soberness topic isn't. When you serve as a missionary, you see this all the time. You realize that slavery is alive and well in our world today, slavery did not end with the end of the American civil war. There are more slaves today than in the 800 sixty's there, predominantly based in place like india, pakistan, china, and west africa. But slavery is alive and well. Many people are caught up as christians and slavery because they are christians. So who is our enemy? While our enemy is not the people you see in front of you? And perhaps the hardest teaching of jesus is that you love your enemy, as I think it's the hardest teaching, is maybe the essence of the gospel. And you could say the gospel can be expressed many ways like of the you can say the gospel is 3 words. Thank you. Now. Sorry, thank you please. I'm sorry for my son's. I'm a broken person. Thank you for dying from you on calvary, in my place. Please feel me with your spirit and leave me today as the essence of the gospel, sorry, thank you. Please does not how to remember is it? Well, another way of looking at the gospel is to love your enemies. If you wish to be as your father in heaven, then you love your enemies. That means you bless those who persecute you and you pray for those who despitefully use you. And so we need to remember that our enemies are not fashion blobs, but they are spiritual. Our enemy is described in the new testament and by these titles, he is the ruler of the kingdom of the prince. Of this Well, the god of this world, prince of demons, to hinder the accuse of the liar and the father of lies. Angels likes attempt to roar in line and a murderer and jesus came not so much to save you. But the son of god was revealed for this purpose to destroy the works of the devil. And if you've never encountered evil, i say will praise the Lord it will come and touch you some time in life. No, a cancer diagnosis amount will break down. Repossession a dead child, whatever the case may be. Evil will touch you at some point in your life and we have to understand and how do we respond to the reality of even an elias were evil. Ultimately comes from satan. Because he possible goes on to say the end of discussion on the resurrection. That thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our lord jesus christ. We are not on our own in the midst of a persecuted world, persecuting world. So how does satan attack the church for he tax it internally and actually, externally? I'm just talk for a few minutes about extra and they won't focus so much on the internal tax on the church. But the 1st way he talks the church, we see this in the new testament and throughout history is through civic rules. Satan will attack the church to punch his pilot punches pilots as a good example of of that and Alright saw batteries that why it's i'll just switch to the main mike from here. Thank you. So he tacked through some civic rulers like punches, pilots inherit gripper, he also attacked through communist rulers, ceausescu. Gorbachev. Not so much gorbachev, but the soviet politburo. Socialist rulers killed about 110000000 people in the last century, with the social to the ology. Many of those were professing christians, the command rouge in cambodia, the vietnamese during the civil war there. And get the, the satan attacks, the church, the Civic rulers. If you can't get you through the laws of alarm, to get you through the religious leaders. And if you look at the adventist or the well churches website to the g c, we have statements on every topic under the sun. But we don't have a stop a topic on islam. You'll notice that we have the topic on, on it. Chris catholicism relationship with other protestant churches on other religions on why didn't know environmental degradation, income inequality, female genital mutilation, all kinds of topics. But we do not have a statement on islam. And his reason for that, because if we doubt the profit hood of mohammed's or question, the inspiration, the koran in Washington next sabbath adventists will pay a high price in some other parts of the world. We recognize that. And so if satan cons attack through civic rulers who attack through religious leaders, he also attacks through businesses and corporations. And in the time of pole in emphasis. You have the silversmiths, who lost their business and they attacked the apostles. They dragged some of the representatives into the amphitheatre, then they cried. Great designer, b. Ephesians, remember them the book of acts. And so when the owners of the slave girl saw that paula cast out the spirit that was inhabiting her, they saw the mob to attack poor. Remember that next 16? Well, today we have corporations pushing what you might call a woke agenda in America who are pushing post biblical understandings of morality, marriage and sexuality. And if you don't to the knee and join in the celebrations and you will be a target as well. We also see that satan attacks the church through mobs. If satan cannot check the church who, civic rulers, religiously does businesses and corporations, when he talks through mobs and mobs are a convenient way for the social leads to deal with a problem. And then they can wash their hands and say, oh, how terrible that was. But if they can't get used to the laws of the land and the police will stand by and let the mob do its dirty work. And oftentimes, the mob is not graduated by religious fervor, is motivated by greed. Because the christians are often the middle class in many countries around the world. They are the shop owners that the engineers, the dentists, that the architects and their authors often jealousy at play. And so the christians are often targeted by the multi businesses destroyed their homes, but the ground their possession stolen and their families destroyed one way or the other. And finally, you have family pressure. They started just outside the garden of eden, when cain killed able jesus experience division in his family, where his mother and his brothers and sister for that he was crazy in mark 3. Wanted to come and take him home because they said no, something's wrong with him. You know, you're ashamed, the family better is gonna lock you up for a while here. And jesus says will, who is my mother and who all my brothers, who my sisters at the end of that chapter. And so satan attacked through family pressures. This is a major issue in islam, and it's also in hinduism, to a certain extent. When you become a christian, you often lose everything in life, your family, turn their back on, you, they disown you, they disinherit you. You lose access to medical opportunities to economic option to, to educational opportunities or you become a social leper in many countries when you become a christian. And that often is the, the meeting point, that pressure is through the family itself. So you can also attacks the church to a bunch of other ways. See isolates, christians through arrest, expulsion or enforce dispersion. He so as conflict among christians, he's very effective at lat. Their attacks from local dominant faith leaders in the faith groups or mobs. Attacks the religious nationalism or this is increasing on the around the World stay. So for instance, in greece, the dominant church is the greek orthodox church. To be greek means that your orthodox be orthodox means that your greek, if you leave the orthodox church and become an adventist, you've also lost your national identity. Because religion and nationalism have been fused in russia as rational, orthodox, and bulgaria bulgarian orthodox and saudi arabia is lamb. So your national identities fused with your religious identity. And so to turn your back on, your faith means to turn your back on your entire culture. That's how it's portrayed and this is the impact of, of turning to jesus. I'm satan attacks, the church through secular humanism which in its tolerance, attacks christiana team, more than anything else are made attack. He attacks the church through empty conversion loss. If you convert, we'll kill you. That's particularly shari'a and also from strict controls over proved worship center. So for instance, in egypt is to be the sector treasure of the middle east union. You cannot build a church or even by lands to build a church unless the muslims on all 4 sides agreed about land purchase. Well guess what happens? Nobody ever agrees to that building being used as a church. If you don't keep the building up, the government will take it from you because it's falling into disrepair. Hence a lot of the jump budgets of Egypt fields is spent on empty buildings at length and breadth of Egypt. Because if we lose that building, we'll never have a church there again. So strict controls over proof worship centers, empty blasphemy laws which are generally enforced by mobs rather than by the local judiciary, economic discrimination against christians, martyrdom, abductions and anti, neutralizing the christian witness. Through closing down or churches cutting off a W. R, cutting off christian websites binding the presence of churches, the sale of bible's taking children from their parents and re educating them in the dominant. If y'all are your religion of the country, this is happening today as we speak. It doesn't make the news. But if for instance, you keep a close eye on the news, for instance, nigeria, if you follow nigeria, you'll realize that there is an ongoing jihad against christians in southern and central nigeria from the muslims of the north, mostly philosophy and the media portrays as a clash between pastoralists and nobody nomadic people, so the christians are settled in villages and the muslims have their cattle, they move round. So the media portrays it as a, as a struggle between the economic ways of life. But in reality, it's hard to being ways by the philosophy against the christians. I don't re average. We can $51200.00 nigerian christians will be hacked to death in their huts, their huts, their whole bed village is burnt to the ground. And this barely makes the news, and it's happening every single week. And it doesn't make the news. It doesn't break through the froth. The meaningless froth that clutters up foxy and all the rest of the stuff here in America. This is happening and it's happening to our brothers and sisters in africa and parts of asia and parts of latin america as well. Christians are under attack. So it's was just the old you persecution. Well this is what jesus had about him to bless all those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for those is the kingdom of heaven. This is the last of the be to today matthew 5, blessed by you. When people revise you and persecute you, not all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great and have him for the same way they persecute the prophets who are before you. Now notice this that in all of the attitude, the only mention of jesus is in the be out. You don't persecution, bless it all the peacemakers way should be called children. God bless it. All the pure and heart flay shall see. God bless others in thought and from what, who grief they should become. He filled ok. But the only mention of jesus is in the spirit today, persecution. Now if you open your bible and invite you to have a bible or opening up right now. And So we seen the last b attitude. Jesus appears now in the context of persecution, which might tell you that know when, when jesus stood in the fiery furnace with shattered michigan in britain ago. Jesus is present in the midst of persecution in the attitudes. But if you look in your bibles after verse 12, what you then have in your bibles, what comes next? The soul to the earth and light to the world? Yes. Do do most. Do you have like a paragraph division and your bibles? Yes. And does it say like sort of the earth, the light of the world? Ok. So 99.9999 percent of people read the B attitudes and they'll stop at verse 12. But that's not how jesus did it. He talked about persecution many carried on speaking the very next word he says, but you other salt of the earth and you are the lights of the world. That is, you are the sorts of the earth and you are the lights of the world. When the darkness of persecution is gathering, that is when you are the source of the earth and the lights of the world, past the context for that little paragraph there. But we separate the B attitude about persecution, from the lights of the wealth and soul to the earth, or vice versa. We're missing the point of jesus saying he's not just saying in good times, lights of the wealth light of the soul to the wealth soul to the light of the well, sorry, he's talking about that in the context of being persecuted for his name's sake. So if I liked a candle right now, when the sun is shining, you will see the candle is there, but your eyes won't be drawn to it because there's light everywhere. But if I leave that candle on, and darkness comes now, it's midnight. And you wilkins the sanctuary. There's no lights on everybody's eyes. We'll see that candle. That candle has not changed, but because the gloom and the darkness of persecution and cycled around it, the same christian life shines ever more brightly. The contrast is greater. So we are the lights of the world, particularly in the context of being persecuted for the name of christ. The governance, governments will know that you are a christian, the not gonna just know and argue about, you know, you pre anti malarial privilege, pre millennial, a post millennial. I'm going to be post lapse erin and lapse. They're not going to ask that kind of questions. They know you're a christian and therefore you're a threat. So I live in algebra, john and the K g b will around i'd a K g b, dr. K g b translator. My house, I'm pretty sure was bugged. I know my phone was and so I knew that everything I said and did you know to quote about song every move you make every breath you take, i'll be watching you. Yeah. Big brother on steroids. Well, that may sound bad, but I was one of 2 americans to westerners in that entire republic. At the time, there was a war with a neighboring country going on. And life wasn't easy there. But everybody in the community knew that the cage people watching us, which meant that we had 247 security from the russians because nobody's going to touch us. And I said, if you're going to read my email, I'll give you something to read. So I sent my mom steps to christ in england, a chapter every friday on this was back a day of compuserve. And if you remember, computer says you want to read my e mails. There's some poor k g, b officer, france. You trying to translate my e mails, make sure it's not seditious. And I'll give you a chapter, week of desire of ages all the sabbath school lesson, and you want to read something. I didn't want to read well, as kind of humorous, isn't it? You know, you turn the tables on people, but, you know, there was stories like in cuba a few years ago when some professor managers took a bunch of students down to preach. And the government assigned the heavy police presence to watch those meetings so that nothing dangerous happened. Many was police officers were baptized. So you never know ok. Even the central new crucified jesus was converted out across the jailer phillips was the day after that the the earthquake can so full so god can work through those who inflict the most pain directly on his people. So jesus goes on to say everyone there for who acknowledges me before others. I will acknowledge before my father in heaven, but whoever denies me before others, i will also denied before my father in heaven. As a sobering thought, isn't it? And as the as totalitarianism, because that's what it is, rises in America, and it's not republican or democrat, it's just washington is now post christian does matter whose empower really the powers that be have no place for christ. So the persecution is going to rise in our country. It will come in different guises. They will claim that homeschooling is racism. L claim that christianity is white supremacy. They'll claim that whatever the case may be, the smith christians, whatever way they can, in order to eliminate the christian faith in our nation. And it is going to be happening. And if you don't believe it's happening, you haven't sat on the school board recently and struggled with the legal issues that schools are now dealing with. It's right up and close. Personal right. It's happening right now as we speak in the world hates you, said jesus, be whether that hated me before it hated you. If you belong to the world, the world would love you as its own, but because you do not belong to the world. But I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you in the world and face success in economic well being. No in the world you face persecution says jesus, but take courage. I have conquered the world and John, 15, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. Now we read that last phrase. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not over comments as if that's talking about jesus. The lights of the world, that's how he's described in the prologue of john's gospel last. But the text says the light shines as a present continuous, which means the light is shining. It continues to shine in the darkness. And the darkness does not overwhelm it. So jesus the light of the world, but we are also the lights of the world. This 1st tells us there is always gonna be a struggle between light and dark between good and evil. And in that struggle, the darkness will always try to overwhelm the goods. But the good will always survive. So the light is shining in the darkness in minturn, and the darkness of our world will not overcome the light that comes from the mental congregation as the promise of jesus. Not just talking about john a geometry is just jesus, there are the tennis is indicate he's talking about us today as well. So we might say from the scriptures, that character is not formed in times of crisis. It's revealed for what it already is. You know what somebody's character really is like when they get a flat tire and it's raining outside on the interstate. That's when you discover what their characters really like. Ok, and so character every decision today, every decision that you and I make actually shapes our character. There's no neutral day when it comes to spiritual growth and character development for fraternity every day. And every decision we make is shaping our character for what's going to come tomorrow. So you cannot simply say, I'm not kind of like I'm a christian on injured reserve. And I'm going to get into the game on the last play of the 4th quarter. That's not how it works. Ok. There's no injured reserve in the gospel army. We are christians on active service from the moment we are born again and baptized into the kingdom of god. And you can't just sit on your haunches and say, let somebody else carry for the fight, can all be strong when it comes my wakes. When it comes your way, you won't have any character to resist. What is coming your way? So we prepare for persecution tomorrow for the sake of jesus, it's always important member we being persecuted before because we by the name of christ. That's the reason why we persecuted by seeking god's grace to fully live the teachings of jesus today. The teachings of jesus. The teachings of jesus. We obey the teachings of jesus as his disciples. Not I like, I've got a book at home called for advent, his views of salvation. It's got 4 different famous writers who can get who they are now. And jack blanco's in their think and one of the maxwells is in there. No, we follow jesus. And we're loyal to his teachings out. The whole spirit guides us into understanding those. We don't say I'm loyal to this pastoral that passion. Know we are loyal to jesus because only he can give us a tunnel life. So how do we respond to those who are experiencing persecution? We're on number 5 out of 7 here. This will come back in a 2nd. How to respond to those experiencing persecution. A number of ways, one is we don't ignore those, we're suffering for the name of christ. Don't ignore them. Don't pretend it's not happening. Don't see something on the news and flip over to something on the sports channel. If somebody comes to your church and you have an incredible church where you may have somebody kind of come cautiously into your church who sits on the back pew and women say, where are you from? I'm from catholics done. Then you can almost nice will invite them to your home and say, tell me your story. And you will hear a story of courage and conscience and conviction. And people who maybe lost everything because they both name of christ and we honor them and we respect them are given the time in the space to tell us story slow down and listen to the stories probably within your own congregation of people who've endured everything in the last almost everything for the name of christ. And he apostle paul says, remember those who are imprisoned, all those who are so you imprison with them. Those were being tortured. So yourselves are being tortured, hebrews, $133.00. I'd like to encourage you in this area. The voice of the mottos my grandma used to give to them when I was a small boy. I used to see the newsletters on her desk. She did my grandfather's a pastor in oxford in england. And she would write a check every month to voice of the motus. And if one organization, i would encourage you to think about giving to the voice of the martyrs. Because they said they make contact with prisoners of conscience of all christian denominations. They support the families of prisons of conscience and those families. You know, the pastor can be just disappeared off the streets and it may not appear for 10 or 15 years. What happens to the family in the interim? And oftentimes you become a leper and a note, nobody else wants to help you see you've reduced to poverty almost overnight. So voice the matters as some ungrateful young people to do is they have a letter, a card writing on pain. And you can write cards and then your young people can write out masters of encouragement to prisons of conference. Dear friend, your Brother, the sister and christ and they will mail them or deliver them to prisoners of conscience around the 1040 mission window for you. It's incredible encouragement and christians who come out of prison cells often say the captain going was the knowledge that somebody out there knew about them and was praying for them. So were mad. Don't ignore those who are suffering for the sake of jesus. Second, the slow down and recognize somebody suffering. You see the quote there from job chapter to maybe the most helpful thing that joe did? His friends did was they, they spoke from chapter 3 to what 37 or so. But most helpful thing they do was taking silence for 7 days. That was the best thing they did. And you know, with the lady I met in iraq who lost her kids to, to isis, put them in a gallon. Ian brussel, she sat in silence. And what was I to say when I heard that story? I sat in silence because evil, there is a depth to evil. It is so deep that words cannot express it and words cannot reflected what you cannot say. Anything to evil or you can do is sit quietly and hold somebody's hand and silently pray that jesus comes in and so slow down and recognize somebody is suffering. Now, you know, if somebody says in church i have cancer, we slow down and we, we show them sympathy, empathy, and compassion. But oftentimes there are people, not congregations have gone through this kind of suffering and they, they've never had a chance to tell a story. So give a chance to be a congregation, mr. Tell a story and realize that probably within this congregation there, there are some true heroes of faith who suffered everything for jesus christ. Give him the time in the space and a firm, the experience a firm, the validity of the experience by listening, respectfully and giving them a hug. This happens all too often. I had a church once and one man stood up incidentally, saddam, when I was raised, my father was imprisoned by the red army in the czech republic. And so we fled my mom and I, we fled across the border into, into west germany. I think it was to escape the red army. I never saw my father again. The next lady who stood up because we do like her international day and you have, we have this thing where everybody said it was my name where they come from. How do they come to church, how become a christian or something like that? And what we pray for for me is 5 simple questions. Next lady stands up and she says, while she says my father was russian, we were stationed in the czech republic. He was in the red army in military intelligence, imprisoning christians, as like shock in the church, like maybe your father killed my father. And when nobody knew about this, until we were intentional about listings, which other stories. So try and find a way in the Church of listening to each other stories a potluck speak with someone you don't know. Maybe have somebody once a week come up and answers. 5 questions. Who am I? Where do I come from? How do I become a christian? How do I get to this church and how can you pray for me? It's a great way to know somebody to hear some pretty profound stories. Speak up on behalf of the voiceless. Give justice of the week in the often maintained the rights of a loan in the destitute rescued rescued week, and the need to deliver them from the hands of the wicked, etc. Prover. Psalms and proverbs were not cold to be comfortable. Middle class church were called to be jesus, ambassadors in this community not means we do speak up on injustice and we do speak up for those who have no voice. I'm not, I'm not a social justice warrior because biblical justice of different social justice. But even when you say that, that's not an excuse to not stand up for justice, christians must be known for people who stand up for what is right to the heavens fall. And so we are to speak up on behalf of the voiceless as an example of my life was in cyprus, the sex treasure, the middle union. And this girl comes into church. She's got like, come strangle march on the net. Can we see? So where are you from off from armenia, what are you doing here? Well, I answered a job advert to be a waitress in cyprus. Ah, okay. Those of you know how the world operates? No, that wasn't a job advert to be a waitress. She was now being broken in, in order to be sold on traffic to a brothel in Europe. And she came to church and she's of the matthew have me, and I'm scared. So we discussed it among ourselves and we raised the money among ourselves. We bought one a ticket to a home country and we got the police and we said we want each provided police escort from the brussel to the airport. And then we told her next sabbath will be outside your door at a certain time. We were there in the movies, like with the baseball captain sunglasses and don't be recognized by the mafia. And we put her in the car. We drove to the airport with a police escort and she got to check and we said give us your phone and we tore up the sim cards. Nobody can track it back to us and put her on or playing back to a family. And if my daughter caught up in that situation and asked that you do the same for her, we are to speak up for those who are being persecuted and get involved if necessary, of a practical support in comfort. We see that in 1st corinthians 12, so there's a variety of ways that we can respond. Those are experiencing persecution, but I won't talk for a few minutes as time is moving on about adventist in the coming storm because it is coming. And this is kind of a strange way of wording it because for many christians, the storm is already here. When we say adventists in the coming storm, we were oblivious to the fact the adventist for generations have been living under a storm in many parts of the world. So this is a very american centric way of looking at this kind of question. I recognize that many adventists will say adventists and the current storm marches adventist in the coming storm. So as a general rule in western advent ism, we tend to focus on s, on timelines. We disputes about jacob's time of trouble, the greater line of trouble, the less time the trouble when does the time of probation, and what is the seal of god? What is the sabbath? What is the Mark of the beast, et cetera, cetera, et cetera. We focus on timelines And even the bible talks about those things and more important things. Are you ready for it? That's more important question. Adventist eschatology tells us that in the end times god's faithful people will not be a triumphant, glorious, and well received global movement. We will not have our institutions. We will not have our visible churches, will be an underground militant movement. Underground house churches, that's where it's going to go. Ultimately, i was not gonna go to house churches is going to go to house families who choose to worship god according to their conscience. We will be a church militant under severe economic sanction. Stripped to our institutions or tax re exemptions grants of land access to banking, legal, financial and visa instruments, and ultimately facing the death penalty for the market. The beast. So everything we have to day we bring we praise god for the blessings we have today is all going to go. What matters? His souls, not buildings. And what matters is us being ready for that time. And if you don't know the Brother or sister to the left or the rights of you get to know them, because when the church building has gone and the conference has gone and the division is gone and the union has gone low, melinda is gone. And what's left of your christian experience of the body of christ. It is the Brother and sister. You're right to your left who meets with you in the park for 30 seconds of press. The police can't see you. So what happens in places like was beckers done and cause ex done. So get to know your brothers and sisters pray with them and pray for. Do you know what can be praying for brothers for I mean some people i'll tell you all that problem scientist on that, but most of us say on fine, thank you. Just had a cancer. Diagnosis gets know, your brothers and your sisters pray for the people in front behind you in the pews. Because when everything else is gone, is your Brother or sister who lives 3 streets down from you, will be the visible expression of the body of christ and nothing else. So love your Brother and love your sister to day so that you will truly rely on them when I was in touch because damn the K g b one, not k g b kaiden or who was a wind enough chemist on the taliban? They kind of blew after a while. It wasn't my mother in law. She never in that country. That's a joke by the way. So we had some fun and games for the taliban. We won't go into today but involved a lot of things and they gave me half now to leave my home. They're going to kill me and I managed to pack and get out of my house about 15 minutes. You know, it was quick. So where did I stay where I couldn't go to the airport because the, the airport has the civil war going on between communists and would you had in those fighting? I couldn't go to the airport. So an elderly brother in the church took me into his one room apartment. So good apartment, outland, city of do sham bay. I never met him before, but I was his brother in christ. And he sheltered me about 3 months. Brave old man. He's dead now, but he sheltered many went out and bought a few extra herbs and, and bread used to eat round bright. It's called a piano sky out there. And we survived on that for about 3 months in the fighting some side to the post and I could get out of the country. You know, he stood by me and my hour of need. And I'm truly grateful to that Brother. And one day you're going to need a Brother assist this done by year. So start today by standing by your brothers and sisters. If somebody in your church can't pay rent, help them with the rent. They can't pay the kids fees, help them with the kids fees. Put your money where your mouth is and put your heart where your mouth is and look out for your brothers and sisters because one day, as all you're going to have adventist leaders to day, our call to strike a heroic balance between a seeking to preserve the past, including our schools, et cetera, which no one day be swept away. And secondly, between equipped and guiding the members fear, surviving the coming storm. Now you say, where do most of our conference to spend that time they spend on a rather than b, Y? Because if a conference present allows a major school to close during their 4 or 5 years office, they're going to get voted out of next constituency session. Past the brute reality or the alumni i'll get involved. Bad, bad conference president. This is something funding by conference president because you let that school close. Well adventist leaders, all of us pastors bible teachers, have a school teachers, church, elders, deacon's, i believe we're colds. Prepare people for the coming storm above and everything else. Because when the coming storm hits us, it doesn't matter how beautiful your building is or what your balance she looks like. That is really irrelevant to the most common statements on persecution, on number one persecution never happened here. Number 2, we never thought that persecution would happen. Here to most commonly heard statements around the World and persecution, it will never happen here. Redlands night will never happen in gardens, will it? Yes, I think as it is it pastor john macarthur, that famous pastor, down in Los Angeles. Endless legal battles over the last year and a half pastors in Ontario and alberta been imprisonment. One of them was imprisoned for having church in his house with his family. But he says he told them this is church. Robin has a family gathering. He was hold out of his home and imprisoned, and albert just a few weeks ago. I don't think this is not happening in the west. It is happening. So intellectually, we know we're going to experience persecution. Is that true? Yes, spiritually, i'll be ready for that persecution. I'll be right with god. Do we have other gods in our life? So compromise are call it that when the persecution comes will bend and go along with it. You know, somebody says i'd love to be a missionary, but I have, I have a sports car collection and I couldn't leave that behind. I love to be a missionary, but I love nascar. I couldn't live without my dose of nascar, while not nascar fine, but when you can't serve god fully because of nascar, that's become a god in your life. And you shall have no other gods before me. Want to invite you to a cell for it. What in your life would hold you back? Would cause you to give up your faith if it meant losing it. And a good strategy is to get rid of it. Now, give it away, donate it, so no longer has not holdover. And thirdly, partially, we have responsibility to prepare our families, no flocks for when we are gone. Does that make sense? Are you preparing your family? When you're gone? We make our wills. We have living wills. We have trusts, we every child's will get to know tv, what kind of stuff, but spiritually, are you preparing your family when you may not be? Here? Am I preparing my family? Is your pastor preparing his family or the eldest, preparing the congregation for those no visible leadership left any more because leaders are generally the 1st to be taken away. So these are questions we must all ask for ourselves. Are coming to the end here. So adventist in the coming storm. Sometimes you need to build yourself a cell. I'm taking this from a book from call surviving the storm by opened doors usa. It's out of print, but it is an excellent book. They talked about 6 ways to to get through persecution. One was sometimes you need to build yourself a sell. What I mean by that is this god keeps secrets. And if you break down under interrogation, god's not gonna put it on Facebook. And when you confess, he'll forgive you in as if it never happens. And God keeps secrets like nobody else. I was interrogated a couple of times by the K g. B. It was held in that was becca, stan and the media. It wasn't pleasant to k, g b don't beat you up, but they, they have like the psychological way of asking you questions and say, what was your mother's name? vivian vine. 10 minutes later, what was your mother's name? vivian vine. 3 hours later. And what did you say? mother's name was vivian vine by the end of the day. Jesus is with you. You need to feel comfortable with that and feel comfortable in your prayer life that he doesn't. You're not gonna go crazy and salty confinement, you will survive because you have a companion that will never leave, you know, forsaken. God keeps secrets. Kind of alluded this already. If my thoughts let your thoughts, nor you always my thoughts, my way says lord cetera, et cetera. Again, what happens in torture chambers? What happens in prison cells? What happens in communist china or iran, or turkey or the parts the world today? Those things a stay, stay, stay, stay secret. And God is a merciful god. And he knows that people break. He knows that his followers will deny him. Pizza denied jesus 3 times in John 13. The very next word, jesus said after john to peter, not even 3 times was let not your heart be troubled. You believe in god believe also in me. Again, when we just read john 141 through 3 without reading what happened to me before it we forget that jesus was speaking to disciple, just an item 3 times in the sun he turned to so god is a forgiving god and he keeps secret and he wants you to be saved, no matter what happens in a police or interrogation or other salloway happened to be weaknesses, a direct path to power as pulses. Whenever I am weak than I am strong, will god's strength is made perfect and our weaknesses be read elsewhere. So what does this mean? It means if we go into a police cell or interrogated by the police, or our employer insists on something and it may not be mandates for vaccines. It could be sabbath issues or something like that. If we think we're going to win our own strength, we're not going to win you. None of us can fight the system as it were, but god can do anything. And so recognizing that I am weak, but god is strong and the battle is in his hands on going to wait on god's do what he can do is a better strategy than to go in there and fight to my own strength and fail and feel like I'm a complete spiritual failure is better to wait on god and him demonstrate his strength. Overcoming is better than deliverance. He puzzle. Pulses do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. What you hear a lot from the postscript secretions the well today is not. I want to be set free tomorrow. So much as I want the Grace to survive. Whatever happens today the I don't want to disown a god in that prison, so we're not labor camp or not interrogation ra room. So a christian say many, many parts to Well pray. Not that they can be released tomorrow's so much as a god given the Grace to survive and thrive in their faith today that they will not dishonor jesus in that camp. There are camps in China. Their camps in the weakest couple 1000000 wiggers now in re education camps there, centrally, concentration camps. The whole world knows about and does nothing so never again kind of rings hollow. We know these things are happening, but the world turns a blind eye to it. So god keeps secrets, weaknesses. A direct path to power overcome is greater than deliverance and extreme hurt requires extreme forgiveness. Jesus said this when they were nailing his hands to the cross look 23. When he said that, You didn't say father forgive him for not what? No, not all they do. When the multitude misunderstood him and walked away from him. This is what he said when they were hammering the nails into his hands. Father forgive them so they know not what they do. A recognition nuts in John chapter 16. The end of that verse begin about chapter. Jesus says that they'll come a time with those who kill you will think that by so doing that offering up to worship, to God. While that tells you, is that even someone who's killing you because you by the name of christ and they think they're worshiping, allows some other god they are acting under satanic, delusions, not they're intrinsically evil. But satan has deceived them, and jesus sees beyond their violent tax to the fact that they are deceived. Human being and God knows what they would have done have they not been deceived. Therefore, god can still be redemptive towards me knows what we would have been had we not made certain life choices now lives. I can't prove this from scripture, but I believe that god knows all the possible tragic trajectories my life could have taken. Had I taken certain decisions, he knows if I was abused as a child, I was 5 which I was and had I been, he knows that I made certain decisions because of that experience. And he knows what I would have been had I not been abused and had a clean childhood and not being hurt like that. And so god can be gracious to us. He wants to save us. He wants to save us to the uttermost. So extreme hurt requires extreme forgiveness. Forgiveness is really the way of the cross when it comes to persecution, forgiving those who hurt you. And why do I say that? Because daniel was and daniel chapter one, nebuchadnezzar was a policy to many gods. And he came in contact with 4 monotheist boys. Dungeon shuddered michigan, you better go then and daniel chapter 2, you have the story, the statue and that the end of that story done. Nebuchadnezzar says worship the god of daniel because he is above all the other gods. So now and then we can is no longer a monitor policy. S T 's healthiest. I gotta get the children things healthiest because he recognizes there was one god above all the other gods. By the time you get to daniel 3, you have the 3 hebrews and the far furnace and he sees one like the son of god, walking with them. By daniel for years, 7 years of madness, he lives as high as to the heavens and praises. God alone said nebuchadnezzar goes from a policy as to a 100 years to a monotheist. And at each stage of that story, he meets imprison slave jewish boys who were faithful in representing god to him. It was their faithful witness to him that ultimately converted nebuchadnezzar. It was the persecuted slaves who won their tyrannical slave owning master. And likewise, we overcome not through if they hit us in the face, not through hitting back, but through offering love back. Sacrificial love and forgiveness because they're attacking us because we by the name of christ. So let's do as christ would have done to them which was to turn the other cheek and prayers. The alternate fellowship ramos at the end of his now again, hebrews, 13 was 3 persecuted. Christians crave the price of the free, the free church. And again, if you connect with voice martyrs, if you have religious liberty department here in this church invite, whoever you are to connect with v O M, get all those little cards and have a sabbath. Sabbath school where you are writing out cards to prisoners of conscience and prayer for them and send them off the voice of the motus. And know that within a couple of months, those cards have been delivered to prisoners of conscience around the world. And for them, the knowledge that somebody is praying for them who they may never meet, but somebody is praying for them is a massive boost in that prison. So. So prayer is the ultimate fellowship soap. In conclusion, what a challenge you today to becoming vague, engaged in your specific unions, religious liberty, ministry, i think is one most important ministries about time. Educate yourself on religious liberty, issues and trends. Pray for prisoners of conscience in their families. Whether adventist catholic orthodox doesn't matter, they bear the name of christ. Sign up for the knowledge north American ledges, liberty association, religious liberty to infer that from by the N. A. D. Sign up for the newsletters voice, the marches open. Doors provide through voice monitors, practical, financial and other support for prisoners of conscience their families. We have a great refugee and immigrant ministry family. Here in our division, run by terry staley, whose families spent their entire life working with refugees and immigrants. Check them out. Read the U. S. State department's commission on international religious freedom reports and pray. Pray for the persecuted today and pray that you will have grace to represent jesus faithfully when the persecution has your dom jesus described. After the attitudes he says, you are the light of the world. So when I ask you today, is that a description of you today or is it a mere hope for you tomorrow? Is that a description of us as individuals, as families, as a congregation today? Or is it hope for us tomorrow? tough question. Yes. I want you to think about that and pray about it. We're not going to go looking for persecution on punch a policeman on the face and say, I did this because you're going to imprison me for the Mark of the base. Now That would be ludicrous, But we understand that our nation is changing before our eyes very, very rapidly. We're being conditioned for half a nation to half the overhead of the nation. Possibly in church as years we've been conditions of you, fellow americans as other than us. We've been conditioned to fear a large part of our population and to blame them for catastrophe. It's like the dry run for the final mock of the beast. I'm not saying it is okay, but it's like a dry run. And we need to respond to that by saying whether we faxed or not. We will still love you as our brother and our sister. And we're going to pray for you. We're not gonna allow the swell to divide us. We're going to look out for you. We're not going to hear negative stuff about you. We're not gonna spout negative stuff about you. We are going to respect each other choices. Wilton apartments because of the things more important than the current issues before The lights of the description of today. We're hopeful this media was brought to you by audio verse a web site dedicated to spreading god's word through free sermon audio, and much more. If you would like to know more about audio verse or if you would like to listen to more sermon, please visit w W W dot audio verse dot org.

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