“Here I Am. Send Me!”

I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am.  Send Me!”

– Isaiah 6:8

“Rwanda 2017, I’m offering you a trip to Africa.”  I knew this was an answer to my heart cry of “Jesus send me!”  Let me share with you how God has prepared my heart for sharing Jesus with others and an opportunity He has given me.

MY STORY

I’m Shae.  I gave my heart to Jesus and asked Him to use me however He wants to show His love to the world.  When I was about twelve I began to really listen to stories of missionaries telling people about Jesus all around the world, and I was inspired by all the ways God was using them to speak His truth.

Last year, while in a waiting room at a doctor’s office, I noticed a woman sitting near me.  She had a recently amputated leg and seemed very sad and heavy hearted.  I felt like God wanted me to tell her He loved her, but I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it.  I am very quiet, I struggle with shyness and overthinking.  I am working on being more outgoing and confident talking to people, but it’s hard.

I wrestled with so many thoughts.  Was God speaking to me or was it just me?  Do I say something or just pray quietly?  Was that enough?  I began to pray for her and for clarity on what God wanted me to do.  As I was praying, she turned to me and started making small talk.  We chatted a bit and then sat in silence for a few minutes.  I knew God wanted me to speak to her, but I couldn’t find the words.  I felt so nervous.  What if I said something wrong or made a mistake?

Words from Scripture began pouring through my mind, cutting through all of my thoughts.

1 Peter 3:15 – Always be ready to give an answer for you faith, but do so with gentleness and respect.  (My paraphrasing).

Followed by words Matthew 19:10 – Don’t worry about what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but your Father speaking through you.  (paraphrasing)

I felt peace.  I asked God to not let it be my word she would hear but His.  That it wouldn’t be she would see but His love reaching out to her.

More thoughts came to mind.  I remember a missions conference I attended and on of the key points stressed.  If you can’t walk across a coffee shop and tell someone about Jesus, how can you go across the world and do it?  You need to be a missionary wherever you are.

“It is useless to think we can make a difference for Christ in some remote corner of the world if we can’t do it in our own neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.”

– Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors.

Then I remembered a quote I had read that said, “What would happen if we saw everyone around us as facing an eternity in hell? Would we be less afraid to tell them about Jesus?”

I knew then I couldn’t be silent, so I turned to her and said something like, “I feel like God wants me to tell you that he loves you and can give you rest and healing, he can bring you more than physical healing.”  Tears welled in her eyes and she told me that she was a Christian, but that she doesn’t go to church most of the time, but she does sometimes. She likes to sing in choir but her church won’t let her if she’s not sober.

Just then my grandma and mom came out from the back and my sisters and I started to gathered our things. The woman started to say goodbye and kept thanking me. I grabbed her hand and told her again that God loved her and that I would be praying for her. She thanked me and said she would pray for me too.
I felt as though God was stretching, pushing me out of my comfort and showing me what happens when I step out in faith and seek his voice and instruction and trust him. I felt so joyful and happy after that, refreshed and so confident in my faith.

RWANDA 2017
The very next day, while I was at a family gathering, my Great-Great Uncle Chris came up to me, my sisters, and mom, and asked my mom which one of her girls wanted to be a missionary. After she told him it was me, he turned to me and said, “Rwanda 2017, I’m offering you a trip to Africa.” I was shocked. I replayed his words in my mind a few times before it clicked in my brain what he was saying. I thanked God for answering my prayers. I was reminded how God hears all of our prayers.
He had no idea how much I have prayed asking God to send me anywhere in the world to share his Gospel.

God answered my prayers!


                                                                                              

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My Great-Great Aunt Kim in Rwanda

Come and See Africa (CASA):

My Great-Great Uncle and Aunt started a ministry in Rwanda called Come and See Africa (CASA) in 2005, a few years after the genocide.

The name comes from the story of the Woman at the Well. After her encounter with Jesus, she runs back to her village and says,

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.  Could He be the Messiah?”

– John 4:29 

Come and See Africa International is a Christian, American, non-profit ministry focused on the students at the National University of Rwanda, to raise up a generation committed to following the Lord.  Their main focus is helping their sister organization Come and See Rwanda (CASR), in facilitating international Christian and their churches to carry out meaningful ministry throughout South Rwanda. It also sponsors an annual three-day East Africa Christian  Apologetics Conference centered at the University of Rwanda and supports the ongoing campus ministry.  They are also working on bringing Christ to the entire region of south Rwanda through conferences, evangelism, and compassion ministry to the poor. Their main mission is to support their sister organization Come and See Rwanda (CASR). CASR works year-round ministering to the students at the National University of Rwanda by providing an intensive discipleship program and by supporting the many Christian student groups with their Compassion Ministry.

My Great-Grandma Jeanne has also traveled to Rwanda with her brothers and taught Bible studies there.  I feel honored to travel down the path my family

2f Jeanne & Shae
My Great – Great Grandma Jeanne, Franc and Me

and many others have gone. A few months ago, Franc, the executive director and secretary of CASR visited from Rwanda. I was invited to shadow Franc and my Great-Great Uncle Frank, who I will be traveling to Africa with, as they shared with many different people and churches about pastor trainings and ministry opportunities in Rwanda. I sat in on the board meeting too. It was so fascinating.

I am going to primarily help with the annual East Africa Christian Apologetics Conference centered at the University of Rwanda and supports the ongoing campus ministry. The idea is to raise up strong Christian leaders among the university students

2f Frank & Lelia
My Great – Great Uncle Frank and Aunt Lelia, with Franc

from the National Universities of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Congo, and Tanzania. The goal of the conference is to better equip the students to stand firm in their faith as they lead ministries in their home countries. They are the future church, business, and political leaders.
I will work with children’s ministry, practicing English with Pastors, compassion ministry in rural villages, also helping with administrative, computer and technological tasks.

 

 

THE LIGHTHOUSE MINISTRY CENTER

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The Lighthouse Ministry Center

My Uncle and I are collecting new twin and queen bedding sets – fitted sheets and pillow cases, towel sets – bath, hand, wash cloths, and shower curtains.  We are hand carrying them to Rwanda with us.  These items will go to The Lighthouse Ministry Center, it houses the Joy of God Bible Institute and a conference center where the Apologetics conference will be held.

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The Lighthouse Ministry Center

 

LighthouseMinstry
The Lighthouse Ministry Center

The Lighthouse Ministry Center also runs as a business with a 20 room hotel, a top floor restaurant, conference centers, and five street front shops.  The goal is to become self – supporting and need no additional international donations to fund it’s ministries.

 

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

All of the donations will go to support local needs and ministry opportunitiesMy travel arrangements and accommodations have already been provided.  You can make a tax-deductible donation to CASA online with Paypal at Come and See Africa website www.comeandseeafrica.org

My Mission Trip is October 3 – 16, 2017.

When I return I will share pictures and reflections.

 PRAYER

Please pray for me as I follow God’s lead. Pray that I would have guidance, discernment, and that my eyes would be open to those around me and my heart to what God is teaching me. Pray also for those I will be working with and those I will be serving while I’m there that they would see God moving and respond.

Thank you for you prayers and support! 

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely, I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

– Matthew 28:19-20

May God bless you,
Shae

 

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Pray Beyond the Horizon

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 

– Philippians 4:6 

THE NUMBER ONE THING PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS ASK FOR IS PRAYER.

When we pray we are speaking directly to God, He hears us and He listens.  We might not always recognize an answer to prayer, and it might not be the answer we were wanting, but God is outside of time and sees the completed picture.  Our whole live are laid before Him, He sees our entire lives, nothing comes as a surprise to Him.

“Through prayer we can reach into the future and with loving hands touch those beyond our reach.” ― Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors.

HERE ARE SOME RESOURCES AND WAYS YOU CAN PRAY FOR THEM:

Voice of the Martyrs

With Voice of the Martyrs you can commit to pray for a Frontline Worker, someone who is working in a hostile nation.  https://secure.persecution.com/giftslip/frontlineworker.aspx

You can also sign up with your email to receive prayer requests from the persecuted. http://www.persecution.com/public/pray.aspx?clickfrom=%3d6d61696e5f6d656e75


Open Doors

Open Doors has a monthly prayer calendar to download and you can sign up for weekly prayer alerts.  https://www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/pray/monthly-prayer-calendar/

November 6, 2016 is the International Day of Prayer (IDOP).  Open Doors has a downloadable IDOP kit.  http://live.opendoorsusa.org/idop/


Release International

Release International has a prayer calendar and prayer points for you to download.  http://www.releaseinternational.org/pray/ 


Prayer Boards

In the class, I taught with my Mom, about persecution we made prayer boards. https://wordpress.com/page/heartsnotforgotten.com/628

We printed Prisoner Profiles from Voice of the Martyr’s and Release International

http://www.prisoneralert.com/

http://www.releaseinternational.org/prisoners-of-faith/

We included the Open Doors’ World Watch List Map and fact sheets on the boards, along with Scriptures and quotes.

World Watch List Map and Country Fact Sheets  https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/about-wwl-ranking/


“Never stop praying.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Sometimes we may feel like God can’t hear us when we pray or that He is not listening or answering our prayers.  He does hear us when we pray and He listens to our prayers.  He might not always answer our prayers the way we want or in the time we want.  We may not even recognize His answer as an answer, but He hears us and He cares for us.  He will never leave us or forsake us.

“The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”

– Proverbs 15:29

He will never leave you.

God bless you,

Shae

 

 

Magnify

Philippians 1:20 King James Version (KJV)

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Every year my family goes to Winter Jam together. It’s a Christian concert with 10 bands for $10. http://2016.jamtour.com/about  This year we discovered a new band to us, We Are Messengers. We love their music!

The night before Winter Jam we were looking up the unfamiliar bands and artists, that would be performing, on YouTube.  After listening to We Are Messengers’ song I’m On Fire we were excited to see them.  They were one of the opening bands and they were just as good as we had hoped for.  Their music was uplifting and thought provoking.

A worship song is usually performed during intermission, and we knew from experience that we would probably like it.  When We Are Messengers came out, we were ready and my mom videoed the whole song. They sang an acoustic version of their song Magnify.  It was so beautiful.  After they performed, we were able to meet the lead singer Darren Mulligan, and share with him how much we loved Magnify.  He told us that song meant a lot to them.

I posted the video, my mom took, on YouTube.  At the end of the video it looks like I’m pouting.  I’m not, I’m just really focused because this song really spoke to me.

Here’s the link to our video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYOz_7KV-0w

We have been listening to the We Are Messengers’ album constantly for months.  My twin sister gave the CD to her guitar teacher so he could listen to Magnify and teach her how to play it on her guitar.  She’s getting really good at playing it.

My family has gone through so much change in the last year with illness, death, unemployment and moving.  When we went to Winter Jam, we thought my Dad was starting a new job the next week, he had been out of work six months after losing his job.  While we were in line, my Dad called and told my Mom the company he was supposed to start working for had just pulled their offer.  It was only a few days before his start date.

We were surrounded by so many people, it was hard to hear each other and the doors were about to open, so we didn’t get to really talk about until after the concert.  During the concert I felt so overwhelmed.  It felt like the storm we were going through was never going to end.

I was praying during the concert for God to give my family peace and direction.  I asked God to speak to me and give me comfort.

This is the part of the song that really stood out to me:

“My sight is incomplete and I made You look small,

I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long,

realign where my hope is set,

until you’re all that’s left …”

When I heard that it felt like God was telling me not to look at all the problems happening in my life, to just focus on him.

When I heard that I was reminded to fix my eyes on Jesus, not my temporary problems.


Our Homeschool Co-op class put together a book and service club focused on persecution, missions and helping refugees.  Last month we read Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of the Voice of the Martyr’s. He spent a total of 14 years in a communist prison, with months of solitary confinement in his homeland Romania.  He was ransomed by the Norwegian Mission to the Jews and the Hebrew Christian Alliance and eventually came to the United States.  He didn’t want to leave the church in Romania at first but they told him to go and be a voice for the voiceless.

Our group read Philippians 1:20.

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” (KJV)

We discussed how that scripture is reflected in Richard Wurmbrand’s life and legacy.  As we looked at the passage in different translations, we noticed that in the King James Version the word for “exalted” is “magnify.”  Magnify means to extol, praise, or glorify.

Christ was magnified in Richard Wurmbrand’s life.

“As communist atheists allowed no place for Jesus in their hearts, I decided I’d leave not the smallest place for Satan in mine.” – Richard Wurmbrand

In Richard Wurmbrand’s life he was arrested, beaten, and tortured for fourteen years, He still followed God even though it led him to prison, he sought God’s will for him while he was there.  In his book he shares how he and fellow Christians would tithe in prison.  They used the little food they received and gave it to the weakest.

“One great lesson arose from all the beatings, tortures, and butchery of the Communists: that the spirit is master of the body. We felt the torture, but it often seemed as something distant and far removed from the spirit which was lost in the glory of Christ and His presence with us. When we were given one slice of bread a week and dirty soup every day, we decided we would faithfully “tithe” even then. Every tenth week we took the slice of bread and gave it to weaker brethren as our “tithe” to the Master.” – Richard Wurmbrand in Tortured for Christ.

We all have problems and struggles in our lives, it’s easy to focus all of our time and energy on them. When we focus on our problems and struggles, it’s easy to forget that God has a plan and purpose for the pain and the heartache we feel. Our life here on earth is a moment of our eternal life with God.  The trials we are going through and the pain we feel here is temporary.

We Are Messengers’ song reminds me that when God is magnified in our lives he is greater than everything, from all our hopes and dreams to all of our heartache, problems, and trials.

Fix your thoughts on Jesus.

God Bless,

Shae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trusting Him

A year ago, when I first started writing this blog, there was not much conversation about persecution.  After I started this blog the world began to talk about ISIS in a new way.  Much of the conversation is about fear and anger, not much about loving your enemies and forgiving them as Jesus has done for us.  It’s easy to forget, in our fear, that Muslims are lost souls in need of saving.

Matthew 5:43-48 New Living Translation (NLT)

Teaching about Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[a] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies![b] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[c] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Now, there is much debate over whether refugees should come into America.  Many are afraid all the young men are ISIS members coming to kill us.  As Christians we are not called to live our lives in fear.  God tells us in his word, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul.  Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28

After my first post “Where His Path Led Me,” I went to Mission ConneXion.  I learned about many different ministries and organizations, met inspiring people, and gathered great resources.  A few months later, people that I met at Mission ConneXion became keynote speakers at the Worldview Symposium I helped organize for youth and their families.  I wrote about that in my post “Wakeful and Uprooted”.

I wanted to connect with others around my age so I put together a class for the weekly homeschool co-op I’m in. The lessons were mostly pulled for my blog and books I’ve read.  Some of the kids came because they went to the Worldview Symposium.  I added a page to this blog called “Persecution Class” and I posted the lessons there.  We are continuing the class next semester and adding a book club/prayer group.  It will be a place for us to get to know each other better as we read books like Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand and God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew.

God is using this blog to teach me.  I’m learning to trust Him more, to give my concerns about whatever I’m planning or holding onto to Him because he already has it planned and knows how it will turn out.  I am learning to push myself and the value of being uncomfortable. I realize the stress I feel to write a new post is usually because I am looking to myself for something to say.  When I turn to God and I am being led by Him, it feels completely different.  A year ago, after reading people’s stories about persecution in several books and watching their testimonies on YouTube, my heart was broken.  I could not stop thinking about them.  I prayed to God and asked Him to use me and to let me help somehow.  God brought to me the idea of a blog.  He made it clear to me that’s what he wanted me to do.  I was terrified when I wrote my first post, I thought no one would like it and I would be trolled.  But, I didn’t want to say no to God so I sat down and struggled through my first post.  It has been amazing to feel His hand on me through this journey.  I can see Him so clearly through all of the brokenness that surrounds us.

The idea of a class was so scary to me, I went back and forth on whether I should do it or not.  Then I thought of my brothers and sisters who are risking everything- their families, homes, security, and even their lives to share the love of God in this broken world.  I thought of how scared I was to do the class and have people not like it or not like me, I felt ashamed for not trusting God, so I did the class.  I am reminded again that His plans for me are good.  I’m glad I trusted God with the class.  They are a special group.  God brought us together for a purpose and I’m excited to see what He has planned for us. This blog has been viewed in over 70 countries so far.  It never even occurred to me that anyone outside of the U.S. or my family and friends would read it much.  It continues to amaze me and I am praying for everyone who has read this blog.

The world feels more unstable every day, but remember that God is there, He loves and cares for each and every one of us.  That is why He sent His son Jesus to take our sins from us.  Jesus experienced complete separation from God, when He died on the cross, so we don’t have to.  He died so we could spend eternity with Him in heaven.  The Bible tells us, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

If you want to know more about Jesus, the book of John or the book of Romans in the Bible are a good place to start.  Bible Gateway has many translations and languages available https://www.biblegateway.com/

This is the Scripture that we built the Symposium on.

Jeremiah 1:4-12 New Life Version (NLV)

Now the Word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I started to put you together in your mother, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart as holy. I chose you to speak to the nations for Me.” Then I said, “O, Lord God! I do not know how to speak. I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy.’ You must go everywhere I send you. And you must say whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of them. For I am with you to take you out of trouble,” says the Lord. Then the Lord put out His hand and touched my mouth, and said to me, “See, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 I have chosen you this day to be over the nations and the kings, to dig up and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”

11 And the Word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching to see that My Word is completed.”

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God bless you,

Shae

 

One Church: Modern Persecution – Lesson One

For my homeschool co-op, I put together a class about persecution called “One Church: Modern Persecution.”  I chose the name One Church, because we are one body in Christ.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but many.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

I pulled most of the class from this blog.  My mom is helping me with it, I put it together and my mom teaches the class. I’m not teaching it because I am more comfortable writing than speaking.  I have been wanting to do a class on persecution but I am very shy, that is part of the reason why I started a blog.   Last semester, I took a speech class because I want to become more comfortable speaking to a group.

I had been thinking about creating a class for a while but I wasn’t sure where to start.  After I attended Mission ConneXtion, last year, the class began to come together.  I met a lot of great people and organizations, and got many resources I’m using in the class.  I met the Voice of the Martyr’s Area Coordinator for my area.   She shared with me many resources that I’m using in the class.  After talking with her I was really encouraged, and I appreciated the time she spent with me.

The goal of the class is to raise awareness about modern persecution and show other teens ways to get involved and help now.

We began our first class with an activity we found at Open Doors Youth, they are a great resource: http://www.opendoorsyouth.org/do-something/youth-leader-resources/youth-leader-resources/ We set out bowls of bright colored pompom cotton balls (instead of marshmallows), plates, and chop sticks.  The goal was to move as many cotton balls onto their plates with the chop sticks, before the time ran out.  Then we switched to moving dried rice which was more difficult.  Finally, we attempted to build card towers.   It was a great icebreaker and an effective way to demonstrate perseverance.

We read from Hebrews 13:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10, and Hebrews 11.  We discussed endurance, willpower, persecution, faith, and the difference between the mountain top and the valley. Most importantly, we talked about how God uses ordinary people, who make mistakes and aren’t perfect, to do His will.

From the Open Doors Lesson outline, we watched a movie clip from Lord of the Rings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjm1DRMEyUQ ,Samwise’s speech is strong example of not giving up and it was a unexpected surprise during a serious class.

Next, we shared about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man of great faith who didn’t give up.  We watched this video about his life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrNTVrtXPAU

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Pastor who spoke out against Hitler and the persecution of the Jews. His most well known book is “The Cost of Discipleship.”  He tried to organize the Protestant church to take a firm stand against the Nazis.  When that didn’t happen he helped Martin Niemoller form The Confessing Church, their goal was to oppose the German Christian church movement, supported by Nazis. He wanted the church to live out what it said it believed.  I’m reading an excellent biography about him, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.

In 1937, The Confessing Church Seminary was closed by Himmler, a leading member of the Nazi party.  After the seminary was closed, Bonhoeffer traveled throughout Eastern Germany over the next two years, leading private seminaries.  In June 1939 he became concerned he would be asked to take an oath to Hitler, so he left Germany and went to the United States.  He felt guilty for seeking sanctuary there and not having the bravery to live what he preached.  Within a year he returned home to Germany.

Bonhoeffer then served as a messenger to the small German resistance.  He was involved in efforts to help Jews escape to Switzerland, this led to his arrest in April 1943.  Bonhoeffer spent 18 months in Telgel Military prison.  He continued to write while he was imprisoned, a guard smuggle out his writings.  Bonhoeffer was moved to the Gestapo’s high security prison, after the failed bomb plot in July 20, 1944.  Then he was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp, and finally Flossenburg concentration camp.  He was then sentenced to death on April 8, 1945, three weeks before the war ended.  It is believed to have been under the direct order of Hitler.  He was hung along with Admiral Wilhelm Canaris and Hans Oster who were also conspirators.  Before his execution, Bonhoeffer asked an inmate to give a message to Bishop George Bell of Chichester, “This is the end – for me the beginning of life.”


The camp doctor who witnessed his execution wrote:

“I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer…kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God.  I was most deeply moved by the way this loveable man prayed, so devoted and so certain that God heard his prayer.  At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed.  His death ensued after a few seconds.  In the almost fifty years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly seen a man die so entirely submissive to God.”


We discussed these quotes:

“Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.” – Bonhoeffer

“Cheap grace is preaching for forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is Grace without discipleship, Grace without the cross, Grace without Jesus Christ.”  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What is cheap grace?  What is the cost of discipleship?  We asked them to think about how political Christians should be and to research what the Bible says about it.

Never Again Is Now

There is a story from WWII of a train carrying Jews to a concentration camp, the train passed a church and the cries of the Jews were disrupting the Christians singing, so those Christians sang louder.

Bonhoeffer spoke up for the Jews who were being persecuted.  He took a stand against the evil that was happening and he refused to sing louder, which led to his death.  The train is rolling now.  Will you sing louder or speak up for those who can’t?

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31: 8-9 (NIV)

At the end of class we passed out bright red folders we made including these handouts:

World Watch List Map: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/ 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Bio: http://www.biographyonline.net/spiritual/dietrich-bonhoeffer.html

A list of some of Bonhoeffer’s quotes http://blog.biographyonline.net/2010/12/quotes-dietrich-bonhoeffer.html,

Brother Andrew bio:http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/brother-andrew/ and http://www.opendoorsusa.org/about-us/history/brother-andrews-story/

and Project Peal http://www.billionbibles.org/china/project-pearl.html. 

The next class will be about Brother Andrew and his organization Open Doors, China, and Project Pearl. Through this class I’m hoping to inspire other teens to speak up and act for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

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God bless,

Shae

Refugees of Sudan and Syria

This was originally posted on June 13, 2015.  The post was accidently deleted while using the mobile app. Since I wrote this the crisis in Syria has exploded. It is estimated that there are now around 50 million refugees in the world today, the most since WWII.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is not to act, not to act is to act.” – Deitrich Bonhoeffer

30,000 people a day are forced to flee their home because of violence or fear of persecution.  Refugees spend an average of five years in a refugee camp waiting for a chance to resettle in a new country, less than 1% get that chance.

There is an estimated 11 million Syrians who have been displaced, since the civil war started in 2011.  United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) estimates around 3 million have fled to neighboring countries such as: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.  6.5 million refugees remain in Syria.  More than four years after the war began, it is estimated to have killed 222,000 people, half were citizens.
On July, 26, 2012 the first official refugee camp for Syrian refugees, called Za’atari, opened in Jordan.  In March 2015 there were an estimated 83,000 refugees.  Za’atari is slowly becoming a permanent city.

Along the main street, the camp is like a market.  There refugees can buy food, clothing, and find basic housing.  There have been altercations between the refugees at the camp, a main reason is the lack of food.  A second camp was established after the camp reach maximum capacity housing 60,000 refugees.  This second refugee camp was built 20 kilometers east from Za’atari in Jordan.  On April 5, 2014 there was a riot and a number of people, both refugees and Jordanian police, were injured. One refugee was killed by a gun shot.

When Syrian refugees make it to the camp they still are in danger.  Their new enemies are starvation, disease, and the violence that develops between refugees because of the scarcity of food.  Some refugee camps serve as headquarters for rebel organizations.  They use the camps for recruitment, support, and training to exploit refugees basic needs .

Refugees have to wait an average of five years in a camp before they can get permission to enter a country for asylum.

Where were you five years ago?  That is a long time to wait for help. Every year 50,000-70,000 refugees come to the U.S. seeking safety.  Refuges who are entering the United States are interviewed by the UNHCR and U.S Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, only those escaping persecution are eligible for entry.  When refugees come to the U.S on a travel loan they must repay the cost of their travel expenses.  Each refugee is assigned to an agency to provide basic needs during their first 90 days in the U.S.  Refugees need to establish self-sufficiency through housing, transit, learning English and job skills.  Three months is not very long, they are facing much new pressure and in such an unfamiliar environment.

The Lost Boys of Sudan

The Lost Boys of Sudan are a group of 20,000 boys who were displaced during the second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005).  The name “The Lost Boys of Sudan” was given to them by Aid workers at a refugee camp in Africa. Around 2.5 million people were killed during the war.  Most of the boys were orphans, most were separated from their families when government soldiers and rebels attacked their villages.  Many of them escaped being killed or taken to be soldiers because they were tending their cattle when their villages were attacked.  They kept their cattle near water and were able to hide in the thick brush.  The surviving children traveled for years looking for a safe place.  They found shelter in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. A few went to villages in South Sudan.  On the journey, half of the boys died from starvation, diseases, and attacks from wild animals, soldiers, and rebels.

Most of the woman and young girls, in the villages that were attacked, were raped and sold into slavery. At the refugee camp in Ethiopia, the boys and girls were put into separate areas of the camp.  In Sudanese culture girls cannot be alone, so they were placed with surviving family members, or adopted by other families.  When the resettlement program to the U.S started, only orphans were, so the girls who were placed with family members, or other families for 9-14 years, were no longer considered orphans, and were not able to be in the resettlement program.

From 1992-1996, 1200 of the Lost Boys were reunited with their families, because of UNHCR however, 17,000 remained in refugee camps in 1996.

The current Civil War in Sudan started in December 2013, nothing has really changed.  For more information on what the current situation is like in Sudan since the current civil war started in 2013.  This is an excellent article with illuminating pictures.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/09/un-base-south-sudan-photos_n_7544794.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Here is more information about refugees:

http://www.west-info.eu/how-many-refugees-worldwide/

Adopt a Refugee:

http://www.refugeechildren.net/

http://www.adoptarefugeefamily.org/

United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home

God Bless You,

Shae

A Birthday Prayer

 Hebrews 13:3 New International Version (NIV)

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.


The American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been in prison, in Iran, since September 26, 2012.  He was sentenced to eight years in prison.  September 26, 2015 will mark his third year in prison with many reports of abuse and torture.

His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, is asking churches around the country to come together on September 26 in prayer for Saeed.  Prayer vigils are being held at state capital buildings, churches, and homes.  For more information on how you can attend or host one visit http://beheardproject.com/prayer-vigil/saeed/.
Saeed’s daughter, Rebekka, will be celebrating her ninth birthday September 12th.  This is another birthday spent without her dad.  Naghmeh posted their church’s address on Facebook.
If you want to send an encouraging birthday card, you can mail it to:
Naghmeh Abedini
123 Auto Dr.
Boise, ID 83709
Naghmeh also requests prayer for her kids, they are starting to lose hope that their dad will ever come home.
Here is the letter Saeed wrote to his daughter last year, for her birthday:

My Dearest Rebekka Grace,

HAPPY 8th BIRTHDAY!

You are growing so fast and becoming more beautiful every day. I praise God for His faithfulness to me every day as I watch from a distance through the prison walls and see pictures and hear stories of how you are growing both spiritually and physically.

Oh how I long to see you.

I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big WHY In your mind you are asking: WHY Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all of the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family.

The answer to the WHY is WHO. WHO is control? LORD JESUS CHRIST is in control.

I desire for you to learn important lessons during these trying times. Lessons that you carry now and for the rest of your life. The answer to the WHY is WHO. The confusion of “WHY has all of this happened?” and “WHY your prayers are not answered yet” is resolved with understanding WHO is in control…LORD JESUS CHRIST, our GOD!

God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our good (Romans 8:28). Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory. He is doing something inside each of us and also outside in the world. People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world and some may wonder why? But you should know the answer of WHY is WHO. It is for Jesus. He is worth the price. And He has a plan to be glorified through our lives.

I want you to read the book of Habakkuk. He had the same question as you. But see that the Lord answered him in Habakkuk 2:3, “the vision comes and doesn’t delay on time, wait for it.” Mommy and I always had big desires to serve Jesus and had great vision to be used for His Kingdom and for His Glory. So today we pay a cost because God, who created us, called us to that.

And so I want you to know that the answer to all of your prayers is that God is in control, and He knows better than us what He is doing in our lives and all around the world.

Therefore declare as Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-­‐Nego did in Daniel 3: 17-­‐18!

17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

And learn and declare as Habakkuk did that even if we do not get the result that we are looking for, God is still good and we WILL praise His Holy Name.

Habakkuk 3:17-­19

17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Then my dear beloved daughter Rebekka Grace, I pray God will bring me back home soon. But if not, we will still sing together as Habakkuk did HALLELUJAH, either separated by prison walls or together at home.

So, let Daddy hear you sing a loud Hallelujah that I can hear all the way here in the prison!

I am so proud of you my sweet courageous daughter. Glory to God forever, Amen.

Kisses and Blessings,

Daddy


The president of Iran is going to be in New York, speaking before the United Nations, on September 28.  Naghmeh is going to New York, praying for an opportunity to speak with him.  In Saeed’s letter you can see the peace God gives him.  He knows that Jesus Christ is control.  He is not angry with God for not answering their prayers by releasing him from prison.  Instead, he’s confident in God’s promise. Let’s continue to pray for God’s will for Saeed and his family as he continues to stand for his faith in Christ.

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 God bless you,
Shae