The People of the Cross

The world is being shaken by ISIS.

ISIS is beheading and crucifying men, women, and even toddlers.  They are locking people in cages and burning them alive, they are raping women and children and selling them.  They want to conquer the world.  On June 24, the UN and Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement released statistics on how many people have been displaced because of ISIS- more than 1.2 million since January, the numbers are not clear.

How do we react to this as Christians? What should we do?

For a year and a half in Iraq, ISIS has been painting the Arabic letter N “nūn” ن for Nazarene on Christians homes to mark them for execution. ISIS uses ن as a mark of shame.  We are retaking it and wearing it as a mark of pride to stand with our persecuted family.  Christians are wearing this symbol ن on shirts, necklaces, bracelets, stickers, etc..  I took a black shirt I had and painted ن on it in red.

ISIS parades prisoners in orange jumpsuits, creating slick Hollywood style videos of mass executions. Christians are also showing unity with prisoners of ISIS by wearing orange shirts and tying orange ribbons to cars and around trees.  Many are hoping to spark a conversation.

We need to raise our voices!

Why are churches not standing up?  Why are we not using the freedom we have to protest? Why are we staying silent while our brothers and sisters are being slaughtered?

There are social protests often in Portland.  We should be making noise about what ISIS is doing to Christians. I’ve read about calls for a big protest march in Washington D.C.  That would be wonderful. In the mean time, let’s raise our voices wherever we live.  Image if churches all over joined together in protest rallies to let our leaders know that we are not okay with their lack of decisive action.

Hebrews 13:3 says, “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.”  Why is the Church not doing this together?  Shouldn’t churches be coming together to stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters?


Jesus said to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

But how can we really love them?  They are killing God’s people.  We have to remember we are all sinners, and God’s forgiveness is for everyone.

Romans 5:8-10 New International Version (NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!


Romans 8 is always one of the first passages of scripture that comes to my mind, when I hear what new horrors ISIS has committed.

Romans 8:34-39 New International Version (NIV)

34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The Apostle Paul is one of my heroes.

His life is a favorites to read and study in the Bible.  The story of his conversion on the road to Damascus, from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming a great witness for Christ, amazed me.  Paul went from being Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of Christians, to the Apostle Paul who eventually was beheaded for his faith in Jesus.  He faced many trials and persecution in his life, but he never lost his faith, he remained faithful to death.  God used him to make a difference in the world, even though for a long time he did terrible things to God’s children.

Revelation 2:10 New International Version (NIV)

10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

A letter from The People of the Cross to ISIS.

 I saw this video earlier and it made me cry.  I have now watched it so many times, I still cry every time I see it or read it. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is worth your time.

Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSv4vBcFyvo


A Letter from the People of the Cross to ISIS

The world is talking about you
Your apocalyptic dreams and spectacular sins
Are now awakening the middle east
In your holy war, come to holy ground
Come children of Abraham come
The people of the cross gathers at your gates with a message

Love is coming after you.
Like a rush of wind grazing over the pacific
From hills of the mount of olives to the desert winds of Jordan
From the cedars of Lebanon to the silk roads of the East
An army comes. With no tanks or soldiers
But an army of martyrs faithful unto death
Carrying a message of life
The people of the cross
Comes to die at your gates.
If you wont hear our message with words
Then we will show you with our lives
Laid down.

For every throat you slit and every woman you rape
For every man you burn and every child you turn to dust
There is blood on your hands brother

But Come Brothers Come

Come with your bloodstained hands,
Come with your eyes full of murder for the people of the Cross,
Come lay your guns and your knives at the foot of the cross
A love that is overdue and overwhelming
Breathes through your cities

Though your sins are like scarlet
They can be washed white as snow
Though you call yourselves servants
He will make you into Sons
Where can you run from His love?
Even the darkness cannot hide you

Come Brothers Come
There is the sound of a rushing rain
To remove your sins and bind your wounds
You die for your god but our God died for us
The King of Kings comes to be the sacrificial lamb
Slain on the altar where we should have been
Jesus Christ, Isa Al Masih
Walks through the Middle East

There is forgiveness tonight oh brother
There is healing for your sins oh brother
We are no different.
Apart from Christ, we are no better than the worst jihadist
Christ has been crucified once. and for All.
To make sinners like you and me into brothers
Even you.
Even now.


All of us have sinned.

We all deserve death because of our sins.

In our sins we are no different from anyone else.

Jesus died on the cross an innocent man taking our sins.

   He took our place.

In Him we have forgiveness, redemption, love, freedom and grace.


Genesis 50:20 New International Version (NIV)

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

God bless us all,

Shae

The Cost

Matthew 13:44-47 New International Version (NIV)

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

This is one of my favorite Scriptures.

  Knowing Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him is the greatest treasure, nothing else can compare.  When we have a personal relationship with Jesus we have found the treasure in the field, we have found the pearl of great value.

Rend Collective is one of my favorite bands.

They are a Northern Irish Christian experimental, folk rock band.  I came across one of their songs “The Cost” from their album Homemade Worship by Homemade People.  Open Doors used this song in a beautiful video they made about Christians facing persecution around the world.  Christians are laying down their lives and continuing to choose Jesus.


“The Cost”

I’m saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I’ll leave myself behind
And follow You

I’ll walk the narrow road
’cause it leads me to You
I’ll fall but grace
Will pick me up again

I’ve counted up the cost
Oh I’ve counted up the cost
Yes I’ve counted up the cost
And You are worth it

I do not need safety
As much as I need You
You’re dangerous
But Lord You’re beautiful

I’ll chase You through the pain
I’ll carry my cross
’cause real love
Is not afraid to bleed

Jesus
Take my all
Take my everything

I’ve counted up the cost
And You’re worth everything


Here’s the link for the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaX4Rv02CGk

Philippians 1:20-26 New International Version (NIV)

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

God Bless,

Shae


Wakeful and Uprooted

I live in one of the most unchurched areas of the USA.  According to a Gallup poll, here in Washington State, we are only 31% religious.  I am in a youth group, a Bible study, and a Christian homeschool co-op, but I am still searching for deeper teaching aimed at students.  I have gifted teachers and I learn from each of these groups, but the focus is often on outreach.  I see events online, but it is really hard to find youth conferences or events in my area I can attend.  A few months ago, our house church was looking for new ways we could help our community. We decided to do a symposium for teens and young adults.  Symposium is a Greek word that means “a meeting or conference for the discussion of some subject, especially a meeting at which several speakers talk on or discuss a topic before an audience.”

We decided to talk about worldview because how you view the world shapes how you see everything.  Everyone has a worldview, even if they don’t think about it much.  After working on it for a while we only had one speaker, so we decided we needed to call it a workshop.  Our speaker graduated from a Bible College, teaches high school, works in youth ministry, and he also leads the Bible study that meets at my house every week.  He worked with our group to practice, get feedback, and make changes to his sessions.  One night after we finished our Bible study, he asked if we wanted to bring another speaker in. He wanted to make sure everyone knew he didn’t have to be the only speaker.  No one had anyone else in mind, the next day we went to Mission ConneXion.

At Mission ConneXion we met many amazing people.  One of the first booths we went to was Global Radio Outreach, they are a ministry reaching Muslims through internet radio stations and networks, in their native languages, all around the world. We told them about this blog and the class I’m putting together, they suggested that we talk with a ministry that had a booth two over from them called Redeeming the Nations.

Redeeming the Nations is a ministry that broadcasts by satellites to Muslim nations in Arabic and many other languages.  We talked with the man sitting at the booth and told him about this blog and the class about persecuted Christians and missions I want to put together.  We asked him if he would consider speaking at the class, he said one of them would come.  We learned much from him quickly and then he introduced us to the founder and president of Redeeming the Nations.  They invited us to attend an “Intro to Islam” class he was teaching during the conference.  I am glad I was able to go to that workshop, it was very interesting. I learned that the worldwide population of Muslims is about 1.6 billion, between 6-9 million in the USA, and 70-80,000 in the Portland area.  He really stressed the need to reach out and love Muslims.  We need to love Muslims because they are made in the image of God too and Christ died for all of us.  He used an acronym:

I
Sincerely
Love
All
Muslims

He also pointed out that there is a mission field here, in our own cities and towns.  There is a mission field wherever there are people.  Don’t just take people to church, take church to them. I know this is repeated often in church, but be the church.

A few days later my mom had the idea of asking them to come speak at the symposium.  She wasn’t sure because it would take the symposium in a new direction.  After much prayer and discussion, she contacted them.  They said they would, but their schedule was very full and the only time they had open was the morning of the symposium.  We hadn’t been sure which date to choose and finally settled on that date, which turned out to be the only spot they had open.  God had a plan.

We were having a hard time coming up with a name for the symposium.  Actually weren’t sure exactly what any of it looked like: we didn’t know where to hold it, what to call it, how to advertise it or any of the details like music and food.  We just knew that God wanted us to do it.  The whole process was like peeling an onion with God only revealing one layer at a time to us .

The name we decided on is Truly Rooted Ministries which came from Jeremiah 1:4-12.

 The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.     Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! 10 Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” 11 Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?” And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.” 12 And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching,[c] and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”

Before she went to bed one night, my mom had been praying for God to show us the name.  She woke up early in the morning with the clear thought to look at an online Christian news app on her phone.  She went there and browsed the sections, unsure which to choose.  She chose the culture section because that is what we were going to talk about.  As she scrolled the articles one stood out, it referenced a scripture that wasn’t familiar to her- Jeremiah 1:4-12.

After she looked it up and read it she was really excited.  She got up to see who was awake. I was and so we sat on my bed and my mom read me the passage.  We discussed what we thought it meant, then we started brain storming ideas.  The two main points that stood out to us were  “I can’t speak for you!  I’m too young!” because one of the main goals of the symposium was to show teens they are not too young for God to use them. The second was the almond branch, we immediately started thinking about trees and the idea of having deep roots in Christ, along with the idea of uprooting lies.

The names we came up with at first were really bad.  We were trying to come up with a name that had to do with trees, roots, rooted, planted, rooted deep, almonds, branches, growth, ect. My mom finally suggested Truly Rooted, being rooted in truth and rooting out untruth.  I loved it right away. I love to do Bible studies, my big Christmas present two years ago was a giant Strong’s Concordance. I looked up “almond tree” and read all the passages, then I looked it up in the Bible Dictionary my Grandma gave me and then I reread all the passages again.  I found that “almond tree” in Hebrew means: wakeful, wakefulness, God executing His plan/purpose, and the fulfilling of God’s plan.  We thought the name fit, so we presented it to our house church and it became our name.

We decided our ministry would be Truly Rooted Ministries so if we do other events we can use that name.  We worked through all of the challenges of organizing an event like this and it finally all came together. God directed us each step of the way and many people helped. The symposium was last weekend.  It went really well, we weren’t sure how many people would show up, we only had five people that registered who were not part of our house church.  We knew people would come who did not register, so we planned seats and food for around sixty, and sixty people came.

The founder of Redeeming the Nations came and spoke about Islam.  One thing he said that left an impression on me was that the problem is not with the people, the problem is with the spiritual blinders.  There is a difference between culture, religion, and people. God showed us what he could do with a small group of people, He showed us what could happen when we trusted Him.  We are talking about taking the symposium to other churches in the area, and maybe rotating between different themes.  We are still discussing it.  It was amazing to see all the pieces come together, to look back and see how God was preparing each one of us.  A year ago, I would’ve never thought I would have a blog, or be in a house church helping plan a symposium for sixty people we weren’t sure were going to come.  God has shown me what He can do with a few people who trust Him.

Around the world, people face persecution just for sharing about Jesus. Here, where God put me, I can speak out freely and share the love and hope of JESUS.  I don’t ever want to take that freedom for granted.


Habakkuk 3:19 New International Version (NIV)

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Freedom

Matthew 18:20 New International Version (NIV) 20 

 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Over the weekend, I went to The Rock and Worship Road Show in Portland, OR. It was an amazing concert! I saw some of my favorite Christian bands and artists like Mercyme, I Am They, Group 1 Crew, David Crowder, Matt Maher, Jamie Grace, and Tedashii. I waited in line for hours, in the rain, along with thousands of other believers.  I took the photo during Tadashii’s performance.  Throughout the night I kept thinking about how awesome it was that we were able to gather and worship freely.  Christians all around the world gather to worship God in secret. Many Christian churches have been vandalized and destroyed.  I had moments where I was distracted, thinking about how I was standing in a huge auditorium, worshiping God with over ten thousand other believers, and Christians in other countries are worshipping in secret or in a prison cell. People such as Asia Bibi and Saeed Abedini.

According to Prisoner Alert, Asia Bibi is married to Ashiq Masih, their family is one of only three Christian families in a village of 1,500 families. She was arrested on June 19, 2009. She worked on a local farm owned by a Muslim, Muhammad Idrees.  The women she was working with had been pressuring her to renounce Christianity and accept Islam.  On June 19, 2009, the women were having a discussion about religion, Asia told them Christ had died on the cross for sins, then asked them what Mohammad had done for them.  They began to beat her, then some men took her and locked her in a room.  They announced from the mosque that she was going to be punished for blasphemy. Christians told local authorities what was happening, they took Asia into custody before her face was blackened and before she was marched around on a donkey.  Christians pleaded with the police trying keep them from arresting Asia for blasphemy charges.  The police claimed they were under pressure from the Muslim leaders and so they would not release her.

Asia has been sentenced to death. She is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.

Christians all around the world are pleading for her release, just as Muslims are pleading for her death.  A Muslim leader has offered $6,000 to whoever kills Asia, and her family is facing death threats also.

In Pakistan, more than 150,000 Christians have signed a petition demanding justice for persecution victims, including Asia Bibi.  Here is where you can sign: http://www.callformercy.com/

To learn more about the persecution of Christians in Pakistan: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/


Saeed Abedini is the American Pastor sentenced to eight years in one of Iran’s hardest prisons because he shared Jesus. You’ve probably heard about him on the news.  Saeed is a former Muslim who met Jesus in 2000.  He married his wife Naghmeh, an American citizen, in 2002.  They were involved in the house church movement in Iran, when the Iranian government tolerated it. Saeed was responsible for establishing about 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members.  When the Iranian government pressed back hard against the house churches, they moved back to the United States.

He went back to Iran in 2009 to visit his family.  He was arrested and threatened with death by the police.  They interrogated him about becoming a Christian.  He was released after he signed an agreement that he would stop his work in the house churches.  In 2009 he went back to Iran, on his ninth trip, to visit his family and work on the orphanage he was building in the city of Rasht. His passport was confiscated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Saeed was arrested.  He was charged with “compromising national security” although no specifics were announced.  On January 21, 2013 Iranian state media reported that Saeed would be released after posting a $116,000 bond.  His wife, Naghmeh, said that the government has no intention of freeing him and that the announcement is “a game to silence” according to international media reports.

Here is where you can sign a petition to free Saeed and write him letters: http://beheardproject.com/saeed


Asia Bibi and Saeed Abedini are two well known Christians who are imprisoned for their faith, their stories have made national headlines.  There are thousands of others who are imprisoned for their faith, their stories have not made the news.  What about them?

While researching this post I came across this heartbreaking report about Christians persecuted in Pakistan almost 20 years ago.

 http://www.balaams-ass.com/alhaj/miseries.htm

Where are they now?  What happened to them?

We are so fortunate that we have the freedom gather and worship God freely. Pray for Christians who are meeting in secret, that they would stay undetected and be able to continue to share the hope and love of Jesus.

~Shae


Fear is a Lie


Persecution has always existed.

One of the reasons I started this blog is because I thought there wasn’t enough conversation about persecution.  In such a short period of time, the whole world has begun talking about it in a new way.  The tangible evil is showing it’s face and wont be ignored.  They are familiar now, words that evoke images of terror and death that are designed to make us feel fear deep in our hearts: ISIS, ISIL, IS, AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), Ansar Al Sharia in Libya, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, Marxism, Communism.  Whatever name they are using, they all share the same roots and the same goals: power, death, destruction and ultimately to stop the TRUTH of Jesus Christ.

I often hear people talk about positivity and negativity, the light versus the dark, how if we could all just be kinder and show more love then we can influence the universe and make it a better place. I don’t believe this. I don’t believe that the universe has a personality and cares about us. I don’t believe that we came from nothing for nothing.

I believe we are created in the image of God for a purpose.  We are to love God and love each other.

Fear is a lie.

It is a distraction designed to hold you back from the truth.  We are not alone.  This isn’t just a battle against the evil we see, but against the evil we cannot see.


Ephesians 6:10-20 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

The Fight against Evil

10 Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. 11 Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. 12 We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13 So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day[a] comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.

14 Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God’s justice protect you like armor. 15 Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. 16 Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Let God’s saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God’s message that comes from the Spirit.

18 Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. 19 Pray that I will be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news. 20 I was sent to do this work, and that’s the reason I am in jail. So pray that I will be brave and will speak as I should.


United in Prayer

When I began this blog I wasn’t sure who I would be writing to, I just felt pressure from God to share what I was learning about persecuted Christians. I thought I would be writing to teens in the USA, instead God is leading me to a different audience.  Along with American readers, it is incredible to see all the countries that have viewed my blog, I am honored.

My brothers and sisters in Brazil, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Dominican Republic, Australia, Canada, India, Romania, Nepal, Bolivia, United Kingdom, Algeria, Czech Republic, Austria, Philippines, Moldova, and Thailand   I am praying for all of you.

God Bless You,

Shae


We are united in prayer against the rising evil.

Philippians 1:28 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

28 Be brave when you face your enemies. Your courage will show them that they are going to be destroyed, and it will show you that you will be saved. God will make all of this happen,

Prayers, Letters & Encouragement

 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.


There are an estimated 100 hundred million Christians facing persecution in the world.  Christians all around the world are imprisoned for their faith in Jesus.  According to Open Doors USA each month 332 Christians are killed, 214 Churches and Christian properties are destroyed and 772 acts of violence are committed against Christians.  For more information click here.

When I first learned about persecution I went to the Voice of the Martyrs website. I was looking for a way to help. I initially thought that would mean going overseas or giving money. I’m not old enough for relief work and I only make a little bit of money babysitting sometimes.  Most of the time, I am babysitting my little sister and my mom usually pays me in books and lattes.  So, I wasn’t sure how I could do anything to help without going overseas.  Right away. I learned there is much I can do. I can write to Christians imprisoned for their faith around the world, to encourage them and let them know they are not forgotten.  Often the prisoners don’t receive the letters, but the letters let the prison officials know there is an audience and the world is aware of their political prisoners.  You can also write letters and emails to government officials on behalf of the prisoners.

Prisoner Alert is a ministry under Voice of the Martyrs. With Prisoner Alert you can be alerted when Christians are arrested and  receive prayer requests and updates. They share information about Christians who are imprisoned so you can pray and write for them.  Before Prisoner Alert posts about a prisoner they get permission from their family and church.  You can also purchase a Prisoner Letter Writing Kit from Voice of the Martyrs that has eight prisoner profiles and self mailers. In the beginning, you might not be sure what to say, Prisoner Alert has suggested phrases you can use.  I’m excited, I got my first kit and I am writing the letters now.

With Open Doors letter writing you send in the letters you write to Open Doors and they will translate and deliver the letters to persecuted Christians. You can write letters of encouragement to children in orphanages and families who have loved ones who are imprisoned or who have been killed.  While writing letters to prisoners can offer encouragement to them and communicating with government officials can help, the most important and powerful thing we can do is pray. Starting with Paul the Apostle, through stories of modern persecution we see the same threads of connection.  Through the power of prayer people are healed, they are comforted during unimaginable trials, they are continually walking with God and keeping their eyes fixed on Him.  There are so many things we can pray for them: hope, strength, comfort, boldness in witnessing to their persecutor and fellow prisoners and to forgive their persecutors.  They are never alone, He is always there.  You can have prayer alerts and request sent to your email from Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs.

Keep in Touch

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Thanks for reading and God bless you!

Shae

“Our prayers can go where we cannot…there are no borders, no prison walls, no closed doors that are closed to us when we pray.”     -Brother Andrew- Founder of Open Doors