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

 

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

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

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.