Land of a Thousand Hills

Rwanda the beautiful land and people of a thousand hills.

In October 2017, I went on my first mission trip overseas, I went to Rwanda.  When I was twelve I felt God calling me to go out into the world to share His Gospel.  I had been praying for years to go on a mission trip overseas and He finally sent me.  The main focus of the trip was a series of conferences.  We also spent time with widows and children, hearing their stories and sharing God’s love with them.

Come and See Africa (CASA) hosted a conference for pastor’s and one for their wives at the same time.  I helped a woman pastor from London with the conference for the pastor’s wives.  We looked at influential women from the Bible and history who are not well known.  We also read scripture, discussed what we read and prayed for them.  We shared some Sunday School ideas.  A parachute was donated to CASA for churches to borrow for Sunday Schools and events.  We demonstrated for them how to use it and taught them some games they could play and songs to sing.  They sang their own songs and built their own games off of what we shared.  We also painting with watercolors, which we also did with the female University students.1009171249

Our team gave both groups Salvation bracelets and demonstrated how to use them as conversation starters or reminders for ourselves while we shared the Gospel.  The bracelets have different bands of colors on them: yellow, black, red, blue and then green.  The yellow represented light and good-what God intended.  The black represents sin and our separation from God.  The red represents the death and sacrifice of Christ to restore our relationship with the Father, which leads us to the white meaning we are cleansed of all our sins.  The green is our hope in Christ and the blue is our future of Eternity with Him.Rwandan Meals

The pastor from London and I did a skit together (with a translator).  In the skit we recognized each other from a mutual friend but didn’t really know each other.  I played a nominal Muslim and she was a Christian.  She sees me at a coffee shop and asks if she can join me.  We chat about our families and then I admire her colorful bracelet. She tells me that there is a meaning and story behind it and asks if she can share it with me.  She goes over each of the colors and asks me questions.  During our discussion, I ask her questions about each one from a Muslim’s point of view.  After the skit, we passed out bracelets and the women practiced with a partner.

The Apologetics Conference was for university students from the five East African countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Congo.  The conference was focused on the seven “I Am” statements of Christ,  what they mean, the historical content, and how different worldviews approach them.  A man, from the African Center for Apologetic Research, came from Uganda for a few days to share about cults in Africa.  He gave resources to aid in understanding them more and how they aren’t in alignment with Scripture.  I talked with him a lot about some cults in groups in America, near where I live, that are working in Africa too.  I sat in on the conference with the students and learned much from the lectures.

One evening, one of the girls who worked at the hotel took me on a walk to town and we got some ice cream.  We asked each other many questions about our countries and cultures and each others lives.  She didn’t speak much English, but I think she understood more than she could say.  She asked me questions about English and I helped her a bit and she helped me with my French, which is very little.  I asked her if she could teach me some of their language, Kinyarwanda.  She was so shocked and told me that no other foreigner had ever asked her to teach them her native language, it’s always them wanting to teach her English.  I love learning new cultures and languages and love to learn what I can.1008171750b.jpg

She told me she was very impressed with how I pronounced the words and that I could remember them.  I was a little shocked too.  She taught me how to say, “Hello, how are you?” and “I’m fine.” I didn’t learn that much, but it was enough to make people smile.  Later, I used what I learned to try to talk with one of the housekeepers at the hotel.  She was very surprised and happy.  She helped me practice and tried to teach me more.

There were so many monkeys around.  I had never seen a monkey in my life before outside of movies and on television.  The few times I have visited a zoo they were always hiding. I was told to not feed them or get too close because they were aggressive and could attack me. I was very cautious of them, but they continually fascinated me.  Sometimes, when I had time I would sit outside just to watch them.  One night at dinner a few got inside the hotel and we had to chase them out, it was very exciting.1007171049b

 

I loved Rwanda and all the wonderful people I met there from different cultures and backgrounds and I was honored to heard their stories.  I tried new foods that I found I really enjoy, like goat and mushrooms.  Even though mushrooms are common in the USA, my mom dislikes mushrooms, so she doesn’t cook with them.   One evening we had mushroom soup for dinner. The mushrooms were from the mushroom plantation down the road, that we were going to visit the next day.  Before I left home, I had made a deal with myself that I would try every food that was offered to me and be open to new experiences. I love trying new things and adventures, so I tried the soup and purposely went out of my way to eat the mushrooms, instead of avoiding them  My friends at home tease me now and say it took me traveling across the world to try a mushroom.  The goat was also very good and not at all what I expected.  I loved the coffee and tea!  The coffee in Rwanda was amazing, the best in the world I was told by many people, who informed me that Starbucks sources their coffee from Rwanda. I was surprised though, to find myself drinking more African tea than coffee. I had not really had any tea that has tasted like that before, it had a bit of a spice but was not spicy.

I joined a group from my Uncle’s church to see their work with the local children. We visited a little school where the kids sang for us a song in their language.  The kids then learned to sing the song “Jesus Loves Me” and then they did it in sign language.  The group had purchased a cow for a woman and her children a few days before, so they went to visit her again and see where she was going to keep it.  I went with them and she showed us around the outside of her house and the pen that was built for the cow.  There were a bunch of children that kept coming out of her house and from all around it to see us.  They all had the brightest smiles on their faces and were full of excitement and joy.  We went out front of her house and passed out toys and candy and spent a little time with the kids.

A few days later, I went with the group to see a house they were helping a widow build, because her house was falling apart.  We were told that she walks fives miles to church and that her one room house gets so full it becomes a church.  The woman seemed to be very gentle and kind, a mother like figure to those around her.  We were swarmed by children a few of them spoke a little English, but it was only a few English catch phrases like, “what’s up” or they asked us for money.Widow and her house

 

I was able to see how they were building the house and observe the process.  They were making the bricks onsite. They kept her old house and built the new one in front it.

Me and the Widow

I raised money from my community in the USA to support the Rwandan community.  In Rwanda, I was able to see all the different areas of ministry and decided where to put the money.  I talked with one of the local pastors there who has worked with my Uncles for a long time and asked him what he thought I should put the money towards.  He suggested buying a cow for a one of the widows, she took in the abandoned daughter of a prostitute and is raising her as her own.  I really responded to the idea of supporting someone who is showing Christ’s love to an neglected child.  He also said that there would be enough left over, after buying the cow, to purchase health insurance for over a dozen families for a year.

Later, I was discussing his suggestions for the funds with my uncles in the “Missionary Room”.   That was a cozy, light filled area where we had our morning devotions and prayed, ate some of our meals and put together a few packets for the kids.  All of a sudden,  the pastor came in and declared, “I bought a cow and it’s name is Shae!”  We all just stared at him.  He explained that after we talked about what to do with the donations, he went and got a cow. It was right outside the door-making noise! We were all smiling and laughing.

Me and the widow and her baby

During one of our last days there, CASA’s Bible Institute held a graduation and the local news paper was there, along with the Assistant Mayor of the district and the Police Commissioner.  They came to to see all ways that CASA is helping the local community.  We began a tour with the graduation and then we visited the group of women gathered from the widow’s co-op.  Before the graduation started, I went with a pastor from London to go spend some time with the widows.  That was a highlight of the trip.  Even though we had a translator, we communicated mainly through singing songs and praying for each other in our own languages.  I could feel God’s presence, love and joy fill the room.  We didn’t have much in common on the surface, but  we all shared our love for Jesus.  I loved the time I had with these women.  They were so warm and welcoming, kind and joyful.  God showed me His global church, my brothers and sisters in Africa and gave me a glimpse of the bigger picture, the body of Christ all together singing songs and praises to our God and Savior.

Me with the widowsMy time with the widows reminded me that church is more than once a week on Sunday morning.  Church is so much more than that, it is more than a building.  It is every believer in Jesus Christ all around the world.  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, there are no church walls separating us.  We are all one together in Christ Jesus.  God opened my eyes to that a few years ago, in Rwanda I was able to see it so clearly.

My trip to Rwanda pushed me beyond my areas of comfort and encouraged me to grow stronger in my weaknesses, like public speaking and being outgoing.  I learned so much about myself and and what church and life is like in Rwanda.  Since I’ve been home I have pushed myself to speak in public and to connect more deeply with people in my local mission field.  I am so excited to see where God leads me!  I want to go back to Africa and stay longer, see more places, and meet more people! I loved it!  I am invited to go back in January.  I am praying about the opportunity to go back. Please pray with me for God’s guidance.

God Bless you and thank you for reading,

Shae

 

 

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Called to Love

“It is easier to cool down a fanatic than it is to warm up a corpse.”
Brother Andrew

Persecution may seem like a thing of the past or something that happens across the world to people and in places far away.  The physical difference between us, is not that far.  We are one body in Christ, one church.  When one part of the body suffers we all suffer. Persecution is very real, dangerous, and growing.  It’s happening to our brothers and sister in Christ.

I’ve had conversations with people, many of them were from my Christian community, about the persecution Christians are facing around the world, they would rather not think about it or pay to much attention.  They were very indifferent.

 Some of them said that only certain people are called to help the persecuted.  I don’t think it’s like that.  I think that we are not all called to the same thing, but I don’t think we are supposed to act indifferent to the people, “we don’t feel called to”.  God called us to love all people, from the outcasts, widows and orphans, tax collectors, to even our enemies.  We are not called to love only one group, but to love everyone.

Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

I think that comes from fear and not wanting to get to close because somehow it could affect your life in a negative way, that it opens the door for you to be persecuted or that it’s too heartbreaking to hear about.  Some of the accounts of persecution are heart wrenching and really painful to read and to be honest it’s hard for me to read sometimes and to just not think about it.  It’s too hard to comprehend the evil in this world, but I just cling to the hope and promise Jesus us gives us of eternal life with our Heavenly Father.

When I first became aware of the persecution of other Christians it shook me.  It made me ask myself some hard questions: Would I be willing to lose everything, my family, friends, job, house, my freedom, or even my life for my faith?  Would I risk being beaten and tortured, threatened or pressured to denounce my faith in Jesus? What would living in fear of persecution due to my faith? Would I follow God’s will no matter where it could lead me? Would persecution strengthen my faith or would it break it?  What does the Bible says about persecution?

When I began praying for Christians in other countries and, people groups, ministries and organizations,  and specific people, working to help the persecuted and unreached people groups, the churches and Christians in other parts of the world didn’t feel like far away strangers in far away places. They felt real and close.

Through all my research on religious freedoms in other countries and praying for those who are persecuted, I started to see the world differently. God used what I was reading and learning to open my eyes to the global church. He showed me the church was bigger than a Sunday morning. It is His body of believers.


We are all part of the same body under 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 of many. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-17

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. who is the head.

1 Corinthians 24-27

If one member of the body suffers we all suffer. 

Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. – Hebrews 13:3

I was amazed to find that despite persecution the church is growing.  No matter how much Satan attempts through persecution to stop the Gospel from spreading, it’s spreading like wildfire.  “For the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” – John 1:5

In some of the most darkest places of the world the Gospels is shining hope.


At the beginning of this year, Open Door’s World Watch List released the top 50 countries where it is the most difficult to be a Christian in 2018.

Here are the top 10:

North Korea

Afghanistan

Somalia

Pakistan

Eritrea

Libya

Iraq

Iran

Here is where you can learn more about the World Watch List:

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/

 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.

– Hebrews 13:3


Take a Stand!

Be their voice! Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defend and judge fairly. as Proverbs 31:7-8 says.  – “Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are in destitute.  Speak and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Pray for them! The number one thing persecuted Christians ask for is prayer.  Pray for them, pray they would remain faithful to Christ through all their sufferings and trials.  Pray their faith would be strengthen and that they would be bold witnesses to those around them and that they would forgive their persecutors.  Pray for their persecutors as well, and their country’s leaders.

Be informed and Get Involved!  Know what is happening around the world and ways you can get involved.  Here are some resources:

Open Doors USA

World Watch Monitor

Release International

Release Potential

Be Heard Project

SAT – 7

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world, it would love you as it’s own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of this world. That is why the world hates you.”

– John 15:18-19

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

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

The Train is Rolling

Romans 8:35-39 New International Version (NIV)

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.


Miriam is 11, she was forced to leave her home close to Mosul, Iraq when ISIS captured the city in mid 2014.  From Irbil, during Christmas 2014 she did an interview with SAT-7 reporter Essam Nagy.

SAT-7 is a ministry working to broadcast God’s love to churches in the Middle East and North Africa through television.

Miriam tells the reporter that God has provided for them, when he asked her what she meant by that she responded with, “God loved us and wouldn’t let ISIS kill us.”  Then he asked her if she knew how much God loved her and she replied, “Yes, God loves us all, not just me. God loves everybody.”  Miriam’s understanding of God is so beautiful.  Torn from her home and missing the life she knew, she remains focused on God’s faithfulness and love for everybody, even ISIS.  She says she forgives ISIS and prays God will too.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  He called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will ever enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”- Matthew 18:1-4 (NIV)

You can see the interview of Miriam’s Story and Song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ige6CcXuMg

Miriam’s faith left a strong impression on me.  She continually goes back to God’s will.  We can be so easily distracted from God’s will for our lives.  We struggle with wanting our way and trying to find the correct path.  Here she is, in a refugee camp, living her faith with trust and finding peace from God. She knows that God will never leave or forsake those who are His children.

Persecution for simply being a Christian is growing. I recently attended a  Voice of the Martyr’s conference. Everyday I read stories and testimonies of Christians who have been imprisoned, tortured, beaten, etc. for being a Christian. Meeting them, hearing them share their testimonies, and being able to talk with them was incredible.

At the conference, a speaker shared a story from World War II of a train carrying Jews to a concentration camp. The Jews were crying in despair for help.  When the train passed a church, the cries of the Jews interrupted the Christians singing, so those Christians sang louder.

Today the train is rolling.  I refuse to sing louder.

 Never Again Is Now.

God bless you,

Shae

“Forward On To Jesus”

I recently wrote a blog post about a video letter from the People of the Cross to ISIS.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSv4vBcFyvo

I love the way this letter shifts the conversation from how much we all hate ISIS to the LOVE and GRACE God offers sinners-even ISIS.

“Love is coming after you.”

Much of the conversation I have been hearing about ISIS is focused on how evil they are.

This video is so powerful because it clearly shows Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness to ISIS.

I have heard some talk, but not much, of how we need to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  The letter to ISIS was a great and powerful reminder that the people of ISIS are lost sinners, that Jesus died on the cross for them, just like He died for us.  He was thinking of them on the cross, just as He was thinking of us.  He came to forgive them too.  Another point in the letter that stood out to me was:

“Apart from Christ, we are no better from the worst jihadist.”

We all have sinned and have fallen short from the glory of God.  Jesus’ blood can cover every sin, He died for everyone.

ISIS is killing Christians, it is very real and tragic, but it is not the end.

 John 3:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

This is probably the most widely known Bible verse, because it sums up the reason Jesus came, so that whoever believes in Him will never die.   I read somewhere that, “You can’t kill a Christian, you can only change their address. 

This world is not our home, we do not belong here.

Selah wrote a beautiful song “People of the Cross” in response to Christians persecuted around the world and for the 21 Egyptian Christians who were beheaded, for their faith, by ISIS. This song is about them standing firm in their faith and not losing hope in Jesus.

Here is the link to their video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DksMpQTHMV0  

After I watched this video, this scripture came to my mind.

Philippians 3:20-21 New International Version (NIV)

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body


 “We won’t be shaken, hope won’t be taken.”

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