Magnify

Philippians 1:20 King James Version (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

realign where my hope is set,

until you’re all that’s left …”

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

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


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

Our group read Philippians 1:20.

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

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

Christ was magnified in Richard Wurmbrand’s life.

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

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

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

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

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

Fix your thoughts on Jesus.

God Bless,

Shae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trusting Him

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

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

Teaching about Love for Enemies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the Scripture that we built the Symposium on.

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

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

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

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God bless you,

Shae

 

One Church: Modern Persecution – Lesson One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The camp doctor who witnessed his execution wrote:

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


We discussed these quotes:

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

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

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

Never Again Is Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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God bless,

Shae

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

“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

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


Treasured Bread

How many Bibles do you own?  How many are in your home?

In countries where it is illegal to own a Bible, believers spend hours at a time hand copying scripture.  Many churches and pastors don’t have Bibles, often a Bible is passed among believers.  In the short amount of time they may have with it, they copy and memorize as much as they can.  In some cases, people’s hands become disfigured from years of hand copying the Bible.

Here is Ling’s testimony from China, http://www.kidsofcourage.com/?p=3307.  I read her story in Hearts Of Fire published by The Voice of the Martyrs.  Ling’s story illustrates how rare and precious Bible’s are in some parts of China.  I admire the way Ling put her whole life in God’s hands as she walked from village to village sharing Jesus.


Matthew 4:4 New Living Translation (NLT)

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,

‘People do not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[a]


There is a great need for Bibles.

This is a video from International Christian Concern of Christians in China receiving Bibles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkXDcdMNE-I&feature=youtu.be

Here are a few ways to help:

– Pray “Never stop praying” -1 Thessalonians 5:17

– Bibles Unbound http://www.biblesunbound.com/qry/mc_home.taf

– Get the word out.

– Gather a small group together to pray for persecuted Christians around the world.  Pray that they would receive God’s Word and Bibles.

– In solidarity, hand copy your favorite passages from the Bible, the New Testament, letters from Paul, or just one book of the Bible, to remember the persecuted.

At Randy Alcorn’s website, Eternal Perspective Ministries., he shares about a woman who wrote to him about hand copying the Bible as a devotion.  She was inspired after reading about believers, hand copying a Bible, in his book about the Underground Church in China, Safely Home.  http://www.epm.org/blog/2014/May/26/handcopied-bible


Hebrews 13:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

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.