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

I’m Only Fifteen! How Can I Help?

“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 NIV 

A New World

This weekend I went to Mission Connexion for my first time. A few days before I was looking for some kind of conference I could attend, but I found nothing. I went to the Voice of the Martyrs website to see if they were doing anything in my area.  I had been wanting to go to one of their conferences, but there were none anywhere close to me.  I felt frustrated and disappointed.  Then I checked under local events and saw they were going to be at Mission Connexion in Portland, Oregon in two days.  Only two days away!  I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited, I was even more excited when I found out that Don Richardson was going to be there. He is a missionary who went with his wife Carol and their seven month old son and spent 15 years living with a stone age tribe in Papua, the Sawi tribe were cannibals and headhunters.  He wrote about their experiences in Peace Child.  To learn more about Don Richardson’s life I went on Youtube and found interviews with him, this is my favorite clip.

I went to Mission Connexion not knowing what to expect.  Most conferences are geared more toward college students or adults. I’m only fifteen, how can I help? I wasn’t sure if I would just be an observer.  I was surprised at how I was welcomed and included. I could feel God’s hand guiding me as I met so many people who shared their time and stories with me.  Here are some of the highlights:

My first impression was Book Heaven!  All of the books I’m on the hunt for were there, plus so many more.  I was able to get a few and took pictures of many I plan to read in the future.  Now I know how much is available from YWAM Publishing about my favorite topics.

Open Doors

When I talked with the representative from Open Doors I told him about this blog and how I want to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. He suggested that when I meet new immigrants I talk with them and find out their stories.  He also suggested I visit churches with refugees and volunteer to teach Sunday school.  He said there is a need and he thought I would be embraced. My sisters and I are all wearing rubber barbed wire bracelets they gave us.  They are great conversation starters, whenever someone asks us about them we can share about the persecuted church.  I want to plan a secret church youth event and the bracelets would be a great reminder to give to the other teens that go.  I’ll post more about that as it develops.

Voice of the Martyrs

At Voice of the Martyrs the representative shared with me many materials I had seen on the website including two DVDs I have been wanting to watch –Underground Reality Vietnam and Underground Reality Columbia. I am going to share them with my friends and family.  She also gave us bracelets that say “Pray for China” another great conversation starter. The Special Issue 2015 newsletter she gave us included a great pullout “I Commit to Pray for My Persecuted Family” map.  The back suggests 10 Ways to Pray.  Follow the link and you can read people’s stories and join with others in prayer there.

Prayer is a powerful way for us to intercede for them.

Colossians 1:9-12 New International Version (NIV)

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[a] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[b] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

Keep in Touch

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Where His Path Led Me

My name is Shae.  I am a Christian homeschooler. I live in the Pacific Northwest.

Last year I read a book that left a huge impression on me called Safely Home by Randy Alcorn of Eternal Perspective Ministries at http://www.epm.org.  I  had read another one of his books called Deadline that I had really enjoyed.  Safely Home is about the underground church in China and the persecution Christians face.  That book opened my eyes to what it means to be a Christian in other countries.  I  could not stop thinking about it, so I read everything I could find about persecution.

I knew that Christians in other countries did not have freedom like we do in the West, but I was shocked when I found out they are arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their faith.  I started praying about it, asking God to show me how I could help.  I helped my mom’s friend with her garage sale, she told me I could have any books I wanted.  I found a book called The Narrow Road written by Brother Andrew founder of Open Doors.   His story inspired me and showed me how God can use one person to make a difference.  I’ve heard many times at church and Bible studies that God uses imperfect people in His plan.  I know that He can use me.  Soon after I finished that book I was at a store and saw two books I had been looking for Tortured for Christ and Jesus Freak.

Tortured for Christ was written by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of Voice of the Martyrs.  In his book he wrote about his fourteen years captive in a Romanian prison.  He was tortured and spent three years in solitary confinement.   His wife Sabina, also spent three years in a prison labor camp.  There is so much I learned from their story.  One thing he clearly illustrated is how we are all one church.  If one part suffers, the whole body suffers.  I went on Voice of the Martyrs at http://www.persecution.com/.  I was surprised about how widespread modern persecution is.

Next was Jesus Freak.  I had seen Tobymac and Newsboys in concert many times.  I love their music!  I had no idea DC Talk was involved with this book.  It is a collection of personal stories of people who risked their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ.  My hunger grew.  The day I finished that book a friend of my mom’s unexpectedly sent over a book for me, Hearts of Fire by Voice of the Martyrs .  She had heard I was interested in learning about the persecuted church.  God kept sending me books, I could feel it.  I just kept following the path of books.  My heart for my brothers and sisters in Christ continued to grow.

I want to use this blog to collect and share information about our brothers and sisters who are suffering for the name of Christ.  Sitting here in my cozy home with my family, my heart is heavy for them.

They have found the treasure and given up everything for it.   I continually lift them up in my prayers.
[ The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl ] “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. (NIV)

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