• Ray's Books
    Books by Ray, republished 2016
  • Treehaven3
    Treehaven, South Africa: International Retreat and Training Centre
  • Treehaven1
    South African Students Undergoing Training at Treehaven
  • Ray
    Ray Barnett, founder, Friends In The West
  • Corrymeela cross
    Prayers and practical help for those suffering through violence and war.

Monthly archives: April, 2017

ISIS a Reenactment of Biblical War Between Israel and the Amalekites, Military Analysts Say

By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

Some military analysts have suggested that the war against the Islamic State terror group, particularly in its attacks on Egypt, is a reenactment of an ancient biblical confrontation between Israel and the Amalekites.

An Islamic State flag hangs amid electric wires over a street in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near the port-city of Sidon, southern Lebanon, January 19, 2016.

“Exodus tells of the legendary battle between Amalek, the ancestral enemy of the Jewish people, and the Israelites, which took place at a site called Rephidim, located in the Egyptian desert,” Breaking Israel News reported in an article on Thursday.

“Two thousand years later, a new battle against Israel’s enemies is being staged in exactly the same place: an Egyptian airfield in Bir Gafgafa, which is located precisely on the biblical site of Rephidim in the Sinai Peninsula.”

BIN credited the observations to Giora Shamis, editor of the Israeli military intelligence website Debka Files, who noted that on this particular issue, Egypt is an ally of Israel in the battle against the Islamic State.

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter holds a a rocket-propelled grenade launcher as he takes up position in an area overlooking Baretle village (background), which is controlled by the Islamic State, in Khazir, on the edge of Mosul, Sept. 8, 2014. The Kurdish fighters are firing from an area they had retaken from the Islamic State, on Bashiqah mountain.

Coptic Christians have suffered greatly in a number of violent IS attacks in Egypt in recent times, including in twin Palm Sunday bombings in Alexandria and Tanta, which killed 45 Christians, and forced churches to mark a somber Easter.

Shamis told BIN that the Bible provides a strong source of commentary about the large-scale war IS is engaged in today.

“I am not religious, but the correlation between ISIS and Amalek is clear and should be taken into account when considering modern events,” Shamis said.

“What happened thousands of years ago is simply being played out again, a continuation of what already happened there historically.”

Shai Ben Tekoa, former head broadcaster for Arutz Sheva, also suggested that ISIS is an “incarnation” of the Amalekites, who in the Bible are presented as enemies of the Jewish people.

“Like Amalek, they seek out gratuitous cruelty,” Ben Tekoa said, referring to IS’ beheadings, mass rape, slavery and torture of Christians and other minorities across the Middle East.

“The Bible is true, and its timeless brilliance is the best source for understanding the world today,” he added.

Some megachurch leaders in the United States, such as Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries, have also suggested that IS is part of biblical prophecy.

Laurie said in December 2014 in his message “Israel, Iran, ISIS in Bible Prophecy,” that the Gospel teaches that in the last days, world conflicts will get from bad to worse.

“The last day’s events can be likened as I’ve said before to a lot of dominos stacked together … so it’s like a lot of dominos closely stacked together. There’s a chain of events that are going to unfold in rapid succession beginning with the emergence of the antichrist and ending with the battle of Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ and once that first domino falls these things are going to happen like this,” Laurie said at the time, positioning that IS and other terror groups are playing a part in that chain of events.

Others, such as Dr. Charles Dyer and Pastor Mark Tobey, authors of The ISIS Crisis: What You Really Need to Know, have suggested that even if IS isn’t directly found in biblical prophecy, it is leading up to other factors that will bring about the End Times.

“ISIS might not survive, but later a far more powerful, and deadly, coalition will eclipse it. The prophet Ezekiel describes a time when that coalition will launch an attack against Israel. Another army will someday surge across the Middle East,” the authors said, according to Charisma News in January 2015.

“They won’t be carrying the black flags of ISIS, but their intent will be just as evil and destructive.”

Source: The Christian Post



Christian Orphans in North Korea Tortured for Their Faith in Jesus Christ

A girl dressed in a Hanbok, a Korean traditional costume, stands in front of a barbed-wire fence, as her parents prepare for a memorial service for North Korean family members, near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, February 19, 2015, on the occasion of Seolnal, the Korean Lunar New Year’s day. Millions of South Koreans traveled to their hometowns during the three-day holiday which started last Wednesday. Seolnal is one of the traditional holidays when most Koreans visit their hometowns to be united with their families and hold memorial services for their deceased ancestors.

Several human rights advocates, including a North Korean defector who wore sunglasses to conceal her identity, told harrowing accounts of orphaned children in North Korea and refugees living in China to draw attention to their plight during a panel held at Georgetown University on Wednesday.

The event was part of the week-long North Korean Freedom Week sponsored by the North Korean Freedom Coalition, hosted by the Isabella Foundation and Georgetown’s Truth and Human Rights in North Korea.

Lim Hye-Jin of the New Korea Women’s Union recounted through a translator one such story about the North Korean dictatorship’s treatment of 17 North Korean orphans who decided to defect and made their home under a bridge in China. They were arrested and detained at a detention center in China and forcibly repatriated to North Korea. Three of the 17 were discovered to be Christians and were sent to a political prison camp.

“Under North Korean law, children under the age of 18 should not be sent to a political prison camp. But in this case, they were found to be Christians and had been in a church, [so] they were separated from their group” where they were “tortured harshly” while the other orphans were sent to a reeducation camp with other children, Lim said.

The North Korean security agents found out that they were Christians because they discovered calluses on their knees, as they had been praying for a long time for God to help them, Lim said.

The other 14 orphans were told that the three Christian orphans who had been separated from the group had been sent back to an orphanage in North Korea. But those children told Lim that if that was so, they knew that they would try to escape because they were “100 percent sure” they would starve to death if they had stayed in the orphanage. They at least had a chance at survival begging in the streets.

Stories like these continue to happen today, Lim added, concluding her remarks by asking people to pray for North Koreans.

(Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)Christians pray for starving North Koreans during a prayer session in Seoul March 1, 2012. About 300 South Korean Christians also asked China not to send North Koreans detained in China back to the North, saying the North Koreans might be executed after their repatriation.

Suzanne Scholte, founder and president of the Defense Forum Foundation, who co-hosted the panel, noted that North Korean refugees are unlike any others worldwide because they have a place to go for immediate resettlement as they are citizens of South Korea under the South Korean Constitution.

“There’s no reason for China to continue this brutal inhumane policy of how they deal with the North Korean refugees and the orphans,” Scholte added, noting that the crisis could be solved overnight if the Chinese government would abide by its international treaty obligations.

The severe persecution of Christians in North Korea isn’t new. Open Door USA consistently ranks the totalitarian nation as the most oppressive place in the world for Christians.

The Christian Post asked the panel why the North Korean regime considers Christianity particularly threatening so as to even torture children.

“The Kim regime established itself using some of the doctrine of the Christian faith,” Scholte explained, adding that Kim Il Sung, the first of the Kim dynasty, recognized the power of the faith since many of those who stood up to Japanese oppressors were Christians and were instrumental in the Korean independence movement even though they were a small minority of the population.

But Kim Il Sung “perverted it for his own purposes, setting himself up as God,” she said, appropriating his son as the Christ figure and “Juche,” which means “self-reliance,” for the Holy Spirit. The regime has a creed of its own which is patterned after the Apostles Creed, which declares religious allegiance to the dictatorship.

“So if you’re a Christian and you believe in God [and not the dictator] that’s a direct threat to the regime,” she said.

Source: Christian Post



How do Christians respond to persecution?

 

A report looking into the ways Christians respond to persecution has found that their “survival strategies” require a lot of “creativity, determination and courage”, while violence is seldom used.

“Christians are the most widely targeted religious community, suffering terrible persecution globally,” according to the University of Notre Dame’s report, In Response to Persecution, which says that Christians tend to choose “a creative pragmatism dominated by short-term efforts to provide security, build strength through social ties”.

At the release of the report, Pakistani Archbishop Sebastian Shaw highlighted Pakistan’s beleaguered Christian minority, encouraging them not to give up as “they have made vital contributions to the country’s history and must not refrain from professing their faith in the midst of the current persecution”. Christians played an important role in building and unifying the country when it was founded in 1947, the Archbishop said, and many of the current leaders have come through the social institutions they helped to establish.

Meanwhile, in an article for The Review of Faith & International Affairs, Mindy Belz writes of the many ways in which Christians have responded to persecution by Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi Christians ask the international community for help. In the absence of outside support, some of them have decided to take up arms themselves.

Many have fled from their homes and communities, while others have remained. Those fleeing hoped to find shelter outside of IS-controlled areas; the churches of Iraqi Kurdistan, for instance, have taken in the homeless and collected money to provide for them.

Iraqi Christians ask the international community for help. In the absence of outside support, some of them have decided to take up arms themselves.
The Church itself became “its own guarantor for safety, insofar as it was possible”, notes Belz. “The paralysis of coalition nations long engaged in Iraq stood in contrast to the flights of the threatened Christians, to their desperate efforts to care for one another.”

Sometimes Christians decide to actively oppose their oppressors. Christians in Iraq, for instance, after years of facing violence and “certain annihilation” by IS, and in the absence of any outside help or protection, decided to take up arms. Belz quotes Odisho Yousif, an Assyrian kidnapped by militants in 2006, when he explains: “It’s not acceptable to watch our lands taken by terrorist groups and expect Kurds to come to liberate them, and we just watch while Kurds fight. It’s our land and our people, so we have to be active”.

‘Not taken seriously’

Cheryl K. Chumley, writing for The Washington Times, notes that although Christianity has played a major role in the foundation of many modern societies, including the United States, it rarely seems to feature very prominently on the agenda of the US government or media.

How can a nation that has Christianity as its DNA not rally around those who are persecuted because they share that same DNA, she asks.

As World Watch Monitor reported earlier this month, the persecution of Christians is often “still not taken seriously”.

Canadian MP Candice Bergen wrote on her Facebook page: “More Christians die and suffer for their faith than any other religious group in the world. The elite, including liberal media, not only ignore this fact but most often are the ones who treat Christians with mocking, stereotyping and disdain. It’s a rare sight to ever see Hollywood portray a Christian in a positive manner, much less talk about the plight of Christians in places like the Middle East.”

 

Source: World Watch Monitor



Urgent #Prayer Conference Call scheduled for North Korea this evening, 27 April 2017

In recent weeks, tensions have heightened as North Korea defiantly carried out missile tests despite warnings from Western governments. This afternoon, (26 April) the entire U.S. Senate headed to the White House for a rare briefing ordered by President Trump on North Korea’s persistent saber-rattling.

Because of the urgency of the situation, we will again pray for this nation on tomorrow evening’s prayer conference call—Thursday, April 27, 2017. Not only will our prayer be directed for the North Korean persecuted church, but we will pray regarding the international situation between North Korea and the United States.

One of our brothers at Persecution Watch, has much knowledge of North Korea. He has provided background info with appropriate prayer points for tonight’s call. Please join us if you are so led by the Spirit.
.
James tells us that the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. My brothers and sisters, I cannot underscore the urgency of prayer in this tense situation. The possibility of armed conflict between the United States and North Korea, could impact our brothers and sisters in North Korea. So please, consider praying with us on the call.

Your brother in Christ,

Blaine Scogin

pwprayercall@gmail.com

Serving Jesus as Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch.

Prayer Conference calls held weekly every Tues., Thur and Sat.

Call info (one hour, or longer as the Lord leads)

9 p.m. Eastern time

8 p.m. Central time

7 p.m. Mountain time

6 p.m. Pacific time

Call number: 712.775.7035

Access code: 281207#

Source: (Voice of the Persecuted)



Displaced Iraqi Christians open sweet factory in Erbil

 

Some of the workers at Erbil’s new sweet factory. Photo: World Watch Monitor, 2017

In his new factory, surrounded by sesame seeds, pistachios and sugar, Rabeea dips his spatula into a large vat of honey-coloured syrup. He’s checking its consistency to see if it’s ready for the next step in the production of traditional Iraqi sweets, like sorjuq or halqoum.

“We deliver our products to shops all over the country,” he says. “But most of the sweets go to Suleymaniyah, Zakho and Shaklawa [towns across north-eastern Iraq]. We even have requests from abroad, but for now, with the current situation in our country, that is impossible.”

Rabeea, 38, opened the factory in March to provide a living to families like his own, who sought refuge in Erbil in August 2014 when Islamic State forced many Christians to flee their towns in the Nineveh plains.

 

Although the Church in Erbil welcomed them as guests, they wanted to earn their own income and be less reliant on aid provided to internally displaced people.

Rabeea is a good choice to manage the factory – he ran a similar one in his home city of Qaraqosh, and his face still lights up when he talks about it, although he describes life in Iraq now as “very difficult”.

Christian charity Open Doors helped Rabeea set up his business, which is now flourishing, with plans to add to the current workforce of four other displaced Christians.

The factory is on the first floor of a rented building on the main street in Erbil’s Christian neighbourhood of Ankawa.

Pistachio sweets produced at the factory

“We produce all kinds of sweets that are common in our country, but for now we have a limited variety because we don’t have the machines. We could do more, but this is a good start,” Rabeea says.

Close to the big windows that fill one whole side of the room, three men wearing blue hygiene caps over their hair, work at a stainless steel table covered in flour. One takes out a slab of halqoum from a large metal baking sheet, puts it on the floured work surface and cuts it into quarters. He pushes each piece to the next man, who, using a long, curved knife, cuts the quarters into strips a few centimeters wide. The final man in the chain rolls the strips in flour and cuts them into cubes. The sweets are then ready to be packed in small plastic boxes.

The room also stores their raw ingredients: sacks of sugar piled high, buckets of walnuts and sesame seeds. There are enough ingredients to produce many sweets.

The finished products sit on a large table in the middle of the factory floor – hundreds of sesame and honey cookies. Another table is full of boxed sweets made with coconut, pistachios or almonds.

The worker who cut the halqoum into quarters says: “I am from Qaraqosh. I have been displaced since 6 August 2014 because of Islamic State. When I came here with my family, we had nothing. I am so happy with this work. I am thankful to the organisation that employed us.”

Like his colleagues in the factory, he is now able to provide an income for his family and to start saving money to one day restore their damaged house in Qaraqosh.

Rabeea hopes to return too; the machinery and tables in the factory could easily be moved to another location.

“One day we might be back in our places again; we can continue there,” he says.

Source: World Watch Monitor