Persecution growing in spread and intensity: Open Doors

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2019 World Watch List reveals 245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution

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Persecution of Christians worldwide has increased over the past year, with one in nine believers experiencing “high” levels of persecution compared with one in 12 a year ago, according to the 2019 World Watch List released by Open Doors today.

In what Open Doors Australia described as an “hallmark of the success of Christianity,” persecution is growing in both intensity and the number of countries and Christians affected. On the 2019 World Watch List, 73 of the 150 countries surveyed show extreme, very high or high levels of persecution.

“The world will get worse before it gets better … ” – Tim Reid, Open Doors

“The first thing I would say is that persecution is the hallmark of successful Christianity,” Tim Reid, Church Engagement Manager for Open Doors Australia, told Eternity. “I think when the gospel is being shared, persecution increases. I don’t necessarily mean that Christianity is rapidly growing in numbers, but it does mean Christianity is growing in courage.

“The whole philosophy of Open Doors is not necessarily the end of persecution – it’s not even a top priority – it’s to give people the strength to stand under the face of it and try to grow as they can.”

Open Doors estimates that 245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution in the top 50 countries on the World Watch List for 2019. North Korea remained ranked at No 1 in the 2019 list, a position it has held since 2002, with about 50,000 to 70,000 Christians believed to be in labour camps. Russia entered the list at No 41 due to increasing violence from Islamic extremists.

Life for Christians became even more precarious in Nigeria, where 3731 believers were killed – double the number in the 2018 list – by extremist groups of Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram. This accounted for about 90 per cent of the 4136 recorded deaths of Christians as a direct result of persecution in the 2019 list.

According to Reid, increased persecution of Christians in India went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world.

“In India, violence against Christians has been increasing since the Modi government stepped into power, elected with promises to restore Hindu dominance in the nation. Churches have been attacked and Christians assaulted,” he says.

“I spoke in May last year at a Senate inquiry [into religious freedom] about four horror days in India in which three pastors were hospitalised, one losing his fingers in an axe attack.”

Reid told Eternity that these attacks on Christians had flown under the radar of police, so the perpetrators had not received due punishment.

“That kind of Hindu extremism we have also noticed in Nepal and religious nationalism as a topic is starting to spread to other countries too,” he says, giving Myanmar as an example.

Reid there were a few factors behind the increase in persecution.

“We’re seeing religious nationalism increase, so the kind of intensity that we’ve seen from Islamic extremists over the years we are now starting to see in other contexts,” he said.

“But persecution is biblical and the world will get worse before it gets better and there is a move in many nations towards an anti-Christian sentiment.” He said Open Doors was not just committed to social justice but to helping the gospel advance and that necessarily brought with it persecution.

Open Doors Australia is calling for the government to create a permanent position to advise on religious freedom.

“Roles such as that we’ve seen overseas have been really crucial in bringing to the fore at a government level what persecution is already happening,” Reid said.

“So in the Asia-Pacific region, we see that as persecution increases in places like India or China, where we have a great deal of trade, that there are Christians being discriminated against and Australia has a role to play in this area.

“Australia’s human rights record in the department of freedom of religious belief has been quite exemplary, but other people who we trade with it’s not necessarily been the case. So it’s part of Australia’s moral obligation to lift these people in circumstances where they’re not experiencing the same freedom.”

“The unforeseen benefit of that is that many churches are now asking us to speak.” – Mike Gore

Mike Gore, CEO of Open Doors Australia, said the unforeseen benefit of Christians feeling less secure of their place in Australian society was an increased engagement by churches with the persecuted church.

He said there had been a 20 per cent increase in the number of donors to Open Doors Australia, to 11,500. The target was 18,000 by the end of 2020.

“What we’re seeing is a change in a section of the church towards religious freedom in this nation. There’s a big element that’s saying we need the message of Open Doors in our churches now because we’re feeling uncomfortable. Things aren’t feeling as safe anymore. What do we do? We haven’t felt this before and we’re worried about things like same-sex marriage, religious diversity, and all of these fears that the West equates with persecution,” he said.

“The unforeseen benefit of that is that many churches are now asking us to speak.”

“I think an understanding of the increased focus of the media in the last five years on persecution, married with the uncomfortable feeling of changing societal values in Australia, has created a perfect of storm of tensions resolving in churches wanting to know more about the cost of faith.

Reid adds: “What’s really exciting here is that as people engage with persecution, what they will find is the true hope-filled story that where there seems to be persecution the church in many circumstances is still joy-filled and seeking God with all their heart.”

“When people engage with that example, their faith will come alive here in Australia as well.”

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Reflection on Isaiah 62:1-5

Scripture

The nations will see your righteousness;

world leaders will be blinded by your glory.

And you will be given a new name

by the Lord’s own mouth.

Observation/ Application

Isaiah says he loves Jerusalem and will not stop praying for her. Her hard times will give way to glory and righteousness. Then the nations will see Jerusalem and be blinded by her glory.

This speaks of the church. This is the “new name” for Jerusalem. The covenant isn’t just with Israel any more but to all who love Jesus.

So, like Isaiah, we should continue to pray for the church- the assembly of christians, the people who love God. We should pray for the local church, persecuted christians around the world, the mission of the church locally and globally.

As we learn to more fully worship and obey the Lord, nations will come streaming to the church. When we live in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, the radiance of God shines from us to those who are thirsty for the Lord.

World leaders and local politicians will see the way that christians live and what they achieve. They will ask “How do you do that?” The ways of the Holy Spirit are perplexing and attractive to those who do not know the Lord.

Of course, those who see what the church is and what it does and don’t like it, will rise against it. There are many people who do not like the light but prefer the darkness. Persecution will always be a fact of life for christians, but what glory awaits for those who remain faithful to the Lord.

Prayer

Help me Lord to see the glory of your church. May the nations come to taste of your mercy, and leaders see your glory. Amen.

Reflection on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Scripture

I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

Observation

In this passage, Paul explores the area of spiritual gifts. He says that nobody can curse Jesus if they are speaking by God’s Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit gives them all. God works in each person in different ways, but He is still the same God.

God gives His gifts to help us serve one another. These gifts include words of wisdom and knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discernment of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues.

The gifts all come from one God and are given as He determines.

Application

Back in the 1970’s during the charismatic revival, spiritual gifts were controversial. Not so much today, in most parts of the church.

Back then there were people who claimed to be “tongue testers”. They could tell whether a person was speaking in tongues by the Holy Spirit or some other spirit. So they were using the gift of discernment of spirits to prove their point that the gifts of the Spirit are fake.

Here is the good news about spiritual gifts, and tongues in particular. Nobody curses Jesus while speaking in tongues. If you love the Lord you will want to please Him. These gifts, even the ones we cannot rationally understand, will glorify Jesus.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are available to all who love the Lord. They are there to help us minister to one another and to glorify God.

Prayer

Father, I thank you for the Holy Spirit. Please help me to understand how to flow in the gifts of the Spirit so that the Name of Jesus is lifted up through me. Amen.

IPA: Australians Love Australia Day!

Anti-Australia Day Activists Claim There Is A Groundswell Against January 26. Polling Says Otherwise

Anti-Australia Day Activists Claim There Is A Groundswell Against January 26. Polling Says Otherwise

Bella d’Abrera16 January 2019  , IPA TODAYPUBLICATIONSIn The NewsRESEARCH AREASIdeas and Liberty

If your only way of finding out about what’s happening in this country is either by listening to ABC or reading the Guardian, you’d think the entire country is embarrassed about being Australian, wracked with guilt about Australia’s history and overwhelmingly opposed to celebrating Australia Day on January 26.

Indeed, you’d likely wind up mistakenly thinking that there is a groundswell of anger from mainstream, everyday Australians who believe that Australia Day is by far the most pressing issue facing Australians in 2019.

However, a poll commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs and which was conducted by Research Now, has revealed that this is exactly the opposite to what mainstream Australians really think about themselves as Australians, their history and their values.

In fact, Australians are fundamentally optimistic and positive about being Australian.

The results of the poll show that 87 per cent of Australians are proud to be Australian, while a tiny 3 per cent are not.

When it comes to Australia’s history, 76 per cent of the respondents believe this country has a history to be proud of, while only 11 per cent did not.

The polling also found that 75 per cent of Australians think that we should continue to celebrate Australia Day on January 26 while only 10 per cent actually want the date to be changed. Chances are that if you polled the Canberra Press Gallery with the same questions, the numbers would be significantly different.

These results expose the massive divide between the majority of Australians and the minority of vocal individuals who continually push the narrative of national self-loathing and self-flagellation on to everyday Australians.

The results simply reveal that there is an enormous disconnect between what Australians think about themselves, and what we are being told Australians think about themselves.

Every year, when Australia Day comes around, elements of the media, the political class and a small but noisy group of activists on Twitter, pull out all stops to impose their own version of Australia’s history on the nation.

They are, however, completely and utterly out of touch with mainstream Australia.

Not only are they out of touch, but it seems that the more strident they are in their opposition and the more they obsess about changing the date, the more that Australians want to keep the date.

When the Institute of Public Affairs asked the same question about Australia Day in 2018, 70 per cent of Australians were favour. This year, the number has gone up to 75 per cent. The poll also shows that young people are not being drawn to the divisive argument of opposing our national day.

The more this vocal, activist minority pushes its agenda down their throats, the less inclined everyday Australians are to go along with it.

The poll found that last year 17 per cent of young Australians between the ages of 18-24 said that Australia Day should not be celebrated on January 26. This year’s poll shows that, that number has plummeted to just 8 per cent. They, like the majority of Australians know that there are more important issues to think about.

The incessant hounding of the public by activists is having the opposite effect than they intend.

Similarly, our political class likes to present the issue of freedom of speech and freedom of religion as fringe cultural issues being pushed by a small number of conservatives.

Yet again, the poll reveals that the opposite is true.

When asked what they thought about these values, a whopping 92 per cent of the respondents considered freedom of speech to be an important Australian value while 77 per cent said freedom of religion was an important Australian value.

Again, this exposes the disconnect between mainstream Australians and our political class.

Many of the left-wing activists that will be taking part in protests on January 26 have moved on from the change-the-date campaign and are advocating the abolition of Australia Day all together. These activists will never be happy until there is no celebration of our successful, liberal, prosperous, modern nation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is right when he says there is a majority of “quiet Australians’’ who aren’t obsessed with the issues pushed by the Canberra bubble or a noisy minority. He was right to come down hard on radical local councils who are refusing to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day.

The Federal government is correct to insist that citizenship ceremonies should be celebrated on the 26th because it is the federal government that gives councils the power to hold them.

The government is perfectly entitled to take away that power from rebellious councils such as Darebin in Victoria, which last year actively encouraged people to go to work on January 26 and take another day off.

Critics of the Prime Minister’s decision have said this is a “public relations stunt designed to further divide this country’’ but the refusal to participate in celebrating Australia as a united country is the truly divisive force.

January 26 marks the foundation of modern Australia and it should be celebrated by all Australians. Rather than being ashamed of it, we should be proud of it.

On January 26 the majority of Australians will be rejecting the overwhelmingly negative rhetoric about this nation’s history.

They will not be out in the streets in force, but they will be with friends and family, celebrating what it is to be Australian.

Read the story here

Snakes Return To Ireland

From lifesitenews.com

Featured Image
K.V. Turley

OPINION

Is it mere coincidence that a serpent came ashore in snake-free but no longer abortion-free Ireland?

IRELAND, January 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — It turned up unexpectedly.

The newspaper reports were lighthearted.

It was strange but nothing more, surely?

On January 4, washed up on the shore of County Cork, Ireland, was a large serpent, measuring 1.5 meters (approximately 5 feet).

Ireland is free of snakes. It has been since the time of St. Patrick, who, it is said, cast them from the island. They have for centuries represented the vile paganism that ruled the land before Patrick came and established Christianity.

The fact that a snake made its way ashore onto Irish soil once more is not, therefore, to be seen as just another zoological phenomenon. It may be read as also a symbolic one, coming at a time when Ireland is turning away from the light and naively embracing an ancient darkness.

Just three days before the appearance of the serpent, the new Irish law on abortion came into effect. The president of Ireland had just a few weeks earlier rescinded the country’s constitutional safeguard for the unborn and signed into law the death warrant of many future Irish now denied the right to be born. On that day, his pen was more akin to the scalpel, the same implement that shall now be wielded against defenseless human beings who have committed no wrong, who asked for nothing other than life and love, but found only death.

January 1 was the day chosen to inaugurate this new gruesome dispensation. Traditionally, this is the feast day dedicated to the Mother of God. It is, now, in Ireland a “feast day” of a different kind for another type of “celebration.” What is being venerated is unseen but, nevertheless, all too present in modern Irish society.

A day or so after the feast of the Epiphany, when Christians commemorate how the kings came from across the world to worship the infant King of Kings, the first abortion took place in Ireland. It is alleged that this occurred in a hospital that goes under the name Our Lady of Lourdes. This is a title of Our Lady’s specifically linked to her maternal care and concern for the sick. Now, instead, this title has been made into an infernal sneer, a wicked boast.

Was all of this mere coincidence? I’ll leave you to judge that.

But with the darkness now descending upon Ireland’s Four Green Fields, a spiritual night is fast approaching. And, in its cold gloom, strange new gods are being worshipped once more, the bitter lessons of old, that the pagan gods were never gods but demons, long since forgotten.

So too has been forgotten the truth that the Church has been a home to the Irish nation — at times its only home, despite those within the flock who turned out be wolves in sheep clothing. Through persecution and famine, through pain and suffering, exile and poverty, Holy Mother Church was the home where the Irish found refuge emotionally and spiritually, whether in the north country of Ulster, on the grey streets of New York, or the sparsely populated territories of Australia or Patagonia, She was a light to enlighten the darkness that had so often flooded the lives of the children of Erin at home and abroad. For many, the Church remained the hearth warming the center of the nation’s emotional home, and with a Mother always present there.

Today, publicly at least, Ireland has abandoned the faith.

Too many of the country’s politicians talk glibly of the nation’s onward march to a bright new future – one that, no doubt, shall be as economically prosperous as it will be spiritually bankrupt. Yet all the time, while these same politicians incant the word “progress” to justify a nation’s regress to former barbaric ways, the progression talked of is in reality the same as that described in the nine-circles-descent described by Dante.

These Irish who jubilate over new abortion legislation refuse to learn the lessons of old. They shall learn them soon enough, however, especially as they come to experience what spirits have been invoked upon the land of Patrick. By then it will be too late. Even if, at that point, they have learned again that, away from the faith, outside the true home of all mankind, there is only endless night.

A serpent was washed ashore at County Cork on January 4 to usher in 2019. That creature was soon dead. Other “serpents” are already ashore, however, and very much alive, and have all too easily found a home.

Jennifer Leclaire: 5 Sober Prophetic Predictions For 2019

(Photo by Karl Magnuson on Unsplash)

As I was preparing to share the word of the Lord in Dallas in November, the Lord showed me five things to come. Some of this is the enemy’s plan and can be averted through spiritual warfare and prophetic intercession. Some of it is God’s will, and we need to come in agreement with what He is doing for His glory.

1. A Year of Threats

Military, economic and ideological threats will increase against the US. Trump will stand strong and continue pushing back. Cyber wars will escalate and rumors of war will rise, even among unlikely foes. Terror threats will also escalate. Threats on Trump’s life will escalate.

2019 will be a year of threats specifically originating from the queen of heaven and communist regimes. The U.S. will see an ally betray the nation because of pressure from outside forces. The good news is many of these threats are empty. Many who are issuing the threats are merely bluffing and unable to carry them out. These intimidation tactics will not move Trump.

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China will continue to escalate fear campaigns with talk of invasions in Taiwan and the Philippines. China is positioning itself to usurp America as the world’s leading superpower. Relations between China and the U.S. will continue to deteriorate but both nations know they must maintain some level of relations to preserve the global economy.

2. A Purging in the Church

The church will undergo a purging in 2019 to make way for clear visions in 2020. Dead branches in ministries are going to be cut off to make way for new, different and more abundant fruit.

3. Jezebelic Leaders Exposed

God is going to deal with Jezebel and Ahabs in leadership. A remnant church will begin to emerge that refuses to tolerate Jezebel, false prophecy, idolatry and immorality.

A new breed of leaders will arise in the nations with courage to confront and authority to throw Jezebel down. This will cause the beginnings of a shift in the church that allows the apostolic to take a greater role in the body of Christ.

Jezebel is one of the key resisters of the apostolic, as this spirit hates authority. While Jezebel hates prophets, this spirit has been allowed to influence the some camps in the movement through witchcraft and divination.

More false prophets will be exposed. When the true apostolic emerges at higher levels in the church, greater order will come to lock Jezebel out.

4. Prophetic Movement Ascends

The prophetic will also come up higher. Many who have cultivated a bless-me-only-give-me-a-personal-prophecy culture will press in to deeper level of the prophetic with intercession and prophetic declarations that cause true shifts in heart, minds and cities around the world. This is a process that will take years, but one that will gain momentum in 2019.

5. Intercessors Rise in Boldness

Intercessors are rising up with new boldness after seeing a harvest of prayer answers and begin to take on more complex issues by faith. A younger generation of intercessors will begin to rise under the tutelage of prayer warriors who are completing their race. Gen Z and Millennial intercessors will tackle the problems in their generation with innovative intercession and prophetic acts that demonstrate the power of God to heal, rescue and raise up.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior leader of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, founder of the Ignite Network and founder of the Awakening Blaze prayer movement. She is author of over 25 books. Find her online at jenniferleclaire.org or email her at info@jenniferleclaire.org.

 

Read the article at Charisma