RSSArchive for the ‘persecuted church’ Category
Posted April 22nd, 2013 by Jen in france/french, persecuted church, politics/world news, religion
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Imagine being the first person in your family tree in 1,000 years to do something radically different?
I was reading about Christian missions in France and read this story which completely arrested me:
Algeria, with a population of over 37 million, is the largest country in Africa, bordered in the north by the Mediterranean Sea. Today Islam is the official state religion and about 99% of the population follow Sunni Muslim.
What was happening for over a thousand years to prevent this first Christian’s ancestors from knowing Jesus? What wasn’t happening?! Algeria’s history is one of invasion after invasion: the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, and then, the prolonged invasions of over 1,000 years of the Muslim armies from Cairo (642-1830) which set the course of the nation. More invasions followed, the Spanish, the Ottomans, the French. But that 1,000 year reign of Muslim expansion could not be undone.
But perhaps we are beginning to see the dawning of a new era. A French-Algerian who is the first in his family to be called Christian in a millennium? The gates of Hell shall not prevail.
Posted February 4th, 2012 by Jen in features, germany, history, persecuted church, politics/world news, religion
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Bonhoeffer’s been dogging me for decades and sometimes I do wish he’d back off, because he’s always reminding me that anything of value has a high price. I’m a tight-wad, I don’t like to pay high prices.
Perhaps you’ve not been introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Today is his birthday, and 106 years ago he entered the world, along with his twin sister, Sabine, in Breslau, Germany, bringing great joy to Paula and Karl Bonhoeffer, and eventually there would be eight children who had the most lovely and nurturing family a child could hope for. Above the west entrance of Westminster Abbey in London are 10 modern martyrs – Bonhoeffer’s statue is among them. In the briefest of words, Bonhoeffer was a theologian, a pastor, a writer, a Christian, a prophet, an anti-Nazi spy. He was executed on April 9, 1945 in a German concentration camp for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler, just days before liberation of that camp.
But I’d like to talk about why we should be concerned about Bonhoeffer in the 21st century.
Exactly why is he relevant to such a degree that people are still writing biographies about him and giving talks and holding congresses? Germany in the 1930s and 40s is challenging to comprehend — the Nazi and Jewish issues, of course, the role of the church, and I wonder how to extrapolate from those times without finding a Nazi behind every overreaching government act.
The state of Bonhoeffer’s world was that the German Christian church looked the other way as Jews were being carted off for “resettlement in the East.” In Bonhoeffer’s last great work, Ethics, though unfinished he considered it his magnum opus, he rebukes the church for her grave offenses against humanity and allowing herself to be subjugated by the Nazi regime:
Could this not have been written ten minutes ago, as Metaxes said in an interview?
What are today’s burning issues? I ask, as I seek to find Bonhoeffer’s relevance.
Abortion is one. I’m not comfortable addressing this contentious subject. Every person I know has been affected by this, either she has personally had an abortion or knows someone who has. And so who wants to go around telling a woman she is a negligent person, a selfish creature, a murderer? Not me.
I vaguely, then rather insistently, wondered if Bonhoeffer ever had an opinion on the topic of abortion or the right to life. I discovered in his book, Ethics, what I was looking for.
Bonhoeffer considered many facets of abortion, including the pastoral care that necessarily should be involved:
He further speaks to extreme cases:
I’m amazed at the specific issues Bonhoeffer addresses with regard to abortion, and it all leaves me little room to wonder what Bonhoeffer would say today in the 21st century. As Eric Metaxas said, Bonhoeffer is staggeringly relevant. He further makes it clear that the right to life is not based on the qualities of the individual.
I read all this from Ethics just yesterday and my head fell into my hands and I wept. I almost didn’t want to know; silly, it’s not like Bonhoeffer’s opinion would change my mind, I had concluded when I was very young that abortion was an injustice. But have you ever experienced knowledge that suddenly unloads responsibility? It was this, and I wept, and I couldn’t even allow myself to grasp the entirety as I would have literally fallen to the ground from the weight of it.
I don’t want to become a radical, oh, at least not any more radical than I already am. It’s dangerous to be radical. It’s so much safer to be non-radical, at least on this side of Heaven. Bonhoeffer was a radical of sorts by all accounts, and he paid for it with his life, with a a piano wire around his neck as he dangled naked in the courtyard of the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp in Germany.
And yet he is my hero, and has been for two decades. Someone gave me The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer when I was in my early twenties, and that was my introduction to this compelling man. I read bits and pieces and the words just sat smoldering in the recesses of my mind for twenty years. I do gravitate to the edge of costliness, but to actually take the leap, like Bonhoeffer, is not fully in my nature.
So from the beginning of my life as a committed Christian, I’ve had in the background of my thinking, always, the cost of discipleship, which is of course clear in the teachings of Jesus, but made so visible to me by Bonhoeffer.
Bonhoeffer was continually accused of being a single-issue fanatic in his time. And why? He vehemently opposed Nazi interference in the church and so was stripped of his pastoral license and forbidden to speak in public or print or publish. He then helped Jews escape to Switzerland which led to his first arrest. Don’t we look back from our vantage point and not see this as fanatical at all? We are not allowed the privilege of seeing our present from a future viewpoint, and that’s why I spend all this time with Bonhoeffer, searching and probing for relevance and truth to help myself, and maybe spare myself from death of conscience.
But I’ve come to realize there are rarely single-issue fanatics. There is a vast underpinning of philosophies and moralities that find expression in a single-issue, and start digging and you will find the true breadth of it all. Bonhoeffer’s extensive writings demonstrate this theory, and the complexity of what appears to be a single-issue begs to be examined.
Five years ago, on the anniversary of Bonhoeffer’s execution, I wrote an essay exploring Bonhoeffer’s call to the church, a call to action for times when the state is involved in illegitimate actions. I said I’d write more later. And here it is, it took me a while. I quote again from Bonhoeffer’s writings in Ethics, scathing words to the church in his day relating to the Jews, but equally applicable and significant for the unborn in our day:
Bonhoeffer, oh, could he have known that he would suffer to the last and to the fullest, with Christ and with the Jews and the undesirables? I do think he knew, and he intentionally chose the way of the cross.
May I leave you with some resources for you to further examine the relevance of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to your world? Following are some links (which have been of immense help to me) to books, essays, videos, blogs, all of which either directly speak of Bonhoeffer, or involve current issues to which his principles could be applied.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
Posted October 27th, 2011 by Jen in persecuted church, politics/world news
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It’s a Catholic University, for God’s sake. Really, it’s for God’s sake. And Muslims who CHOOSE of their own free will to pay lots of money and attend this Catholic religious educational institution, are now complaining and filed a 60 page complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights against Catholic University in Washington, D.C. for violating their “human rights” by not providing them with special prayer rooms that are devoid of any Christian symbols such as the cross.
I would love to think this was a joke. Or at least that it was some mentally unbalanced fringe character who filed the lawsuit. But no (or maybe yes), it was an attorney and professor at George Washington University who filed the complaint. The Office of Human Rights expects the investigation to take as long as six months. It should take six seconds: it’s a private Catholic University, assimilate or go to a Muslim school or a government school. And then let’s talk about how you feel about a Christian church in Mecca.
It’s like going to the Louvre and filing a complaint that there is not a single room in the entire museum that is devoid of art. Or like going to La Scala and being offended that singing filled the entire opera house. Or like watching the World Series and being offended by the balls.
*my title comes from a comment on this article~thanks, Timothy in Georgia
Posted March 17th, 2011 by Jen in persecuted church, politics/world news, religion
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Do you wonder how to give responsibly and directly to the Japanese relief effort in the wake of the March 10, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster?
I remember after Katrina, Haiti, and other colossal calamities, there was much waste and fraud, and little accountability concerning the donations that were made.
So, I want to introduce you to friends of mine who have been serving as Christian missionaries in Japan for over 20 years.
Jim & Masako Millard of Sunrise International Ministries
They were sent out as missionaries from my home church in Eugene. Jim grew up in the Eugene area and met his future Japanese wife, Masako, while attending the University of Oregon. The rest is history, as they say.
My husband and I have been supporting them for at least a decade, and know without a doubt that monies given directly to their ministry is literally saving people as I write, as their family is busy with buying food and supplies in Tokyo and trucking them into Sendai province.
I’ve been receiving the Millards’ monthly newsletter for many years, and can attest to the incredible passion and often crippling perseverance this family has lived out on behalf of the Japanese people whom they love with all their hearts. I find it compelling that all of their children are serving the Lord, and with the exception of their daughter Anna who is currently attending the University of Oregon, their grown kids are also working as missionaries in Japan.
If you have the resources to give financially to Japanese relief or missions, please consider donating to Sunrise International Ministries for relief work in Sendai province. I truly believe they have been placed there for such a time as this. And please continue to pray for Japan!
Posted April 18th, 2010 by Jen in features, france/french, history, persecuted church
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Ooops, sorry for those of you who came to this post yesterday or today and found it empty. It was set to auto-post and my whole family was down with the stomach flu. Not much computer time happened in the wake of one kid after another (and then mom) dropping with this horrible vomiting, diarrhea mess.
So, I will repost the article I wrote last year on the subject of the French Resistance. You may have noticed that I am fascinated with France, I am gripped by the Holocaust, and captivated by WWII heroes. Thus, the subject of the French Resistance is of great intrigue to me, especially the women who gave their lives in this effort.
Please read this post on Berthe Fraser, a brave housewife who contributed to the salvation of her country from her simple domestic position. You will learn about what exactly the French Resistance was, as well as the trials and triumphs of such persons. The subtitle of April’s blog is “What you do matters,” and Berthe truly exemplifies this saying. You do not need to have a position of power or wealth to make a difference, you just need a willing heart of courage and valor.
Posted April 12th, 2010 by Jen in features, france/french, persecuted church
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I can’t do justice to a complete review on this book at the moment; however, I’d rather give a quick word than to delete this scheduled post. I wish my week wasn’t as full as it is right now, or I’d have so much to tell you!
History is simply the story of people, and I’m so curious about people. Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany by Marthe Cohn with Wendy Holden is an autobiographical book about a woman of the French Resistance – those mostly underground forces in France fighting Hitler and the Nazis in World War II.
I first mentioned this book on my blog last year in this post on Berthe Fraser, as part of a series I wrote on the women of the French Resistance. At the end of the post on Ms. Fraser, I recommended several books to those interested in other accounts of these brave women of the Resistance. One of these books was Behind Enemy Lines.
A few times in the life of my blog I’ve reviewed books and been contacted by the author to thank me. But nothing prepared me for receiving an email from the author of Behind Enemy Lines, Marthe Cohn, grateful that I’d included her book in my follow-up list of recommended reads. Folks, the woman is 90 years old and still living! And she knows how to send an email! Hallelujah!
We exchanged an email or two, and she agreed to do an author Q & A for me on this marvelous book of hers. Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve not yet put that together, and shame on me for that! Which is why I simply cannot do a complete review yet on this book. However, this being Holocaust Remembrance Week, I had to bring this to the table and let you know it’s on my mind, and I’ll be following up, because as we know time is of the essence.
One question that I know I have for Marthe Cohn concerns the aftermath of the liberation. There’s a part in her book where she talks about seeing groups of ragged, skeletal, filthy, unrecognizable people with big, empty eyes roaming the streets begging for help. They were ignored. No one believed them. These were the remnant left of the Jews, hanging on by a thread, slowing making their way out of the liberated concentration camps. By this point, didn’t people know about the Holocaust? This was a gut-wrenching and scary moment for me, realizing that still, after all that, people could still turn their backs on humanity.
There will be more to come on this story, but I must sign off for now. God bless your week.
Posted April 4th, 2010 by Jen in features, france/french, history, persecuted church, politics/world news, religion
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Suite Française has three parts: the two main novellas, “Storm in June” and “Dolce,” and the Appendices that provide essential details about author Irène Némirovsky’s plans for the book as well as gripping correspondence that highlights the tragic story unfolding in her own family.
Suite Française portrays life in France from June, 1940 to July 1, 1941. The early German occupation of France and its impact on the daily lives of those involved is told with clarity and deep understanding of a depraved humanity and human conduct under significant pressure.
The story opens with residents realizing the Germans are at the gates of Paris. The narratives of a few people are followed as chaos ensues. The reader gets a sense of both the individual and the collective panic, with banks failing, railroads being bombed, houses being overtaken by Nazi soldiers.
The mass exodus from Paris is described in “Storm in June” with a beautiful, expressive tone, as the author relates a scene from a boulevard where families are moving with a dizzying agitation to pack up their families and belongings:
The second novella, “Dolce,” describes a subdued and defeated French people in the village of Bussy who must live with an incoming garrison of Wehrmacht troops. We see a settling, an adapting to the new reality of an occupied country. There are collaborators and resisters, and all the characters in between.
Suite Française ends with the German regiment leaving the village of Bussy to continue their fighting in Moscow. The final scene describes the village onlookers watching the enemy pull out.
About the Author:
Irène Némirovsky, a Jew from Ukraine, was born into a wealthy family that eventually fled the country during the Russian Revolution. The family ended up in Paris, and Irène quickly became a celebrated author in France.
Irène was not what one would consider an observant Jew. In fact, some have called her a self-hating Jew. Her willingness to convert to Catholicism for protection, her unsuccessful attempt to become a French citizen, her usage of anti-Semitic publishers to promote her books — all reveal a woman who was trusting in France and not Yahweh to save her.
But no matter, none of this diminishes the important place in Holocaust literature of Suite Française. You won’t find the spiritual Jewish perspective of an Anne Frank or Elie Wiesel in Irène’s writings, but this just highlights Hitler’s insanity. He didn’t care if you loved or hated being a Jew. The Nazis dealt the same hand of death to both.
Married to Jewish banker Michel Epstein, Irène had two daughters, Denise and Élisabeth. It was these two daughters we have to thank for the survival of the manuscript Suite Française.
By 1940, Jews all over Europe were deeply persecuted, and so it was with Irène’s family. She could no longer get her books published, and her husband could no longer work at the bank because of their Jewish ancestry. Despite having converted to Catholicism and being a popular literary figure in France, Irène was arrested in July 1942 as a “stateless person of Jewish descent” and sent to Auschwitz, where she died on August 17, 1942. Her husband shared the same fate a few months later in the gas chambers.
And what of the children and this book, Suite Française? Denise and Élisabeth were hidden in schools and convents until the war’s end. Their father, before he was taken away, had given them one possession to guard with their lives: a little suitcase which contained a special notebook. Can you imagine these two little orphan girls, about 13 and 5 years old, in hiding and in possession of this one family memento, too afraid to leave it, too afraid to examine its contents?
In fact, for over 50 years, the leatherbound notebook which contained Irène’s two novellas which comprise Suite Française, written in microscopic print to save precious paper, remained unopened inside of this suitcase. Irène’s daughters thought it was their mother’s journal, and knew that reading it would be too painful to bear.
Upon preparing to give her mother’s papers to a French archive in the late 1990′s, Denise finally had the courage to open the notebook. She discovered this extraordinary work, incomplete yet whole, written under the most formidable circumstances. The two novellas were intended to be the beginning of a series of five stories which would encompass the whole of the war, to its end. Irène wrote that the rest of the oeuvre was “in limbo, and what limbo! It’s really in the lap of the gods since it depends on what happens.”
Irène’s writing in Suite Française is remarkable not just for its brilliant composition but its perspective. Irène did not begin writing this book until 1941, literally as these events were unfolding before her. However, Suite Française reads not like the diary of one writing contemporaneously with the historical events, lacking a certain coherence, but it presents a viewpoint usually reserved for one who is a generation removed from the time in question who has had time to reflect.
I wonder if Irène’s placement in the timeline of human history prepared her for such a task? She had already lived as a persecuted Jew through a major war, and experienced firsthand the full circle of events. After the 1918 Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks seized her father’s bank and the Nemirovsky family had to disguise themselves as peasants and flee to Finland.
Denise reported after publication of Suite Française, “For me, the greatest joy is knowing that the book is being read. It is an extraordinary feeling to have brought my mother back to life. It shows that the Nazis did not truly succeed in killing her. It is not vengeance, but it is a victory.”
Universal Pictures has acquired screen rights to Suite Française. I think a better choice might be to make a movie about Irène Némirovsky herself, whose real life story is much more moving than the fiction she wrote.
Posted March 1st, 2009 by Jen in education, persecuted church, religion
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Richard Wurmbrand spent 14 years in Communist imprisonment in his homeland of Romania, suffering horrific torture for his Christian faith. Wurmbrand later became the founder of the The Voice of the Martyrs. He tells his shocking story in his book Tortured for Christ. This DVD from Torchlighters also includes a one-hour documentary that Challies liked even better than the animated feature.
His wife Sabina also has an amazing story, told in her autobiography, The Pastor’s Wife.
Posted January 25th, 2009 by Jen in features, persecuted church, politics/world news, religion
9 Comments »
He has been named Islam’s “Public Enemy #1″ by al-Insan al-Jadid, an Arabic newspaper, and by merely looking at this elderly Coptic priest, one would fail to see why.
However, mass conversions to Christianity as a result of his ministry are the reason for the label. About six million Muslims convert to Christianity annually, and an Islamic cleric admitted on al-Jazeera TV not too long ago that many of these conversions are attributed to Botros’ public ministry.
What is his secret, and how has he survived? I believe his greatest asset is his command of classic Arabic and his TV show broadcast in Arabic into the heart of Muslim territory. Born in Egypt, Botros has been hosting Truth Talk since 2003, a weekly 90 minute show where he expertly exposes the inherent contradictions of Islam.
Because Zakaria Botros knows Arabic and has read all of the teachings of Muhammed, the Quran, and countless other Muslim books, he is in an unusually strategic position to counter the inconsistencies of Islam with Islam itself, not just the Bible or Christian teaching. Botros is ultimately interested in saving souls, but is aware that a traditional evangelical approach will not work. He explained this recently:
One example of how Botros will expose Islam with his polemic, debating style, was his lengthy exposure of a certain embarrassing aspect of Islamic law, which Islamic authorities are unable to rebut:
Another telling illustration of how Zakaria Botros forces Muslims to examine the roots of their faith is this:
Whether Zakaria Botros is confronting universal jihad or the inferiority of women, he is always careful to painstakingly cover all the sources, quoting the original Islamic texts and inviting a response from the ulema, the expert Muslim theologians who articulate sharia law. Al-dalil we al-burhan, evidence and proof, is what he demands.
You may wonder how Zakaria Botros is still alive. You must know that any one of his statements would bring death if he were to be roaming the streets preaching in any Islamic town. He’s been jailed twice for preaching the gospel to Muslims, and was sentenced to life in prison. Miraculously, the judge instead released him on the condition that he be forced into exile – Botros had to leave Egypt for good.
After having ministered in Cairo for over 30 years, Botros moved to England. Since then, he “retired” into his airwave ministry. It seems the threats are just beginning. Botros is sure he’d be dead were it not for broadcasting from an undisclosed location. Jihadist groups have posted death threats worth up to a reported $60 million for his head. Zakaria Botros knows the seriousness of this. Growing up as a child in Alexandria, Egypt, Muslim attackers killed his young teenage brother. His response:
Botros does more than defy Islam. He offers an alternative, the truth of Christianity, and he consistently opens and closes his show with an invitation to his viewers to come to Christ. With the growing worldwide hostility to anyone who speaks out against Islam (for example, the Dutch lawmaker currently facing prosecution for anti-Islamic statements), Botros is truly fearless.
“Fear? I fear nothing,” says Botros. “My dictionary does not contain the word fear. I believe in God and I believe that the epistle of Ephesians says we are created in Jesus Christ for a plan, which was engaged from the early beginning. No one can cut it, and when it is completed no one can continue it.”
Posted January 18th, 2009 by Jen in features, france/french, germany, persecuted church, politics/world news
14 Comments »
In Nazi occupied France during the dark days of WWII, there was a group of valiant and daring individuals known as the French Resistance. They dared to defy the vice-grip of Nazi Germany (as well as the French collaborators) using stealth, reconnaissance, infiltration, and whatever means necessary to save their beloved country and fellow man from destruction. Most of these brave souls were subject to betrayal, unspeakable torture, or death. One of these members of the French Resistance appeared to be an ordinary housewife, but Berthe Fraser was anything but ordinary.
Berthe Fraser was among hundreds of people who rose to the treacherous task of defending France. Be they a housewife, a mother, a Catholic, a Jew, a communist, an artist, or a politician, these resistance fighters came from all layers of society, both male and female, young and old, and without their heroic acts, Hitler’s march through France may not have been halted.
The French Resistance took many forms, from groups of armed guerilla bands who escaped to the mountains, known as the Maquis, to organizers of escape networks for Jews and other targets of the Nazis, to publishers of underground newspapers, to those who carried out sabotage operations, to couriers who carried coded messages back and forth between Allied members.
Mrs. Fraser’s story begins with her birth in 1894 as Berthe Emilie Vicogne. She married an Englishman and thus became a British subject. When the rumblings of WWII hit France, Berthe Fraser was going about her domestic life in her hometown of Arras, France, all the while organizing an underground network that saved the lives of countless English agents and pilots. Her husband reported later to an English newspaper:
Twice betrayed but never broken, Berthe Fraser was an unshakable woman for whom I have the utmost awe and respect. I can relate to where she was in life; a woman in her 40s, tending to her home. I don’t know if she had any children, but as a woman, I feel the risks of undertaking the work of the Resistance were doubly perilous.
I wish there was more information available about this woman. I know she suffered extreme torture during her second capture, and this trauma surely accounts for the lack of details. Who wants to recall the horror? I can find no record of a public interview. I discovered in the back matter of the book SOE in France by M.R.D. Foot, that Berthe Fraser died in 1956, her health never restored.
In 1941, someone betrayed Berthe, and she was arrested by the Gestapo. She spent 15 months in a Belgian prison, and was released in December 1942. Did this imprisonment deter her? No. Berthe immediately jumped back into the work of fighting Hitler’s campaign of death and terror.
Berthe was betrayed again in 1944, unbelievably by one of the very English agents whose life she saved. She spent six months in solitary confinement at Loos where she was tortured every day. She was stripped and flogged in front of Nazi troops and condemned to death. Never did she betray her friends in the Resistance or the English army. How many lives she saved through her own afflictions will never be known.
When the Allies stormed the prison on September 1, 1944, Berthe Fraser was just hanging onto life, and she is reported to have said, “Thank you boys, you are just in time.”
Sisters in Resistance, a documentary film by Independent Lens.
Charlotte Gray, a Warner Bros. film.
For Freedom, a novel by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. An excellent young adult book for grades 6-12.
Outwitting the Gestapo, a memoir by Lucie Aubrac.
Sisters in the Resistance by Margaret Collins Weitz.
Code Name Christiane Clouet: A Woman in the French Resistance by Claire Chevrillon.
An American Heroine in the French Resistance: The Diary and Memoir of Virginia D’Albert-Lake by Virginia D’Albert-Lake.
Posted January 11th, 2009 by Jen in persecuted church, politics/world news
15 Comments »
Just wanted to say that. Because I am SICK of the thousands of protesters from D.C. to Denmark who scream Free Palestine, and whine and curse about the cruelty and “holocaust” that Israel is perpetrating against Gaza. How DARE they even use the term holocaust, that is completely revolting to me. Israel must defend herself.
Where were all the shrieking protesters for the past two or three years as Hamas has been fiercely pursuing the total annihilation of Israel, raining rockets into Israel, intentionally killing civilians, while Israel has always bent over backwards to avoid civilian casualties? Oh, I forgot, they were busy actively promoting the destruction of American civilization on every front, the very civilization that’s given them the freedom to be such double-standard double-speakers. And in Europe, where the bulk of the protests have been taking place, they were too busy enacting Sharia law.
How can civilized people who truly care about human life be supporting these terrorists who purposely use human shields, carry out military operations from schools and hospitals, and proudly train up their children to be suicide bombers? Because if you’re not supporting Israel in this issue, you are certainly supporting Hamas terrorists and radical Islamic anti-semitic jihadists who fund them. There is no other choice no matter how one tries to frame it in the current wishy-washy-it’s-cool-and-intellectual-to-be-anti-American-pro-Palestinian cultural trend.
I support Israel.
Posted December 30th, 2008 by Jen in persecuted church, politics/world news, religion
10 Comments »
A map of the northeastern DR Congo, Uganda and Sudan, showing attacks attributed to the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army. Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army rebels killed more than 400 people in Christmas massacres in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Caritas aid charity said Tuesday. (from Yahoo News).
The history of the unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is long and complex, involving notable European powers, especially Belgium. Below is a Timeline of the Democratic Republic of Congo from the BBC (note the Sept. 2005 entry, in which the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels of Uganda infiltrate the DR Congo via Sudan).
There has been a heavy involvement of the UN in the Congo conflicts, dating back to about 1960, and I’m not so sure how much good they’ve done, considering things like the allegations of gold and arms trafficking by UN peacekeepers in Ituri region (May 2007).
At any rate, as Christians whose brothers and sisters in Christ are being massacred, raped, displaced by the tens of thousands, and grievously injured in so many ways in the DRC, we must pray. If you want a place to give, World Relief, a Christian Relief Organization, has been delivering food and aid to local churches caught in the middle of the violence and terror of the civil war in the DRC that has claimed the lives of over 5 million people in the past 12 years.
I met a local woman last month who runs a branch of World Relief here in Central Oregon. Until I met her, I really wasn’t aware of this crisis. Through her passion and outreach to the Congolese, I’ve suddenly noticed the DRC in the news–you know how that is, it’s been there all along.
Timeline: Democratic Republic of Congo
A chronology of key events:
1200s – Rise of Kongo empire, centred in modern northern Angola and including extreme western Congo and territories round lakes Kisale and Upemba in central Katanga (now Shaba).
1482 – Portuguese navigator Diogo Cao becomes the first European to visit the Congo; Portuguese set up ties with the king of Kongo.
16th-17th centuries – British, Dutch, Portuguese and French merchants engage in slave trade through Kongo intermediaries.
1870s – Belgian King Leopold II sets up a private venture to colonise Kongo.
1874-77 – British explorer Henry Stanley navigates Congo river to the Atlantic Ocean.
1879-87 – Leopold commissions Stanley to establish the king’s authority in the Congo basin.
1884-85 – European powers at the Conference of Berlin recognise Leopold’s claim to the Congo basin.
1885 – Leopold announces the establishment of the Congo Free State, headed by himself.
1891-92 – Belgians conquer Katanga.
1892-94 – Eastern Congo wrested from the control of East African Arab and Swahili-speaking traders.
1908 – Belgian state annexes Congo amid protests over killings and atrocities carried out on a mass scale by Leopold’s agents. Millions of Congolese are said to have been killed or worked to death during Leopold’s control of the territory.
1955 – Belgian Professor Antoin van Bilsen publishes a “30-Year Plan” for granting the Congo increased self-government.
1959 – Belgium begins to lose control over events in the Congo following serious nationalist riots in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa).
1960 June – Congo becomes independent with Patrice Lumumba as prime minister and Joseph Kasavubu as president.
1960 July – Congolese army mutinies; Moise Tshombe declares Katanga independent; Belgian troops sent in ostensibly to protect Belgian citizens and mining interests; UN Security Council votes to send in troops to help establish order, but the troops are not allowed to intervene in internal affairs.
1960 September – Kasavubu dismisses Lumumba as prime minister.
1960 December – Lumumba arrested.
1961 February – Lumumba murdered, reportedly with US and Belgian complicity.
1961 August – UN troops begin disarming Katangese soldiers.
1963 – Tshombe agrees to end Katanga’s secession.
1964 – President Kasavubu appoints Tshombe prime minister.
1965 – Kasavubu and Tshombe ousted in a coup led by Joseph Mobutu.
1971 – Joseph Mobutu renames the country Zaire and himself Mobutu Sese Seko; also Katanga becomes Shaba and the river Congo becomes the river Zaire.
1973-74 – Mobutu nationalises many foreign-owned firms and forces European investors out of the country.
1977 – Mobutu invites foreign investors back, without much success; French, Belgian and Moroccan troops help repulse attack on Katanga by Angolan-based rebels.
1989 – Zaire defaults on loans from Belgium, resulting in a cancellation of development programmes and increased deterioration of the economy.
1990 – Mobutu agrees to end the ban on multiparty politics and appoints a transitional government, but retains substantial powers.
1991 – Following riots in Kinshasa by unpaid soldiers, Mobutu agrees to a coalition government with opposition leaders, but retains control of the security apparatus and important ministries.
1993 – Rival pro- and anti-Mobutu governments created.
1994 – Mobutu agrees to the appointment of Kengo Wa Dondo, an advocate of austerity and free-market reforms, as prime minister.
1996-97 – Tutsi rebels capture much of eastern Zaire while Mobutu is abroad for medical treatment.
Aftermath of Mobutu
1997 May – Tutsi and other anti-Mobutu rebels, aided principally by Rwanda, capture the capital, Kinshasa; Zaire is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo; Laurent-Desire Kabila installed as president.
1998 August – Rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda rise up against Kabila and advance on Kinshasa. Zimbabwe, Namibia send troops to repel them. Angolan troops also side with Kabila. The rebels take control of much of the east of DR Congo.
1999 – Rifts emerge between Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) rebels supported by Uganda and Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) rebels backed by Rwanda.
Lusaka peace accord signed
1999 July – The six African countries involved in the war sign a ceasefire accord in Lusaka. The following month the MLC and RCD rebel groups sign the accord.
2000 – UN Security Council authorises a 5,500-strong UN force to monitor the ceasefire but fighting continues between rebels and government forces, and between Rwandan and Ugandan forces.
2001 January – President Laurent Kabila is shot dead by a bodyguard. Joseph Kabila succeeds his father.
2001 February – Kabila meets Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Washington. Rwanda, Uganda and the rebels agree to a UN pull-out plan. Uganda, Rwanda begin pulling troops back from the frontline.
2001 May – US refugee agency says the war has killed 2.5 million people, directly or indirectly, since August 1998. Later, a UN panel says the warring parties are deliberately prolonging the conflict to plunder gold, diamonds, timber and coltan, used in the making of mobile phones.
2002 January – Eruption of Mount Nyiragongo devastates much of the city of Goma.
Search for peace
2002 April – Peace talks in South Africa: Kinshasa signs a power-sharing deal with Ugandan-backed rebels, under which the MLC leader would be premier. Rwandan-backed RCD rebels reject the deal.
2002 July – Presidents of DR Congo and Rwanda sign a peace deal under which Rwanda will withdraw troops from the east and DR Congo will disarm and arrest Rwandan Hutu gunmen blamed for the killing of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
2002 September – Presidents of DR Congo and Uganda sign peace accord under which Ugandan troops will leave DR Congo.
2002 September/October – Uganda, Rwanda say they have withdrawn most of their forces from the east. UN-sponsored power-sharing talks begin in South Africa.
2002 December – Peace deal signed in South Africa between Kinshasa government and main rebel groups. Under the deal rebels and opposition members are to be given portfolios in an interim government.
2003 April – President Kabila signs a transitional constitution, under which an interim government will rule pending elections.
2003 May – Last Ugandan troops leave eastern DR Congo.
2003 June – French soldiers arrive in Bunia, spearheading a UN-mandated rapid-reaction force.
President Kabila names a transitional government to lead until elections in two years time. Leaders of main former rebel groups are sworn in as vice-presidents in July.
2003 August – Interim parliament inaugurated.
2004 March – Gunmen attack military bases in Kinshasa in an apparent coup attempt.
2004 June – Reported coup attempt by rebel guards is said to have been neutralised.
2004 December – Fighting in the east between the Congolese army and renegade soldiers from a former pro-Rwanda rebel group. Rwanda denies being behind the mutiny.
2005 March – UN peacekeepers say they have killed more then 50 militia members in an offensive, days after nine Bangladeshi soldiers serving with the UN are killed in the north-east.
2005 May – New constitution, with text agreed by former warring factions, is adopted by parliament.
2005 September – Uganda warns that its troops may re-enter DR Congo after a group of Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army rebels enter via Sudan.
2005 November – A first wave of soldiers from the former Zairean army returns after almost eight years of exile in the neighbouring Republic of Congo.
2005 December – Voters back a new constitution, already approved by parliament, paving the way for elections in 2006.
International Court of Justice rules that Uganda must compensate DR Congo for rights abuses and the plundering of resources in the five years up to 2003.
2006 February – New constitution comes into force; new national flag is adopted.
2006 March – Warlord Thomas Lubanga becomes first war crimes suspect to face charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He is accused of forcing children into active combat.
2006 May – Thousands are displaced in the north-east as the army and UN peacekeepers step up their drive to disarm irregular forces ahead of the elections.
2006 July – Presidential and parliamentary polls are held – the first free elections in four decades. With no clear winner in the presidential vote, incumbent leader Joseph Kabila and opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba prepare to contest a run-off poll on 29 October. Forces loyal to the two candidates clash in the capital.
2006 November – Joseph Kabila is declared winner of October’s run-off presidential election. The poll has the general approval of international monitors.
2006 December – Forces of renegade General Laurent Nkunda and the UN-backed army clash in North Kivu province, prompting some 50,000 people to flee. The UN Security Council expresses concern about the fighting.
2007 March – Government troops and forces loyal to opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba clash in Kinshasa.
2007 April – DRCongo, Rwanda and Burundi relaunch the regional economic bloc Great lakes Countries Economic Community, known under its French acronym CEPGL.
2007 April – Jean-Pierre Bemba leaves for Portugal, ending a three-week political stalemate in Kinshasa, during which he sheltered in the South African embassy.
2007 May – The UN investigates allegations of gold and arms trafficking by UN peacekeepers in Ituri region.
2007 June – War could break out again in the east, warns the Archbishop of Bukavu, Monsignor Francois-Xavier Maroy.
2007 June – Radio Okapi broadcaster Serge Maheshe is shot dead in Bukavu, the third journalist killed in the country since 2005.
2007 August – Uganda and DRCongo agree to try defuse a border dispute.
Aid agencies report a big increase in refugees fleeing instability in North Kivu which is blamed on dissident general Nkunda.
2007 September – Major outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.
2008 January – The government and rebel militia, including renegade Gen Nkunda, sign a peace pact aimed at ending years of conflict in the east.
2008 April – Army troops clash with Rwandan Hutu militias with whom they were formerly allied in eastern Congo, leaving thousands of people displaced.
2008 August – Heavy clashes erupt in the east of the country between army troops and fighters loyal to rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.
2008 October – Rebel forces capture major army base of Rumangabo; the Congolese government accuses Rwanda of backing General Nkunda, a claim Rwanda denies.
Thousands of people, including Congolese troops, flee as clashes in eastern DR Congo intensify. Chaos grips the provincial capital Goma as rebel forces advance. UN peacekeepers engage the rebels in an attempt to support Congolese troops.
2008 November – General Dieudonne Kayembe dismissed as armed forces chief over war in east. Replaced by navy chief General Didier Etumba Longomba.
The BBC timeline ends there, but I’m sure will soon be updated with the Christmas 2008 massacres. What will 2009 hold for the Democratic Republic of Congo? If all God’s people will get on their knees and pray and intercede for persecutions going on worldwide (this is just one of many), maybe we will see a radical change…
Posted August 8th, 2008 by Jen in china, family life, persecuted church, politics/world news
10 Comments »
It’s a landmark day. Today marks the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Unlike any opening ceremony in Olympic history, China has outdone itself, and the sleeping giant awakens.
My niece, Karen, recently returned from China with her school band. The Catalina Foothills High School Marching Band (Tucson, Arizona) was chosen to perform in the 2008 pre-Olympic festivities in Beijing, and she was the most excited 16-year-old girl you could imagine. She plays clarinet and oboe, and did the U.S. proud.
The band played atop the Great Wall of China, at the Juyong Pass, as well as a Forbidden City performance, along with tours of Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Peking Opera, the Temple of Heaven, the Beijing Zoo, and much more. I loved this photo of the driving hazards enroute to Beijing.
All in all, still not sure why the Olympics are being held in a country that practices infanticide, extreme censorship, communism, and very limited religious, political, or social freedom.
Moving across the continent to Eastern Europe, the news is anything but festive. Russia has invaded Georgia.
Reuters reports that Kakha Lamaia, a member of Georgia’s National Security Council, says that the two countries are “very close to war.” World powers around the globe are calling for an end to the violence, which is fierce and is escalating.
Immediately after President Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin enjoyed the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, mentioned above, these two world leaders met to discuss the situation between Russia and Georgia–more specifically, a separatist territory of Georgia known as South Ossetia. Most South Ossetians hold Russian citizenship and have close ties to Russia. Russia is claiming there is ethnic cleansing going on in South Ossetia, and thus they need to come in and save the day.
My take is that Russia wants to take back part of its territory, once held for most of the two hundred years prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. And they see an excuse to move in, with the unrest in South Ossetia. Russia is mad that Georgia has sought NATO membership–why should they care unless they feel that this move is in defiance of their rulership, and of course a threat to their security?
Still not sure why President Bush is convening with a dictator-on-the-rise like Vladimir Putin.
Proceeding along to the North American continent, the biggest news comes right out of my cozy home. I was served breakfast in bed, for no apparent reason, by my seven-year-old daughter.
I rolled over to a fried egg and a little voice that said, “Mommy, I made breakfast for you!” She served it up with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast, all to my utter surprise about where this flight of fancy originated. Never mind that the egg was over-easy and let me stress the “easy,” and the coffee was cold, its origins uncertain, the only option being the left-over coffee still in the pot from yesterday, which would explain the temperature. But the toast was excellent!
Not to settle for anything minimal, my daughter continued her morning homemaking. “Mommy, put on your best dress and come downstairs,” she called through the door. Curious as the mother hen that I am, I quickly complied, and entered the kitchen-converted-to-a-ballroom.
JJ had picked out some music, one of my old Amy Grant albums, and had created a festive atmosphere everywhere I turned. Surely this rivaled Beijing. Streamers were hanging from the ceiling, the table set with this unique combination of childhood and womanhood–fine wine glasses accompanied by paper plates and plastic silverware wrapped in crepe paper. I twirled and danced with my girls, and even my boys.
Apparently, the egg and toast were not enough, so she proceeded to make French Toast for the whole family (minus Dad, who was already gone to work).
Still not sure why I got so lucky as to have breakfast in bed for no reason at all.
photo credits: CFHS blog, FoxNews
Posted July 20th, 2008 by Jen in education, germany, persecuted church, politics/world news
7 Comments »
If you’re following the crisis in Germany regarding that country’s ban on homeschooling, you may be interested in tuning in tomorrow to the new BlogTalkRadio Homeschool Show, live at 1 p.m. Central Time, Monday, July 21 (follow that link). You can listen to the archive after the show if you’re unavailable at that time.
This new Home School Talk radio show is hosted by Dana of Principled Discovery, who has written extensively about the homeschooling situation in Germany. The guest tomorrow is Rina, an Irish woman who homeschooled her children in Germany for a period and faced constant harassment from German authorities. Rina kept a blog updated through Dec. ’07 if you’d like to follow some of her saga there, as well as stories of many other German homeschoolers who dealt with similar harassment, fines, criminal penalties, loss of custody of children, and jail – just for homeschooling. Also a great source of updated information on German homeschooling is Kinderlehrer’s blog, Educating Germany, dedicated solely to this issue.
Whether you’re a homeschooler or not, I’d encourage anyone who cares about basic human rights, parental rights, educational choice, and living in a free and democratic society, to tune in and educate yourself on this issue. If you’re not able to listen live, but have a question, comment, or encouragement for Rina, consider emailing Dana with your thoughts to pass on to her guest.
Posted July 6th, 2008 by Jen in features, history, persecuted church, religion
14 Comments »
Sorry I posted a blank Religious Freedom article earlier. It was set to auto-publish, and I lost track of time – it came and went without me noticing. All I had at that point was a poorly written document that started out something like “It was a dark and stormy night.”
I don’t promise much better at this point because the topic of religious liberty is so vast and convoluted by bizarre interpretations of the First Amendment that I can’t think straight. I’ve been looking at early original writings on religious liberty, a church history book, and modern writers on the subject. Then there’s the ACLU, the atheists, and the activist judges who muck it all up.
Here’s what we all know from the First Amendment:
The horrors of the Old World still near in their minds, the Founders in the New World wanted a fresh approach. The high price of enforced religious conformity, with its untold thousands of martyrs, was the climate in which the Founders were seeking true religious freedom of conscience.
I was listening to a Focus on the Family broadcast a few days ago, featuring historian David Barton, in which he talks about the large percentage of people who actually think the term “separation of church and state” appears in the Constitution, and mistake the Founders’ intent for the government to leave people alone in regards to their religion, with some twisted idea of a religion-free public life.
Here is an excellent piece on the Founders’ view of religion in public life:
The phase “separation of church and state” comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association, and can be read here in its entirety. In fact, this letter is the only record of Thomas Jefferson ever mentioning this phrase, and none of the other 90 or so men involved in the writing of the Constitution ever talked in terms of a “wall of separation between church and state,” but in the past 50 years, it’s been cited over 3,000 times by the courts, typically to justify the eradication of religious expression from public life.
Here’s what’s taken terribly out of context: these Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut were opposed to a “religion clause” even being in the Constitution at all. The reason is because they feared that religious privileges would thus be viewed as “favors granted” from the state, not as inalienable rights. They felt that the government guaranteeing religious liberty was a “degrading acknowledgment” and “inconsistent with the rights of freemen.”
Jefferson replies that the Danbury Baptists need not worry, that he completely agrees with them that “religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God.” The assurance of the “wall of separation between Church and State” that Jefferson mentions in this letter is a promise and commitment to this group of Christians that the language of “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” was simply meant to “restore to man all his natural rights.” Coming from the religious tyranny of England, it’s no wonder the Founders felt a need to be very explicit about religious freedom.
I discovered an interesting phrase in this very letter in which the “separation of church and state” is mentioned by Thomas Jefferson. It’s an overlooked phrase, one that has incredible bearing on current events regarding religious liberty and free speech. Are you ready?
Wow. I’ll be discussing Free Speech next week, but for now, I’ll just say that I find it quite ironic that the “separation of church and state” phrase has been latched onto and used mercilessly to eject any and all Christian thought from American public or political discourse, but this phrase has been conveniently disregarded. This phrase, were it made law by the Supreme Court, as has the “separation” phrase, should preclude such religious intolerance and government meddling like telling public schools what prayers they can or can’t say, what language is acceptable and what is not, or telling a private photography company that it violated state law by refusing (for religious reasons) to take a job photographing a lesbian commitment ceremony.
Those Danbury Baptists had some very valid concerns and clearly anticipated the religious/political landscape we now call Post-Modern America. I’m grateful for the inclusion of the Establishment Clause, however, America needs a return to the intent of the Founders before her people find themselves again under total religious tyranny at the hands of the government.
Posted March 23rd, 2008 by Jen in persecuted church, politics/world news, religion
1 Comment »
Easter blessings to you all! Today I celebrate the reason I can live. Here is some wonderful news out of Italy, a Muslim converts to Christianity.
I will pray for Allam, and many like him, who has already received death threats from Hamas, and he now faces additional danger, as converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by death. Though killings are rare, Islamic legal doctrine does call for the death penalty for rejecting Islam.
Peace of Christ to you on this blessed Easter.
HT to Crunchy Con
Posted November 27th, 2007 by Jen in book reviews, china, persecuted church, religion
6 Comments »
The Heavenly Man: the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun
The story of Brother Yun is inspiring, painful, seemingly incredulous, and certainly in season. The Heavenly Man details the life and ministry of this Christian house church leader in his own words, also interwoven with accounts from his wife, Deling. A large portion of the book describes the countless ordeals of intense torture that would kill any man, but these reports are offset by Yun’s testimonies of miraculous healings, visions, dreams, and many other supernatural events. In fact, that is the theme of the book: with great persecution, the Church will see the miraculous hand of God and will grow.
Brother Yun, Liu Zhenying was his given name, was born in 1958 in Nanyang in the southern part of China’s Henan Province. He spent his childhood in a farming village of 600 people, in a little mud house with a straw roof. He worked the fields like most poor children, along with his four siblings, and received little schooling.
China became a communist nation in 1949 and thus Brother Yun was born into a spiritual and political climate that was void of all Christian fellowship and Bibles were nowhere to be seen. Mao Tsetung (Zedong) ushered in communism and death; his policies of the suppression of counter-revolutionaries centered on mass executions, and Mao himself claimed to have killed 700,000 during the early years of his founding of the People’s Republic of China. However, the U.S. State Department puts the number at several times that amount. Not only were Christian missionaries and their Chinese converts slaughtered, Mao targeted the leaders of the former government, former employees of Western companies, rural gentry, and anyone whose loyalty was suspect. His policies of forced collective ownership, including a ban on all private food production and a ban on private land ownership, led to what is thought to be the largest famine in history, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese peasants between 1959 and 1962. Brother Yun reports that in his Henan Province 8 million people starved to death.
In 1974, Brother Yun was 16 years old. His entire family became Christians overnight when his father was healed of cancer. Yun’s mother, who had heard the gospel in the 1940s from a Western missionary, had become a Christian, but in the ensuing decades of Mao’s dictatorship, was spiritually starved. However, this one night when her husband lay dying, she heard a voice say, “Jesus loves you.” She immediately recognized the voice of God, and told her children that “Jesus is the only hope for Father.” They all prayed throughout the night, and by the next week their father was completely healed. Yun relates that this was such a powerful event in his family’s life that today, over 30 years after Jesus healed his father, all five of his children still follow God.
Yun’s mother couldn’t remember much of the Bible, but she told all she knew to her family. Yun began to long to read the words of God for himself, but this was during the Cultural Revolution when Bibles were scarce. People were allowed to read only Mao’s little Red Book, and if caught with a Bible, it would be burned and the owner would be publicly and severely beaten, along with his entire family.
A most curious series of events followed, as Brother Yun, a mere 16 years old, began to fast and pray for a Bible, such was his passion to read God’s word. He had a vision one night, in which two strangers gave him a bun of fresh bread, which they pulled from a red bag, and upon putting it in his mouth, it turned into a Bible.
His mother and father were afraid their son had gone mad, as Yun frantically searched the house for a Bible. But lo and behold, a knock came to the door, and the same two men from Yun’s vision were waiting there, and slipped through the door the same red bag, which contained a Bible. Yun later finds out that these two men were sent by an evangelist from a far off village, who had received a vision from the Lord instructing him to give his Bible, hidden underground for safekeeping, to a certain young man.
This young man was Brother Yun, and despite having only three years of education, began reading his Bible, one character at a time with a dictionary at his side. After reading through the whole Bible, Yun memorized entire chapters at a time. Within the first month, he memorized the Book of Matthew, and then on to the Book of Acts. During this time, Brother Yun received another visitation from the Lord. He felt a tap on his shoulder and heard a voice tell him “Yun, I am going to send you to the west and south to be my witness.”
Yun started preaching at age 16, and because no one had a Bible, his preaching consisted mostly of reciting the books of the Bible that he had memorized. People would stay up all night just to hear him speak, because they too longed to hear the Word of God. Within that first year of preaching in neighboring villages, Brother Yun led over 2,000 people to Jesus. Persecution was immediate. All of the new Christians in the first village where he spoke were arrested and beaten. Yun’s name was on the Public Security Bureau’s “Wanted” list because of his evangelizing.
Soon after, Yun was married to Deling, through the matchmaking of their mothers. She is a lovely Christian woman and shares parts of this amazing story as well. She recounts the story of her and Yun going to the marriage registry office to apply for their marriage license. After waiting a long time, Yun didn’t come out.
The pressure against Brother Yun and other Chinese Christian house church leaders mounted, and the torture and abuse at the hands of the Chinese police and other government officials is unspeakable. In his 23 years of ministering in China, Brother Yun and his family were continually on the run, he was imprisoned three different times for a total of seven years, and yet people came to Jesus by the thousands.
Woven throughout the most intense scenes of torture is always the strong presence of God. Yun shares many personal accounts of divine healings, people being delivered from demons, and other miracles. During his first imprisonment, Brother Yun survived a 74 day fast. His second time in prison, the PSB beat his legs so badly that he was crippled, yet he walked out the front doors of the prison and escaped. Yun describes that escape of May 5, 1997, walking past guards and through open gates:
After many trials and long periods of agonizing separation from his family, Brother Yun finally escaped China and now lives in Germany with his family. The last several chapters of The Heavenly Man are his reflections on the Western church as well as a description of his new focus on the Back to Jerusalem movement.
I understand why many people are deeply moved by this book. Reading about a man a world away who has to beg, pray, and fast for months just to get his hands on a Bible, while I have ten on my shelf, makes me a bit uncomfortable. Brother Yun has some sharp words for the Western church:
I’m trying to keep perspective here, because I realize that different nations have different battles and their own unique burdens, and it’s not always fair to make direct comparisons. However, Brother Yun’s experiences in China have much to teach us in the West.
Brother Yun’s incredible ordeals in China have led him to a deep desire for not only Chinese brothers and sisters to know Jesus, but all the world. In chapter 24 of The Heavenly Man, Yun describes the Silk Roads, key trading routes that first brought herbs, spices, treasures, new religions, and invading armies in and out of China. Some accounts say that Christianity first traveled down one of these roads from Jerusalem to China just decades after the resurrection of Jesus.
It is the goal of Brother Yun and the Back to Jerusalem movement for the gospel to travel full circle, out of China and back to Jerusalem. The nations along the Silk Roads are home to the three strongholds of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, with more than 90% of the people groups who haven’t heard the gospel living here. Yun describes meeting Simon Zhao in 1995 in Central China, a believer who spent 31 years in prison for his involvement in the first Back to Jerusalem movement in 1950:
Fascinating. The Heavenly Man, the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun is a powerful book that I recommend to all Christians wanting to challenge their Western faith and enlarge their Christian worldview.
This review is part of the Chrysalis November Christian Book Fair.
Posted April 9th, 2007 by Jen in general, germany, persecuted church, politics/world news
6 Comments »
Monday, April 9 – today’s date – in 1945, was the morning of the hanging of Dietrich Bonhoeffer at the Flossenburg Concentration Camp. German pastor, writer, dissident, and martyr. A great force behind the German Resistance to Hitler’s Nazi regime. Sadly, ironically, but perhaps most profound, is the fact that just a few days later, Allied troops liberated the camp. Three weeks following, Adolf Hitler had committed suicide, and within a month, Germany had surrendered unconditionally. But I believe that Bonhoeffer speaks to us through his sacrifice more clearly today than he did in his life.
Just as a prophet is not accepted in his own town (Matthew 13:57), Bonhoeffer was speaking so far ahead of his time that I believe most of his contemporaries benefited little from his life. Many of his fellow pastors and churchpeople supported Hitler’s policies. The true beneficiaries of Dietrich Bonhoeffer are those of us living today.
As he explained his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler, Bonhoeffer said: “If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.” A further glimpse into the action-oriented Bonhoeffer was his collaboration in an effort to help a group of Jews escape to Switzerland that led to his arrest and imprisonment in April 1943, two years prior to his execution.
So, I’m trying to lay the framework of all of this history onto life today. Here’s a Bonhoeffer quote that helps his death bring some benefit to me today: “Nothing is fixed, and nothing holds us. The film, vanishing from memory as soon as it ends, symbolizes the profound amnesia of our time. Events of world-historical significance, along with the most terrible crimes, leave no trace behind in the forgetful soul.”
Can we please not suffer from profound amnesia? Can we please not be illiterate regarding church history? Bonhoeffer displayed the most admirable resistance to tyranny you can hope for; yet this was too late for his own age – we are the recipients, and our call is to respond to the conditions that make tyranny possible. We are offered the opportunity, if we would educated ourselves with this history, to direct action at the root of the problem, instead of being forced into a violent struggle with the full-blown fuhrer.
So, The Cost of Discipleship teaches me that believing in Jesus isn’t enough – there is a call to action, and Bonhoeffer sets a real-life example of sometimes radical action. Bonhoeffer warns against the “cheap grace” that advocates belief without obedience. “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth.”
Here are some issues I’ll be exploring in more detail in another post – this is an excerpt from the 2003 documentary film, Bonhoeffer:
Do you think the church has any reason today to act against the state? Ahh, now we’re getting to the heart of this, and we must examine this closer if Bonhoeffer’s martyrdom is to have been of any profit.