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The Bitter Gospel

The Bitter Gospel

It took a horrific attack on her church for Emily to realise that her understanding of God was wrong. Three years ago, her bishop asked her to move to a new church plant near Mombasa, Kenya. The Joy in Jesus Church in Likoni was struggling, and the bishop thought Emily could help. Over the next several months, the church grew to 60 people.

On Sunday morning, 23 March, 2014, most of the faithful were scattered throughout the pews. Assistant Pastor Philip Ambesta was speaking that morning, and Emily was in the front row. In the middle of his sermon, there was a loud bang outside and heads turned to look, but Pastor Philip told everyone, “Ignore what is going on outside these walls and listen to what God has to say to you.” He continued to preach.

Moments later, two gunmen burst through the back door. One, armed with a machine gun, sprayed the congregation with bullets. From her seat at the front, Emily turned and saw the other gunman aim a hand gun straight at the platform. He fired, and Pastor Philip fell, dead.

It was chaos. The gunmen fled, everyone was screaming and people were running everywhere. Emily moved among the members, reassuring them and offering first aid. She also made sure ambulance and police were called. The ambulance couldn’t carry all the injured, so Emily helped them prioritise which victims needed the most urgent help.

Six people died that day, including Pastor Philip. Twenty-four others were injured, and VOM has helped four of the most severely injured with their ongoing medical care for the past two years. Emily herself wasn’t injured, but she was left with deep scars on her soul.

She struggled to understand why God would have allowed the church to be attacked. She believed that God must have been punishing them for their sin. Discouraged, Emily returned to her home church in Mombasa.

But she continued to read God’s Word. As she did, she realised God wasn’t punishing them. In the Bible, she read how Jesus promised His followers they would be persecuted for His sake. She saw that sin compels evil men to commit evil acts, especially against those who follow the God in whom there is no darkness. She realised that God’s promises to work for our good and to bless us meant not financial good, but spiritual good. Persecution is a promise, not a punishment.

Today, Emily describes the Gospel as a “bitter Gospel.” She says, “I teach the bitter Gospel of the cross and the blood. You have to accept taking up the cross.”

Dory P

Surrender for a Greater Reward

Surrender for a Greater Reward

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” – Matthew 25:23 (ESV)

When the man of Matthew 25 left, he did not promise his servants a reward for increasing the talents he entrusted to them. He gave according to ability, then allowed them to respond through their care of those talents. Today we often use this passage to exhort Christians to devote their abilities to the One who gave them. “Use your talents for God,” I’ve heard many times. My response: why?

What gain is in forfeiting the opportunity to show others my abilities and knowledge? In the worldly sense, nothing. Living for Christ means surrendering the chance to be a person the world admires. If I truly follow Jesus, like He was, so I will be: mocked and disregarded, for obedience to Christ makes us the refuse of the world, not its victors. The lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters demonstrate the fact that the world hates us because of the One whom we obey. Their school records are destroyed, houses blown up, and families torn apart because they live faithfully for the King of kings, rather than cave under pressure from the world.

I do not want to feel the world’s pressure. I want to be accepted, appreciated, and loved. If I could use my talents to gain these things, why surrender them to Christ? Unlike the faithful servants in Matthew 25, I have His Word that promises good things will follow my surrender to Christ; however, I do not give only because of those promises. Not just because the things of Christ are better. Not just because He will grant me a place in heaven. Not just because He will give me what I so desire.

The greater reward of surrender to the Lord is knowing the Person of God, who owns our talents, which He has entrusted to us, and who deserves our devotion. As we come to know Him and wonder at His gracious, powerful, holy nature, we can come to full surrender. What could be greater than a relationship with the God who is perfect and loves so much that He give His everything for us?

J.G. Spires

INDIA: Attacked for Distributing Christian Literature

INDIA: Attacked for Distributing Christian Literature

A mob has attacked three Christians in India over suspicions that the latter were trying to convert Hindus, according to local reports.

Pastor Prashant Bhatnagar, 45, was distributing Christian literature together with two of his church friends in Kharghar and Taloja in the city of Navi, Mumbai, when a mob began attacking them verbally and physically. One of the victims was brought to a hospital, The Times of India details.

The pastor, on the other hand, was taken to a prison site where the assailants threatened him with a revolver. The group also told him to stop distributing Christian pamphlets or else they would set him on fire.

Based on his complaint submitted to police, Pastor Bhatnagar was also beaten badly by the group, and one young man even urinated on him. The mob later left the unconscious pastor in Taloja, where passers-by saw him and took him to a hospital, Two Circles reports.

In response to the recent mob attack, former Maharashtra Minorities Commission vice-chairman Abraham Mathai called on the authorities to arrest the perpetrators of the incident.

Source: Christian Daily

Prayer Points

  • Pray that those who received the literature will take its message to heart and come into a relationship with the living God.
  • Pray for recovery for those who were beaten and courage to continue witnessing to the lost.
  • Pray that this incident will actually inspire more local Christians to go and make disciples.
Indonesia: Stenley

Indonesia: Stenley

2-BLOG-BANNER-ExtremeDevotion

 

(page 44)

This testimony is from the book Extreme Devotion. It contains 365 days of devotions using stories of persecuted Christians from around the world.

When Stenley got off the boat on the remote Indonesian island, he felt the spiritual darkness. The people practised a combination of witchcraft and Islam.

Stenley was fresh out of Bible school and ready for the work to which God had called him, reaching these island people for Christ.

Stenley preached boldly, calling people to turn to Christ and then to burn their idols and the relics of their old life. One Muslim burned his idol, but inside it was a scroll from the Koran. When radical Muslims heard of the burning of the Koran, they reported Stenley to area officials. Stenley was immediately arrested.

Although Stenley was horribly beaten and lay comatose, his mentor from Bible school, Pastor Siwi, came to see him and witnessed tears streaming from his eyes. Soon after, Stenley died from his injuries.

But even death could not end Stenley’s ministry. When his story was told in his home village, eleven Muslims accepted Christ as Saviour. Fifty three villagers made the decision to attend Bible school, seven of whom asked to be sent as missionaries to the very village where Stenley had died.

Hoping to extinguish the Gospel fire, village officials snuffed out Stenley’s life. But even in the midst of their violence, God’s hand was at work. Today the flames of the Gospel burn brightly in that village.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden” Matthew 5:14.

“Leave the light on.” That’s what all who follow Christ should aim to do when they leave this world behind. A committed Christian leaves the light on for a world that is lost in darkness. It’s called leaving a legacy. It seems we often hear of famous people who leave behind a legacy in film, sports, or some other public arena. However, while the lives of many Christian saints are extinguished in anonymity, their faithful lights still burn brightly throughout the world. Their legacy of faith, integrity, hope, and love cannot be doused by their death. In fact, death may even accelerate the flame. For a legacy like that is often willingly imitated by those who remain.

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PAKISTAN: Christian Boy Dies After Being Set on Fire

PAKISTAN: Christian Boy Dies After Being Set on Fire

A 14-year-old Pakistani Christian boy who was beaten and set on fire by two Muslim men after answering truthfully that he was a Christian has died due to third degree burns over more than half his body inflicted during the attack.

According to prominent Pakistani human rights attorney Sardar Mushtaq Gill, the young boy, Nouman Masih, was walking on his way to a cloth stitching job when he was approached by two Muslim men.

After answering when asked by the men whether he was a Muslim or Christian, the men beat him, chased him down, doused him in kerosene and set him on fire when he told them that he was a Christian. Doctors ruled that Masih’s body was 55% burned.

Although doctors thought Masih might be able to survive his burns, Gill told The Christian Post that the hospital did not have the burn treatment facilities needed to treat the severity of Masih’s wounds.

Because Masih’s attackers were able to flee the scene unidentified, the actual perpetrators of the attack are unknown.

Source: Farsi Christian News Network

 Prayer Points

  • Pray for Nouman’s grieving family and friends; ask the Lord to comfort them and enable them to forgive.
  • Ask God to use Nouman’s testimony to give other Christians the courage to stand up for Christ even under terrible pressure.
  • Pray for the church in Pakistan to remain faithful and hold on amidst strong opposition and frequent attacks (Revelation 2:25).

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