18-year-old Christian saved from a death sentence has been
given 75 lashes instead on the adultery charge she says
was actually rape. The punishment of Abok Alfa Akok has
prompted further protests at the action of the country's
Muslim authorities. Akok's execution was ordered under
Islamic law -- which is supposed to be applied only to
Muslims -- after she was found guilty of adultery. Her
claim that she had been raped was not accepted by the
court because she was unable to produce the four male
witnesses required by the Shariah code. The sentence
sparked an international outcry and was overturned by an
appeals court that ordered a "rebuke" sentence instead.
That turned out to be the lashing, which was carried out
last week before Akok -- who is six months pregnant --
could appeal, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said.
"This woman's inhumane treatment highlights the appalling
misuse of Shariah law in Sudan," said CSW director Stuart
Windsor. "This is the second time that she has been denied
due process of law, quite apart from the injustice of a
Christian being subject to Shariah law."
The words of Jesus to the church in Ephesus as recorded by
John in Revelation 2:2,3:
“I know your deeds, your hard
work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate
wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be
apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have
persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have
not grown weary.”
Christian Persecution Statistics
in China 2/27/2002
From "The Voice of the Martyrs", March 2002
The following statistics, which show Christians persecuted
for their faith, relate only to a small branch of China's
giant house church movement. This small branch contains
less than 500,000 members, and is less than one percent of
China's Christians. These statistics cover a 19-year
period through 2001.
Christians arrested: 23,686
Christians sent away for "re-education through labor":
Christians forced to flee to avoid arrest: 1,545
Christians permanently handicapped by police abuse: 208
Christians killed by police: 129
Noted Bible teacher Dr. M. R. DeHaan
once said, “To come to Christ costs nothing, to follow
Christ costs something, but to serve Christ costs
everything.” Jesus said,
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his
life for my sake will find it.”
– Matthew 10:39.
In countries around the world,
Christians face arrest, torture, imprisonment, and even
death. In many Islamic countries, converting from Islam to
Christianity is punishable by death! Here in the United
States, we’re fairly fortunate. There is no law against
being a Christian – yet. For most of us, the worst we’ll
suffer for our faith is a little teasing, ridicule, and
scorn. Some may face discrimination or loss of friends.
But very few of us will face the loss of our life because of
our Christian beliefs. There are exceptions, though.
When teenager Cassie Bernall left home for another day of
classes at Columbine High School, she had no idea that she
wouldn’t be coming home. Later that day, when an armed
schoolmate asked if she believed in God, this recently
redeemed girl said, “Yes”. That one word, a testament and
defense of her faith in the face of grave danger, was the
last word that Cassie spoke before being shot to death.
While I doubt that Cassie’s killer would have spared her
life had she said “No”, she nevertheless demonstrated an
honesty and bravery that are an example for us all. She
went beyond the comfort zone of professing and celebrating
her new faith in the confines of a church building. She
carried her faith with her and held it up before her as she
stared a demon in the face. I have no doubt whatsoever that
she soon felt the embrace of her Savior, and heard the love
in His voice as He said, “Well done, my good and faithful
recently read the book, “The Embarrassed Believer”,
by Hugh Hewitt. He posed an interesting question that
challenged me. I pose a similar question to all of you
now. If you went to a nice restaurant with a group of
colleagues from work, and one of them bowed his or her head
and quietly asked the Lord’s blessing on the meal, would you
be embarrassed? Suppose you were at McDonalds with some
co-workers, and they began to snicker at a family that was
praying at another table. How would that make you feel?
Would you have the courage to bow your head in prayer while
surrounded by unbelieving friends or colleagues? It is
almost a certainty that to do so would result in some
teasing or ridicule. It may not even be to your face, but I
can almost guarantee it would be there. You may not be
asked to accompany that same group of people to lunch
again. They may start to avoid you around work. Would you
be willing to make that sacrifice for your beliefs? After
all, it won’t kill you.
think most of us, if honest, might feel a certain degree of
hesitation or embarrassment in that situation. That’s
okay. But will you overcome the embarrassment to make a
stand for your beliefs? Jesus said,
“If anyone would come after me, he
must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow
me….If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man
will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the
glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
(Luke 9:23, 26).
A Christian sentenced to hang for blasphemy against the
Prophet Muhammad has been granted one final hearing before
the Pakistan Supreme Court, according to the Compass
Direct news service. Ayub Masih, 34, was convicted on the
testimony of a Muslim who claimed that during a private
conversation his Christian neighbor slandered Muhammad by
praising Salman Rushdie's book "The Satanic Verses." His
case is the first under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy
law to reach the Supreme Court.
- A New York City school is
accused of religious discrimination for allowing the display
of Islamic and Jewish symbols, but not Christian symbols.
According to the Catholic League, Dr. Fran Levy, principal
of the Thomas Jefferson Magnet School of Humanities in
Flushing, N.Y., issued a memo directing teachers to bring
religious symbols to school that represent Kwanzaa and the
Islamic and Jewish religions, but excluded Christianity,
with the exception of a Christmas tree, which is a secular
If you pay attention to the news, you’ll see that the
attacks on Christianity are on the rise. Even in the United
States, it is becoming increasingly unpopular and
“politically incorrect” to be a Christian. A large humanist
movement is afoot to demonize Christianity and brand
Christians as “intolerant and divisive”. Cases that test
our religious freedoms are being fought in the courts with
greater frequency. The trend is not going well for
Christians. Biblical prophecy indicates that it will
continue to get worse.
former employee of a Trussville, Ala., Target store has
filed suit against the company, alleging that managers
fired her because she refused to remove or hide a
Christian cross hanging from her neck that was visible to
customers. Cindy Dunn of Springville, Ala., filed the suit
last week against the Minnesota-based retailer the
nation's second-largest after Wal-Mart over management's
alleged discrimination against her because of her
religion, according to a report in the Birmingham News.
We know it will get worse for Christians. That
process has started. Look how far our nation has already
wandered from its Christian roots. There is a danger
though, in accepting these things simply because it’s been
prophesied that they will happen. As attacks on our faith
have increased, Christians have largely remained silent.
Why is that, I wonder? Are we content to limit expressions
of our Christian faith to weekly worship services and
mid-week Bible studies? Are we more comfortable to only ask
the blessing in our own homes where unbelievers won’t see
us? Are we afraid to leave our comfort zones to express our
opinions as our rights are being eroded?
high-ranking House leader Thursday led a series of attacks
on National Public Radio for slandering a Christian group.
While five lawmakers raised the issue on the House floor,
a congressional subcommittee confronted NPR’s top brass.
Residents of a small Louisiana town are fighting back
after the ACLU won a lawsuit over signs the town put on
public property that proclaimed their faith in God. The
American Civil Liberties Union sued the town of
Franklinton and forced town officials to remove four signs
from public property that said, "Jesus Is Lord Over
Franklinton." Now, in a movement to have their own say,
the town of 4,000 has posted more than 1,000 signs on
lawns and storefronts that express their faith in God. The
most popular sign says, "Jesus is Lord of All."
Remember, to serve Christ costs everything. There is
an element of risk involved, but Jesus has called us out of
our comfort zones when he tells us to “take up your cross
daily and follow me.” In Luke 10:2,3, Jesus said,
“The harvest is plentiful, but the
workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to
send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending
you out like lambs among wolves.”
There you have it. There are our marching orders. Jesus
wants us to serve him like lambs among wolves. That is
clearly not a comfort zone.
Do you want to serve the Lord? So do I. Let us
leave our comfort zones and wear our faith on our sleeves.
Let us speak up on behalf of our Lord, for if we don’t do
it, who will? Be ready to give an answer to those who ask
you about the hope that lies within you. Be courageous
enough to face the scorn and ridicule for the sake of your
Lord. If someone asks you if you’re a Jesus freak, say “You
betcha! Do you wanna know why?” And when you feel weak, as
I often do, remember the Lord’s words to Paul in 2
Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my
power is made perfect in weakness.” May God bless you
and strengthen you as you leave your comfort zones and
contend for the faith!!