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Startling number of Christians are persecuted around the world


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

STARTLING STATISTICS SHOW CHRISTIANS ARE LIVING IN PERIL

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, additional statistics are in from the Open Doors’ Intolerance against Christians. The number of Christians murdered increased to more than 3,000 in 2017. The report analyzes the data collected in 2017, a year in which according to the organization serving persecuted Christians worldwide, violence against Christians has significantly increased. Right now, 1 in 12 Christians live where Christianity is illegal, forbidden or punished the organization says.

DR. REEDER: 1 out of every 10 Christians is living under the threat of the loss of their life when they wake up in the morning, either by government action or government approval. If you go through the list of nations, almost all of them — except for one notable exception — these are Islamic nations where the radical militant Islamic fascist that is government use of power is constantly being brought to bear.

Notably, in places like Pakistan, there were about 100 plus incidents of churches being attacked last year, and Afghanistan, where we have troops, actually, fighting this war on terror, the northern part of Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. The most notable exception is North Korea.

Now, what should be noted as we take a look at it, Tom, is that this is always a religious phenomenon. The persecution against Christians is, by and large, vast majority governmentally enforced where the Islamic religion controls the culture and controls the government.

NORTH KOREA IS A UNIQUE PLACE OF PERSECUTION

An exception, of course, would be North Korea, where we have the old-line persecution that we saw back in the twentieth century — an old-line persecution of a government that is confessedly atheistic. It then puts to death anything that would rival the government and Christianity is seen as a rival because Christians are discipled to be good citizens, but they are also discipled that the government as God is not to be worshipped and that Caesar is not Lord, but only the Lord is the Lord.

And so, we see a place like North Korea where you have not only a confessed and governmentally documented atheisms, in general, in terms of the religions of mankind, but you have the deification of the dictator. And so, he must be worshipped and, therefore, Christianity is seen as the enemy and, thus, Christians are targeted in North Korea.

Therefore, Tom, that’s what we see at work and I think of my brothers and sisters and where they are, but I also want you to know that there are verified reports that, in those places, a robust movement of Christianity is taking place.

MISSION WORK AT CHURCHES MUST BE A PRIORITY

I am not allowed to give any of the internals of this, but at Briarwood, we are engaged in Asia, in Indonesia, in Pakistan, in India and we are also engaged at certain places in Asia — again, I cannot be more specific but I will be specific about this one but not the mechanisms that are being used — we’re being engaged in Iran.

Doing what? We are able to provide literature, we are able to provide encouragement and support and we are able to provide training for ministers who are pastoring churches that are “underground churches” in these nations of persecution. And, of course, we’re doing that along with a number of others and one agency that is of extraordinary help to us is the one that has brought the statistics to bear and that is Open Doors. We have found them to be insightful and reliable and extremely helpful.

Now, at Briarwood, our people with their sacrificial and generous has allowed us to do some things beyond our normal focus that predominates what we do — which is evangelism, discipleship, church planting and church revitalization — and one of the things we’ve been able to do over the last couple of years is minister to the persecuted church.

And we actually even set up a subcommittee in our missions ministry to gain the information. We have multiple communications that we do not share publicly and on the internet that we are privy to of those who are serving the Lord in very, very difficult and dangerous situations. We are getting reports of significant multiplication of believers and leaders in these very areas.

WHAT SATAN TRIES TO STAMP OUT, GOD ALLOWS TO FLOURISH

And, again, it’s being born out that, when Satan brings persecution, he thinks he’s going to stamp out the church but, in reality, all he’s doing is spreading the church. You see a great example of that when the persecution hit Jerusalem in the Book of Acts and all it did was spread Christianity to Judea, and Samaria, and to a place called Antioch and then on to the world.

That’s what is happening and, in fact, in some of these places, these persecuted Christians are actually sending missionaries to other persecuted areas. It’s really a phenomenon that is so encouraging.

Now, having said that, I would like to call upon our nation to understand what is being done, stand against any and all religious persecution but realize how, in a very significant way, Christians are in the crosshairs and we need to come to the rescue of these people with governmental policies. I’m not talking about military invasions, but governmental policies dealing with nations that have sanctioned persecutions against religion, in general, but Christians, in particular.

SCRIPTURE TELLS US HOW TO TREAT OUR PERSECUTED BRETHREN

For us, as Christians, Tom, there’s a wonderful passage of Scripture I ask our folks to read. Would you read it today?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, you’re talking about Hebrews, Chapter 13, specifically Verse 3, but let me pick up at Verse 1.

“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers: for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners as though imprisoned with them and those that are ill-treated, since you yourselves are also in the body.”

DR. REEDER: And you were correct to read the context because the writer of Hebrews is writing at a time when persecution is starting to be felt in the first century so he’s telling us to keep loving each other even though you may get persecuted because you love the Lord and love each other.

Show hospitality — don’t close off your heart. Then he’s referring to the event when Abraham and Sarah showed hospitality to three strangers and it was actually the entertaining of two angels and a Christophany, a pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ, recorded in the Book of Genesis.

And then, of course, he then says that we are to visit the prisoners. The context is talking about the believers who have been imprisoned and who are being persecuted and assaulted. That’s why it says remember their suffering. You, too, are in the body. You have a body and you know what it means to suffer. And if you know what it means to suffer, you know how you would want people to help you in your suffering.

Now you see them who are suffering in their imprisonment and under assault — reach out to them and minister to them. Don’t go run from your brothers who are imprisoned and under persecution; run to them. Don’t run from them; run to them. Don’t disassociate yourself from them; embrace them.

Therefore, that’s why I would strongly encourage every church to embrace the ministry to the persecuted church in some form or fashion. There are many places we can tell you about the value of the enterprise of missionary endeavor, but one of the places we can’t talk about much because we can’t get the information — but it is there and there are those that can help you such as Open Doors — are our brothers and sisters who are dying for the faith.

UGANDA IS A WONDERFUL STORY OF HOPE AFTER PERSECUTION

Tom, I’ll just simply finish that one of the places that I’ve gone is Uganda in the 1980’s when Idi Amin and Obote were putting to death Christians. I went to the place where hundreds of my brothers and sisters were persecuted in gruesome deaths and I stood there and realized what had happened.

Today, Uganda, beginning in the late 1970’s, has been the epicenter of the East and Central Africa revival that is now going into it’s fourth decade and Uganda now has the vast majority of its citizens professing Christ, a stable economy and all of the blessings that have come from it. That’s what God can do — these very areas of persecution can become epicenters of a Gospel revival.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

4 hours ago

Christmas with Can’t Miss Alabama has spectacular entertainment with ZooLight Safari and Galaxy of Lights

It’s that time of year to eat, drink and be merry.

ZooLight Safari

Christmas magic is at the 25th annual ZooLight Safari with seasonal songs and holiday classics. Celebrate with writing letters to Santa, crafts, ornament decorating, train and carousel rides and holiday games. Join in the fun Dec. 14-23 and Dec. 26-31 from 5-9 p.m. Admission is $10 and ride tickets are $3.50. Parking is free.

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Learn more at https://www.birminghamzoo.com/.

Holiday Spectacular 2018

Enjoy holiday songs at the Red Mountain Theatre Company (RMTC) through Sunday, Dec. 16. Conservatory students will perform at the Holiday Spectacular with local artists to warm your heart and set the stage for a magical season. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Free parking is available on the street in front of the theater and the Park Rite deck, or on the corner of Fourth Avenue North and 19th Street. Paid parking is available in front of the building on 19th Street.

The RMTC is at 301 19th St. N. in Birmingham.

Tickets are available at RMTC.

Christmas at the Falls

It is a wonderful time of the year at Noccalula Falls. Regular park activities are closed to accommodate nightly Christmas entertainment through Sunday, Dec. 30. Festive holiday lights with a visit from Santa will create a magical adventure for all. Admission is $15 and children 3 and under are free. The venue is at 1500 Noccalula Road, Gadsden, 35904.

Call 256-549-4663 or visit www.noccalulafallspark.com.

Galaxy of Lights

Drive through Galaxy of Lights at the Huntsville Botanical Garden through Monday, Dec. 31. The light display and other traditional holiday scenes will be enjoyable from the comfort of your car. Admission is $25 for up to 10 people. Information about vans, buses and discounts are found here.

For details, go to Driving Night FAQ.

The venue is the Huntsville Botanical Garden at 4747 Bob Wallace Ave.

Just Josh – A Chili Country Christmas

Grammy-award nominee Josh Goforth will be in concert at the annual Chili Country Christmas at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge Dec. 14-15. Goforth is a traditional musician and one of the finest fiddle, banjo and guitar players in the country. Audiences will stomp and clap to his fiddle with stories of his grandpa and life in Appalachia. He has performed at the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall, throughout Europe and Japan and every state except Hawaii. Tickets are $20, which include the pre-show and chili supper.

Doors open at 6:20 p.m.

For tickets or more information, call 334-685-5524 or 334-670-6302.

Santa’s Underground Workshop at Rickwood Caverns

Santa’s Underground Workshop is underway through Sunday, Dec. 23 from 2-8 p.m. at Rickwood Caverns State Park. Visitors can experience the magic of the season, by viewing over 30,000 colored lights and holiday ornaments, as they walk 175 feet down into the cave. “We had a wonderful time last year with our first Santa’s Underground Workshop,” said Rickwood Caverns State Park Manager Amanda White. “We’re looking forward to sharing the amazing cave with our friends who are regular visitors, as well as those who may have never been here before. Admission is $10 per person, ages 4 and older. Groups of 20 or more can get tickets for $8 each.

For more information visit: https://www.alapark.com.

Lawson State Community Choir in concert

The Lawson State Community College (LSCC) Quartet Christmas Concert is Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. at the Birmingham Public Library downtown in the East Grand Reading Room. The performers include the LSCC Quartet, comprised of Kayla King, Heavyn Leigh Whiteside, Javaris Williams, and Jemanuel Pullom. The choir will perform popular Christmas songs and carols, such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Silent Night.” LSCC is led by Dr. Jillian Johnson.

For more details, call 205-226-3746 or visit www.bplonline.org.

2018 Governor’s Mansion Christmas in Montgomery

The Alabama Governor’s Mansion holiday tour is Monday, Dec. 17 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Visitors will view the holiday décor, listen to live choir performances and have access to Alabama-made goods in the gift shop.

Call 334-242-7100 to inquire about free tickets.

Enjoy an evening with ‘Dancing with the Stars’

“Dancing with the Stars: Live!” returns to Birmingham Tuesday, Dec. 18 featuring Bobby Bones.  Enjoy everything from ballroom to jazz to modern to hip-hop dance styles. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

Alabama Shakespeare Festival

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival presents “The Sound of Music” through Sunday, Dec. 30 as a part of its 2018-19 season. The production tells the beloved story of Maria, a young and spirited nun-turned-governess, and the Von Trapp family. The 1965 film adaption starring Julie Andrews won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Other adaptions have won Tony and Grammy awards.

For tickets, click here.

Ice Skating

Ice skating at Railroad Park continues through Sunday, Jan. 6. The 50-by-80-foot rink will open seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.. Ticket prices include skate rental, tax and unlimited time on the ice. Children 12 and under are $10, adults are $12 and groups of 20 or more skate for $9 per person. Tickets are available online or at the rink. Tickets are valid for the entire day. Although skates are included in the ticket price, individuals are welcome to bring their own skates. The rink will be closed Christmas Day.

Visit www.railroadpark.org/iceskating for season passes.

For details, email info@railroadpark.org or call 205-521-9933.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 hours ago

On this day in Alabama history: Alabama admitted to the Union

December 14, 1819

Alabama became the 22nd state on Dec. 14, 1819, the only state added to the United States that year. The young United States acquired the British claims to all lands east of the Mississippi River, including present-day Alabama, as part of the treaty that ended the American Revolution. Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory, which up until then was claimed by the colony of Georgia. Under pressure from white Southerners to see two slave states emerge, Congress created the Alabama Territory out of the eastern half of the Mississippi Territory on March 3, 1817. William Wyatt Bibb was named governor. The population grew rapidly, which led to petitions for statehood, which was granted two years later.

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Read More at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 hours ago

Ivey’s inaugural events to promote children’s literacy

In keeping with the theme “Keep Alabama Growing,” Governor Kay Ivey’s inaugural committee on Friday announced plans to promote children’s literacy throughout the January 2019 inaugural festivities.

“Investing in the next generation is critical to our ability to keep Alabama growing,” Ivey said in a press release. “As we prepare for four more years of growing opportunities for Alabamians, I can’t think of a better place to begin than with our children’s literacy, ensuring they get a strong start.”

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As part of this effort, the governor’s inaugural committee will be hosting book drives at the Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration on January 12 and the Inaugural Gala in Montgomery on January 14. The books collected will be donated to the Alabama Literacy Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to improving literacy in communities across the state.

Tickets to the Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration are available to the general public here. The $25 ticket price will be waived for attendees who bring four children’s books to the celebration.

The Inaugural Gala in Montgomery is invitation only.

More details will be announced in the coming weeks and posted here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

Ohio-based Gregory Industries set to invest $4.21 million in Decatur steel plant

Ohio-based galvanized steel company Gregory Industries plans to make a $4.21 million capital investment in a Decatur steel plant, according to Decatur Daily.

The investment will consist of the purchasing of 100,000 square feet of the Willo Products building and 13 adjacent acres at the site for a galvanized steel tubing plant.

Gregory Industries recently purchased Mid-Ohio Tubing. Once the Morgan County plant undergoes renovations and begins operations, it will carry the name Mid-Ohio Tubing.

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Company officials hope to have the plant open by June. The plan is to hire 20 employees at an average annual wage of $47,000 and add four more employees by the end of the third year.

According to Mike Rothacher, the Gregory vice president of corporate services, the company will hire a plant manager, maintenance workers, machine operators and general laborers.

The Industrial Development Board of Decatur approved $172,400 in state, city and Morgan County tax abatements for the company.

Morgan County Economic Development Association president and CEO Jeremy Nails connected with Gregory officials after Nucor found out the Ohio company was looking to expand by venturing into the south.

“We rely on existing industries to put us in contact with companies that they deal with,” Nails said. “We don’t have a lot of available buildings so we were fortunate that this building was available. It’s a win-win for Gregory and Willo.”

The Gregory plant will produce galvanized steel tubing that will be used in material called G-street metal framing. The plant will feature a tubing mill and a roll-forming mill.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

7 hours ago

Alabama House Speaker McCutcheon hospitalized with heart issue, expects to be released following treatment

Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) announced on Friday that he has been hospitalized with a heart issue but expects to be released following treatment over the weekend.

“Deb and I appreciate the prayers of healing that so many have made on my behalf, and I am well on the road to recovery,” McCutcheon said in a press release.

“Tests indicated that I had a blocked blood vessel in my heart, which resulted in the fatigue and shortness of breath that I felt, and the issue will be treated with simple medication,” he explained.

While returning home from the legislative orientation session at the Alabama State House on Thursday, the speaker suffered mild chest pains and shortness of breath and was driven to an emergency room for examination.

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McCutcheon outlined that he first assumed he was suffering from a case of bronchitis, but an EKG indicated a heart issue, which blood tests later confirmed.

His physician recommended a heart catheterization, and those results showed a blood vessel that had closed but did not require a stent and could be treated with medication.

During his recovery, the speaker said he will continue working on House committee assignments and other legislative issues in preparation for the upcoming organizational and regular sessions of the Alabama Legislature. The organizational session begins on January 8.

During the 2014 legislative session, McCutcheon underwent heart bypass surgery and returned to work before the session ended.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn