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anonymous CHURCH GROWTH AMIDST PERSECUTION! August 14, 2008 3:38 PM

The Church was Spoken Against Everywhere John Piper Desiring God

Can the gospel spread, and thousands be converted, and churches grow, and love abound where Christianity is continually spoken against? Yes. It not only can, it has. I say this not to discourage winsomeness, but to encourage hope. Do not assume that seasons of hostility or controversy will be lean seasons with little power or growth. They may be seasons of explosive growth and great spiritual blessing.

How do we know this? Consider the way Luke reports the state of the church in the book of Acts. When Paul finally gets to Rome near the end of his life, he invites the "leading men of the Jews" to come hear his gospel. What these leaders say about the "sect" of Christians is very significant. They say, "Concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere" (Acts 28:22).

This is not surprising to disciples who knew that Jesus said, "You will be hated by all nations because of My name" (Matthew 24:9). And: "Woe to you when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26). And: "If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!" (Matthew 10:25).

The early church was an embattled church. Yes, there were seasons of calm (Acts 9:31); but that was the exception. Most of the time there were slanders and misunderstandings and accusations and persecutions, not to mention internal disputes about ethics and doctrine. Virtually all Paul's letters reflect controversy in the church as well as affliction from outside. The point is not that this is desirable, but that it need not hinder great power and growth. In fact, it may be the occasion and reason for great power and growth.

This seems to be Luke's view, because, even though he portrayed Christianity as "spoken against everywhere," he also portrayed relentless growth throughout the book of Acts. "The Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). "The disciples were increasing in number" (Acts 6:1). "The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase" (Acts 6:7). "The hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord" (Acts 11:21). "The word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied" (Acts 12:24). "The churches . . . were increasing in number daily" (Acts 16:5). "All the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord" (Acts 19:10). "The word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing" (Acts 19:20).

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anonymous  August 14, 2008 5:46 PM

ation Tiff

Some Jamaicans aren't eager to see a Bible in the country's majority language.

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The Bible Society of the West Indies and Wycliffe Bible Translators have sparked a national controversy by beginning to translate the Bible into patois, Jamaica's Creole language.

While English is Jamaica's official language, most Jamaicans speak patois. But it does not yet have a standard writing system. Those opposed to the translation project have argued in the country's newspapers and other media outlets that formalizing a written standard for patois would undercut efforts to promote Standard English.

Even Jamaican prime minister Bruce Golding joined the fray, saying in a June high-school graduation address that the $1 million, 12-year translation project "signifies an admission to failure" to properly learn and teach English.

Other critics have argued that as an obscure vernacular dialect, patois is incapable of communicating the deeper truths of Scripture. Many linguistic scholars, however, say patois, or Jamaican Creole, is an autonomous language rather than an English dialect.

Gerry Seale, general secretary of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean, said a Standard English version of the Bible will stay popular in the country. But "so many Jamaicans speak patois rather than Standard English that this has a chance of communicating with their hearts in a much greater way than Standard English [does]," he said. Jamaica Association of Evangelicals president Peter Garth says the organization supports the project largely because of the positive response the Jesus film received when it was released in patois. "We know that there are some problems in terms of the spelling and so forth, but what we do know is that it will attract a lot more readers," he said.

Bertram Gayle, a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators Caribbean and coordinator of the Jamaican Creole Translation Project, noted that the debate surrounding the translation has thus far focused on the "languageness" of Jamaican Creole, while the primary aim of the project is spiritual.

"I'm confident that Scriptures in Jamaican will help strengthen and standardize the language, shed inherited colonial prejudice against the language, and provide material for literacy and education," Gayle said. "Most of all, however, [we] want Jamaicans to be able to identify somewhat with the linguistically diverse crowd of Acts 2:11. Bible translation agencies will tell you that the challenges encountered are insignificant in comparison with being able to hear God's Word in one's heart-language." The arguments are not new to Bible translators, said Wycliffe Bible Translators USA senior vice president Ruth Hubbard, and they are likely to intensify.

"The translation projects currently under way or yet to be done are also considered minority languages," she said. "They are communities within a larger context. In each of those cases, there is some tension: Should a lot of attention be paid to honoring minority languages, or should we push these communities to learn wider languages quicker so they can be part of the larger global community? Wycliffe says 'yes' to both questions."

"It might help people to remember that the Greek of the New Testament was not the Greek of literature but the common Greek of the street," said A. Scott Moreau, professor of intercultural studies at Wheaton College. "In that sense, translating the Bible into patois as a language of the people makes very good sense."

reportedon the debate.

The Jamaica Gleaner published letters to the editor, including many that argued against the translation.

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 August 04, 2011 6:17 PM

Praise Special Envoy Bill, HR440, Passes in the House
The HR440 bill requested the creation of a Special Envoy to promote religious freedom in the Near East and in South Central Asia. Many of the countries in these regions are on the World Watch List. Because of the combined efforts by individuals and groups who lobbied offices on Capitol Hill, and over 2,000 Open Doors supporters who emailed their U.S. Rep's asking them to support the bill, HR440 passed last week with 402 "yes" votes! As we celebrate this success in the House, we ask that you continue to pray for this bill. Recently a companion bill was introduced in the Senate which still has to be voted on, and pass, before President Obama can sign it into law.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 August 12, 2011 6:18 AM

Famine Relief in War-torn Somalia
Across the news media, images of starvation and desperation in East Africa have filled the air waves and pulled at our hearts. An estimated 12 million people, mostly of Somali descent, are in need of emergency food assistance in Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti due to the worst drought in decades. The activities of the notorious rebel group, al-Shabaab, in the failed state of Somalia, have compounded the disaster facing the people there.
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 August 12, 2011 6:36 AM

ranian Pastor Awaits Decision on Execution
On July 14, we prayed for Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani. Since then an Iranian judge ordered an investigation to determine whether he was a Muslim as a teenager. Already found guilty of leaving Islam, Pastor Yousef is now awaiting the outcome of the judicial investigation to see if the judgment will be upheld that he either be executed or, if possible, forced to return to Islam.
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 August 12, 2011 6:37 AM

Surviving Persecution in India
A Christian family, who hosts Sunday church meetings in their home, were attacked by 10 armed men. Fleeing to a nearby teak forest, they spent the night in the midst of a heavy rain storm. Now the family remains separated by continuing threats from this rebel group. Open Doors continues to support Christians, like this family, who are facing trials and oppression because of their faith. By attending Standing Strong Through the Storm seminars, Christians in India are prepared to face persecution with wisdom, faith and courage.
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 August 17, 2011 7:42 PM

Update on Tohar Haydarov

Prison authorities have recently shown Tohar Haydarov some of the many letters sent to him. However, they will not allow him to read them, because there are "too many citations from the Bible in them." Praise God the authorities see how much Christians around the world care for Tohar!

A judge recently confirmed Tohar's ten year prison sentence, saying that the sentence was equal to his "crime."

Tohar has asked Christians to "appreciate dearly your worship services, and listen attentively to the sermons. I so much wish to attend worship services, but alas I don't have the opportunity."

Christians in Uzbekistan ask for prayer for Haydarov.

More Info...

Tohar Haydarov
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 August 19, 2011 5:38 AM

August 18th, 2011

Dear Donna,

"And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:27-28

Insurgent Blast Nearly Demolishes Iraqi Church
This was the second time in the past two weeks that the Christian community in Kirkuk had come under attack. The explosion was so crushing that the church will likely need to be demolished and rebuilt.
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 August 19, 2011 5:43 AM

Girl in Uganda Loses Use of Legs After Leaving Islam for Christ
"News reached my father that I had converted to Christianity, and that was the beginning of my troubles with him," said Susan, a fourteen-year-old girl from western Uganda. Locked by her father in a windowless room for six months, she barely had enough food or water to survive. Rescued by neighbors, Susan has spent the last ten months slowly healing in a hospital.
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 August 23, 2011 4:25 AM

Dear Donna,

While much of the Middle East and North Africa is undergoing change, one group especially is experiencing change for the worse: Christians. This is particularly true for Algerian Christians.

Mustapha Krim, the President of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), was informed by police on May 22nd that all non-Muslim places of worship in Béjaïa Province, including the seven EPA churches he oversees, would be shut down. Algerian authorities based their decision to shut down the churches on the discriminatory Ordinance 06-03, which regulates non-Muslim worship. The EPA umbrella organization has been attempting to gain official recognition with the government for many years and finally obtained it this July. However, a total of 25 individual EPA churches have not been granted official registration although they applied through the appropriate channels. As a result, these Christian churches are still unprotected by the government and may be closed.

In addition to this attack on the Christian community, Algerian officials have also targeted individual Christians. Karim Siaghi was arrested in April on charges of proselytism and blasphemy. He was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 200,000 Dinar (approx. $2740 dollars.) in May. His crime: giving a Christian CD to his neighbor. Karim was freed when he appealed the harsh sentence, but he may be picked up by the police at any time to serve his sentence.

Open Doors is asking you to join with us to defend Algerian Christians from oppressive government action. Please take a moment to send a message to Algerian Ambassador Baali asking him to rescind Ordinance 06-03 and to overturn Karim Siaghi's sentence. Thank you for your prayers and support, and for taking time to advocate for Christians in Algeria!

Advocating with you,

Lindsay Vessey
Advocacy Director
Open Doors USA

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 August 25, 2011 12:40 PM

Syria, Christians Trapped, but in a Peaceful Prison
In the context of the rapidly changing Middle East, an Open Doors observer comments on the situation for Christians in Syria. He sees the church leaders in Syria taking "a stand as neutral as possible." Other Christians share their testimony of finding peace in the midst of turmoil.
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 August 25, 2011 12:44 PM

God's Spirit at Work on the Arabian Peninsula
Working in unforgiving desert heat and spending years developing friendships, Christian "tentmakers" in the Arabian Peninsula continue spreading the gospel message. The results are sparse in this spiritually barren land…but there are results.
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 August 25, 2011 12:46 PM

The Closing of Algerian Churches Violates Guaranteed Freedom
Open Doors is asking Christians in America to help defend Algerian Christians from government actions by sending a message to Algerian Ambassador to the United States, asking that he rescind Ordinance 06-03 and overturn Christian, Karim Siaghi,' prison sentence.
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 September 03, 2011 7:49 AM

September 1st, 2011

Dear Donna,

While our children set off for school to meet their new teachers and reunite with friends, many other children around the globe face a much different reality. In some parts of Indonesia girls are required to wear a hijab (head-covering) in public schools, if they refuse they risk being blocked from passing final exams. In Bangladesh children of Christian parents who are former Muslims are often victims of discrimination, receiving lower grades than they deserve and come under verbal and physical abuse from schoolmates. Join in prayer this week for persecuted children worldwide who are often denied medical care, education and other opportunities simply because they are Christian.

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 September 03, 2011 7:52 AM

In Iraq Some Christian Children Simply "Don't Exist"
Dressed as Superman, 5-year old Jeener plays in the church building. Jeener is the eldest son of pastor Majeed and his wife Shilaan, but, under Iraqi law, this small "Superman" doesn't exist. His 10-month-old brother also is a "non-existent" Iraqi inhabitant.
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 September 03, 2011 7:59 AM

Violence and Instability Take Their Toll on Nigerian Children
Tiny Japheth lost his parents and siblings during an attack on their village when he was only seven months old. Cuddled by his mother as she protected him, he was the only family member to survive. In Nigeria children face persecution based on their parents' decision to accept Christ, the children's decision to hold on to Jesus even when their parents backslide, or as victims of violence against the church in northern Nigeria.
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 September 06, 2011 4:27 PM

Dear Donna,

There's still time to advocate for persecuted Algerian Christians.

Although the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) has gained official recognition with the government, individual churches seeking registration have failed to get this approval. A total of 25 individual EPA churches have not been granted official registration although they've applied through the appropriate channels. As a result, these Christian churches are still unprotected by the government and may be closed.

We also seek to advocate for persecuted individuals in Algeria. We are troubled by the April arrest of Karim Siaghi on charges of proselytism and blasphemy. He was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 200,000 Dinar (approx. $2,740) in May. His crime: giving a Christian CD to his neighbor. Karim was freed when he appealed the harsh sentence, but he may be picked up by the police at any time to serve his sentence.

Open Doors is asking you to join with us to defend Algerian Christians from oppressive government action. Please take a moment to send a message to Algerian Ambassador Baali asking him to discuss with Algerian authorities the need to rescind Ordinance 06-03 and to overturn Karim Siaghi's sentence. Thank you for your prayers and support, and for taking time to advocate for Christians in Algeria!

Advocating with you,

Lindsay Vessey
Advocacy Director
Open Doors USA

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 November 08, 2011 9:14 AM

Update on Mehdi “Petros” Foroutan

Almost immediately after Mehdi "Petros" Foroutan reported to prison for his one-year sentence, authorities transferred him to the ward for recovering drug addicts. In October, one month after arriving at prison, Mehdi was put in solitary confinement. He was not allowed to make any phone calls, and his treatment in solitary was unknown.

Thankfully, he was moved out just a few days ago and is no longer in solitary confinement. Mehdi is in the general area of the prison.

Please pray for him. Diseases are easily transferred among the drug addicts, and Mehdi now lives among them. However, this circumstance is an opportunity for him, who can now witness to others in prison.

More Info...

Mehdi “Petros” Foroutan
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 November 09, 2011 5:34 AM

Update on Youcef Nadarkhani

Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old pastor in Iran, was arrested in October 2009 after he protested a government policy that required school children, including his two sons, to study the Quran. Originally charged for protesting, Nadarkhani found himself on death row for apostasy.

Authorities at Lakan prison, where Youcef is imprisoned, have used various methods, including medication and threats, to convince him to convert back to Islam. Nadarkhani continues to refuse these efforts.

He now waits in prison as his case is re-examined. The local court in Gilan has referred Nadarkhani's case to the Supreme Leader of Iran, and they wait for his legal opinion before issuing a verdict.

More Info...

Youcef Nadarkhani
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 November 20, 2011 5:28 AM

Former Muslim Faces His Persecutors
Muzein was an esteemed witchdoctor in his Ethiopian village but, after befriending Christians and accepting Christ, he was pronounced "dead" by his father. Earlier this year many sent Muzein letters of encouragement. Although Open Doors is no longer receiving letters for him, Muzein now shares about his life in Christ, his recent visit back to his village and his hopes for the future.
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 November 20, 2011 5:32 AM

Also our prayers have been for our sister Sintayehu, an Ethiopian widow whose pastor husband was killed over a year ago. Sadly on November 5, one of her sons, Abush, was killed in an explosion. Please surround Sintayehu with your prayers and consider sending her a letter of condolence.
Send a Letter

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 November 22, 2011 7:41 PM

"It is a Nightmare," says Priest from Syria
In a desperate call for prayer a Syrian Christian says, "The situation for Christians and other minorities is getting worse since the army pulled out. Syria needs more prayers, now please!".  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 30, 2011 5:55 AM

Update on United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF): Funding for the USCIRF has been extended through December 18th because of Continuing Resolutions passing in the House and Senate. Since this is only a temporary solution, it is imperative that the Senate pass legislation to reauthorize the Commission. There are two bills currently sitting in committee that will reauthorize the USCIRF if passed, HR 2867 and S.1875. The non-partisan USCIRF advises the President, Secretary of State and Congress on religious freedom violations worldwide. Open Doors urges the Senate to take the necessary action to ensure the USCIRF is reauthorized before Dec. 18th.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 December 01, 2011 1:36 PM

Pastor Ilmurad before his imprisonment in 2010
Pastor Ilmurad before his imprisonment in 2010

Urgent Prayer Request for Pastor Ilmurad to Receive Amnesty
On Dec 12th the Turkmenistan government (as it does every year at this time) will offer amnesty to several prisoners. Pastor Ilmurad, along with his family and friends, are praying that he will receive amnesty and be able to return home. In addition to praying for Pastor Ilmurad you can send letters of encouragement to him and his wife Maya.
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 December 01, 2011 1:39 PM

Unrest Continues in Nigeria - Christians Killed
"Muslims soldiers took sides with fellow Muslims and were shooting and killing Christians," said David Gyang, a church elder. In a week-long massacre at least 45 ethnic Berom Christians in Plateau state have been killed. Several people fleeing the town asked, "When will the killings of Christians in Nigeria stop?"
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 December 08, 2011 2:28 PM

Inside Embattled Syria Hostility Increases Towards Christians
While much of the world's attention is focused on the Egyptian elections and American troops withdrawing from Iraq, the situation inside Syria is getting worse, especially for Christians.
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 December 22, 2011 6:22 AM

Update - Algeria Stalls Appeal of Convicted Christian
Since this summer, we have been praying for our Algerian brother Abdelkrim Siaghi. Given a five-year sentence for insulting the prophet of Islam and for giving a Muslim a CD about Christianity, Siaghi, a convert from Islam, has been unsuccessful in getting a judge to appeal his case. We however are grateful to learn that Siaghi is not required to serve his prison sentence until his appeal is decided.
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 January 04, 2012 2:59 PM

Caught in Between: A Preview of Christianity in Post-Election Egypt

At the time of writing, Egypt had just completed its first round of parliamentary elections in major cities. The results may indicate a coming disaster for Coptic Christians.


Click here to get the full story.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 January 04, 2012 3:01 PM

Afghan Christians in Danger at Home and Abroad

Aidan Clay, ICC's Regional Manager for the Middle East, details an urgent plea for prayer he received from one of our contacts in Afghanistan. What is the future for Christians in a country where a man was beheaded for his faith in 2011?

Click here to get the full story.
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