Posted by: pastortomvabeach | August 12, 2014

Thought for the Week August 17, 2014

I’m sure that you have seen the many news stories in recent days about the severe persecution that is being waged upon our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East by terrorist groups bent on nothing short of pure evil. My dear friend and colleague, Adrian Schoonmaker, wrote an excellent piece in his weblog today and, since, there is no way that I could say it any better, I want to share some excerpts with you. You can read the entire article by logging on to

Adrian writes: “One of the greatest revivals in history took place more than 2,500 years ago, when one of the world’s largest cities miraculously repented from pagan idolatry all at once, and turned to worship Jehovah God. It is one of the most supernatural events to ever take place – at least 120,000 people, probably many more, voluntarily falling on their knees to denounce false religion and embrace the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This event is recorded in Jonah 3:5, 10; and cited by Jesus as an example of genuine collective repentance in Matthew 12:41 and Luke 11:32. Perhaps Jonah was the first God-fearing preacher to walk those city streets; perhaps those converts were the first God-fearing people to live in that place.

“The city was called Nineveh. Today the suburbs of Mosul, Iraq, cover the same ground. And today, more than 2,500 years later, there are still many thousands who follow Jesus Christ living on these streets. But not just living. They are now dying. And they are fleeing. Running for their lives. The streets where Jonah once feared to go are full of fear yet again. The city has become an epicenter of horrific and unspeakable Christian persecution here in Summer 2014.

While many of us have been packing coolers, buying swimsuits, and laying out in the sun… The Christ followers in northern Iraq have been packing satchels, carrying their children, and fleeing into the night. The western world is in near disbelief as repeated and undeniable reports continue of young Christian children beheaded in the streets. Americans are warned to prepare themselves if they search YouTube for documentation, as the images are so disturbing.

“The wave of persecution has reached such a crescendo that journalists and authorities are now speaking of the events as a ‘Christian genocide. One letter reads, ‘Assyrians are being targeted by ISIS to convert to Islam or face death, including beheadings and crucifixions…Our girls and women are being taken and sold. Our homes are being burned to the ground, our money, jewelry, cars, and even cell phones are being confiscated. Most have fled with just the clothing on their backs.’ Letters attached continue: ‘It is a tragic situation. Nobody can imagine how terrible it is. As much as I write to you and send you reports, it will not be enough to describe the suffering of our people…45 children have died of thirst…Fifteen hundred (1,500) men were killed in front of their wives and families,..More than 70 girls and women (including some Christians) were taken, raped, and sold.’

“In the last three weeks, 45 churches in Mosul have been destroyed or occupied. In a 24-hour-span last week, 200,000 Iraqi Christians fled their homes. Christian Solidarity International reports, ‘Large areas of the Nineveh Plain, the ancient homeland of Assyrian Christians, are now empty of Christians…11 years ago there were as many as a million and a half Christians in Iraq. Today there are less than 400,000.’ Dr. John Eibner, president of CSI, stated a few days ago, ‘If [this] is left unchecked, we will soon find the Bible lands of the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, devoid of Bible people.'”

Adrian finishes his article with a plea for American Christians to pray. The World Evangelical Alliance is organizing a prayer gathering for the Middle East at the International Salvation Army Headquarters in New York City at 5:30 pm on August 14. They are asking believers around the nation to join this week in a spirit of intercession. We felt God’s Spirit call us to cry out on behalf of our persecuted brethren in our staff meeting today.
Will you make it a point this week to pray? The National Association of Evangelicals has offered these as some specific ways to pray:
Pray for President Obama and his advisors as they consider where and how to provide humanitarian assistance and military intervention in Iraq.
Pray for safety for Christians and other minorities in Iraq who are fleeing violence and persecution. Pray that they would find safe harbor.
Pray for comfort for those across the Middle East who have lost loved ones and have suffered traumatic violence.
Pray for missionaries and humanitarian aid workers who serve in difficult and violent corners of the world, that they will be kept safe, and that their efforts will contribute to a fuller realization of the peace and prosperity that God intends for all.

I would add that we must pray for the Muslim people, both those bent on evil and those who are suffering along with Christians at the hands of these people. The news showed how the militants are brainwashing innocent children to hate and want to kill Jews and Christians at any cost, even giving their own lives as suicide bombers. These people and children need Jesus!

We will set aside a special time in our Sunday service this week to pray. Will you begin to prepare for that moment by assailing the gates of heaven. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. We can take the battle to the enemy at the source of his supply, the realm of the spirit. Ready? Let’s pray!

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