Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Here we go again. Trouble is brewing in South Carolina over the Confederate Battle Flag.
I first wrote about this in 1994 when the issue was placed before Republican primary voters of the Palmetto State.
At that time, three-quarters of those voting said the battle flag should remain atop their state capitol.
That was then, this is now.
First, let me make it clear. I was not born in the South--I'm a carptebagger. But I've lived south of the Mason-Dixon line for more than 30-years. I love living in the South despite the hot summers here (nearly 100 degrees as I write this) and the people here are among the best I know anywhere.
My view is an American view, not a regional one.
150-years after the end of the Civil War, it's now time to stop flying the rebel battle flag at the South Carolina Capitol.
Should it be brought down because nine African American Christians were gunned down at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church by a white supremacist?
No. It should be taken down because African American taxpayers of South Carolina--offended by what the flag represents--should not pay to fly the flag over their capitol building. Many Christians are opposed to their tax dollars being used to support Planned Parenthood and abortion. African Americans can make a similar argument about Confederate Battle Flag flying.
My southern friends tell me the rebel battle flag represents the sacrifice of those who fought to defend the Confederacy and state's rights. True, but for many Americans--many southerners included--it is also a constant reminder of racism and slavery.
Think about it. It's like Germans continuing to fly the flag of the Third Reich over their state assembly buildings. The Third Reich period is just as important to German history as the Confederacy is to the history of America. But I'm sure many Jews (and non-Jews) are offended when they see the Nazis flag displayed. While the Confederate Battle Flag reminds African Americans of slavery, the flag of the Third Reich reminds Jews of the holocaust and the 6-million who perished in concentration camps.
My southern friends might not like this, but guess what? The Confederate States of America lost the Civil War. Let it go. The Union was victorious, and the U.S. flag was raised over the capitol building in Richmond.
Continuing to fly the flag at the South Carolina State Capitol would be like continuing to fly the Mexican flag at the capitol building in Austin, Texas. Sam Houston would never have tolerated that--neither would most Texans. Santa Ana was defeated, and eventually the American flag was flown throughout the Lone Star State.
The First Amendment allows you to freely express yourself by flying the Stars and Bars at your home, or on the back of your pickup truck. Although some will be offended, few people may try to prevent you from doing that.
But it's time South Carolina--and any other state--stop government sanctioned flag flying of a defeated nation.
One flag, one nation. Not two.
Proudly may we wave the Stars and Stripes!
Friday, June 19, 2015
Never before has the world experienced so many refugees and internally displaced persons. They now number nearly 60 million. And Turkey has now become the top hosting country, according to a United Nations annual report.
Recently CBN News Chief International Correspondent Gary Lane shared more about this crisis and what the world, and the church, can do to help below:
In 2014, 14 million people were forcibly displaced because of fighting, war, and persecution. That number was 8 million higher than in 2013. That means the crisis is deepening.
And more than half of all refugees are children...
The war in Syria has caused the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Four years of fighting has resulted in 4 million refugees and 7.6 million internally displaced.
The numbers are staggering, but think beyond numbers. Each one is a person. One of every two is a precious little one, growing up without education, with little hope of returning to their homes and a normal life. They're kids in crisis like this young Yazidi boy I witnessed collecting a few more drops of water for his thirsty family members.
Or, these two Christian girls I met in Kurdistan....
We must not grow weary from "donor fatigue." They still need our help and prayers--now, more than ever.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
It's now Ramadan throughout the Islamic world--the annual Muslim time of fasting, praying, and seeking God.
A number of Christian groups are asking Christians to pray for Muslims and Christians in Muslim countries during the next 30-days.
Pray they'll find the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Pray they'll find God's son Jesus, who shed His blood for all mankind. Pray Christians will be safe during Ramadan and they'll have opportunities and boldness to share their faith with Muslims.
We'll be giving you regular updates here at The Global Lane to help your prayer efforts.
For now, watch my interview with VOM Radio's Todd Nettleton to learn why, and how we should pray for Muslims during the Ramadan season.
And log on to persecution.com to discover how you can get copies of a special 30-Days prayer book to share with your family and friends.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Sudan's Omar El Bashir is a wanted man. But when he entered the South African house this weekend, he was welcomed, offered a comfortable bed, and maybe even a hot meal or two.
There was no arrest, not even a whimper of displeasure about his inhumane acts committed against his own people.
Bashir was free to attend the African Union party in Johannesburg, and when the party was over, he was allowed to venture back home to Khartoum without complaint, with disregard to a South African court order and International Criminal Court arrest warrant. And by the way--we didn't hear any of the African Union leaders speak out about this. Apparently they didn't want to see the arrest of one of their members ruin their party.
So much for South Africa's commitment to its own judicial system and the authority of the ICC.
It's leaders--and the ANC--placed their friendship (and Sudanese oil) above adherence to international law.
They should be ashamed. Their actions actually made them Bashir's accomplices.
So, what would happen to you if you welcomed an accused felon into your home and provided shelter and comfort to him? You'd likely be arrested for helping him evade the law.
Bashir's crimes are well known around the world.
First, he seized power in a coup, and then waged holy jihad (for more than 22 years) against Christians in South Sudan. In 1998, I interviewed several of his soldiers who had been captured by the SPLA. I was surprised to learn they were actually university students who were told they would not be awarded their degrees until they went south and "waged jihad" against the Christians.
Bashir's jihad ended up claiming 2 million lives, left many more southerners displaced, and their villages in ruins.
Then he moved on to Darfur. At least 300,000 were killed and 2 million displaced in that part of Sudan.
He's acted aggressively to spread radical Islam throughout Africa, and has inflamed tribal differences in South Sudan.
Bashir continues to direct unrelenting aerial bombardments and attacks against the people of the Nuba Mountains. Thousands of innocent civilians have died there. I've met several who were maimed in one of the attacks, and visited a Catholic school were children and their teacher were killed when a Sudanese government Antonov aircraft dropped a bomb on their outdoor classroom.
By allowing this wanted criminal to return to his life of luxury in Khartoum, the South African government has become just another one of Bashir's partners in crime.
How will the United States and the world respond? Most likely with indifference.
More partners in crime.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Iran's Evin Prison and Pastor Farshid Fathi
As the United States attempts to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran, more evidence of the Islamic Republic’s brutal treatment of Christians and other religious minorities is surfacing. The latest concerns the case of Iranian Christian prisoner Farshid Fathi.
When family members of the four Americans imprisoned in Iran urged members of Congress to link the nuclear deal to the release of their jailed loved ones, Farshid was in the midst of losing his appeal against serving an extra year in prison and receiving 74 lashes.
He’s been imprisoned since Iranian agents raided his house church in December 2010. Farshid was ori"inally given a five-year prison sentence for actions "against national security."
Translated, that really means he was guilty of leading Muslims to Christ.
The Islamic regime is determined to stamp out house churches because it believes Christian "extremists" are using them as part of a plot to transform Iranian society.
That is somewhat true. If more Iranians come to Christ—and tens of thousands are each year—who will need, or want the ayatollahs in power?
Farshid was given the additional one-year sentence along with the 74 lashes after alcohol was found in his cell during an Easter 2014 prison raid. Farshid denied the alcohol was his—it was likely planted there by resolute prison guards ordered to take action to extend his jail time.
I produced a story about Iranian Christians shortly after that raid last year. Watch this edited portion of it to learn more about Farshid Fathi, and then keep praying for him--and the estimated 89 other Christians who are currently suffering for Christ in Iranian prisons!
Monday, June 01, 2015
Yat Michael and David Yein say they are unafraid even though they face possible execution in Sudan.
The two Presbyterian pastors are accused of spying in Khartoum, and have been jailed since last December (Yein) and January (Michael).
On trial since May 19, they've been officially charged with "inciting organized groups" and "offending Islamic beliefs." Sudanese law (sharia) requires them to be executed if they are convicted.
Both Christians--who are from South Sudan--say they had no hidden agenda while visiting Khartoum; they were only answering God's call to share the Word with the people of Sudan.
In an exclusive CBN News interview, Senior International Correspondent George Thomas talked to the two pastors via telephone from their Khartoum prison cell.
Yat Michael told Thomas while he has not suffered physical beating during his imprisonment, he has experienced psychological intimidation. Also, he said it has been two months since he's been allowed to talk with his family.
Speaking mostly in Arabic, David Yein told Thomas he is "not afraid of anything" because "God chose me to suffer."
He asks that Christians pray that his suffering will "be for the glory of God" in the prison.
You may watch and listen to each interview here. I've also provided a transcript of both interviews and a translation of Yein's comments which were spoken in Arabic:
Reverend Yat Michael: We are fine thanks be to God. We were being here for five to six months since we were arrested. David Yein Was arrested 14th of December up to today. And I was arrested on 11 January up to today.
George Thomas: Have they done anything to you, have they beaten you, have they tried to intimidate you?
Yat Michael: No. They were…it was just only a psychologically incitement because we were being separated from our families for two months without hearing them. That was a tough problem to us.
We came from South Sudan and because of the war in South Sudan we came here in Sudan and we just go to go do our ministry training in our church and then they came to me-especially myself-- they arrest me in my house. I don’t know why they do that. When they interviewed me, they asked me why I’m preaching here. I say I am preaching because this is my call. I am a pastor. I must speak the Word of God. They say no, you don’t need to preach the Word of God with a hidden agenda. I said no, I don’t have any hidden agenda. They accused me because I’m a spy here. They say like that.
George Thomas: How are you doing inside the prison, how is your faith?
Yat Michael: Yeah, it is my destination. My faith, I don’t, I don’t even I don’t have a sense of patience 15:28 I must call on my faith. It is not a new thing to me. They just keep us for nothing. They just keep us in the prison for nothing. And they are terrible to us. We are staying in, for confinement without any crime that we commit.
Reverend David Yein:
George: Are you afraid that you could be killed for this?
David Yein: No, I am not afraid of anything….I am never afraid of anything because it is my love, it is my being, because I believe. God chose me to suffer.
(Arabic translated to English)
I’m not afraid from doing my ministry and my message I’m chosen by God. I serve him in any circumstances, be instant in season, out of season.
George Thomas: I’m sure you miss your wives a lot…
David Yein: I missed her. We can’t be together because there is a legal restriction, but she sees me from the window, and she is sure that I’m here. I’m really here with a good condition, but I’m waiting to be outside.
George Thomas: Will you still continue to preach The Gospel?
David Yein: I preach and serve and I’m sending the message of the gospel to the whole world as the lord said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
George Thomas: Have you had a chance to preach The Gospel in prison to other people?
David Yein: We have a church in the prison and we pray with the prisoners and the sentenced and the accused people.
George Thomas: Pastor, how can we pray for you, how can we pray for you and the other brother?
David Yein: We want you to pray that this test be for the glory of God in this place… and for us to be in peace with our people and the ones who are against us.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Islamic extremists have launched a new wave of attacks against Christians in Pakistan and the weakest of the society--children--are the latest victims.
Word comes from contacts in Pakistan that 15-year-old Nauman Masih died last Wednesday from severe burns received over 55 percent of his body. One week ago, two Muslim extremists doused Nauman with kerosene and set him on fire simply because he was a Christian.
He was an apprentice at a stitching shop in Shera Kot, Lahore, and was approached by two men on motorbikes who asked if he was a Christian. When he responded affirmatively, the two men set him ablaze.
The Pakistani media has not told the truth about this. They reported that Nauman's uncle set him afire because of a property dispute. But witnesses described the incident--and confirmed details as we and others in the Christian media have reported.
Before his passing, young Nauman reportedly said he forgave his Muslim attackers, but he still wanted them brought to justice. So far, there have been no arrests.
More information about Nauman and his case can be viewed in this recent Christian Post article.
Nauman's death was followed by an attack on a Catholic school Friday in Lahore. Again, like the attack against Nauman, two Islamic extremists on motorcycles targeted innocent Christian children. This time, they used automatic weapons to open fire on St. Francis School in Behar Colony. No one was killed in the attack, but several people were injured and taken to a local hospital.
Pakistani Christians say both of these attacks are tied to the recent Taliban bombings of two churches in Youhanabad. At least 14 Christians were killed and perhaps as many as 100 were wounded in those attacks. Militant Christians responded to the bombings by lynching two Muslims suspects.
Nauman's murder, and the attack against St.Francis School are believed to be acts of retribution for the Youhanabad lynchings. More acts of violence and intimidation against Pakistan's small Christian minority are expected in the days ahead.
Like their brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq and Syria, might Pakistani Christians be the next targets for annihilation by Islamic extremists?
Keep praying that God will protect them, and give them the courage and strength to endure this recent wave of persecution.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
In their obsession to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran, it seems the Obama administration and European Union are throwing another carrot to Iran. Just this week, Iran won a top seat on the United Nations women's rights board.
In the past, the United States has offered alternative countries as candidates for the board, but not this year. In the absence of U.S. aggressive opposition, Iran won 36 out of a possible 54 votes from the U.N. Economic and Social Council.
UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer called the vote "an insult to all Iranian women and to all women's rights advocates around the world." He explained that Iran has a "dismal record on child marriages, forced head-coverings, domestic violence, and gender inequality."
Iran is a country that still allows the stoning of women deemed guilty of adultery. So, the Dark Ages have been elevated to a seat of prominence at the United Nations.
At the same time, the Russians apparently decided to lift their ban on weapons sales to Iran. Another carrot?
Russia intends to move forward with plans to sell a sophisticated S-300 air defense missile system to Tehran. This could possibly change the balance of power in the Middle East and may potentially thwart any Israeli military action against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Watch this video to see Russia's S-300 in action:
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Defending the Cross in China will get you jail time.
Just ask Pastor Huang Yizi. He spoke out publicly against government removal of crosses from churches in Zhejiang Province. This week a court in Pingyang city sentenced him to one year in prison. He's been jailed since last August.
Huang was found guilty of gathering crowds to disrupt social order.Huang's lawyers say he only encouraged church members to oppose the illegal action of government authorities by restoring church crosses to their rightful places.
The Zhejiang government removed 400 rooftop crosses throughout the province last year, maintaining they had violated building codes. But Christians say in reality, the communists didn't want daily reminders of Christianity's rapid growth throughout China; they detested crosses becoming a regular fixture of Zhejiang's city skylines.
Huang's case will be appealed.
Pray that he will remain strong in his faith and that he will be reunited soon with his family and friends.
Find out more about Huang at the China Aid web site.
And it's not just Christians who have been targeted by government officials. A human rights organization was raided this week because its workers have been speaking out against the groping of women on public transportation.
Read more here: China Human Rights Raid.
Monday, March 16, 2015
The two church bombings in Pakistan this week showed what Pakistani Christians are up against.
The massacre of 14-Christians, and the wounding of at least 70 others while they attended Sunday worship demonstrated the persecution facing Christians collectively in Pakistan.
Individually, many are falsely accused of blasphemy and arrested, or are pressured by militant Muslims to convert to Islam. Some Christian women who have refused to convert have been raped by their Muslim persecutors
That is why thousands have fled the country, seeking religious asylum, or refugee status.
On March 4, more than 400 Pakistani Christian immigrants--including children--were arrested and jailed in Bangkok, Thailand
They are considered illegal immigrants.
Sympathetic Thai Christians have housed and fed many of them, but since the jailing, the health--and even the lives of some of the Pakistani Christian immigrants are at risk.
Here's a letter received by The Global Lane from one family member describing the horrid, inhumane conditions in the Thai jail cell where the Christian detainees are now being held:
A SILENT WAR
People who were arrested are in Immigration Detention Center (IDC) right now; their sufferings are uncountable in IDC as they are exposed to deadly diseases such as Hepatitis A,B,C tuberculosis, Dengue, Malaria, HIV Aids, malnutrition, Severe depression disorder, various skin and genital infections, etc. Many men and women are suffering from these contagious diseases and children are at high risj of catching them. Many children have suffered diarrhea, typhoid and malnutirtion more than 3 or 4 times due to the poor hygiene and insufficient meals. Bailing people out is a complicated process which is almost impossible. It includes having a Thai person be your guarantee and paying 50,000 Baht (150 USD) for each person.
One small cell built to hold 25-30 people is a host to 70 people packed in the poorest hygienic environment and suffocation! People have to take turns sleeping as all can’t lie down on the flat floor at once due to massive number of people. There are no beds or mattresses, people lay flat on the hard crooked floors with only a sheet to cover their bodies. Children have to lie next to toilet seats where feces and urine drops fall on their faces. There are pregnant women, elderly women, newly born babies to children of all ages, old men suffering heart diseases blood pressure and diabetes. There is no activity at all inside the prison walls, their meals never change; it’s always boiled rice and stinky soup of cucumber.
Their hopes are shattered as they realize that they have to wait until 3 or 4 more years to get just an interview with UNHCR. Whenever children get sick or women suffer high blood pressure they are given the same tablet for every disease. Guards in IDC don’t understand or speak English; they never listen even when people cry out of pain.
I ask Human Rights Watch, UNHCR, International protection authorities and all other International Christians where are they when the persecuted need them the most? I question Pakistanis settled in the west where is their compassion for their own brothers and sisters? Where is your love? Are you really Christians if you can see them suffering terribly? This is a wakeup call for all who are living lives in ignorance, please don’t satisfy yourselves by saying there are many to take care of them, THERE IS NO ONE! UNHCR has left people in this condition claiming they have no control over the Thai government. I beg you to imagine your children lying next to toilet seats with empty bellies, your wives suffering in hunger and sickness, your old mothers living in uncertainty of the future and suffocating on her breath. I bet none can even bear the thought of it. Child detention is not even allowed in some countries and yet my nation’s children have to go through this. I cry out to you with the loudest of screams! Have compassion! They need mercy! My words can never be enough to express how they are suffering every moment.
I have done my part in describing their situation to the best of my knowledge and words; this is time for you to play your part now. If you have the spirit and love of God PLEASE spread this message until their cries are heard and stand up for them. They are scared, hungry, helpless and hopeless. They are dying every second inside the prison. There is no beam of hope from UNHCR or the Thai government, they pray to God to have their cries heard. Be an answer to their prayers. Be a Christian.
I met a woman who was in IDC for three months and was bailed for 50,000 Baht, she couldn’t come up with words to talk about IDC. All she could tell with eyes filled with tears and shaky voice was "I wish not even my enemies go their ever".
After these 400 arrests many are still hiding as the police is raiding their apartment buildings and arresting families. After being arrested people are taken to police jails and kept their until their trial at court, courts give them a decision of paying 3500 Baht each for overstaying their visas or else they are sent to Thai jails for a 14 day time period where they become subject to sexual and physical abuse by the dangerous Thai criminals. After this 14 day period they are taken to IDC where women are kept with children and men are separated. They live in small cells with exceeding numbers of people of all nationalities such as Sri Lanka, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Somalia, Africa etc. That’s when this period of suffering begins.
Pray for them, and then contact your congressman and the Thailand Embassy in Washington, D.C., to let them know how you feel.