Monday, November 30, 2015
History was made in Beirut this month.
No, it wasn't the horrific double suicide bombings that killed more than 40 people and injured nearly 240 in the Hezbollah neighborhood of Bourj al-Barajneh, but an unprecedented ministry outreach called, Power to Change.
For one month, the images of Lebanese celebrities appeared on Beirut billboards advertising Lebanon's Power to Change. Lebanese by the thousands phoned prayer centers inquiring, "What is this power you are talking about to change Lebanon?"
Counselors prayed with callers and told them about the transforming power of Jesus Christ to bring peace to Lebanon by changing hearts and minds. It was a message the Lebanese so desperately needed--and admittedly--wanted to hear.
The national outreach culminated in three special festival events held at a Beirut venue and guarded by heavily armed Lebanese soldiers. Each was attended by more than 1,500 people and was broadcast by three TV channels, including Lebanon State television. That meant mllions of viewers--mostly Muslims in Lebanon and Syria-- were able to view the broadcasts.
Fifty-seven Lebanese churches joined in the ministry outreach which was sponsored by Hanu Haukka's Great Commission Media Ministries of Finland.
Few people in the Middle East respond to altar calls, but countless numbers of those who attended the special events came forward at the end of the program to request prayer.
Take a look. This video is courtesy of Sat 7 and Great Commission Media Ministries:
And here are some of the Power to Change campaign highlights:
-- 30,000 orders for books and DVDs with transformation stories and the Life of Jesus. Orders are coming in from the Beqa Valley, Syria, Jordan, and other Islamic countries as well.
-- Social Media - More than 58 million impressions and over 20 million hits from around the Middle East were logged on the campaign's Facebook pages and website.
-- And several prominent Lebanese government officials requested copies of the Power to Change book in Arabic.
So, after more than three decades of war and violence, God is on the move in Lebanon. And a growing number of Lebanese are embracing the Power to Change.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
PARIS, France -- In my more than 40 years in broadcasting and media, I've never seen an overwhelming outpouring of love, compassion, and concern like I have seen here in Paris. The whole world is standing with the French and grieving in the aftermath of the horrific terror attacks.
As I stood last night at Place De La Republique, I overheard a boom box blasting out John Lennon's Imagine.
But it will take more than dreams and imagination to bring about change, to eliminate this threat and more bloody massacres like this one in France.
French multiculturalism, open European borders, and compassion for Middle Eastern migrants may have allowed this attack. More may come if policies and responses do not change.
We told you late last summer that ISIS said at least 4,000 of its jihadists had infiltrated the ranks of migrants sweeping into Europe. Hungary received extensive criticism for closing its border and building a fence. Now we know why: the Hungarians wanted to protect themselves and Europe for terrorist acts like the one here in Paris.
Greece reportedly has admitted one of the terrorists had migrated to Greece, was processed, and then proceeded on to western Europe. He reportedly possessed a forged Syrian passport. Another terrorist has been identified as a French national, 29-Ismael Omar Mostefai. He is a product of French multiculturalism. My colleague Dale Hurd has reported about Muslim enclaves in the suburbs of France and how many young French Muslims are becoming radicalized there.
The question now is, will France, the United States, and others respond by continuing to lull themselves to sleep with Imagine, or will they act with determined aggression to finally end this ongoing (and worsening) global threat.?
Take a brief look at Paris in mourning:
Friday, October 30, 2015
Regardless of when your church celebrates IDOP Sunday and prays for the Persecuted Church--either the first or second Sunday of each November, Christians around the world continue to suffer for their faith and are in desperate need of our prayers.
Often when I travel to restricted nations around the world and ask suffering followers of Christ what they need from us, the first response I receive is a request for bibles. The second is prayer.
Christian activists from around the world--North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East--recently gathered in Toronto to discuss ongoing and worsening persecution against believers in places like Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Led by the United Christian Federation in Canada, they shared their concerns and stories of faith, and then made suggestions about what can be done to make a difference.
The consensus? All of us can do something. Each of us can be a voice for the voiceless. We all can pray and then take action. Our Christian family members need and desire our prayers and help. Let's not let them down!
Take the time to watch this video to hear brief comments from some of the Toronto Conference participants, then join with them in prayer, and take action--not just one Sunday out of the year, but everyday!
Friday, October 02, 2015
The recent wave of migrants flooding into Europe is now leading to violence against Christians, Yazidis, and Kurds, and President Barack Obama's pledge to accept thousands into the United States is creating opposition in some communities concerned about terror and the potential Islamization of America.
Gatestone Institute reports police in Germany are now proposing that "migrants of different faiths" be housed in separate facilities.That's because Muslims are attacking people of other faiths "with increasing frequency and ferocity."
Germans are beginning to realize that many Muslim migrants are now bringing their sectarian wars to Deutschland. Christians who escaped persecution seeking peace and religious freedom in Europe are enduring the same conditions they experienced in their countries of origin.
Gatestone’s Soeren Kern quoted one Iranian Christian who said, "I thought that in Germany I could finally live my faith without persecution. But in the refugee shelter, I cannot admit that I am a Christian, or I would face threats...They treat me like an animal. They threaten to kill me."
The Gatestone report also tells of a Christian couple from Eritrea attacked by Algerians armed with glass bottles.The angry Muslim asylum seekers ripped a cross from the Christian man's neck, "and stole his money and cellphone."
Kern's report is well documented. It includes a portion of a Die Welt interview with a Christian family from Mosul. The Iraqi refugees were living in a shelter in Bavaria and told of Islamists who threatened the family daily.
"They shouted at my wife and hit my child," the father said. "They say: We will kill you and drink your blood."
Kern also quotes the head of German intelligence, who tells of Salafists disguised as volunteers recruiting migrants to attend "their mosques to recruit them to their cause."
The report also quotes Heinz Buschkowsky, the former mayor of Berlin's Neukölln district who said, "The bulk of migrants who are arriving here cannot be integrated."
Kern details many other incidents. You can read his report here: Gatestone Institute Report.
And what about the United States of America?
Last month, President Obama announced he'll be increasing the number Syrian refugees allowed into the country to at least 10,000 next year. They'll be among the 85,000 refugee slots allotted for 2016.
The president's decision is leading to some resistance on the homefront.
The New York Times reports residents of Twin Falls Idaho--a city that has already accepted "waves" of refugees from Asia, Africa, and Europe have expressed concern about taking in new refugees.
One man asked a State Department official at a recent college forum, "Can you offer guarantees that we'll be safe?" The official, Lawrence Bartlett responded, "Nothing is 100 percent."
He went on to explain that background and security checks are "strong."
Some residents of Twin Falls are backing a ballot initiative proposing that the local refugee program be discontinued. The leader of the drive, Richard L. Martin Jr. told the Times, "There's a lot of concern about radical Islam."
The immigration issue won't be going away--in Twin Falls or elsewhere anytime soon.
As wars and political upheaval around the globe intensify, look for American and European concerns over security, assimilation, and culture to dominate the news and political dialogue in the weeks and months ahead.
Monday, September 14, 2015
ROZKE, Hungary -- The last time I witnessed a massive wave of refugees like this was during the late 1990s in South Sudan.
This large number of migrants, the so-called "newcomers," are stressing this tiny East European nation. But I haven't found their handling poorly managed, or them being mistreated as reported by members of the international media.
Let's look at some facts that may be overlooked by politicians and some members of the press corps: 5,809 crossed the border yesterday here in Rozke. But are they refugees, or migrants?
Usually a refugee is someone who flees war, political upheaval, or mistreatment and crosses the border of their own country to the safety of a neighboring one. While some of these newcomers were refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey, they have left those safe havens for economic opportunity and a better life in Western Europe.
I discuss this more with CBN News below. Click play to watch.
The U.N. considers them refugees because they're seeking asylum in Europe. But Hungarians refer to them as migrants because in actuality, that's what they are--they've already found--and lived in a safe place. Many of them are illegal migrants because they have not entered Europe legally. One man told me he paid a smuggler $1,200 to help transport him across the sea from Turkey to Greece.
He told me he was fleeing Daesh (ISIS) and said he had lived and worked for the past two years as a refugee in Turkey. But ISIS did not exist two years ago. It was only in early 2014 that the group organized as the Islamic State. He may have fled war in Syria, but not ISIS.
Let's not be misled. His situation and that of many other migrants is not a matter of life and death.
These migrants are leaving their safe havens for opportunity, and the time is right as Germany and Sweden have put the word out they'll welcome any Syrian who makes it across their borders. But some Middle East migrants already in Sweden have warned the government to enact measures to check the identities and backgrounds of the newcomers to determine if they have fought as jihadists in Syria or Iraq.
Many of those coming across the border here are young Muslim men. They could easily be radicalized by ISIS and other militants once they arrive in Sweden and other places in Western Europe.
Also, is Hungary mistreating the migrants? The Austrian chancellor said the Hungarian response was reminiscent of the Nazis deportation of Jews during the Holocaust. Really Mr. Chancellor? I don't see a comparison.
The migrants I met indicated they did not want to remain in Hungary but desired to join relatives, or find jobs in Western Europe.
I witnessed the orderly loading of migrants onto buses arranged by the Hungarian government. The migrants were taken to processing centers, as required by E.U. law. I saw border police carefully and compassionately assisting the elderly and children as they boarded buses. No one was mistreated.
Yes, these migrants are deserving of our compassion and help. But let's not demonize a tiny country that is doing its best to protect its nation and Europe from chaos and unmanageable consequences.
Watch this brief video of the migrants standing patiently in line and boarding buses. See for yourself. Then look for my upcoming reports on the migrant crisis.
Thursday, September 03, 2015
I'll miss actor Dean Jones who died Tuesday at the age of 84.
Sure, I'll always remember the childhood delight of viewing his family friendly Disney films like "The Love Bug" and "That Darn Cat!"
But, mostly I'll remember him as a rescuer of persecuted Christians. During the late 1990s, shortly after he formed the Christian Rescue Committee (now Jubilee Campaign's CRF), I talked with him about several endangered Christians who resided in a restricted nation and desperately needed help. Jones had compassion for them, and got them out.
I know CRC rescued hundreds, if not thousands, of persecuted Christians. Jones would have rescued millions if he hadn't been limited by money and logistics.
He was a kind and caring man, driven by his Christian faith.
Although Jones entertained millions and made many people laugh, he experienced deep emmotional hurts. His materialistic lifestyle--all the speedy sports cars, the Hollywood parties, and fame did not satisfy him. He still felt an emptiness and suffered with depression. Finally, he turned to Christ and his life changed.
Watch a portion of his Flashback testimony (1997) from our friends at 100 Huntley Street:
Yes, let's remember Dean Jones the talented actor. But instead of what he did for Disney, let's not forget what he did for our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.
That will last for eternity.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Although Iranian house church Pastor Benham Irani has returned to prison, he remains a free man--free in Christ.
Benham is free to share his Christian faith with prison guards and inmates in prison, but not without a cost. He may be beaten, deprived of food or sleep. His prison sentence may be extended as a result.
But Benham Irani is no stranger to suffering. He knows the cost of following Christ and for sharing Him with Muslims in the Islamic Republic.
Last month--perhaps because of the Iran nuclear negotiations--Benham was allowed to leave prison to spend time with his family. Now, after one month on the outside, the government has returned Benham to prison.
Saying goodbye to his wife and two children must not have been easy for the pastor.
According to Present Truth Ministries, Benham Irani is confined to a 40x40 prison cell with 39 other prisoners. Most have been convicted of drug smuggling or for committing violent crimes against society.
Pastor Benham's crime? He was leading Muslims to Christ. Government officials consider that to be against Iranian national security.
Present Truth also says Benham suffers from poor health--pain in his knees and lower back and ongoing digestive track issues. His eyesight is poor.
Pray for Pastor Benham. He has 13 months left to serve of a 6 year sentence. Pray that God will heal him and that he will endure his remaining time as a prisoner of the Islamic Republic. Pray that he will be bolder and stronger in faith. Pray for his family.
And pray for his early release. I'm sure Pastor Benham would not want you to pray that he will be free. Reunited with his family, yes.
Although he is incarcerated once again, he remains a free man in Christ. No one can take that away from him!
Monday, August 17, 2015
Steve Maman is a modern day Oskar Schindler. Only instead of liberating Jews from Nazi Death Camps, he's rescuing Iraqi Yazidis and Christians from ISIS sex slavery:
Maman is a Moroccan Jew who resides in Canada. Eight months ago he founded the organization, Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI). Since then, he has freed at least 128 females from the clutches of the Islamic State.
One of them was only 9 years old. She had been raped so brutally, reconstructive surgery was required on her internal organs.
Why is ISIS doing this? Watch as he explains their motivation:
Maman says the going rate for purchasing a Yazidi or Christian sex slave ranges from $50-$500 depending on the age and beauty of the girl. He wants to liberate as many as he can.
Here he talks about Oskar Schindler and how the German industrialist's example motivated him to act:
Schindler liberated at least 1,200 Jews from the Nazis during World War II. His story became the subject of Steven Speilberg's award winning movie "Schindler's List."
Many people looked the other way and ignored the Holocaust against the Jews saying they didn't know it was happening. Maman suggests there's no excuse to ignore the raping and enslavement of Iraqi and Syrian girls by ISIS today in this modern age of television and Internet:
Let's remember to pray for these sex slaves. And these girls--and this modern day Schindler, desperately need our help.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Last summer, Christians around the world embraced--and displayed--the Arabic letter nun (N) as a sign of solidarity with Iraqi Christians persecuted by ISIS. The movement became known as #WEAreN. Nun was the letter the Islamic State jihadist painted on Christian homes and businesses to identify them as "Nazerites," or Christian infidels.
Now, a growing number of Christians around the globe are displaying red crosses in solidarity with the Chinese church.
Take a look at what some young Americans did at the recent Rock the Desert music festival in Midland-Odessa, Texas:
Their red crosses are a show of unity against China's forced removal of church crosses. According to China Aid, crosses displayed at more than 1500 churches--most of them in China's Zhejiang province have been forcibly removed in recent months by government officials.
Because Catholic and Protestant registered churches --not just unregistered, underground churches are being targeted, a growing number of Chinese Christians are resisting this latest wave of persecution.
Take a look at this video taken just several days ago in Wenzhou:
Yes, from Zhejiang to West Texas, China's Red Cross movement is now the new "N".
*Photos and video courtesy China Aid
Monday, July 27, 2015
China's recent crackdown against human rights attorneys and advocates (more than 200 arrested and or interrogated since July 9 of this year) and its continued campaign to remove crosses from church buildings (more than 1500) have created some people-powered responses that are now gaining some legs.
In China, a growing number of Christians are now participating in acts of civil disobedience. Some are strapping themselves to crosses to protect them from removal.
One of the most recent occured on July 22 as a large group of Public Security Bureau officers (PSB) forcefully removed the red cross from a church compound at Yongqiang Chuangcun Christian Church, Longwan District, Wenzhou city, Zhejiang Province. In June, after government officials removed the cross from atop the church building, church members stood it up on the church grounds. They strapped themselves to the cross when the PSB came to remove it from the church compound.
Watch this video as other Christians weep and sing hymns as their cross is removed from Tengqiao Church, also in Zheijiang:
In response to this latest wave of persecution against Chinese Protestants and Catholics, some believers are making wooden crosses, painting them red, and are placing them atop their homes and along roadways.
Take a look here:
So, what should be done by the United States? Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled for an official state visit with President Obama in September.
Should Xi be given the red carpet treatment by the U.S. president? Listen to how Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and China Aid President Bob Fu suggest America should respond:
Meantime, pray for wisdom for President Obama and other U.S. leaders. Pray for Chinese Christians, the human rights attorneys, and others who are now experiencing what may be the worst wave of persecution since China's Cultural Revolution.
Chinese government officials launched the crackdown because they fear Christianity and outspoken opposition from human rights advocates.
But this latest crackdown may actually be creating the very situation Beijing was hoping to prevent.