Blue Flower

HEALING AND VISIONS REPORTED IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA

Yasmin had been sick for a long time. She'd visited many doctors, receiving multiple treatments for a serious liver problem, but the medical professionals hadn't made any progress or found a solution for her illness. Knowing Yasmin was already facing a worst-case scenario, Judy, a long-term worker in the Arabian Peninsula (AP), suggested another option: "Jesus healed many people," she told Yasmin. " You've got nothing to lose by going to Jesus with this problem." "If you want, I can come back with a little Bible study," she added. When Yasmin agreed, Judy prepared a series of verses for her friend, following the Discovery Bible Study format. Yasmin read each Scripture, told Judy what the passage was saying, and listened as Judy explained aspects she had missed. “We covered a few such stories and verses about healing, and then we finished with James," Judy explained.

"Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; and if they have sinned, they will be forgiven" (James 5:14-15; NIV). Judy said "Muslims often think that sickness is either a test from God or a punishment. If you think God is punishing you, it's hard to ask Him for healing. It's another way of saying, 'Submit your life to His authority.'" Yasmin was ready to submit herself to the Lord. Judy anointed her, prayed for her, and she was healed. Judy said "I don't find that people come to faith because of theory or debates. They come to faith because the Lord shows up in their lives and gives them something which they need." Too often, we Westerners, want to focus on theological debates instead of just praying over people, and allowing the Lord place to do His miracles." 

Hammad, completed comparative studies of the Bible and Qur'an, and finally ended up talking to Judy's husband, Alex. "He had a lot of questions," Judy recalled. "I think he was ready to make the commitment to Jesus, but he needed one last push." One evening, Hammad went to bed as usual. However, he woke up feeling like someone was watching him. Thinking someone was in his room, he looked towards his window. There, in the window, he saw Jesus. Hammad looked at Jesus, and Jesus looked at him. "He cannot tell you what He looked like. All he can remember was the eyes," Judy said. The next day, Hammad came to Judy and Alex's house. "I'm ready to make the decision," he exclaimed. Although Hammad had already been convinced according to the Bible, he couldn't quite make the decision to accept Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. "When the Lord showed up, that convinced him," Judy said.

Hammad's conviction proved strong and sustained him through prison and persecution. When Hammad was blindfolded in prison, he would see visions of Jesus who would reveal answers to the questions the authorities asked him, just like the Bible promises. "But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, you will be given what to say" (Matthew10:19; NIV). "There's a verse about that in the Bible," Judy and Alex shared with Hammad after he told them about his experiences. The Lord is revealing Himself in the Arabian Peninsula, but Believers need to check their motives before praying for miracles, Judy cautioned: "If your heart is not in the right place, God will not show up." Pray that God would continue to work in people's lives across the Arabian Peninsula through healings, visions and miracles. Pray that the Lord would convict men and women and draw them to Himself.

Source: Operation Mobilisation

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POPE STUNS THE CHURCH CALLING FOR FORGIVENESS RATHER THAN EXCOMMUNICATION

Last year, Pope Francis called for "A Year of Mercy" beginning on December 8, 2014 so that Catholics could rediscover the "joy of God's mercy" in their lives. According to a letter released by Pope Francis, that theme of mercy for Catholics will now include official forgiveness for women who have undergone abortions. Once the Year of Mercy is over, those women who have had abortions must not only live with an "unforgiveable" sin but face excommunication from the Church. Even for Catholic women who have already found forgiveness from God but struggle with forgiving themselves, or value the forgiveness of the Church, this news is huge. Under Catholic church law, anyone who willingly participates in an abortion–including the pregnant woman, the abortionist and anyone who assists in the process–incurs automatic excommunication, which normally can only be lifted by the local bishop."

In his letter, the Pope expresses his compassion for women who have resorted to abortion saying, "I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing decision. One of the serious problems of our times is the insensitive mentality which has led to the loss of proper personal and social sensitivity in relation to new life. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has sincerely repented in order to be reconciled with the Father."  The response by most Catholics appears to be overwhelming gratitude. Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life said "All of us at Priests for Life, Rachel's Vineyard, and Silent No More welcome the letter, indicating the Pope’s compassionate concern for those who have had abortions, and making it easier for them to obtain absolution for their sin.

This step does not mean that forgiveness wasn't available before. However, it simplifies the process outlined in Church law whereby, in certain circumstances, the priest needs to get authorization before giving absolution." "In the Jubilee Year," he added, "priests will not need to delay that absolution, provided there is repentance. We welcome this concrete expression of the Church's eagerness to reconcile those who have had abortions. We who oppose abortion do not oppose those who have had abortions; rather, we welcome them with mercy and compassion. A very large part of our work at Priests for Life is to extend the urgent invitation to healing." Whatever Protestants may think of the Pope or Catholicism in general, as Christians we stand by those in repentance, hurting from their sin, who long to hear the word "forgiven" spoken over them as confirmation for what God has already done.

Source: Life News

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NIGERIA MARKS 500 DAYS SINCE CHIBOK ABDUCTIONS

The President of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria has revealed that over 176 of the girls kidnapped from a school in north east Nigeria by Boko Haram terrorists last year are from families belonging to his denomination. Rev Samuel Dali’s revelation coincides with a Global Week of Action launched to commemorate 500 days since the abductions. Speaking to local media, Reverend Dali added that over 8,000 members of his church had lost their lives and 70% of church facilities in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States had been destroyed during the Boko Haram crisis, including the church’s headquarters, which was seized in October 2014. In addition, an estimated 90,000 church members are reported to have been displaced by terrorist violence. 

On the evening of 14 April 2014, Boko Haram gunmen invaded the predominantly Christian town of Chibok, setting fire to homes and public buildings and looting food items, before kidnapping over 200 students from Government Girls Secondary School. This week the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign began a Global Week of Action commemorating the 500th day since the Chibok Girls disappeared, which fell on 27 August. The week of activities includes prayers, tree planting in honour of the girls, meetings with the Chief of Defence Staff and the National Human Rights Commission and a march and candle light procession on 27 August. During a two-day visit to Nigeria, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appealed “as UN Secretary General and personally as a father and grandfather” for the unconditional release of “the Chibok girls and the many children and adults kidnapped in the North East.”

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said, “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the abducted girls, whose plight is too horrendous to contemplate, and with their parents, who continue to suffer immeasurably. The mass rape and sexual enslavement of women and girls rank among the worst of the numerous war crimes committed by Boko Haram. The sect’s professions of impeccable religious credentials do not tally with its propensity for rampant sexual violence and indiscriminate murder. It is in reality a death cult that indoctrinates members to kill without conscience, regardless of the creed espoused by its victims. We continue to join with people of goodwill in Nigeria and the international community in praying for safe return of the Chibok Girls and all other hostages, and for this brutal insurgency to be brought to a swift conclusion.”

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

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CAMBODIAN SAUL TRANSFORMED INTO PAUL BY THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT

When the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975, they forced people out of the cities, and sent them on forced marches to rural work camps for “re-education.” They demanded the entire population of 2.3 million vacate the capital of Phnom Penh within three days, including the elderly, children, monks, doctors and nurses, hospital patients, wounded and sick people, even mothers who had just given birth. They said they would be leaving for a few days, but the evacuation turned into a three-year nightmare. Nearly everyone was either executed, faced starvation, or was worked to death. During their violent rule, 2.5 million perished — almost a third of the population — in what became known as the Cambodian genocide. The horrific ordeal was memorialized in the award-winning Hollywood film “The Killing Fields.”

Christians living in Cambodia during the rule of the Khmer Rouge were heavily persecuted for their faith – even for reading the Bible. By the time the Khmer Rouge were finally vanquished by Vietnam in 1978, there were barely any Christians left due to the brutal and arbitrary executions, torture, and genocide committed then. Sovann was a member of the Khmer Rouge during those horrible years. “Looking back,” he whispered, “I am ashamed of the terrible things I participated in as a member of the army. We treated people as if they were animals, and worse.” When asked if he had ever taken a life, all he could do was quietly whisper ‘yes’ while staring at the bamboo floor. The reign of terror ended when Vietnam took control, but Sovann left the army a defeated man. He was continually weighted down by the crushing load of guilt he carried, and nothing provided any relief.

One day while he was in an alcohol-induced haze, there was a knock on his door. It was a pastor making calls in his neighbourhood. “I don’t know why I let him in,” Sovann said, “but I sensed that he could help me.” As they sat together, Sovann shared his personal despondency with the pastor, who immediately opened his Bible. He turned to Isaiah 1:18 and asked Sovann to read it. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” “When I read those words tears began streaming down my face,” he said. “The pastor told me that even though I used to be Khmer Rouge, God would forgive all my sins and make me white as snow.” That was the beginning of a new life for Sovann. The power of forgiveness enabled him to embrace Christ as Saviour and Lord. “I don’t know where I would be if God hadn’t spoken to me that day,” he said.

Source: God Reports

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SOUTHERN BAPTIST PRESIDENT SAYS HIS DENOMINATION MUST REPENT AND CONFRONT RACISM

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says the denomination's founders were "heretics" in believing  whites were superior to blacks and urged modern-day Southern Baptists to confront the racism of their founding fathers. Mohler lamented the "putrid exegesis" of the Bible that was allowed to justify racism in the past and acknowledged that "Southern Baptists bear a particular responsibility and burden of history." "The ideology of racial superiority is one of the saddest and most sordid evidences of the Fall and its horrifying effects," he writes. "Throughout history, racial ideologies have been driving forces of war, demagoguery and of dictatorships." Heresy, he argues, is different—and far more dangerous—than error. Heresy is "the denial or corruption of a Christian doctrine that is central to the faith and essential to the Gospel." 

A heretic is someone who is considered to have abandoned the faith, Mohler says, such as those who deny the Trinity. The "deadly power" of heresy, he writes, is evident in the recent killing of nine worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who hoped to instigate a "race war". "The young white man charged with the killings has not claimed a theological rationale for his acts," Mohler writes. "Nevertheless, he has been exposed as someone whose worldview was warped by the ideology of white superiority." Sadly, this kind of racial superiority is not exclusive to a certain people group; in fact, its "most fertile soil" was tilled in the states of the old Confederacy, particularly among Southern Baptists. "White superiority was claimed as a belief by both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, but it was the Confederacy that made racial superiority a central purpose," he says.

Source: Gospel Herald

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FAMILIES OF 3 AMERICAN HEROES CREDIT GOD AND THEIR CHRISTIAN FAITH FOR THEIR HEROISM

The families of the three Americans whom French authorities credit with halting a potential terror attack on a Paris-bound high-speed train recently have said the heroic act reflected the young men's Christian faith and was a part of God's "providential will."  Last week, Airman First Class Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guard member Alek Skarlatos and college student Anthony Sadler were traveling on a high-speed train in Brussels bound for Paris as part of a three-week vacation when 25-year-old Ayoub El Khazzani boarded, armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Luger automatic pistol, ammunition and a box-cutter. Airman Stone and Mr. Skarlatos, both 22, first rushed the gunman, followed closely by Mr. Sadler, 23. Mr. Skarlatos then took the automatic weapon from El Khazzani before he could fire it, as the gunman attacked Airman Stone with a box cutter.

He stabbed Airman Stone "multiple times" in the back and severed a tendon and nerve on one hand. He also pulled out a handgun and put it to Airman Stone's head during the scuffle, pulling the trigger twice. "But it clicked twice and didn't go off," Airman Stone's mother, Joyce Eskel said. The young men, who were presented with France's highest honour by President Francois Hollande—the Legion d'Honneur— are childhood friends who had all attended California's Freedom Christian School and often played military games together. Peter Skarlatos, Alek's older brother, said that all three men are strong Christians whose close bond and humility stems from their devotion to their faith. Anthony Sadler, a Baptist pastor in Sacramento's Oak Park neighbourhood, told reporters that he believes his son and his friends were used by God to disrupt what could have been a devastating tragedy.

Source: Gospel Herald

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DUTCH PAEDIATRICIANS PUSH FOR EUTHANASIA OF CHILDREN UNDER 12 YEARS OF AGE

The Dutch Paediatric Association says that allowing teenagers to ask for euthanasia discriminates against younger children and is asking that the age limit for doctor-assisted death be removed. Current Dutch law permits children 12 and older to ask for euthanasia with parental approval while 18-year-olds fall under the regulations governing adults. "We feel that an arbitrary age limit such as 12 should be changed and that each child's ability to ask to die should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If a child under 12 satisfies the same conditions, paediatricians are currently powerless.

It's time to address this problem," said Eduard Verhagen, paediatrics professor at Groningen University and member of the Paediatric Association's ethics commission. "It's about extreme exceptional situations of children who will die soon, and where you'd like to offer parents the opportunity to have their child die in a dignified way. As a paediatrician I cannot explain why everybody has that right, except for the age group between 1 and 12 years," Verhagen said according to Netherlands Times. "There is no limit to the culture of death once it is fully off the leash," wrote bioethicist Wesley Smith in the National Review.

Source: Netherlands Times

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CLERK QUITS RATHER THAN ISSUE GAY MARRIAGE LICENSES

A Mississippi circuit clerk has resigned rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Grenada County circuit clerk Linda Barnette announced her decision citing the Supreme Court's ruling to redefine marriage. In her resignation letter to the county board of supervisors, Barnett explained, "The Supreme Court's decision violates my core values as a Christian."  "My final authority is the Bible," she wrote. "I cannot in good conscience issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples under my name because the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is contrary to God's plan and purpose for marriage and family." Barnette served as circuit clerk for 24 years. Meanwhile, her dilemma is playing out around the country as government employees who issue marriage licenses and believe in the biblical definition of marriage now face a clear violation of conscience. 

In Alabama and Texas, some clerks say their offices will no longer issue any marriage licenses. In Kentucky, Rowan County clerk Kim Davis refused to provide a license to April Miller and Karen Roberts, a lesbian couple. The two told The Associated Press that they've already asked the American Civil Liberties Union to provide them with legal counsel. Legal experts say it's unlikely religious freedom arguments will protect those who refuse to license same-sex couples or provide accommodation for others who are able to provide the service.

Source: CBN News

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SUCCESSFUL DEBUT OF FAITH-BASED FILM STUNS HOLLYWOOD DESPITE SECULAR CRITICS

The faith-based drama War Room, by filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, earned a staggering $11 million in its box-office debut in the USA over the weekend despite playing in only 1,135 theatres. The prayer-themed film marks the highest debut for the siblings and is their fifth collaboration after Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel. This past weekend, War Room placed No. 2 behind Straight Outta Compton, which earned $13.2 million, but after playing in 3,142 locations. Said Stephen Kendrick: "We pray God will use this film as a means to rally the Church back to prayer, because we know that when prayer happens, He will be true to His Word and His character, and every ministry of every church will be blessed, and we will become salt and light to the world."

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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