Friday, December 14, 2018

Arrested Sichuan, China, House Church Members Criminally Charged

NOTE: This is a vivid reminder that in many parts of the world merely being a follower of Jesus is dangerous. Please take a few moments to pray for these brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
Chinese Church Leaders Officially Charged with Various Crimes

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that after more than 100 members were arrested during the December 9 crackdown on Sichuan’s Autumn Rain Covenant Church in China, several detained leaders have been criminally charged.

Both Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong have been detained for allegedly inciting subversion of state power, a crime that can result in imprisonment of five years, but up to 15 years in extreme cases. Wang has not yet been allowed to meet with lawyers or family members. Jiang was issued “residential surveillance at a designated location,” where she could be held for as long as six months in facilities commonly known as secret prisons, subject to torture and abuse.

Elder Li Yingqiang who was responsible for posting updates and prayer requests online for the church, has been detained for allegedly picking a quarrel and inciting trouble on the internet. Additionally, deacon Ge Yingfeng and Lu Jinheng were detained for alleged illegal operations, according to South China Morning Post.

In the meantime, more than 50 seminary students from the church were sent to a “re-education camp.” However, they were released and sent home, accompanied by local officials after praying and worshipping for more than 48 hours under surveillance.

The church’s Facebook page was last updated on December 10 with prayer requests. Due to security concerns, the official prayer request updates are now shared through other social media channels to prevent local police from targeting more members.

In spite of the turmoil, many members continue to gather in homes for their weekly small groups. Videos and photos shared by Brent Pinkall on Facebook yesterday demonstrate the perseverance of these Christians as they sing praises and read the Bible together.

Although still under house arrest, Pastor Jin Tianming of Beijing’s heavily persecuted Shouwang church issued a statement in support of Pastor Wang Yi and Autumn Rain Covenant Church. He said, “When I read Pastor Wang Yi’s statement on his faith [issued 48 hours after his arrest], my heart was touched. I will say honestly in the Lord, his stance with respect to the church-state relations, is also my stance.”

He continued to call on Christians to “lift up our hands for Pastor Wang Yi and remember Autumn Rain Covenant Church [in prayers]!”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “While trumped up charges against Christians can land them in prison, the faith they live out will never be extinguished by the evil schemes of the communist government. We are closely following the plight and pleas of these Chinese Christians and will continue to raise awareness in order for the international community to rally behind them.”

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/   
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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Adaptability - The Key to Urban Survival


What is the key to urban survival? There are a lot of useful and important skills, of course, but I will suggest adaptability as the true key to urban survival. Adaptability doesn't come easy for most of us, but fortunately it is a skill that can be learned.

Things can change quickly. This is especially true in an urban environment, with its high population density made up of highly diverse peoples. That diversity adds a large element of unpredictability to any situation. Large population numbers also mean greater problems with crime, violence, homelessness, mental illnesses, substance abuse, government interference, and other problematic aspects of society. These problems do exist in small towns and rural areas, of course, but typically not to the extent they do in  a large city.

Cities also tend to be on the leading edge of change, be it social, political, economic, or technological. These changes are often fast-paced with unpredictable consequences. Living in a large city requires an ability to constantly adapt to these changes. This will especially be true as chaos increases in any collapse scenario, be it slow or sudden. So, what does adaptability look like? How can we be more adaptable?

Principles of Adaptability 

1) No whining. Change happens, like it or not. Whining won't stop it or make it better, and may make things worse as it distracts you from accepting and dealing with those changes.

2) Accept change.  Change happens. We don't have to like it, but we do have to deal with it. I suggest this version of The Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know how to best deal with those changes."

3) Know yourself. Knowing yourself - your core values, beliefs and important goals- will help you not lose yourself. It is possible to stay true to yourself while staying flexible enough to deal with the changes and chaos around you. Figure out your core beliefs and what is truly important to you. Then look for ways to adapt without compromising yourself. Be defined by your core values, not your habits.

4) Think big picture. Don't get so caught up on the details that you lose sight of the big picture. For example: In the big picture, it is important to make a living to provide for yourself and your family. How you make that living is details, not big picture. Any job or career will do, it doesn't have to be only a particular job or particular career. You may have to adjust to economic changes, and that is okay.

5) Think ahead. Don't just be reactive. Be proactive. Yes, "proactive" is a business buzzword, but it has important applications in all areas of life. Change rarely happens without any advance warning, if you are paying attention. Pay attention, then do something. Don't just wait around for someone else to deal with it for you. And don't just look for problems - look for opportunities, too.

6) Look for opportunity.  Every change, every failure, every new situation presents both difficulties and opportunities. Don't get so focused on the difficulties that you fail to see the opportunities.

7) Ask different questions. Seek different perspectives. Be curious. Be open-minded, but not so not so open-minded that your brain falls out. In other words, don't compromise your core, but be willing to listen to other perspectives. And remember the acronym ASK - Always Seek Knowledge.  Never get to the point where you think you've got it all figured out, and that no one else is worth listening to. 

8) Make multiple plans. Don't just have a Plan A. You also need a Plan B. And a Plan C and even a Plan D are also useful. There's rarely just one way to a goal. Be willing to look for several different paths in case your first one becomes unworkable for some reason.

9) Stay positive.  This circles back to "stop whining" in point one, and goes beyond it, too. Don't let change and chaos get you down. Accept it, deal with it , and more on. All the while, stay positive. The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale, is one of the best selling self-help books of all-time for a reason - it works. The best way to stay positive when facing difficulties is by saying "I will overcome" and by focusing on dealing it, rather then letting it get you down and defeating you.  

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Six Great Skills to Teach Your Children


Three Basics

1) Attitude of Self-Reliance -- Teach your children to start taking personal responsibility now for their own lives. Taking personal responsibility is the core of self-reliance. And self-reliance is the core of preparedness and survivalism. 

Teach them that taking responsibility means doing what needs to be done, not just what is fun or what you want to do. Taking responsibility means not waiting around for others to do it for you. Taking responsibility means not assuming if you don’t do it then someone else will. Take the initiative and do it yourself.

2) Strong Work Ethic -- Having a strong work ethic is a major key to success in life in any situation, not just in survival situations.  Teach your children the value of hard work. Hard work is good, healthy, and effective. Its importance is revealed throughout God's Word. The idea of "an honest day's work for an honest day's pay" is part of the traditional American value system. 

Children, even young children, should have chores that they are expected to do. And make them actually do their chores. Of course, the chores should be age-appropriate, but they should increase as they grow older and gain maturity and skills. Older children can work part-time jobs outside the home. You are not helping your kids by shielding them from hard work.

3) Biblical and Traditional Values -- Teach your children to have a relationship with God. Make prayer, scripture reading, and worship a regular part of their lives. Teach them the Commandments and the teachings of Jesus. Teach them to look to the perfection of God's Word as the ultimate authority for what is right and wrong, instead of the whim of worldly opinion. 

Also, teach them traditional American values - including the love of individual freedom & self-reliance, the importance of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the importance of private property rights (my article), the morality of capitalism (book by Fr Robert Sirico), the value of hard work, the value of human life, common decency towards others, and the traditional monogamous family unit as the basic building block of society. Be sure to teach them that our rights come from God, not from government.

Three Additional Shills

http://amzn.to/2h6mXzC4) First Aid (including knowledge of wild medicinals) -- If your children are old enough to be in school, they are old enough to learn basic first aid. They can advance their skills as they grow older. 

I would also start teaching them early on how to identify wild edibles and medicinals (book), adding to their skill sets collecting, preserving and using wild medicinals, as they mature. Consider having them start and tend a medicinal herb garden (seed kit). Again, start with the basics, and help them grow their skills as they get older.

5) Self-Defense Skills -- Teach your children situational awareness, which is more than just paying attention to what is going on around you, though that is an important start. It means both knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings. Check out my article on Situational Awareness and start teaching your children these skills. 

I also urge parents to enroll your children in a good martial arts class. Learning a martial art such as karate or judo can be a fun hobby, provide considerable health and fitness benefits, improve self-confidence, and is a life-long self-defense skill set. 

If your family or group has guns (and you should), then your children need to learn gun safety at a very young age. Two good resources are the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Club (a program of the NRA) and the book Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules: A Children's Book About Gun Safety.

It is up to you to judge the maturity level of your children and decide when they should start firearms training. I grew up around guns and was shooting and hunting with my grandfathers when I was still in my single digits. They were with me to provide guidance and supervision, but I was carrying and shooting my own gun. I also had to help clean anything I shot, even at that early age. 

http://amzn.to/2h6mXzC
Granny's Garden Seed Kit

6) Gardening Skills -- This covers planting, growing and preserving food, as well as saving seeds for the next year.  Have them help with your garden, or even set aside a small part as their garden (letting them choose what to plant and making them do the bulk of the work). I realize this may be difficult to do in the city, but perhaps you can join in a community garden in your area, or encourage your church to start one. At the very least, take your children on a field trip to a farm so they can learn that food comes from somewhere other than the store. 
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Egyptian Christian Receives Three-Year Prison Sentence for Insulting Islam

Note: Islam is NOT a tolerant religion. 

Village Atmosphere Remains Tense Following July Mob Attack Against Christians Over Facebook Post 

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on November 27, Coptic Christian Abd Adel Bebawy was sentenced by an Egyptian court to three years in prison for “insulting Islam in the first degree.” His lawyer was granted access to the verdict on December 6 and has opened an appeal which is expected to be heard at the end of December.

Bebawy was originally arrested in Minbal, a village located in Upper Egypt’s Minya Governorate on July 6, 2018. He had posted on Facebook an image of God, the angel Gabriel, and a verse from the Quran. The day after he was arrested and charged by the police, a mob gathered in Minbal and attacked several Christian homes. It is common for Islamic extremists in Egypt to collectively punish the Christian community for the perceived wrongs of one individual.

One Christian woman, Mariam, shared with ICC shortly following the July attack, “The mob stoned the houses of all the Christians (in Minbal). The Christians were afraid and all locked themselves in their houses and closed the wooden shutters of the windows.”

The attackers have continued to make it clear that Bebawy and his family would not be welcomed back into the village. He has remained imprisoned since July. Regarding the recent verdict, a close relative shared with ICC how she “was expecting this to happen in the first degree. But what I hope is that he will be freed in the appeal.” 

She continued to say that she “didn’t care if [they] had to leave their village or the country, [I] just want his freedom.”

It is believed by those familiar with the case that the judge issued the three-year prison sentence so that the local community would not again form a mob. Hakem, a lawyer familiar with the case, said, “Usually the judge gives the maximum penalty in the first degree to secure himself that he applied the law knowing that the other judge in the second degree will reduce or set him free.” 

Egypt is designated by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as a Tier 2 Country. According to the constitution, Islam is the official state religion and Sharia is the principal source of legislation.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Egypt’s record on religious freedom has fluctuated greatly throughout the years. While the constitution guarantees freedom of religion to Christians, this does not necessarily exist in practice. 

The situation in Minbal shows how delicate the atmosphere is. We must not only pray for the release of Abd Adel Bebawy from prison, but also that any potential progress made toward securing his release would not incite further violence against Christians living in Minbal.”

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/ 

More Than 100 Sichuan, China, House Church Members Arrested

NOTE: Merely being a follower of Jesus is very dangerous in most parts of the world.

Leaders, Members of Autumn Rain Covenant Church Unaccounted For

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that more than 100 members and leaders of Autumn Rain Covenant Church in China’s Sichuan province have been arrested. The arrests took place on December 9 after local authorities raided the homes of many church members.

According to a statement from the church, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, the police raided and surrounded the church, arresting a church staff member. Around 9:00 p.m., members’ WeChat accounts and cellphone group discussions were blocked, while the church’s telephone line was also shut down. In the meantime, the police ambushed dozens of homes, arresting numerous church members and leaders, including Pastor Wang Yi and his wife. Some were forced to sign a document stating that they will no longer attend the house church.

A member requesting anonymity told Associated French Press, “Most church members were taken from their homes, and some were grabbed off the street. Some were found via their smartphone’s location and were taken away.”

“The police had the whole neighborhood under control, as well as the surrounding area,” he continued. “They didn’t let anyone get close.”

Radio Free Asia noted that the officers refused to provide legal documentation or provide a reason for the arrests. A video shared by the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness confirmed the illegal procedure, documenting the process in which the authorities snatched a Christian from his home, while his wife pursued and questioned their motives.

Elder Lee Yingqiang wrote letters to encourage fellow church members to stand strong in their faith. Despite the persecution, he said, “We will never change our statement of faith shared publicly earlier and our push for house churches to gather in public; we will also not change our stance insisting on the separation of church and state, and the wonderful inheritance of the path to cross of Chinese house churches – we will neither register with the Religious Affairs Bureau, nor join the state-sanctioned churches.”

In the latest updates shared by the church’s Facebook page, photos have surfaced, showing that several members released today were tortured during their detention. One brother shared that during the 24 hours he was detained, he received no food or water, while he was tied to a chair with little sleep. The administrator commented that “these criminal acts are just horrendous.” 

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Chinese authorities seek to intimidate the house church leaders and members by persistently threatening, harassing, and detaining them. They have the mindset that by doing so, Christianity in China will submit to the government’s control. What they don’t know is that Christians often grow stronger and more united after they experience persecution. 

Beijing’s scheme will never prevail, and its distorted view of religious freedom and human rights will continue to be condemned by the international community.” 

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/