Saturday, December 29, 2018

Soft Skills Preppers Need to Develop

Soft skills are general skills that are often seen as part of our personality, and as such are typically self-learned without realizing it while we are growing up. Examples include listening skills and getting along with others. Hard skills, on the other hand, are technical skills that are intentionally taught to us by others, usually in the classroom or on-the-job. An example would be computer skills.

In prepper and survivalist circles, most talk centers around the hard skills we need: first aid, water purification, bushcraft skills, shooting & self-defense skills and so forth. But soft skills can also be very important, and fortunately they can be developed if we realize the need.

Communication and Listening Skills

More than just the ability to talk, good communications skills include both active listening and the ability to explain ideas to others in a way they can understand.

Social Skills / Networking 

A huge complaint I often hear in the prepper community is the difficulty in finding or forming community. Networking and social skills are about finding, meeting, and getting along with others. (Related Article: Why Preppers Have a Hard Time Building Community)

Teamwork

Are you a team player, or a lone wolf? Do you follow the rules, or do you insist on doing things your way and only your way? Is cooperation and compromise in your vocabulary, or do you see them strictly as "dirty words?" Working together with others to achieve goals, such as security and survival, is important.

Leadership Skills

Leadership is very different from just being the boss.  And it has nothing to do with forcing others to do what you tell them to do. (Related article: There's a Major Difference Between Being a Leader and Just a Boss)

Creativity / Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is especially valuable during the chaos and confusion of a disaster or crisis. Disasters are unpredictable in both their nature and their consequences. The ability to think outside the box and to come up with solutions for unexpected problems could easily be the difference between life and death.

Logic / Critical Thinking 

Disasters cause confusion and panic that can lead to purely emotional responses, which are usually not the best responses. The ability to remain calm, think clearly, and use reason in responding to the disaster is critical. (Related article: How To Not Panic In An Emergency)

Organization / Time Management

There's so much to do in terms of planning and logistics that it can be easy to get overwhelmed and let things "fall through the cracks." The ability to manage your time and to be organized is a highly underrated skill. (Personal note: This is one of the soft skills I most need to work on myself.)

Adaptability

Adaptability, the ability to recognize, accept and deal with change in a positive way, doesn't come easy for most of us, but fortunately it is a skill that can be learned. (Related article: Adaptability - The Key to Urban Survival)

Responsibility / Work Ethic

Taking responsibility for your own life and having a strong work ethic are closely related. The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now. Having a strong work ethic is a major key to success in life in any situation, not just in survival situations.

Learning and developing these soft skills can be done. Start by realizing the importance of these skills, then make an honest assessment about your own skill level for each of these categories. Decide which skills you need to develop and start researching those skills. There are lots of articles and videos about these skills on the Internet, and entire books have been written on each. You might even be able to find courses on soft skills being taught at your local community college. Most importantly, soft skills are best learned the same way hard skills are - through practice.
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Friday, December 28, 2018

My Current EDC Set-up

I've had basically the same set-up for a few years, but am about to make a few small changes. So, I'm going to go "on the record" with what I carry now, and after I've had a month or so to test out the new edc, I'll post a pocket dump of it. 

Here's what I currently carry on an everyday basis so I can "be prepared" for whatever life throws at me. 

First, let's start with what I wear: my clothes on a typical day are cargo pants, a plain short-sleeve shirt in summer or plain sweatshirt during winter, and a pair of hiking shoes. If needed, I will wear a plain hoodie or heavier coat. The ideas behind the way I dress are: 1) comfortable, ease-of-movement; 2) rugged; 3) practical, utilitarian; 3) not flashy or eye-catching; 4) not likely to attract attention by appearing as if I have money, or appearing as if a thug or bum; and 5) fits in fairly well with what many  locals are likely to wear.

Now, for the pocket dump:


Click to enlarge

On my belt, I always wear my Leatherman Fuse Multi-Tool. If I'm wearing pants, I have it on me. I bought it almost 10 years ago for about $40. They don't make the Fuse anymore, but the Leatherman Wingman is very similar. I find my Leatherman very useful - the pliers are especially handy and get used quite often.


On my left wrist, I wear a cheap ($10) watch I got at Walmart. I've had it for a couple of years, and it keeps surprisingly good time. I have a couple of more expensive watches, which I might wear on very special occasions, but typically prefer the cheap watch that won't attract attention.  And if it gets messed up while working or doing chores, who cares - its only $10. 

In my right front pocket, I carry my Maxpedition Urban Wallet, and several quarters. I front-carry my wallet because it is more difficult for a pick-pocket to steal from a front pocket than a rear pocket.

In my left front pocket, I carry my Swiss Army Knife, "Hiker" model.  I also carry my keys in this pocket. On my key chain, I have my keys, a Gorilla Drive flash drive (I encrypt my files on it with Rohos encryption software), a Gerber Shard mini pry bar, a very loud whistle (don't know what brand), and an Energizer key chain flashlight. 

In my right cargo pocket, I carry my cell phone (not pictured), some index cards held together with a binder clip (great for taking notes), and a tactical pen (not pictured, but its this one on Amazon).

In my left cargo pocket, I carry an Energizer LED pocket flashlight (65-lumens, purchased at Target), and a Maxpedition micro pocket organizer (I'll cover the contents below). I love the flashlight because it gives off good light while still being the perfect size to carry everyday in my pocket. The micro pocket organizer and flashlight do fit snugly together in the cargo pocket, which closes easily. However, that pocket does feel a bit heavy/bulky. Still, I don't want to get rid of either.

Click to enlarge.
The Maxpedition Micro Pocket Organizer

I use the pocket organizer primarily as a personal first aid kit, with a couple of other items , too. On the outside pocket, I carry a couple of individually wrapped Wet Ones, useful for cleaning hands before eating, but can also be used to clean other things. The first aid supplies include wound care items (alcohol wipes, iodine wipes, a couple of packets of triple antibiotic ointment, several sizes and styles of bandages, and a small pack of quick clout), tweezers (for removing bee stingers, ticks, splinters), insect sting relief, benedryl caplets, asprin, advil, and  a couple of packets of electrolytes to add to water.

Also in the kit is a twenty-dollar bill for emergency use, a small roll of duct tape, a couple of six inch strips of orange duct tape, a Eat-N-Tool by CRKT, a pair of fingernail clippers, a brass 3-inch safety pin, and a Leatherman Style CS Multi-tool (a great pair of folding scissors).

Everything pictured fits easily into the organizer, with a little room to spare.

Other Items Not Pictured  

My sunglasses are with me constantly, as are a pair of reading glasses (I also keep a spare pair in the glove compartment of my vehicle). I typically carry a handkerchief in my rear pocket. 
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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

My Prepper Philosophy



My prepper philosophy can be summed up in the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared." Now, before you roll your eyes, please realize that motto is much more profound than it may appear at first glance. Let me explain.

Be Prepared. Its just two words, and gives no detail. Be prepared for what? Be prepared when? Be prepared how? It doesn't answer those questions, and that is what makes it so profound.


Be prepared for what? For whatever comes our way. Maybe a hurricane, or an earthquake, or some other natural disaster. Maybe a terrorist attack, or a pandemic, or an economic collapse. Or maybe an emerging police state and the loss of individual liberty. Or, maybe it is something much more personal - a house fire, an unexpected job loss, sickness or injury.

The fact is, we don't know what the future holds in store. We can make educated guesses based on known facts and logic. For example, given the national debt, unfunded future liabilities, fiat currency, an incompetent political class, and an entrenched & unaccountable bureaucracy, I think it is very reasonable to expect some sort of economic collapse, leading to a political collapse (which I define as the end to the Constitution). But I cannot predict exactly when it will happen (this year? next year? ten years from now?). Nor can I predict exactly how it will happen, or how bad it will get, or how long it will last. And there is always a chance that some other disaster will happen first. As far as I can know, maybe I'll get killed in an earthquake a month before the economic collapse. The future is unpredictable, but that is the point.

Be prepared. It doesn't give us step-by-step instructions because step-by-step instructions are simply impossible. Things are too unpredictable, there are too many variables, and circumstances are constantly changing.

Be prepared. What does it mean? Is it too vague to really mean anything? Not at all. Anyone who has been involved in scouting knows the whole program revolves around those two words. Not in the sense of "do x, y, and z" or "stockpile plenty of this and that," but rather by developing the strength of character, body, mind, and spirit to handle whatever comes your way.

Be prepared. It means having the right attitude, character, know-how, and ingenuity to quickly adapt to any circumstance, no matter what it is.

"The scout motto means that you are always ready in mind and body to do your duty and to face danger, if necessary, to help others." -- The Official Boy Scout Handbook, ninth edition, page 43.

All the activities, skill awards, merit badges, and scoutcraft is designed to achieve that goal.

For Scouts, it starts with the Scout Oath:

        On my honor I will do my best
        To do my duty to God and my country
           and to obey the Scout Law;
        To help other people at all times;
        To keep myself physically strong.
           mentally awake, and morally straight.

In other words, its about honor, duty, and priorities. Its about preparing oneself  - physically, mentally, and morally.

It then continues with the Scout Law:

        A Scout is:
          Trustworthy
          Loyal
          Helpful
          Friendly
          Courteous
          Kind
          Obedient
          Cheerful
          Thrifty
          Brave
          Clean
          Reverent

In other words, its about actively making ourselves into the best versions of ourselves we can be.

So, my prepper philosophy is simply "Be Prepared." In order to do that, I must work daily on becoming the best me I can be. This starts with attitude and character, health and fitness, then moves on to knowledge and skills. Acquiring stuff, or even making specific plans (I'll bug out to X location with my fully-loaded bug-out bag when Y happens), is actually down towards the bottom of the list. Not unimportant, but not as foundationally important.  

NOTE: Sadly, the modern day Boy Scouts have ventured far from their founding, fully embracing modern political correctness. The cowardice of their current leadership in caving-in to "modern sensibilities" of the political Left in no way diminishes the significance of their motto or founding principles. I pray that one day they fully embrace those principles once again. 
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Friday, December 21, 2018

Major Guangzhou House Church Shut Down by Authorities

Government Crackdown on Influential Churches Across China Continues

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on the morning of December 15, more than 100 police and government officials raided a children’s Bible class at Guangzhou’s Rongguili Church.

They registered the names of the students, interrogated their parents and staff, confiscated their cell phones, and copied contact information from the church’s computers to prevent members from documenting and reporting the raid.

According to South China Morning Post, officials from the education and religious affairs departments stayed until 8:00 p.m. and confiscated church property, including more than 4,000 books. Entry and exit points for the roads leading to the church have been cordoned off by police.

When the worshippers went to their church the next day for Sunday service, more than 30 police officers were present to prevent members from entering. A notice issued by the Yuexiu Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau shows that the church is now disbanded and Christians should instead worship at other state-sanctioned churches nearby.

Rongguili Church was founded by the late Lin Xiangao, an iconic leader in the Chinese house church known for his resistance against the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Thousands attend the church every week and it is widely seen as the beacon of faith in southern China.

This incident makes Rongguili Church the third victim in the latest clampdown on influential house churches in China, following Beijing’s Zion Church and Sichuan’s Autumn Rain Covenant Church.

Father Francis Liu shared the church’s prayer request on Twitter. The church asked people to “pray for the Lord’s mercy on the copied file as it contains personal information of preachers and other churches. May God bless them as local authorities have already taken turns to visit the home of one of the listed.”

A house church member in Beijing who has closely followed the latest crackdown against house churches told ICC, “It seems like the government has been deliberately targeting several influential house churches in China… What might be the reason behind their action at this particular moment we don’t know, but God knows! May God’s will be done.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “From Beijing to Sichuan to Guangzhou, the carefully planned crackdown against house churches shows that the Chinese government has sought to take house churches out of the Christian landscape and force believers to join state-sanctioned churches instead. By doing so, Christians will be subjected to indoctrination through party ideology. This is a clear violation of religious liberty and should 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/    

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Self-Defense When a Gun Isn't an Option

When self-defense becomes necessary, a gun (and knowing how to use it) is usually the best option. Unfortunately, there are many situations in life where carrying a gun isn't an option. What then? 

The best line of self-defense is always to avoid danger in the first place. This is where situational awareness, local knowledge, and commonsense comes into play.

     Situational Awareness - More than just paying attention to what is going on around you, though that is an important start, situational awareness means both knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings. For much more on situational awareness, see my article: Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop

     Local Knowledge - Your local area, where you live, shop, and go to work, school & church, has its bad neighborhoods and high crime districts (everywhere does). Knowing where these are and how to avoid them is important. Even your local shopping centers likely have "bad" areas, blind spots where the lighting is poor and the view is hidden, that are potential ambush points for bad guys. Know and avoid these.

     Commonsense - The world is a dangerous place and getting more so everyday. Use commonsense to avoid trouble as you go about your everyday activities. There is safety in numbers, so try to travel, walk and shop in groups whenever possible. Let people know where you're going and when to expect you back. Park in a highly visible, well-light location near the entrance to minimize chances of ambush & muggings. Don't make yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car. Don't make yourself a target by appearing easy prey - wear practical clothes, walk confidently, head up. Before getting out of a car or walking out of a building, look out a window first to identify possible dangers.  Keep your vehicle well-maintained to minimize chances of a break-down at a bad place or time.

Despite our best efforts to avoid trouble, trouble sometimes finds us. What then?

My first suggestion is to know how to defend yourself with your hands. Take a course in non-lethal self-defense. These courses are sometimes offered for free or low-cost at YMCAs, YWCAs, schools, community centers, and so forth. Perhaps you can even talk your church into sponsoring such a course. A good self-defense course won't just cover the physical aspects of self-defense, but also give tips and advice on avoiding dangerous situations in the first place.

Next, consider taking up a martial art of some sort (such as karate, judo, or krav maga). Learning a martial art can be a fun hobby, provide considerable health and fitness benefits. improve self-confidence, and give you a life-long self-defense skill set. I especially urge parents to get their kids involved in martial arts at a young age. And you are never too old, as most good martial arts instructors will tailor your program to fit your age, health, and current fitness level.

There are a whole host of other "weapons" that you can use to defend yourself. Some possibilities include prepper spray,  a self-defense necklace (aka Buddha Beads), a cane, a baseball bat, and even a tactical pen. Anything that can give you an edge in a physical confrontation is useful. (Notes: I carry an old metal baseball bat in my vehicle that would make an excellent club in a fight. My everyday carry includes a tactical pen. I've also ordered a set of Buddha Beads, so expect me to post review in a few weeks.)

A Final Word: Money and "stuff" can be replaced. Your life cannot be. If a bad guy with a gun gets the drop on you in a simple mugging situation, just give him your wallet or purse. I promise your life is worth more than your cash.

Related Article: Urban Survival: Twenty-Two Practical Tips

My official statement on Self-Defense and the Use of Force
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Monday, December 17, 2018

URBAN SURVIVAL: The Busybody Neighbor

This article is part of my Urban Survival series. Click here for an index to the series.

Whether they are just overly nosy or actually malicious, the Busybody Neighbor seems to exist in every neighborhood and community. Who is the Busybody Neighbor?
  • Constantly watches you and your family from their window
  • Asks overly personal and inappropriate  questions
  • Constantly makes critical comments about you, your family, home, or yard 
  • Constantly complains about everything you or your family does
  • Spreads gossip about you or your family
  • Snoops around your trash, mailbox, or yard
  • Reports you to the HOA or local authorities about whatever they disapprove of, no matter how small...
These are only a few of the possibilities of a Busybody Neighbor. Busybodies can be anything from mildly annoying to outright dangerous. So, how can you deal with the Busybody Neighbor?

1) Ignore them. If they are just being nosy or mildly irksome, simply ignoring them my be your best option. 

2) Make friends with them. Many people, particularly the elderly and shut-ins, become busybodies out of sheer loneliness or boredom. Spying on you makes their lives a bit more interesting. Try making friends with them.  Besides, an extra pair of (friendly) eyes watching your home when your not there could be a good thing.   

3) Politely, but firmly, refuse to answer personal or inappropriate questions. Just being neighbors doesn't make you friends, and its okay to point that out to them. "I'm sorry, I don't talk about my finances/politics/religion/whatever with acquaintances" is a perfectly valid and acceptable response. So is a polite "That's really none of your business."  

4) Politely confront them. Let them know you know about their bad behavior. "Please don't snoop in my mailbox again, or I will report you to the post office." When they angrily deny it, simply smile and say "Then you have nothing to worry about. Just remember, my cell phone takes excellent video." Then walk away from them. There is no need to extend the confrontation.

5) Practice OPSEC. Operational security is mostly about taking commonsense measures to protect your privacy. Shred sensitive documents (bills, etc) before throwing them away. Keep your curtains closed at night. Don't carry on loud conversations of a personal nature within earshot of your neighbors (keep those conversations indoors). For much more on OPSEC, see my three part series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

6) Keep your house doors, car doors, garage, and fence gates locked. You can even get a lockable mailbox, if that is a concern. Just remember, locks don't work if you don't lock them. 

7) Install privacy barriers. Put up a fence to keep people off your property. Get a dog to further discourage trespassers. Put up a privacy fence to block snooping eyes. Plant roses or other thorny plants outside your windows. 

8) Live in an apartment? Your options may be limited, but you still have some: Put up blackout curtains or blinds and keep them closed to block peepers. Always keep your door locked, even when you're home. Get a small yip-yip dog and they'll let you know when someone is snooping outside your door or windows. Don't talk too loudly when discussing personal matters, even when you are inside. Keep your WiFi secured with a hard-to-guess password. Document any problems you are having with neighbors, then let the landlord or building manager know about it.

9) Get the police involved if its serious enough. If you are concerned about the safety of your family, absolutely contact the police. If someone has crossed the line and become a stalker, if they are making threats, if they may be engaging in illegal activities, or if they are repeatedly coming onto your property without you permission or good cause, keep careful record of their activities (log times & events, get eyewitnesses, photos or videos), and report them to the police. 

10) Install an alarm system and.or security cameras. A multi-camera CCTV system with DVR recorder can be had for under $200 (here's one such system on Amazon).

One last bit of advice:  Never threaten or retaliate. In sports, it seems like it is always the player who retaliates that gets caught. If someone threatens you with physical harm, that is a crime. If you threaten them back, that too is a crime. "They did it first" isn't a legal excuse. Get the authorities involved if things become bad.
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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Clothes and the Prepper


In honor of Fashion Week,* I've decided to write an article on Clothes and the Prepper. It is an important topic for the reasons I'll discuss below.

First, let's start with what I wear: my clothes on a typical winter day are cargo pants, a plain sweatshirt or flannel shirt, and a pair of hiking shoes. If needed, I will wear a plain hoodie or heavier coat. Of course, do do wear underwear (I do have thermal underwear for when needed) and socks (both regular and thermal). And I have work boots, but I only wear them when I need to, not everyday.

During the summer, I dress similarly. Depending on what I'm doing that day, I wear cargo pants or cargo shorts, a black short-sleeve t-shirt or golf shirt (when I want to dress a little nicer), and a pair of hiking shoes.

The reasons behind the way I dress are: 
  • Comfortable, ease-of-movement
  • Rugged, durable
  • Practical, utilitarian (function over form)
  • Not flashy or eye-catching (I don't stand out) 
  • Fits in with what locals are likely to wear (gray man)
  • Not likely to attract attention by appearing as if I have money (making myself a tempting target), or appearing as if a bum or a thug (someone to watch carefully
So, as a prepper/survivalist, I dress for practical reasons, not to impress other people. This doesn't mean I dress like a bum. My clothes fit me well, and are neat, clean, and nice looking. They just are not fancy, name-brands, or otherwise impressive in a worldly sense. I feel quite comfortable dressing this way in public, and I don't draw any critical looks from folks.

Dressing Up for Work 

Many folks have to "dress up" for work. I've had those type of suit-and-tie required jobs in the past. You can be judged, and even fired, for not dressing the part. What to do? 

Just because you have to dress a certain way while at work, doesn't mean you have to dress that way when you're not working. I always kept a pair of hiking shoes in my car back when I had to wear wing tips at the office. I would drive home in those hiking shoes everyday. I even got to the point that I didn't mind wearing them with my suit when running in the store on my way home. I suggest keeping a change of shoes and clothes in your car or backpack if you have to dress up in impractical clothes for work. 

Ladies: If you have to wear dress shoes for work, do they really have to be high heels? Could you wear more practical, but still dressy, flats of some sort? Again, you should keep a change of shoes & clothes in your car or backpack, and change into them before going home. 

The Bottom Line: Modern, worldly society puts great emphasis on our appearance and the way we dress. We are told to "Dress for Success" or to "Dress to Impress" others. We need to get over those worldly attitudes, and to dress for more practical reasons.

*Actually, I have no idea when Fashion Week is, or even if there is such a thing. I just thought it was a good excuse for this article.
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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Advanced Urban Survival: Government Intrusiveness


There are several aspects of urban survival that are different from rural survival. In my Advanced Urban Survival article, I discussed challenges to survival created by population density and limited space availability. In this article, I discuss another important difference.

Government Intrusiveness 

A big problem for urban survivalists is government intrusiveness (as well as that of landlords and homeowners associations). No one has a moral right to prevent you from being self-reliant, practicing self-defense, or being prepared for an emergency. However, many politicians, bureaucrats, and other busybodies think they have that right, and in many urban areas they have given themselves the legal ability to do so. 

Local laws and regulations, taxes and fees, zoning restrictions, licensing and permitting procedures, homeowners association rules, and even difficult and intrusive landlords, can heavily impede your preparedness efforts.

You will have to be clever to work around the impediments they place in your way. Although I would never suggest anyone do anything illegal, there is a saying "Its easier to get forgiveness than permission." You have to obey the laws and rules whenever possible, but you don't have to sacrifice yourself to them. 

This may be where OPSEC comes in - what they don't know, they can't complain about. Don't make your prepper activities obvious. I've written a three part series on OPSEC (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) you might want to read. Besides, once the infrastructure breaks down post-SHTF, there will be no one in charge to tell you to take down that clothesline or to not have some "pet" chickens.  Or, if there is anyone in charge, they'll be too involved with real problems to deal with your outlaw garden.  

Choose your battles wisely. Don't make everything a contest of wills between you and the authorities. They have fixed the game so that you won't win.
 
https://amzn.to/2S5wQPS
Buddha Beads
If your city has banned guns, don't carry one. Instead, find other ways to defend yourself. Use situational awareness to avoid trouble. Use your local knowledge o avoid bad neighborhoods and dangerous areas. Be a gray man so that you don't stand out or make yourself a target. Take a class in non-lethal self-defense. Take up a martial art. Carry pepper-spray if it is legal. Consider carrying a tactical pen or a self-defense necklace (aka Buddha Beads). The authorities may be able to limit your options, but they cannot stop you from exercising self-defense. 

{Let me politely suggest this, even though it upsets some people: If you find where you live too restrictive and controlled, consider moving elsewhere. You don't have to move the the deep country if you don't want, but perhaps you can find a less restrictive city or even a small town to your living.}
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Egyptian Police Officer Murders Two Christian Men

Christians’ Confidence in Police Further Plunges Following Yet Another Attack

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on the evening of December 12, Egyptian police officer Rabi Mustapha Khalifa shot and killed Coptic Christian Emad Kmal Sadeq and his son David. The police officer was stationed as a security guard at the Nahded al-Qadasa Church in Minya City, Upper Egypt. He has since been detained in custody pending an investigation. At the time of writing, no charges are believed to have been filed.

The police have claimed that “the victims tried to take his (Mustapha’s) gun during a fight.” 

However, Christians familiar with the situation say that the incident was the outcome of a dispute that originated a few days prior. Video footage also further calls the police’s narrative into question.

According to Ezzat Ibrahim, manager of the al-Kalma Center for Human Rights, “On the day of the incident, the policeman extended the number of his work hours for the reason to kill the two Christians.”  

Two days before the incident, a dispute arose between the police officer and the Christians over the police officer’s motorbike. “The two Christians were demolishing their own home; they asked him to move his motorbike away from the dust and house. He refused to take his motorbike away and menaced them, saying, ‘If you don’t give me some pieces of wood, I’m going to shoot fire at your son!’” 

Video footage of the December 12 incident posted on social media shows that the police officer walked over to the Christians’ home with his weapon pulled. After what appears to be a brief conversation, the two Christian men were shot in the street. The father, Emad, was 49 years old and his son David was 21 years old.

The incident is reminiscent of an incident that took place in August, when a policeman tasked with guarding a church in Beni Suef attempted to incite violence against Christians during a service. Christians gathered yesterday in Minya to protest the latest incitement of violence encouraged by the police toward Christians.

One Minya Christian told ICC, “That’s [a] very horrible situation. Maybe the local media can consider the killer as psycho, then he will not be punished. Now, when I meet a policeman, I will not show him my ID… I’m sure that he intentionally killed them; I think he threatened them before.”
“A day before the incident, the killer had threatened them,” another Christian told ICC. “Their family is now ruined (homeless).” 

“I think that the police supported this killing of the two Copts. The two Christians were very widespread religious, so I think that this killing is intentional,” added another local Christian.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s annual report ranks Egypt as a Tier 2 country, where religious freedom continues to be regularly violated and suppressed.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “It is extremely worrying that a police officer, one specifically tasked with the security of a church, would be the perpetrator of such a violent act of persecution against Christians. Historically, the authorities are rarely held accountable for using their position to harass, intimidate, and even attack Christians. Tensions in Minya remain high as Christians are extremely concerned that they will be further singled out by the local authorities. We must keep Egypt’s Christians, and specifically the victims’ family, in our prayers.” 

----- 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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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/   

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Best Diet for Healing and Good Health

A news story I read earlier today caught my attention - Danish doctor warns: Vegan food may lead to mental retardation. This, of course, flies in the face of politically correct "conventional wisdom" which preaches a plant-based diet as the best diet for good health. Veganism - no meat or animal products whatsoever - is the most "pure" of plant-based diets, with vegetarianism - no meat, but eggs & dairy allowed - being seen as a somewhat acceptable compromise. Even the official healthy diet pushed by the USDA is plant-based, with grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans making up the bulk of the daily recommended intake of food, with relatively moderate amounts of dairy and meat. And we all know that fat = bad, so avoid fat at all costs.

This PC bit of conventional wisdom is wrong, in my opinion. It very much overemphasizes carbs at the expense of fats and proteins. Science proves that there are Essential (meaning necessary for life) Fats and Essential Proteins, but there are no essential carbohydrates. 

The best, healthiest, and most natural (for our biology) human diet is one high in fats (yes, fats - just avoid the man-made unhealthy trans-fats), moderate in protein, and low in carbs. And when you choose carbs, choose the ones that will have the highest impact: high in nutrients, fiber, and water. These high impact carbs include coniferous vegetables (such leafy-greens, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts), tomatoes, peppers, avocados, nuts, and berries. Of course, over-eating anything is bad for you, so watch those serving sizes.This is basically the advice of several diets, including Keto, Atkins, and Paleo. It is also has some similarities to several traditional diets (such as Mediterranean and Japanese) long-known as being very healthy.

My Experience

My own personal experience has convinced me of the benefits of the high fat, moderate protein, low carb way of eating. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 4 years ago with an A1C of 10.1 (which is extremely high). My blood sugar is now normal (5.6), and maintained without the use of insulin or medications (no, I don't take Metformin, or any other diabetes medication). How have I done this? I changed to a high fat/low carb diet, lost 25 pounds, and stay physically active. 

Even my after-meal blood sugar levels have evened-out. When I was first diagnosed, my after-meal blood sugar would spike to 350+ (dangerous). Now, my after-meal blood sugar usually remains below 140 (at both the 1- and 2-hour marks). 

These results weren't achieved overnight. It took about 2½ years, and I worked with a good doctor (not one who just parrots "conventional wisdom") who monitored my progress and A1C levels on a regular basis. And I monitored my blood sugar levels very closely as I discovered what foods and food combinations I could and couldn't eat.

Disclaimers: Of course, I am NOT a doctor.  I base this article solely on what I've read and personally experienced. Only a medical professional has the expertise to officially diagnose any disease or medical condition, and I strongly believe in having regular medical check-ups for early detection of potential health problems.
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Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Paradoxes of Survival

Have you ever noticed that there are several paradoxes within the ideas of the prepper and survivalist communities?

A paradox is defined as two contradictory statements that both derive from sound reasoning. In essence, both statements are apparently correct, even though they seem mutually exclusive. Within the prepper and survivalist communities, these paradoxes are often the source of much argument. In my opinion, our survival depends on successfully navigating these paradoxes.

Paradox:  "You need people/community" vs. "You're on your own/trust no one."

Many folks, including myself, tend to push the need for community during and after a major SHTF event. We point out that humans need rest, and that no one can work or be on guard duty 24/7, therefore we need others to give us rest. We also point out that a lone wolf, or even a lone family, will only have a limited set of skills to draw from, and that a larger community of folks will have a much greater range of skills and knowledge. 

Other folks point out that larger communities can have their share of problems, such as disputes over leadership and conflict between opposing personalities, opinions, and beliefs. They point out that the bigger the group, the greater the chance of not remaining unnoticed, and that a larger group size means a greater chance of problem individuals, which will jeopardize the group. They also point out that we cannot know how individuals will react under extreme pressure until they actually face it, and that desperate people do desperate things, no matter how "good" a person they may be under normal circumstances.

Actually, both sides are factually correct. They make equally valid points. There are both benefits and disadvantages to being a lone wolf (or lone family) and to being a part of a larger community. Navigating this paradox will require thought and effort before any SHTF events happens. No matter which way we choose to go, we need to be honest about its potential problems, and figure out ways to address those problems ahead of time.

Paradox:  "You need to be armed, trained, and wiling to defend yourself & family" vs. "Avoiding conflict is paramount to survival."

I commit this paradox all the time in my articles. I am a firm believer in being armed,  well-trained, and willing to defend yourself and your family. Yet, I also say that you should try to avoid potential conflict at all costs, that avoiding trouble is always the safest bet. 

This seems contradictory to some extent. One person may say "You want to avoid trouble, but you're running around with a gun and ready to use it? You're actually looking for trouble, and will probably find it." Another person may say "What? You're armed and know how to defend yourself, yet you don't want to? You're either naive or a coward." I've had people tell me both of those things. 

I navigate this seeming paradox by realizing that both sides are correct: that avoiding conflict when possible is always the best option, but having the ability and willingness to defend myself and my family when necessary is always prudent. I will not go out looking for trouble. Nor will I be "trigger-happy" in my eagerness to earn my macho-stripes. Yet I will not hesitate to lethally defend myself and my family if such a necessity is ever forced on me.

Paradox:  "Skills are the most important aspect of survival" vs. "You need stockpiles of food, gear, and other supplies."

Another seeming paradox in which both sides have valid points. The fact is, we need both skills and tools & supplies to survive any future chaos.  The best my to navigate this is to strive for balance in our preparations. It is not just about one or the other. We need both.

Paradox:  "You need to bug-out as soon as possible" vs. "Hunker-down in your current location for the best chance of survival." 

This is a big within the prepper and survivalist community: bug-out or hunker-down? Actually, we need to be prepared for both. Circumstances we dictate which we actually do. For most people in most circumstances, the best option will be to hunker-down and ride out the event in your current location unless and until it becomes ore dangerous to do so than it is to bug-out. But you also don't want to wait too long to bug-out, as the very act of bugging-out itself is dangerous and may become much more so depending on the event and circumstances. 

Navigating this paradox will require 1) preparing for both and 2) making decisions beforehand as to when and under what circumstances to bug-out.  Think through these issues now, before SHTF. A lot will depend on your individual circumstances, but you need to be prepared for both possibilities.

These are only four possible paradoxes within the prepper and survivalist community. What others can you think of, and how will you navigate them?
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