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 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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Saturday, December 15, 2018

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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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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/   

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Preparing for Big Tech Censorship

You realize by now that there is a building wave of censorship by Big Tech companies against viewpoints that they deem hateful or politically incorrect. Of course, they define what that might be, in any way they wish, which basically means any viewpoint other than a politically-correct progressive (leftist) point-of-view. Hold to traditional, conservative, libertarian, or populist views, and they have you in their cross-hairs.

I won't waste your time or mine trying to prove it to you. If you've been paying attention, you already know what's going on. Instead, I am going to give you three ideas of how to prepare for ever-increasing censorship by Big Tech.

First, get yourself am external (portable) hard drive as soon as possible. Make it a big one. They are relatively cheap. A basic plug-and-play (meaning ready and easy-to-use right out of the box, with no special software required) 1TB external hard drive is only about $50, with each additional TB running about $20 more. Mine is a Toshiba Canvio Basics. It works with Windows right out of the box, and can be easily reformatted to work with a Mac.

Now, connect it to your PC or laptop and start filling that up with your favorite content (videos, podcasts, articles, blog posts, news stories, etc.) that might get banned in the growing purge of free speech on the Internet. You are creating an off-line archive for yourself of the content you may want in the future, but might no longer be available. 

An added bonus of doing this is you can also back-up all your personal files onto the external hard drive. If you ever need to bug-out, just slip the hard drive into your bug-out bag. It is only about the size of a man's hand and weighs less than 6 ounces. 

Second, protect yourself from being censored by Big Tech. Don't cease being yourself, or proclaiming facts and truth, but don't give them an easy excuse for banning your social media accounts or deplatforming your blog, website, podcast, or video channel. This means NEVER make a threat of physical violence against any person, politician, journalist, celebrity, or group of people.  Not even in jest. Threats of physical violence are both illegal and against the terms of service of every Internet platform.  Also, avoid the use of certain "trigger" words like the N word or the F word. Most folks don't out of common decency, but there are a few folks who relish seeing how far they can push things. All you are really doing is giving them an easy excuse to ban you. 

Third, make back-up accounts and start using Alt Tech and Alt Media. Get a second Twitter account or a second Facebook account (or a second whatever) if you don't want to lose access to those platforms if your main account is ever restricted or banned. For example, I have a backup Twitter account (its @ShadowTLG) for when Twitter finally bans my main account, @TimGamble, which they've already restricted twice that I know of over this year. Avoid posting political or controversial content to your back-up account so it doesn't get banned at the same time. 

Alt Tech are the new tech companies that are rising up to challenge Big Tech. Examples: GAB is the Alt Tech alternative to Twitter. Minds is an Alt Tech alternative to Facebook. BitChute is an Alt Tech alternative to You Tube. There are many others. 

Be aware that Alt Tech has many problems of their own, ranging from technology issues, to financial issues, to public relations issues. Some of these companies will make it as viable alternatives to Big Tech. Others will simply disappear. Only time will tell which is which. 

Alt Media is the alternative to Corporate Media (aka Main Stream Media). There are simply too many to name, but check out Whatfinger News at https://www.whatfinger.com/ which is a great news aggregator site for Alt Media. You will find plenty of links to various Alt Media sources. Bookmark your favorites (including Whatfinger) and consider subscribing to their email lists so you can still find their content if they get deplatformed from social media.
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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Pastor and Five Evangelists Arrested for Preaching in Uganda


This news is a stark reminder that in many parts of the world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still illegal and can lead to imprisonment or even worse. 

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on Saturday, November 24, Pastor Tom Palapande and his team of five evangelists were arrested in eastern Uganda. Local Muslims reported to the Ugandan police that the Christians were using the Quran to undermine the prophet Mohammed and people of the Islamic faith.

“The Muslims came in the company of their Sheikhs and disrupted our open-air market preaching as the police watched. We were then arrested and taken to Soronko district police headquarters for questioning. We were charged with causing public disturbance and inciting violence, offenses [to which] we responded not guilty. The police locked us up from Saturday to Monday so as to investigate the matter,” Pastor Tom told ICC following his release.

He added,  “We were not causing any violence. We are evangelists known across eastern Uganda for…answering questions on Islam and Christianity. When the Sheikhs fail to answer questions, they usually turn their disappointment to us because we know how to handle the Quran and the Bible. We also hold public debates with them and they hate us because, through our ministry, many Muslims have converted to Christianity.” 

On Sunday, members of Pastor Tom’s church were praying for him and the other evangelists. “We missed church service for the first time this year. The church was praying for us, and on Monday we were released, but with conditions: not to hold and discuss the Quran,” Pastor Tom continued.

The arrest and resulting detention have not discouraged Pastor Tom from preaching the Gospel.  Pastor Tom stated, “We keep doing this because it is a command from our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas risked their lives for the name of Jesus; so do we. The danger will not keep us quiet because how shall they hear unless someone preaches to them?

This past June, Pastor Tom was attacked in a stoning while preaching in Kuwait, where the population is approximately 95% Muslim. As a result, he sustained an injury to his forehead. “The injury almost blinded me, but [I was saved] thanks to my small local church that contributed some little money for me to seek treatment,” the pastor remarked.

Pastor Tom concluded, “The biggest challenge is having evangelical churches and pastors partnering with us. Many pastors watch from a distance due to the threat of being killed or their churches burnt.”

Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “These kind of attacks on Christians in East Africa are becoming increasingly common. The Ugandan government must ensure that these men have the right to spread their message to anyone. The government must ensure that the rights of Christians are protected equally.”

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

Saturday, December 1, 2018

There's a Major Difference Between Being a Leader and Just a Boss

This article is a response of sorts to several articles I've read recently on leadership and survival. My concern is that those particular authors don't seem to understand the important difference between being a leader and being a boss. What they describe isn't actual leadership, but rather ways of establishing themselves as the boss of their survival group or post-SHTF community. 

First, let me say this: If you want to be your group's or community's leader, you should be a leader now. Not just in your eyes, but also in the eyes of those you lead. You will not magically turn into a leader once SHTF happens, no matter how you plan to exert your dominance. If folks don't already see you as a leader, you have a lot of work to do before you actually become one. The good news is that leadership skills can be developed. Start by understanding the difference between being a leader and just a boss. 

A leader and a boss have the same starting point. They both have a purpose, goal, or mission that they want to accomplish. They both set about accomplishing their mission by utilizing others. That is where the differences start.
 
A boss drives others by depending on his position (authority) to make them obey his orders. This is often accomplished through fear and intimidation. It is Do as I say or face repercussions. At work, the repercussion might be public chastisement, a bad evaluation, the withholding of a pay raise or promotion, or even being fired.. In a survival situation, the repercussions may range from public criticism  to being thrown out of the group. Worse are those who seem to want to maintain their "leadership" by showing favoritism to "good" followers and disfavor to "bad" followers. Establishing your dominance by withholding food & supplies from "bad" followers while doling out favors to your preferred followers will keep people in line. Sure...  More likely, it will cause resentment and an eventual uprising against your tyranny.  

By contrast, a real leader depends on the goodwill he generates in others to get them to join him in his mission.  He develops this goodwill by inspiring others with his example and generating enthusiasm in them for his vision. People follow a leader not out of fear of the consequences, but rather because of their respect for him and their belief in his vision. Rather than punishing "bad" followers, he works with others to develop them and to find the best way to use each individual. Even in large organizations like a multinational corporation or an army, the top leader does this to the next rung of leadership under him, who in turn develop the next rung of leaders, who in turn develop... and so on until even those at the very bottom are being developed and utilized according to their individual abilities. 

I once worked for a man who was a truly great  leader. He reluctantly had to fire someone not just because of their incompetence, but actual criminal activity on the job. It was how he handled the firing that demonstrated true leadership. The firing was a last resort after trying hard to help this individual. The day after he fired the person, he called the rest of the staff together and apologized to us for having to do so.  He accounted for it as his failure - first for hiring the wrong person, then for being unable to successfully develop him. He also took the opportunity to express his vision for the company, using words like "we" and "us" much more than words like "I" and "me."

A boss would never have apologized or taken the blame upon himself. Instead, most bosses would have used the fired worker as an example to the rest staff as to what could happen to "problem" employees. It is the Do as I say or face repercussions method of establishing their authority and dominance

In early 2017, I wrote a well-received article entitled How To Be a Survival Group Leader. If you are interested in this topic, please read (or reread) it. It goes into a lot of detail on how to be a good leader, as opposed to just a boss.
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