Sunday, July 27, 2014

Murders in the name of Allah

When is the mainstream media going to report on the persecution of Christians in other countries? When is the mainstream media going to report on what's happening with ISIS in Iraq?

Under Saddam Hussein there were said to be 60,000 Christians living in the city of Mosul. It was a Christian centre for something like 2,000 years. It was recently estimated that there were 25,000 Christians who had not fled.

A few weeks ago, ISIS, among the most bloodthirsty of Islamic jihadists, who had taken territory in Syria and Iraq, declared the territory a caliphate, with their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as caliph. Ten days ago, they gave the Christians in Mosul until noon the following Saturday to convert to Islam, pay the jizya - the tax for non-Muslims, said to have been set at an impossible 450 dollars a month - leave, or die.

The houses of the Christians who left became the property of the state. As they left, they were relieved of all their valuables and all their money. In some cases, their cars were taken too and they were made to walk.

Despite all, some are said to have decided to stay. I have been waiting for the mainstream media to report what had happened to them. It looks like I will have a long wait.

Walid Shoebat claims to have been a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation who was willing to die for the cause of jihad - though some deny his claim. He was converted to Christ about 1994.

He claims to have obtained videos of human slaughterhouses in Syria. They show executions of Christians and of Muslims who disagree with their Takhiri theology. Shoebat notes a prayer offered before the executions: "In defence of the Sunnis, O Lord. O Lord. we bring these offerings to you, O Lord. Please accept this sacrificial offering, O Lord. O Lord, accept this from us, accept this from us. In the name of Allah." The videos show severed heads neatly lined up against a wall, and headless corpses suspended by their feet.

You can read the story here, here and here.

Lord Alton initiated a debate in the House of Lords concerning international compliance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

You can read the debate here.
   

Friday, July 25, 2014

Evidence of the existence of God

Norman Geisler has written or co-written more than 70 books. He has spoken in every state in the US and in 25 other countries.

Once he was taking part in a public debate with an atheist. Geisler asked the atheist this question: "If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing at all?"

  The Bible says (in Psa 19:1) The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows his handiwork. The sun, moon and stars are His handiwork. He made them and put them in place.

●  If we are just animals, how come every man has a conscience and an innate awareness of right and wrong. Who put them there?

●  The Bible says (in Heb 11:1) that faith is the evidence of things not seen. It is evidence of things that exist, not things that don't exist. If what you have is evidence of things that don't exist, then what you have is not faith. Faith is God-given.

●  The way to God is Jesus. He said I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  He also said The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out. If you want to know the truth, why not ask Him to reveal Himself to you? If you are serious, He will do it. If it's not true, nothing will happen. What have you got to lose?
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'Expose the madness and speak the truth'

Just before Israel began their ground offensive in Gaza, their forces spotted a group of heavily armed Hamas terrorists emerging from an underground tunnel into Israeli territory, evidently heading towards an Israeli village. The tunnel was part of an extensive network.

"I can't imagine anything more terrifying," said one Israeli. "They're armed with machine guns, anti-tank missiles, grenades and a few thousand rounds of ammunition, tranquillisers and handcuffs and they're coming for you and they're coming for your  children. . ."

To find and destroy the tunnels, the Israelis say, was why the ground offensive became necessary.

Not that the Israelis are having it all their own way. With 29 soldiers killed and international airlines cancelling flights to Tel Aviv airport because a Hamas rocket landed a distance away, they are having a big price to pay.

Why do rockets continue to fall into Israel? The Washington Post doubtless has the truth.

"So far Hamas's campaign against Israel has been a dismal failure. Thanks in part to Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, some 1,200 rockets fired at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities have caused only one Israeli death and a few other casualties. Attempted commando attacks via the sea and a tunnel were stopped short, and a drone that ventured into Israel was quickly shot down. . .

"Why would Hamas insist on continuing the fight when it is faring so poorly? The only plausible answer is stomach-turning: The Islamic movement calculates that it can win the concessions it has yet to obtain from Israel and Egypt not by striking Israel but by perpetuating the killing of its own people in Israeli counterattacks. . . Hamas probably calculates that more deaths will prompt Western governments to pressure Israel to grant Hamas's demands."

US columnist Charles Krauthammer says while Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians, Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

The whole point of Hamas's rockets, he says, is to draw Israeli counterfire.

"This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.

"It's to the Israelis' credit that amid all this madness [the depravity of Hamas, the world's treatment of Israel and the UN's incessant condemnations] they haven't lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear."
   

Monday, July 21, 2014

Antisemites have a field day

Antisemitic attacks are on the rise through Europe. Synagogues have been attacked in France. And tens of thousands spewing antisemitic nonsense and carrying placards with such messages as "Well done Israel. Hitler would have been proud" marched across central London to take their slogans to the Israeli Embassy on Saturday. Because Israel have entered Gaza.

Hamas have been firing rockets into Israel for months. They have ignored every plea for a ceasefire. They continue to fire rockets in quantities. Israel has installed bomb shelters. Israeli civilians have 15 seconds to gain shelter after the alarm sounds. Faced by the provocation, Israel began to respond.

There are no bomb shelters in Gaza. Hamas have placed their rocket launchers in built-up areas. They use women and children as human shields. They tell people to ignore Israeli warnings to evacuate targets, made by leaflet, telephone. text and pre-strike explosions.

Hamas know they cannot defeat Israel militarily. The more Palestinian casualties there are, the more they can expect international sympathy.

As evidenced by the rally in London at the weekend.

Writes Douglas Murray at the Spectator: "Thousands of anti-Semites have today succeeded in bringing central London to an almost total standstill. . .

"These are the people who stayed at home throughout the Syrian civil war, stayed at home when ISIS rampaged across Iraq, stayed at home when Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab carried out their atrocities across central Africa and showed no concern whatever when the Muslim Brotherhood was running Egypt into the ground. Yet they pretend to care about Muslims

"And here they all are, coming out to scream because Israel is carrying out the most specific and targeted campaign in the history of warfare in order to stop Hamas - a group dedicated to the annihilation of all Jews - from firing thousands of rockets into the Jewish homeland."

The rally was evidently organised by the Stop the War Coalition, whose website sports headlines like "Israel's invasion is a pre-planned atrocity that makes a mockery of ceasefire 'offers'" and "Western powers that arm Israel are complicit in its war crimes against Palestinians."

Evident too have been the media's double standards in dealing with Israelis and Palestinians. Last week two Israeli missiles exploded on a Gaza beach, killing four Palestinian children. (That was a tragedy, whichever way you look at it.) It was cringe-making watching the ITV correspondent putting the Israel Defence Forces spokesman through the third degree.

The IDF spokesman kept his cool. "The matter is being investigated. I can't say yet what is the cause. The Israeli military does not target civilians," he said.

Hamas rockets have been targeting civilians - men, women and children - for months. About that, nary a word.
       

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The debate goes on

After almost 10 hours of impassioned debate, Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying bill passed its second reading in the House of Lords without a vote, which enables it to have further consideration by a full committee of the House. Assisted suicide, of course, is still not legal. It would need a further debate and a successful vote, and would then need to go to the House of Commons.

More than 20 faith leaders - Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, United Reform, Pentecostal, Baptist, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh and Zoroastrian - signed an open letter against assisted suicide.

"Vulnerable individuals," they said, "must be cared for and protected even if this calls for sacrifice on the part of others. Each year many thousands of elderly and vulnerable people suffer abuse, sadly, often at the hands of their families or carers. 

"Being perceived as a burden or as a financial drain is a terrible affliction to bear, leading in many cases to passivity, depression and self-loathing. The desire to end one's ;life may, at any stage of life, be prompted by depression or external pressure; any suggestion of a presumption that such a decision is 'rational' does not do justice to the facts. 

"The Assisted Dying Bill can only add to the pressures that many vulnerable, terminally ill people will feel, placing them at increased risk of distress and coercion at a time when they most need love and support."

The Bible forbids the taking of innocent human life. The majority of doctors are opposed to assisted suicide. The majority of organisations supporting the disabled are against it.

The pro-euthanasia lobby has made progress with talk of "compassion," "ending suffering" and."freedom of choice." We are living in a society which is increasingly less motivated by the facts, even where they recognise they exist, and increasingly influenced by feelings. Therein lies the danger.
  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

'Keep assisted suicide illegal' - dying cleric

A plea from a dying clergyman for assisted suicide to remain illegal has been sent to every member of the House of Lords by the Church of England in an attempt to prevent a change in the law.

Lord Falconer's bill on assisted dying is expected to be voted on at its second reading in the House of Lords on Friday.

The Rev Christopher Jones, former chaplain of St Peter's College, Oxford, and a tutor in doctrine at Cranmer House, Durham, wrote of his experience when he was dying of cancer. He died in 2012.

He said he experienced intense stress and a sense of hopelessness when he realised his condition was terminal, and might have been open to ending his life by legal means, had they existed. Since then, he had experienced renewed energy and vitality "beyond anything I could have expected, and I am enjoying life in this period of 'remission.'

"The legal prohibition of this course was immensely helpful in removing it as a live option, thus constraining me to respond to my situation more creatively and hopefully. . . I now know that had I taken this course, I would have been denied the unexpected and joyful experience of being 'recalled to life' as I now am."

There was great danger in giving decisive significance to a sick patient's judgment that their life was no longer worth living as their feelings could change drastically in a short space of time.

Lord Falconer's bill would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs for terminally ill people who were expected to die within six months. He says there have been more than 200 new appointments to the House of Lords since the matter was last debated five years ago, and he believes a majority of peers now support a change in the law.

Baroness Jane Campbell, the disability rights campaigner who is herself disabled, will be fighting the bill. "Assisted dying is to abandon hope and ignore the majority of disabled and terminally ill," she said.

Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who is also wheelchair bound, said: "An assisted dying law is playing with fire, especially when there are no safeguards in place. Lord Falconer's bill just isn't fit for purpose."
   

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A modern day miracle

Israel is a small sliver of land in the Middle East.

Arabs have 20 nations surrounding Israel. They are Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen. Djibouti, Somalia, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania. Their lands together are 650 times the area of Israel and their combined populations something like 50 times that of Israel.

The Jews have just one nation - Israel.

The Arabs have a hatred of Israel. They have tried to destroy her in four major wars, without success. The Palestinians could have been absorbed in any of the Arab nations. They could have had a state on Israeli land several times over, had they wished. But they want to see Israel destroyed.

Almost a thousand rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel in the past week. Rockets have been aimed at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and the nuclear facility at Dimona, apparently (surprisingly to some people) without fatal injury. Hamas have said they were ready to continue firing rockets for weeks, even months.

Israel have carried out a bombardment of Hamas in Gaza. They have said they will continue as long as rockets fall on Israeli civilians (while taking the opportunity to destroy the Hamas leadership).

A cease fire was reported last night, starting at seven o'clock this morning. Will it hold? It's too early to say. For how long will it hold? I don't know.

One thing is certain. While other nations come and go, Israel will still be there. The land of Israel was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for an everlasting possession, and the promise confirmed to their descendants.

Israel was called to be a nation of priests, and a light to the Gentiles. She has not yet fulfilled her destiny. She has suffered much, but her journey is not yet over.

 The God of Israel is a God of promise. His word will yet be fulfilled.
     

Monday, July 14, 2014

How to get to heaven

The second chapter of Ephesians explains how to get to heaven.

Once, it says, we were all sinners, full of trespasses and sins; children of disobedience, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind; by nature children of wrath. Despite what we think, nothing to commend us at all. But God so loved us that He sent His Son to die to pay the price for our salvation.

There's nothing we can do to earn it, or make ourselves fit to receive it. Because Jesus paid the price in full, there's nothing that we can add. It's a gift. It's the product of grace - God's undeserved favour. It's received simply through faith. We need to believe it and receive it. Until we do, we don't have it.

When we come to Christ, a divine exchange takes place. He takes our sin, and gives us His righteousness. We are His workmanship, Ephesians says, created in Christ Jesus for good works.

But didn't we say there was nothing we could do? Ah, nothing we could do to add to the price He paid for our salvation. After we receive Him we will do good works. Good works are the proof of our faith.

Here's something beautiful. It says we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. God doesn't just leave us hanging. He has a place for us in His kingdom. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. There is something that only you can do, and a gift of grace for you to enable you to do it.

So how shall we know what it is that God has for us to do? William MacDonald says that in order to find out the good works that God has planned for our individual lives, we should

1. Confess and forsake sin as soon as we are conscious of it in our lives;

2. Be continually and unconditionally yielded to Him;

3. Study the word of God to discern His will, and then do whatever He tells us to do;

4. Spend time in prayer each day;

5. Seize opportunities of service as they arise;

6. Cultivate the fellowship and counsel of other Christians.

How are we doing?
   

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Voting on your 'right to die'

The BMJ's coming out in favour of legalising assisted suicide has sparked a storm. (I do not apologise for a second blog post on such a serious matter.)

Wrote Cristina Odone: "The medical profession is supposed to take in the tired, the poor, the huddled masses vulnerable to disease and dying - to care for them, not kill them off. . . Whatever happened to care, compassion and the 'do no harm' principles once embedded in good clinical practice?"

A considerable number of medical practitioners cared sufficiently to voice an opinion. One said legislation would corrupt the profession and hurt public trust. "Instead of killing patients, why not try talking to them?"

Another pointed out the UK had abolished the death penalty. "Make no mistake: the Falconer bill will reinstate the death penalty for those who do not think their lives are worth living."

"Once 'assisted suicide' is legal," wrote a third, "it is in order to persuade people to have themselves killed."

Said yet another: "I do not object to the statement that 'People should be able to exercise choice over their lives,' but I fail to understand why doctors and nurses who are devoted to saving and preserving life should do the work for them. Hospitals are places for saving lives and not for killing oneself."

I will leave the last comment to Cranmer: "Death is not simply a divine distalgesic. It is the passing of the soul to judgment and into eternity. . . This is about 'rights' and 'choice' and 'compassion' and 'dignity in dying,' because leaving it all to God is a manifest denial of rights and choice, totally lacking in compassion and devoid of any dignity whatsoever. Death can be painful and messy, so let's make it quick and clinical. . . 

"The anxieties and traumas of life are not pointless, nor is the morphine in our dying. It adds to our human experience, and witnesses to our divine purpose and profound meaning."

There are a considerable number of new members of the House of Lords, and some of them will be voting on the issue for the first time. Will you write to one or two of them and ask them not to change the law? You can find their names and addresses here.

There are now 10 days to the proposed vote.
      

Monday, July 07, 2014

The BMJ steps out of line

One of the world's most prestigious medical journals, the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) has come out in favour of legalising assisted suicide.

The publication - which claims to advance healthcare worldwide by sharing knowledge and expertise  - says "Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill is expected to receive its second reading in the House of Lords this month. The BMJ hopes that this bill will eventually become law. . . let us hope that our timid lawmakers will rise to the challenge."

But how can something that has been wrong for centuries suddenly become right?

The BMJ's editors claim there are few dangers in legalisation (despite the well-publicised and well-justified fears of organisations supporting the disabled). They base their argument on patient autonomy:

"People should be able to exercise choice over their lives, which should include how and when they die, when death is imminent. In recent decades, respect for autonomy has emerged as the cardinal principle in medical ethics and underpins developments in informed consent, patient confidentiality, and advanced directives. Recognition of an individual's right to determine his or her best interests lies at the heart of efforts to advance patient partnership. It would be perverse to suspend our advocacy at the moment a patient's days are numbered."

So respecting choice is now more important than preserving life?

A strong influence in forming their argument is the experience of Oregon, in the USA, where assisted suicide is legal, and in their view, unproblematical. Based on figures from Oregon, they say legislation would hardly affect the lives of British doctors:

"Each year about one patient per general practice of 9,300 patients would discuss the issue of assisted dying; each general practice would issue one prescription for life-ending medication every five or six years, and every eight to nine years one patient per general practice would take life-ending medication."

Are they sure?

In Oregon in 1998 there were 34 prescriptions written and 16 assisted suicide deaths. By 2012 numbers had risen to 116 prescriptions and 82 deaths. That's a 380 per cent increase in prescriptions and a 430 per cent increase in deaths by assisted suicide.

The BMJ's publishers, the British Medical Association, immediately disassociated itself from the BMJ editorial. Said Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the BMA council: "There are strongly held views within the medical profession on both sides of this complex and emotive issue. The BMA remains firmly opposed to legalising assisted dying.. . Recent calls for a change in the law have persistently been rejected."

Said Dr Peter Saunders, of Care Not Killing: "About two-thirds of doctors in recent surveys are opposed to any change in the law along with all the major medical institutions including the BMA, RCGP, British Geriatrics Society and the Association for Palliative Medicine.

"In a free society choice is important, but it has its limits. The duty to protect life trumps the so-called 'right to die.'"
 
There are 11 days to the proposed vote in the House of Lords.

   

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Time to pray?

Civil war in Syria has decimated the Christian population. In Aleppo, where Christians once numbered around 450,000, only about 180,000 remain. Homs once had a Christian population of 60,000. Now only a few dozen are left.

ISIS, the extremist Muslim group which has taken territory in Syria and Iraq, has declared it a caliphate. It claims its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is caliph and the only legitimate successor to Mohammed. Rape, torture, crucifixions and beheadings are reportedly being carried out against opponents there. Al Qaeda is said to have cut all ties with ISIS because of its "notorious intractability" and wanton brutality.

Large numbers of Christians have been killed in northern Nigeria by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Of girls, mainly Christians, kidnapped from a school, 219 are still missing. Boko Haram have since kidnapped more than 60 more women and girls. Four villagers who tried to escape were shot dead. Gunmen burned churches and attacked villages in north-eastern Nigeria on Sunday, leaving at least 50 dead.

Thousands of Christians have been killed in the Central African Republic by the Seleka, an Islamist militia. Christians are being killed during political unrest in Egypt.

Three more Christians were sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy. No death sentences for blasphemy have been carried out there, but 52 people involved in blasphemy cases have been killed by vigilantes.

Twenty years ago, there were about 1.1 billion Muslims. Today their number is estimated at 2.1 billion. Efforts to reach them have increased tenfold. Needless to say, not all Muslims are extremists.

This week is the first week of Ramadan,  the month-long festival where Muslims fast during daylight hours, seeking forgiveness and cleansing of their souls. The 30-Days Prayer Network organises prayer for the Muslim world each day during the month. It publishes prayer booklets in 39 languages.

You can get involved here.
   

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

'A day of national mourning'

The Israeli cabinet appears to be finding it difficult to decide how to respond to the murder of the three Israeli teens kidnapped as they hitchhiked home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas is responsible. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said "Netanyahu should know that threats don't scare Hamas, and if he wages a war on Gaza, the gates of hell will open on him." But Israel knows that if Israel does not retaliate, it will be open day for terrorists to kill Israeli civilians.

An emergency meeting of the cabinet on Monday, shortly after the bodies were discovered, ended without a firm decision. A second meeting was convened last night.

Israel named two Palestinians alleged to have been involved. Both have been missing from their homes since the night of the kidnap. Both have previously been imprisoned for terrorist offences. Others are believed to have been involved with them.

Some 16,000 Israeli soldiers were employed to search for the teens, Gilad Shaar (16), Naftali Frenkel (16) and Gaal Yifrach (19). Early on Monday evening, 18 days after they disappeared, soldiers and some civilians were searching on land near Hebron when one of them noticed a bush. half green and half brown, which appeared to have been uprooted. Underneath was a pile of rocks. He moved the rocks and discovered the bodies. They had apparently been shot in the car shortly after being abducted.

More than 50,000 people, including the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the Israeli Prime Minister, attended the funeral of the three youths in Modi'in yesterday.

"Today became a day of national mourning," said Mr Netanyahu. Of the kidnappers, he promised: "We won't stop until we reach every last one of them. We will reach everyone, even if it takes time."
 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Anger, hatred. . . and forgiveness

You may remember the photograph of a young girl running naked down a road in Vietnam, screaming. You may have heard that she later became a UNESCO goodwill ambassador. But have you, I wonder, heard the rest of her story.

Kim Phuc was sheltering with others in a temple in her village near Saigon during the Vietnam War. She was nine years old. A South Vietnamese soldier heard approaching aircraft and advised them to run. A South Vietnamese pilot saw them leaving the temple, mistook them for the enemy, and dropped napalm bombs.

Kim Phuc tore off her blazing clothes. She ran until she couldn't run any more, and then passed out. At hospital, they weren't going to treat her, because they didn't expect her to survive. They were eventually persuaded. She was in hospital 14 months, and had 17 surgical procedures.

She began to study to be a doctor, but the government took her from university because they wanted to use her for propaganda purposes. She was eventually given permission to study in Cuba, where she met another Vietnamese student. They married, and en route to Moscow for their honeymoon, left the plane while it stopped to refuel in Newfoundland and applied for political asylum in Canada, where they now live.

Kim Phuc established a foundation to provide medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war, and travels the world speaking of her experiences. She has received honorary doctorates from three universities. Here's how she describes her life:

The anger inside me was like a hatred as high as a mountain. I hated my life. I hated all people who were normal because I was not normal. I really wanted to die many times.

I spent my daytime in the library to read a lot of religious books to find a purpose for my life. One of the books that I read was the Holy Bible.

At Christmas 1982, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. It was an amazing turning point in my life. God helped me to learn to forgive - the most difficult of all lessons. It didn't happen in a day and it wasn't easy. But I finally got it.

Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed.

Napalm is very powerful but faith, forgiveness and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone would learn to live with true love, hope and forgiveness.

If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself. Can you? 
    

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Meriam's case 'the tip of an iceberg'

The case of Meriam Ibrahim, the mother of two young children sentenced to death in Sudan because she is a Christian and her father was a Muslim, is only the tip of a very big and ugly iceberg. The overwhelming majority of people in the West remain woefully ignorant of the sufferings of non-Muslims under Islam.

So says Raymond Ibrahim, journalist and author, here.

(Meriam, who had her convictions overturned on appeal after an international outcry and was set free on Monday, was re-arrested at Khartoum Airport on Tuesday.)

Ibrahim quotes the cases of a number of Christians set free from the condemned cell after international protest, like pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, freed after three years under sentence of death in Iran, Abdul Rahman, freed from the death cell in Afghanistan, and 14-year-old Rimsha Masih, freed from sentence of death in Pakistan.

Rahman was released under the pretext that he was mentally retarded, although most sources indicated he was quite sane, and Masih was portrayed as mentally retarded prior to her release. This, says Ibrahim, is because Islamic law says the insane are not responsible for their actions.

The point is that these cases were reported by the mainstream media, and the resulting international outrage made these Christians too much of a liability to punish as sharia requires. But thanks to the mainstream media's general indifference, there are countless more Christian "blasphemers" and "apostates" rotting on death row in all three countries, not to mention all around the Islamic world, whose cases are not reported on. 

If the mainstream media reported more on the sufferings of Christians under Islam, says Ibrahim, their lot would likely improve.
   

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The life and death story of Melanie Pritchard

When Melanie Pritchard was pregnant, she chose a pro-life hospital to go into to have her baby. That decision was a very important one.

While in hospital preparing for the birth, she signalled to a nurse that something was wrong. She felt she was going to pass out. Suddenly, she slumped to one side. Her husband, who was standing at the foot of the bed, saw her heart rate and blood pressure turn to zero on her monitors. Her skin turned blue. She was not breathing and had no heart rate. She had suffered a cardiac arrest  and was clinically dead.

She was rushed to the operating theatre. Her husband prayed: "God, I know this is more than I can handle, which means You have a plan and a purpose in this, and I trust You; but please, if it be Your will, allow me to hold my wife again." He had never felt more helpless and afraid in his life.

After the baby was delivered by caesarean section, doctors fought for an hour and a half to resuscitate the mother. She had been without oxygen or a pulse for approximately 10 minutes. After repeated use of a defibrillator and using CPR, they got a faint heartbeat.

Her husband went to see their new baby, not knowing whether his wife was alive or dead. As he wiped the tears from his eyes, a nurse asked him the baby's name. "Gabriella," he said, "heroine of God."

Family and friends arrived at the hospital and began to pray. They e-mailed, texted and tweeted people they knew and people they didn't to ask them to pray. A doctor said Melanie had probably had an amniotic fluid embolism, which was usually fatal. He did not expect her to survive and asked the family to say their goodbyes.

During the caesarean, doctors had accidentally cut an artery. They found five litres of fluid in her abdomen, and had to stuff the abdomen with towels to compress the bleeding. They had to leave the abdomen open, with the increased risk of infection. Melanie had two blood transfusions, and was going into DIC, a condition of erratic blood clotting.

Her heart was barely beating. Her lungs had failed, and a respirator was breathing for her. If she did survive, doctors thought she would be brain damaged. She was transferred, in an extremely critical condition, to another hospital which had an ECMO machine, which provides both blood flow and breathing.

She survived an operation to stitch up her abdomen. Then in the next 24 hours, she was weaned off all medication, except pain medication. She was breathing on her own.

Says Melanie: "Words cannot express my gratitude for the multitude of prayers that covered me throughout this traumatic event. I am happy to say the prayers worked! Thanks to the hands of doctors, nurses, many blood donors, and an ever-merciful God, Gabriella and I are alive and well and I have made a full recovery.

"It has been almost four years, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank the Lord for allowing me to survive something very few live to talk about. . . God has the power to take us from the depths of darkness, even the darkness of death, and bring us into the light, and for that, I praise Him!"

You can read the full story here.
  

Friday, June 20, 2014

'Bring back our boys' - Israel

Eight days ago, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped as they hitchhiked home from their yeshiva. Minutes later, a police number received a two-minute call from one of them, who whispered "We've been kidnapped." The number receives a large number of hoax calls, and the call was not taken seriously until four hours later, when the parents of one of the boys reported he had not arrived home. A car believed to have been used in the kidnap was later found burnt out.

Tens of thousands gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to pray for the teenagers, Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Shaar (16), and Eyal Yifrach (19), and prayer rallies were organised across the nation and in Jewish communities abroad.

Thousands of soldiers manned checkpoints and carried out house-to-house searches in Hebron and surrounding villages, and later farther afield. Many Palestinians were arrested who were among the 1,027 prisoners released in 2011 in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier abducted five years earlier.

An Israeli Defence Forces spokesman said security forces had foiled 64 abductions since the beginning of 2013, most affiliated with Hamas, the terrorist organisation which controls Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas was behind the kidnap. Hamas denied the charge, Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would co-operate with Israel in an attempt to find the youths. Mr Netanyahu said he would hold Mr Abbas accountable, since the abductors came from territory under Palestinian Authority control. 

"Terrorists abduct innocent Israeli children, while we save the lives of ill Palestinian children in our hospitals. That is the difference between our humanitarian policy and the murderous terrorism that is attacking us."

By coincidence, on the day the youths were kidnapped, Mr Abbas' wife Amina was admitted to the Assute Medical Centre in Tel Aviv for surgery on her leg. She was discharged on Sunday.

The search goes on.
.     

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Scotland Yard apologises to pro-lifers

Scotland Yard has apologised for using a draconian "riot law" to prevent a prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic.

A small group from Good Counsel Network, a Roman Catholic organisation, hand out leaflets outside a British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic in Twickenham. Police used strongly-worded Section 14 Public Order Act notices, commonly used to disperse rioters and football hooligans, and forced them to continue their vigil across the road, where they could not speak to women attending the clinic.

Justyna Pasek said she felt like a criminal. "We pray and hand out leaflets," she said. "We speak to women who want to speak to us. We don't chase after women, we don't stop anyone going into the clinic, and we never block the gates.

"The officers were aggressive and I felt harassed and mistreated. I thought this was a free country, but this reminds me of the Communist rule I used to live under in Poland."

A police spokesman said: "We now acknowledge that the implementation of Section 14 notices was incorrect. The Metropolitan Police service respects the right to lawful assembly and freedom of speech. But we will respect the rights of others not to be intimidated."

"It is bitterly ironic," said Christian Medical Fellowship chief executive officer Peter Saunders, "at a time when doctors involved in sex-selection abortions or illegal pre-signing are not being prosecuted, that police are instead misusing the law to intimidate peaceful protesters.


"It is a reminder that police can themselves be affected by societal prejudice in their judgments and of how commonplace abortion has become.

"It seems not to matter what the law says. Whilst those who blatantly disregard the Abortion Act get off scot free, those who protest risk police intimidation and arrest."
  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The shambles that is Britain's abortion industry

The Department of Health has published abortion figures for 2013. There were 202,577 abortions in Great Britain; 190,800 in England and Wales and 11,777 in Scotland.

Of 185,331 abortions in England and Wales on England and Wales residents, 98 per cent were funded by the NHS. Abortions using abortion pills, as opposed to surgical abortions, were up at 49 per cent of the total. Thirty-seven per cent of the women had had at least one previous abortion; 49 women had had eight previous abortions or more. Legal abortions in Britain have now topped eight million.

But the Department of Health figures, it turns out, cannot be relied on. The reason is bad record-keeping by abortion doctors.

Here is how the discrepancies were revealed. The National Down's Syndrome Cytogenetic Register is notified by hospitals each time a Down's syndrome diagnosis is made, and researchers follow each case to abortion or birth. The register showed 994 babies aborted because of possible Down's syndrome in 2012. Some were over 24 weeks.

Abortion doctors are required by law to report each abortion to the Department of Health with reasons for the abortion. Department of Health figures showed only 496 abortions for the condition. In some cases, other reasons were given for termination. The remaining records are missing.

In 2011, of 937 Down's syndrome abortions, only 410 could be matched by DoH records.

Are the offending doctors to be pursued with a view to prosecution? Evidently not. The DoH says simply "The Department of Health asked the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to consider the possible reasons for under-reporting of abortions on the grounds of fetal abnormality and make recommendations for improvement. . . The Department of Health will work closely with RCOG and other organisations in implementing the recommendations where possible."

Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton, said it was clear that doctors had breached the law. "Worryingly, the department appears to have made no attempt to see the law is properly enforced. We now know that nearly half of abortions for Down's syndrome were incorrectly recorded. How many doctors were referred for investigation? None."

Ms Bruce led an independent parliamentary inquiry into abortion on grounds of disability, a particular concern of hers.

"Abortion for foetal abnormality is something society would rather not face. But every single day at least eight babies have their lives prematurely ended because they happen to be disabled," she says. "This kind of practice does not belong to the 21st century. Disabled people are equal and we should not have special laws to prevent them from being born."
       

Friday, June 13, 2014

Will Christians please take some notice?

"Remember the prisoners as if chained with them, and those who are mistreated, since you yourselves are in the body also. . ." (Heb 13:3).

For long enough, churches have been bombed and burned to the ground in Nigeria. Thousands of homes have been torched, and thousands of Christians shot down. For many, it seemed like the world didn't care. Finally, the kidnapping of more than 200 young girls has captured the West's imagination.

For many years, persecution of Christians in Sudan has been brutal. A countless number have been bombed and butchered. Christians have been found literally crucified. Finally, Meriam Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Christian woman with two very young children, sentenced to death after a family dispute and shackled to a prison wall, has captured the world's attention.

For three years, Syria has been blown apart in one of the fiercest battles in memory. Thousands have lost their homes and their possessions and fled the country. Islamic fighters, with military jihad as their motivation and acknowledging allegiance only to Allah, have now spread into Iraq, taking the cities of Mosul and Tikrit and reportedly surrounding the country's largest oil refinery.

 They belong to a group named ISIS, said to be more ruthless than al Qaeda. Their beheadings and crucifixions are well known. They have assassinated adults and  children, their bodies left lying in their homes and in the streets by the hundred. Thousands, including children, have fled for their lives, and are without food and water. Kurds are blocking refugees from entering Kurdistan. Some refugees find themselves in towns now surrounded, and are facing death.

What the ,mainstream media perhaps does not make clear is that Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, is the site of ancient Nineveh, and has been one of the last resorts for Christians in Iraq. It has been a Christian centre for the past 2,000 years. Most of the Christians there are probably now among the 150,000 escapees, fleeing they don't know where, but afraid for their lives.

"Please help us" are the cries coming out of Iraq at the moment. May they be heard.

"As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Gal 6:10).
    

Monday, June 09, 2014

'Mutating virus' of militant Islam

The predominantly Christian area of Gwoza in Borno state in northern Nigeria is under seige. Suspected Boko Haram militants have burned more than 1,000 homes to ashes; one source said more than 300 people had been killed.

In one village, militants told villagers to gather to hear them preach. When they gathered, they opened fire. More than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls are still held.

Church leaders gathered in London at the weekend for an emergency conference on the crisis. Pastor Ade Omooba, co-founder of Christian Concern, warned that militant Islamism is a virus in the atmosphere which mutates, affecting people in Britain as well as abroad.

"I want to emphasise that what we are seeing playing out in Nigeria is part of a much wider threat to the free world from a militant form of Islam that seeks to destroy Christianity and freedom of expression.

"Nations are sleepwalking if they think they are free from a faraway threat of Islamic ideologues. These people are out to destroy the freedoms that Christian democracies have provided - freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom to follow beliefs without fear of persecution, torture, rape and death.

"Militant Islamism will destroy the lives of those who join it, as well as the lives of their families and communities. Just look at the mutations of this radical Islamist virus - across the world we have al Qaeda, al Shabab, the Army of Islam, Hezbollah, Harak al Mujahadeen and Boko Haram. They are all part of a worldwide ideology, which is bent on imposing a sharia regime in every land."

You have been warned.
   

Friday, June 06, 2014

Preparing for revival

Many must have prayed for revival in Wales. Evan Roberts prayed for countless hours, but with no evident response. "I prayed and prayed," he said, "but nothing seemed to give me relief." Then one night, he was wakened at one o'clock in the morning.

"I found myself with unspeakable joy and awe in the very presence of the Almighty God. For the space of four hours I was privileged to speak face to face with Him as a man speaks face to face with a friend. At five o'clock it seemed to me as if I had again returned to earth.

"Every morning for three or four months always I enjoyed four hours of that wonderful communion with God. I cannot describe it. I felt it and it seemed to change all my nature. I saw things in a different light, and I knew God was going to work in this land, and not in this land only, but in all the world."

He had a crisis experience with the Holy Spirit during a meeting in the chapel at Blaenannerch. "I felt a living force come into my bosom. It held my breath and my legs shivered. . . The living force grew and grew. I was almost bursting. . . What bothered me was God commending His love.

"I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me, and the tears of perspiration flowed freely. I thought blood was gushing forth. . . For about two minutes it was fearful. I cried 'Bend me. Bend me. Bend us' . . . What bent me was God commending His love and I not seeing anything in me to commend.

"After I was bent a wave of peace came over me. . .  As they sang, I thought of the bending at the Judgment Day, and I was filled with compassion for those who would be bent on that day, and I wept."

Evan Roberts was a changed man. He wrote to a friend: "I have received three great blessings. First, I have lost all nervousness. Second, I can sing all day long. Some physical impediment obstructed me before. And third, I have gone as hard as flint. Thanks be to God, what an easy thing it is to thank now."

He asked his friend Sidney Evans: "Do you think it is too much to ask God to give one hundred thousand in Wales?"

It was not presumption. So many people were converted in the months of revival.
      

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Four conditions for revival

It is said that Evan Roberts prayed for 11 years that revival would come to Wales. When he was 26 and had been for two months in Newcastle Emlyn preparing for the ministry, the former coal miner went to see the principal.

"Mr Phillips," he said, "I can't concentrate on my studies. A voice keeps telling me I must go home to speak to the young people. Is that the voice of the Spirit or the voice of the devil?" The principal was wise enough to recognise the call. "You can have a week off," he said.

When he arrived home, his parents were surprised. "Why aren't you at your studies? Have you been sent down? Are you in trouble?" "No," he said. "I've come home to speak to the young people." "What young people?" "The young people in the church." "We were in church yesterday, and we didn't hear an announcement." "No, the minister doesn't know yet."

He spoke to the minister, who suggested the Monday evening prayer meeting. The minister told the meeting: "Evan Roberts believes he has a message for you. Those of you who want to hear it can stay behind after the meeting." Seventeen people stayed behind.

Said Roberts: "I have a message for you from God. First, you must confess any known sin to God, and put any wrong to man right. Second, you must put away any doubtful habit. Third, you must obey the Spirit promptly. Fourth, you must confess Christ publicly." Sixteen people responded.

The minister asked Roberts to speak again on Tuesday evening, on Wednesday evening, on Thursday evening. . .  Finally, he said "If I can make it right with the principal, will you stay and speak for another week?" Roberts stayed for another week. Then the dam broke. Revival came.

You must confess any known sin to God, and put any wrong to man right.

You must put away any doubtful habit.

You must obey the Spirit promptly.

You must confess Christ publicly.

 How about those for conditions for revival?
    

Monday, June 02, 2014

A time for change?

Are you a Christian? Then there's something dreadfully wrong with you. You're unthinking; you're unscientific; you can't see how badly Christianity botches morality. You represent a deeply defective culture that's been getting all the most important things wrong for a hundred generations.

Did you know that?

 So says an American writer, tongue in cheek no doubt, but illustrating a point. The Christian is the odd man out in society, the barrier to scientific advancement, the hindrance to human enjoyment. Or so they would have us believe.

When they start calling good evil, and evil good, watch out.

Recently I have been studying the subject of revival; listening to tales of things that have happened during such times, particularly during the 1904 Welsh revival, when churches were packed to suffocation daily, tavern keepers went bankrupt and thousands of lives were transformed.

 The revival started in South Wales. I have been in the chapel in Loughor where Evan Roberts worshipped and where the revival largely began. It spread throughout Wales.

In Anglesey, in North Wales, a policeman was standing on duty outside a courtroom. He heard the sound of singing inside the court. He went in to see what was happening. The accused had broken down, confessed he was a sinner and asked his lawyer not to defend him any more. The judge adjourned the court.

"Now," he said to the accused, "may I speak to you, not as a judge, but as a Christian? You have sinned against society, but first, let me tell you how to get right with God." The accused was converted to Christ then and there. The jury burst into a spontaneous Welsh hymn of praise, and the policeman joined in.

Lord, revive us again!
   

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why respect and dignity matter

John Wyatt's mother had dementia.

"To begin with, the changes were subtle," he says. "Unexplained anxiety and tearfulness, episodes of uncharacteristic blankness, irritation and anger with medics and their pointless tests. As the dementing process continued, my mother tragically changed and aged before our eyes. Her confusion increased, she was frequently distressed by terrifying visual hallucinations. Her limbs became permanently flexed and distorted. Visiting her on the acute psychogeriatric ward, I remember being overwhelmed by grief at her obvious distress and fear. I wept in the consultant's office, powerless to do anything to alleviate my mother's anguish.

"Thankfully that dreadful period passed. Quetiapine had a remarkable effect in improving the psychotic symptoms, and compassionate and skilled nursing and medical care transformed my mother's condition. She became peaceful and relaxed. Although she could not communicate, she enjoyed holding hands with my father, listening to music, sometimes even singing along, especially to old hymns from her childhood in the Christian Brethren.

"My father was tireless in visiting her, spending hours every day at her bedside. It was very important to him that the staff knew about her past, knew the sort of person Grace used to be. He put photographs on the wall - this is what she used to be. Grace with her children, Grace at the nursery school she pioneered, Grace laughing delightedly with a little child. . . 

"It mattered that the staff treated her with respect and dignity, because of who she really was. She was so much more than this little aged, distorted, pathetic being appeared to be. . .

"But as our family spent time with my mother we were sometimes reminded that this was not the end of the story. As the family met at her bedside, in those occasional but special times of prayer and singing, although my mother could not speak and sometimes did not even recognise us, we knew that we shared in the Christian hope. This was not the end of the story."

In an article in Triple Helix, John says that caring for people with dignity, respect and love is always important. The worst of people can be transformed and enter into the new creation. With his mother, they had an assurance.

"By God's grace, those who were round her bedside will meet my mother again. And together we will walk and laugh and sing in the new heaven and new earth. The love poured out years ago has not been lost or forgotten."

You can read the full article here.
  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A 'positive experience' - or 'undisguised evil'?

Emily Letts is 25, and works as a counsellor at an abortion clinic. When she found herself pregnant, she decided to have an abortion. More than that, she decided to have the abortion filmed so that women didn't need to feel guilty and everyone could see what "a positive experience" it was. The video has now been watched 2,054,152 times.
 
In a masterly blog post about Emily Letts' video, Al Mohler calls it "one of the most disturbing video messages ever presented to public view."

"Over and over again," he says, " she suggests that she feels absolutely no guilt about terminating  the life within her.

"If Emily Letts truly believes that there is no guilt rightly associated with abortion, she would not have to insist, over and over again, that she feels no guilt. When she tells of women who feel 'guilty for not feeling guilty,' she testifies to the fact that they are moral creatures who cannot stop making moral judgments, especially about themselves, even when they insist there is no moral judgment to be made. And this must be especially true when a woman has sought to terminate the unborn life within her. . .

"Her most chilling words of all are those with which she ends her video. . . 'I knew that what I was going to do was right, 'cause it was right for me and no one else. . .'"

This, says Mohler, is "a concise statement of an absolutely godless worldview. She is creator of her own moral system of value and the judge of her own solitary moral universe - 'I knew what I was going to do was right, 'cause it was right for me and no one else.' No one else matters. . .

"Emily Letts has lifted the 'shroud of shame' a bit. And what she revealed is a reality about abortion that is undisguised evil. Those who strive and pray for the end of abortion should hope that this video is viewed and that her comments about it are read by millions. This video reveals the truth about abortion in a far more powerful way than its maker intended."

Read the whole blog post. You can see it here.