Friday, May 10, 2013

A Critical Moment.

Tomorrow Saturday May 11th churches all over Syria, including Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox,  will come together united as one body and one mind in Christ to cry out to the Lord. Our brothers and sisters are reaching out to the body world wide, that we may also come along side them and join with them in prayer and (if you can) fasting. Syria is #11 on the World Watch List of Countries where persecution is currently. Click here for more information or continue reading.

Prior to the civil war Christians in Syria were allowed to meet and yet even then, their meetings were monitored.  In this country Christians who have come from a Muslim background face opposition from not only their family members and friends, but now from foreign extremist fighters and mercenaries. Many Christians have been kidnapped, hurt or killed, their churches destroyed and many have had to flee for their lives.

I received word of this call to a day of prayer and fasting with a few requests from the church. Please pray for:
-healing for the injured and comfort for those who have lost loved ones
-end to the bloodshed
-the children; their childhood has been stolen from them
-unity and reconciliation among churches and denominations to continue
-Christians will be rooted in their own land without fear of violence
I hope that you who are reading this recognize the significance of such a call to prayer.  God is awakening a nation and awakening Christians from all denominations to bind together and strengthen their faith through prayer. Such a demonstration of the love of Christ is a miracle to me, to see a great many people from different backgrounds come together under the circumstances. May we, the believers here in America, see and learn from our brothers and sisters in Syria. I hope that you will join me in praying for Syria tomorrow.

After all, if we do not pray who will?

"Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die..."

[Revelation 3:2]

-A.

P.S. The path we have chosen is the one less traveled, it is the narrow way [Matthew 7:13-14] but let us remember that Jesus has over come the world. [John 16:33]


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Revelation awaits an appointed time.

"For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."
[Habakkuk 2:3]

God gives us many visions, dreams and hopes for the future.  Our hearts will desire many things in this life, but as I have learned we must wait until God puts these things into motion otherwise in our own strength we will destroy what we have so long hoped for.

This is how I feel about Cambodia.

Before I was a Christian and wholeheartedly following the Lord, God was already preparing my heart to love the country and the people of Cambodia. I viewed the film "The Killing Fields" in a high school history class and since then have not been able to keep my mind away from it. I imagined myself traveling the country and meeting many people, taking many pictures.  However at that time there was nothing more than that, no higher purpose.  Since then the Lord has shaped me and I have surrendered the gifts of art that he has entrusted to me back to Him. I know that five years ago if I had gone to Cambodia I would not have been as strong as I need to be, nor would I have been prepared to do the will of God.

I can see that there is a path but I can also see that I have a ways to go.  Until the appointed time I will wait and I will hold fast to the truth of God and his will. And I will also hold onto the hope that someday I will travel to Cambodia and serve his kingdom there however I can.

-A.

P.S. This is a fairly simple post, but I thought that it could encourage someone just as the word encouraged me.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Where is the persecution?

I think about my brothers and sisters often. [Hebrews 13:3]

Display at a church where I met for BSF.
With the recent tragedies in the back of my mind and future uncertainties I write this post.

When the Boston Marathon bombing happened I watched a  portion of video that showed the first explosion, I heard people screaming, smoke billowing, an elderly runner picked up off the ground, a man shouting "There's got to be people hurt out there..!" police men, army, runners, spectators jumping in to help clear a path and pull out those in shock and I wondered to myself...
"God, in a situation like that what type of person would I be? The kind to run in fear? Or the kind that stands in the face of danger to help another?"
Today as I climbed into my car from a grocery run it struck me that here in the comfort of the United States of America we have absolutely no idea of what true persecution is.  And although we do see it, the persecution here is very subtle and sneaky and has come upon us in mostly non-violent ways. For example the word tolerance comes to mind and also the phrase "Well that is YOUR truth and what YOU believe..." But no matter what the circumstance the truth of the matter is the sky is always blue, the sun sets and rises everyday these things do not change, they are fact, they are true just the same as God is the Almighty, Righteous and Holy one who sent Jesus to die for our sins, to redeem us to the Father so that we might have fellowship with him.  These are not stories or MY personal truth but THE TRUTH.

The point being, the persecution faced by the body in other countries is far more outright noticeable and tangible. I have no fear of being pulled from my car at the grocery store and dragged to jail because I shared the gospel with someone inside. I do not look over my shoulder when I enter my home each night thinking that someone might have followed me, and neither do I answer the door expecting the authorities to barge in and confiscate all of my Bibles and Christian literature and then sentence me to years in prison.  And again I wonder...
"Would my faith be able to stand with that of my brothers and sisters who face such trials? Again would I be one to run or stand up to those who would be my persecutors, or better yet get on my knees and pray for them?"
Even in these circumstances we see and hear of many victories for the Kingdom of God, men dreaming dreams of Jesus in white robes, a little boy asking about the Bible at a bookstore, and in spite of all the struggles of persecution God's kingdom is growing, his people are taking up the cross and following after him wholeheartedly.  I pray for a faith like that.

While these are questions that will go unanswered for now...I will continue to pray for those who stand (and kneel) in the face of persecution.

-A.

Prayer Requests:

1. It's official! I'm going to Colombia as the grand prize winner of the One Body Many Gifts Contest.  Please pray that God would prepare me body and soul for this opportunity to meet with fellow believers.

2. I still need to send my artwork "Lament for the Nations" to Open Doors in California, please pray that I find a safe way, and also that I find the finances to do so as I know it can be expensive to send something so large and fragile.

3. Pray for Uzbekistan #16 on the World Watch List for persecution of Christians. Read more about this country by clicking the link.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

a small voice in a city of wailing souls

[Acts 16:9-10]
"During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them."
I'm excited to announce that I have been accepted into the OpenDoorsUSA blog network! Every month I will be blogging about important events/updates that involve persecuted church and the work that OpenDoors is doing to help them and bring awareness to their struggles. I hope that with every blog I honor God and those that I write for.

If you haven't already seen OpenDoors USA has posted their World Watch List for 2013.  It is a list of 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the worst.  These countries are listed from countries that have sparse persecution to extreme persecution. For the eleventh year in a row the country with the most severe persecution is North Korea.  North Korean Christians can face arrest, detention, torture and even public execution. Even under the pressure of the government there is a growing underground movement of Christians here.

Here in America we have no idea how difficult it is to be a Christian. Having a Bible isn't illegal. We haven't had to meet secretly in our homes, or worry if a friend in our local grocery will turn us in for preaching the gospel.  We don't understand the worry that a a family feels when one of their loved ones is put in prison for their faith, or when someone disappears without a trace...

But even with our lack of understanding we are still ONE WITH THEM.  Paul says this:

[1 Corinthians 12: 26-27]
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part is honored with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
WE ARE THE BODY.  When we see our brothers and sisters struggles, our hearts should feel burdened for them.  If you feel that burden in your heart take a moment and pray for those who share our faith, but not our freedom. If you would like to know more check out this new initiative from Open Doors USA:

Take the 5-5-5 Challenge

Take 5 Minute Challenge: Take 5 minutes(or more) a week to pray for the country of the week on their website.

Take the 5 Friend Challenge: Share this with 5 of your friends through social media and get them involved.

Take the 5 Dollar Challenge: Give $5 or more a month to make a deeper impact for suffering persecuted Christians.


I may live here in America, but that doesn't mean I can't pray, or share, or give to help.  Prayerful consider what God wants you to do to help.  He might want you to take this challenge or share the plight of persecuted Christians with someone you know, he may even ask you to use your talents for his kingdom.

Whatever we are called to do, let us serve the Lord with all of our hearts and together our small voices can make a huge impact.

-A.

Prayer Requests:

1. Pray that more people will join in blogging and bringing awareness to the persecuted church.