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Kathy Bernard - Publisher

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion
 looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith,
because you know that the family of believers throughout the world
is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
1 Peter 5:8-9

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Many Christians from the Middle East and other countries who accepted Christianity have paid the heavy price of their lives because of staunch and steadfast belief in Jesus Christ.  And the opposition is frightening.  But, amidst the clamor of what is happening to Christianity today, there is God Who reminds us to "never give up".  He promises to walk with us as we make our way through the trials of the present world.  In spite of those who are doing everything in their power to make Christians afraid to continue believing in our Savior, they are standing strong, willing to pay the price with their earthly lives.

Father Francisco Cervantes has this to say about the struggles of Christians throughout the world where believers are punished or killed for their beliefs in God and Jesus: "I am overwhelmed by the events happening in the Middle East and especially Egypt in regards to the persecution of Christians by terrorists using religion as a pretext for murder and persecution. I feel helpless and I, too, ask God where He is in these kinds of horrible situations.  I am immediately reminded of the biblical verse in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 11 when Jesus said this:  'Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you'...."   

"God has a long range plan, a plan much bigger than our individual selves, and the persecution of the Church in parts of the world is part of the big plan which is simply the destruction of evil, hate, and death itself.   This is alluded to in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 6, Verses 9 - 11:  "When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God.  They cried out in a loud voice, 'How long will it be, holy and true Master, before You sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?  Each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to be patient a little while longer until the number was filled of their fellow servants and brothers who were going to be killed as they had been."...."We will be holding all those who are suffering for their beliefs in Jesus Christ in prayer and asking the Lord to give those who suffer, strength to keep moving forward."  - Father Cervantes 

Father Robert Barron is an author and founder of Word on Fire, a global media ministry.  Here, in part, he speaks on the attacks in the Middle East: "Though you would never guess it from the scarcity of coverage in the major news media, there is a fierce persecution of Christians going on in the Middle East.  In Egypt, convents and churches are being burned to the ground and Copts, members of one of the most ancient Christian communities, are being routinely harassed, tortured, and arrested.  In Iraq, the ISIS group, hoping to re-establish a “caliphate” across the northern sector of the Middle East, is brutally persecuting Christians.  Just recently, an ultimatum was issued in Mosul, where Christians have been living for over 1,600 years, that believers in Jesus have to pay a stiff fine, leave the country, or be put to death. And the sheer shock of these extreme instances can allow us to overlook the fact that in Saudi Arabia Christians are not permitted to build churches or to practice their faith publicly in any way. "    Use the following link to hear Father Barron speak on this subject:

Are our religious beliefs being threatened today in the USA?  Here is a story of sadness and joy written by an unknown American hand that lifts the Christian heart:  "They walked in tandem, each of the ninety-three students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With rich maroon gowns flowing and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt.  Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and moms freely brushed away tears.  This class would not pray during the commencements - not by choice but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it.  The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one was allowed to mention Divine Guidance, and no one could ask for God's blessings on the graduates or their families.  The speeches were nice, but they were routine ... until the final speech received a standing ovation as a solitary student walked proudly to the microphone and stood still and silent for just a moment, and then he delivered his speech ... an astounding SNEEZE!  The rest of the students rose immediately to their feet, and in unison they said, "GOD BLESS YOU!!"  The audience exploded into applause.  This graduating class truly found a unique way to invoke God's blessing on their future ... with or without the court's approval."  Where there is a WILL there is a way because we know God has added His almighty strength to us.

Thomas S. Kidd writes:  "In our ever-shrinking world, the tentacles of religion touch everything from governmental policy to individual morality to our basic social constructs. It affects the lives of people of great faith — or no faith at all........we are seeing a marked erosion of what America's Founding Fathers considered the "first freedom": the liberty of religious conscience. Even in America, there are signs that our historic commitment to this freedom is wavering"....    In the Middle East, the "Arab Spring" has not been auspicious for religious liberty. The uprisings against repressive governments have precipitated a treacherous new era for the region's Christian minorities.  According to the Pew report, Egypt was already the world's largest country with rising levels of government restrictions on religion before the ouster of Hosni Mubarak; since then, the situation has grown even worse."  "...In the past six months, appalling religious violence has convulsed Egypt, especially against its Coptic Christians.  Rumors about a Coptic convert to Islam being held against her will led to vicious rioting on May 8, leaving 15 dead, 200 injured, and churches looted and burned...."

"...And what about in the USA?  You won't see the kind of religious persecution here as in other parts of the world, but religious freedom is taking its hits....Overall, the FBI reports that more than 1,500 religious hate crimes occur annually, although the majority target Jews.  But Christians in the U.S. take their lumps, too, when it comes to religious freedom. These range from the frivolous — such as a recent (and unsuccessful) Freedom from Religion Foundation lawsuit to ban Texas Gov. Rick Perry from holding "The Response," his prayer rally in Houston — to real judicial infringements...." ..."Earlier month, for instance, a federal appeals court approved San Diego State University's policy of denying a Christian sorority and fraternity official campus benefits simply because the groups restricted membership to Christians.  And in October, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in what might become the most significant religious liberty case in decades, Hosanna-Tabor Church V EEOC, which will, disconcertingly, consider whether a religious school has the right to fire a teacher who contradicts official teachings.  Should the court rule against Hosanna-Tabor, it could indicate that American courts will intrude more and more upon the internal affairs of religious organizations, dictating that the right to free exercise must bow before judges' and bureaucrats' current conceptions of legal equity. Placing religious groups under special legal disadvantages, and forbidding them from operating according to their own beliefs, is certainly not what the Founders had in mind when they banned an "establishment of religion" in the First Amendment.  Let's hope that, instead, America will renew its commitment to the genius of the First Amendment's religion clauses. The government should never promote the interests of any one faith — including secularism — but should protect the free exercise of religion for all.  In light of the Pew report, the world needs our example more than ever."  Thomas S. Kidd is a senior fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion, and the author of books such as God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution and Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots.

We must  pray with strong faith about these frightening changes which are happening throughout the world where injustice is being handed out to those who are Christians.  Many times, in our humanity, we think God does not see what is happening, but our God sees everything.  If we can hold on with supreme trust in God, Who sees our trials, we will one day be greatly rewarded. A fellow Christian once wrote,  "Prayer is the answer to every problem in life.  Nothing is so entangled that it cannot be remedied; no human relationship is too strained for God to bring about human reconciliation and understanding; no habit so deep-rooted that it cannot be overcome; no one is so weak that he cannot be strong.  No one is so ill that he cannot be healed. No mind is so dull that it cannot be made brilliant.   Whatever we need if we trust God, He will supply it. If anything is causing worry or anxiety, let us stop rehearsing the difficulty and trust God for healing, love, and power.  Into the experience of all there come times of keen disappointment and utter discouragement--days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe that God is still the kind benefactor of His earth born children; days when troubles harass the soul, till death seems preferable to life. It is then that many lose their hold on God and are brought into the slavery of doubt, the bondage of unbelief."

But Jesus has a master plan for those who have faith.  Remember this earth is not our home, and our lives here are limited.  But He promises all of us a brand new life that will never be forfeited, will never be subject to bondage again.   Here he promises us, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."  John 5:24

Romans 8:35 tells us; "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness, or danger or sword? As it is written, for your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us."  And our Savior Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 5:11:  "Blessed are we when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account."    It makes no difference whether those who are persecuted be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts, or Protestants.  If we stand solid in our faith with the belief that Jesus Christ is our Savior, we are assured endless joy one day when we are called to eternal life.  Let us say to our fellow Christians who are being persecuted for believing in Almighty God and Jesus Christ, "WE MUST HOLD ON" to the Lord knowing that when He comes again, He will say, "Welcome to eternal life, my good and faithful servants.  I will take you home where you will meet my Father and live joyously forever in His Kingdom.  Glory be to God!

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony
about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or
its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.
They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
- Revelation 20:4

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