Martin Luther King Day 2007

Martin_luther_kingI can't say that the assassination of Martin Luther King had much of an impact on me when it happened. I was 13 in 1968, and frankly I was pretty much out of touch with it all.  When I was in college some of my instructors were huge Martin Luther King fans and had us read his material. I was stunned.  Not only by the material, but by his life.  Prior to being a spokesperson for the Civil Rights Movement King was a pastor. In 1954 he took the pastorate at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. King was amazing in every way.  King was prepared for what life had for him before it happened. He did the hard work. He overcame his obstacles, he educated himself. His overcame the temptation to hate. When destiny came calling he was ready!

I taught a preaching class a few years ago and I used King's famous August 28, 1963 speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. as an example of one of the finest speeches in history. Not only is it -in my opinion- one of the most inspiring speeches in American history, it very well may be the best constructed speech ever. Most people have never heard it or read it in its entirety. Do yourself a favor, become part of American history, become part of the solution, be inspired to true American ideals built upon the foundation of the Word of God. Make yourself familiar with King's speech this year. His speech and life changed a nation and it still has the power to change our lives and thinking 44 years later! The text of the speech is included below, as well as the audio and a download at the bottom of the page. Listen Here:

The text of "I Have a Dream" Martin Luther King's, August 28, 1963 speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. is included below


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Download martin_luther_king_speech.pdf

Was President Gerald Ford a Born-Again Christian?


Was Gerald Ford a born-again Christian? By all accounts yes.

Ford grew up religious in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but as he moved into politics in his adult life most of that had subsided.

He did however make a genuine re-commitment to Christ, which he nurtured and continued into the presidency and continued after he left office.  It was Billy Zeoli, now president of (the parent company of Gospel Films) that helped Ford get back on track when Ford was a Congressman. Zeoli brought Ford a Bible, but he says it was at a chapel service for a Cowboys verses Redskins game that Ford recommitted his life to Christ.  Zeoli was involved in ministry to professional athletes. Ford shared with Zeoli a passion for sports. 

When Ford became president Zeoli wrote a weekly devotional for him and conducted regular Bible Studies throughout Ford's tenure. Those devotionals are available in book form with an introduction by Gerald Ford in a book called, "God Has a Better Idea."

Gerald Ford's son Michael is today an ordained minister who attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the Boston area. When his son graduated in 1977 Ford gave the commencement address and spoke of his own faith.  Ford also spoke at Wheaton College.

President Ford can be seen confessing his faith before thousands of young people by clicking the video embedded at the end of the text of the prayer of commitment reproduced below:

Gerald Ford: "I pledge my life recognizing I am no longer my own, belonging to God who has called me to lead the world.

I pledge my character, understanding that it is the cornerstone of leadership. I make God's word the final authority directing my motives and actions.

I pledge my service realizing I am chosen by God, not by men. I will give my life away to serve others.

To this end, I will stand for the hurting, the hopeless, the unloved. I will say what others refuse to say. I will reach the world without losing sight of the neighborhood. I will walk upright, speak the truth, and live above reproach. I will not be ashamed to fall on my knees, to cry out to God, to shed tears for the dying, to [live] a life worthy of a leader, to stand up and lead my generation that all may know that Jesus Christ is alive."  To see the video of Gerald Ford reciting this pledge click here.

Angelina Jolie as the Virgin Mary?

Saint_angela_jolie_1 Angelina Jolie as a saint?  As the Virgin Mary?  Yikes!  That's taking celebrity worship and celebrity charity to a new height. I guess that's supposed to be the point of a painting by Kate Krentz hanging in a Florida Gallery that is making quite a stir. She says it is to draw attention to celebrity worship. I don't exactly get it, but I do know it's not good to worship celebrities.

Right now Angelina Jolie is coming out publicly against Madonna's very public adoption of a little boy from Malawi calling it "illegal."

I recently saw an interview with Angelina Jolie about her adoptions, her work as a United Nations Ambassador of Goodwill (she pays for all trips) and her work in poverty stricken countries. She seemed sincere enough and motherhood is definitely changing her (it has a way of doing that!) But as a saint?!? As the Virgin Mary?  Yikes!  Of course she didn't paint the picture of herself, but it sure does show that we have lost our spiritual footing.

Her work with orphans is definitely admirable.  There is an increasing population of them, especially on the continent of Africa.

You can get involved in supporting orphans through a number of great organizations, including our own ministry "Willing Hearts, Helping Hands" where 100% off all support goes directly to the orphans.  Compassion International is also a great ministry.

Jesus Christ: King of Poland!

Jesus74Jesus Christ King of Poland!  Some legislators in Poland are proposing a law to make Jesus Christ the official King of Poland.  Pretty good, since He is the King of Kings.  As expected there are those that do not want Jesus to be crowned the king of their country. In this case it is the Catholic Church that doesn't want Jesus as the King of Poland. Oh well stranger things have been done. Merry Christmas!

Will the Real Jesus Stand Up?

Who_do_men_say_i_am_1Jesus. That's one pretty powerful Name! Which explains why so many have used the name to promote themselves, their agendas and their weird ideas to a hungry and desperate public. Some have even claimed to be Jesus!  The most recent claim being Jose Luis Jesus Miranda, who preaches from a warehouse in Florida.

JesusThrough his numerous interviews he has given we can begin to piece together his beliefs and his history.  Jose is 60 years old and born in Puerto Rico.  He says he used to be an evangelical.'  Prior to becoming an evangelical he was a heroin addict. The way the story goes is that he previously ministered in a drug rehabilitation ministry in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  After some years of ministry he began to be disillusioned with the church.  In his more desperate moments he claims that Jesus Christ came to visit him one night.

When Jesus visited him, he says that Jesus disappeared and Jesus disappeared into him. This was, to him, the second coming of Christ. Jesus was now living in him.  By his own testimony he was a bit slow figuring out what happened at that moment and used to consider that he was the apostle Paul. But after growing some, he finally came to realize in 2,000 - the year he says many were waiting for and looking for Jesus to return - that he was Jesus returned.

One of the "proofs" Jose Luis Jesus Miranda gives that he is Jesus is that he does no signs and wonders. Since the Bible says that false Christs and prophets will perform signs to deceive, Miranda claims that he does no signs and wonders as a 'proof' that he is in fact Jesus Christ.

You know what?  Yawn!

There is only one Jesus who is 'the way the truth and the life' and it is not Jose Luis Jesus Miranda!

Al: Man of the Year

Friday morning I was eating breakfast with Al Serino in a San Diego hotel when Steven Slosberg called my cell phone. Al and I were at a conference upgrading our skills and credentials to do disaster relief more effectively. Steve Slosberg has always been pleasant with me, but I discovered it wasn't really me he wanted to talk to (although he did ask me a few questions) but he wanted to talk to Al.  It was a kick to come home Sunday after church and read the column (reproduced below, with appropriate links) where Slosberg names him as his "Man of the Year."  I definitely agree with Slosberg that Al needs to get rid of that "Jesus Is a Red Sox Fan" tee shirt. Time for a new chapter on that one. Here's the article.  I added the picture of Al overseeing teams in a field kitchen in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi right after Katrina hit. Enjoy!


A Standup Guy Deserves to Take a Bow       by Steven Slosberg (The New London Day)

Al_in_bsl_kitchen_1 Tis the season for honoring people of the year, and I've found my man living out by Oxoboxo Lake in Oakdale, though he's been spending much of his time in the muck and ruin of the post-Katrina wasteland along the Gulf Coast.

If Al Serino were to accede to this conceit, and take a bow, he'd call it a blessing. In any event, he's out in San Diego just now, working to get his ministry certified and federally recognized as a disaster relief organization.

He'll tell you that his church, Calvary Chapel in Uncasville, where he is outreach pastor, and his Willing Hearts, Helping Hands ministry, do this hammer-banging and human-kindness intervention all the time, be it orphan support in Central America, dispensing food and water at Ground Zero after Sept. 11, or, where I got to know him, raising houses from the barren slabs and ashes in Mississippi towns essentially blown off the map by the water, winds and tornados otherwise known as Hurricane Katrina.

Albert J. Serino, who is 58, has the organizational qualities, the big-laugh temperament and the hands-on confidence. He can corral groups of volunteers, many of them hapless but earnest college students on spring or winter break, and keep them healthy and fed as they labor to do good. That he is a Massachusetts-bred Red Sox loyalist, the kind who offers no quarter, does not diminish — well, maybe a tad — his leadership gifts or innate worthiness.

Before moving to this region 15 years or so ago, Serino worked in management for General Electric and then as a consultant to troubled businesses looking for a turnaround. Here, he was a vice president for the former United Nuclear Corp. in Montville. His first wife, the mother of his two daughters, was killed in an auto accident when the children were young. Serino married again, and divorced, and lives today with his third wife, Amy, whom he married seven years ago. They moved to a circa 1930s cottage at Oxoboxo Lake three years ago, and restored it. They were in Niantic before that.

All of his work, Serino will tell you, is in praise of Jesus. Raised a Catholic, he was born again at age 40. His work, irrefutably, is inspired. After Katrina struck the Gulf Coast at the end of August 2005, Serino, in discussions with Calvary Chapel's senior pastor, Joe Paskewich, began organizing relief teams through the Willing Hearts, Helping Hands ministry, which the church created for such emergency efforts.

The volunteers started in a month or so later, housed, with other volunteer groups, on cots and in sleeping bags, and on the rare mattress, in the dank basement of a Baptist church in the Mississippi hamlet of Diamondhead, about a 45-minute drive from New Orleans. For the next year, Serino would spend at least two weeks every month in Mississippi, specifically in the Gulf towns of Waveland and Bay St. Louis, leading crews in the mucking out of vanquished homes, and then the rehabbing of those that were salvageable and the complete rebuilding of others.

Serino's church team solicited donations, tried to get big-box hardware stores to supply materials (the best he was offered, he says, was a 50-percent discount) and kept recruiting more volunteers. In the end more than 80 houses were cleaned out and made livable again by the Calvary Chapel crews, and, among those, 14 were built anew.

When I visited the Mississippi sites with a Calvary group in late March, I saw other decencies in Serino, such as offering a bed in the church to an itinerant plumber from New London, who'd overcome his troubles here and made his way south after the hurricane. He volunteered at housing sites in the evenings in exchange for his bed and meals. Serino knew him from here and trusted him. That meant as much to the plumber as shelter.

I won't badger you to take a bow, Al, for all that you and your crews did this year. But, please, at least change that wretched Red Sox T-shirt.

To read the article onliine or to hear Steven Slosberg read this article by click here.

Slosberg_s_c_1  This is the opinion of Steven Slosberg.

Amazing Grace at Woodstock and Other Weird A.G. Tunes & Facts


Amazing Grace at Woodstock?  What?!?!  Sure. Amazing Grace is played everywhere.  Funerals, Weddings, Folk Festivals, Live Aid and Church.  Arlo Guthrie performed it at Woodstock as one of his three songs.  One of the others was "Coming into Los Angeles bringing in a couple of keys (as in kilos of marijuana) don't check my bags if you please Mister Customs Man." Oh well... And you know Willie Nelson has performed it. It's as though Amazing Grace was written for his voice. Even Rod Stewart (You've got to be kidding!) performed it! It's an amazing song (pun intended.)

John Newton might not appreciate it, but some of us have discovered that his song, Amazing Grace, - the most recorded song ever- can be sung to a variety of tunes.  Today in our church we sang the song in its original form, and then I moved us to some more creative forms, including "The House of the Rising Sun,"  to the tune of "Gilligan's Island," and then my newfound arrangement of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."  While goofing around with these together  somebody shouted out "Happy Birthday!" Combining the two seems too difficult on the spot, but when I got home I tried it.  Sure enough Happy Birthday works!  So does "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," "Old MacDonald"  "The Brady Bunch Theme" and even to "Jesus Loves Me!" It's real kick.  What songs can you think of?

On serious side the song itself IS amazing! Here's the story:

"Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known John's father. John Newton ultimately became captain of his own ship, one which plied the slave trade.

Although he had had some early religious instruction from his mother, who had died when he was a child, he had long since given up any religious convictions. However, on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him. (story taken from

Artists who have recorded the song

The hymn has been recorded by many artists over the last century. Two versions have made the UK Singles Chart; between 1970 and 1972, a version by Judy Collins spent 67 weeks in the charts, a record for a female artist, and peaked at number 5. In 1972, an instrumental version by the Pipes and Drums and Military Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards spent five weeks at number one, also reaching the top spot in Australia.

  • Aaron Neville
  • Alabama
  • Andy Griffith
  • Anne Murry
  • Ani Difranco: Dilate
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Arlo Guthrie: 1969. Woodstock Festival
  • Auld Town Band and Pipes
  • Avalon
  • BeBe Winans
  • Bill and Gloria Gaither
  • Billy Ray Cyrus
  • Blind Boys Of Alabama
  • Bluebells of Scotland
  • Byrds (Lyve Twytter 1969 Bootleg of Filmore SHow)
  • Canadian Scottish Pipes Regiment
  • Charlotte Church
  • Charlie Rich
  • Cherokee National Children's Choir
  • Chris Squire: Going For The One
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Crabb Family
  • Crystal Lewis on her Hymns CD (With Greg Laurie introducing her)
  • Daniël Lanois
  • Destiny's Child
  • Diana Ross
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band
  • Doc Watson
  • Dropkick Murphys
  • Edinburgh Military Tattoo
  • Eiko Shimamiya: (I'VE) In EIKO SHIMAMIYA LIVE 2005 ULYSSES CD
  • Elvis Presley
  • Flatfoot 56: Knuckles Up (2004). Track 12. (A Celtic punk version which includes a verse of repeated "Praise God!").
  • Frank Ticheli
  • Glen Campbell
  • Golden Books Lullabies
  • Hayley Westenra: Pure
  • Hee HAw Gospel Quartet
  • Hubert Laws
  • Irish Tenors
  • James Galway
  • Janis Joplin
  • Jars of Clay
  • Jeff Beck (on All Star Christmas)
  • Jerry Garcia: The Pizza Tapes
  • Jim Brickman with Ginny Owens
  • Jim Nabors
  • Joan Baez: 1985. Philadelphia stage of Live Aid. Also often reserves the song as the closing number for the most appreciative concert fans.
  • John Fahey
  • Johnny Cash
  • Judy Collins: 1970; re-released in 1971 and again in 1972. Spent 67 weeks on the UK chart. Recorded at St Paul's Chapel, Colombia University.
  • Katherine Jenkins
  • Kikki Danielsson (on her 1982 album "Kikki")
  • Krishna Das: Pilgrim Heart (2005). Track 3.
  • Kylie Minogue: Performed on her Let's Get to It Tour in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo: with Paul Simon on various releases.
  • Laura Love
  • LeAnn Rimes
  • Leadbelly
  • Lee Greenwood
  • Lennon Sisters
  • Lincoln Brewster
  • Lisbeth Scott
  • Mahalia Jackson
  • Michael Crawford
  • Mika Nakashima: Crescent Moon single (2002) as track three, True album (2002) [with differing album version] as track one, Best album (2005) as track one. The version appearing on Best was re-recorded and rearranged (retitled "Amazing Grace (05)")
  • Nan Mouskouri
  • National Philharmonic of London
  • New Orleans Saxaphone Ensamble
  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Oak Ridge Boys
  • Odetta
  • Paul Coleman
  • Pete Fountain
  • Pete Seeger
  • Petra
  • Phil Vassar
  • Phish
  • Ralph Stanley
  • Randy Travis
  • Ray Charles
  • Renee Fleming and Mark O'Conner
  • Rod Stewart
  • Royal Scots Dragoon Guards: 1972. No 1 in the UK.
  • Ruben Studdard
  • Sandi Patty
  • Selah
  • Seven Nations
  • Shinobu Sato (World Music)
  • Shirley Ceasar
  • Sissel
  • Smith Siters
  • Soweto Gospel Choir
  • Statler Brothers
  • Steve Hall
  • Stryper
  • Steve Green
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Susan Aglukark has recorded a version of Amazing Grace in Inuktitut.
  • Suzanne Balcom
  • Taliesin Orchrestra
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford
  • The Black Watch
  • The Charlie Daniels Band
  • The Groundhogs: Who Will Save The World?
  • Todd Agnew performs a rock version called Grace Like Rain
  • Tramaine Hawkins
  • Twila Paris
  • Walela
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Willie Nelson
  • Windham Hil Collection with John Doan
  • Vickie Winans
  • Victor Wooten: Live at Bass Day '98

Christian Persecution in Pakistan

Pakistan_matyr_2_1 Radical Muslims cut off Mohan Shahzad’s arm with an axe after he refused to stop selling Christian literature.  Even so, he says he will continue to build the Lord’s Kingdom, even if his persecutors cut off his other arm.

Pray Mohan’s brave testimony will demonstrate the strength that comes from a relationship with the Lord.
For more information on the persecuted church visit:

Open Doors

Voice of the Martyrs

Safe Harbor International

Persecution in the 21st Century

Persecution_logoPersecution towards the church of Jesus Christ is not new, Jesus spoke of it before the church was even formed on several occasions.  In Luke 21:12  "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name."

Further in John 15:20 he says, "Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also."

The first Christian martyr, Stephen, was not an apostle, but one of the members that served tables (Acts 7.) James was killed shortly thereafter by Herod (Acts 12.) These two deaths give us a working definition of how persecution is generally defined.  While persecution can be defined as being constantly irritated the persecution most commonly spoken of in the Bible is organized, usually involves more than one persecutor and is usually organized, officially or non-officially. When we use the word persecution in this way we are referring to physical abuse, torture, rape, murder and severe violence, not just the critical remarks of others towards faith.

Persecution still happens in the 'modern, enlightened world."  IN the latter half of the 20th century China took center stage as an unprecedented revival encompassed the largest nation on earth. When the Communists took over China, many feared the small struggling church there would be wiped out forever. Instead, a sovereign work of God began and turned into the largest spiritual awakening the world has ever seen.  The revival in China shows no signs of waning.

In the latter half of the 20th what began as a small trickle is beginning to turn into a flood as Muslim nations are experiencing a worldwide revival of their own.  The modern day Islamic revival seems to have begun in 1979 when students -including who many believe to be the current president of Iran- took over the American Embassy. Few then saw it for what it was, the reawakening of Muslim sentiments in the Middle East. In the last 27 years Islam is experiencing dramatic worldwide expansion, influence and power. Along with that has come a renewed wave of persecution in the Islamic nations.  As the list below shows the Muslim and the remaining Communist nations lead the list of persecution nations in order of severity.  The other number shows their ranking last year:

January 2006:                            

January 2005:

1.      North Korea          1
2.      Saudi Arabia 2
3.      Iran 5
4.      Somalia 7
5.      Maldives 6
6.      Bhutan 8
7.      Vietnam    3
8.      Yemen  11 
9.      Laos 4
10.    China 9
11.    Afghanistan 10
12.    Uzbekistan 15
13.    Turkmenistan 12
14.     Eritrea 16
15.     Comoros 14
16.     Pakistan 13
17.     Egypt  18
18.     Myanmar (Burma) 17
19.     Azerbaijan 22
20.     Morocco 23
21.     Brunei    24
22.     Libya  20

Throughout the week we'll tell some of the stories of those that are suffering for their faith right now.

For more information on the suffering church and how you can help visit these websites:

Open Doors

Voice of the Martyrs

Safe Harbor International