We live in an age of distraction! It’s amazing how much information is coming at us most of the time through technology, the media and the busyness of the world around us. I’ve decided that the world probably isn’t going to change, so I have to change. I’m learning how to keep my mind on what I’m doing, rather than thinking about several things at once or what I want to do next.
Orphans in Somalia whose parents were killed for their faith by Islamic extremist, Al Shabaab rebels are becoming more numerous – and hungrier, an underground church leader said.
The pastor started a care center for the orphans three years ago in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, as more children of secret Christians were orphaned.
“Last year we lost a Christian family killed by the Al Shabaab, and the number of children rose from 30 to 35,” he said. “The Al Shabaab are now hunting down the children in Mogadishu, and we have moved the care center to a bit safer location.”
The leader has taken the children in because they had nowhere else to go, but he lacks resources to take care of them – the Christian orphans are crying for food, he said.
“The children look devastated and malnourished, so we as a secret church do appeal to our brothers and sisters in the free world to consider extending a hand to these persecuted children,” the pastor said.
The children receive little support from Somalia’s impoverished underground Christian community, and their needs are increasing as some have begun attending school, he said.
“If we can get at least $1,000 dollars a month, that will really lighten our burden,” he said. “Please pray for the future of the Somalia underground church. The orphaned children will form the future of Somalia’s underground church.”
The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to mainstream schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda adhere to the teaching.
Somali law and societal tradition create an atmosphere of hostility toward non-Islamic faiths similar to that created in regimes that execute apostates. The country’s Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) does not explicitly prohibit Muslims from converting to other faiths, but leaving Islam remains socially unacceptable in all areas, according to the U.S. State Department’s latest Report on International Religious Freedom.
The PFC provides for the right of individuals to practice their religion but prohibits propagation of any religion other than Islam, and it makes Islam the state religion. All laws must comply with the general principles of sharia (Islamic law), the report states.
The past few years Al Shabaab has lost ground to government and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping forces.
Rebels from Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, in February 2017 shot to death an underground Christian woman and her son and seriously wounded her husband. The family was asleep at their home at dawn in Afgoi, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Mogadishu, when at least four armed men attacked them shouting the jihadist slogan, “Allah Akbar [God is greater],” and, “We cannot allow the defiling of our religion with a foreign, Western religion,” according to the wounded husband.
The assailants killed his wife, 35-year-old convert Faduma Osman, and the couple’s 11-year-old son, Ahmed Suleiman. The couple’s two daughters, 13 and 7, and their 9-year-old son were able to escape out a backdoor.
Somalia is ranked third on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian.
Source: Christian Headlies
This story is really touching.
In June 2009, Dr. Chuck Sandstrom was overseeing the removal of an unregistered car from a rental property he owned, when Michael Ayers, the owner of the car, confronted him. Enraged, Ayers punched Dr. Sandstrom, whose head snapped back, colliding with the brick wall behind him.
Sandstrom suffered a traumatic brain injury and continues to feel the effects of that punch to this day. However, during Ayers’ trial, Sandstrom and his wife chose to join the defense, petitioning for a reduced sentence and access to treatment, work and school during his jail time.
Of his choice to forgive, Sandstrom told The Forgiveness Project, “People think we’re special to have forgiven this man but trust me, my wife and I are not abnormally good people. What is true, however, is that the path of forgiveness can take ordinary people on an extraordinary journey.”
This isn’t a life-changing story but just a testimony of my faith.
All my life I learned Bible stories from my mom. I always believed in God but I never committed my life to Jesus. We went to church until I was about 10 years old. Then there was a three-year gap where we didn’t go at all. My mom became a true believer and she started attending different churches when I was about 12-13. I went with my parents to Community Church. My mom said it was up to me to choose from Community Church and some other church but I chose Community Church because it had comfortable chairs and the pastor seemed to get my attention. A few months later my mom was driving me somewhere. She wouldn’t tell me where she was driving and then she pulled into a driveway of a house. The house was the location of the Youth Group of Community Church. I was a afraid to go in. Once I went in and got to know everyone I felt included. The name of the Youth Group is “IT.” I still attend it on Wednesdays. I liked Youth Group because everyone was nice and they taught me many things from the Bible.
Every Wednesday they would talk about Jesus. Ever since I was a kid I knew he died on the cross and he was born in a stable but I didn’t know the true significance of it.
My youth leaders would speak of how Jesus died for the whole world’s sins and whoever believes in Him and asks Him to come into their hearts, can be saved. I also was taught in Church that “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (NIV Ephesians 2:8-9)
My mom was excited about her faith and she told me about it. A few days later, I asked Jesus to come into my life on my own decision. I don’t remember the exact date. When that happened I knew what I did was good. I talked to my pastor about it and we discussed Christianity on some questions I had. I got baptized with my mom in Lake Winnabago in lots of green slime and water.
During that three years I believed in God and Jesus but I never really questioned my faith. Then when my 16th birthday came around the corner I started questioning my faith and I would sometimes doubt my faith. I would go to many Bible studies and read as many books I could. Many topics I read about were about Jesus, God, creation vs. evolution, etc. I would go to my pastor and ask questions. When I went to a Christian camp, Camp Forest Springs, I asked my counselor and the speaker questions. Some questions were so explainable on both points of views and had so much indirect evidence that it was hard to come to terms with my faith and which side to believe.
Several reasons I have faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior are the accounts in the Bible, the prophecies, and that fact that the Bible speaks of a personal God who wants a relationship with us. I read many books on evolution/creation and creation seems to fit better because everything seems as though it were intelligently and artistically designed. I believe in God because of all the indirect evidence and I think if there were an impersonal force that made everything happen (cosmic accident), I don’t see how unpurposeful human beings can think up purposeful ideas on how we got here. Everything is just so complex that there just has to be a God.
The God I believe in is the God that is spoken of in the Bible. That’s why I believe the Bible is God’s Word. I believe that God is my Creator and Redeemer.
Since my 16th birthday, I can tell you one thing. I’ve never learned so much in my life about God as I have now. It’s like my eyes have been opened and I have gained so much knowledge and wisdom. I’ve learned more at Community Church in a month than I ever have in the 10 years I was at the other church I previously attended. I am not perfect and I still fall a lot into sin but I am saved. My faith isn’t to be taken for granted. Many people say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus and he forgives my sins so I can do whatever I want.” God isn’t like that at all. He hates sin. Sin is totally going against Him. Do you know why he sent a flood on the Earth? To destroy all the wicked people who were full of sin. I think when you become a Christian you want to become more and more Christ-like. I have high and low points during my faith. Some days I will be really happy about my faith and won’t care what people think and other days I will be scared. I think this is normal when you grow as a Christian. Now that I know I have a purpose, I have joy even at the lowest times because I know God has something planned for me.
What happened to the treaty signed in Westphalia for freedom of religion? In short why are people so keen on religion and not the belief and faith? Am so tired of people imposing laws on religion that doesn’t have any meaning to one’s everlasting life or where he or she is going to be in eternity. Surfing the internet and cane across this post in Malaysia refusing to allow four Muslims convert to Christianity.
According to a source, In the wake of the highest court in Malaysia refusing to hear an appeal by four Christians wanting to officially convert out of Islam, Christian leaders continued to hold hope for change.
In a country where there is no legal way to leave Islam, the four people were asking the Federal Court to have their names and their faith changed on their national identity cards. On Tuesday(Feb. 27) the court held that the four people were Muslims and hence fell under the jurisdiction of the Sharia (Islamic law) Court system, and that it must adjudicate matters of Islamic law.
The five-member panel of the Federal Court unanimously ruled that civil courts had no jurisdiction to decide on apostasy cases. The four converts held that the Shariah Courts had no power to decide apostasy cases under state laws because they are no longer Muslims.
Court of Appeal President Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin wrote that although no such legal provision for deciding apostasy cases existed in the law, there were clauses in it that Shariah Courts could apply.
The Federal Court decision helps clear up a gray area in apostasy cases in Malaysia, but bewilderment remains as Shariah Courts are state courts subject to different state laws. Furthermore, the Federal Court ruled in January that the federal civil court has the final say on legal matters even as they pertain to Muslims.
Hence after the verdict, Joshua Baru, son of the four converts’ attorney, Baru Bian, said the decision “seems to suggest a double standard of the jurisdiction of the civil courts and the interpretation of [the federal constitution].”
Christian leaders, meantime, held out hope. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Kuching, capital of Sarawak state, Simon Peter Poh Hoon Seng, issued a statement asserting Christians should not give up.
“Next, we should pray that the lawmakers will table a just law to face this issue,” Poh said. “Do not lose hope. By the way, I was at the court hearing yesterday, and I testify that the judges were very neutral and fair. Pray, continue to pray. With God, nothing is impossible.’”
Gracious words amid the emotions that ran high on all sides; the Malaysian Insight noted that the archbishop was indeed present at the hearing, and then was heckled by demonstrators trying to jostle him as he exited the court.
At the same time, Christian organizations, including the Association of Churches in Sarawak, have reportedly appointed senior lawyers Leonard Shim and Libat Langub as amicus curae (friends of the court) to monitor their interests. The Sarawak Dayak Iban Association, which represents the state’s largest ethnic group, and the Methodist Church in Malaysia, the Sarawak Ministers Fellowship and the Sarawak Evangelical Churches Association have appointed lawyers to hold a watching brief.
Three of the four appellants were raised as Christians but converted to Islam in order to marry Muslims. Jenny Peter divorced her Muslim husband in 2006 and returned to Christianity. Salina Jau was divorced by her Muslim husband in 1992, and then she returned to Christianity. Tiong Choo Ting began to practice Christianity after his Muslim wife died in 2007. All three signed “statutory declarations” that they intended to return to Christianity.
The fourth person, Syarifah Nooraffyzza, is an ethnic Malay raised as a Muslim. According to the Malaysian Constitution, all ethnic Malays are Muslims – a principle upheld in the case of Lina Joy, who was denied her right to leave Islam in 2007 and convert to Christianity.
Syarifah filed a document stating that she no longer practices Islam, and she was baptized in 2009, according to published reports. She is asking to change her identity card from Muslim to Christian and to change her name to Vanessa Elizabeth.
She as well as the other three people are “still Muslims on papers,” according to an appeals court. For the moment, they must take their cases back to Sharia Court to try to get letters of apostasy.
This process of reprogramming or renewing our minds will take place little by little, so don’t be discouraged if progress seems slow. Don’t get down when you have setbacks or bad days. Just get back up, dust yourself off and start again.
When a baby is learning to walk, he falls many, many times before he develops the ability to walk without falling; however, the baby is persistent. He may cry for a while after he falls down, but he always gets right back up and tries again.
Learning to change our thinking works the same way. There will be days when we don’t do everything right—days when our thinking is negative. But never stop trying. God is gradually bringing us around to His way of thinking. Just don’t give up!
Anita Smith and her husband Ronnie moved to Libya because, “We saw the suffering of the Libyan people, but we also saw your hope, and we wanted to partner with you to build a better future,” Anita said in a letter published on VergeNetwork.org.
Ronnie was a chemistry teacher in a Benghazi school.
On Dec. 5, 2013, it all ended during Ronnie’s morning jog when he was shot and killed by an unknown gunman. In Anita’s letter, she addressed her husband’s attacker, saying, “I love you and forgive you. How could I not? For Jesus taught us to ‘love our enemies’ — not to kill them or seek revenge.”
1. Live Below Your Means
There will always be temptation to forsake the future for immediate gratification. We all want to buy that new piece of technology, treat ourselves to an expensive night on the town, or take out a loan for the flashy car we can’t afford. It might feel great at the time but rash spending eventually will build and hurt a lot later on. Enjoy life’s simple pleasures and save as much as you can. Expensive things don’t create lasting happiness and security. Careful spending will bring you greater leisure and enjoyment in the long run.
2. Put Your Money to Work
Saving is great, but to make the most of your money you need to put it to work. Good investments can be the difference between retiring in your 40’s or in your 60’s.
A post today at The Simple Dollar really got me thinking. According to Trent’s projections , if a person in their early 20’s invests 20% of their income in an S&P index fund , the interest they earn will equal their current salary when they reach their early 40’s. They could retire without a drop in income! Wise investing is the surest path to financial independence and it’s something everyone can work on. It’s definitely an area I’ll be devoting more attention to in my personal life and on this blog.
3. Educate Yourself
To be happy we need continuous growth. The best way to grow is life long education. This doesn’t mean you need to pursue a doctorate or spend 2 hours reading every day. Self education can be anything that takes you out of your comfort zone. The important part is keeping an open mind and searching for fresh ideas and perspectives.
Education builds over time. It might feel like the bits of wisdom you acquire don’t mean much, but over the years they add up to form a wiser, kinder, more interesting person.
4. Develop Lasting Personal Relationships
Suppose you had everything you wanted. Would you be happy without anyone to share it with? The personal relationships we develop with friends and family members are the greatest source of happiness in our lives. Don’t forget about them.
Taking the time to cultivate and enjoy personal relationships is essential to longterm happiness. Without the people you care about you’ll probably be miserable, no matter how successful you become.
5. Work Towards a Dream You’re Passionate About
Even if your life isn’t perfect, you can always build towards a goal you’re passionate about. If you aren’t building towards something, you’re probably stagnating. When this happens to me I start to feel like a victim trapped by my own life. The best way to reverse this is working towards a goal.
We can’t control everything about our lives, but working towards a goal gives us something positive to focus on and lays the foundation for future success. No matter what your passion is, get out there and start doing something . As Lao Tzu said, even a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
Bonus: 6. Stay in Shape
You only get one body. Once it’s been ruined there isn’t much you can do about it. Exercise to keep the rust off. Avoid excessive consumption of damaging substances and unhealthy foods. It may feel like terrible self denial at the time but enjoying good health in your later years is worth the sacrifice.