Monday, August 8, 2016

Persecution At The End Of The Age

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
(Matthew 24)

The religious war launched by Muslims against Christianity is nothing new, notes Charl Van Wyk, who heroically returned fire during a terrorist attack on his own church in South Africa.

“Over 400 million Christians live in 67 countries which severely restrict and persecute believers,” Van Wyk said. “Open Doors USA says that in an average month, 332 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed and 772 forms of violence, such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages, are committed against Christians worldwide.”
Van Wyk was present during an attack on the St. James Church in Cape Town, South Africa in 1993 in which terrorists opened fire with grenades and automatic weapons. Van Wyk hit one of the terrorists with his snub .38 revolver. He chronicled his experience in “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self Defense.”
Van Wyk said Christians have always been under threat of violence.
“Yes, Christian churches are directly under threat of terrorism,” he said. “But this is not foreign or ‘new’ to the church, the body of Christ, worldwide. What is happening is that those who have lived fairly sheltered lives, in what were Christianized nations, are now also seeing and feeling the heat of this curse.”
Carl Gallups, a pastor, former law enforcement official and author of “Be Thou Prepared: Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble,” agreed the history of Christianity has always been about coping with terrorism and persecution.
“I do not suggest that Christians live in paranoia and constant fear,” said Gallups. “Since the birth of Christianity, God’s people have been persecuted, murdered, hunted down, targeted and terrorized – many times by government decrees and legally opened doors that made it all possible. So, this is not a new thing to the Christian world. What is new, like Van Wyk says, is how this threat is spreading to nations like America.”
Churches throughout Europe are on alert after ISIS warned of new attacks. Only a few days after a French priest was beheaded during a worship service, churches in the United Kingdom were told by the British Home Office to review their security procedures. However, some religious leaders are resisting the move, saying churches must always remain a place of sanctuary.
But others are using stronger language. Annika Horg, a priest from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sweden, recently decried what she called a campaign of “genocide” directed against Middle Eastern Christians. She also said Muslims are waging an explicit war on Christianity .
ISIS also rebutted Pope Francis’s contention it is not waging a “war of religion.” In the most recent issue of the ISIS magazine Dabiq, the group says it is waging a “divinely warranted war between the Muslim nation and the nations of disbelief.”

It also justifies terrorism and killing unbelievers as “obligatory” for Muslims.
Most importantly, ISIS is directly targeting churches as part of an effort to “break the cross.”
It mocked claims its violence is senseless, proclaiming the “mujahidin” have “repeatedly stated their goals, intentions and motivations.”

Van Wyk suggested a three-step plan for Christians to respond to the campaign of violence – prayer, Bible study and action. He described each step to WND.
“Prayer – we need to pray for the Lord to give us wisdom in how to defend ourselves in a godly manner and most importantly, how to deal with His enemies in the aftermath of an attack. I returned fire at terrorists who attacked our church in 1993, but I also took the Gospel to the attackers after they were apprehended by the police. Prayer must be a launching pad for action, not an excuse for cowardice!
“Bible study – we need to study God’s Word so that we know what is expected of us as godly Christian men. There is apathy in the church and in some instances even cowardice in the face of danger. We need to overcome this sinful behavior and put feet to our faith.
“Action – I take the protection of my family and church friends very seriously,” said Van Wyk. He described how he was trained by Suarez International South Africa. Van Wyk also trained a team to protect believers.
“We’ve trained up some young men in our local ministry outreach in a shanty town, near Cape Town, South Africa, where crime and violence are daily vices,” he told WND. “We will defend ourselves against attacks by the wicked!”
He also quoted Psalm 144:1 – “Blessed by the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.”

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