Two Iranian women imprisoned for confessing Christ

Maryam and Marzieh
Two Iranian women imprisoned for confessing Christ




Two Iranian women are awaiting sentencing in Iran after a court found them guilty of apostasy following their conversion to Christianity. Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh were initially arrested on the 5th of March, 2009 for professing faith in Jesus Christ, and have languished in a jail cell in Teheran until their trial, which was held at the beginning of the week. While the Iranian government claims to uphold the religious freedom of minority groups living in the country, it is illegal for any person who was born a Muslim to convert to another religion. For those who are caught, it usually means an automatic death sentence. A few years ago, a man by the name of Abdul Rahman was convicted of apostasy by an Afghan court, and received a death sentence for professing faith in Jesus Christ. This was not done under the Taliban regime, this was done under the moderate Afghan government supported by the US administration. Thankfully the sentence was subsequently quashed after a lot of prayer and pressure from world leaders. The sentence that awaits these two Christians could be much the same. But despite suffering illness and mistreatment at the hands of their captors and having the threat of a death sentence hanging over their heads, the two girls have remained true to their profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Judge Haddad, who was presiding over the case, questioned them on their new found faith in Jesus Christ.

Quote: "Mr. Haddad, asked the two women if they were Christians. "We love Jesus," they replied. He repeated his question and they said, "Yes, we are Christians." Mr. Haddad then said, "You were Muslims and now you have become Christians." "We were born in Muslim families, but we were not Muslims," was their reply. Mr. Haddad’s questioning continued and he asked them if they regretted becoming Christians, to which they replied, "We have no regrets." Then he stated emphatically, "You should renounce your faith verbally and in written form." They stood firm and replied, "We will not deny our faith." During one tense moment in the questioning, Maryam and Marzieh made reference to their belief that God had convicted them through the Holy Spirit. Mr. Haddad told them, "It is impossible for God to speak with humans." Marzieh asked him in return, "Are you questioning whether God is Almighty?" Mr. Haddad then replied, "You are not worthy for God to speak to you." Marzieh said, "It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy." Mr. Haddad told the women to return to prison and think about the options they were given and come back to him when they are ready (to comply). Maryam and Marzieh said, "We have already done our thinking."

Maryam and Marzieh's story is not unique by any means. Many Iranian Muslims are turning to Jesus Christ. One man who I came in contact with was forced to flee from Iran after a fatwah was issued against him. He became a Christian after having seen a vision of Jesus Christ. He started preaching the gospel to Muslims and hundreds of Muslims were getting saved. He fled to England after the authorities in Iran moved against him. He was later advised to move to Northern Ireland after Muslim groups in England threatened his life. Remember Maryam and Marzieh in your prayers, and the Christians in Iran who are forced to practice their faith in secret for fear of persecution. Perhaps you wonder why these two girls, who have their whole lives ahead of them, would willingly surrender their freedom and possibly even their very lives for the sake of what they believe. As Jim Elliott once said, he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. It is said of the tribulation saints, that they loved not their lives unto death, and that they will gain the victory through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11). Do you have eternal life? The Lord Jesus Christ said of all those who put their trust in Him for salvation, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand", John 10:28. Jesus Christ loves you. He died for you upon the cross so your sins might be forgiven. Why don't you trust in Him for salvation today.

Acts 14:21-22
And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Are You Called to Go . . . or to Give?~Ann Dunagan

Are You Called to Go . . . or to Give?

You may have heard this common statement in regard to missions: "Some are called to go, but others are called to pray or to give." I believe this is true -- and that all of us as Christians are equally called to do our unique part in helping to fulfill the Great Commission.

As we train our children, we need to emphasize that God has blessed each of us for a bigger purpose than merely to satisfy our own wants and desires. Like Abraham, God has blessed us to establish His covenant on the earth. If your part (or your child's part) in helping to fulfill His Great Commission is to support world missions financially, then you need to trust God to meet your needs, and you need to begin to expand your desire to help others.

If you or your child is called to be a "giver," then begin to think (and dream) about what your money and future financial resources could do for God. Instead of browsing through department stores, catalogs, and eBay, be on the lookout for projects and people that God may want you to support. Of course, we must provide for our personal needs and prepare for our future, but as stewards of God's Great Commission we must be willing to abandon our dreams for God's dream!

One Child and a Few Coins Make a Big Difference

One young boy named Ethan heard of a mission project to sponsor a little Ugandan orphan boy at our ministry's new orphanage. Although he was only eight years old, Ethan wanted to sponsor this child personally; and with his mother's permission, he made the commitment. Right away, Ethan began collecting coins from all around his house. He started asking friends at church if they could donate spare change to help an orphan. And he set up a simple lemonade and cookie stand in a parking lot near his house. With homemade signs covered with marking-pen exclamation points and a photo of his new African friend, this young boy soon raised over six months of full orphan support -- all on his own initiative. And even after three years, Ethan is faithfully remembering his African friend; all throughout this time, Ethan has kept up his lemonade stand . . . and his sponsorship commitment.

Whether we are called to go or to pray or to give, the level of commitment to God's purposes should be the same for all of us; and this is a vital principle to instill in the next generation.

This article is excerpted from from Ann's book, The Mission-Minded Child - Raising a New Generation to Fulfill God's Purpose (Authentic, 2007).

___________________________________________

With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann is an international minister alongside her husband, a homeschooling mother of seven, and the author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family

Evangelicals Challenged to Preach Bold, Hard Truths


Evangelicals Challenged to Preach Bold, Hard Truths

In a climate where dogmatism is the new heresy, many evangelicals have backed away from bold preaching while "freely imbibing" the spirit of the postmodern age, says one well-known minister.

"It seems that zeal for the essential doctrines of biblical Christianity has become virtually as unacceptable among evangelicals and post-evangelicals as it always has been in the world at large," John MacArthur writes in his newly released book, The Jesus You Can't Ignore.

The evangelical movement used to be known for two nonnegotiable theological convictions – one of them being the absolute accuracy and authority of Scripture, and the other being Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation.

But today, evangelicalism has become an "amorphous monstrosity" where practically every idea is brought to the evangelical table for discussion, MacArthur says.

"As a result, today's evangelicals seem unable to put their finger on anything that makes them truly distinctive," he laments.

Before writing his book, MacArthur – pastor of the nondenominational megachurch Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif. – read through literature representing "postevangelical" points of view. What he found was a common theme in all the books that suggested Christians need to be less militant, less aggressive, less preachy and less sure of their own convictions in order to reach unbelieving people in a postmodern culture.

But that's not the way Jesus proclaimed the Gospel message, MacArthur points out.

A far cry from the methods employed by preachers today, Jesus preached with a bold, blunt, unvarnished directness that even his disciples had a hard time listening to, the evangelical author highlights.

"His style of preaching isn't likely to generate the kind of enthusiastic arm waving and feel-good atmosphere today's Christians typically like to see at their mass meetings and outdoor music festivals," he states.

The Jesus most people tend to be familiar with, however, is the meek and mild lamb whom many learned of as a child.

"Rather than go to the Bible to get the full picture of who Jesus is, people are very content with a benign, self-satisfying view of Jesus," MacArthur told The Christian Post.

And churches are marketing a Jesus consumers would less likely resist.

To "sell Him effectively," many churches are inventing the Jesus and the Gospel message people would like, MacArthur noted.

In his new book, the long-time minister surveys the entire public ministry of Christ and reintroduces readers to Jesus – the Jesus who never shied away from conflict, never softened His message to please genteel tastes, and never suppressed any truth to accommodate someone's artificial notion of dignity.

MacArthur emphasizes that the "one class of sinners Jesus consistently dealt with sternly were the professional hypocrites, religious phonies, false teachers, and self-righteous peddler of plastic piety."

And the Pharisees were the main figures of public opposition to Jesus.

They were the religious leaders in Israel, the experts of Scripture, and the most pious. At the same time, they were among the most hypocritical and self-righteous who preferred man-made religious traditions over the Word of God.

Pharisaism is not legalistic true Christianity, MacArthur stresses. Pharisees represent a false religion.

"One modern form of Pharisaism is just the vast religious realm in which people believe that you earn your way to heaven, by your own goodness, your own morality, your own religiosity, your own self-righteousness," he explained.

Just as Jesus was "no peacemonger" when it came to hypocrisy and false teaching, defending the truth and distinguishing between sound doctrine and error should be one of the highest priorities for every Christian, the best-selling author maintains.

"Whether we like it or not, as Christians we are in a life-or-death conflict against the forces of evil and their lies. It is spiritual war," he writes.

The spiritual conflict is first and foremost a theological one – divine truth versus demonic error, he explains. The goal is the destruction of falsehoods, not people.

Many Christians today prefer conversation over conflict and common ground rather than contention. The postmodern culture has sucked the life and boldness out of the church and Christians are content with being "nice" people, MacArthur notes. And while the evangelical pastor admits it's better to be gentle than to be harsh, he stresses that avoiding conflicts is not always the right thing.

"When peaceful coexistence 'with our deepest differences' becomes priority one and conflict per se is demonized as inherently sub-Christian, any and every false religious belief can and will demand an equal voice in the 'conversation,'" he says.

"We cannot be men-pleasers and servants of Christ at the same time," he contends.

The church, he says, needs to recapture its own courage and be faithful to follow the path the Lord took.

Promise Keepers Returns 10,000-Strong ~Lillian Kwon


Promise Keepers Returns 10,000-Strong


This year's Promise Keepers stadium event took a different turn from its usual godly men talks.

Relaunched this past weekend under the leadership of founder Bill McCartney, the men's ministry drew some 10,000 men, women and children to Boulder, Colo., for talks of revival and unity.

"We're back because Coach received a clarion call from God to relaunch this ministry. It is recognition of the fact that the church is . . . incredibly divided," Promise Keepers president Raleigh Washington told the Denver Post. "Coach's heart, his calling, is to heal the divide."

The weekend event was scheduled as the only event for Promise Keepers, which is in its 20th year of ministry, this year and the first major event since former University of Colorado football coach McCartney returned to the helm of the ministry last September. Promise Keepers has typically held numerous events across the country throughout the year, drawing tens of thousands of men.

But with declining attendance and revenues, the ministry scaled down the number of stadium-size events in recent years.

Recalling the ministry's glory days, McCartney noted that they had over 350 full-time staff at one time and their budget was $100 million a year.

Returning to the Promise Keepers stage, after having resigned as president in 2003, McCartney, 68, came out strong to relay a message of healing and honor not just in the context of the ministry but in regards to all of Christianity.

"We got to come together," McCartney told attendees at Folsom Field on Friday. "The days are getting darker and more difficult. Lord, you're not coming back for a divided church. You're coming back for a church where everybody's hearts are knit together."

"Here we'll take responsibility for 1,900 years of division and the result will be the tangible presence of God," he told attendees at the two-day event.

McCartney challenged attendees to take responsibility by honoring women, who are often oppressed, serving the poor and needy, and honoring the Jewish heritage of the Christian faith.

"I believe Boulder is the epicenter for the greatest movement of God in 1,900 years," he exclaimed.

This is the first time women were in the crowd of a Promise Keepers event. Women have typically served as volunteers and stood at the entrances of these events to cheer their husbands, fathers and sons on as the men sought to be better men of God in the home, church and society.

Whether women will continue to be invited is still unknown, according to Dave Vada, who manages Promise Keepers volunteers nationwide.

But Promise Keepers president Raleigh Washington stressed to National Public Radio that they are still a men's

2010 Missions and Beyond...Taking Christianity Into the World~John Dillard

2010 Missions and Beyond...Taking Christianity Into the World

We just completed our annual mission trip to the Navajo Indian Reservation in Pueblo Pintado, NM. Since day one it has been a family mission trip and was the third year that our family was involved and the second year that my wife led the trip and the third year that I was allowed to serve as the spiritual leader.

This year was a huge success as we began to see the effects of the Navajo people embracing our efforts by their words, actions, materials/supplies and support of our service. Those who served alongside of us this year will never be the same as God joined us and our efforts in a big way. For the 2009 mission trip we focused on Vacation Bible School, Adult Bible Study, Arts and Crafts at the Senior home, and construction.

Some of the highlights of the trip included seeing the results of those coming to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, a Community night and a deepening of the relationships previously established. We were also able to share Bibles from the American Bible Society written in the native tongue of the Navajo.

Dare to Attempt Something so Great for the Kingdom of God that it is doomed to failure, lest Christ be in it!


Casting a Vision. Though many might see this a slogan, I do not. The Apostle Paul all called us to be bold in our faith and that in so doing will do great things in God's name.

In our past blogs at http://www.christianpost.com/blogs/cpa/2009/03/i-double-dog-dare-you-taking-christianity-into-the-world-27/index.html we exhorted Believers throughout the world to strive to do something so BIG that it was doomed to failure unless God was in it.

Our latest book A Voice of One: Nehemiah's Prayer which can be reviewed at http://www.john-dillard.com/ encouraging Believers of all faiths that we are indeed all Lay Ministers who should be looking to serve and honor God, regardless of affiliations whether Baptist, Episcopal, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. Below are a few thoughts I have for seeing what God might do with us, if we let him lead guide and direct. Prayerfully consider these as you strive to see God's hand for you and your life.

Visioning for Family Missions to the Navajo Indian Reservation for 2010 & Beyond.

-Establishing a relationship with the President of the Navajo Nation.

-Looking to have five Centers of Influence (CI) throughout the Navajo Nation the same week, including the capital. CI's will be strategically placed to offer housing for attendants with each CI having its own Vacation Bible School, Adult Bible Studies, Senior Center Activities and Construction.

-Working with the local county schools to house events/members/missionaries with each CI having approximately sixty missionaries who are serving, which would result in over 300 missionaries serving the Navajo Nation. Each CI would have a team leader who would work in unison to accomplish established team/service goals.

-Deepening cross-cultural ties with the Navajo Nation while spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, with the primary focus of fulfilling the Great Commission and developing disciples, local leaders and supporting local Navajo churches.
-Developing a team approach to Missions where Navajo are invited to co-lead and serve at all levels of service with the ultimate goal of the Navajo people taking the lead to accomplish stated Mission Goals throughout the year.

-Only do construction projects where at least one local family member is involved in its work with the goal to team building and developing a local culture of "Paying it Forward."

-Ensuring that all trips are self-funded (goal will be for trips to be revenue/expense neutral to each church) with each participant predominantly raising monies through support letters, while also seeking prayer support.

-Identification of key personnel including a liaison who will share ideas with all CI leaders and world-wide marketing of the required supplies and joint vision using the Internet.

-Seeking through prayer continually the prompting of the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction while keeping at the forefront the Parable of the Soils.

-Gaining involvement of ten churches throughout the U.S. with at least thirty members/missionaries from each.

Listen to the quiet words and prodding of the Holy Spirit and see what He brings forth remembering to always strive to do something so BIG, that there is no way it will ever occur, unless God shows His favor.

In the Matchless Name of Jesus Christ,

___________________________________________

John Dillard is an author and Certified Public Accountant. To See how he takes Christ along with him to work visit www.HisCPA.com and for his latest book Overcoming Life's 9/11's: Job's Journey visit www.John-Dillard.com "Dare to Attempt Something so Great for the Kingdom of God that it is doomed to failure, lest Christ be in it!"

Marrying Earlier Why Wait?~Mark Earley

Marrying Earlier

Why Wait?


The traditional, nuclear family is under enormous, arguably unprecedented, strain. The past 40 years have witnessed the deconstruction of the institution, culminating in efforts to redefine it out of existence.

An increasingly smaller percentage of Americans live in what, two generations ago, was a typical household consisting of two parents and their children. Not coincidentally, cohabitation is becoming much more common.

Against this familiar backdrop of bad news, there seems to be little we can do to make a difference. But as this month’s Christianity Today cover story points out, there is something that Christians can do, and it will make a difference, if not in the broader culture, at least in the Church-getting married sooner rather than later.

That’s the counsel of Mark Regnerus, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas.

Regnerus, who wrote an acclaimed book about religion and sex in the lives of American teenagers, begins his argument by acknowledging what many Christians won’t: Our best efforts to keep our young people from having sex outside of marriage aren’t working well.

No matter how creative and committed we are, the vast majority of “unmarried, church-going, conservatives Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex of some sort.” It’s not that things like abstinence-based education aren’t worthwhile-they are. It’s that they aren’t enough. Especially these days, in this over-sexualized culture.

But there’s another less obvious factor that makes Christian norms of purity increasingly difficult: People are waiting longer to get married. In 1970, the median age of first marriage was 21 for women and 23 for men. Today, those numbers have risen to 26 and 28 respectively and show no signs of slowing down. Again, the numbers for Evangelicals aren’t all that different.

The obvious answer is to encourage young believers to marry earlier-not as teenagers, but in their early 20s. Preparing, not to mention convincing, them to marry younger won’t be easy, but it may be necessary as way to promote Christian faithfulness and the institution of marriage itself.

Part of the difficulty, as ethicist David Gushee points out, is that Christians have bought into the idea that marriage must wait until people have completed their education and are established in their careers. What he calls our “lax thinking” about marriage includes the “myth” that every marriage must be economically self-sufficient. Don’t get me wrong- self-sufficiency is admirable. But so is charity on the part of Christian parents who choose to help support their newlywed young people financially.

Marriage “as God intended it” is a “profoundly counter-cultural reality.” It can be a “witness to the Gospel,” but this witness requires more than telling young people “don’t.” It requires encouraging them, by words and deeds, to say “I do.” Sooner rather than later.

What Cost Christianity in America?

The sight of her father makes the teen "frantic and hysterical," Rosa Gonzalez, the attorney for Rifqa Bary, told Orange Circuit Judge Gail A. Adams. The teen is in fear for her life, Gonzalez said.

This is happening in America. Listen to her cry. This is here now. WATCH THIS VIDEO. It is the most compelling plea I have ever seen.

This is so tragic, so frightening - we must act. Can someone get the name of this girl's lawyer? Experts must testify on her behalf. We will raise the money to fly scholars on Islam to Orlando to speak for the veracity of this girl's claims. Please contact me off line if you know anything. Please. Quickly.

The court does not know what it is dealing with: the obfuscation and lies of the propaganda wing of Islam. Florida took emergency jurisdiction until the court can confirm, but Ohio will take over the case and investigate........"the child should be returned to Ohio".

Girl Says Family Wants To Kill Her For Being Christian

ORLANDO, Fla. -- An Ohio girl ran away to Orlando because she said her family threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity. Rifqa Bary, 17, said she was threatened by her family because she converted from Islam to Christianity.

"What did your father say to you?" WFTV reporter Mary Nguyen asked.

"He said he would kill me!" replied Bary.

They have to kill me. My blood is now halal which means because I am now a Christian, I am from a Muslim background, it is an honor, if they love god more than me, they have to do this."

This is not just some threat. This is reality. This is truth. This is reality.

This is to break the heart. The status hearing is set for next Friday. Something must be done. You can hear the cries of Amina and Sarah, Aqsa, Rand ............. all of those girls, you can hear them in her voice.

I beg you to help this child. This girl is in real trouble. The court does not understand. They will buy into the Muslim lies. Apostasy is death in Islam. If this girl is sent back to her family, they will ship her off to Sri Lanka and we will never hear from her again.

Here's the backstory: She got away!

A week or so ago I blogged about a missing Muslim girl who converted to Christianity. I wrote: Atlas Shrugs: Fathima Rifqa Bary: I hope she got away.

Police had been looking for information about Rifqa, a central Ohio teenager who vanished nearly three weeks ago.

The teenager's cell phone has been turned off and her Facebook account deactivated, Kocot reported.

According to police, the girl's friends told detectives that it was possible she ran away because of conflicting religious beliefs in her home.

She's alive! And in court in a custody battle that could send the girl to her death. I pray they have experts who know about honor killings testify.

The West's abject failure: the gruesome gallery of honor killings in the West.

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