Jul 6, 2011

Iranian Pastor Alive for Now, and Other Blessings

Chuck MisslerBy Dr. Chuck Missler
Koinonia House

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Counties along the Missouri River still face flooding. Arizona is still battling wildfires. Unemployment is still high, and multitudes of people are still stuck in houses that are worth less than the mortgages on them. As the Kingston Trio sang so famously, they're rioting in Africa... and Texas needs rain. Yet, as often as human beings like to focus on misery, there are a multitude of blessings to be found on every side. In celebration of freedom and the manifold grace of God, we're going to take a look at some recent news items over which we can rejoice!

Pastor Youcef NadarkhaniIranian Pastor Death Sentence Annulled

The Iranian Supreme Court overturned the death sentence for Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, age 32, on Sunday. Just a few days before, the court had upheld Nadarkhani's conviction, according to human rights groups. Now the death sentence has been annulled, but the court also wants Nadarkhani to renounce his conversion from Islam to Christianity. Nadarkhani converted to Christianity when he was 19 and acts as a house pastor for a small community of evangelical believers in Iran.

Nadarkhani is not out of danger. The Iranian government expects him to recant his Christian faith. The excellent news, however, is that God is building His Church even in the middle of Iranian persecution. There are evangelical house churches in Iran! Nadarkhani has not yet been executed. The evangelical community he pastors fervently prays for him, and there are thousands of fellow Christians now learning about Nadarkhani's predicament (like us) willing and able to join them in intercession. As the case comes to light, international pressure is generated for Iran to follow the religious freedom written into its own constitution.

Andrew Johnston, advocacy director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide spoke out on Nadarkhani's defense, saying, "CSW is gravely concerned about the judicial process in Pastor Nadarkhani’s case and the precondition to recant his faith. We once again urge the Iranian regime to respect the stipulations of international treaties to which it is party, including the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICPPR), which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom to change one’s religion or belief."

Tennessee Stands Up For Unborn Children

On Friday, Tennessee’s legislature passed the expanded Unborn Victims of Violence Act. The law gives prosecutors power to bring charges against those who have harmed or killed an unborn child in the process of committing a crime. In the past, unborn children were not considered victims when they were injured during violent crimes against their mothers. Now, both the mother and her unborn child will be recognized in the eyes of the law.

Drug Cartel Leader Captured

The third in command of the brutal Los Zetas drug cartel was arrested in a Mexico City suburb on Sunday. Jesus "El Mamito" Rejon was linked to a US immigration agent's murder in February. Rejon is a founding member of Los Zetas, one of Mexico's most violent drug cartels. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has steadily battled to bring down the drug cartels since taking office in December 2006.

The Nehemiah Project Paints Houses

More than 165 teenagers from 12 churches around Staunton, Va gathered in late June to do community service projects for the second year in a row. The Nehemiah Project focuses on meeting needs of real people in the area, from cleaning basements to repairing roofs. "Lots of lots of people live as if God doesn't exist," explained Staunton Alliance Church youth pastor Chris Mecurio. "We don't want to just tell people. We want to show people."

Any time multitudes of teenagers are led to selflessly weed gardens and hang drywall for the good of others, we know that bright spots still sparkle in the world.

Businessman Adopts Six Orphans

After having provided financially for the six children of a murdered woman since 2006, Goddard Mugwena of Muledane village in South Africa has officially adopted the whole family. Mugwena is a businessman and philanthropist who has made all the difference to these orphans.

"I have been with these children for a long time now. They have been accepted by my own kids and they are like my own children. We have become a happy family. After discussing it with my family, I have decided to support the children for as long as I live," said Mugwena.

Mugwena believes caring for these children is what the Bible has taught him to do. "It pains me to drive around town and see children eating from dustbins without anybody taking notice of them. We have to take care of each other. Let us treat all children as ours and intervene where necessary."

The Joy Of The Lord

In Nehemiah 8, the book of the law was read out loud and explained to all the people, and they wept for sorrow. Nehemiah and the Levites told the people not to grieve and be sorry. For, as Nehemiah said in verse 10, "the joy of the LORD is your strength."

We often get caught up in the sorrows and difficulties of life. We allow ourselves to be discouraged with world struggles and our own personal failures. Yet, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but "of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Love, joy, and peace are the first in the list of the fruit of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22).

Repeatedly in the Psalms, David encourages us to rejoice and make joyful noises to the Lord. Why? Because God wants to hear the noise? No, we sing because God is good! He delivers us from our enemies and He takes care of us! We rejoice because there is mercy in this world, and God Himself has saved us and made us victors. He makes us able to overcome, and through Him we can do all things. We rejoice, regardless of our circumstances, because Christ has already won.

Sometimes, in the middle of the floods and fires, it is precious to stop and smile up at the King of the Universe and enjoy His great goodness. He still holds the whole world in His hands, and He rejoices when we set aside our fears and just delight in Him.

"Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth. Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein. Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever" (1 Chronicles 16:31-34).

Related Links
Good Samaritan Now A Dad To Six Orphans - The Star
Project Nehemiah Volunteers Help Rebuild Homes - Newsleader.com
Mexico Nabs Top Lieutenant of Dreaded Zetas Cartel - Reuters
Iran Supreme Court Overturns Pastor's Death Sentence - The Christian Post
Unborn Victims Receive New Respect in Tennessee Law - TN Right To Life