EVANGELICAL LEADER SAYS OUR ONLY HOPE IS IN ALMIGHTY GOD
Evangelist and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham), has a serious message for Christians all over the country. The message is straightforward: It is time for Christians to actively engage with politics. Graham is visiting all 50 states with the Decision America 2016 tour. They’re holding prayer rallies to challenge Christians to pray for America, and to live and promote biblical principles at home, in public, and at the ballot box. LifeZette spoke exclusively to Franklin Graham about the tour, the current spiritual state of America, the role of faith in politics – and how we can turn the current progressive tide and bring back traditional values. “We’re living in the most dangerous period of history in our nation,” said Graham. “If Christians don’t stand up now we’re going to lose big.”
Q: Tell us about your “Decision America 2016 Tour” – how is that going?
A: It’s gone much better than I ever envisioned. We’ve pulled permits in all 50 states for 3,500 attendees at the state capitals, thinking if we got 500 people we would have a nice crowd. Our smallest crowd has been about 1500 and our largest has been around 10,000. People get there early. I’m talking hours early – and they aren’t coming to be entertained. In Concord, New Hampshire, people stood for hours in 18-degree weather before we even began. The wind was blowing 30 miles an hour and they braved that to hear the message.
Q: Why is “Decision America” drawing such big crowds?
A: People are coming to pray. Whether they are Democrat or Republican, they’re coming because they’re dissatisfied. People realize that Washington is broken, and they know that politicians will promise anything, but then when they get into office do nothing. I hope that during this election cycle people get mad enough to act. They are expressing that concern by attending our rallies. They realize that if we don’t turn around, we’re finished. People sense the only hope this country has is God. I ask them to take the hand of the person next to them, maybe a complete stranger – and I ask that we confess the sins of our nation. Let’s confess it out loud to God on the Capitol steps. I offer a gospel invitation, for people to surrender their lives to Christ. We have had hundreds accept Christ. Then, I ask people to get involved.
Q: How can the average American affect change in the country?
A: We talk a lot about the presidential election, but there are races that are just as, or maybe even more important and those are: Who is going to be your mayor? Your state representative or serve on your city council? We need to get Christian men and women to run for office across this country. To be a county commissioner or mayor in a small town is not a full-time job. Normally they meet once a month for two or three hours on an afternoon. What I say is: “Every one of you ought to be a county commissioner or sit on your city council. You can do this. We can take our communities back, one city or municipality at a time.” I encourage Christians to get on school boards. The filth and trash that is being approved for kids to read and study today is pitiful. We need to take these decisions back.
Q: Should politics be kept out of faith – or vice versa?
A: Christians need to be actively involved in politics. People say, “Well, what about separation of church and state?” Well, that’s a lie – our forefathers never told us Christians should be silent and uninvolved. They meant that government could not set up a religion. France was Catholic back then, England had the Church of England, and Germany was Lutheran – our new country could not be set up under one denomination, that’s what they intended. You were never intended to be separated from your faith. Our forefathers never meant to stop us from preaching, or praying, or living out our faith.
Q: How can we use our faith to effect change?
A: As Christians, our voice needs to be heard. We need to stand up, and not worry about being politically correct. Let’s take a stand for Almighty God, and for His truth and His righteousness. Churches and pastors are frightened, afraid to speak out because they don’t want to be called intolerant. When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes unto the Father but by me” – that was intolerant. Take a stand. We can be both bold and Christian. I don’t just want to practice my faith, I want to live it. Christ called the Pharisees hypocrites and vipers. He wasn’t lovey-dovey. He called it what it was. He took action. We need to do the same and take this country back. We need to get back on our knees, confessing our sins and turning from our sins – otherwise, we’re finished
Q: What can parents do?
A: Get your kids into church, a Bible-believing church. And go with your kids – don’t just drop them off. You set the example for your kids. They are going to be pounded at school with things that are not true – they will be told lie after lie there. If kids hear the truth at home, they’ll hear the lies at school but they’ll know what the truth is. Kids don’t know the word of God, and their parents don’t either.
Q: What about societal issues like the current wave of LGTB-focused changes?
A: The gay and lesbian movement is basically a lie itself. Less than 2 percent of the American population is gay, but they have been able to convince the vast majority – largely because they’ve gotten into schools – that the behaviour is okay. They are forcing the rest of the country to accept their lifestyle, and our president is promoting that lifestyle. For us as Christians we need to stand up and push back, by getting elected locally. Can you imagine if most of the mayors in this country were Christian? They would take our education system back.
Fanatical Islamic terrorists are committing “genocide” against Christians, in a bid to annihilate all traces of Christianity. With daily news of rapes, beheadings and destruction that Islamic State (ISIS), and other radical Islamists are committing against the Christians of the Middle East, there is finally some good news from the region. Miraculously, the people of Maaloula, Syria, one of the world’s oldest Christian cities, have survived. However preserving the town’s Christian heritage came with a heavy cost. According to a CBN video report by Gary Lane, the CBN News Senior Reporter, “Maaloula is an ancient Christian city where the people still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Located 35 miles northeast of the Syrian capital city of Damascus, Islamic terrorists overran and occupied Maaloula in September 2013.
“Because of its ancient history, Maaloula has become a symbol of Christianity. That’s why Islamic extremists wanted to dominate it because it is a symbol for all of Syria. That’s why it was important for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to regain control of the city.” Lane said that the Syrian army liberated Maaloula eight months after the terrorists seized control.” But, he added, the town had already suffered much hardship and destruction. Syrian Jihadists left St. George’s Church in Maaloula largely intact, but they did damage to the interior, including some of the church’s ancient icons,” said Lane. “Terrorists tried to erase the city’s Christian heritage by shooting up the icons. They used knives to desecrate a depiction of the Last Supper. They knocked down a statue of Jesus and broke it into pieces.”
And, he added, the terror inflicted on human lives proved even more devastating. “They came here to convert the Christians to Islam, and they wanted to destroy Maaloula because it is Christian,” Maryam El Zakhm said.
“They shouted ‘Allahu Akbar!’ They were from Chechnya, Egypt, Libya, from everywhere – Tunis, Algeria. They came with long hair, long beards and scary faces.” She was at home when Islamic jihadists armed with automatic weapons and grenades approached her doorstep. “They attacked my house and started screaming ‘come out you Christian pigs!’ I knew they planned to take our daughters, rape and kill them,” she recalled. “So, I thought of killing my daughters and then myself before they could get to us. I then prayed to God instead and asked Him to give us a chance to leave the house.”
She and her family escaped out a back door just moments before the terrorists stormed their home. Father Toufic Eid is the parish priest of St. George’s Greek Melkite Catholic Church, and he said, “We had a lot of fear at that time and people began to leave Maaloula. In fact, six men were kidnapped. We still do not know their fate.” They also kidnapped 15 nuns and kept them captive 3 months before they were freed in a prisoner exchange. Other Christians were not so fortunate. He said that restoration efforts continue at St Sarkis Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in all of Christendom. It was heavily damaged by the terrorists, but is now mostly restored. “The monastery chapel remains intact. Built in the 4th century on the ruins of a pagan temple, it predates the Council of Nicea in 325 AD,” Lane said.
“Missing today are 16th and 18th century icons that once adorned the chapel walls. The jihadists may have either sold or destroyed them.” And Maryam says the terrorists could have easily massacred Maaloula’s Christians, but God intervened. “I believe prayer had an effect. Through prayer, we were protected,” she said. While many buildings have been restored, it will take longer for the people to rebuild their lives. “My daughter has nightmares and screams in the middle of the night, and says, ‘they’re coming to kill us!'” said Maryam. While Father Toufic remains optimistic, he knows the Christians of Maaloula still face many challenges as fighting continues in their country. “We are rising again. This is a step of faith. To have hope. Pray for us to have more hope, because the difficulties are so much,” he said.
BUSES IN MANY BRITISH CITIES TO CARRY POSTERS PRAISING ALLAH
Following the shock news that London has just elected its first Muslim mayor, comes further surprising information that buses in various British cities will be emblazoned with slogans praising Allah in an initiative driven by a Birmingham-based charity. It is part of Ramadan campaign by the Islamic Relief charity. The Birmingham Mail, based in England’s second city, has revealed the pro-Allah poster campaign will soon appear on buses in Birmingham, London, Manchester, Leicester and Bradford, cities with large Muslim populations. “The campaign has been orchestrated to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan in June, when Muslims traditionally fast and give to charity,” said the newspaper.
Islamic Relief said the posters would help to raise funds for victims of war and disasters in countries such as Syria, and portray Islam in a positive light. Director Imran Madden said: “There is a lot of negativity around Muslims. We want to change the perception of Islam. The campaign is about breaking down barriers and challenging misconceptions.” According to Islamic law, Muslims are supposed to donate 2.5 per cent of their income to the poor and needy. Known as Zakat, the practice is regarded as one of the “five pillars of Islam.” But, not surprisingly, the campaign has drawn criticism from some UK Christian groups who fear their own faith is being increasingly censored while allowances are made for Islam.
They cited that last year, three cinema chains, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, refused to show an advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer. Andrea Williams, head of London-based Christian Concern, said that allowing Islamic adverts while banning Christian ones reflected a “disproportionate fear” about the Christian message in the face of worries about critiquing Islam. Herself, a lawyer, Williams said: “Increasingly what we see is accommodation being made for certain groups and a fear by the elite of consequence if they do not make way for certain groups. “The ruling elite bends over backwards to ensure that groups like (gay rights charity) Stonewall and Islamic Relief are given space, but is very concerned when it comes to Christian advertising or morality, so that is where you find a certain message being censored.
“Our cases at Christian Legal Centre demonstrate how the message of Christianity is censored in the public space as the elite fears that it will offend. “But when it comes to Islam, there is a big push by the ruling elites to make as much accommodation as possible, and a fear of being seen to critique or criticize the doctrine of Islam.” Williams added: “If these adverts are running, then we should ensure that space is given for Christian adverts to run, but what we are seeing in many situations is the removal of access to public space for Christian groups.” However, Islamic Relief said the posters would help to raise funds for victims of war and disasters in countries such as Syria.
WOMEN AND GIRLS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HEAP IN BANGLADESH
The world is regularly shocked with news about garment factory fires or building collapses in Bangladesh. Garments are one of Bangladesh’s main exports. But, there is a high price paid for this profit – mostly at the expense of women and girls. Bangladesh ranks 2nd in the world for child labour violations. Despite a rule that those under 18 can only work 5 hours daily, many as young as 13 work 11 hour days. Undercover cameras have exposed physical abuse and threats. One 14-year-old said, “We have to eat.” Statistics of abuse of child domestic workers are even worse. It starts in the culture. A Women’s Life Choices and Attitude survey of 6,000 women found that 83% of marriages are arranged; 77% are married by age 18, and 38% by age 15! Most child births, 58%, take place without a skilled birth attendant.
Numbers are staggering in violence reports against women. They include gang rape, acid attacks, murder by husbands, and suicide due to sexual harassment. Education is not a top priority in homes. Working to feed the family is, so many children drop out of school or never attend. Studies from around the world prove that when women are taught to read and are educated, the quality of life is vastly improved in society. Christians must act! What do we do? “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the week and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (The Bible, Psalm 82:3-4). The nation of Bangladesh is number 35 on the 2016 Open Doors World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians in the world.
Let’s pray for:
. necessary steps and arrangements to be taken so that female children do not become victims of sexual harassment.
* the government to recognize the priority of education for women and children and take steps to keep children in school
* Christian churches and ministries to provide literacy programs for women, such as T-4 Global which provides mobile schools where women gather.
OBAMA TELLS HOSPITALS DO ABORTIONS AND SEX CHANGES OR LOSE FUNDING
The same day that the Obama Administration threatened the nation’s public schools with the loss of federal funding lest they comply with its rendering of gender theory, the White House dropped an even worse threat on healthcare institutions accepting government dollars. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the final rule for Obamacare’s Section 1557, requiring healthcare providers receiving federal funds to perform “gender transition” services and abortions, or face termination of government aid, along with possible referral to the Department of Justice for legal action. HHS states the rule “will help to advance equity and reduce health disparities by protecting some of the populations that have been most vulnerable to discrimination in the health care context.”
It encompasses any health program or activity, any part of which gets HHS funding, which would mean hospitals accepting Medicare and doctors who accept Medicaid, and any HHS-administered health program, as well as health insurance marketplaces and issuers that take part in those marketplaces. The HHS claims the new rule “builds on prior Federal civil rights laws to prohibit sex discrimination in health care” and “also prohibits the denial of health care or health coverage based on an individual’s sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping. The final rule also requires covered health programs and activities to treat individuals consistent with their gender identity.”
In one community in West Africa, an imam named Sa’id became a Christ follower and began sharing his new faith. Neighbouring Muslims demanded that he would abandon his new religion, but he refused. So the threats began.
Realizing his life was at risk, Sa’id began to pray about whether or not to abandon his home and escape to a safe place. He finally decided to make preparations to leave. But the night before, a group of Muslims surrounded his home and set fire to the thatched roof. The flames spread rapidly, and the noise of the animals staying near the house alerted Sa’id to what was happening. Sa’id and his family were nearly trapped in the flames, but they narrowly escaped. When Sa’id looked up, half of his roof was gone, and the rest of the house was being enveloped by the flames.
He had seconds to get from the burning house, but before he did Sa’id prayed: ‘God, I don’t have anyone to come and help me. So please help me!’ Within seconds, the fire extinguished itself, leaving only half of the roof destroyed and the house still standing. Amazed and in shock, Sa’id brought his family back inside and spent the balance of the night there. At first light, the neighbours saw the destruction and were sure that the family must have died in the fire. But Sa’id and his family emerged unharmed, and the neighbours realized that the fire had stopped in the middle of a thatched roof. When Sa’id shared how God had spared his family, animals and home, the community knew that his God was able to save them too. Many became Christ followers, and the persecution of Christians in the area stopped completely.