An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Friday, 26 December 2014

A Xmas letter from a Christian Pastor who is in an Iranian Jail

Christian Pastor Imprisoned in Iran For His Faith Sends Christmas Letter from Prison Cell

December 17, 2014 - 4:35 PM
Saeed Abedini
Iranian-born American pastor Saeed Abedin. (Image: ACLJ)
Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian American Christian pastor who was imprisoned for his faith in Christ, wrote a heartfelt and thought-provoking letter on the meaning of Christmas from his prison cell.
Just who is Pastor Abedini? Many know the story, but many more are unaware of this man’s plight.
Saeed Abedini’s official site tells Pastor Abedini’s story:
“Saeed Abedini, a 34-year-old Pastor, father, and husband from Idaho, is currently imprisoned in Rajaei Shahr prison (formerly imprisoned in Evin prison in Tehran, Iran). On 28 July 2012, during a visit to Tehran to visit family and to finalize the board members for an orphanage he was building in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard detained Saeed, asserting that he must face criminal charges for his Christian faith…”
And it is because of Abedini’s steadfast faith that the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reminds everyone that “we must remember those who are in chains…in chains for the very Gospel – the Good News – we are celebrating.”
Feel free to download Pastor Saeed Abedini’s letter, or read it in its entirety below:
Rajai Shahr Prison 2014
Merry Christmas!
These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.
These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.
Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.
Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.
Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.
The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!
So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.
Pastor Saeed Abedini

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Xmas (and a double Santa Wave)

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Merry Xmas to Christians everywhere.
Specially remembering and praying for those who are living in insecure conditions around the world and who live in fear for their lives.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Christmas Eve Prayer

O God
it is your will to hold both heaven and earth
in a single peace.
Let the design of your great love
shine on the waste of our wraths and sorrows, 
and give peace to your church,
peace among nations,
peace in our homes, 
and peace in our hearts

A New Zealand Prayer Book

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Migrant Tales of Harrowing Journeys and Bleak Survival

In the Western World when we talk about boat trips we mean this

In other parts of the world it means this

In September 500 migrants fleeing wars in Gaza and Syria set sail from Egypt for Europe. The boat was rammed by traffickers and capsized. Only 11 survived. Channel 4 News has spoken to some of them.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

I love Simple Sermons

I love those sermons which have a simple message that you can take away, ponder upon and act on. I have often been in churches where the sermon of the day has been so complicated because it has involved too many messages that do not mesh together. Today's message was a back to basics one about helping those in distress. The context for this sermon was the spread of Ebola. In fact this church is even doing a fundraising event for the Ebola crisis.

Some of you reading this will be in bewilderment about the fact that I have even blogged about simple sermons because, you may be thinking, isn't that what church is about? That is indeed what church should be about because a message that touches on the basic Christian beliefs of care and compassion is one that we can all act upon in small ways everyday. I once listened to a sermon about the mission to mars and couldn't apply it to my week, try as I did. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Have you ever wondered what members of the Klu Klux Klan look like behind those masks and white hoods?

A Black teenager called Michael Brown, aged 18, was shot dead on the 9th of August this year by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown was allegedly unarmed and his killing sparked weeks of unrest in Ferguson. The policeman was given anonymity and was taken into safe hiding for his own protection. This week the Grand Jury in Missouri is deliberating on whether to indict the officer. He has since been outed and named as Darren Wilson. It is at this point that the long arm of justice seems to get longer and more opaque.

Darren Wilson does not appear to have been censured so far, 3.5 months after the incident. The Grand Jury is deliberating this week on whether or not to indict Darren Wilson. In anticipation of problems, the Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon has put the National Guard on standby. This has inflamed people's ire. The Klu Klux Klan in a further incendiary move gave out flyers threatening to deal with rioters. The activist group called Anonymous stepped up to protect the people of Ferguson and has hacked into the KKK's Twitter account. What it has found is that a network of Klan members operate in all spheres of life masquerading as honest citizens who uphold normative life. It is being heavily hinted at that Darren Wilson himself is a member of the KKK, hence the image below which I have taken off  Twitter.

Anonymous have also released the comment below which was posted by a KKK member called 'Frank' calling on other members to 'deal' with Anonymous in a prescribed manner.

Question of the day: Why hasn't the Klu Klux Klan been banned in America?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Did you wear a Red Poppy today?

For the first time in many, many years I noticed that only a few people at church today were wearing Poppies. I don't know why this was but I was not one of them either. Let me start by assuring you that I did donate to the Poppy appeal. Helping soldiers and their families is part of Christian charity and a very important one too but for the first time I find that I am in conflict between celebrating war victories and feeling impotent over the devastation that war brings.

I started questioning the meaning of wars in Summer when Israel unleashed the forces of hell on Gaza. Watching little children suffer and either live on with terrible injuries or die from devastating injuries made me question how and why countries seek to protect their sovereignty. Weren't the lessons from two world wars about peace and diplomacy? Into this equation we have drone wars where countries do not even have to send soldiers out to fight but drones can inflict as much devastation and, often, on the innocent.

While I observed the two minute silence I prayed for an end to wars. Naive as this may sound I do think that this is a relevant prayer because there is much geopolitical trouble looming as between Russia and the Eastern European countries and between China and Japan over island boundaries. I fear that all the lessons of post world wars are conveniently being forgotten as countries, once again, rise up to assert their military power. Perhaps there is much significance to the White Poppy after all.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Is it the end for Christianity in Iraq?

The Washington Post published a worrying article last month predicting the end of Christianity in Iraq. The fundamentalist movement that calls itself  ISIS has driven thousands of Iraqi Christians and others from their homes to seek refuge in Northern Iraq. As Christians, it is important to remember that other religions and tribes have been caught up in this war and my prayers are said for all of them. 

Charities on the ground claim that a humanitarian crisis is looming for these refugees as the winter approaches. At present they are living in tents and half-built buildings. The thought of children, even babies, living in such circumstances always fills me with sadness. Founder and President of the US based Iraqi Christians Advocacy and Empowerment Institute has warned that the situation is going to get worse because there is no sign of aid or assistance from the Iraqi government. It is estimated that there are 120,000 Christians who had to flee from their homes in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plains. 

The problems for Christians started in 2003 soon after Saddam Hussein was removed. It's been a steady onslaught since then against Christians.  it is now estimated that there are 300.000 Christians when there were 1 million. Even if peace is restored to Iraq Christians say that they will not feel safe anymore given that their persecution has been ongoing for the last 11 years. 

The Vatican is to meet on October 20 to discuss this situation but if governments remain inactive in providing assistance and refuge then I fear that little can be done for our fellow brethren and others caught up in a whirlwind of hatred and wickedness. 

Please pray for those displaced in Iraq. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Disgusting Racist Attack on Brisbane Train

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Please Pray for Iraq

Parliament is being recalled tomorrow for a debate and a subsequent vote on whether Britain should participate in the war against ISIS in Iraq. The following message was received by Bob West some weeks ago but is still relevant. The message demonstrates the seriousness and urgency of the Iraq situation. Please pray for a good outcome tomorrow by our political leaders. I can't do anything about the white borders. I know it is irritating. 

Just received this urgent prayer email below from Don Clark, FCCI Area Leader from Chicago. Samaritan's Purse is headed by Pres. & CEO Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham. Please PRAY and forward this
email to your sphere with thanks.
Bob West

James O. White CPA | Ambassador

Prayer warriors needed urgently!

Dear Friends, Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from Sean Malone who leads Crisis Relief International (CRI). We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts."We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food too. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. 

Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated it's staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!" Please pray sincerely for the deliverance of the people of Northern Iraq from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians
across this region. May I plead with you not to ignore this email. Do not forward it before you have prayed through it. Then send it to as many people as possible. Send it to friends and Christians you may know. Send it to your prayer group. We need to stand in the gap for our fellow Christians. 

1 Corinthians 13:13  Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.