September 8th, 2009 by M. French

From Voice of the Martyrs:

Hindus in Madhya Pradesh, India, have accused Pastor Kamlesh Tahed and three other Christians of murdering a young man who was killed in a fight between two locals, according to Compass Direct News.

On Aug. 8, Roop Singh Baria was killed during violence between the Baria and Tahed clans regarding 1,000 rupees (US $20), which had been borrowed by one of the Tahed family members. When members of the Baria clan filed a report with the police about the incident, they implicated Pastor Tahed, Kasna Tahed and two other believers, Ramesh Tahed and Vasna Tahed, in the murder. The four men and other locals insist that the Christians were not present when the murder took place.

Following the incident, Pastor Tahed said, “I once was one of them, but in the 20 years since I became a Christian, they have been dragging me into false cases and hate me for my work of evangelism.” In 2001, Pastor Tahed was jailed for 20 days on false charges of “forcible conversion.” He was released after a costly court battle, which proved his innocence. At last report, he was in hiding and the three other accused believers were in police custody.

God, shine your light of truth and righteousness on this situation.

Posted in News, Persecution Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

August 2nd, 2009 by M. French

MESSIANIC JEWISH LEADER OF CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN ACTIVIST GROUP UNEQUIVOCALLY DENOUNCES SHOOTINGS AT GAY AND LESBIAN CENTER IN TEL AVIV

Contact: Eric McCoy, eric@icnministries.org. 704-701-2886

CHARLOTTE, August 2, 2009: Dr. Michael Brown, leader of the Charlotte-based Coalition of Conscience, which is known for its strong differences with many of the goals of gay activism, has “categorically and unequivocally denounced” the murderous shootings that took place last night at a gay community center in Tel Aviv.

Brown, himself a Jewish follower of Jesus, says he was “shocked and saddened” to hear the news of the killings, especially in Israel. “We don’t have the details yet, but this has all the markings of an act of raw hatred, and as such it must be utterly renounced. Whatever differences any of us may have with any sector of society, be those religious differences or ideological differences, we must maintain those differences with civility and respect. The moment we resort to violence, especially in God’s name, we become agents of destruction and bring reproach to the God we claim to serve.”

Brown points to the non-violent example of Jesus who instructed his followers to put down their swords and to take up their crosses – meaning, to renounce violence and to practice self-denial – noting that it was this example that inspired the non-violent social movements of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

“True moral and cultural revolution,” Brown notes, “does not come about through hatred or intimidation or violence. It comes about through prayer and service, through influencing people’s hearts and minds, overcoming wrong ideologies with right ideologies. But violence only begets violence.”

This past Friday, Brown sat down with a lesbian leader in Charlotte to discuss their differences and to gain better appreciation for each other’s perspectives. He believes that such mutually respectful interaction can help deter the misunderstandings that all too often lead to violence.

“I have friends who received death threats simply because they worked for Proposition 8 in California, and I have received ugly threats as well.  Then today, tragically, we hear of a deranged man who killed and wounded gay and lesbian young people in cold blood. This tells me that there are fanatics on all sides and in all religions, and it behooves us as leaders to set an example of civility and respect in the midst of our differences and to say, ‘The violence stops here.’”

Posted in Culture, News Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

July 19th, 2009 by Michael L. Brown

Editor’s Note: Cross-posted as an AskDrBrown question.

Actually, one of the foundations of our non-violent faith is the understanding that the Bible’s often “violent” language is not to be applied literally but spiritually. That’s why Christians around the world are almost always the persecuted rather than the persecutors, and it is only when Christians completely abandon their faith – and so are Christians in name only – that they commit atrocities like the Crusades and Inquisitions.

Jesus is our pattern and our model: When He was reviled He did not revile in return, and when He was physically attacked He did not fight back. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

At the same time, Jesus, along with others in the New Testament, often used “violent” language. Consider the following sayings of our Lord:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12, ESV).

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils” (Luke 11:21-22).

How about these sayings of Paul?

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. . . . Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-11, 17).

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6, ESV).

And what do we make of the fact that Paul sometimes addressed his fellow-workers as “soldiers”? He wrote of “Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier” and “Archippus our fellow soldier,” also urging Timothy to, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:25; Phm 2; 2 Tim 2:3).

And what we do make of the “violent” imagery of the Book of Revelation? “Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon– the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world– was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last– salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth– the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” (Rev 12:7-11)

How do we reconcile the fact that the New Testament has so many “violent” references with the fact that Christians through the centuries have been persecuted and martyred for their faith (rather than persecuting and martyring others), turning the other cheek and refusing to retaliate? It’s all quite simple: As I said before, Jesus is our example! He was the one who asked the Heavenly Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34), telling Pilate that He was not an earthly king, otherwise His servants would have fought for Him (John 18:36), and ordering His disciples to put down their swords in His defense, since those who live by the sword also die by the sword (Matt 26:52).

As I wrote in my book Revolution: The Call to Holy War, as followers of Jesus, we are called to put down our swords – meaning all physical violence in His name and allegedly for His cause – and take up our crosses, laying down our lives rather than taking the lives of others. That is part of the very essence of the gospel!

That’s why we have Christian classics like Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, not Foxe’s Book of Murderers. And that’s why some of the great Puritan authors like John Bunyan and William Gurnall could write books with titles like Holy War and The Christian in Complete Armor without anyone ever thinking that they were calling for violent Christian acts. And that’s why William and Catherine Booth could found The Salvation Army without anyone thinking they needed to buy a gun to join. This really is self-evident.

In fact, the non-violent nature of the gospel (meaning, non-physically-violent) is so clearly spelled out that Christians can also use the parts of the Old Testament that were, originally, written with physical violence in mind – like Joshua taking the city of Jericho (Josh 5) or like David writing that the Lord trained his hands for war and his fingers for battle (Ps 144:1) – and apply them in an entirely spiritual, non-physically-violent fashion.

To repeat: We understand that as followers of Jesus, we put down our sword and we take up our cross, willing to lay our lives down for a lost and dying world but refusing to take up even a stone to hurt those who oppose us.

Is it possible to misunderstand the biblical imagery and become physically violent “for the gospel”? Only if the Word of God is willfully misused and abused; only if the entire example of Jesus and His New Testament followers is completely ignored; only if the testimony of hundreds of thousands of persecuted and martyred Christians through the centuries is systematically scorned. But to do so would be to call the ocean dry or fire cold or a mountain flat, and that’s why there are so few examples of “physical violence in Jesus’ name” despite the presence of hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide.

And that’s why, despite the tremendous passion against abortion that exists in our Bible-believing, Christian communities, when an abortion doctor is killed by a professing Christian, this is the rarest exception to the non-violent rule. It is, to be a sure, a very terrible exception, but the reason it stands out with such glaring clarity is because it is so contrary or our whole spirit and philosophy. We are pro-life, not pro-death, otherwise, rather than four abortion doctors killed in more than three decades of pro-life activism – this, of course, is four too many – there would have been 400 or 4,000 dead by now. The very thought of this is at complete odds with the message and method of Jesus, and the idea of killing people for the sake of the gospel is utterly revolting.

In a future article, I’ll address the question of why I and others often use the terminology of martyrdom – the willingness to glorify Jesus by life or by death – but I’ll close this here by restating the obvious: It is our use of “violent” biblical language in a non-violent way that helps us focus our energies on spiritual battles rather than physical battles, using the weapons of love and self-discipline and longsuffering, overcoming evil with good. We know that our fight is not with people but with spiritual forces (Eph 6:12), and we understand that we overcome evil with good and hatred with love (Rom 12:17-21). It is only those who willfully misconstrue this message – and therefore who do not truly know Jesus – who could possibly misunderstand it.

For further insights on this, see Revolution: The Call to Holy War, especially chapter ten, “Take Up Your Cross, Put Down Your Sword: The Jesus Way to Revolution.”

Posted in Revolution & Justice Tagged with: , , , , , ,

November 18th, 2008 by M. French

Editor’s Note: More information concerning our sources for this story can be found here: Kingdoms in Conflict Followup

A group of homosexual protesters turned violent on Friday, Nov. 14th when an outreach team from the Justice House of Prayer gathered together to worship on the streets of the Castro District in San Francisco. These young Christians had been meeting to worship and reach out to the Castro community on Friday nights for months, with this being their first time in the community since the passing of Proposition 8 in California, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and has sparked nationwide protests from the GLBT community.

While the outreach team sang worship songs, the homosexual protesters became erroneously convinced that the group from JHOP was there to protest the “No on 8” Campaign that the GLBT community has been promoting throughout the country. A crowd gathered around the JHOP team as they sang “Amazing Grace”, and as tensions mounted, the crowd began shouting vulgarities and taunts at the Christians, eventually throwing hot coffee, alcohol, and soda at the group, and according to some at the scene, even spitting on them, all the while blowing whistles inches from their ears. As the scene progressed, the team was also shoved, had their personal belongings stolen, and were hit and kicked, requiring them to call the police. Eventually, a riot team was called in to protect the victims as they worshiped. One victim said that when one of the homosexuals was confronted by a young woman for stealing her Bible, “he responded by hitting her on the head with the Bible, shoving her to the ground, and kicking her.” When asked by the police if she wanted to press charges, she declined, choosing to extend forgiveness to her attacker instead.

Violence and verbal abuse weren’t the only things they had to endure however, as perverse acts of molestation also took place. According to one of the victims, individuals in the crowd touched and grabbed them, tried to remove their pants, and even made attempts to penetrate them anally with foreign objects.  Following this, the police had to surround the outreach team to protect them from the mob, and confront a man who threatened the team leader with death. The police asked the outreach group to leave for their protection due to the violence of the crowd, despite the police presence. They escorted the group during the long walk back to their van, followed by the mob who continued to shout, chant and blow whistles. The press only arrived in time to capture some of their walk back to the van, and you can view the raw footage of this here (YouTube version posted below).

Incredibly, the article published by the news team from KTVU in San Francisco has many of the facts of the event wrong, but with the only interviews performed being from the homosexual community, rather than representatives from both sides or even the police who were called to protect the victims, who should be surprised? The group who went from JHOP to the Castro area was not “marching” to support Proposition 8, nor did they blatantly “confront” anyone from the homosexual community on Friday night. And despite the aggressive nature of the mob, KTVU fails to mention it in the least, and even quotes a homosexual man who says “Their rights were respected…They got a chance to go ahead and pray on the sidewalk and I had the opportunity to express my freedom of speech which is telling them to get out of my neighborhood.” (emphasis mine) They also quote another homosexual man saying “It’s not religious. It’s not a racial thing. It’s about hate. We’re trying to send a message across the world that we’re standing up and we don’t want this to go on anymore.” But they print not a word from a police officer or one of the victims of the attack.

“Their rights were respected?” As hot coffee and other things are thrown on them, their belongings are stolen, and they are physically and sexually assaulted? “It’s about hate?” Since when is praying and singing hymns classifiable as hatred? Emotions are running very high within the GLBT community, but the actions of some of the protesters have overstepped the laws of the nation as well as the “tolerance” and “equality” that they themselves demand of those who believe in God’s design of marriage between a man and a woman. The victims from JHOP attacked in the Castro district would have been well within their rights to press charges, but instead they chose to love and forgive instead of meeting hatred with hatred, or even seeking justice from the laws which protect members of both sides of the issue.

The heart of the group who was chased out of the Castro district is this:

We don’t want to convert gays to straight people. We want them to know the Love of Jesus Christ. Even if someone never becomes attracted to the other sex, they can still love Jesus Christ with all their heart, mind, and soul. As the mob raged, all I could pray was “God have mercy.”

Every one of us stands in need of the mercy of God, without exception. Let us pray for God to have mercy on the GLBT community, that they would have a true encounter with the Spirit of God who is the very embodiment of love, holiness, and truth, and that we may be able to reach out to them with a heart of compassion for the heavy struggle facing those who deal with this issue which lies at the very core of the way they identify themselves. Which one among us has not needed God to redefine core beliefs about who we are/were? The transformation must be accomplished by the Spirit, not the strength of men. We must cry out to Messiah Jesus to have mercy!

Posted in News, Sexuality & Gender Tagged with: , , , , , ,