World Watch List of Countries where Christians are Persecuted
Every year Open Doors organisation, which ministers to persecuted Christians around the world publishes its World Watch List of “The top 50 countries where it’s most difficult to follow Jesus.” Open Doors CEO, David Curry’s presentation of this list this year included exceptionally worrisome information about new dangers globally, and deadly shifts in the free world’s responses.
David Curry explained,
Afghanistan is now officially the world’s #1 worst persecutor of Christians. It remained in second place for many years, although many Christians were unaware of its offenses due to the largely silent and invisible Christians there, comprised of converts from Islam.
The report also focussed on the escalation of violence against Christians in another distressed location – Nigeria and in the adjoining Sahel region of West Africa. David Curry provided his perspective.
Nigeria’s unconstrained violence has the potential to spill over well beyond Nigeria. And since Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa what effect could this eventually have on the African continent?
David Curry also spoke about China:
Last year, 5,898 Christians were known to have been killed for their faith. 5,110 churches and other Christian buildings were attacked. 3,829 Christians were abducted. 6,175 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned. The full number of all these statistics is likely to be much higher. Over 360 million Christians lived in places where they experienced high levels of persecution and discrimination.
Church of England leaders endorse Gay History Month
At the beginning of February Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell released this statement to celebrate LGBT+ History Month:
This statement reveals the confusion now functioning at the head of the Church of England, replicated in many denominations of the church. The archbishops talk of a ‘diverse church receiving the gift of everyone’ and valuing each other as ‘God’s precious and beloved children.’ It is clear from what they go on to say about LGBT+ people that diverse and inclusive Christian communities must include not only all races (which they should) but all life styles and sexual practices, in which everyone experiences the unconditional love of God in Christ Jesus.
However God’s love is not unconditional. In John 1 we read ‘
This means that receiving God’s love is conditional on us receiving salvation as we repent of our sins and believe the Gospel. The Bible teaches that any sexual relationship outside of marriage is sinful. Whatever the world may say today, in God’s eyes marriage can only be the relationship between a man and a woman. This means that all homosexual acts are sinful in the sight of God, as well as all heterosexual acts outside of marriage. Because of His love and Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins at the cross, God is able to forgive the sins of all who repent, but if we reject this and continue in our sins, we cannot receive God’s love.
However the purpose of the LGBT+ agenda is to say that homosexual practice and transsexuality must be treated as normal and acceptable and that the Christian Church should go along with this. Therefore there is nothing wrong in homosexual practice that needs to be repented of. By implication this means that we must teach that God accepts people who practice homosexuality as they are (as well as fornicators and adulterers) and that those who engage in such things can enter into the kingdom of God without changing their ways.
In 1 Corinthians 6.9-11 we read,
It is significant that Paul writes here ‘such were some of you.’ We may come from all manner of backgrounds (and sins) to Christ. When we repent and believe we are accepted in Him and our sins are washed away. We are not to be prejudiced against people because of where they have come from or what they have done in the past, but to accept all who repent and believe into the Christian community. However Paul did not write ‘and such are some of you.’ The problem of much of the church today is that it is teaching that you can continue in practices God says are sinful and be accepted by Him.
We are to treat all people with love and compassion, including homosexuals, as we love our neighbour as ourself. However this does not mean that we have to endorse and approve what they do. The Gospel message is a call to repent, to change our ways and to accept salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Until we do this none of us can receive the love of God, which is conditional on us accepting the salvation He offers us in Jesus.
The first words of Jesus recorded in Mark’s Gospel are,
Paul writes in Romans:
Worldwide hunger crisis threatens
According to the UN, worldwide food prices in February 2022 were 20.7 percent higher than they were in February 2021, fertiliser prices have gone sky high, crop production is down all over the planet due to crazy weather patterns, and supply chain problems caused by the pandemic continue to create ongoing headaches. Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, that is going to push this rapidly growing global food crisis to a level that none of us have ever seen before.
Under normal conditions, Ukraine exports tremendous amounts of food and is considered to be one of the most important breadbaskets on the entire planet. Ukraine and Russia account for a high percentage of grain, oats, corn and other food exports to Europe as well as Africa. The war has already caused global wheat prices to surge by more than 55 percent. Moreover, they also account for a very sizeable portion of fertilizer — all of which are now in far shorter supply. About 5 billion people depend on fossil fuel created fertiliser for the production of their primary source of food.
The Russian invasion has left hundreds of ships and thousands of sailors stranded in Ukraine. Not only is this predicament endangering their lives, it is also threatening global trade. The ships that were meant to pick up goods from the Black Sea region will not be able to make their deliveries anytime soon. This is a cause of concern for countries that rely on exports coming from the area, such as grain. Egypt, for example, imports 85 percent of its wheat from Ukraine and Russia and is now scrambling to find other sources of wheat before it faces a catastrophic food shortage. Other countries bracing for shortages and spikes in the prices of food products include Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Kenya and those in North Africa. In addition, several countries on this list are also dealing with internal political instability and conflict, situations that only worsen when the people are starving. Very high food prices caused riots all over the Middle East in 2011, and now we are moving into a food crisis that will be far greater than anything that we experienced back then.
Things are going to be very challenging in Europe as well, because Ukraine supplies the EU with just under 60% of its corn and nearly half of a key component in the grains needed to feed livestock. Meanwhile, crops all over the world are in surprisingly poor shape because weather conditions have been so strange. China’s winter wheat crop could be the worst in history, raising concerns about grain supplies in the world’s biggest wheat consumer. 71% of all winter wheat in the United States has been affected by drought.
China has been buying up large supplies of grain on the world market, taking it out of circulation for the poorer countries of the world. With such a large population, it makes sense for China to be concerned about rising fertiliser and food prices. Hungry populations revolt, and China’s government fears a revolution. According to Nikkei Asia,
China is expected to have
Starvation combined with domestic unrest is a powder keg waiting for a spark. The world has become far less safe. The Bible prophesies famine as one of the signs of the last days.
What is to be done?
The things happening in the world and in the church are a sign that we are living in the last days before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. When asked about the signs of His second coming Jesus said:
These things will reach a climax in the event known as the Great Tribulation. Jesus spoke about this in the verses that follow the quote above in Matthew 24.21-22:
This will be the most disastrous time in human history. You can find out more about it in the Book of Revelation chapters 6 to 19. Jesus tells us that if God did not cut short these days it would lead to the end of life on earth. He tells us more about this time in Luke 21.
Jesus speaks of ‘the distress of nations with perplexity’. The word used in the original for ‘with perplexity’ is ‘aporia’ which means ‘with no way out’. In other words, there will be a world crisis with no human solution shaking the world at this time. Today we see crisis after crisis coming down the line and no one can solve them. Environment, financial, social, health – the world is in deep trouble. People will be afraid of what is coming on the earth as the ‘powers of the heavens will be shaken’, cosmic upheavals which are beyond our control. The end result will be the Second Coming of Jesus (the Son of Man), with all the power of God at His disposal.
At some point in this process this event will take place, by which the true believers in Jesus will be taken out of this world and taken to a place of safety in the Lord.
Jesus told us to be ready for this to happen at any time (Matthew 24.34-46). In order to be ready for this event we must make sure that we are in a right relationship with God, by repenting of our sin and believing the Gospel, that Jesus Christ / Messiah died for our sins and rose again from the dead.
In the meantime we should make use of the time that remains by telling people how to find salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, who has come once to redeem us and is coming again to judge the world in righteousness. You don’t have to be a trained theologian to do this (in fact trained theologians are often the biggest obstacle). You simply have to be born again of the Holy Spirit through accepting Jesus as Saviour and want to get the message of the Gospel out in any way possible. Ask God to show you ways you can do this.
Here are some of the resources we produce to help you do this. Our leaflets, ‘SOS’ and ‘Hope for the Future’, can be given out to your friends, family and neighbours, handed out on the streets or posted through letterboxes. Already thousands of these leaflets have gone out through our supporters in different parts of the country. Our booklet 10 Signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ gives more detail on the prophetic programme and current events.
The article ‘Can you lose your salvation?’ answers the question about what is salvation and whether we can lose it once we have found it. It goes through a number of Bible passages on the subject and encourages us to believe in our eternal security in Jesus Christ. ‘The Omega Course’ is a study in Bible prophecy which takes you through most of the main passages about end times and gives you the opportunity to examine these texts and answer questions about them. Both these booklets are available for £1 plus postage.
We do a monthly talk ‘This month in prophecy’ looking at what is happening now in the light of Bible prophecy. Available on CD for £3 or on our website www.bridgelane.org.uk We use the Internet and social media to pass on messages about the Lord and His return. You can join in with this by passing on such messages to contacts on Facebook and social media.
We also put on services at The Bridge Christian Fellowship in London NW11 which are recorded and put on our website. These often deal with prophetic themes.
Finally we have printed a prayer of salvation you can say to God if you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour and are ready to accept Him now.
More information is available on these websites
Light for the Last Days www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk
Messiah Factor www.messiahfactor.com
The Bridge Christian Fellowship www.bridgelane.org.uk