Light for the Last Days

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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,

“For twenty years North Korea has been at the top of the World Watch List because there you have a communist system led by a dictator. They control all the means that make life possible — your economy, your food, the borders, the police, neighbourhood watches. It’s an old school Soviet communist system, but enforced with all the modern tools available. But now, all of a sudden — and for the first time — we have a new player on the scene at the top of our list: Afghanistan.”

David Curry – Open Doors

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. 

Curry explained,

“Some Christians have fled. We all know that story and are thankful for those who have helped make that happen. But some Christians choose to remain, bravely staying to bring salt and light to their community. They’re being tracked. And we believe that every Christian who’s still in Afghanistan — and there are thousands of them — are either in hiding or on the run. That’s what has raised Afghanistan to #1 on the World Watch List.”

David Curry – Open Doors

“This is what happens when the free world allows countries like Afghanistan to fall into chaos. If you look at the top of the World Watch list, you’ll see Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Eritrea. These are all largely failed states, which are totally in chaos, and they are the launching grounds of terrorism around the world. Our Open Doors study focuses on religious freedom, particularly for Christians, but that issue has implications for everybody else as well.”

David Curry – Open Doors

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. 

“There’s a clash of civilisations going on there, and its epicentre is in the north of Nigeria, where there are 13 Sharia law states. This is looking very familiar to us — like ISIS when they took over Iraq and Syria. You have Boko Haram, which is ISIS related. You have Fulani extremists. They’re targeting Christians in villages and towns; they’re burning these down, they’re kidnaping women and children. In fact, a thousand Christian children in Nigeria were kidnapped last year by Boko Haram or the Fulani.” 

David Curry – Open Doors

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:

“China is number 17 on our list of persecutors of Christians. They have the world’s most sophisticated system of persecution. I describe it as a high-tech noose. And it has been slowly choking people of faith since President Xi consolidated his power.  They shrink the churches. They force them to break up into small groups, then they force them to go online, then they monitor them online. Then they shut down their online experiences. Xi uses hi-tech surveillance. Every year they continue to add new layers to it, and it’s just choking and choking and choking.”

David Curry – Open Doors

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:

‘Across the Church of England this February, many people will be marking LGBT+ History Month. As we work together to discover what it means to be a diverse church receiving the gift of everyone, our prayer is that this would be a time of truly valuing each other as God’s precious and beloved children. Let us pray that the Spirit of God would stir in us a deeper sense of belonging to each other as the Body of Christ.  We also take this opportunity to lament and reject all prejudice, hatred, oppression, and violence against LGBT+ people. We pray that LGBT+ people around the world would be able to live lives free from fear and find joy in the love of God. Let us commit to building communities in which everyone experiences the unconditional love of God in Christ Jesus.’

Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell

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

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ 

John 1.11-13

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,

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6.9-11

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,

‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’ 

Mark 1.15

Paul writes in Romans:

For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 3.23-24

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6.23

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 Hoards Over Half the World’s Grain, Pushing Up Global Prices.”

Nikkei Asia

China is expected to have

“69% of the globe’s maize reserves in the first half of crop year 2022, 60% of its rice and 51% of its wheat.”

Nikkei Asia

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:

Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Matthew 24.3-8

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

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

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.

And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.  “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.

Luke 21.20-24

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. 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4.16-18

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.

Dear Heavenly Father, I admit that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus the Messiah died in my place, shedding His blood to pay for my sins, and that He rose again from the dead to give me eternal life. I am willing right now to turn from my sin and accept Jesus the Messiah as my personal Saviour and Lord. I commit my life to you and ask you to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to fill me and to take control and to help me become the kind of person you want me to be. Thank you Father for loving me.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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