Fellowship of St. James Needs Your Support
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 1:44 PM

Last week, I had the privilege to attend for the fourth time Acton University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where more than 1,000 persons from 67 nations gathered to speak and learn about how our Christian faith informs our understanding of freedom and economics.  It was an exhilarating experience, and I would encourage my readers to begin to plan to attend the next session in June 2015.  One evening as I introduced myself to a young man at dinner, he said, “You write for Mere Comments, right?”  It was an affirming comment.  I certainly appreciate my many blog readers from around the world, and also deeply value the ministry of Touchstone and Salvo magazines, and the St. James Daily Devotional Guide.  On occasion, I have been asked why I don’t start my own blog instead of writing for Mere Comments.  However, my answer has always been the same: Writing for Mere Comments is a wonderful privilege to share my Christian faith with many, and the website serves as a strategic tool to encourage others to grow more deeply in their faith in Jesus Christ.

That is the ministry of the Fellowship of St. James, the publisher of Touchstone and Salvo magazines, and of Mere Comments.  The Fellowship, founded in 1976, seeks to promote fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, and encourages greater Christian unity based upon shared belief in the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith as revealed in Holy Scripture and taught in the ancient creeds of the Church.  As a recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization, subscriptions alone do not cover the costs of publishing the magazines.  As a result, the Fellowship relies upon generous gifts from its readers and supporters.  My wife and I have long been supporters of the Fellowship as we recognize the great value of a clear, consistent, ecumenical platform for thoughtful and learned Christians to share how our Christian faith informs an understanding of modern-day life in these spiritually dark times.  I would ask you to prayerfully consider a generous donation to the Fellowship as we approach the end of the Fellowship’s fiscal year on June 30, 2014.  As of today, the Fellowship needs $35,000 to balance its budget.

You can make an online donation here.

Thank you very much for your prayer consideration of this request.

Please Pray During Ramadan
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:33 AM

Beginning June 28, 2014, and running for thirty days until July 27, 2014, 1.6 billion Moslems will celebrate Ramadan.  During Ramadan, Moslems set aside time to seek their god by abstaining from earthly pleasures.  Moslems will pursue the cleansing of their souls through fasting from sunrise to sunset, and refrain from bad habits.  During this time, God will move in the lives of millions of Moslems to introduce His Son, Jesus, as their Lord and Savior.  Today, the Moslem world is in great chaos, and Christians are being martyred daily throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  Missiologists tell us that today four of every five Moslems, or 20 percent of the world’s population, have never heard a clear presentation of the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Further, it is estimated that no more than ten percent of Christian missionaries work among Moslems, and I have seen some estimates as low as 1 percent of missionaries work among Moslems.  This means that there is approximately one missionary for every 1 million Moslems.

The Lord Jesus is revealing Himself throughout the Middle East and North Africa through dreams, visions, and miracles, as well as through television.  As one prime example, Father Zakaria Botros, a Coptic priest from Egypt, has a ninety-minute, Arabic-language television program that combines preaching and teaching, along with answering questions from often irate callers from all over the world.  His daily television audience is estimated to be more than fifty million, and his program is viewed in every country of the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, as well as other parts of the world.  As a result, because of God’s great love for Moslems, more Moslems have become followers of Jesus Christ in the past several decades than in the previous 13 centuries.  I have been reading a fascinating book by Tom Doyle, entitled Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?  This book reads as a modern-day version of the Book of Acts of the Apostles, and I commend this book to you to understand more fully what God is doing in the Moslem world today.  There are credible reports that hundreds of former sheikhs and imams are now Christ followers, and are leading many out of Islam.  There are also cases of entire mosques coming to faith in the Lord Jesus.  Many of these imams and sheikhs are the new Christian leaders in the Middle East and North Africa with tens of thousands of Moslem-background Christian believers.  I have personally corresponded with and encouraged more than one dozen Moslem-background Christian believers in the past year from around the world.  Areas of the Moslem world that have never had one church before now have dozens that were started in the past several years.  As one can expect, the formerly-Moslem Christian believers are severely persecuted.  But despite great persecution, imprisonment, and martyrdom, with many others losing their homes and loved ones, these new Christians boldly serve our Lord Jesus.  They have truly counted the cost, and know the pearl of great price of their newfound faith.  I encourage all of us to pray during this month of Ramadan for God’s Holy Spirit to be poured out throughout Moslem lands.  A number of Christian organizations will offer guided prayers during this time.  As two examples, www.prayercast.com will offer a daily prayer journey through the Moslem world during this month.  Open Doors, the Christian organization involved in ministering to the persecuted church around the world, offers a 30-day Ramadan prayer guide, which you can find here.  God is doing great and miraculous things throughout the world today, and I encourage each of us to pray for our Moslem friends and neighbors, as well as those around the world, during Ramadan.  As we pray, let us ask God to shatter the deception of Islam with the presence and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

An Historic Day in Washington, D.C.
Monday, June 23, 2014, 10:20 AM

When I lived in Washington, D.C., one of the first places that I would take visitors and family to visit was the National Cathedral.  Officially, the Episcopal National Cathedral is called The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington.  It is architecturally beautiful, and I consider the cathedral to be a sermon in stone to the glory of God.  The cathedral has long been a place of importance in American history.  I remember it best for the first part of former President Reagan’s funeral in June 2004, and for the worship service held on the Friday morning after the September 11, 2001, attacks when the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham comforted our nation.

In a curious way, the Cathedral made history again this past Sunday.  The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, was the first openly transgender priest to preach from the Canterbury Pulpit at the cathedral.  The Rev. Dr. Partridge is also lecturer and counselor to Episcopal/Anglican students at Harvard Divinity School.  The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, presided at this service.  The service was part of the cathedral’s celebration of LGBTQ pride month.  The service included readings and prayers from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.  The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the cathedral, said that he hoped that Rev. Dr. Partridge’s participation would “send a symbolic message in support of greater equality for the transgender community.”  And for that symbolism, I am sure that the Very Rev. Hall is correct.

Many of my readers know that the Bible is not supportive of transgender priests.  A number of Holy Scriptures find “an abomination” for those who attempt to transform their masculinity into femininity.  (See, e.g., Deuteronomy 23:18.)  St. Paul, in I Corinthians 6:9, includes a group called “malakoi” or “soft men” in his list of those who “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Of course, effeminate or soft men are not solely homosexual, and I have observed that some lesbians seek to appear overtly masculine.  But during Sunday’s services at the cathedral, those present prayed the following:

Gracious God, have mercy on us.  We confess that we have turned from you and given ourselves into the power of sin.  We are truly sorry and humbly repent.  In your compassion forgive us our sins, known and unknown, things we have done and things we have failed to do.  Turn us again to you, and uphold us by your Spirit, so that we may live and serve you in newness of life through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

That is a profound confession for all of us, including those in attendance on Sunday morning, and we continue to pray and work for our national repentance.  If you wish to watch Father Partridge’s sermon, you can watch here.

Could Common Core Fix the Scientific Ignorance of Americans?
Friday, June 13, 2014, 2:48 PM

As recently reported on Mere Comments, a new Gallup poll shows that many Americans still believe in God’s involvement in the creation of mankind.  The largest proportion of Americans, 42 percent, believe that God created human beings in their present form.  Additionally, 31 percent believe mankind evolved, but with God guiding the process.  Finally, 19 percent believe that man evolved without any involvement by God.  The Gallup survey results are available here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/170822/believe-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx.  Interestingly, despite many decades of “education” regarding evolutionary theory in government schools, the proportion of Americans subscribing to a creationist worldview that God made humans in their present form has never dropped below 40 percent since the question was first asked in 1982.

Non-theistic evolutionary theory has, of course, a myriad of problems.  There is the obvious irrationality that a pool of contaminated water struck by lightning is the source of all present life, after having replicated trillions and trillions of times successfully.  Fred Hoyle, the late English astronomer and atheist, famously observed regarding the likelihood of evolution of cellular life, “It would be easier for a tornado to go through a junkyard and create a 747.″  Moreover, if evolutionary theory were true, we would have expected to find by now millions of fossils of “transitional forms.”  For example, if birds evolved from reptiles or dinosaurs, as is often speculated, we could expect to find fossils showing various forms of stunted wings covered in scales.  But numerous evolutionary paleontologists have observed that no fossil has ever been found that can be identified as a transitional form.

What is to be done by this so-called scientific ignorance of so many Americans?  This is particularly important as the new Common Core educational standards have not issued their “science” standards, even though the Common Core standards will be first tested on the College Board Scholastic Aptitude Test in 2016.  (I suspect that issuance of new Common Core science standards may not be well received by the general public, and their release is awaiting a very slow news day.)  However, at the very least, we can reasonably anticipate that the new Common Core science standards will begin teaching evolutionary theory in the earliest school grades, as compared with the high school years now.  Alison Kopnik, writing recently in the Wall Street Journal, observed:

A new study in Psychological Science by Deborah Kelemen of Boston University and colleagues helps to explain why evolution is hard to grasp.  It also suggests that we should teach children the theory of natural selection while they are still in kindergarten instead of waiting, as we do now, until they are teenagers. . . Even babies understand that human actions are that preschoolers begin to apply this kind of design thinking more generally, an attitude she calls “promiscuous teleology.”  By elementary-school age, children start to invoke an ultimate God- like designer to explain the complexity of the world around them—even children brought up as atheists.  Kids aged 6 to 10 have developed their own coherent “folk biological” theories.  Dr. Kelemen and her colleagues thought that they might be able to get young children to understand the mechanism of natural selection before the alternative intentional-design theory had become too entrenched.  They gave 5- to 8-year-olds 10-page picture books that illustrated an example of natural selection. The “pilosas,” for example, are fictional mammals who eat insects.  Some of them had thick trunks, and some had thin ones.  A sudden change in the climate drove the insects into narrow underground tunnels.  The thin-trunked pilosas could still eat the insects, but the ones with thick trunks died.  So the next generation all had thin trunks. . . .  One picture book, of course, won’t solve all the problems of science education.  But these results do suggest that simple story books like these could be powerful intellectual tools.  The secret may be to reach children with the right theory before the wrong one is too firmly in place.

Emphasis added.

So we see that children intuitively perceive life as reflecting “intentional design.”  So the answer, according to the learned evolutionists, is to catch them very early and “train” them to understand things from a Darwinian perspective.  Of course, the example of the pilosas is fictional, which is, in and of itself, quite telling.  Moreover, the extrapolation from such a trivial example into the origin of all species and all biological complexity by unguided natural processes is dishonest, and particularly so, in a children’s book.  Personally, I am skeptical about the origin of all species through evolution.  In my thinking, it takes far more faith to believe in an ex nihilo creation that does not involve God than to believe in God’s direct involvement with Creation.  In fact, according to Professor Hoyle’s analysis, he estimated the probability of cellular life evolving to be one-in-1040,000.  He also observed, “Life as we know it, is, among other things, dependent on at least 2,000 different enzymes.  How could the blind forces of the primal sea manage to put together the correct chemical elements to build enzymes?”  An excellent question, I think.  In the Holy Gospels, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the reality of God’s direct involvement in Creation and the creation of mankind.  Well, He would know, wouldn’t He?

Update on Dr. Meriam Ibrahim Yahia of Sudan
Monday, June 9, 2014, 3:50 PM

On these pages, I have recently written about the plight of Meriam Ibrahim Yahia, who was sentenced by a court in Sudan to death by hanging for “apostasy” and for 100 lashes for her “adultery.”  Unlike most definitions of adultery, the Sudanese court found her to be an adulteress for having married a Christian husband, who is also an American citizen.  In recent weeks, with her ankles shackled in chains, Meriam gave birth to a little girl, Maya.

Meriam’s ordeal began last year when members of her biological father’s family, people she hadn’t seen in many years, tracked her down, and accused her of adultery and apostasy.  Although she produced a marriage certificate to a Christian man, the court found her marriage invalid since her biological father was a Moslem.  However, Meriam’s father had abandoned her and her mother when she was a young child.  She had been raised as a Christian, and never practiced Islam.  However, under Sharia law, a daughter of a Moslem is a Moslem by birth and may not marry a Christian man, despite her upbringing or her personal convictions as an adult.  Further, under Sharia law, Moslem men are free to marry Christian women, though the opposite is not true for women.  Meriam Ibrahim, a successful businesswoman, is a physician.  It was reported that her biological father’s family only found her after hearing about her success.  By filing these complaints against her, her father’s family believes they can secure her assets, business, and children after she is hung.

During this nightmare, she was asked to deny her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ three times, and three times she has refused.  Now, Meriam, Martin, her toddler American son, and Maya, her newborn American daughter, lie in a bug and filth-infested Sudanese prison cell, a victim in the real Islamic war on women.  Section 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Sudan guarantees “every person . . . the right to the freedom of religious creed and worship, and to declare his/her religion or creed and manifest the same . . . no person shall be coerced to adopt such faith, that he/she does not believe in.”  Even under Sudanese law, the national constitution trumps other enacted laws, such as the Criminal Code, under which Meriam was convicted.  Further, Sudan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”).  The ICCPR is a major treaty on human rights, and not merely a suggestion.  Article 18(1) of the ICCPR provides, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.  This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice . . .”  Despite these laws, the Honorable Judge Abbas al Khalifa found a “legal basis” to convict Meriam for adultery and apostasy, based on her proclamation of her Christian faith.  Although pressured during her court hearings to recant Christianity, Meriam stood firm in her faith and has refused to do so.

As you can well imagine, Meriam’s American husband, Daniel, is distraught over the situation, and is not allowed custody of his children because under Sharia law, the children are considered to be Moslems.  Daniel, an American citizen, confers U.S. citizenship to his children at birth.  However, last week when Daniel again visited to the U.S. consulate in Khartoum to obtain that recognition, in a reprehensible display of obstruction and contrary to mandates of U.S. immigration law, American consular officials demanded that Daniel present the results of a DNA test.  (Of course, getting blood samples from the children sitting in prison pose their own practical problems to comply with the consulate’s edict.)   So now two American children are in a Sudanese prison with their “apostate” mother, and the American consulate is demanding that DNA test be conducted.  (Just begin to imagine the umbrage to an American policy demanding DNA tests for the children of all illegal aliens or persons applying for legal immigration status before any government benefits be provided?)  Please use your voice to demand that your Congressman and Senators call the Department of State to protest this outrageous requirement and issue the U.S. passports to these two U.S. citizen children.  The U.S. consulate should also immediately issue to Meriam an emergency travel document known as “Significant Public Benefit Parole” so that upon her release, she can immediately board a flight out of Sudan.  In addition to writing to our government officials to demand justice for Meriam and her family, please write to Meriam at the following address:

Dr. Meriam Yahia
Omdurman Prison for Women
P.O. Box 65
Omdurman, Republic of Sudan

In your letter or card, please assure Meriam of your prayers and support, congratulate her on Maya’s birth, and praise her for her courage and testimony for Christ.  I am certain that Meriam will be greatly encouraged to know that Christians everywhere are praying for her.  In Hebrews 13:3, we read, “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.”

While You Were Sleeping
Friday, June 6, 2014, 8:10 AM

In recent days, my American readers have been focused on the abysmal care to our military veterans at a number of government hospitals, the mystery surrounding the prisoner swap with the Taliban and Sgt. Bergdahl, and the deepening concerns about the Mr. Obama’s foreign policy setbacks in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.  But mostly unnoticed was a small item in which the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) reversed a long-standing ban on gender reassignment surgery paid for by Medicare.  (Yes, really!)  Gender reassignment surgery is commonly referred to as a sex change operation.  Thus, taxpayer-paid sex change surgeries are now available for the elderly and disabled.

HHS has determined that it is “no longer reasonable” to expect older and disabled Americans to pay for their own sex change operations.  Instead, HHS now recognizes the surgery as “medically necessary” and “effective” treatment for people who cannot deal effectively with their own biological gender.  Mr./Ms. Denee Mallon, a 74-year-old Army veteran from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was the driving force behind the change in HHS policy, after he/she sued HHS for this special benefit.  In an emailed statement reported by ABC News, Mallon wrote:

Sometimes I am asked aren’t I too old to have surgery.  My answer is how old is too old?  When     people ask if I am too old, it feels like they are implying that it’s a “waste of money” to operate     at my age.  But I could have an active life ahead of me for another 20 years.  And I want to spend     those years in congruence and not distress.

(I wonder why he/she didn’t simply go to the Veterans Administration for the sex change operation?  After all, taxpayers we have been paying for sex change operations for military traitors and illegal immigrants throughout the Obama years.)  Each gender reassignment surgery can cost $50,000 or more.  Fortunately, Medicare has plenty of money to take care of the 10,000 seniors now retiring each day.  Gary Gates, a demographer with The Williams Institute, a think tank on LGBT issues at the University of California at Los Angeles, estimates that people who self-identify as “transgender” make up 0.3 percent of the U.S. adult population.  With over 49 million Americans now enrolled in Medicare, if Mr. Gates’ numbers are somewhat accurate, I would think that sex change operations for senior citizens and the disabled should not amount to more than 150,000 surgeries.  Thus, the new HHS policy clearly recognizes that it is a taxpayer responsibility to cover an elective body modification that reduces the mental, psychological, and physical risk arising from those suffering from gender confusion and dysphoria.

Technically, the HHS decision does not yet apply to Medicaid, which provides health coverage for individuals and families with low-incomes.  Although some states do not pay for sex change surgeries and the cost of sex hormones that transgendered people commonly take during their “transition,” other states evaluate such claims on a case-by-case basis.  However, as private health insurance companies and Medicaid programs often follow the federal government on what is considered medically necessary, this decision is likely to lead to sex change surgeries as a routinely covered insurance benefit.  After the HHS decision, Mallon said in a statement, “This decision means so much to me and to many other transgender people.  I am relieved to know that my doctor and I can now address my medical needs, just as other patients and doctors do.”  I am reminded of Mr. Obama’s response to a question at a town-hall meeting about one’s 100-year-old grandmother who received a pacemaker.  This was during the run-up to passage of Obamacare.  The questioner pointed out to Mr. Obama that her grandmother had badly needed a pacemaker, but had been turned down by a doctor because of her age.  A second doctor, noting the patient’s alertness, zest for life, and generally youthful “spirit,” inserted the pacemaker despite her advanced age.  Her symptoms, having been resolved, Grandma was doing well five years later.  The question for Mr. Obama was, “Under the Obama healthcare system, will an elderly person’s general state of health, and her “spirit,” be taken into account when making medical decisions – or will these decisions be made according to age only?”  Mr. Obama’s famous answer was clear: “it is really not feasible to take ‘spirit’ into account.  We are going to make medical decisions based on objective evidence, and not subjective impressions.  . . . Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking a pill.”  I guess he has now “evolved” on this as well.  I am glad that Mr./Ms. Mallon won’t have to just take a pill to deal with his dysphoria, or that he won’t have to pay for it either as those expenses are now foisted on taxpayers.  But as Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council observed, “While President Obama is busy financing senior sex changes, wounded veterans are dying for lack of medical care.”

Some Thoughts on Our Federal Judiciary
Friday, May 30, 2014, 9:00 AM

Several weeks ago, I wrote about how the Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”) identified anyone who was critical of the new Common Core educational standards as a right-wing extremist.  Further, if a Christian opposes Common Core, then we were identified by the SPLC as “Christian right-wing extremists.”  In my blog, I concluded that as a Christian and as one who is skeptical about Common Core’s efficacy, then I am deemed to be such in the eyes of the SPLC.  On this theme about how Christians are bad people, Federal judge John E. Jones III, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002, recently struck down Pennsylvania’s law stating that marriage is only between one man and one woman. You can read his opinion here.  (Prior to this decision, Judge Jones was best known for his 2005 decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, where he found that the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools to be unconstitutional.)  Judge Jones’ decision regarding homosexual “marriage” comes on the heels of a string of legal victories for the homosexualists since last summer when the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage to be only between one man and one woman was unconstitutional.  Since then, federal judges struck down laws preventing homosexual “marriages” in Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and now Pennsylvania.  Further, federal judges have ruled that out-of-state marriages must be recognized in another four states: Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  Interestingly, Judge Jones concludes his opinion with the following: “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”   So now, according to Judge Jones, if you support traditional marriage, you are a bad person with archaic views.  Strangely to me, in his opinion, Judge Jones also rejected the “contention that concepts of history and tradition dictate that same-sex marriage is excluded from the fundamental right to marry. The right Plaintiffs seek to exercise is not a new right, but is rather a right that these individuals have always been guaranteed by the United States Constitution.  (Emphasis added.)  Wow, who knew?  I wish Jefferson and Madison had only let us know that homosexual “marriage” was there in the Constitution.  (Incidentally, the Founders could have also added a paragraph or two about abortion rights as well in their voluminous writings.)

Of course, the Constitutional framers supported judicial review; the Federalist Papers explained it; the ratification debates described it; and legal scholars confirmed it.  But the Founders also expected limits on judicial review. Alexander Hamilton said that courts were not to construe laws “according to the spirit of the Constitution” because this would “enable the court to mold [the laws] into whatever shape it may think proper” which was “as unprecedented as it was dangerous.”  Indeed!  James Madison noted, “Refusing or not refusing to execute a law, to stamp it with its final character . . . makes the Judiciary department paramount in fact to the Legislature, which was never intended and can never be proper.”  In addition, although this statement by Madison is not in the Bible, but it is so true that it could easily be, “All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.”  

One often hears that the answer for us is that we should vote.  But on the case of traditional marriage, we have already done this.  In a majority of states (31, including California in 2008), we the people voted to protect natural, traditional marriage in our state constitutions.  But Judge Jones and a number of other federal judges have simply disenfranchised the votes of archaic-thinking people of this nation.  One solution recently described by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is to use the power of Congress to impeach, try, convict, and remove federal judges from the bench.  Although we are taught that all federal judges have lifetime appointments, but the Constitution provides that they serve “during good behavior.”  Generally, we think that bad behavior is about corruption or taking bribes.  But it seems to me that bad behavior also includes ignoring the Constitution, or as did Judge Jones, making things up in the Constitution that have never been there.

Impeaching federal judges requires the courage of true leadership and statesmanship in the House of Representatives which seems to me, sadly, in limited supply.  When impeached by the House of Representatives, the judge is forced to stand trial in the United States Senate.  Even if the federal judge would not be convicted and removed by the Senate, it would be highly educational for the American people to hear and see federal judges, and even justices of the Supreme Court, explain their decisions before the people.  It is a sad truism that the purpose of our judicial system is not to render justice, but rather to render a verdict.  But in a constitutional republic, the decision of one person should not thwart the votes of tens of millions of citizens.  But unless federal judges are reined in, Christian traditionalists can expect more persecution for those of us who hold orthodox views, like the Benham brothers, former Mozilla CEO Mr. Eich, cake bakers, photographers, florists, and others.

Victims of Boko Haram Speaks Out
Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 9:17 AM

On these pages, I have written previously about the terrible tragedies facing Christians in Nigeria.  Last week, one of the young victims of the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, which means “Western Education is Evil” in the Hausa language, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.  The hearing, entitled “Boko Haram: The Growing Threat to Schoolgirls, Nigeria, and Beyond,” is available here.  Deborah Peter is a 15-year-old survivor of Boko Haram’s terror.  She was rescued from Nigeria approximately nine months ago by our friends at the Jubilee Campaign (www.jubileecampaign.org).  In her testimony before Congress, Debbie described how on the night of December 22, 2011, three members of Boko Haram came to her home and killed her father, a Christian pastor, who refused to recant his faith.  The terrorists then killed her brother, Caleb, in order to prevent him from growing up to be a pastor.  The Islamists forced Debbie to lay between the dead bodies for the rest of that night.  Another local pastor, Reverend Faye Pama, paid for Debbie to leave the area.  Then on May 15, 2013, Pastor Pama was also murdered by Boko Haram in the presence of his children.  Ultimately, Debbie was rescued by Jubilee Campaign workers several weeks after the killing of her family.  She was first placed in a trauma counseling program, and then moved into a secure environment, and eventually came to the United States.  It was only last week when she spoke before Congress that she told the world her horrific story.  In her testimony, she said that her hope was to let the world know how truly barbaric Boko Haram is, and to encourage the rescue of the 276 kidnapped school girls from Chibok.

Jubilee Campaign also rescued Hajja, another young woman, in September 2013.  Hajja is the first escaped slave-bride to speak out against Boko Haram.  Hajja is a Christian teen, who was kidnapped by Boko Haram and given the jihadist stark choice: convert to Islam or die.  A relative of hers who was one of the Islamic terrorists convinced her to feign “conversion” to save her life.  Under great pressure, she did so.  The leaders of Boko Haram celebrated her “conversion” to Islam by assigning her to be the slave-bride of one of the Boko Haram leaders.  However, she was given a 90-day purification ceremony before consummation of the “marriage.”  During that time, the Boko Haram dressed her in burqas, and made her memorize Koranic verses.  Near the end of the 90 day purification period, she had the foresight to feign a serious illness.  As a now “Moslem” slave-bride, she was sent to a hospital with an older woman as a chaperone for medical treatment.  Hajja then escaped from the chaperone, and managed to flee the area.  A Jubilee Campaign team in the area moved Hajja to a safe location.  Upon learning that she had escaped, the Islamic terrorists ransacked her family home searching for her, and then killed her uncle when they couldn’t find her.  Last week, Hajja was also interviewed on CBS News, and told the story of her captivity.  You can watch the video here.  Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (Republican of California) stated that Boko Haram’s terroristic activities have resulted in the deaths of 14,000 victims, the burning and destruction of 500 schools, as well as the complete destruction of many villages, and the kidnapping of many children in the name of its demonic jihadist movement.  Debbie and Hajja reveal the utter depravity of the religion and politics of Boko Haram.  Please pray for Debbie and Hajja that God will heal their hearts and continue to give them great courage.  Please pray for the other victims of Boko Haram butchery, and for the terrorists in  Boko Haram as well.  I believe that Islamic terrorism is Satan’s attempt to keep the message of the Holy Gospel away from Moslems.  It seems to me that the enemy thinks that if he can make the rest of us afraid of Moslems, or make us hate them, then he can prevent the Church from reaching Moslems for the Lord Jesus Christ.  But that strategy isn’t working.  Many of my readers might not know that there are now former Islamic terrorists who walk with Jesus in every Middle Eastern country.  In fact, missiologists believe that more Moslems have become followers of Jesus in the past ten years or so than in the previous fourteen centuries of Islam.  And may the memory of Pastor Peter, Caleb, and Pastor Pama be eternal.

At the conclusion of her congressional testimony, Debbie said the following:

I am thankful to Tuesday’s Children, the 911 Foundation for inviting me to a summer camp for child survivors of terrorism. I am thankful to Jubilee Campaign for bringing me to America, and I am thankful to Mt. Mission School for giving me a chance to continue my education and being a home to me in America.

These sound to me like organizations truly doing God’s work that my readers and their churches might wish to consider supporting in tangible ways.

Memorial Day 2014
Thursday, May 22, 2014, 9:51 AM

Memorial Day is the most solemn of our national holidays.  The solemn tribute began in 1866 when three Christian women from Columbus, Mississippi, decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers there and at the same time laid flowers on the graves of the Union soldiers buried in the cemetery.  At the insistence of his wife, General John Logan, then Army Chief of Staff, issued an official order shortly thereafter proclaiming Memorial Day an annual day of remembrance for our nation’s war dead.

From the days of the Revolution, through the struggles of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the first Gulf War and the present War on Terror, the strength of our nation is in the spirit of its men and women who fought and died for a nation determined to know its ancient liberty.  4,435 combat deaths in the Revolutionary War, 2,260 in the War of 1812, 1,733 in the Mexican War, 140,415 on the Union side in the Civil War, 74.524 on the Confederate, 385 in the Spanish-American War, 53,513 in World War I, 292,131 in World War II, 33,667 in the Korea War, 47,393 in the Vietnam War and 148 in the Persian Gulf War.  Over 4,410 have died as a direct result of hostile action in Iraq since March 19, 2003, with 2,184 more in Afghanistan.  The loss of life to American military men and women in all of our nation’s wars exceeds 1,340,000.

On the first few days after D-Day in June 1944, 6,603 Americans died in combat; 4,000 alone on the first day.  Iwo Jima, lying midway between Guam and Japan, is less than five miles long.  On that island, a detachment of Japanese troops were ordered to dig in the mountain fortress and to die to the last man.  The assault on Iwo Jima was the fiercest landing fight the world has ever seen.  The Japanese kept up an incessant rain of death upon the attacking American troops on the beaches.  Navy and Marine casualties exceeded 22,000; the Japanese counted more than 20,000 dead.

On the sacred soil of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the battlefield was a sea of carnage.  In three days of fighting, Confederate losses were 3,900 killed, and 24,000 wounded and missing; Union losses were 3,100 killed, and 20,000 wounded or missing.  Those soldiers listed as missing simply vanished, ground up in battle disappearing into the soil.  In November 1863, several months after the battle of Gettysburg, its military cemetery was dedicated, at which President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address.  There are 120 national military cemeteries in our nation.  From Arlington on the Potomac to the Golden Gate , from St. Augustine in Florida to Sitka, Alaska, as well as on many other burial grounds elsewhere around the world.  The war cemeteries in Normandy hold the remains of 9,386 American soldiers.  On hallowed soil, as in the hearts of the American people, the memory of these gallant men and women, who made the supreme sacrifice, is enshrined forever.  In a letter written by President Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby, who lost five sons in the Civil War, the President wrote: “May our Heavenly Father assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

On this Memorial Day, we must not mourn that these men and women died, but rather, we must thank God that such as they lived.  This is also why the Veterans Administration scandal involving the lack of care for our neediest veterans is so despicable.  The veterans survived, but many have been treated with utter disdain and shameful callousness by governmental bureaucrats.

Sudanese Christian Sentenced to Death
Monday, May 19, 2014, 9:24 AM

photo 300x169 Sudanese Christian Sentenced to DeathMariam Ibrahim Yahia, a pregnant woman of 27, was sentenced last week to death by hanging in Khartoum, Sudan, for converting to Christianity.  Mrs. Ibrahim was also convicted of adultery for having married a Christian man.  Her husband, Daniel Wani, is an American citizen.  (Yes, you read that correctly.)  The sentence for her “adultery” will be 100 lashes.  The Honorable Judge Abbas al Khalifa asked Mrs. Ibrahim whether she would return to Islam.  She replied that “I am a Christian,” upon which Judge al Khalifa handed down his death sentence.  In response to the verdict, the embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands have issued a joint statement expressing “deep concern” about the case, and urged Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion.  Sudan, however, follows Islamic sharia law.  In response to the “deep concern” expressed by the Western embassies, a Sudan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abu-Bakr Al-Siddiq stated that “Sudan is committed to all human rights and freedom of faith granted in Sudan by the constitution and law.”  That is good to know, but deeds speak much louder than words.  And Mrs. Ibrahim is the wife of an American citizen.  In an emailed statement to Mere Comments, the Embassy of Sudan in Washington, D.C., stated the following:

The Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan in Washington DC has noticed with regret some of the  official statements and media coverage on the case of the Sudanese citizen Mariam Ibrahim  Yahia, as some of them have mistakenly jumped to conclusions and accused the government of Sudan of violating human rights and preventing Mariam from her civil rights as a Sudanese  citizen.  The Embassy would like to confirm that the Sudanese Judiciary System is totally independent and the government has no any influence on it by any means and its judges are  qualified enough and dignified!  Having Saying this, the Embassy would like to confirm that:

NO government agency ever was behind the case of Mariam Yahia, and her case has been  failed and brought to the court by her immediate family.

The ruling of the judge was made at the primary court after hearing to the all parties involve,  and its subject to be implemented in not less than two years, if confirmed from higher courts.

In such case and according to Mariam’s lawyers the ruling might be raised to the appeal court then to supreme court and finally to the Constitutional court for the final judgment.

There is no room for politics on this case and those who accused Sudan Government of violating  the Human rights should check their records and submit to the rule of law specially in Guantanamo, and should be a abide by the Universal  Declaration of Human Rights and the civil  rights of those detainees.  While reaffirming the commitment of the Government of Sudan to all  human rights and freedom of beliefs, the Embassy of Sudan in Washington would like to thank  all those who have contacted the Embassy in this regard, and assure them that it will follow this issue and will keep them informed.

Reportedly, Mrs. Ibrahim’s father was Moslem, but abandoned the family during her childhood, and she was raised by her mother, an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia.  She was given several days to recant her Christian faith in order to escape the death sentence.  However, when she declared that she is a Christian, she was sentenced to death.  Mrs. Ibrahim and her husband were married in a church wedding in 2011, and have an 18-month-old son, Martin, who, of course, is eligible for American citizenship, and is now with her in jail.  Amnesty International said, “The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion, is abhorrent.”  Indeed it is.  Her conviction will be appealed.  But she should simply be released.  If you wish to write to the Sudanese Charge d’Affaires in Washington, D.C., (the Ambassadorship is presently vacant), you can write to him at the following address:

His Excellency, the Honorable Maowia Osman Khalid
Embassy Of The Republic Of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington D.C. 20008
Ph: 202.338.8565 Fax:202.667.2406
Email: amb.maowia@sudanembassy.org

Our sister in Christ, Mariam, reminds me of the writings of Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote in his famous letter to the Romans, “All the pleasures of this world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing.  It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ than to reign over all the ends of the earth. . . . Him I seek, who died for us; Him I desire, who rose again for our sake.  This is the gain which is laid up for me.”  Please pray for Miriam and her husband, Daniel, and for their children during these difficult days.

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