Pray For Saeed

It’s Switch-up week here, with Mission Monday coming on a Wednesday. You can thank April Fool’s Day for that.

But today is serious. There is an American pastor from Boise, Idaho, who is unjustly imprisoned in Iran. His name is Saeed Abidini. He was in Iran helping to establish orphanages when he was arrested and charged with trying to convert Muslims. Saeed was once a Muslim, and the case was charged because of this. He escaped the death penalty, but he has a long sentence in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons.

Saeed with his children

Many people have rallied to his cause. There is a website called Save Saeed that is the focal point. He has been featured on the national radio network Air1. The ACLJ is fighting for him, and you can sign a petition on his behalf here. Secretary of State John Kerry has made personal appeals for his release. It is heartening to see the response on behalf of our brother.

My friend Brian Harrison, a pastor in Boise, wrote a letter this week to friends and supporters about Saeed’s case. Brian writes about a prayer service he participated in on behalf of Saeed:

As we prayed that day I felt like the Lord showed me that there was a tremendous opportunity to begin to pray for Iran and indeed for all Muslims of the world. The reason was that Saeed has written to his family that he forgives his captors. This means that he is blessing those who curse him and in so doing I felt that the Lord showed me that a door of opportunity was being opened through Saeed’s suffering and prayers of forgiveness. If God’s people would concentrate prayer on Iran, I believe that we would see a great move of God in that country and a shift in the political climate. I strongly believe that God intends to move powerfully among the Muslims of the world and prayer is the first step in partnering with God in this endeavor. 

To this end, Brian and his wife Suzanne have committed to praying for Saeed, Iran, and the Muslim world for 50 days starting on April 1st, until the day of Pentecost. I’ve participated in the 30 Days Of Prayer for the Muslim world before that coincides with Ramadan, and it is always a powerful time of intercession. I wanted to get the word out about this vision Brian has and encourage people to join in prayer in this strategic time.

Saeed has a wife and young kids waiting for him in Boise, and we want to see him released, for justice to be done, and for him to be restored to his family. Can we join in prayer and believe for even greater things? To see spiritual freedom come to millions in the Muslim world?

Join me as I join with Brian and Suzanne in this prayer burden for the next 48 days. We can add our prayers with people around the world for all of those in bondage, whether physical or spiritual. Let’s do this saints!

Egypt’s Persecuted Minority

Today on Mission Monday, I wanted to highlight a group of people that trace back to the originial apostles, but are in jeopardy today of seeing their life in their homeland disappear.

Egyptian Coptic Christian

Egypt has a population of over 60 million people, the majority being Muslims. However, at least 10% of the population are Coptic Christians. Copts, as they are known, trace their faith to the generation of people who walked with Jesus. Their church split with the main Roman Catholic Church in the 5th century, but they were the main religion in Egypt until the Muslim advances in the 600’s. Even living under Muslim rule, this body of believers have persevered for almost two thousand years.

Life has gotten worse for the Copts in the last several years. There have been several attacks on Christians by the Muslim majority. There is freedom of religion in the constitution, but there are many limitations in real llife. It is hard to convert and difficult to get paperwork for jobs and other things. Until recently all approvals for new church construction and even minor repairs had to be approved by the President! This has been changed, but it is still a very cumbersome process. When Christians were attacked, the police are slow to respond, and they are usually asked to simply “reconcile” with their attackers, without any other accountability.

Under the dictator Hosni Mubarak there was a measure of control, despite the attacks I mentioned. Now there is fear that things could get worse if strict Islamists are voted into office. There is an exodus of Copts now, depleting the oldest continual Christian community in the Middle East.

We don’t hear a lot about their plight in the West, and the needs of fellow believers far away can be hard to remember in our busy world. That’s why I want to share stories like this on Mission Mondays here. We are so blessed in the Western world. We should be able to support our brothers and sisters in Egypt in our prayers.

Thankfully, there are some positive signs as well. We know the Lord can move in mighty ways to protect His people. Here are some specific prayer requests (taken from the YWAM Personal Prayer Diary):

  • Pray that Christians will have a voice in the formation of the new Egyptian government.
  • Pray that the governments of other nations will press those in power to grant equal rights for all in Egypt.
  • Pray that Coptic priests and lay leaders would have courage and wisdom to encourage and guide their parishioners.
  • Pray that Muslims will come to know Christ through the example and love of their Christian neighbors.

Sources: YWAM Personal Prayer Diary, Wikipedia, WSJ, BBC

Egypt’s Persecuted Minority

Today on Mission Monday, I wanted to highlight a group of people that trace back to the originial apostles, but are in jeopardy today of seeing their life in their homeland disappear.

Egyptian Coptic Christian

Egypt has a population of over 60 million people, the majority being Muslims. However, at least 10% of the population are Coptic Christians. Copts, as they are known, trace their faith to the generation of people who walked with Jesus. Their church split with the main Roman Catholic Church in the 5th century, but they were the main religion in Egypt until the Muslim advances in the 600’s. Even living under Muslim rule, this body of believers have persevered for almost two thousand years.

Life has gotten worse for the Copts in the last several years. There have been several attacks on Christians by the Muslim majority. There is freedom of religion in the constitution, but there are many limitations in real llife. It is hard to convert and difficult to get paperwork for jobs and other things. Until recently all approvals for new church construction and even minor repairs had to be approved by the President! This has been changed, but it is still a very cumbersome process. When Christians were attacked, the police are slow to respond, and they are usually asked to simply “reconcile” with their attackers, without any other accountability.

Under the dictator Hosni Mubarak there was a measure of control, despite the attacks I mentioned. Now there is fear that things could get worse if strict Islamists are voted into office. There is an exodus of Copts now, depleting the oldest continual Christian community in the Middle East.

We don’t hear a lot about their plight in the West, and the needs of fellow believers far away can be hard to remember in our busy world. That’s why I want to share stories like this on Mission Mondays here. We are so blessed in the Western world. We should be able to support our brothers and sisters in Egypt in our prayers.

Thankfully, there are some positive signs as well. We know the Lord can move in mighty ways to protect His people. Here are some specific prayer requests (taken from the YWAM Personal Prayer Diary):

  • Pray that Christians will have a voice in the formation of the new Egyptian government.
  • Pray that the governments of other nations will press those in power to grant equal rights for all in Egypt.
  • Pray that Coptic priests and lay leaders would have courage and wisdom to encourage and guide their parishioners.
  • Pray that Muslims will come to know Christ through the example and love of their Christian neighbors.

Sources: YWAM Personal Prayer Diary, Wikipedia, WSJ, BBC

A Guide To Prayer

 Many people would like to pray for missions, other countries, and different prayer needs. Where can you find such information?

One tool I know about provides this and a whole lot more.

Youth With A Mission produces a Personal Prayer Diary each year. It comes in a nice day planner with areas for notes, calendars, articles about Kingdom issues, as well as information about every country and specific prayer highlights each month. The diary also has a Bible reading plan that takes one through the Old and New Testaments once and Psalms and Proverbs several times.

The diary also includes an encouragement to pray for the Seven Spheres of Influence that I’ve talked about before. Each day of the week is reserved to lift up concerns regarding Church and Religion, Family, Government and Law, Education, Science/Health/Environment, Business, and Media and the Arts.

I’ve used this for years, although often sporadically. This year I am committed to diligence in praying for the daily topics. I know many people are tied to their electronic devices, but this slim and durable book is a more than a planner – it has the potential to impact the world if people use it to pray for the nations.

Right now they’re only $11.89 at the World Christian store, and I’ve seen it listed on Amazon as well. Check it out if you’d like a simple way to make a difference!

A Guide To Prayer

 Many people would like to pray for missions, other countries, and different prayer needs. Where can you find such information?

One tool I know about provides this and a whole lot more.

Youth With A Mission produces a Personal Prayer Diary each year. It comes in a nice day planner with areas for notes, calendars, articles about Kingdom issues, as well as information about every country and specific prayer highlights each month. The diary also has a Bible reading plan that takes one through the Old and New Testaments once and Psalms and Proverbs several times.

The diary also includes an encouragement to pray for the Seven Spheres of Influence that I’ve talked about before. Each day of the week is reserved to lift up concerns regarding Church and Religion, Family, Government and Law, Education, Science/Health/Environment, Business, and Media and the Arts.

I’ve used this for years, although often sporadically. This year I am committed to diligence in praying for the daily topics. I know many people are tied to their electronic devices, but this slim and durable book is a more than a planner – it has the potential to impact the world if people use it to pray for the nations.

Right now they’re only $11.89 at the World Christian store, and I’ve seen it listed on Amazon as well. Check it out if you’d like a simple way to make a difference!

The Land of Smiles

I can’t believe that it was almost 18 years ago that I spent 2 months in Thailand with Youth With a Mission. It was an amazing time of formation for me, being fresh out of high school. I changed from a wide-eyed Idaho boy to a wide-eyed Idaho boy with a sense that there is a big world out there that needed Jesus. The Thai people were incredible to be around, and I’ve never forgotten the experience.

A couple from our outreach team showed true sacrificial love by staying behind in Thailand on a long-term commitment. In that time they’ve just become the directors of YWAM Thailand. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve been in a little contact with them, and I’m so excited how far they’ve come in their ministry to Thailand. God has kept me State-side for the time being, but that doesn’t mean I can’t support them from afar.
Thailand is about 95% Buddhist, although for them it is very much a cultural identity. To be Thai is to be Buddhist, it is said. However, there is a strong mix of ancestor worship and spiritism as well. There is a sizeable Muslim population in the south, with some occasional breakouts of violence, and few Christians. Thailand has been a hard place for missions for a long time.

It is known for its beauty and its corruption. Thailand immediately conjures up images of beaches, the tsunami of 2004, and human trafficking and red light districts. There have been frequent governmental upheavals. It is know as the “Land of Smiles” because the people are very friendly and hospitable, but it belies a deep need under the surface.

My YWAM friends have called for 40 days of prayer for Thailand. It started at the beginning of this month, but it is never too late to pray. I’m asking for my friends and interested people to remember Thailand in your prayers for the next month or so. God can speak prayer needs to your heart. If you are still wondering about how to pray, a suggestion would be to pray through the Seven Spheres of Influence that shape a society:

Family/Home
Church/Religion
Government
Education
Arts/Culture/Entertainment
Business/Commerce
Media

I was also referred to Bless Thailand, where they are slowly translating a prayer guide into English. If you’ve been to another country, you know that it sticks with you. I want the Father’s heart for Thailand, and I hope the people there will open their hearts to the love He has for them in this season.

Thanks for praying! Bless you.

The Land of Smiles

I can’t believe that it was almost 18 years ago that I spent 2 months in Thailand with Youth With a Mission. It was an amazing time of formation for me, being fresh out of high school. I changed from a wide-eyed Idaho boy to a wide-eyed Idaho boy with a sense that there is a big world out there that needed Jesus. The Thai people were incredible to be around, and I’ve never forgotten the experience.

A couple from our outreach team showed true sacrificial love by staying behind in Thailand on a long-term commitment. In that time they’ve just become the directors of YWAM Thailand. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve been in a little contact with them, and I’m so excited how far they’ve come in their ministry to Thailand. God has kept me State-side for the time being, but that doesn’t mean I can’t support them from afar.
Thailand is about 95% Buddhist, although for them it is very much a cultural identity. To be Thai is to be Buddhist, it is said. However, there is a strong mix of ancestor worship and spiritism as well. There is a sizeable Muslim population in the south, with some occasional breakouts of violence, and few Christians. Thailand has been a hard place for missions for a long time.

It is known for its beauty and its corruption. Thailand immediately conjures up images of beaches, the tsunami of 2004, and human trafficking and red light districts. There have been frequent governmental upheavals. It is know as the “Land of Smiles” because the people are very friendly and hospitable, but it belies a deep need under the surface.

My YWAM friends have called for 40 days of prayer for Thailand. It started at the beginning of this month, but it is never too late to pray. I’m asking for my friends and interested people to remember Thailand in your prayers for the next month or so. God can speak prayer needs to your heart. If you are still wondering about how to pray, a suggestion would be to pray through the Seven Spheres of Influence that shape a society:

Family/Home
Church/Religion
Government
Education
Arts/Culture/Entertainment
Business/Commerce
Media

I was also referred to Bless Thailand, where they are slowly translating a prayer guide into English. If you’ve been to another country, you know that it sticks with you. I want the Father’s heart for Thailand, and I hope the people there will open their hearts to the love He has for them in this season.

Thanks for praying! Bless you.

Pray for Thailand

Nothing like a thrown-out back to blow away the best laid blogging plans, but I’m back in the saddle today (more or less).

I’ve got some things for this week, but I want to start off by asking everyone to take time to pray for Thailand. This southeast Asian country is undergoing another round of political turmoil. There are two main factions battling over an ousted Prime Minister, and the protests turned deadly today with 2 people being killed. I don’t have an opinion on which side is “right”, but I don’t want to see people hurt anymore.

Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles,” and Thais are some of the friendliest people you can ever know. I spent 2 months there in 91-92, and it was some of the formative experiences in my life. However, I know that behind the smiles is the bondage that over 95% of the people suffer as they hold to old forms of Buddhism and ancestor worship. Christianity has had a hard time getting a strong foothold there, but more and more there are Thais turning to Jesus.

There is a couple that were on the outreach team with me that stayed there, and continue to live there 18 years later. Please pray for all to be protected, especially God’s people, and that truth and righteousness will reign in the country.

Pray for Thailand

Nothing like a thrown-out back to blow away the best laid blogging plans, but I’m back in the saddle today (more or less).

I’ve got some things for this week, but I want to start off by asking everyone to take time to pray for Thailand. This southeast Asian country is undergoing another round of political turmoil. There are two main factions battling over an ousted Prime Minister, and the protests turned deadly today with 2 people being killed. I don’t have an opinion on which side is “right”, but I don’t want to see people hurt anymore.

Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles,” and Thais are some of the friendliest people you can ever know. I spent 2 months there in 91-92, and it was some of the formative experiences in my life. However, I know that behind the smiles is the bondage that over 95% of the people suffer as they hold to old forms of Buddhism and ancestor worship. Christianity has had a hard time getting a strong foothold there, but more and more there are Thais turning to Jesus.

There is a couple that were on the outreach team with me that stayed there, and continue to live there 18 years later. Please pray for all to be protected, especially God’s people, and that truth and righteousness will reign in the country.

The Short and Long of It

I have a friend who is going through a crisis right now with her baby. My heart breaks for her as she asks for prayer and shares her family’s struggle in keeping strong. She has great faith and has been an admirable testimony through it all, and I know that all the prayers people are offering for her, and especially her own cries to the Lord, are offering a deep source of strength for her that she can’t fully realize at this time.

It got me thinking about our response to crisis times, and the long term effects of such times. I’ve had two events in the last 5 years that have been major upheavals in my life. Four years ago my mother succumbed to COPD (basically emphysema). Then two years ago I was laid off from a job when my contract wasn’t renewed, under some interesting circumstances (you can read all about it on this blog even…whee).

I know I relied heavily on the Lord for strength during those times. In one sense my mom’s death was easier, because she had taught us that death was a natural part of life and she didn’t fear it. We knew she didn’t want to suffer anymore, and in that way it was a blessing. Still, my father died when I was 5, so she was essentially both parents to me through my life, and it was still hard. God brought a lot of peace into the situation.

When I lost my job, that was a little incredible because there wasn’t a really good reason for it. There were lots of circumstances in the background that made it a difficult road, and I didn’t get a job right away. It took four months to start my current job from when I finished at the old clinic, and I spent three months at the job I was losing the way my contract was written (90 days notice). It was a real battle to go to work each day to a place I knew didn’t want me, but again, God moved in my life during that time, and He proved Himself extremely faithful.

So where is this babbling going?

In the short term, I really turned to Jesus and received strength, grace, whatever you want to call it. I spent time with Him, and I felt like the tree in Psalm 1, with roots planted by streams of water. Especially in the job situation, where I had reason to be very bitter and angry, I can say I had a supernatural enabling to walk in pretty good attitudes (hey – I wasn’t perfect).

Today as I was thinking about my friend’s trial, I thought about the long-term position I was in regarding my big crises. I was dealing with anger at my mom that she missed out on our new little girl, because she chose to smoke. I still deal with anger and bitterness over my former employers. A couple of people were gossiping about one of the doctors, and part of me didn’t want to hear at all, but part of me delighted in hearing about his problems since I left.

What happened to the good responses?

I can testify that it wasn’t God’s fault how my spirit, my response has darkened. It was fully my lack of endurance in seeking His will in all of these areas. As time passed and the busyness of life took over, I no longer spent time with Jesus regarding these events and attitudes. I focused on what was immediately in front of me, without fully submitting all of my life-past, present, and future-to Him.

I think my point in all this is that the Christian walk is a long-term marathon. I thought that the problems were over just because things had moved on. I stopped actively asking for His Word and light to help in those areas. Therefore a root of bitterness, starting small, was able to take hold. These events are affecting me years down the road. Now, the death of a parent is supposed to do that. The loss of a job is also one of the major life stressors someone can endure. Yet, with the grace that was given me during those times, it seems out of line that I reacted this way.

I don’t want to take God’s grace for granted anymore. I don’t want to let things from my past rule my present. I feel like I enjoyed His grace for a season and left it behind when things turned and started going “my way” again. How terrible to disregard such a gift.

Ugh. I didn’t mean to get so maudlin. But it is an important point I want to make: we keep going to the well of the Lord, whether good times or bad. We don’t stop when times get good. We turn to Him in the short term and when things go well, we leave Him in the long term.

Thankfully these are heart attitudes that aren’t huge. I haven’t lost my faith or anything near it. But He deserves better from me, and I’m not happy with where my heart is in these areas.

Here’s to the short and the long of it.