PICTURE EDITION 30: THE CHURCH IN THE MALDIVES: IN SERIOUS NEED OF OUR PRAYERS!

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1. History

The Maldives lie about 1,000 kilometres south west of the tip of India and consist of 1,200 small coral islands. The islands were first inhabited by the Dravidian peoples of the South Indian state of Kerala and the Maldives culture still contains many links to these people. The earliest written records mentioning the Maldives islands date to 500 BC. For the next 1,400 years the islands were under Buddhist influence and it is this culture that survives today despite the dominance of Islam. The Maldivian language, the first Maldivian scripts, the architecture, the ruling institutions, the customs and manners of the Maldivians originated during the Buddhist period of its history.

Through the increasing cultural exposure to Muslim sea traders, the king of the Maldives converted to Islam in 1153, ushering in its current religion. His dynasty lasted until 1932. In 1558 the Maldives became a branch of the Portugese trading post of Goa in India. Their attempts to convert the locals to the Catholic religion resulted in their departure 15 years later. The Dutch came next, followed by the British in 1796, neither of these two colonists made the same mistake as the Portugese in trying to convert the locals.

Agitation for self-rule gradually gained momentum in the 20th Century resulting independence in 1965. With 360,000 citizens and 80,000 foreign workers, the Maldives is one of the most densely populated island chains in the world. Its capital, Male, is a most unusual sight indeed.

2. Today

At an average elevation of only 1.5 metres above sea level, the Maldives is in great danger from the ocean. The Tsunami of 2004 inundated nearly all its islands, devastating its agricultural base and fragile ecosystem. The global downturn in 2009 then shattered its lucrative tourism industry. It is a poor country at the mercy of nature and global economics.

Since independence the country politics drifted quickly back toward the autocratic rule of the old Sultanate. From 1978 to 2008 it was under the iron fist of a local dictator. Pressure to open up its political sphere resulted in free elections in 2008. However, within five years political autocracy was reasserting its ugly head and the government has been unstable ever since. Freedom is viewed as a threat and un-Islamic to many of the countries elite.

Behind its beautiful tourist image of an island paradise is a dark reality. Sunni Islam is the only recognised religion and is the enforced centre of all cultural expression. No other religion or ideology is allowed to exist. Freedom of expression is thus severely restricted, divorce rates are among the highest in the world, crime is rampant, as is the abuse of children and endemic drug use among teenagers.

he people of the Maldives are crying out for a better life but are being deliberately held back from the one Truth that can set them free. Part of the reason for this is that the Maldives version of Sunni Islam is deeply rooted in occult practices called Fanditha that pre-date Islam’s arrival. Its Voodoo and black magic are pervasive all the way to the highest political circles. This is an island controlled by Satan in a way not often seen in the modern world.

3. Evangelical Highlights

The people of the Maldives are therefore some of the least evangelised on earth. Freedom of religion is highly unpopular and violent opposition to any conversions is to be expected. To make matters worse, in recent years Islam has shifted sharply toward arrogant and restrictive Saudi Wahhabism. No missions work or Christian missions are allowed and the government denies the existence of any Christians, while simultaneously arresting any they find! Because the Maldives view of Christianity is shaped by the immorality of tourists and western media, Christians are seen as both enemies of Islam and the state. In fact the term Christian is used locally as a swear word to abuse each other!

Anyone who becomes a true follower of Jesus can expect mockery, ostracism, arrest and torture. Consequently there are less than 500 believers in the whole country. Numbers are rising, but from such a small base that a major spiritual breakthrough is desperately needed. There is no Bible in the native language and the internet is the only means of witnessing locally, once past the governments internet firewall!

4. Prayer Points

Pray that the demonic forces that control this nation will be smashed. This is by far the most important need right now

Pray against the demonic strongholds of pride, fear and lust

Pray for the few believers to have the courage to live out their convictions

Pray for divine favour and protection for all believers

Pray for the courage to present a godly lifestyle in the face of social pressure

Pray for disaffected youth to come across the Gospel online,

Pray for locals who travel to be exposed to the true gospel

Pray for the 80,000 foreign workers from South India to be able to share the Truth freely

Pray that the amazing and fast-growing house church movements in India will get a vision to reach into the Maldives

Pray that the yearning for freedom will flow over to religion as well as politics

PICTURE EDITION 29: THE CHURCH IN MALAYSIA: ETHNICALLY ISOLATED AND SUFFERING

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1. History

Malaysia is located on the strategic Asian-Europe sea-lane that exposes it to a huge amount of global trade and foreign culture. The full Malay people group, comprising modern Indonesians, Philippinos, Singaporeans and Malaysians are the world’s greatest seafarers, both historically and still today, making up 1/3rd of all shipping crews. An early western account of the area known today as Malaysia was in Ptolemy’s book Geographia. Indian influence was great, with Hinduism and Buddhism dominating early Malay history and these religions reached their peak with the regionally dominant Srivijaya civilisation from the 7th to the 13th centuries.

Muslims traders had passed through the Malay Peninsula as early as the 10th century, but it was not until the 14th century that Islam first firmly established itself and eventually took over from the older religions. Islam has had a profound influence on the Malay people to this day. The Portuguese were the first European colonial powers to establish themselves on the Malay Peninsula and Southeast Asia, capturing Malacca in 1511. They were followed by the Dutch in 1641. However, it was the British who ultimately secured their hegemony across the territory that is now Malaysia, leaving the southern Islands to the Dutch. This is how Malaysia and Indonesia became separate countries. With the British came a vast number of Chinese and Indian workers who now make up 40% of modern Malaysia.

The Japanese invasion during World War II ended British domination in Malaysia. It unleashed a wave of nationalism which resulted in the declaration of independence on 31 August 1957. Eight years later Singapore was granted full independence from Malaysia.

2. Today

As you can now see “Malaysia” is a modern concept, created in the last two centuries but especially in the second half of the 20th Century. Its people are likewise not rooted in history as 40% are foreign in ethnicity. This eventually led to terrible Race riots directed toward the Chinese in 1969 and the imposition of emergency rule to re-establish Malay control of the country. This curtailment of political freedoms and civil liberties has never been fully reversed and is the foundational doctrine of al modern Malaysian politics. The Malay people have created a two tiered culture with themselves and Islam at the top, and all other ethnicities and other religions at the bottom. Political and economic Corruption and religious intolerance have therefore become hallmarks of modern Malaysia, and this greatly limits its economic development compared to Singapore next door. Even so, Malaysia the industrious Malay people have created the world’s most successful non-oil based Muslim economy.

The government greatly fears the Chinese and Christianity so all Malays are considered Muslim by definition and are legally off limits for evangelism. Over 100 radical Islamist groups agitate for more power and Sharia laws in political life. Malaysia is a hotbed of forment.

3. Evangelical Highlights

Though treated with contempt by the government, Christianity plays a significant part in Malaysia’s cultural life, even though Christians regularly face social discrimination, regular legal injustices and growing discrimination. Amongst many restrictions: No church can be built within 5km of a mosque and over 30 words previously used in the Malay Bible are now off limits. 10% of the country identifies as Christian, with almost half of these being evangelical believers with a growth rate of 3% a year. Unity among believers is high compared to many other countries, although a ghetto mentality has set in among more traditional churches which are aging rapidly.

Most recent evangelical growth has occurred in the Chinese, Indian and tribal peoples. Mainland Malaysia, where most people live, is only 3% Christian but the Christian faith is growing in all non-Muslim groups there, especially among the urban middle class English speaking Chinese. Sadly, this creates an even greater cultural gap between Christianity and indigenous Malay culture.

The only way Malay believers, of whom there are a few tens of thousands, can meet is in underground house churches completely cut off from the visible church. A Malay who converts loses everything and becomes a refugee in their own country, often sent to a prison for “re-education”. This makes the Malays are one of the world’s largest unreached groups.

4. Prayer Points

Pray for the Malays, they need a sovereign spiritual breakthrough from inside their culture.

Pray that whole Malay families will come to faith. This is the ONLY way Christianity can spread in this restrictive culture.

Pray that Satan’s plans will be smashed

Pray for internet and other electronic media to impact the Malay peoples

Pray for the non-English speaking, non-urban Chinese. They lack a Christian presence.

Pray for the Christian tribal peoples of Borneo who face increasing pressure to convert to Islam.

Pray for the many rural areas in the mainland that lack a Christian presence.

Pray for the Orang Asli, the original Malays who are now 10% believers.

Pray for boldness in the face of government discrimination.

Pray that the 8% of Indians who are Christian will grow significantly.

Pray for further growth among the Chinese community.

Pray for Sarawak, which is over 40% Christian, but still animist practices remain.

Pray for all rural Christians as poverty is a huge issue, enticing them to the cities and materialism.

 

PICTURE EDITION 28: THE CHURCH IN LIBYA: SUFFERING TERRIBLE PAIN AND HARDSHIP

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1. History

Libya has been occupied by humans since the dawn of history. During the ice ages after the great flood it was a lush and fertile area with a growing population. From its original population emerged the Berber people group. Sadly it is now 90% desert and most people now hug the Mediterranean coast to the north.

The recorded history of Libya comprises six distinct periods: Ancient Berber Libya, the Greek and Roman eras, the Islamic era, Ottoman rule, Italian rule, and the Modern era. First to join the Berbers were the Phoenicians from Lebanon. The famous city of Carthage was their headquarters. The empire that grew out of Carthage was a major thorn in the side of the expanding Roman Empire across the waters to the north. At the time of Jesus many Berbers traded with Israel and it was a Berber, Simon of Cyrene, who carried Christ’s cross to Gethsemane (Mark 15:21). In 698 AD Libya fell to the Arabs and thus began the still ongoing subjugation of the Berber people, language, culture and their Christian religion.

With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and its North African possessions during World War 1, Libya fell into the hands of the Italians. Half the Bedouin population was killed in the severe suppression that characterised Italian rule. Libya finally became an independent state in 1952 but only 15 years later it fell into the hands of a military dictator, Muammar Gaddafi who destroyed much of the culture and social cohesion.

2. Today

Gaddafi’s death during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, and the power vacuum that followed, has led to large scale disintegration of the country and a religiously motivated civil war. The booty of this war being control of Libya’s vast oil reserves. Only now is there a strong enough faction emerging to pull the country together again.

Libya today is a country of some 8 million people and is the main jumping off point for illegal immigrants from Africa wanting a better life in Europe. Perhaps 2 million more people are stuck in Libya on their way to Europe. Its infrastructure and economy is shattered and the little wealth that does come in from oil, which is 90% of all exports, doesn’t find its way to the common people.

3. Evangelical Highlights

In addition to Simon of Cyrene we hear of Libyans present at the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). In the next few centuries the church flourished among the peoples of modern day Libya. Tertullian, the great theologian, was a Libyan Berber. It took many hundreds of years for Arabisation and Islam to destroy this vibrant church culture, but by the European colonial era the process was largely complete. Only a hundred thousand Catholic and Orthodox believers remain from that original church.

In the modern era the true church of Jesus Christ has been reborn in Libya thanks to Protestant missions in the first half of the 20th Century. At the end of the Gaddafi era there was some level of freedom and local believers began to grow in number. However, the anarchy that followed the ouster of Gaddafi plunged the country into chaos and Christians became targets for brutality and persecution. Any new converts to Christianity face abuse and violence for their decision to follow Christ. The many Christian migrants from southern Africa in Libya have been attacked, sexually assaulted, detained for slavery and even executed. Open Doors estimates 7,500 Christians were executed in 2015 alone! The only visible Christians in Libya today are western expatriate foreign workers in the large oil industry. The local church has had to go completely underground. It is one of the worst places in the world to be a local Christian.

The traditional church is now gone, perhaps forever. However I believe ISIS and other radical Islamic groups are actually sowing the seeds of a new church. Their repugnant brutality has brought millions of former Muslims to Christ across the Middle East. In Libya it will be no different. As we pray the Holy Spirit will be working through dreams, visions, visitations, miracles and the like. Many Saul’s will become Pauls in the decades ahead as the ordinary people reject doctrines of violence and the religion that justifies them. Just as the true church in Cambodia disappeared under Pol Pot and is now booming, the same will happen in Libya.

4. Prayer Points

Pray for the families of martyrs. They struggle.

Pray for divine favour and safety for remaining believers

Pray for radicals to meet Jesus just as Saul did

Pray for the Berber people to embrace their original faith

Pray for peace

Pray for Sat-7 satellite broadcasts to speak life and hope into a hopeless situation

Pray for internet ministries to bring many to faith

Pray for stability and an end to war.

PICTURE EDITION 27: THE CHURCH IN LEBANON: LARGE, ANCIENT BUT BARELY ALIVE

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1. History

Lebanon (meaning The White One, referring to the 160km of snow-capped mountains that run parallel to the coast in winter, Jeremiah 18:14) is a small coastal country on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Its history is deep, going back to the dawn of human civilisation. It was the home of the infamous Canaanites at the time Abraham came through on his way to Egypt (Genesis 12:6). Centuries later it was actually part of the territory promised to the Israelites when they came back to the Promised Land out of Egypt (Joshua 1:4, Joshua 3:10). the Song of Songs – are full of praise for Lebanon’s nature, wild animals, waters, trees, flowers, wine, plants and the legendary snow of its high mountains. Lebanese timber was used to build Solomon’s temple. All up Lebanon is mentioned 71 times in the Old Testament.

Lebanon also gave rise to the great civilisation of the Phoenicia which colonised so much of the Mediterranean and gave the world the first taste of a modern alphabet. The Persians then claimed it, as did Alexander the Great and the Romans. The Christian era came next, and then gave way to the Islamic era, but not before a two hundred year return to European Christendom during the era of the Crusades. As you can see, the country is literally built on a maze of precious archaeological ruins!

2. Today

Because of the horrific genocide and ethnic cleansing of Christians from many parts of the Middle East during the late colonial era and early 20th Century, the French government decided to set up a special enclave as a refuge for refugee Christians from right across the Fertile Crescent. Thus modern Lebanon was eventually born in 1948 as the only majority Christian country in the Middle East. It is also the only country with freedom of religion and the only democratic country outside Israel. The country flourished for a while but the good times all came to a shuddering halt when millions of Palestinian refugees entered the country fleeing Jewish persecution (15% of whom were Christians). This led to a 15 year civil war that only ended in 1990. Lebanon has since boomed again but the peace is fragile and the economy not strong.

The country is 87% urban. It has 6 million citizens and 2 million refugees. It is 40% traditional Christian, 27% Sunni Muslim, 27% Shia Muslim and 5% Druze. It is the world’s third most indebted nation and the majority of its poor are Palestinian Muslims because of their lower education levels and refugee backgrounds.

3. Evangelical Highlights

Jesus was actually the first to bring the gospel to Lebanon when he visited Tyre and healed the Phoenician woman’s demon possessed child (Mark 7:24-31)! From there we know Peter and Paul repeated the Good News in later decades. The church grew quickly along the coast but the many mountainous villages were much slower in accepting the Gospel. In fact to this day the Druze of this same region even refuse to accept Islam.

The church eventually settled into a culture of tradition and ritual, abandoning the very life-changing message that gave birth to it in the first place. Today Christianity in Lebanon is 50% Maronite Catholic, 20% Greek Orthodox, 12% Greek Melkite Catholic and 5% Armenian Orthodox. Get the picture! Only some 25,000 or about 0.4% of the population is evangelical. These numbers are growing, but are so tiny as to not have any impact on the vast majority of nominal Christians, let alone the Muslim majority. Sadly, evangelicals are even viewed with great suspicion by these older Christian churches.

The great re-awakening of the Lebanese church is yet to happen, but there are sparks of life in this picture from the few who dare to truly follow Jesus, and there is at least one western-style mega-church in Beirut. Another area of some growth is within the newly arrived Syrian refugees who are open to Christian witness after suffering great trauma caused by Islamic extremists. YWAM is active in the country and there is Christian TV available to many.

Because of its uniquely tolerant  religious social climate, Lebanon is also the base for much evangelical Christian leadership training for churches throughout the Middle East. There are also a number of evangelical Christian schools educating many of the future elite of the country.

4. Prayer Points

Pray for the secretive Druze. There are only a few hundred believers among them

Pray also for the downtrodden Palestinians, there are only a few believers left among them

Pray for the small but growing renewal movement inside the Maronite Church

Pray for peace so Christians from across the Middle East can continue to be trained, and for resources to flow from Lebanon to nearby countries

Pray for the refugees who now know Jesus, that their decisions are genuine and life changing

Pray for a move of healings, miracles, dreams and visions

Pray for the hardened Hezbollah fighters to come to know Jesus

Pray for nominal Christians to have an encounter with the Holy Spirit

PICTURE EDITION 25: THE CHURCH IN KUWAIT: HOME TO A GROWING UNDERGROUND CHURCH

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1. History

Being located at the top of the Persian Gulf near the delta of the Euphrates River, Kuwait was always going to be a place of significance for trade between east and west. To name just one significant group, about 2000 BC merchants from Abraham’s home city of Ur established a trading city in northern Kuwait and became some of the world’s earliest maritime traders, pioneering the trade routes to the Indus Valley civilisation in modern day Pakistan and northern India. In 600 BC the Persians took control of the area. The earliest recorded mention of Kuwait was in 150 AD in the treatise called Geography by Greek scholar Ptolemy.

In 636 AD as the Persian Empire collapsed, Kuwait came under control of the new Arab Empire, and eventually the Islamic culture and religion. In 1521 AD Kuwait came under Portugese control as the Europeans began to use superior maritime skills wrestle control of the east-west trade links from the Arabs. It then came under the control of the Ottoman Empire and eventually passed to British control in 1899. The discovery of oil in the 20th Century transformed Kuwait From a poor backward province into the nation we see today, with independence coming in 1961.

2. Today

Because Kuwait had 10% of the world’s oil reserves and great wealth it eventually caught the eye of Saddam Hussein who invaded in 1991, devastating the economy and incurring the wrath of the USA and its allies. The country recovered and is once again prospering, but with 95% of income coming from oil. Incomes are equal to the USA, literacy is 100% and the country is stable. At 4 million people, Kuwait is a nation of immigrant workers who make up 60% of the population and 78% of the workforce. It is thus a country whose economic prosperity is not on firm ground.

3. Evangelical Highlights

In the Christian Era the region around modern day Kuwait belonged to the wider Persian Gulf Christian community, especially of the  Nestorian and Syriac Christian denominations. Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a Nestorian monastery and township on the island of Failaka dating to the 5th Century and lasting until the 10th Century. The church was eventually squashed through Islamic pressure so that Kuwait eventually became 100% Muslim.

In the modern era the church was reborn with the arrival of the British. However it was not until the first Gulf War in 1991 that things began to change rapidly. It is a point worth noting from my research that every time a Muslim country goes through a war, or is subject to a generation of Islamist government suppression, the Church of Jesus Christ begins to grow rapidly. Kuwait is one of those examples. The evangelical population has grown rapidly since 1991 and is now some 2% of the population.

Importantly the underground Arab Kuwaiti church is gaining strength, numbers and maturity. Because of the relatively tolerant government (mainly because most workers are foreign) Kuwaiti Christians are beginning to go public with their faith. Boldness and open witness are the hallmarks of the Kuwaiti Arab church.

Such is the growth that many parents are now sending their children to study within the Middle East as so many Kuwaiti students were coming back Christians after studying in the West. The growth rate for the Kuwaiti church is around 9%, one of the highest in the world and there is strong growth even among the expatriate workers who now crowd out the compounds where they are allowed to gather.

4. Prayer Points

Pray for continued exposure of Kuwaitis to the Gospel as they travel overseas.

Pray for the continued growth of the MBB church.

Pray for this amazing rebirth of the Persian Gulf church to spill over into other Arab countries

Pray for continued tolerance by the government toward the Arab church

Pray for continued revival among the 400,000 expatriate Christians living in Kuwait as guest workers. It has begun!

Pray for all media platforms to continue their great work of reaching locals

Pray for unity among believers, it is a bit of an issue in Kuwait

PICTURE EDITION 24: THE CHURCH IN KURDISTAN: REBORN AFTER CENTURIES OF COLLAPSE

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1. History

The Kurds, descended from the Hurrians, Medes and Symbian’s, are a mountain people with a history that goes back as far as human civilisation can go. As such it must be remembered that when Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel talk about the Medes in the Old Testament, they are talking about the ancestors of today’s Kurds.

You name any Middle Eastern empire and the Kurds will have been part of it or trampled by it. By the Roman era they were known as the Corduenes and controlled the restless mountainous borderlands between Roman Anatolia and northern Persia (south East Turkey today). They were aligned with Rome against Persia so were in the news just as much then as now. Kurdistan in the Middle Ages was a collection of semi-independent and independent states called emirates. It was at this time that Yizidism emerged as a Kurdish breakaway religion from Islam.

After the 1918 collapse of the Ottoman Empire the Kurds were promised their own home land. However, the Europeans reneged on their promises and in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne the Kurds were divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

2. Today

The Kurds are the largest people group in the world (30-45m depending on the different ways to count them) without their own country which is why we hear of them so often in the news. For that reason I have included them in my weekly prayer newsletter.

The Kurds now live in at least 35 countries but are mainly concentrated in South Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq Northern Syria and Eastern Iran. Half live in Turkey. Each of these countries now has its own Kurdish separatist movement. They are therefore treated badly by their host governments, who have tried to forcibly assimilate them into the majority population of Arabs, Persians, or Syrians. In most countries, with the exception of Autonomous Kurdistan (the KAR) in Northern Iraq, Kurds are poorer than other citizens because of the mountains they live in and their resistance to government control.

Saddam Hussain almost destroyed the Kurds in Iraq, but now they are protected by international law and are thriving, with their own parliament and army to control their own oil fields. With the near collapse of the Syrian government and with the support of the Americans, the Kurds have taken control of large parts of that country, even installing a female mayor in Raqqa, old headquarters of Islamic State!. It remains to be seen what happens next, perhaps they will finally get their homeland.

3. Evangelical Highlights

Many Kurds became Christians in the first two centuries of our faith via the apostle Andrew who preached to the Scythians and Parthians, on the north eastern end of the Persian Empire. Then came the Syriac missionaries a few centuries later. In some places they were in the majority, outnumbering the imperial religion of Zoroastrianism. Christianity survived for several centuries after the invasion of the Arabs in the 7th Century but slowly declined to nearly nothing by the time of the European Empires. However, because it was close to Christian Armenia, there were always some Kurds who retained their traditional Nestorian Christian rituals right down to within a 150 years ago.

Fast forward to today and we now find the Kurds much more receptive to western influence and ideas than their dominant Arab neighbours. Most Kurds would still call themselves Muslim, but they are very different to the average Muslim. Because they have suffered as a minority and know they were once Christians, they are much more tolerant of other ethnic and religious groups. Kurds are now coming to Jesus in small numbers. In Iraqi Kurdistan there are increasing numbers of Christian converts and a growing Christian presence that is tolerated by the KAR government. Many Christian NGO’s base themselves in the capital of Erbil to help with the large refugee crises created by the Iraq and Syrian wars and the scourge of Islamic State. However the 200,000 Assyrian Christian refugees now living inside the KAR face some discrimination at the hands of the majority Kurds.

Over in northern Syria the presence of IS has stunned once content Muslims into re-examining their religious ties. This has led to the opening of churches in once unthinkable locations such as Kobani. In 2017 the first Bible in Sorani, the second most spoken Kurdish dialect was finally printed and is now available as an app and there are Kurdish Christian websites no popping up to help share the Good News. The Bible is also now available in the Kurmanji language for Turkish Kurds. In an interesting twist, many Kurds have begun to convert back to the ancient Syrian Orthodox faith of their ancestors and there are some God-fearing Orthodox priests who are discipling them.

4. Prayer Points

Pray for the growing church to be bold in the face of constant threats and danger

Pray for a Kurdish missions vision to reach Kurds in all surrounding countries, especially Turkey

Pray for the growing Kurdish Disporia to reach back to their homeland with the Gospel

Sacked for Quoting the Bible While Not at Work!

In my country, Australia, the highest profile rugby Union player in the country, Israel Fulau, has just been sacked for quoting a passage from the Bible on instagram that describes who will be sent to hell and included a reference to homosexuals. The lead sponsor of the Australian Rugby Union is Qantas, run by a very strident homosexual rights campaigner. This is the first real test case of the new era in which we live where religious rights are being trampled by sexual rights and the disease of “taking offence”. I hope it goes all the way to our Hugh Court so the best legal minds on the country can somehow create a balance between what we have always cherished as a nation: free speech and religious freedom, and personal rights. In the meantime an unexpected voice of support for Israel has come from a former left-wing national political leader who has re-emerged as a right-wing state politician!

Below is part of a transcript of his brilliant maiden speech to the New South Wales Parliament a few weeks ago via the website Mercatornet:

Mark Latham is one of the most unusual and controversial characters in Australian politics. He is brainy, has a scathing wit and has published several books. He became leader of the Australian Labor Party in Federal Parliament – the youngest in over a century — and contested the 2004 election against Liberal Prime Minister John Howard. He lost decisively. Afterwards he resigned from Parliament and became a political commentator.

Latham has made a career out of opposing political correctness. After resigning from the ALP, he joined One Nation, a party whose main appeal to the electorate is opposition to immigration. It is loathed by both of the major parties. In the recent New South Wales election, Latham won a seat in the upper house of NSW for One Nation. This is an excerpt from his maiden speech in the chamber in which he comments on the Israel Folau controversy. 

Article:

Like so many parts of our politics that have changed quickly in recent times, there are voices here who do not believe in the virtues of the West, who do not acknowledge the nation-building achievements of our culture and our country.

It is a bit like a scene from The Life of Brian, a case of: What has Western civilisation done for us? Only advanced health care and education, architecture, engineering, information technology, free speech and the rule of law. In fact, this Chamber, this Parliament, this city, all our public institutions and the material comforts we take for granted—none of them could exist without the greatness of the West—without the advances that began with the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution and continue to this day.

Yet still, among the leftist elites, among the social engineers and cultural dieticians, sneering at our civilisation and its achievements has become their new pastime. They preach diversity but practice a suffocating cultural conformity, wanting everyone to be just like them. They argue for inclusion but as soon as a Christian, a conservative, a libertarian, a nationalist, a working-class larrikin, an outsider from the vast suburbs and regions of our nation disagrees with them, they crank up their PC-outrage machine to exclude them from society. They are tolerant of everything except dissenting values and opinions meaning, of course, they are tolerant of nothing that matters, only themselves.

This is the leftist curse through the ages—the recurring history of those who so badly crave control over others they lose control over themselves. In their lust for authority they lose their respect for the rights of others. It is a bit like a scene from Orwell’s Animal Farm, the Green-Labor-Left has become the thing it originally opposed—elitist, would-be dictators taking away from working-class communities the things these battlers value: the right to speak their mind; to say they love their country and want Australia Day to stay; to practice their Christianity, openly and freely; to send their children to school without the garbage of Safe Schools, Wear-It-Purple days, “Head Rest” indoctrination and the other crackpot theories making some New South Wales classrooms more like a Hare Krishna meeting than actual education; and when they go to work the chance to do their job without being bombarded by employment quotas, “unconscious bias” training and a long list of unspeakable, taboo words, scary, scary stuff, like “guys” and “mums and dads”.

The New Left are the new primitives of our time, junking the importance of evidence, of recorded history, of biological science, to pretend that all parts of our lives, especially race, gender and sexuality can be fluid, that everything we know and feel around us is, in fact, “socially constructed”, that is what they say, “socially constructed”. They are peddling fake news. We have not been brainwashed by capitalist hegemony as the post‑modernists argue. People know and understand the things they see and feel in their lives. It is called evidence. Our personal characteristics and identities are fixed, not fluid. With few exceptions people are born either male or female.

We should not be confusing young people and risking their mental health by pushing gender fluidity upon them. We should not be taking away from parents their essential role as the primary carers of their children in matters personal and sexual. We should not be changing the purpose of our education system, transforming schools from places of skill and academic attainment into gender fluidity factories. Most of all, we should not be losing sight of the interests of mainstream, majority Australia. In the last national census, for instance, 1,300 Australians identified as transgender. But to listen to the political and media coverage of this issue you would think there were 13 million.

Everywhere I travel parents and grandparents, workers and communities, tell me how concerned they are about Australia’s direction. They ask me, “What’s happened to our country? Where has this nonsense come from?”

The answer is clear. The leftist project, then and now, is about control. Having with the fall of the Berlin Wall lost the struggle for economic control, the Left got smarter. It shifted from the cold war to a culture war. It moved from pursuing economic Marxism to pushing cultural Marxism. Instead of trying to socialise the means of production, it is now trying to socialise the means of individual expression and belief—our language, our values, our behaviour. Instead of seeking revolution at the top of government, it has marched instead through our institutions—a tactic that is harder to combat.

The elites have been remarkably successful in this cultural invasion. Our abiding national traditions of free speech, merit selection, resilience and love of country are being lost, not just in the public sector—in schools, universities, public broadcasters, major political parties and government agencies—but also in large parts of corporate Australia and the commercial media. The rest of us are the Resistance to this national takeover. Our chief ally is evidence—evidence and human nature. Through the power of reason and enlightenment people want to have a say about the things that are important to them. They want free speech. They want freedom of religion and belief. Australians are also a tough yet fair-minded people. …

The Australian story in settling a harsh and sometimes hostile continent on the other side of the world is one of the most remarkable in human history. Leaders such as Arthur Phillip and Lachlan Macquarie, in little more than a generation, turned a penal colony into a civilisation—building what has now become the best nation on earth. It was achieved through resilience and mateship—the Australian habit of toughing it out and treating others as equals. Jack is as good as his master. It is in our nature to treat people as we find them—to judge them on their individual merit, their work ethic, their community contribution.

This is what makes identity politics—subdividing our people on the basis of race, gender and sexuality—so foreign to the Australian way. Just as the old Soviet Union fell over because human nature wanted economic competition and individual wealth and excellence, I believe these new mutant strains of social control—post-modernism and identity politics—will also fail. They run contrary to the nature and evidence of our lives. …

Like every other Australian, I own my own words; I know what I mean by them. Like so many Australians, I refuse to allow my words to be controlled by strangers—by the elites with their confected outrage and PC censorship. In truth in society, offence is taken, not given. It is a personal choice, based on assumptions about what someone meant by their words. Yet only the person speaking those words truly knows what was meant. As the great John Cleese has pointed out, telling a joke about someone does not mean we hate them. We love the people we joke about. We love the Irish, the blondes, the gays, everyone—as they have helped to bring humour and joy into our lives.

The other problem with political correctness is in knowing what is genuine and what is not. So much of the offenderati, the outrage industry, involves the fabrication of offence—saying that their feelings have been hurt solely for the reason of closing down their political opponents. PC is riddled with these internal contradictions. …

I am not a Christian but I recognise the vital contribution of Christianity to our civilisation: its vast social and charitable work; its teaching of right and wrong in civil society. I stand with Israel Folau.

In his own private time away from his job playing football he is a preacher at his community church and naturally he quotes the Bible. Why would he not? He believes, as millions of people have believed for thousands of years, that sinners go to hell. As per his valid religious faith, he loves the sinner but condemns the sin. Yet for his beliefs, his Christianity, he is not allowed to play rugby, to chase the pigskin around the park. How did our State and our nation ever come to this? I was on Folau’s list of sinners, more than once actually. I dread to look at how many times I was listed by his social media postings. But as I do not believe in hell there was no way I could take offence.

Those claiming outrage have fabricated their position solely for the purpose of censorship. This is not an argument about diversity. The Wallabies have no female players, no disabled, no elderly, no middle aged. They are selected from a tiny fraction of the young, fit, athletic male population. By excluding a committed Christian, they are making their game less inclusive.

And as for Folau being a role model for young gay men, one only needs to state this proposition to understand its absurdity. Footballers are not role models for anyone, other than in enjoying their sporting ability. I say to any young person: if you are looking for guidance and inspiration in life, study Churchill, Lincoln, Reagan and Roosevelt, not Todd Carney. …

I believe that no Australian should live in fear of the words they utter. No Australian should be fearful of proclaiming four of the most glorious words of our civilisation: I am a Christian. No-one should be sacked by their employer for statements of genuine belief and faith that have got nothing to do with their job.

The Folau case exposes the new serfdom in the Australian workplace. Who ever would have thought it would come to this, how big companies, the corporate PC-elites are wanting to control all aspects of their employees’ lives—their religious and political views, how they speak and think, how they behave, even in their own time well away from the workplace? This is a stunning intrusion on workers’ rights. Yet far from condemning the new serfdom, Labor and the trade unions have been cheering it on.”

Asking Jesus a Question: Lord What Did You Go Through On The Cross?

This is the second of my Easter questions that I put to the Lord of heaven and earth via my journal writing. I am asking more and more questions like this and getting startling answers. Here is the answer I received for the above question yesterday while sitting through an Easter Sunday church service:

“You will never understand what I did for you. It is beyond human comprehension. Sufficient for you to know is that it was complete and finished. Cosmic justice was complete. The Law was complete. Death was complete. Sin was complete. Imperfection was complete. Sadness, pain, hell and authority was completed. It was completion of all things, not the beginning.

Genesis was completed on the cross. The Psalms were completed. The prophets were completed. History was completed. It was my job to bring to completion all cosmic and spiritual realities. There is nothing more to do since the cross. I have borne all to complete all. I have destroyed all to build all anew. I have regained all authority in order to give it to all. I have set all free. Only when all was completed could the New Creation of this planet begin again. All is finished. Beyond your minds comprehension it was DONE.

Once in heaven I will reveal it to you, but here is a glimpse; All you know about the physical universe is but sand on the sea shore or a tiny bubble of water compared to what was going on behind the cross in the spiritual realm. It took me, your creator, to finish the job of the restoration of all creation to myself. It was not just you, or other humans, all creation was made new, completed, perfected and released from the curse.

I so wish you could see the full picture but it would blow your mind as it blew the mind of Moses when he saw me face to face. Enjoy, live in and thrive in this completion of my work. Satan’s reign was broken. Love was complete, mercy, compassion and righteousness was complete. That’s what I did on the cross.

 

Who Moved The Stone of Jesus’ Tomb?

Every Easter skeptics rattle on about the myth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The most eloquent answer to these accusations I have ever read comes from  E.M. Blaiklock, Professor of classics, Auckland University. Here is my summary of his findings.

Theory One: The disciples stole the body

What motive was there for the disciples to steal the body and live a lie in the face of their own terrible suffering, torture and agonising deaths.

This doesn’t agree with an otherwise very accurate historical narrative. All cultural and historical aspects of the writings have been proved authentic.

This also doesn’t agree with the personality of the disciples. Only two were brave enough to enter the city on the night of the arrest, the rest are unheard of for some time. They were terrified.

If the body was stolen then why did ten of the eleven men die a horrible death for a deliberate fabrication? People don’t die for lies.

This action would have been contrary to all the moral and ethical teachings their teacher tried to instil in them.

Theory Two: Joseph moved the body to a more permanent tomb.

This theory has two possible motives; to satisfy Jewish law and to finish spicing the body.

To do the job of shifting the stone, spicing the body and moving it, would have taken a team of men. This team never came public with a body or any evidence to squash the rumours.

Playing around with tombs after dark was illegal. To do so legally would have required the blessing of the Sanhedrin. If he did this then why didn’t the Sanhedrin blow the resurrection rumour?

If Joseph altered anything on Saturday morning he was violating Sabbath law. If he did anything after the guards had arrived on Saturday then the Sanhedrin would have known all about it.

If he did move the body then why didn’t he tell the disciples?

There is no known venerated tomb of Jesus.

Theory Three: The Jewish authorities moved the body.

The Sanhedrin sought to prevent the moving of the body by setting guards, possibly Roman guards, for whom sleeping on duty was rewarded with the death penalty!

Why didn’t they simply produce the body once rumours started spreading?

The official line was “the disciples stole the body”, therefore the Sanhedrin didn’t have the body.

Theory Four: Jesus didn’t really die, he “fainted”

This theory ignores the nature of the wounds. They were enough to kill: 39 lashes with a cat-o-nine tails, nailing of body to a wooden pole, spear thrust into the heart, exhaustion, blood loss and partial suffocation from the cross.

How could a badly wounded man free himself from the bondage of 30 kg of herbs and wrappings and then roll away a 1-2 tonne stone.

The cold of the night would have killed a badly wounded man at that time of year (early spring).

His condition upon exiting the tomb would hardly have impressed the disciples, or convince them that he had conquered death. Such an appearance would have killed off any belief in the resurrected Christ.

The position of the linen wrappings, especially the head linen, suggested he exited straight through them. The produced instant belief in the idea he had resurrected in both Peter and John.

Theory Five: The women made a mistake, visiting the wrong tomb.

Two of the women had already visited the tomb on Friday afternoon to spice the body, so they knew where it was.

If they were at the wrong tomb because of lack of daylight, then why was the “gardener” already at work? Gardeners don’t work in the dark.

If it was late enough for the “gardener” to be at work then it was late enough to find the right tomb.

The priests never directed people to the right tomb. They knew it was empty.

Theory Six: The grave was never visited by the women

Then why did they declare it empty. Within 10 minutes they would be declared liars?

Again, the Sanhedrin didn’t direct people to the right tomb.

It is not within the character of loyal grieving women of cook up a plot.

Theory Seven: Jesus resurrected himself.

The tomb was definitely empty, Everyone in the city knew this. What they didn’t know was why.

The grave clothes told their own convincing story.

There were hundreds of very bold post-resurrection witnesses and advocates, 500 at one time, most of whom were still alive when a written record was made.

The population, by the thousands, immediately believed the resurrection story. Everyone knew something strange had occurred and waited seven weeks for an answer that made sense.

The seven week gap would not be there if the story was a fraud. Time gaps lead to doubts.

Preaching about the resurrection started ten minutes walk from the tomb, in the heart of enemy territory. If it wasn’t empty then it was a stupid place to start preaching!

There was an enormous change in the disciple’s lives. They went from doubting fearful, confused and disloyal men to fearless advocates, willing to die for their message.

Christ’s hostile brother, James, became convinced that his brother was God.

I claim to be a historian. My approach to classics is historical, and I tell you that the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history.

Kevin Davis

Asking Jesus A Question: Whats The Real Reason For Easter?

I have recently begun asking Jesus questions and recording the answers I get in a journal. It is revolutionising my Christian walk! Here is the question I asked this morning and the answer I felt come into my heart as I began to write…

“Jesus, its Easter. Please give me a fresh revelation of why you died to set us free.”

“It was an honour for me to come to the cross for you. You are the most important person in the universe if you can see it through the lens of the cross – it was all about you, not me.

I died to myself so that YOU could know who you really are, have the blindness of your heart and eyes replaced with eyes that can see the universe, my universe correctly. It was for you that I died so that you could be free to be with me, to approach me, to be intimate with me.

It was never about mere legalism or religious ascent. It was about intimacy – closeness, deep relationship, deep friendship and fun…lots of fun as you walk with me daily, sorting through the jobs and roles of life with the new lens of intimacy.

I am your best friend, I am with you every minute of every day, enjoying your company and guiding you in straight paths.I am the guarantor of your liberty, freedom, joy, fun and kindness.

This is why I died – it was for you to know me so well that transfer to heaven after death will be a seamless transfer from one realm to another!”

I love that last bit.

Kevin Davis