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BIBLE PROPHECY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBYA

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm

>> Israel could still strike Iran, despite Mideast unrest — While chaos and change reigned supreme, Iran succeeded in repairing its uranium-enrichment plant after the cyber attack by the Stuxnet computer worm

>> Tuesday update: Gaddafi loyalists fail to retake territory in six-hour battle with rebels

>> Iran confirms unloading fuel from Bushehr reactor

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ORIGINAL POST: It is so painful to watch the horror show underway in Libya right now. Estimates tell us that at least 1,000 Libyans are dead. Many more are wounded. Some 100,000 people have apparently fled Libya in recent days as the situation goes from bad to worse.

The first sentence of a new Time magazine article asks, “Is it the End of Days for Libya?” The article looks at the rising death toll as Gaddafi continues using his army to slaughter the Libyan people desperate for change. It also asks the question of whether Libya will experience peace even if (or when) Gaddafi is deposed. Dirk Vandewalle, a Libyan expert at Dartmouth University, told Time: “Both sides, both the population, and the security organizations, know exactly what’s at stake. If government militias [are to] win, they will have to kill many more, and if the security organizations lose, then the people, the regular people in Libya are going to take their revenge….Either way we’re going to see a terrible blood bath.” David Mack, a former deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, told Time that the worst possible outcome would be a widespread lawlessness in which Libya degenerated into a kind of “Somalia on the Mediterranean.”

What does the Bible tell us? Libya is referred to numerous times in the Scriptures, both directly and indirectly.

  • In Matthew 27, for example, we learn that it was a Libyan man — Simon of Cyrene (a part of ancient Libya) – who carried the cross for our Lord Jesus.
  • In Acts chapter 2, we learn that God-fearing men from Libya were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and heard the Apostle Peter preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Some 3,000 people that days repented of their sins and became fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. It is likely that Libyans were among them since they are mentioned in the text.
  • In Acts 11, we learn that Libyan (Cyrene) followers of Jesus Christ helped bring the gospel to Antioch, Syria, and made disciples for Jesus there.
  • In Acts 13 we learn that a Libyan man — Lucius of Cyrene — becomes one of the leaders of the church at Antioch, helping send out Barnabus and Paul to take the gospel to Asia and Europe.

Again and again in the Scriptures we see that the Lord loves the people of Libya. He wants them to know Him and receive His free gift of salvation.

That said, Bible prophecy also tells us the government and many of the people of Libya will be engaged in great evil in the End of Days.

  • In Ezekiel 38-39, we learn that Libya is one of the nations that joins the Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel in “the last days.” In this prophecy, Ezekiel uses the name “Put.” The first century historian Flavius Josephus wrote in his famous book, The Antiquities of the Jews, that “Put” or “Phut” is “ancient Libyos.” Ancient Libyos, we know, certainly included the territory of the modern nation state we refer to today as Libya, but also included Algeria and possibly Tunisia. This tells us the no matter what the near term outcomes of the revolutions underway in North Africa are, in the not-too-distant future Libya for certain and possibly her neighbors will have virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel leadership who will eagerly join a coalition bent on destroying the Jews and occupy the land of Israel. Gaddafi, of course, is already such a leader. Perhaps he will ride out this storm and stay in power. Perhaps someone worse will rise up after him. Hopefully Gaddafi will be deposed and a more moderate leadership will rise up for a season before the prophecy of the “War of Gog and Magog” comes to fulfillment. Either way, the Church should be using this window of time to do everything possible to get the gospel into Libya and to strengthen the persecuted believers in Libya before the country faces God’s judgment for attacking Israel.
  • In Daniel 11, we learn that Libya is one of the countries that will be under the control and direction of the Antichrist in “the last days.” The Hebrew Prophet Daniel tells us that “a despicable person will arise” during “a time of tranquility” and will seize global power “by intrigue” and by “overflowing forces” in the End Times. This person, known in Christian theology as the Antichrist, “will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.” The Bible tells us the Antichrist “will enter the Beautiful Land” — that is, Israel — and “will stretch out his hand against other countries.” Eventually, the Antichrist will gain control of the entire world and force all people who haven’t received Christ as Savior and Lord to bow and worship him or be beheaded. But the Bible specificially notes that the Antichrist “will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Ethiopians [the people of "Cush," which includes modern Sudan, Ethiopia and possible Eritrea] will follow at his heels.” It is not entirely clear why the Bible points specifically to “Libyans” and “Ethiopians” as among those who will follow and serve the Antichrist, but this is what the Lord tells us in advance will happen.

This is all the more reason the Church must seek to reach all of North Africa with the gospel of Jesus Christ before it is too late. Please be praying faithfully for Libya and all of North Africa at this critical hour.

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

RABBIS SAY ARAB UNREST SIGNALS MESSIAH COMING SOON

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm
 
The article is consistent with similar reports in recent years suggesting that a growing number of rabbis believe the War of Gog and Magog and the Messiah are coming soon.  
 
 Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, for example, described in the Ynet News article as “a prominent rabbi,” is reportedly “certain that God is causing the turmoil in order to put the people in their place.” Said Lefkowitz: “God goes and humiliates (those feeling) sinful pride. At first there was this little fire here, and a state that thought that it is big and strong suddenly needed help from the entire world. Not a war, nothing special, just a small fire.”

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, described in the Ynet article as an “unconventional Lithuanian leader who is believed to have mystic powers,” recently spoke of the tumultuous events underway in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East. “People have come to me and said that it’s ‘Gog and Magog,’” he said. “We cannot know. But it’s probable that any unrest that God creates shows that the Messiah is coming, and that we must begin to prepare for it and become stronger.”

On this, I agree with Rabbi Kanievsky – the War of Gog and Magog is approaching, the Messiah is coming, and we must be prepared and become stronger spiritually as the Lord’s return draws near. That said, I suspect the Rabbi and I disagree on the Messiah’s identity. That’s a good discussion to engage, particularly now. The Hebrew prophets told us the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah, would minister to the people living darkness in the region of Galilee, would teach in parables, would do miracles, would suffer and die as a guilt offering for our sins, and then would rise again and His body would not see decay in the grave. What’s more, in Daniel chapter 9 we learn that the Messiah will come, atone for our sins, and be “cut off” before the Second Temple is destroyed and Jerusalem is crushed by the Romans. That means if the Messiah didn’t come before 70 A.D., He is never going to come.

I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that our Messiah has come, and that He is coming back, possibly sooner that we realize. Today, we are seeing the type of “uprisings” and “lawlessness” that the Lord Jesus warned in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 would precede His return. What’s more, I believe we are steadily approaching what the Hebrew Prophets called the “Day of the Lord,” the tumultuous events that will lead us right into what Jeremiah called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), what Jesus Christ called the “Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21), and what the Apostle John described in horrific detail in the Book of Revelation.

At the 2011 Epicenter Conference, we will be teaching through the biblical Book of Joel to better understand what the Hebrew prophets taught us about the End Times and the “Day of the Lord” and how we can be prepared, and prepare others. Over the next few days, Lynn and I will host a retreat for the keynote speakers and panel moderators for the conference in the D.C. area. We’re looking forward to studying the Book of Joel and other Scriptures in-depth, praying together, and finalizing details for the Prayer & Vision Trip and conference in Israel, less than 90 days away. We’d be grateful for your prayers, as well. Thanks.

Latest headlines: 

>> FLASHBACK: Gaddafi says, “I am the King of kings.”

>> FLASHBACK: Gaddafi “envisages a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent.”

NETANYAHU PREPARES TO NAME NEW NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Who is Yaakov Amidror?

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2011 at 1:24 am

Major General (res.) Yaakov Amidror. (Photo: Shalom Bar Tal)

>> Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi has issued a fatwa that any Libyan soldier who can shoot dead embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi should do so “to rid Libya of him.”

>> FLASHBACK: Gaddafi says, “I am the King of kings.”

>> FLASHBACK: Gaddafi “envisages a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent.”

Amidst historic and tumultous upheaval underway from Morocco to Libya to Egypt to Iran, Israel’s national security advisor has just stepped down. Filling this position with the right person will be critically important. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to appoint Major-General (res.) Yaakov Amidror as the new National Security Advisor,” reports the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot on its website. “If selected, Amidror will replace Uzi Arad, who announced his retirement on Sunday. Amidror, the former commander of the IDF’s National Defense College, retired from the IDF in 2002 and has been known in recent years for his hawkish views, including his support for the reoccupation of the Gaza Strip.”

I’ve met General Amidror several times over the years, and interviewed him for my first non-fiction book, Epicenter. I believe he would be a strong choice — he’s smart, experienced, and able to look over the horizon and see future threats clearly. Interestingly, he is a deeply religious Zionist who believes that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is ultimately looking out for State of Israel, along with the IDF. That’s not common among senior Israeli military leaders, but I believe it would be a useful perspective.

Amidror’s views on the Iranian nuclear threat are particularly noteworthy, such what he said at a Washington, D.C. forum on the crisis on Iran in December: “Technically, Israel will be ready [to strike Iran] if and when the decision will be taken….[but] no one is eager for war with Iran….If war with Iran comes, American planes will be used — the question is will it be American pilots or Israeli pilots flying those planes?….It would be a dirty one, a long one, one no one wants to be in….We want to postpone as long as possible….If you ask me for my assessment — and that’s what I have done for 25 years, doing assessments — I believe it is almost impossible to stop Iran without military force.” [Also: To listen to a conference call with Gen. Amdror from Feb 2, 2011 on the revolution in Egypt and its potential impact on Israel]

>> Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi in Friday Sermon at Cairo’s Tahrir Square: Pray for the Conquest of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

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REVOLUTIONARY UNREST SPREADING THROUGH EPICENTER: “Inside The Revolution” releases today in paperback

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Today, the paperback edition of Inside The Revolution:  How the Followers of Jihad, Jefferson, and Jesus Are Battling to Dominate the Middle East and Transform the World, releases nationwide. The book describes the last three decades of battles between:

  • the Radicals, Muslims who believe Islam is the answer and violent jihad is the way;
  • the Reformers, Muslims who believe that Islam is the answer but jihad is  not the way, that the Islamic world needs more freedom, more openness, more protection of human rights and civil rights and even democracy;
  • the Revivalists, Middle Easterners who have renounced Islam and come to believe that Islam is not the answer, jihad is not the way, that following Jesus Christ is the way, and that the only hope for the region is to skip back in history before Islam and revive what they once had: first century, New Testament, Biblical Christianity;

I hope you’ll find the paperback edition (which is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Borders, and any of your favorite Christian bookstores, like CBD, Parable, Family Christian Bookstores, and other retail outlets) particularly helpful in sorting out the revolutionary dynamics driving the current clashes underway in North Africa and the Middle East. What do the Radicals really believe? How far are they willing to go to get what they want? Why do they want to overthrow all the regimes in the Islamic world and create a caliphate? Why do so many believe the Twelfth Imam is coming any moment? That said, who are the Reformers? Why do they believe the Radicals are crazy and that democracy is the answer? Is there any hope of the Reformers gaining the upper hand and transforming the region for good, and not for evil? Most importantly to me is the opportunity to take you inside the world of the Revivalists. Who are they? What do they believe? Why are they so courageous in preaching the gospel, making disciples and planting new churches? How are they using satellite TV, radio, and the Internet to advance the Kingdom in dramatic and exciting ways? From Morocco to Egypt to Iraq to Afghanistan, I interview men and women who are putting their lives on the line for their Savior and Lord, and are convinced more than ever that they are on the winning side of history and that Jesus Christ is coming back very soon. I hope you find it useful.

Inside The Revolution releases amidst intensifying unrest that continues to spread to nations throughout the epicenter. Reformer protest movements are building, especially in Libya, Iran, Bahrain and Yemen, but Radical and Resister governments are cracking down more brutally, leading to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. Here’s a summary of the latest news over the last few days:

LIBYA

IRAN

BAHRAIN

YEMEN

MOROCCO

ALGERIA

AHMADINEJAD SAYS “THE FINAL MOVE HAS BEGUN”: Revolution in Egypt managed by the Twelfth Imam

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

>> UPDATES on the latest Palestinian leadership efforts to condemn Israel at the U.N. Security Council

>> Anne Graham Lotz, internationally renowned Bible teacher and daughter of Billy Graham — and a speaker at our upcoming 2011 Epicenter Conference — has written an excellent column on “Prayer for Egyptian Believers” that is now posted at www.joshuafund.net. Please take a moment to read it and share it with others. 

>> Here’s my recent interview on Fox News Channel discussing the implications of the fall of the Mubarak regime for Israel, for followers of Jesus Christ in Egypt, and for the battle between Radicals and Reformers in Iran.

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is telling the people of Iran that the Twelfth Imam is managing the the revolution now underway in Egypt and in various parts of the Islamic world, and that “the final move has begun” to destroy America, Israel and the influence of the Western powers in the epicenter.

“We will soon see a new Middle East materialising without America and the Zionist regime and there will be no room for world arrogance (the West) in it,” Ahmadinejad told a crowd chanting “Death to America, death to Israel and death to Mubarak” last Friday.

Agence France Presse reported that “in his fiery style, Ahmadinejad, showed his messianic beliefs on Friday, saying the world was witnessing a revolution managed by Imam Mahdi, the 12 Shiite imam who disappeared as a five-year-old in the 10th century and who Shiites believe would return on the judgement day.”

“The final move has begun,” said Ahmadinejad. “We are in the middle of a world revolution managed by this dear (12th Imam). A great awakening is unfolding. One can witness the hand of Imam in managing it.”

The Christian Science Monitor provided additional quotes from Ahmadinejad’s message. Iran’s revolution was “the starting point of the rule of God over the earth,” Ahmadinejad proclaimed. “It’s a long path to fight against evil-doers; everyone must be aware of Satanic deceptions” of the United States, Israel, and the West, he said, adding that the U.S. and Israel would soon be “destroyed” with divine assistance, as Iran led humankind to “summits of perfection.” The Monitor also covered Ahmadinejad’s references to the Twelfth Imam’s role in guiding the “global revolution” now underway.

I am grateful to Agence France Presse and the Monitor for covering the story. Most of the rest of the mainstream media worldwide, however, have ignored Ahmadinejad’s comments this week, even amidst provocative new moves by Iran to send two warships through the Suez Canal and close to the Israeli coastline and to aggressively fix the damage done by the Stuxnet computer virus and accelerate the enrichment of uranium. For all the left-wing (and some conservative) criticism of Glenn Beck in recent months, I also give him credit for seeking to educate Americans on this topic. Yesterday, he devoted an entire one-hour program to the topic of the Twelfth Imam, which I was glad to be able to assist with. Here’s one YouTube clip from the program. My comments are part of a video segment that begins at 6:22 minutes into this clip. I was glad to see other people interviewed for the program included Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former Delta Force commander Lt.-Gen. (ret) Jerry Boykin.

The Twelfth Imam and Iranian eschatology are topics that deserve more attention than they are getting from the media or our government officials. Let us pray that our leaders wake up to the true gravity of the threat posed by Iran’s apocalyptic regime before it is too late.

UPDATE: In a disturbing sign for the future of Egypt, the military is securing access for the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader to preach in Tahrir Square during Friday prayers. This leader, Yossef al-Qardawi, was profiled in the German magazine Der Spiegel this week. The article notes:  “Qaradawi advocates establishing a ‘United Muslim Nations’ as a contemporary form of the caliphate and the only alternative to the hegemony of the West. He hates Israel and would love to take up arms himself. In one of his sermons, he asked God ‘to kill the Jewish Zionists, every last one of them.’”

WITH MIDEAST IN TURMOIL, U.S. DECIDES TO REBUKE ISRAEL — A TRUE DEMOCRACY AND ITS MOST LOYAL ALLY — AT THE U.N.

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2011 at 3:42 am

2/20 update: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at this weekly Cabinet meeting:  “Over the weekend, US President Barack Obama decided to veto a draft UN Security Council decision condemning Israel.  Israel deeply appreciates this decision and we remain committed to advancing peace both with our neighbors in the region and with the Palestinians.  I believe that the US decision makes it clear that the only way to peace is direct negotiations and not through the actions of international bodies, which are designed to bypass direct negotiations.  The most important thing in any negotiations that we conduct is the security component.   The security component is critical to any peace agreement and I think that today, we can see what an unstable region we live in, a region in which Iran tries to exploit the situation that has been created in order to expand its influence by passing warships through the Suez Canal.  Israel views this Iranian move with utmost gravity and this step, like other steps and developments, underscores what I have reiterated in recent years – Israel’s security needs will grow and the defense budget must grow accordingly.”

2/18 update: Hillary Clinton: Israeli Settlements ‘Illegitimate’; Secretary of State Calls Working Toward Mideast Peace Her ‘Highest Priority’

2/17 update: Mahmoud Abbas is trying to force a U.N. vote to condemn Israel for building “settlements” on territory the Palestinians claim is theirs but refuse to sign a peace treaty to get. The good news: the Obama administration is threatening to veto the resolution if it comes before the Security Council. The bad news: the U.S. is proposing to condemn Israel in a different manner to appease Abbas and the Islamic world. 

>> Abbas rejects U.S. request to withdraw UN settlement resolution — Washington has made it clear that it will veto the resolution should it come to a vote, and has implored the Palestinian Authority and other Arab nations to withdraw the proposal, but to no avail.

“The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body ‘does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,’ a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal,” reports Foreign Policy magazine in a story posted on its website.

“But the Palestinians rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution Friday, according officials familar with the issue.  The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospects that the Obama adminstration may cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council. Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires  breaking with its key ally and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to Israel to stop its construction of new settlements. The Palestinian delegation, along with the council’s Arab member Lebanon, have asked the council’s president this evening to schedule a meeting on Friday. But it remained unclear whether the Palestinian move today is simply a negotiating tactic aimed at extracting a better deal from the United States….”

Unbelievable. What a way to treat Israel, our only true democratic and stable ally in the Mideast.

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

  • FYI: I taped an interview this morning on “The Twelfth Imam” that is scheduled to be air on the Glenn Beck show on the Fox News Channel tonight…may be used as “soundbites,” not a full interview…we’ll see….FYI: last Wednesday, Glenn invited me to NYC to tape a full one-hour interview to be aired last Friday…however, with the fall of Mubarak, events overtook the show and it was never aired….such is media during fast-moving events.
  • Iran Says It’s Sending Two Warships to Canal, TV Says (despite previous report of cancellation)
  • Heritage Foundation report: Refocus on Iran: More Sanctions Needed –”Iran’s hostile regime has been one of the chief beneficiaries of the political turmoil that has convulsed Egypt and Tunisia, which distracted the United States and other countries from the ongoing standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. The dramatic events diverted international attention from Tehran’s stubborn refusal to negotiate an acceptable resolution of the nuclear issue at the failed Istanbul talks last month.”
  • Israel’s economy grows 7.8% in fourth qtr of 2010

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PROTEST MOVEMENT SPREADING THROUGH EPICENTER: Largest demonstrations in Iran since crackdown

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2011 at 2:20 am

>> Answer to prayer: Israeli mayor is cancer-free after evangelical Christians and others around the world pray for him — details on The Joshua Fund website.

>> Israel says Iran warships to transit Suez for Syria

>> German magazine reports that Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader and TV preacher Youssef al-Qaradawi advocates establishing a “United Muslim Nations” as a contemporary form of the caliphate and the only alternative to the hegemony of the West. He hates Israel and would love to take up arms himself. In one of his sermons, he asked God “to kill the Jewish Zionists, every last one of them.”

The drama in the epicenter is building. Iran on Tuesday witnessed the largest protests against the government since the crackdown in 2009 after the rigged elections swept Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into power for another four years. Major protests in Bahrain and Yemen, too. Developing….

HEADLINES TO TRACK

WHAT DOES MUBARAK’S DOWNFALL MEAN FOR CHRISTIANS IN EGYPT? Update: Egyptian military vows to honor treaty with Israel

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

JUST POSTED: Here’s my interview on Fox News Channel on Sunday (Feb 13) with Shannon Bream, discussing the implications of the fall of the Mubarak regime for Israel, for followers of Jesus Christ in Egypt, and for the battle between Radicals and Reformers in Iran.

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What does the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak mean for Christians in Egypt? That’s the question I’m being asked about again and again in TV and radio interviews over the past few days, so I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts this morning.

First, senior pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt estimate there are some 2.5 million followers of Jesus Christ in their country. Most of these are born again converts who were raised as nominal Christians inside the historic Coptic (Orthodox) church. There are about eight to ten million Coptics in the country, all told, and there is a significant revival going on among them. By God’s grace, a growing number of Egyptian Muslims are leaving Islam and turning to Jesus every year. Amen. May this accelerate in the weeks and months ahead.

Second, believers in Egypt face significant harassment, ostracization, and outright persecution. Both the Mubarak government and the Islamists have worked hard to intimidate the Church over the years. While there are wonderfully bold and courageous pastors and lay leaders, many have come to live in fear and anxiety as a result.

Third, this is the most dramatic moment in the history of the modern Middle East since the downfall of the Saddam regime and the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Reformers are boldly proclaiming their solutions for Egypt’s problems. Likewise, the Radicals are boldly proclaiming their solutions for Egypt’s ills. Now it is time for the Revivalists — followers of our Lord Jesus who want to revive what Egypt once had before Islam: First Century, New Testament, Biblical Christianity — to boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. True freedom and liberation — spiritually and socially — will only come when individuals choose to begin a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son. Only then does the Lord offer us the free gift of life eternal and life abundant, as we read in John 3:16 and John 10:10.

Fourth, our job as believers around the world at this moment of turmoil, change and uncertainty is to stand with our brothers and sisters in Egypt, encourage them, pray for them, provide whatever training or resources they need, and provide some funding if possible to help them proclaim the gospel, make disciples, train new pastors, plant new churches, care for the poor and needy, and minister to the people in many other ways. We can’t do the work of the Church in Egypt for them, nor should we. But we can — and must — let them know that they are not alone. The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12 that “you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” He told us that “if one member [of the Body] suffers, all the members suffer with it.” In Philippians 2, he urged believers to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” He encouraged us to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” In other words, we need to do a better job understanding the needs of the Egyptian Church and seek ways to stand with them and encourage them, not be selfish or prideful or focused merely on ourselves.

My wife, Lynn, our four sons, Lynn’s mom, and I had the joy of living in Egypt — in a suburb of Cairo, actually – for nearly three months in late 2005 and early 2006 when I was researching and writing a book. During that time, we had the opportunity to see the enormous surge of Christianity underway in the Middle East and North Africa firsthand. We met with Egyptian Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) and Nominal Christian Background Believers (NCBBs). We met believers engaged in satellite television ministry, in radio ministry, in Internet ministry, in gospel literature distribution, and in all manner of evangelism outreaches and discipleship programs. It was also a remarkable time to study the history and culture of Egypt. We visited the great museum in Cairo, climbed inside the pyramids, and traveled around the country to places like Alexandria and Sharm el-Sheikh. We learned so much, saw so much poverty, so much sadness, such stagnation, such political and spiritual stagnation.

We also made some dear friends and visited a variety of churches to better understand the challenges facing believers in that historic country. One of these was the famous “garbage church” in the caves above Cairo, located right next to the biggest “city” of trash and waste products I have ever seen in my life.

To get to the “garbage church,” you must first drive through this “city” of badly built brick and cement apartment buildings teeming with an estimated fifteen to thirty thousand “garbage people”—no one knows for sure, and the numbers are always changing—living amid literally thousands of tons of trash. Everywhere you look you see people picking through it, sorting it, rebagging it, looking for objects of value and hoping to sell plastic bottles and the like to recyclers. The stench is unbelievable.

But then you come through it to the other side, to a paved parking lot and a lovely little Christian chapel, nestled against huge cliffs. Carved into the cliffs are the most amazing scenes of Jesus walking on water, Jesus on the cross, Jesus ascending to heaven, and so forth, each with a Bible verse inscribed below it in Arabic and English, all done by a Polish artist. Inside the six caves are six chapels, the largest of which holds twenty thousand people.

Our guide that day was an MBB named Addel. He shared with us (by translation) how he was lost in drugs and alcohol and the depression of living in the garbage village. He also shared with us how he came to hear an audiocassette of one of the priests at the church and how God used that sermon to convict him of his sin and point him to what Jesus did on the cross to pay the penalty for his sins and offer him forgiveness. Now Addel greets visitors who come to see this extraordinary ministry and tells them the story of what God is doing there.

The church was planted, he said, in 1978 by a Coptic priest with a burden for reaching the people Paul called “the scum of the world, the dregs of all things” with the Good News that they could be adopted by the King of kings. So many people became Christians in the years that followed that in 1992 they had to covert the largest cave into a worship amphitheater. On an average weekend, some ten thousand new and growing believers from the garbage community come to sing and hear the message of the gospel and learn how to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. Services are held on Thursday nights (the most popular service), Friday mornings, and Sunday evenings. In May of 2005, more than twenty thousand Arab believers gathered at the garbage church for a day of prayer for their unsaved Muslim friends to become followers of Christ. The event was broadcast throughout the Middle East on a Christian satellite television network, allowing millions more to see God powerfully at work.

With our kids, Lynn and I have been watching events unfold in Egypt through the lenses of our own experiences there, but more importantly through the lenses of Scripture. We know through Isaiah 19 that the future of Egypt is going to get far worse in the last days before the return of Christ. We also know that eventually Egypt will experience a great national awakening. Millions of Egyptians will come to faith in Jesus Christ and worship Him during the Millennial Kingdom, when He reigns from His throne in Jerusalem. We are praying for the Lord to show us and The Joshua Fund team board and staff how we can be a blessing not only to Israel, but also to her neighbors, like the dear people of Egypt who have suffered so long and need to find hope and freedom in Jesus. We’d love for you to join us in these vital prayers, as well. Thanks so much, and may the Lord bless you as you bless Israel and Egypt at this critical hour.

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

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INSIDE THE REVOLUTION: PEACEFUL MILITARY COUP IN EGYPT, MUBARAK RESIGNS, WHAT’S NEXT?

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm
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Dramatic, breaking news from Cairo on Day 18 of the revolution in Egypt….the military has moved to oust the leader….Mubarak is out….peaceful coup in motion….chaotic situation….news delivered on Egyptian TV by VP Omar Suleiman….millions of Egyptians celebrating in Cairo and throughout the country….not precisely clear exactly who’s in charge at the moment….but the Egyptian military is well disciplined, well respected, and generally secular….not clear what’s next….what will be the “new Egypt’s” relationship with the U.S., and the West generally?….what happens to the peace treaty with Israel (Israel being the only truly solid and secure and free country in entire Middle East)?….what what role, if any, will the Muslim Brotherhood play?….lots of questions, not many answers at the moment….uncertainty spreading throughout the epicenter….please keep praying for a peaceful transition of Egypt to free markets, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship, free elections…pray, too, for the Church in Egypt and around the region to be bold in their witness that the only true solution for peace and freedom is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ….developing….

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MUBARAK: I WILL NOT LET MY PEOPLE GO — Time for the Church in Egypt to be bold for the gospel

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm

UPDATED AT 6:15pm eastern Thurs – LATEST HEADLINES ADDED 10am Friday

A few initial thoughts on Mubarak’s speech:

  1. As I was listening to the speech, my immediate thought was of the Pharoah in the Book of Exodus refusing to let the Jews go. Today, Mubarak refuses to go. Today, Mubarak refuses to let the Egyptian people go.
  2. The Egyptian people deserve spiritual, economic and political freedom. They deserve so much better than what they have.
  3. That was not a speech of a man ready much less eager to step down from 31 years in power. Mubarark is resisting international pressure to leave on anyone else’s time table but his own.
  4. I want to see Mubarak go, but I don’t want to see a coup, or a takeover by a new authoritarian dictator, or by Radical Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
  5. The speech creates more uncertainty in Egypt, in Israel and throughout the epicenter. For most people, uncertainty creates anxiety.
  6. Followers of Jesus Christ need to stay focused on that Christ is the King of kings and Lord of laws. He alone is sovereign. He “removes kings and establishes kings,” as the Hebrew Prophet Daniel wrote in Daniel 2:21.
  7. I was just on a radio show and was asked, how can Christians in the U.S. pray for Egypt right now. My immediate answer: Please pray for the Church in Egypt to be bold, courageous, fearless witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, the Reformers are in the streets by the hundreds of thousands saying what they think is the answer to Egypt’s problems (depose Mubarak, end the emergency law, and bring about free and fair elections). The Radicals such as the Muslim Brotherhood is clear about their answer (“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”) Now it’s time for true followers of our Lord Jesus to preach the gospel throughout Egypt will urgency and courage. Christ is the Prince of Peace. He is the only true and lasting hope for the dear people of Egypt.
  8. Another question I was asked: “As you’ve watched this situation in Egypt unfold in recent weeks, do you see a possibility that if there is an orderly transition that the situation for Christians could actually improve?” My answer: “It’s a very interesting question. Yes, it could. I think of the time when the Soviet Empire collapsed on Christmas Day in 1991. That opened up Russia and the entire Eastern bloc to the gospel. Many people came to faith in Christ. Many new congregations were planted. Many new pastors were called and trained. So that’s one scenario, more freedom opening a door for the gospel. But then there’s the Iraninan model. The fact that Radicals have been in power there for 32 years has been what God has used to begin to change that country. A Radical regime in Iran has counterintuitively been the healthiest for the church. Not easy. Don’t get me wrong. There’s been terrible persecution. But God has used all this to shake Iranians from their belief that is Islam is the answer and jihad is the way. Millions of Iranians have turned away from Islam. At least one million Iranians, it is estimated, have come to faith in Christ. So God can use two entirely different environments, the opening up of freedom and democracy, or a crackdown and more repression, to bring souls to Himself. God is sovereign. And we need to pray that the people of Egypt hear the gospel and make a decision to receive Jesus Christaas their personal Lord and Savior no matter which way this plays out.”
  9. A few verses the Lord is bringing to my mind: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1)
  10. “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” (John 8:36)
  11. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
  12. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
  13. The Joshua Fund seeks to mobilize Christians around the world to pray faithfully for the people of Egypt. We have funded projects to get the gospel out in Egypt in the recent past. We are funding a conference for Egyptian pastors that was scheduled for the week the revolution began. Lord willing, it will be rescheduled soon. We stand with our brothers and sisters there and with like-minded believers around the world in bringing the good news message of salvation and freedom through Jesus Christ to the Egyptian people who need it more than ever. Please join with us in prayer. God is doing great things in Egypt amidst all the evil that others are perpetrating. What’s more, God demonstrates His love towards the people of Egypt in the prophecies of Isaiah 19, which indicate that after so many trials and tribulations in that historic country, there will be a great national spiritual awakening, and many, many millions of Egyptians will turn away from the religious, political, and pseudo-spiritual ideas that have taken them down the wrong road and will come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Let us pray and work for that day.
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HEADLINES TO TRACK:

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