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When Faith is Forbidden - Todd Nettleton

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
April 17, 2021 2:00 am

When Faith is Forbidden - Todd Nettleton

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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April 17, 2021 2:00 am

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to journey with persecuted brothers and sisters, don’t miss this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. For more than 20 years, host of The Voice of the Martyrs Radio, Todd Nettleton has traveled the world interviewing hundreds of Christians who've been persecuted. “When Faith is Forbidden.” Hear the stories he uncovered.

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This is Doug Hastings, VP of Moody radio and were thankful for support from our listeners, and businesses like United faith mortgage. My best friend is blessed with three kids in a big house all the kids have their own rooms, but recently life in a bagel house is been different. In an effort to solve kid boredom. My friend, but when those massive blue tarps and created a full room tent in the spare bedroom. They put each of the kids mattresses under the tent in the shape of a T and every night for now, five weeks the kids have slept with their heads, feet apart and set of rooms apart, it's Ryan from United faith mortgage and when I see a home.

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If you happen to be looking for a new place to put up a tarp of your own. We are United faith mortgage United faith mortgage is a DBA of United mortgage Corp. 25 Millville Park Rd., Melville, NY license mortgage banker for licensing information, go to an MLS consumer corporate and MLS number 1330. Equal housing lender not licensed in Alaska, Hawaii, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah. He's traveled the world to meet and interview hundreds of persecuted Christians and he'll tell some of their stories today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman that it is quite amazing to land in a country that you've never been to. You feel the ball field. We are brothers in history around the world through the body of Christ. Welcome to building-related Dr. Gary Tatum and author of our times that "The 5 Love Languages" Todd Nettleton voice of the martyrs radio and you're in for a fascinating look at the cost of paying simply identifying followers featured resource. Five love is Todd's book. Faith is 40 days on the front lines persecuted five love Gary you have traveled the world as well. Some interesting places contact with people who told stories about persecution.

You have heard stories produced in China and in Turkey, particularly, but I've never actually met and interviewed individuals who been persecuted and that's why I'm really excited about this book in our interview with Todd because he has.

He sat down with them and heard their stories and there.

It's pretty amazing so I am really excited about our conversation today. His name is Todd Nettleton, chief of media relations and message integration for the voice of the martyrs USA and host of the voice of the martyrs radio. He serves as a voice for persecuted Christians, inspiring Christians with the faithfulness of Christ's followers, and more than 70 nations, a graduate of Bartlesville Wesleyan College which is now Oklahoma Wesleyan University, East, and postgraduate study at the University of Oklahoma and his wife Charlotte have two sons and two daughters in law featured resource again is his book when faith is forbidden. 40 days on the front lines with persecuted Christians find out more than five love will Todd welcome to Building Relationships.

Thank you so much. It is great to be with you with voice of the martyrs for many years and almost all of us have heard of that organization. How did you get started doing this work well you know when people asked me how did you start a BOM I point back to 1982, believe it was September 8 of 1982 I was 12 years old and my family my my parents and my brother and I got on an airplane and we flew to Papua New Guinea where we serve.

My parents served really as missionaries for four years so it was as a 12-year-old that I got that first experience of flying halfway around the world, landing in a new place figuring out a few words of how to say hello and how to find a bathroom tasting and eating food that looked and smelled and tasted differently from the food I was used to all of that were there the beginning of God planting the seeds into my life that led to me coming to work it voice of the martyrs now traveling around the world to sit down and talk with Christians who have faced persecution and then come home and tell their stories and hopefully inspire the faith of American Christians with the faithfulness of our brothers and sisters around the world. Parents never know how their decisions. God uses to impact their children and I don't know that your parents ever dreamed that you would do what you have done with your life over these last 20 years but it's it's really exciting.

So you go into these other countries eventually set out in and talk to interview these persecuted Christians and then come back and then share their stories, what why is it important for believers to understand the reality of persecution. You know, I think there's two reasons. And I think the first one is the scriptural mandate that says when one part of the body suffers were all supposed to feel that if if we have no idea what's going on if we have no idea what the suffering is how how can we honor that Scripture how can we feel the pain of people that were completely disconnected from so so that's the first part of the answer. The second part of the answer has to do with us and it is you know the Bible says that that Christians will face persecution that Jesus said the world hates me and if you follow me. The world is going to hate you to we as American Christians don't experience that very often, but that could be changing. So if it's changing and it were going to experience it more and more how can we prepare for that. Well I think the best way other than the Scripture post is to look at the stories of people who have endured persecution. They have been victorious in the midst of that. They've even been able to love and forgive their persecutors how better to prepare ourselves for any persecution that we may face them by looking at the stories of those who've already been there and have the stories to tell and and can prove God is faithful even in the midst of persecution. So I think that's a second reason why the stories are so powerful, why they're so important is because they prepare us to face hardship in our own lives simply stories from your book and what you're saying is exactly right. You just here, there, you can almost see them conceal you know the things are expressing in the fact that so many of them are so positive in terms of trusting God through all of this, it is just powerful and I think you're right you you mentioned.

In America we we talk about persecution sometimes but it's typically a very different way from the kind of persecution of the people that you been interviewing.

What is your definition of persecution. You know I think persecution is when someone suffers at the hands of another. Because of their decision to follow Christ and it looks different in different places and I think you could say there are different levels of persecution. There are places in the world. I think of Cuba where maybe the pastors daughter goes to school in Cuba and she gets straight A's all the way through up through high school and when it comes to graduation day.

They say you know what your dad is a pastor. He's a political enemy were not going to give you a diploma. Even though you worked hard even though you've earned it. We're not going to get a diploma. Certainly that's persecution but that's different from someone who's being maybe shot and killed because they have a gun to their head and they say are you a Christian or Muslim, and they say I'm a Christian and they get killed that's also persecution, so it is hardship at the hands of another. Because of faith but like I say, will there are certainly levels of persecution in some I think is is more harsh than others.

You travel the world did give us a Birdseye view of the kind of places you been to through these 20 years. Why have had the amazing privilege to travel a lot of places and you know from from Central Asia in Nepal and India to China and other places and one of the amazing things that that happens as I travel is I get a better understanding of the family of God and that it is quite amazing to land in a country that you've never been to and you're among people who look very different from you and people who speak a different language from you and yet you sit down with a brother or sister in Christ and maybe it's through a translator. Maybe it's true kind of half sign language but in 10 or 15 minutes you feel this bond you feel this connection, and it's it's the body of Christ to take Christ is in me.

Christ is in you.

We are truly brothers and sisters even though you know what we don't speak the same language we don't look like each other. We are connected as a part of the family of God. I think that's the greatest blessing of my travel is just to have that that broad experience in broad understanding that that we are connected to brothers and sisters around the world through the body of Christ. Let me turn the question around a little when you talk with these persecuted Christians what they say about American believers, what is their concept of what's on their heart for the church here in America you know they have different impressions of of the American church.

One of the impressions that I have been surprised by his is just the. The access to Bibles that we have you know when and some restricted or hostile nations. If you said you know every member of our church has a copy of the Bible and not just one but every member of their family has their own copy of the Bible and not just that but if they pull out their phones out of their pockets.

They have like nine or 10 different translations of the Bible on their phone in their pocket all the time. That just for some people that just blows their mind there like way to everyone in your church has their own Bible. How did you do that you're so lucky your soul blessed so that's one aspect of what they think they understand though that there are challenges for us to and I'll never forget talking to a pastor in China a pastor who has since gone on to heaven but had spent more than 20 years in prison and he said in the course of our conversation. He said you know in China.

Satan uses persecution against the church in America.

Satan uses prosperity against the church is a different part of Satan's toolbox. But the purpose is the same as to distract the churches to stop the church from growing. It's just a different challenge and so that I think often Christians and hostile restricted nations pray for American Christians. They they know that we can be a blessing to them.

They know we have access to many blessings and they pray for us to stand strong in our faith in spite of the temptations, in spite of the tools that Satan has in his toolbox to use against the American church even without persecution you going to these other countries you're talking with nationals who have been persecuted sometimes been in jail sometimes been shot. How do you get access to these people acquire they willing to talk to you and to trust you to share their story well I I comment on the coattails of our international ministry staff that are active in more than 70 countries around the world. So I have I have the blessing and the advantage of voice of the martyrs 50+ years of ministry service and the fact that that we have developed contacts in that country in the church with church leaders and with others so by the time I get to them. They they have a little bit of an understanding of of who I am and who VOM is that which is why they're willing to share their story and they typically will have the blessing of their leader, whether it's their pastor, or someone above their pastor and their church group who says a these are good people. You should talk to them and so I am very much dependent as I travel on our international ministry staff that set up those relationships and maintain those relationships and know the right people and know how to open the right doors and know how to keep me out of trouble when I'm in a hospital or nation which is important for sure variable then when you sit down with these people who bend this. I just released from jail or prison, sometimes for extended times are I have suffered a shot or that sort of thing. I'll tell you if you just generally found them responding to this one of the amazing things and I think back to one of my first trips for VOM we went to China and we were going to meet a pastor who had been imprisoned something like 11 or 12 times in the last three months.

What what happened was he let a house church on Tuesdays. The church was growing they actually had outgrown the house where they were meeting there were people sitting outside in the street so it will. It was hard to hide what they were doing and the communist government there got very frustrated by this church and so they they started arresting this pastor basically every Tuesday morning and they would hold them all day Tuesday or even overnight into Wednesday and then they'd release them in the next week.

They do the same thing, just just so he couldn't leave that one particular church on Tuesdays and so as we went to meet with him.

He had been arrested all these times in the picture I had in my mind was boyish or great that we can come from America and encourage this poor downtrodden persecuted pastor in China. Isn't it a blessing for him that that we get to come and do this for him and what we got there it was kind of completely the opposite. He didn't really need us to come and encourage you.

He was very much encouraged.

Hey, look at how fast the church is growing. Look what God is doing in our community. Look how many people are coming to faith in Christ. It wasn't a big bother to him that he was getting arrested every week was a joyful thing that God was at work and I remember in the course of our conversation word were drinking tea together and I turned to his wife, and I said don't you worry about him.

He's getting arrested every week. Aren't you worried about him and she cut a look at me funny and said what. Why would I need to worry about something control. You know what I would find what I worry because I know God is in control of the situation and so I learned very quickly that they are not intimidated and they're not usually overly stressed about what's happening to them.

I mentioned in the book, I include in the book some comments from my journal over the times of my travel in one of the journal entries is like we're having such a hard time getting them to talk about their suffering and talk about prison because they don't think it's remarkable that they just think it's part of following Jesus Christ. So you you when we come in and ask about will tell me about the prison and tell me how hard it was their dislike will that's just part of walking with Jesus. That's not that big a deal, why, why do you need to hear that story.

There is a sense of joy. There is a sense of excitement about what God is doing and there is really a sense of privilege that that I get to be a part of Christ's kingdom.

I get to be active in his work and I think of the story in acts chapter 5 of the apostles were taken before the Sanhedrin.

They question them. Then they were beaten and released and it says they left the Council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, that same sense of rejoicing that same sense of excitement is present in our persecuted brothers and sisters today in nations around the world as was present with the apostles that day in Jerusalem as you were telling that story and that's what came to my mind as I was thinking this sounds a lot like the Bible say that you, you probably had a lot of interesting experiences in in your travels.

In addition to the interviews was one of the most remarkable places that you used to either you been to the disco stains on your mind. One of the most remarkable.

Sounds like a positive word. This was more on the negative end of the spectrum that we stayed in a hotel in central Asia and I think we were on the eighth floor and the elevator ride took about 10 minutes so I like.

I thought the elevator was and I didn't know if we were ever going to get out of there and then when we got a room there was no running water. There was no seat on the toilet. There was no toilet paper and there was the electricity was coming. Intermittent, it would come on for a while and then it would go off for a longer while so that was one of the remarkably bad that I have seen but you know it's easy for me to complain as a very comfortable American Christian, but I have been humbled so many times by the hospitality of our brothers and sisters that we go to see him. Never forget sitting in a grass literally a grass hut in Ethiopia with a former Muslim who was now a pastor and we looked up and there were holes in the grass roof because his neighbors had taken to throwing stones at his house to try to convince him to come back to Islam and they pulled out bottles of orange soda and served us orange soda and I just thought what an amazing thing that out of out of there. Nothing they would take energy and money and time to buy an orange soda for me to, and just to share fellowship and when they offered. I just thought what a what a sacred orange soda that is that my brother and my sister and Ethiopia have sacrificed in order to be able to serve this to me and I just thought what a what a sacred privilege it is to sit down and drink, and orange soda with these amazing saints of God that I know you been in and out of a lot of airports and out own and off of a lot of airplanes this may not be real spiritual, but to give us a airports story or an airplane story about well I remember checking into an airport in central Asia and literally the check-in counter was a lady sitting outside at a card table like a holdup card table. We showed her our itineraries and she gave us a boarding pass and off we went and when we got on the plane. It was a really old plane and it had kind of avocado green decorations so you knew it was.

It had been around a while and I could smell gas and I thought you know I don't think that's occurred when you're on the I was in the exit row and as we went down the runway. I could hear air flowing like air was flowing in and out of that window in the exit row and I thought, will the door is not sealed very well and we asked the stewardess lady and she's oh no, it's right it's good were all good so I prayed very fervently that that flight was very good for my prayer life. I thankfully we landed safely in in the place where we were going. When we got there they announced over the speaker. They said now you who are in the front of the plane you staying in your seats and were going to get the people in the back of the plane out first and I thought well that's interesting. I don't usually do that well. My host explained to me that what they had explained in Russian was if the people in the front, get out first then there's too much weight in the back of the plane and it'll tip up on its tail as he wanted people to stay put and let the people of the back get out first so that the plane doesn't tip up so like I say when I got off the plane.

I was very, very, I did actually kneel down and kiss the ground but I felt like when you do the kind of work you do go on the places you go home sure that's the kind of thing that periodically is going to happen. Now you've shared 40 amazing stories of persecuted Christians in in your new book when faith is forbidden.

Were there common themes that came from those stories that helped them persevere. I think two and I think one we've Artie talked about his joy just a sense of excitement and a sense of anticipation of seeing what God is going to do the second theme that comes through again and again in the stories is forgiveness and the supernatural ability of our persecuted brothers and sisters to forgive their persecutors. I think I tell in the book the story of going to meet the families of three men who were martyred in Turkey, and two of the men were married.

One of the men was engaged. I actually met both of the widows I met the fianc of the third man is just really an amazing trip but the day after the killings.

The two widows were on national television in Turkey and they forgave the men who had killed their husbands on national TV. In fact, one of them echoed the words of Christ on the cross, father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing a Muslim journalist, a Turkish Muslim journalist said of those two women that they had done more for Christianity in Turkey by forgiving those men on national TV. They had done more for Christianity in Turkey than a thousand missionaries could have done it a thousand years with that simple act of forgiveness and so I think that is another theme that goes through the story and it there's no human explanation for that. It has to be the reality of Christ. It has to be the reality of the Holy Spirit empowering us to forgive and as the persecutors look on and see that they know there's no human explanation. They know it doesn't make any sense.

So it has to be God must be real because how can this person that you're beating.

How can they show love to you. How can they forgive you. They can't unless God is real unless their message is true, so it's an amazing witness for Christ and that's one of the other themes that comes through is just that theme of the, the persecuted, forgiving, and even loving their persecutors taught. It reminds me of the story Corrie 10 boom talked about her years after the Holocaust and all that her family had gone through of hiding Jewish people and then being sent to the camps.

She speaking and then this German garden comes up to her and and and wants to know you know is what you're saying really true. Can somebody like me, be forgiven and she is faced with that question of having to you know to look at her persecutor in and all that happened to her family and it is take costly thing to do that mean you know Corrie 10 boom knew she knew what it had cost her family. She knew their suffering and yet to be able to do that that the founder of the voice of the martyrs, Richard and Sabina were Brandon Sabina had a similar experience.

Her family also. They came both from Jewish families and her family died in the camps as well and she had that opportunity to encounter one of the guards who had been at the very camp where her family was killed and to say I forgive you and actually sheet she cooked a meal for a few serve the meal to the man who had been the guard at the camp where her family died. That doesn't make any sense from a human perspective, it it doesn't even register with us.

How could that be the only way it could be his God is real, and God empower someone to do that. I think you're right by nature. We want to demand justice and we fight for justice in certain there's a place for standing for justice and the question about that. And God is a just God, but is also merciful God, and is also forgiving God. That's why we're here today were not for his forgiveness of us who knew me talking today so yeah it's it's a supernatural thing.

Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller "The 5 Love Languages" you can find out more about your love language or our featured resource by going to find love you can listen to the stream or download the podcast right there and link to the book by Todd Nettleton of voice of the martyrs radio. It's titled when faith is forbidden. 40 days on the front lines with persecuted Christians just got a five love your hope for our listeners today and for readers who read this book and go on this 40 day journey with you as you interview these persecuted Christians. What would you like to see happen is people take this journey. You know, I think my encounters and my conversations with persecuted Christians have changed me that they've changed the way I think about faith. They change the way I think about what it means to follow Christ.

That's my hope for the reader as well. If I honestly believe that it there's no way to avoid it if if you spend 40 days conversing with persecuted Christians hearing their stories hearing their hearts. I think on day 41, your faith will look different. I don't I don't think you can avoid that because you have seen sacrificed. You have seen forgiveness you seen a passion for sharing the gospel with people and that starts to rub off on us and I think that's a good thing that that's a great thing for us to see the stories you hear the stories of these persecuted Christians and be impacted by their testimonies think we lease those of us here in America would never hear such stories someone like you did not go and interview those people and then come back and share their story. So I think you're doing a great service to the Christian church here in America there there's a story about a million dnouement in Iran who describes his persecution as quote the sweetest of his life. Tell us tell us about him. I love the story of Emond when I first met him.

So I'm sitting down interview a man the first thing he did was pray and I have not had that extra he said before we talk I want to pray is my okay and what he explained through the translator's. I did a lot of bad stuff in my life before Christ, and I don't want to give Satan even a crack by remembering that stuff.

So I'm in a pray that God will only bring back the stuff that that you need to hear that I need to share with you so we prayed before he started sharing his testimony and the first thing he said he said not want you to understand I'm a very competitive person. He said what I was in the Iranian military and we were fighting the Iran-Iraq war. I told my commander you send me to the hardest place where the fighting is the fiercest, the place where I can be martyred for my country in the next 24 hours and he said when I was a drug addict I wanted to use every single drug that you could ever use and I wanted to use more of every drug than anyone else was using and he said when I was a thief I wanted to steal more than anyone else stole and if someone else tried to steal something and failed. I wanted to go and steal that thing just to prove that I was a better thief than them so that that's how he started sharing his story and then he shared how he came to Christ and God rescued him miraculously from drug addiction and Emond's competitive fire turned to well if I'm in a be a disciple of Christ. I'm going to be the best disciple that I can possibly be, and if I'm to be an evangelist that I'm sure Christ with every single person that I talked to and and that's what he does and in the course of doing that inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. He ended up in prison, and Fort 20+ days.

He was actually in solitary confinement.

Although he told me how I was not alone. Christ was with me in that so that he was transferred to a cell with 100 other inmates and he over the course of the next day shared Christ with all 100 of those inmates and 24 of them prayed with him to receive Christ. So then he got released from prison and he sent in his regular monthly ministry report to his elders and in the house church there in Iran and is his ministry report just said I shared Christ with 100 people that month. 24 people prayed with me to receive Christ and it was several weeks later that his leaders realize that he had been arrested. He had been imprisoned that whole month, why, why didn't you mention in your report that you were in jail, and Emond was just like why does that matter. Important thing is I shared Christ with 100 people and 24 of them prayed to receive Christ with me there walking in salvation. Now, why does it matter whether that was in jail or out of jail. That's not the important part of the story. The important part of the story is 100 people heard the gospel in 24 people got saved. That is his attitude that is his fire to share the gospel and and he genuinely believes and he told me if I encounter a person even if I just bump into them at the supermarket. I assume that the Holy Spirit has prepared them to hear the gospel because otherwise, why would he have brought them into my past and so every single person that Emond meets.

He believes the Holy Spirit has divinely prepared them to hear the message of the gospel and he is ready and willing to share that message with them. That's his fire to be the best evangelist that he could possibly be well what if every believer in our country and that mindset well well take us to China and the story of sister Tom sister Tom is one of my favorite stories and it was early on in my time at voice of the martyrs and really change how I think about suffering because we went to meet with sister Tom. Actually my wife was able to travel with me on this trip and she had just been released after six months in prison for hosting a house church in her home so the police raided the house church meeting. They kicked everyone else out but because it was her house because she was the host.

They arrested her and put her in prison for six months and so we sat down with her and and I know I'm in a come back to America. I'm in a sure sister Tom story in radio interviews. I'm in a probably write it up for the voice of the martyrs magazine. What if if were going to tell a story. What we need.

First, we need to scan a set the scene and so I say sister Tom tell me about the prison and the translator translates my question to sister Tonya and what I'm thinking is, you know how I want you to tell me how miserable it was in prison.

How hard was the bed. How cold was it. How big were the rats I need to paint a picture for people of how terrible prison was for you and sister Tom got what I would call a heavenly smile on her face and she said something in Chinese and the translator said oh yes, that was a wonderful time and I'm translator because I I thought there has to have been a disconnect because I am. I'm pretty sure I asked her about prison and no one would ever describe prison is a wonderful time. So I also trusted you know, Mr. translator, are you sure you understood my question and he looked at me and he smiled and he said yes I understood your question, yes that's what I asked her. And yes, she said it was a wonderful time and sister Tom went on to say Jesus was so close to me in that prison cell. He, I mean he was so close and so he ministered to me in such a personal way. It was a precious special time with Jesus while I was in prison and she said you know what else. There were other ladies and myself and when I got there they did not know Jesus and I got to have the privilege of introducing them to Jesus. And they got saved, and there walking with Christ now. So during that six months in prison. I had the amazing personal special presence of Christ with me and I had an opportunity to minister what else would I need. Why would that not be a wonderful time and I asked him in the book class. I tell the story of the book. I asked readers and this this is convicting to me what else in our lives. If if six months in a Chinese prison can be a wonderful time.

What is there in my life and in your life that if we would look through the right mindset. If we would see through our spiritual eyes might be a wonderful time that we don't acknowledge right now could.

Is it possible that sickness could be a wonderful time if we experience the presence of Christ and if we had ministry in the midst of it. Is it possible that unemployment could be a wonderful time if we experience the presence of Christ and if we had ministry in the midst of it. What is it in our lives that we could see as a wonderful time if we just had that mindset and if we had our eyes open spiritually to see that's the lesson that sister Tom taught me and I have never forgotten it. Well that's powerful talking about China.

We we hear a lot about Chinese persecution through the years and also that the church in China is continuing to grow and thrive. So you been there, firsthand, is that is that true is what we hear about the Christians in China in terms of the church growing in all of that, it is that is that true from your perspective, the church in China is certainly growing up. They are facing increasing and even in the last two years dramatically increased persecution coming from the communist government that that wants to control the hearts and minds of the people they want you to be a good communist first and whatever else you are in your life comes after being a good communist, while as Christians we say I'm a Christian first and everything else comes after my loyalty to Jesus Christ that is seen as a direct threat by the Communist Party and by the leaders there and so they are cracking down against the church and the level of technology that they have involved in this crackdown is is I think one of the things that makes it scary. There is talk that by the end of this year there will be 600 million facial recognition cameras in China basically everywhere you go. In China there are facial recognition cameras that are watching you. The goal of the Chinese government is to be able to identify and locate any person on Chinese soil in three seconds. So if you're trying to make a secret delivery of Bibles.

If you're trying to gather together with other believers.

How do you do that when it when the government is watching everything you do. How do you do that when the facial recognition cameras can identify you everywhere you go.

Now here's here's the good side of that story or the attitude of our brothers and sisters in China. I interviewed a pastor of a house church in China and he said he challenges the men in his church. In particular, the men he says listen, the government is watching you. We know that so just make sure that what they see is a witness for Christ. Make sure what they see is what it looks like to be a bold foldout follower of Jesus Christ. They are watching so you have an opportunity to be a witness through that. Make sure you take advantage of it. That's the attitude of our Christian brothers and sisters in trying to guess the government as opposed to us. Yes, the government is watching. That is not going to stop the move of the Holy Spirit.

It is not going to stop the church from advancing in China taught as I'm listening I'm filtering what you're saying in the stories through my perspective, and we don't have that kind persecution here.

You mentioned little earlier maybe it's coming in and what will. How will I handle it if it does I think that's part of what your you're talking about here right it absolutely as you know, I think every time you read a story of a persecuted Christians, the natural response is to ask okay what would I do in that situation it out if they came to arrest me. What would I do if they killed one of my family members. How would I respond answer that's that's a great question to ask because I think a couple things happen.

I think we have to go to the Lord and say Lord, you know, I know what the right answer is II know what the answer is that I want to give. I want to say will, of course, I would stand boldly. I would reach on the street corners. I don't care if they arrest me, but Lord, I'm not sure I can give that answer honestly. So please help me, help me to grow stronger. Help me to deepen my faith so that if and when that day comes, I will be ready.

The other thing is it draws the truth out of these brothers and sister story and I've tried it at the end of each day's reading in this book to kind of bring home to an American audience because I'm an American Christian. I've never been arrested for my faith. I've never had a gun put in my head.

I've never been beaten up for following Christ. Yet, I think there are lessons that I think there are truths that affect me and that inspire me and so I have tried in each day's reading to to kinda bring it home for an American reader or a Western free nation reader to say okay what what are some truths from this person story that I can learn truths about forgiveness truths about having a passion to share Christ with the people around me truths about living by faith on a daily basis, even in a country where I am quite comfortable and where I have a steady paycheck. How do I develop a reliance on Christ so that it affects me every day to say Lord I need your help today. I need you to step in today and walk with me through this day. So there are definitely lessons that we can learn from our brothers and sisters that apply to us even if we are not directly facing persecution right at this moment. I think that's a prayer that our listeners and those who read this book are going to sense that you keep a personal journal while you making all these trips, help to process your own emotions as you were dealing with each of these in some of those release portions of those journals, you actually have in the book and I enjoyed seeing those, but that that did help you personally did not in terms of processing your emotions as you work through all of this.

It certainly helped me as I was processing the trip. It also served and very frankly, it's a gift to my wife because she can't always go with me and so keeping that journal and bring that back and offering that to her as a way for us to kind of experience. The trip together and process the trip together.

The other thing that you will see this as you read some of the experts in the book is I am often the least spiritual person in the room and so there are places in the journal where I am.

You know, complaining about the hotels or complaining about the squatty parties or very anxious to get home.

I need a hamburger as soon as possible and so some of that comes through in the journals as well, and I'm I'm reminded of that and I'm kind of humbled by that, but I also want to make sure that people as they read this book. They know that there are heroes in this book, but Todd Nettleton is not one of the heroes. There are some who have paid the ultimate price that is they've lost their lives in their Christian martyrs you you deal with some of those in the book, how did you find out about the stories you know it. It depends on the story. In some cases, think of the three men who were killed in Turkey. It literally it was international news that week and so the world the entire world. Read those stories, but then to be able to make the connection and be able to go and sit down with the widows it in here. Those first-hand stories that comes because of the work of our international ministries team that it comes because of that, 50 years of experience and 50 years worth of contacts in that country people in the church people who can help you make connections can help make introductions and allow you that privilege to be able to sit down and and I honestly it's the work of the Holy Spirit as well. I tell the story. One of the widows in Turkey. I had arranged to meet with her and that morning, as my host called to kinda make the final arrangement. She said you know what I'm just too tired. It's not can work out today and I my spirit kind of fell because I it's like, hey, I've come 8000 miles.

You know what's going on, Lord, couldn't you make this meeting happen and within about half an hour might my host.

I actually went out to breakfast and at the end of our breakfast together, his phone rang and it was her and she said why don't you come for half an hour. Let's will see. And so we went. We drove about an hour to get to where she was and it turned out not to be 1/2 an hour. It turned out to be about eight hours together. We had a couple meals I got to meet her kids.

We got to hear her story. She opened the Bible and shared the parts of the Scripture that had encouraged her and I just credit the Holy Spirit was making that connection as somehow some way she felt like you know what, I'm not that tired. And then once we got together. I think she could sense that my heart was to minister to her and to share her story in an in an honest and in a fair way about a way that glorifies God and she wanted God to be glorified, even in the midst of that terrible terrible loss you you travel in many many countries. Is it your opinion that persecution is on the rise and and water. What are some of the most dangerous places in the world to die for Christians, you know, I think persecution is on the rise, but I think that is also a good news story. If I could say it that way. Part of the reason persecution is on the rise is because the church is growing in these countries there are more Christians there are more people coming to follow Christ. And so there are more potential targets of persecution there. There simply there's more believers. So there can be more believers that get arrested or more believers that get beaten.

So yes, persecution is on the rise, and yes that that's also good news because it it's a representation of how the church is growing when you talk about the most difficult places I think II think you have to mention North Korea. North Korea said that the description I uses North Korea's a prison camp disguised as a country and everyone in North Korea's oppressed. But Christians are singled out for the very worst oppression and the reason for that is very simple. Christianity is a direct threat to the Kim regime the Kim regime says the Kim family members are divine beings kindergartners are taught when they sit down to a meal to say thank you father Kimmel song for food. And so when you come in and say I am a follower of Jesus Christ.

It's not just a matter of will.

Hey, we don't believe that here or even hey that's a Western religion. That's the CIA trying to undermine our country. It is a direct threat to the national government of North Korea. It is treason to say that Jesus is Lord. That's why the persecution there is so intense because the government understands Christianity is a direct threat to our rain in this country. Hearing the stories and reading the stories, some of which operated it's deeply moving. How can we say we, I mean Christians here in America. How can we come alongside and serve our persecuted brothers and sisters. I love to encourage people to take a three step process in answering that question. Step number one is to pray for persecuted Christians commit to pray for persecuted Christians in that. That's not me talking.

That is their first request of us pray for us to pray for us, pray for us. So step number one is pray. Step number two then is to educate yourself so that you can pray more effectively because it's easy to say God bless persecuted Christians, but I think it's also easy to forget to say that because it's not very connected. It's not very personal but as you educate yourself, it becomes God bless. Pastor Wong Yi, who is serving a nine year prison sentence in China.

Bless his family.

Bless his son Joshua give him courage today to endure what he is going through so number one. Pray number two.

Educate yourself so that you can pray more personally and more passionately and more knowledgeably for persecuted Christians around the world and then step three is whatever God lays on your heart to do, because as your praying and as you're learning more God can open some doors and say hey I want you to write letters to Christians who are in prison. Hey I want you to sponsor Bibles to be delivered into that country. Hey I want you to get on an airplane and go to one of these countries, but all of that grows out of our prayers and out of our learning more so that we can pray better then God lays on our hearts, and says this is what I want you to do and then it's up to us to be obedient to what he's calling us to do what I want to thank you for being on the program today and for writing this book and all that you did to be able to write this book by taking time and energy going around the world doing this and I know that our listeners and I know that many of them are going to read this book and God's going to use it to to motivate them to pray and and and and then participate in other ways, so thanks for being with us today. You are so welcome and I am excited about how these stories are can impact readers and may we all be more bold for Jesus Christ, as were inspired by the couples of our persecuted brothers and sisters. Great to hear the heart of Todd today like more information about that book.

Five love faith is 40 days on the front lines with persecuted and Todd's website. If you want to find out more is simply persecution by next week, we open the phone line your questions and comments for our April dear dear, your relationship question right now. 186424 marriage, parenting, dating, workplace, language, question, call one 866-1440 carrying a big thank you today time Building Relationships with radio link.

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