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When Faith is Forbidden

If Not For God / Mike Zwick
The Truth Network Radio
December 18, 2021 10:30 am

When Faith is Forbidden

If Not For God / Mike Zwick

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December 18, 2021 10:30 am

Mike Interviews Todd Nettleton Todd the Chief of Media Relations for the Voice of the Martyrs. Listen as stories of persecution are shared.

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Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening to the truth. Podcast network. This is good Truth Network welcome to If Not for God stories of hopelessness that turn to hope.

Your host Mike swing all right.

We got it not for God with my day.

We had a very very special get my friend metal avoid the martyred a podcast radio show that it absolutely automatic fighting. There was a new movie that actually didn't came out proud of that right.

That is true or being tortured for Christ, but not for year told the story part of the story of our founders here at the voice of the martyrs, Richard uniform branch living and serving the Lord under the Nazis in Romania by you know why.

I heard that story and everybody would talk about it. But then I got a book on the mail from voice of the martyrs can interview you thought about it.

The book is when a is forbidden in minute 40 day on the front line was the persecuted Christians by thought that open and hard before we get into that. What is the easiest way for people to get that book they want to get is the main voice the martyrs website and then if you add onto that like when faith is veteran.

There is a page. Therefore, you can make a donation of any amount to the voice of the martyrs will send you a copy of the book for free so

I tell you what you got me to pick up the book.

It was awesome but but hard you been involved in a ministry that speak on behalf of persecuted Christians for many years. How did you get started doing the work probably. I really traced back my life service at the voice of the martyrs to 1982 I was 12 years old and that my family packed up from our home in Southern California and moved halfway around the world.

My parents searched for four years as missionary in Papua New Guinea and so I got a taste for international travel.

I got a taste for ministry work. I got an understanding that not every Christian. Looks like I do, or speaks the same language as I do. They are still my brothers my sisters there and just an appreciation for the wider body of Christ and like you say that that started when I was 12 years old Really plan for the when I came to work at the voice of the martyrs that is now been almost 24 years ago. The person that hired me, and I'm actually still works here agree on is married to my college roommate, so I knew him and that they were looking. She had been tasked with building communications department here at BOM and also she was looking for a storyteller and I was a communications major in college, I had worked as a sportswriter I work in PR and thought I would love to tell the stories of our first brothers, sisters and that's what I've been doing for the last 24 years that what I do for 440 different stories in this book. When faith is forbidden and I tell you what, I couldn't put the book down. But, you know, especially right now. I think with with everything that's going on and things are just not I think a lot of people are hearing more about persecution.

What is the word persecution mean to you.

You know it's something that at the very basic level what persecution is, is when someone forces you to pay a price for what you believe in the case of a Christian is to pay a price for following Jesus Christ and you know maybe that that price is different in different places. Maybe it is a you can't find a job if you're to be a Christian baby in his aim.

We don't want you to live here, you get kicked out of your home. If you're a Christian abutting is also in some places literally being willing to lay down your life because you choose to follow Christ more than you choose comfort or safety or protection here in this world.

All of those are persecution, all of those involved.

Someone say Jesus is worth more to me than my comfort for my safety or my house or by educational whatever whatever that cost is this person has decided Jesus is worthy of that fact you and and matter fact you probably built for and Gabbert worries about person Christian more than 20 years now. There may be some Christians in America that will that doesn't really affect me right now. Why is it important for believers to understand the reality of persecution yet I think that the first reason is because the Bible tells us that euro Hebrews 13 three says remember those in prison as if you were in prison with them. Well, how can we possibly follow that Scripture if we don't know about the people who are in prison if we don't know about the people who are suffering for the sake so part of the answer to that question is because the Bible says that's what were supposed to do that, but the second part of the answer I think has to do with with when we are going to face challenges because all of us will face challenge. Maybe it's persecution maybe it's a health challenge maybe is the vocational challenging economic challenge, but all of us are going to face challenges so what better way to prepare ourselves than to look at people who have already been there already that challenge and they've overcome it get on a sports fan. I used to be a sportswriter, and the comparison I like to make is a if I'm to be playing the patriots on Sunday. I want to watch a video of the team that beat the patriots two weeks ago.

I want to see what they did so that I can I can do the same thing. I can run the same play. If I think that I might face persecution in my life. I want to watch video I want to know the stories of those who've already face persecution and come out that the power of the stories to prepare us for the challenges that that we will endure in our own lives. Yeah what did you learn when you sat down with someone who would just been Ruby from jail frequently shot. Why were they willing to talk to you and to trust you thought was a great thing about my role here at voice the martyrs is usually by the time I go and meet with somebody they already know some of our other staff are international business to staff that are active in the more than 70 countries for Christians are persecuted, they probably already been there. They've Artie met this person and so they can be a bridge and introduced me so that when I sit down they know a little bit about the oil they go but I have some credibility just because they already know some like to work but the other things that that plays into this is often times they see the the opportunity to suffer for Christ as as a yes it has been given to them and they want to share that yes Puff themselves up for Tuesday eight look at me I'm such a hero, but to glorify God look hi was in prison all these years. And God sustains that God was with look these people killed my spouse because of their faith in Christ.

But God has enabled me to forgive them. He's enabled me to love even my enemies. Even the people who persecuted me, they want to tell those stories because they want to offer glory to God in the midst of that suffering yeah on the matter fact that I read through the book in I've noticed that you may have had a few close encounters your self-worth makes your blood pressure went up a few times in your heart beating the did anything, stick out 11 sticks out immediately. We got stopped at a checkpoint in northern Iraq.

I was in a van. There was to' lamp.

There was some of our Iraqi brothers and sisters that were driving us around and we got stopped at a checkpoint in you know you get stopped at the checkpoint guys with guns say we need to see everybody's ID well. As soon as this young man sought to American passport. His eyes got big and he said oh you Americans.

You need to come with me and so we had to get out of the van and follow the sky and will and we went kind of up over a hill in the bank.

Or we could see the band anymore and I just thought we are either going to be killed or kidnapped.

This is not going to go whole cell by ministry service may have come to an end this very day about what happened. We we went into a little shed that was sitting there kind of a little hot and in his commander was was in the heart and this was Kurdish #of troops Kurdish people typically love the United States.

The United States has been helpful for the current and so this commander just wanted to greet us. He wanted to tell us how happy he was that we had come from America to visit Curtis Janet and welcome to our country were so glad that you're here and I just took a big sigh that all I wish you going to come out of the van because I was very very frightened. We shared 40 amazing stories of persecuted Christians in your new book when faith is forbidden 40 days on the front lines with persecuted Christians, did you notice some common things that help them persevere and and I did myself when I started reading through the book. I said a lot of the a lot of the stories. Although there different. Many of them, felt the same. Did you you know I think there's a couple of things and one of them is of of real love for God's work. These are people who are passionate about their Bibles.

There there not sit on a shelf that they are reading their studying their memorizing. They are passionate about God's word and I think that that fuels them should be willing to withstand persecution to be able to withstand persecution. The other thing is though that the change that they experienced when they came to Christ they understand that Jesus is worth everything and so if if everything includes a little bit of suffering. If everything in includes maybe even losing a loved one brought to mind the brother of ours in Sudan who ended up spending more than seven years in prison and was horribly horribly tortured. In fact, his body still bears the scars of that torture and and they would tell him just just become a Muslim again. Will let you go Not connected become a Muslim. Again, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. And when he met so my coworkers that was just amazed. He said you know Jesus died for me. Jesus gave his life for me and all he asked me to do was go to prison and be tortured for several years. He was so gracious to me that that he gave his life and he and he didn't ask that of me that's the attitude of our persecuted brothers and sisters, and it's an attitude that allows them to continue or even under the worst persecution yeah means all is a beautiful Christian woman who endured extreme hardship in a Chinese prison. What are the payroll of her score sister tongue changed me one of those that day we met her I was different. After that, and she we met her in China just a few weeks after she had been released from prison, so she had served six months in prison because she hosted a house church meeting in her home.

So at that time they were rating house churches.

They were taking down all the ID documents of everyone taking pictures of their IDs and whatever but the owner of the home.

The person who was hosting the meeting they went to jail and so sister Tom had just been in prison for six months and were sitting down. This was pretty early on in my time at BOM so it's been about 20 years ago. Now I and I know I'm in a come back to America to radio interviews on the right for voice of the martyrs free magazine.

I'm in a need to tell sister tongue story and so if you're going to tell a story you need first to be the setting right so let's get the setting right if I think sister Tom tell me about the prison and what I'm thinking in my mind is you know tell me how hard the bed was coming how cold it was coming a big brass work how terrible the food was left hanging a picture of how miserable your last six months in prison have been in for my translator translated the question and sister Tom got what I can only describe as a heavenly smile on her face and she said something in Chinese and my translator said all yes that was a wonderful time and while I cannot Italia I look at the transmitter because I thought there's no way that he understood my question. There is we've obviously had a disconnect here because because whoever would describe prison is a wonderful time but doesn't it make sense and so I said are you sure you understood I was asking her to tell me about the yes yes I understood. Are you sure she understood that her to tell me about the yes she understood that she knows what you're asking, but what sister Tom went on to say. She said you know during those six months that I was in prison.

Jesus was so close to me and so real to me every single day. He was with me in such a personal way and she said you know what else. There were ladies in my cell with me and when I got to the prison they did not know Jesus and I got to be the one to introduce them. I got the one who led them to Christ and I don't. Her attitude was Jesus was with me and Jesus gave me a ministry to do what why wouldn't that be a wonderful time will you know why why one step you want and the question I ask in the book and the question I asked readers is okay if six months in a Chinese prison can be a wonderful time if Jesus presence is with us and if he gives us a ministry to do what is there in my life. What is there in your life that could also be a wonderful time if we sort of borrowed tongs classes and look at it through current way of seeing things is impossible that sickness could be a wonderful time. Is it possible that economic hardship or the loss of a job could be a wonderful five if Jesus is with us and if he gives us a ministry to do that. That's what you hope a person looks. Africa alone this 40 day journey with you and hearing stories of auger persecuted Christians, you know, I think my promise to the reader, and I really believe it's kind of God's promise to the areas your faith is get a little bit different on day 41 that I don't think it can go and sit down with persecuted Christians, and hear their stories for 40 consecutive days and then on a day 41 just close the book and walk away like nothing happened. I think your faith is going to be a little more passion is a little more bold. You're going to be challenged to live the same way that you see these people live during our 40 day journey together so I I just think your faith is good to look different after you've been confronted with the faith of these amazing bold brothers and sisters built and why you think it's important for us to know the stories of Christian martyrs and persecuted Christians in general, you know, again I think part of it is because the Bible tells us through the Bible calls us to be in the fellowship of Christ's suffering. So we need to be connected to the parts of the body of Christ that are suffering.

The Bible says when one part of the body suffers were all supposed to feel that pain well how can we possibly do that if we don't even know about the benefit if we don't have any connection to the so that is a part of it, but the second part is to encourage and increase our own fate as we see these brothers and sisters living boldly as we see them serving the Lord even when it costs them everything. We are challenged to serve the Lord the same way and I think every story leads to a question of okay what would I do in that situation what would I do if the gun was pointed at me would I do if I was about to get kicked out of my house. How would I respond to that and I think that's a great question for us to ask because two things happen when we asked that we we have to can honestly say boy for you. I hope I know what I would do. But while I'm not sure that that would happen. And so we are forced to dive into the Scriptures and see what the Scriptures say about persecution and about into ring and were forced to go to the Lord and say Lord I know what the right answer is.

I know what I want to say I would do helping people help me to be strong so that I truly can say hey I don't care if you point a gun at me. I don't care if you kick me out of my house.

Jesus is worth more to me than my house. He's worth more to me than my safety. I am a follower of Christ, no matter what anybody says or does that that is persecution on the laws and where are the world's most dangerous places for Christian persecution is certainly on the rise, and I think there's there's two sides to that coin know one of them is many governments, many leaders are against the church.

They want to control the people and they speak Christianity as a threat to that, but the other side of the coin sort of the good news side of that coin is part of the reason persecution is increasing is because the churches grow that there are more Christians to potentially be persecuted because the church is growing in Iran. The church is growing in India. The church is growing in trying and so there are more potential targets for persecution when you talk about the worst places or the hardest places to be a Christian but I certainly would think of North Korea as probably the most closed country on earth, but certainly there is intense persecution in China. We seen a dramatic increase in persecution in China over the last five years I think. In India I think. Of those, the radical Hindu nationalist movement in India that says if you're Indian you should be a Hindu and if you're not, you should go find someplace else to live and so Christians are targeted there that I think of many places in the Middle East that think of Iran I think of next-door and Afghanistan have a Alabama to control their lots of places that him and the other places I would mention are in Africa and Nigeria, northern Nigeria, in particular that so Ethiopia also Eritrea places that maybe we don't think of as top persecutors, but places were so many of our brothers, sisters are suffering for the name of Christ yet.

How should we as believers in Jesus Christ respond hateful ask of persecuted you Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us to love our enemies and it is something that is you read it and it almost seems like foolish in fact it's one of the steam bag in the Sabino movie that the Nazi guard is like.

That's foolishness for you to love your enemies, that's ridiculous. Who would do that and what it the reality is that only happened through the reality of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling us, enabling Christians to forgive their persecutors to love the people who are coming after them and one of the results of that is the witness that it is when the persecutors see that they know there's something different about this person. Wait a minute I am reading this person and they are our blessing me their speaking blessings to me as I am literally physically deeding. How can that be possible, how can they do that that becomes an opportunity to be a witness for Christ and is a real proof of the reality of the gospel. Yeah, I think you mentioned there is a Christian name Mohammed. There are yes love that I stated in the book. I love pastors they bought it because no known Christian in the Middle East. No Christian and a Muslim context names their child, Mohammed, and you know that person was born into a Muslim family to go.

They had a change of heart and they are following Jesus Christ did that.

I met Mohammed in Ethiopia and he told his story actually there. There was a burn mark on the outside of the house where just as the week before radical Muslims had, and tried to burn down his house and hopefully it didn't burn to the ground. It and we were able to see Mohammed to go in the family at his house. There, but as we were leaving the. The evangelists that that took us out kind of was our host and took us out to meet Mohammed was standing there, and Mohammed kind of motion to the evangelists. He said you know I used to be and I was like well learned that it there's a story there that and he said yes there is a story there.

He said you know when I was a Muslim. I was very devout, very radical Muslim. In fact, I was sent to Saudi Arabia for special Islamic training and when I came home part of my work. Part of my Islamic service was to persecute Christians in this evangelist to use to regularly beat the evangelists in the evangelists didn't return evil for evil.

He didn't hate Mohammed. In fact, he blessed him and he loved him and he prayed for him and eventually Mohammed came to be a follower of Christ himself, and now he's on the other and he's now the one being Pete is now the one being persecuted because he has left Islam to follow Jesus Christ about that evangelists who was willing to take a beating and still have a smile on his face and still have a prayer of blessing for the man who was beating him literally changed Mohammed's eternity buys that witness that is also him and his people wondering how they can come alongside and serve our persecuted brothers and sisters. Note couple things I would seldom is forceful, pick up the full swing phase is 40 days on the front lawn persecuted Christians available for sinful words and I'll send home one fight all the voice of the That's correct. Todd Nettleton, the voice of the martyrs. Thank you so much for coming on. Is not God today and didn't. I look forward to that. Have is reminded just how fragile and unpredictable life is not about your loved ones and their financial security for the teacher with RC mainline six 1873 the Polish Roman Catholic America has been protecting its members and their families financially doing RC like today, affordable life insurance community right in additional member even lower your income in these to retirement income needs RC mainline community transferring their existing three point any bad one year hearings hundred dollar mainland PRC.more how your level RC everything in ascendancy for our life, protecting life. This is good Truth Network

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