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April 11, 2020 9:00 am
Mike and Robby talk to Todd Nettleton about persecuted Christians worldwide.
If not forgot stories of hopelessness earned euros. If not for God today. Mike has a real treat for you know God has one story where you think of you got a lot going on God have a lot going on in your to find out more about that going on around the world today. You got a special guest Mark I we do have a very special guest. The it was it was actually interesting because yesterday I was sitting at the house and something I was thinking of. I said something to tell me to do a radio show tomorrow morning because I know we we we had one coming up or this or that and I at something just that I said what do I want to talk about and something just as is loud as anything I've ever heard without making a noise said you need to talk about persecution and so I ended up talking to my friend Chuck right and I said Chuck I said you probably don't know anybody who knows anything about persecution, but I figured I'd you know, AB ask if you did and he said yeah he said I know a guy named Todd Nettleton and Todd is actually been the voice host of the voice of the martyrs of the past five years he's been with voice of the martyrs for the past 22 years and what he gets to do on a weekly basis. He gets to sit down with Christians who face persecution a lot and was actually just I've got Todd, he's all over a thousand radio stations across the country and and without further ado, Todd. What can you tell us about persecution. You know, I think the first thing for American listeners to understand and American Christians understand that we have a picture in our mind. When you go and sit down with a Christian who maybe has been arrested for their faith. Or maybe they been beaten up because they left Islam in there now, following to Christ our picture as American Christians is, a this person's gonna be pretty depressed and they're probably gonna be really discouraged and you know they've been through this terrible experiences and it's good that I could go and cheer them up and the reality is when you sit down with them. The amazing sense of the joy of the Lord and the presence of the Lord that they have is something that is just mind-boggling to us because they will talk about and you know we shouldn't be surprised by this, that the Bible talks about persecution as a blessing of the Bible talks about the disciples were beaten and they left the Council rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, that is still happening and there is still that sense of excitement and joy and rejoicing among our persecuted brothers and sisters absolutely knows interesting. Before before the show started today. I was actually listening to something and I told you about this before the show Todd, but I said that there was a lady named Corrie 10 boom and what she said as she said that when before I think was World War II when the Nazis took over. She said the Christian missionaries. Walt would always tell people about Jesus.
And you know the good things about Jesus this and that.
She says but she said when persecution when tough times came a lot of the Christians actually fell away because the missionaries never actually told them about persecution. Do you think that maybe a little bit of the case right here in the United States right now you know it's going to be interesting to see if and when persecution comes to the US church.
What that is going to do to the church and one of the very fascinating things to me is the church is growing faster in the Islamic Republic of Iran that it is in the United States of America the first of the church is growing faster in communist China that it is in the United States of America. Why is that how you know how do you account for that and I think one of the things and as as Corrie 10 boom experienced the church in Iran is not full of any people who are there for the wrong reasons.
If if you're there to make contacts for your business or your there to meet girls, for whatever other reasons for quite some of us might've gone to church at some point in our life. You don't go if it's going to get you thrown in jail right you don't go if it's going to get you beat up or thrown in prison or killed you do something else.
You stay home so if you have a church that full of people who were there for the right reasons.
There there to worship Christ there there to learn how to tell other people's the story of Jesus there there to be discipled to do good works that God has established for each of us to do when you have a church that's full of those kind of people.
Of course it's going to grow you know it shouldn't surprise us that the church is growing in those places because those are the kind of people that are in the church. That's a lesson for us as American Christians. If if you're there for the wrong reasons and persecution starts. You will find something else to do with your Sundays but if you're there for the right reasons and it will strengthen you, it will purify the gold and and the church will grow yet. The team you think of maybe one of the stories and I know you've interviewed a lot of people that maybe one story that kinda sticks out in your head where somebody went through great persecution. But then Jesus was just there through it and and they were able to tell people about it. One of my favorite stories comes from one of my first visit to China so this is been probably 15, 16 years ago, but we went and sat down with a lady named Sr. Truong who had just been released from six months in prison.
She actually hosted a house church meeting in her home. The government came in and raided they sent all the other people away, but because it was her home and she was the host.
They arrested her and put her in prison for six months and so she had just been out of jail for like three weeks when we sat down with her and I am pretty new at voice of the martyrs and I'm pretty new in this whole area persecution and so my first question to her was you know sister Tom tell me about the prison and what I'm thinking is, you know, tell me how hard the bed was tell me how big the rats were tell me how miserable your life was imprisoned in and she got this amazing smile on her face and she said something in Chinese and the translator said all yes that was a wonderful time and I was like I look at the translator because I thought there is no way that he translated my question correctly because I asked about prison and she said that was a wonderful time and he said no, no, I I asked her about prison.
Yes I asked the question correctly and yes, that's what she said. She said it was a wonderful time. I simple explain that and she said well let let me tell you those six months in prison. Jesus was so close to me. He was right there with me in the cell that whole six month that was such a special time with Jesus and she said you know what else some of the other ladies in my cell when I got there they didn't know Jesus are you but when I left.
They bid yet there now followers of Jesus as well, so she really looked back on that six months of prison is hey look I had Christ's presence in a very special very personal way. I had a ministry opportunity. I got the lead. Some other people to Christ. So yeah that was a wonderful time for me as as kind of a new guy at VOM that was an eye-opening conversation because I really didn't have a theology that could talk about six months in prison as a wonderful time. A wonderful experience. Yeah, and I had to adjust I had to understand and again it goes back to what the New Testament says that that there is joy in suffering. It is a complement.
If Jesus considers you worthy to suffer for him.
Diane there is a closeness that that God provides, so that that was a learning experience. And when someone asked me about okay so tell me about a persecuted Christian.
One of the first ones that comes to my mind is sister Truong and thinking about six month in prison as a wonderful experience. Absolutely. So just a little bit curious on your background.
What do you think lead you to voice of the martyrs you know I like to say that my better voice of the martyrs for 22 years and in fact is 22 years this week but I really think it started in 1982, which goes back a lot farther, but my parents moved our family to Papua New Guinea.
My parents were missionaries and we served for four years in Papua New Guinea I was 12 years old when we left I was 16 when we came back to America and that really planted the seeds of omissions in my life. It gave me a great love for other people in other countries and other places in a great love for God's family around the world and understanding that I can sit down with someone and and we don't look anything like our skin is a different color actually speak a different language, but we truly are members of the same family and the Holy Spirit kind of gives us that bond and that friendship that that those seeds started to be planted during those four years improper to getting in so I went to college and study communications.
I worked actually worked as a sportswriter for a while. I I worked in PR for Christian college, but the opportunity to come to VOM in and help tell the stories of these amazing heroes of the faith was a amazing opportunity in 22 years later I I still kind of pinch myself that I get to do it and they actually pay me to do it hello is a great blessing of do you and I know what's on every bees minds right now you know and I know persecution. We were talking about it but everybody's talking about in the United States code 19 or coronavirus. How do you think God may be using coronavirus or Cova 19 to maybe get our attention. You know, I think he is using it to get our attention, and I think one of the things is just knocking us off balance the things that were use to we can do now that the things that maybe were normal there. There are abnormal now and so knocking us off balance, I think makes all of us ask hard questions about you know will what's really important to me what what am I living my life for what am I investing my time and my money and my days and hours how I might suspecting that and I think God can work in that the other thing is II think that there is a lot of fear right now in our country and our and literally around the world of people are afraid of this virus. They are afraid of the sickness God speaks to fear the founder of the voice of the martyrs was a man name Richard warm bread. He spent 14 years in prison in Romania and he writes about the day he got arrested he was reminded that he had been told in the Bible, 366 times are the words do not fear or do not be afraid, and he was actually arrested on leap day, February 29, 1948. I am so that that year there were 366 days and there were 366 times in the Bible that it said don't be afraid. And so he really address that that even in those moments after his arrest that God was reminding him you don't need to be afraid to not fear.
I think that's a great message for us right now in the midst of this virus absolutely and and not only that, I believe that you know when people are afraid. A lot of times people are down and people were having a tough time that a lot of times they look up or they're looking for something to cling to and I think we deftly have that something we do and it's a great time for us to share that because people around us are afraid it if we are not afraid or if were not consumed by that fear. It makes us different, it makes people want to know he will.
What's different about you.
Why aren't you afraid, and that's a great opportunity for us to say. Here's why I'm not afraid because I know the one who said don't be afraid… Not for God today were to have much more Todd Middleton with voice of the martyrs and don't remember don't forget you're trying to sell your home and your sick of your realtor telling you the king you your prize. Think Todd Harrison call me to sell your house for more money and less time with no houses phone number 92745325.
This is Todd Harrison this is a great time to find out what your house is worth. Call me at 919-274-5532 together, we can sell your house for more money and less time. Todd Harrison seems affiliated, welcome back to if not for God's wisdom, his extremely cool desk that he is today from voice of the martyrs. Todd Nettleton yet and we were actually talking about this over the break, Todd.
We were talking about. What are the most persecuted countries in the world.
We started talking about a lot of them and we said well we don't have a three hour radio show. So working to start off with Afghanistan. So what can you tell me about voice of the martyrs. What can you tell us about persecution, Christian persecution right now in Afghanistan, while Afghanistan is a is an Islamic country the US and the Taliban have just signed a peace agreement which will give the Caliban more authority and more power. The Caliban are a radical Islamic group that the Taliban position would be that if a Muslim says I'm not a Muslim anymore. I'm a Christian now that person should be given a chance to return to Islam and if they choose not to return to Islam. They should be executed so so that's the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. But here's the good news. There are 34 different provinces in Afghanistan. There are followers of Jesus Christ in every single one of those 34 provinces.
So Afghans are being reached through television, there being reached online and through social media. They are being given the gospel message and they are choosing to leave Islam behind and to follow Jesus Christ. I just had a conversation on voice the martyrs radio with John Weaver. He lived in Afghanistan for many years.
He is an author that he is a servant of God. One of things he shared and I want to share this with our listeners because I think it it helps you understand what it's like to follow Christ. Afghanistan. One of the most critical conversations that a new believer will have in Afghanistan is the first time they tell someone I'm not a Muslim anymore. I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. Now, because literally, that conversation could get them killed and and really their neighbors if they said that to their father and their father killed them their neighbors and the people around them would say their father did a good thing he addressed this problem in his family.
Look at how he took care of that problem so one of the things John encouraged our listeners to to pray about is these new believers in Afghanistan having that first conversation where they say hey I'm a Christian I'm following E Salma C.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, that conversation could get them killed. That conversation could also lead to them having the opportunity to share their testimony and share their faith, but they have to pray about that.
They have to since God leading them okay this is who I want you to tell this is who I want you to have that conversation with. Hopefully their heart is softened and they're ready to hear that without saying what you did what and so think about that as Americans, you know, if you came to faith in America. That conversation might be a source of embarrassment depending it might be a source of comedy might make fun of you or ridicule you.
But in Afghanistan. That conversation can get you killed.
That first time you say I'm a follower of Jesus Christ while so Afghanistan mean you tell the because of this agreement, Pete. People can kill you and you said the Taliban.
They will still give you a chance to come back to Islam and if not, then they can tell you, you would also mention over the break as well.
A Ron Ron love to say the full name the Islamic Republic of Iran. But operation worlds of the book about the gospel movement around the world says the fastest growing church in the world is in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran is also a place where the coronavirus has hit hard and it thousands of people thousands of people have died.
Here's the good news, and perhaps this is an example for us as American Christians, Iranian Christians look at the coronavirus as an opportunity to spread the gospel so they were out in the streets with masks, offering masks to people they were checking up on their elderly neighbors saying hey are you okay do you have everything you need. You want me to run to the store for you and the people of Iran, the Islamic people of Iran a look at this and say will wait a minute.
How are you so confident. Why are you doing this. Why are you helping other people when were all hiding in and trying to make sure were going to be okay.
Well let me tell you it's because I know Jesus Christ and he loves you. He died for you and I want to live that out. I want to show his love for you so they are seeing even the outbreak of this disease, as okay. How can we turn this for good. How can we turn this for the benefit of Christ and his kingdom and their to their living that out in the Islamic Republic of Iran. So we got Afghanistan or Ron you you would also mention that the church in China is growing by leaps and bounds the church in China is growing but it is heavy heavy persecution and in the last 2 to 3 years under Pres. change and paying.
His goal is to completely subvert the church under communist authority and he is willing to do. Go to any lengths to make that happen and so from the national government level. We now see persecution in every part of China in December there was a pastor named Wong Ye who was sentenced to nine years in prison. It is the longest prison sentence we've seen for several years of a pastor inside China. The reality is, and again this is the issue is control the Communist Party wants you to be a communist first anti-Christian second or a Christian after your communist if you say will my first loyalty is to Jesus Christ, which is what he calls all of us to say my first loyalty I will put this ahead of my comfort all put it ahead of my job I'll put it ahead of everything else is my loyalty to Jesus Christ.
While that is a huge threat to the Communist Party and and they look at those numbers and they say will wait a minute.
There are more shirt Christians in China than there are members of the Communist Party. If my power bases the party. What am I going to do about this. I have to get this under control. That's what she didn't thing is is saying that's what he is doing and we've heard stories of trainers going out from Beijing to local police all over the country. Training them on how to persecute Christians on how to get control of the church. We've heard stories of teachers asking their students as young as six, seven, eight years old.
Hey, do your parents bow their heads in prayer.
How often do they do that, do they meet with other people and they all pray together how how often did they do that, where do they do that where those meetings held, they literally are asking children to spy on their own parents in communist China in order again to control the church so this persecution that were seeing is is much greater than we saw five years ago people are saying it is the worst persecution of the church since the cultural revolution going back to the mid-70s.
The and and so we covered China we covered Afghanistan we covered a Ron a lot of people right now are talking about North Korea what you know about that.
North Korea the description I like to use as North Korea is a prison camp disguised as a country, so it so everyone in North Korea is apprised everyone is persecuted, but Christians are singled out for the very worst persecution and the reason for that is the Kim family has set themselves up as God the kindergartners are taught when you sit down to eat a meal you say thank you father Kimmel song for our food.
So if you say will I don't worship the Kim family. I worship Jesus Christ. It's not just a matter of paying we don't do that here or hey, that's that that's a Western religion. It literally is treason against the government of North Korea, because you're saying that the the Kim family. The government is not God, they're not our providers. That's treason. And so it North Korea. If you're found to be a believer not only are you arrested and sent to a prison camp, your children and your parents are also arrested and sent to the camp with you because they think hey, if we wipe out three generations working to wipe out this so-called staying of Christianity and so that's why North Korea is is always listed at the top of the list of persecuted countries is because they are so intense against the church. One of the there are some really cool projects. The voice of the martyrs does to reach into North Korea. One of them is putting Bibles on balloons filled with helium and floating them up over that border and across into North Korea to bring the Bible down into that country.
Another project we have is a radio broadcast where all the broadcast is this someone reading the Scriptures very slowly and deliberately so the people inside North Korea can write down the words that there will you know I know a lot of the listeners today are listening to this and they're saying let's great and were glad you guys are doing all the stuff but there's probably nothing that I could do to get involved. Is there there is such a great question. First thing you can do and this is the first thing that persecuted Christians ask us to do as American Christians is pray for them and they're not asking that we pray that they will be persecuted or that they won't suffer there asking that we pray that they be faithful to Christ.
In spite of their suffering. So pray for them. The second thing I encourage people to do is educate yourself so that you can pray better and more knowledgeably and a voice.
The martyr sends out a free magazine every month to help people pray effectively, you can sign up for email@example.com you when should I host voice of the martyrs radio which is heard on the radio. It's also a podcast. That's a way to educate yourself to pray more effectively.
You have a website called I commit to pray.com I commit to pray.com. Every week we will email you specific prayer request to help you pray effectively so number one.
Pray number two.
Educate yourself so that you can pray more effectively and then I was still people number three is whatever God lays on your heart to do, because as you're praying as your learning more. God's can open some doors for you to be involved in. Maybe it's writing letters to Christians who are in prison.
Maybe it's sponsoring Bibles to be delivered into one of the countries maybe it's getting on an airplane and going to one of these countries and when and if we ever get to fly on airplanes again. Yes, but as you're praying as your learning more. God's can open some doors in the and you just have to be obedient to walk through the doors that he opened absolutely and you know II think maybe this time that a lot of us are at home.
A lot of us are unable to work, is we have more time to sit and pray and contemplate, and in think about what we can do to get involved and I know Todd you been doing this for over 22 years, but you know it's it's it's important not to as it says in Scripture, not to just be hearers of the word, but to be doers of the word, and so I feel like you've given us some really steps the action steps that we can take and one more time.
The website persecution.com persecution.com. Thank you very much and Robbie. I'll let you get the last word.
Well, he had a story I don't want to miss out on if he can get it done and it is great to wait in the show. One of the ways that the coronavirus is affecting a lot of our workers around the world is just the inability to travel and I got word just yesterday from some of our contacts in North Africa and you know they've had to end there. A distribution to some of the poor that they're using for outreach. They've had to end their discipleship classes where they were having new Christians meet together for discipleship, but they said the ministry hasn't stopped in one of the exciting things was they have seen online ministry traffic to their website contacts on social media. Those have skyrocketed since their countries been on lockdown so that even in the midst of the virus. They're having this amazing opportunity and they're seeing hunger for the gospel and a hunger among people to know more about Christ that even though there on lockdown even though they can't do all the stuff that they would say was their normal ministry there still seeing these amazing opportunities. So even in the midst of the virus. God is opening doors one. Thank you for listening to become mice with shows rival mountains. If not, God more information on my contact you.
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