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Christmas Services: Not Merely for Us

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This is a unique Christmas for our family. We AREN’T traveling! Every year of our kids’ lives we have traveled on Christmas Day and, while there have been fun parts of it, I am so excited for the chance to soak in the day with our family.

A lot of our trips as a family are road trips, long car rides across the country in our minivan. It feels challenging but to think about the first Christmas puts it all into perspective. Today we travel at highway speeds with climate-controlled and comfortable seating the whole time. Mary and Joseph traveled nearly 90 miles, uphill to get to Bethlehem and Mary most likely rode on a donkey while she was nine months pregnant! But with all of the challenges leading up to Jesus’ birth everything slowed down and they could finally experience the moment they had been waiting for.

My sincere hope for you is that Christmas Eve can be sort of a reminder for you of that type of a moment. With all the hurry of this season; from Amazon Prime to late night cooking to decorating everything we all need to catch our breath and remember that first Christmas.

And I bet you know some people in your life that need that same gift this time of the year. They’ve been scrambling with busy schedules and heavy expectations but church isn’t a priority. God put them in your life for this exact moment, to invite them to an experience they’ll never forget...it could change their eternity.

Christmas Eve services are not merely for us.  The power and hope of Jesus is for everyone and it can change anything in your life and the lives of those around you.

Looking forward to meeting many of your friends and family this Christmas season.


Grace and peace this season,

Pastor Phil

Posted by Phil EuBank with
in Church

The Persecuted Church- What can you do?

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Persecution: 1 :  the act or practice of persecuting especially those who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook. 2 :  the condition of being persecuted, harassed, or annoyed (Webster’s dictionary definition).

This may well describe persecution as applied to the western church, harassed maybe, often annoyed, right? But for Christians in countries in the 10-40 Window (see below) and beyond, the Persecuted Church, persecution can be described in much more severe terms. If they don’t follow the majority religion of the country where they live they can face discrimination at work or school, be sent to prison and, if they are accused of apostasy i.e. leaving the majority religion, they can be put to death. Now that’s persecution!

Christians are treated as third-class citizens in various Muslim countries often being subjected to Shariah (Islamic) laws, and they suffer horribly under Communist regimes as well. The church in China is undergoing renewed persecution from the authorities and house churches are closed down if they refuse to register with the Communist authorities and agree to their rules on how Christians do church. Christians in North Korea are treated shamelessly by the Communist regime there, everyone is expected to give allegiance only the ruling Kim dynasty. Christians are suffering greatly in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, Colombia, Nigeria and Sudan. So as you can see, it’s no fun for those Christians living under Islamic or Communist regimes.

What can we do? The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church falls on 6 Nov this year. So pray with us (and them) and keep on praying for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, they need God’s strength and protection so that they can endure under these harsh conditions, to remain faithful and eventually see their deliverance. Keep Paul’s words as a reminder….1 Cor 12: 25-26b, the apostle tells us that we are all members of one body and when one suffers, all suffer. So, please join the church worldwide on 6 Nov to pray for the Persecuted Church.

You can support the Persecuted Church in other ways, there are several organizations dedicated to helping Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith: barnabasaid.org; opendoorsusa.org; voiceofthemartyrs.org; Christian Solidarity International (csi-usa.org) to name a few …..you can support these organizations with financial gifts.

However you support them, above all petition the Lord on behalf of his suffering people, it is He who “works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed” (Ps 103:6).

 

The 10/40 Window

A term coined by Christian missionary strategist and Partners International CEO Luis Bush in 1990 to refer to those regions of the eastern hemisphere, plus the European and African part of the western hemisphere, located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, a general area that was purported to have the highest level of socioeconomic challenges and least access to the Christian message and Christian resources on the planet.

The 10/40 Window concept highlights these three elements: an area of the world with great poverty and low quality of life, combined with lack of access to Christian resources. The Window forms a band encompassing Saharan and Northern Africa, as well as almost all of Asia (West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and much of Southeast Asia). Roughly two-thirds of the world population lives in the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is populated by people who are predominantly Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, animist, Jewish or atheist. Many governments in the 10/40 Window are formally or informally opposed to Christian work of any kind within their borders.

Posted by Ian Tepielow with

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