APN Applauds President Trump: Governors Must Do the Right Thing and Reopen Churches

President Donald Trump called for churches and other houses of worship to open over Memorial Day Weekend, and branded them as “essential.” He ordered governors across the nation to reopen churches and said he would override those who would not comply. American Pastors Network President, Sam Rohrer said today, “The President is to be complimented on his decision to declare all churches to be open and that the governors who remain restrictive will have to deal with him. Churches are essential to the well-being of our nation and our people.“Neither the governors nor any person in state or federal government has the Constitutional right to order any church to close or decide how they should order or arrange their worship or manner of service. For governors to single out churches and order their form of worship is for them to declare themselves above the Constitution and God. It is religious discrimination and a violation of their Constitutional oath.” Following Trump’s announcement on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines for communities of faith on how to safely reopen. Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

Christianity, Culture, and Credibility

This transcript is taken from the Stand in the Gap Today program aired on Oct. 31, 2019

Sam Rohrer:                     Well, when I say the words skeptic or cynic, or doubter and disputer, and then I connect in even the word persecution, what comes to your mind? Well, for most of you listening to me right now on this program, that word is truth, Bible, Christian, post-modern culture. All of those things, plus, more might come to your mind and they’d be appropriate. And you’d be right because in today’s modern culture with absolute truth being rejected, actually by government and others, truth being redefined and Christians and Christian beliefs being increasingly targeted as archaic. And by some, even identified as divisive. In this rejecting culture, identifying things of this flavor also may use the word as uncomfortably restraining about Christianity and truth or divisive, or even worse. And in this climate, Christianity and Christians themselves are under attack. Worldwide. Over 300 million across this world are estimated right now, being actively persecuted for their faith in God.

Sam Rohrer:                     Well, in today’s program, we’re going to present some very powerful information that will, I believe, inform, inspire and equip you to be more confident in the truth, more convincing in your expression of Christianity. And then also to alert you at the end of the program to the level of persecution around the world so that you can better pray for that persecuted church. Our theme today is this, Christianity, culture and credibility. And with that, I welcome you to stand in the gap today, I’m Sam Rohrer and I’ll be joined today by Dr. Gary Dull and Isaac Crockett. And in segments one and two, special guest, John Dickerson. He’s a respected journalist, he’s an author, he’s a millennial and is a senior pastor. And he’s also the author of a new book entitled, Jesus Skeptic.

Sam Rohrer:                     And then in segments three and four, we’re going to invite back to this program, Todd Nettleton. He’s the chief of media relations and message integration and also the host of The Voice of the Martyrs national radio program. And we’re going to get the latest from him on Christian persecution worldwide. As we look forward to this coming Sunday, which is set aside and designated as the international day of prayer for the persecuted church. So with that introduction, so we have a roadmap of knowing where we’re going to go, I’d like to walk in right now, John Dickerson. Award winning journalist, he’s the author and lead pastor at Connection Pointe Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. And with that, I’d like to welcome you to the program right now. John, thank you for being with us today.

John Dickerson :              Hey, thank you so much for having me.

Sam Rohrer:                     We’ve got a lot to go over with you and I know your time is tight and our program goes extraordinarily quick. So I want to get right into it. John, you’ve been blessed to have won national journalism awards from such people as Tom Brokaw and Christiane Amanpour of CNN, among others. Tell us just a bit, if you could right now, about your journalism career and how that has perhaps moved you into this area of what I’m going to term, investigating Jesus.

John Dickerson :              Yeah, that’s right. God did bless my career as a journalist and, simultaneously, because I was doing investigative reporting, I started attending a seminary, working on a Master’s degree almost as a hobby. And as I was investigating essentially stories, trying to help society and make the world a better place, and learning about Jesus almost as a hobby and something I enjoyed, I ultimately reached a point where I became convinced that Jesus not only existed, but is God and is the best hope for society. And ultimately walked away from my career right after winning some of those really big national awards because I became convinced that Jesus and His teachings, His way of life, are the greatest hope for the nations.

Isaac Crockett:                 John, your books, this is your fourth book, Jesus Skeptic, have really opened, I think, a lot of eyes for people. I know I’ve sent copies to different friends of them and especially this one, Jesus Skeptic. It is really well written and you can tell that it not only comes from the heart, but from lots of research. But it’s just interesting, you’re talking about being in school when you started researching things. And this has been a long time coming, I guess you could say. But really, you’re not that old of a pastor. I mean, compared to, I’m not going to throw anybody under the bus here, but Sam and Gary, you and I are the younger generation here on the radio today. And we’re, I guess older millennials, but we’re millennials and in your church as well as in your writing, there’s a lot of things that are kind of geared to people our age and younger that they can really take a hold of.

Isaac Crockett:                 You’ve really seen a need, in our day and age, for apologetics and for just defending truth. And yet, only about two to 3% of our age group, the millennials and Gen Z, really have what could be considered a biblical worldview of God. It’s so far away from being a concept of absolute truth. Why would you, a younger pastor, a younger journalist, end up writing a book about Jesus and skeptics investigating Jesus of all things.

John Dickerson :              Yeah, it’s such a great question. And I want to encourage anyone listening with this reality that I was raised in a Christian home, but for a while I was that statistic. Right now, two out of three young people raised in Christian homes are turning away from Christianity. And I would guess most people listening, they either have a child or a grandchild, a niece or a nephew, some loved one who was raised in Christianity, but turned away from it. And that was me for a season. And I remember in that season thinking, “Maybe this Jesus was made up. This whole thing is probably a myth. My parents have been duped.” And now obviously God has brought me full circle after I’ve actually looked at the evidence and now I’ve experienced the power of Jesus in my life. And so Jesus Skeptic, this book, I really wrote it with the hope and the prayer that many parents and grandparents will get this to their kids, their grandkids. Because many are doubting, even though they don’t verbalize it.

John Dickerson :              I never walked up to my parents when I was first starting to doubt and said, “Hey, I’ve been thinking maybe Jesus didn’t exist.” But I’m thankful that there were some books along the way. Books like Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell and others, that God used to show me Jesus is a historic figure. We do have writings of his are of the new Testament of his followers that are reliable. And ultimately, my prayer with this Jesus Skeptic book is to meet a young person who either has turned away or is thinking of turning away. And what’s really unique about Jesus Skeptic is there so many images and pictures of these ancient documents, ancient artifacts. So that in a generation where it’s always one person’s opinion versus another, our young people can see the truth for themselves.

Sam Rohrer:                     And John, we’re going to get more into detail on that. We actually don’t have enough time to go into another question at this point. So ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to move away to the break here in just a moment.

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Sam Rohrer:                     Our theme today is Christianity, culture and credibility. Our special guest, John Dickerson. And we’re actually going to be talking to him more in depth now regarding a new book that he has written entitled Jesus Skeptic. Well, the doubters of truth and skeptics of God as the source of truth and Jesus Christ as the embodiment of truth and the Bible as the written and inspired word of truth, those doubters have existed from creation. We know that. Yet the facts, the history, the proof of the truth, and the authenticity and reality of Jesus as the way and the truth are genuine. And the impacts of the truths of Christianity on the world, on science and education, music and the arts, politics and medicine or literally all of culture is indisputable for those who want to seek the truth. And such is the experience for countless numbers of past skeptics and doubters of Jesus Christ. Well, in this segment, we’ll continue our discussion with John Dickerson about his new book, Jesus Skeptic.

Sam Rohrer:                     So John, let me come back to you right now. It’s a great title, it’s catchy. We already talked just a little bit about your journey from journalism. Having grown up in a Christian home, but you did not accept it. You pursued and went down the road and your investigation led you to the reality of Jesus Christ. So let me have you state again or go where you want to on this, but I’d like to know, to whom did you really write this book? Who is the intended audience and what is your primary hope for the person who reads this book?

John Dickerson :              Yeah, great questions. The intended audience would be the modern day Saul. Saul has become one of my favorite stories. In the book of Acts, chapters six through nine, where Paul the apostle starts off as Saul the skeptic. And God breaks through to him through that moment where Jesus invades as a shining light and says, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” But even before that, Saul was hearing the word of God preached from young Steven. He was seeing the change in Christians lives. And the reality is we live in a culture full of Saul’s who think that Christianity is backwards and prejudiced and bigoted. They don’t understand what it’s actually about. And some of those people grew up in Christian homes, some didn’t. But this Jesus Skeptic book is for all of them. And I encourage anyone listening, whether it’s someone in your family or someone in your workplace or neighborhood who’s just opposed to Christianity, that’s who this book is for.

John Dickerson :              Knowing that only God can open their eyes, but that God often uses seeds that we plant of the truth. The truth of God’s word, I’ve woven Jesus’ words all throughout this book, Jesus Skeptic. And my other prayer for this book is for our own young people. We know from Pew Research Center and other national sociology groups that America is becoming less and less Christian. In fact, more and more hostile toward Christianity. And a lot of our young people, often they feel torn between, “Do I be part of this culture that says Christianity is bad? Or do I stick with what I was raised to believe?”

John Dickerson :              Jesus Skeptic allows them to see that the choice of following Jesus is actually the choice to make the world a better place. And we show that the people who created universities as we know them, healthcare as we know it, the end of slavery and so many other things were followers of Jesus. And as a journalist, I show all of this with actual images and records so that young people can see for themselves. So that’s my prayer, that God will use this book to reach many modern day Saul’s, and that he’ll use it for many young people, especially middle, high school and college age students to really affirm their faith. And let them know, as a follower of Jesus, I’m part of the greatest movement for social good in human history.

Gary Dull:                         John, it’s a delight to have you with us and certainly I appreciate the concept of apologetics and what you’re doing there. I think perhaps many of our people will recognize you as being on CBS 60 Minutes, being a co-host on CBS This Morning, and even being, I think you were a part of the CBS election team when they’ve done their specials on elections.

Gary Dull:                         So it’s a delight to have you with us today and to hear how God has been working in your life and in your ministry. Thank you for all that you’ve done. But you know when one looks at your book, Jesus Skeptic, as well as goes to your website, they will see that you have used many images, and you’ve provided hundreds of images, actually, that anyone can share online. If you would please just share a bit of your vision for a national movement of Christians sharing these evidences that followers of Jesus Christ truly could make the world a better place in which to live.

John Dickerson :              Absolutely. And one quick differentiation, one of the reasons on my books I put John S. Dickerson is that the John Dickerson of CBS is a good friend of mine, actually, and also a believer, but not writing the kind of books that I am at this time. But I was a print journalist and did win national awards but wrote rather than being on TV. But John, the other John Dickerson is a good friend.

John Dickerson :              And here’s the prayer for this book and for this movement, is that our young people would be able to see these ancient artifacts, as well as writings. Like for example, when we talked about Christians ending slavery, we actually show the biblically based arguments that the abolitionists used. And we show those actual newspapers and writings from the 1800s all the way back to the Quakers and the 1600s. And the reason for that is that when our young people go off to college or when they enter a conversation perhaps in the workplace in their 20s, where they really encounter a skeptic. And the current of anti Christianity is so strong that they will be opposed and there will be educated people who say, “Well you don’t even know, everything you were taught was a lie. You were essentially raised in a cult.”

John Dickerson :              I remember being told that. And it shakes the young person and they think, “Well, what if everything wasn’t true?” And that’s why it’s so important, I believe, in my journey, to show them the primary evidence. So that when we tell them things like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were all started by Christians as Bible seminaries, they can actually see those founding charters for themselves in the Jesus Skeptic book. When we tell them that the leaders of the scientific revolution, like Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal and Johannes Kepler we’re all followers of Jesus, they can read their actual journal writings for themselves. When we say that the people who led the charge to end slavery were motivated by the teachings of Jesus, they can read those words for themselves. And that’s just so important because our message is so counter-cultural now, and especially in the next ten, 20, 30 years, what we believe is not only unpopular, but it’s becoming defined as bigoted and backward and prejudice.

John Dickerson :              And for our young people to know that Jesus and his followers actually make the world a better place, they need to be able to see these documents, or I believe it’s a great tool. Same with Jesus’ existence. We know well those ancient writers like Josephus and Suetonius and Tacitus who wrote about Jesus. And in the Jesus Skeptic book, I actually show images of their writings and ancient artifacts that show it’s very clear Jesus existed. And so that’s the prayer, that our young people would be solidified in their faith and they’d go forward to follow Jesus boldly.

Isaac Crockett:                 John, I love those examples. And in the book, when you tie in the imagery of a Keystone species and you talk about a sea otter, if you haven’t read that part of the book, all of you listening, I would really encourage you to get the book to read these things. But one of the things that I think was so shocking, and you’ve already mentioned it, is that you point out that science, that the movers and shakers and what we know as modern science, that they were led to that because of Christianity.

Isaac Crockett:                 And you said, “The greatest movement for social good, that’s what Christianity is.” And it’s not portrayed that way. And that’s what I love about your book, that it really gives that encouraging part. And I’d love to get me some more on that, but real quickly, how can our listeners get your book? I know for me, it’s been easy to share just from Amazon. You can have it ordered and sent to people’s houses or get the Kindle, electronic version of it. I was just sending out some electronic versions of it today to some friends. But what’s an easy way for our listeners to get ahold of that, of your book, and be able to share it with others even?

John Dickerson :              Yeah. It is definitely available at Amazon, at Christianbook.com, any Christian bookstore should be able to order it as well as any Barnes and Noble. Really, any bookstore can get their hands on it. I’d encourage those listening, the audio book has a great narrator. So if you want to get the audio book online or as a CD through Christianaudio.com. The book is a great tool as even when we think about Christmas coming up. If you’ve got any middle school, high school, college age, millennial age loved ones in your life, get them this. It’s a stocking stuffer if nothing else. I know my parents gave me some books like Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands A Verdict and those were the turning point for me intellectually. Only God could open my eyes, but it was that truth that I saw in those books that opened my mind. And that’s the prayer for Jesus Skeptic.

Sam Rohrer:                     And John, that’s excellent. And you know the reason this book fits so well with what we talk about on this program is that we emphasize the authority of scripture and the power of truth, and God’s truth alone, to transform lives. We don’t have much time left, but you were talking about some of the examples, some of the artifacts and some of the things you included in your book. Could you just pick out one, in the last minute here, one that you think was perhaps most compelling or shares the greatest compelling story, perhaps, if somebody would read your book, they really want to take a look at that one that you might identify?

John Dickerson :              Amen. The power of scripture. When we look at the charter document of the American anti-slavery society. This is a society of mostly pastors who came together about 40 years before the Civil War and said, “We will give our fortunes, we will give our freedom, we will give our very lives, everything we have, to end slavery.” And in that charter, there are no less than six scripture quotations right on the front page of that charter. And to me, it’s just one of the dozens of pieces of evidence in this Jesus Skeptic book that show it’s not a matter of opinion that the word of God leads to a free society and a prosperous society. It’s a matter of history and fact.

Sam Rohrer:                     Boy, that’s what we need, ladies and gentlemen, today, a reset in the American culture, a reset to truth. This book, Jesus Skeptic, go look it up. Get it for a gift, for a child, a grand child, a friend or for yourself.

 

Sam Rohrer:                     John Dickerson, thank you for being with us today on the program. What a blessing and we just pray that God takes and uses this to change a lot of hearts. Thanks so much for being with us. All right, ladies and gentlemen, we got a break coming up in just a moment and we are going to welcome in Todd Nettleton of Voice Of The Martyrs.

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Sam Rohrer:                     Well, welcome back to the program. I’m Sam Rohrer. Accompanied today by Gary Dull and Isaac Crockett. Our theme today, Christianity, culture and credibility. We started by talking to pastor and author of a new book entitled Jesus Skeptic. His name is John Dickerson, about the powerful impact of Christianity on the culture and on every area of life. Since the beginning, after creation, and when doubt first came into the world at the fall, Christianity and the truth of God and God’s word has undergone opposition. Yet, in the midst of all of that, the powerful impacts of the biblical principles, when applied, have changed this world for the good. So we’re talking about, in that first segment, about the power of this book, what’s in the book that John has written. How when we look at history and we look at what we find, it has truly changed lives. That’s the power of Christianity.

Sam Rohrer:                     But while Christianity and biblical truth alone brings peace, we know that as believers, and it brings prosperity and life and liberty to any nation, it’s only those principles of God’s word that does that. The opponents of truth and the rejectors of Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life, and they continue to oppose the truth. Not just to disagree with it, but increasingly, actively oppose it. And as I think back in history, as did the Pharisees and the religious establishment of Jesus Day and the Roman leaders of the political establishment of his day, as they did, so do the globalist and the religious and political establishment of our day. Regardless of what nation you go to, it seems.

Sam Rohrer:                     Are unable to coexist with Christians and Jews, the opponents of truth always tend to move to aggressive persecution of Christians. That’s the history of the world and that’s what Christ says. Today, we’re told that over 300 million people are being actively persecuted for their faith around the world. So the next two segments we’re going to talk with Todd Nettleton. He’s the host of The Voice Of The Martyrs national radio program, about where persecution is happening. And how even in the midst of that, in some places, truly the gospel is growing. With that, I want to welcome back to the program. Todd Nettleton. Todd, thank you for being with us today.

Todd Nettleton :              Well, thank you for having me. It’s always good to be with you.

Sam Rohrer:                     Well, we’re glad for the work that Voice Of The Martyrs is doing, has done, and with God’s grace, will continue to do.

Sam Rohrer:                     Todd, I want to talk to you about two nations here as we get going on here, and Isaac and Gary then pose questions to you. But there are two nations that are really standing out perhaps more in the news, in these days, regarding their involvement in persecution. I’d like to get an update from you on them now. One, we’re certainly hearing about China. And with their extensively implemented and integrated almost 24/7 monitoring of their citizens, it’s very disturbing what we are hearing. Can you give us an update from what you know about the Voice Of The Martyrs contacts about China and in China? What’s happening there? What can you tell us?

Todd Nettleton :              Well, it is very disturbing. And you mentioned the monitoring of people. Our contacts have told us in China that the Chinese government, their goal by the end of next year is to have 600 million surveillance cameras active in the country. And now if you think about 1.2 billion Chinese people, 600 million is basically one camera for every two people in China. Their goal is to be able to identify and locate anyone on Chinese soil in three seconds. So surveillance cameras, facial recognition software. Think about if you’re a house church and underground church pastor in China, think about if you’re trying to secretly deliver Bibles to Christians in China. You know the government is watching.

Todd Nettleton :              Here’s the other side of that coin, though. I had the chance to sit down with a house church pastor in China. We recorded an interview that we aired on Voice Of The Martyrs radio and on our podcast. And I said, “Hey, pastor, you know the government is always watching. How does that make you feel? How does that affect your ministry?” And he said, “We do know the government is watching,” and he said, “What I have told the men in my church is, hey, the government is watching you. Make sure there is not a gap between your testimony on Sunday and the way you live your life the other six days of the week. We want the government to know the gospel is true. And they’re watching us, so we have an opportunity to live out the gospel. We have an opportunity to be an example of how Jesus changes peoples lives and changes peoples hearts. Since they’re watching anyway, let’s use this as an opportunity to witness.”

Todd Nettleton :              So, yes, the persecution is harsh. Yes, the surveillance is harsh, but the believers there are saying, “Hey, if the government’s watching anyway, let’s use it as an opportunity.”

Isaac Crockett:                 That’s incredible. It reminds me of the apostle, Paul, when he was praising the Lord for being bound to these Roman soldiers that he could witness to them 24/7. Now I guess it’s big brother over there doing that. The guest that was on our program just a few minutes ago, John Dickerson, and his book for skeptics, he talks about the fact that the countries that have the most freedom for women and the best human rights, that they are Christian countries founded on Christian principles. And the top 10 worst human rights, he shows they all persecute Christians, which is no surprise to you at Voice Of The Martyrs.

Isaac Crockett:                 But you talked about China. Can you talk about Iran? That’s another one of those big ones where Christianity, there’s really seems to be a growth of people, like a revival waiting to happen there. But as far as the government goes, they’re trying to crack down and they’re really persecuting Christians. Could you maybe expound upon that for us?

Todd Nettleton :              Absolutely.

Todd Nettleton :              They are certainly persecuting the church, but they can’t stop it. This is one of the amazing things and, frankly, the government of Iran is nervous about that. They are scared because whatever they do, they can’t stop the growth of the church. One of the most sort of counterintuitive things that I think I’ve ever heard is having Iranian Christians tell me that the greatest Christian missionary in the history of Iran was Ayatollah Khomeini. And we hear that and we say, “Well, wait a minute. He’s the one who led the Islamic revolution. How could he be the greatest Christian missionary?” And they will go on to say, “Well, over the last 40 years since that revolution, our government has told us everything we’re doing is according to Islamic principles. Everything we’re doing is according to the Koran. We are going to run our country exactly how Mohammed would run it if he was still alive.”

Todd Nettleton :              40 years later, the country is broken, the economy is in shambles. There is so much corruption in the government. The drug addiction rate of the people is one of the highest in the world. And the people say, “Well, wait a minute, if this is what 40 years of doing it the Islamic way leads to, then Islam doesn’t work. Look, we’ve got the proof. We can look at our own country and we can see Islam doesn’t work.” So I’ve heard estimates as high as 70% of Iranians have rejected Islam. They would tell you, if they could have a an honest conversation, “Islam doesn’t work, I don’t believe it.”

Todd Nettleton :              So the gospel is then going in and finding fertile soil and finding open hearts because they’ve already rejected Islam. They already have a mindset that there is a God, there is one God. And so if you can present Jesus as the son of God, and many times, they have a supernatural encounter with Jesus and they say, “Wow, Jesus is God.” And that fertile soil, that seed just grows and produces fruit. There is so much hunger for the gospel. But as you say, there is persecution. The government’s cracking down. They are particularly focusing on leaders, leaders within house groups, leaders within churches. And they’re facing arrest, they’re facing intense pressure.

Todd Nettleton :              And one of the challenges, and this is a point for prayer for the people who are listening, once a person has been arrested, it is very hard for them to get back involved with the church because the other people in the church know, “Hey, this guy got arrested. The government is watching him. If I invite him over to my house for fellowship, if I invite him over to my house, the government’s going to start watching me too.” And so once someone is arrested, there is a real sense of isolation that they experience. And that’s the part of the persecution that we don’t think about. We think about, hey, if you’re out of jail, then your persecution is over. But that’s another part of it and that’s something we can pray about for our Iranian brothers and sisters.

Gary Dull:                         Indeed, that’s a good prayer. And I appreciate you bringing that up, Todd.

Gary Dull:                         In a recent podcast of your Voice Of Martyrs radio program, you interviewed Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was held in the Turkish prison for many years. And we’re very thankful to Donald Trump and his administration for working to get him released. But according to your interview, Pastor Brunson highlighted the fact that his ability to maintain hope and vision was, in part, inspired by Voice Of The Martyrs. I think that’s great. Can you share this with our listeners please?

Todd Nettleton :              Yeah. And I would encourage people, and again, I don’t want to sound like I’m promoting VOM or promoting my own radio show, but I would encourage people to listen to this conversation because Pastor Andrew Brunson is very honest about how difficult those two years in prison were, about how much it challenged his faith. And even at one point, he thought he was losing his mind. He was worried that he was going insane because of the pressure and because of the stress. But one of the people that inspired him was the founder of the Voice Of The Martyrs, Richard Wrumbrand. Now, Richard has gone on to eternity, but he has left his books with us. And somebody delivered to Andrew Brunson, in prison, some of Richard Wrumbrand’s books. And Andrew began to read them. And Pastor Wrumbrand’s example was a challenge and an inspiration to Pastor Brunson. And he writes in his book about one of the things that that Wrumbrand did was he wrote in one of his books that, “Hey, the Bible tells us when we’re persecuted, we’re supposed to rejoice.”

Todd Nettleton :              And so the thing that pastor Wrumbrand did in his cell is he would dance, and he would say, “Lord, I don’t feel like rejoicing, but when we’re rejoicing, we dance.” And so he danced in his cell. Andrew Brunson took that example and put that into practice in his own cell, in prison, in Turkey. And he said he did it purely as an act of discipline, purely as an act of the will. “Lord, I don’t feel like celebrating, I don’t feel joyful, but out of discipline and out of submission to your word, which says we’re supposed to rejoice, I’m going to dance as if I were-

Sam Rohrer:                     And amen. We’re going to have to break away for a break here.

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Sam Rohrer:                     Well, as we now move into our final segment of this very important emphasis today, we’re going to, in just a moment, close in prayer. I’m going to ask our special guest, Todd Nettleton. He’s the host of the Voice Of The Martyrs radio program. And Isaac and Gary and myself, if there’s time, to take and do exactly what we’re asking to be done and that is to pray. The scripture says throughout that really there’s a principle there that when the body of Christ rejoices, we should all rejoice. When one suffers, we should all feel that suffering. In all cases, we should be bringing in prayer before the Lord, all of those who are certainly of the household of faith, that’s what we need to do, it’s God’s plan. Well, this coming Sunday, the first Sunday of November is designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church of which we’ve just been speaking.

Sam Rohrer:                     So many across this world, right now, are under active persecution. The numbers are estimated to be 300 million or more. And it’s in many, many countries. We need to pray for those individuals, obviously most of them, you and I, as we listen to this program and are participating, we don’t know who they are. But that’s why we need to pray because the Lord knows who they are and He will hear our prayers in those kinds of cases.

Sam Rohrer:                     So Todd, let me just ask you for a just a quick response before I ask you to pray and lead off for us, but as you deal with persecuted Christians, from your perspective, if there would be one most often heard prayer request, of those who are persecuted, if they were to say, “If the Christians of the world would pray for us, this is what we would ask them to pray for,” What would it be?

Todd Nettleton :              The prayer request that they have is an interesting one and a convicting one. It is pray that we’ll be faithful. Not pray that our persecution will end or pray that our government will change or whatever that might be. Pray that we will be faithful in spite of the persecution that we’re forced to face.

Sam Rohrer:                     All right, ladies and gentlemen, did you get that? Those who are persecuted, and in this country we have just the first tinges of it. Most people who are listening right now, we’ve not experienced persecution like many around the world are. But as you just heard Todd say, those who are persecuted, truly persecuted for their faith are not asking that, “Lord, remove the persecution,” but, “Lord, give us the strength to endure that our light may shine and the truth of the gospel community.” That’s really what they’re saying. That’s an amazing thing.

Sam Rohrer:                     Todd, if you could, please, go to the Lord in prayer, pray for those things as you have mentioned and then just a minute or two would be fine. And then Isaac, I would like you to follow and then Gary, if you could then follow Isaac. And then depending on the time of the program, then I will close in prayer. Let us do exactly what we’re encouraging all of you listening to do. Pastors, that you do, and lead your church in prayer this Sunday as we pray for the persecuted church. Todd, would you head, please?

Todd Nettleton :              Father, I lift up the members of our family, your family, who are being persecuted around the world. Lord, we do pray that you will encourage them and help them to be faithful in spite of suffering, in spite of discouragement, in spite of enemies of the gospel coming against them. Lord, I also pray that through your Holy spirit, supernaturally, you would let them know, right even at this moment, that someone is praying for them, that they are not alone. They’re not forgotten, they are part of the wider body of Christ. Just remind them of that fact right now, Lord, and encourage them.

Todd Nettleton :              Lord, I also want to pray specifically for Pastor Raymond Koh, who was kidnapped in Malaysia. For his wife, Susanna, who doesn’t know, two and a half years later, what happened to her husband. Is he alive? Is he dead? Where is he? Lord, would you, right now, sustain that family? And we pray for Pastor Raymond in captivity. We pray for Susanna and for their children. Encourage them, give them strength. And Lord, we pray for change. We pray that the Malaysian government will reveal what happened to him and where he is and return him to his family. Lord, we’re thankful that we’re a part of your body and that we can lift up each other’s hands during hard times. In Jesus name.

Isaac Crockett:                 Amen.

Isaac Crockett:                 Father, we do come to you now asking for you to strengthen all of us, but especially for our brothers and sisters in bonds and in persecution. We pray that they would be faithful. We pray that you would just work and empower them in a special way, as was written in Romans eight by Paul, that there’s nothing that shall separate us from the love of Christ. Not tribulation, not distress, not persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword. For your sake, many of our brothers and sisters are being slaughtered like sheep. But in all these things, we are more than conquerors. And so we pray right now, dear Lord, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, things present nor things to come, that there’ll be no height, no depth, no creature under the sun that would ever separate any of your chosen from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Isaac Crockett:                 We love you. Father, we thank you for your protection and your guidance, your strength, even when those who hate you come after us. We pray now that that strength and that guidance, that patience, that love, that all of the fruits of the spirit that you give us through your spirit, that your spirit would work in your children, your sons and your daughters to your glory, to your praise and for our good. It’s in the name of our powerful, conquering savior Jesus Christ, we pray these things

Gary Dull:                         And Father, I say yes and amen to everything that’s been prayed. And I think particularly to bring another name into it, of an American Christian pastor who is a hostage over in India, Pastor Bryan Nerren. Lord, he’s been over there serving you for about 17 or 18 years in Nepal in India. And he’s been arrested because he’s a Christian. Father, I pray for him and others who are in that same category. I pray, dear Lord, that you’ll give them the boldness to stand firm, that you’ll give them the strength that they need to be a witness, even in the face of what they are dealing with. And Father, through their lives, it is my prayer that you will be glorified. Their prayer is that they will be faithful. And I pray that, indeed, will give them the strength to do that and we’ll give you the praise for what you do in Jesus name.

Sam Rohrer:                     And heavenly Father, as we are so privileged to come into your presence here, four of us on this program leading in different locations across this country, joined by hundreds or thousands across this country who are also listening and joining in prayer. Lord, we are grateful that you’ve made it possible that we can bring our request right before you, right into your throne room. And that you will hear and answer. We lift up those who are imprisoned, those who are being actively persecuted for their faith around the world, give them strength, oh Lord. May their faith not waiver. May their light burn brightly and may the strength and the power of the gospel be communicated through their lives and through their examples to those who would be their oppressors, oh Lord. I pray also for those who are in positions of government leadership. Your purposes for them are to praise those who do well and to punish those who do evil.

Sam Rohrer:                     They will give an account, Oh Lord, for either what they are doing in their persecution or to protect those who are persecuted. So we pray for them because they also will stand before you one day. And I pray, Lord, for those in our country, those of us listening right now who have been the recipients of such blessing and peace for so long, as we witness the tearing away of the foundations that have given us that blessing and peace. And as we see persecution looming on the horizon, may we be more active than ever. Oh Lord, in letting our light shine for you, being that salt and that light as you’ve designed us to be. We pray for these things and we committed to you, in Jesus name, amen.

Sam Rohrer:                     Well, Todd Nettleton, thank you for being with us today. As you represent Voice Of The Martyrs as their radio host and for all that you do as a ministry, we thank God for what you’re doing and we pray the God will hold you-.