September 2017 Persecution Magazine

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SEPTEMBER 2017

PERSECU ION

ICC’S

THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

2017: NORTH KOREA

Bridge Speakers:

• Rick Warren

• Francis Chan

• Johnnie Moore

• Hyeonseo Lee

• Joseph Kim

• Senator James Lankford

• Congressman Ed Royce

• Congressman Chris Smith

• And More!

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Table of Contents

In This Issue:

FEATURE

18 | ICC’s Policy Day

ICC’s Policy Day provides hope and

possible solutions to address the suffering

of Christians in North Korea.

FEATURE

22 | The Bridge: Rick Warren

Rick Warren (Saddleback Church)

offers insight and wisdom on persecution,

challenging the Western Church to

stand up boldly for the Christian faith.

FEATURE

24 | The Bridge: Francis Chan

Francis Chan spoke at the Bridge 2017

and challenged the audience to share in

the suffering of others.

FEATURE

26 | A Revived Bride

God wants to give His heart for

persecuted believers to the Western

Church—but to do that, God must first

have the heart of the Western Church.

INTERVIEW

32 | Unity in the Face of Global

Persecution

At ICC’s 2017 Bridge Conference,

leaders of four of the world’s largest

persecution ministries gathered

together to share unique insight into

aiding the persecuted.

Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma

21

Regular Features

3 Letter from the President

A few words from ICC’s president, Jeff

King, on The Bridge and why it was

focused on North Korea.

4 World News

A snapshot of the persecution that

impacts our brothers and sisters daily, in

every corner of the world.

8 Your Dollars at Work

Learn how your gifts are providing

comfort, relief, Bibles, education and

vocational training to the persecuted.

12 West Watch

Faith under threat in the Western world.

Pastor Rick Warren

Pastor Francis Chan

23

25 Partners & Projects 31

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President’s Letter

“We are now close to the end of the struggle, walk in faith, so that when you

have finally entered into Heaven, we may greet one another. I leave you my

kiss of love.”

Andrew Kim Taegŏn (1861), the first Korean Catholic priest, writes to

his congregation just before being martyred.

Catholics first arrived in Korea in the late 1700s and suffered 100 years of

brutal persecution. Protestant missionaries started coming in the late 1800s,

and from 1905-1910, the Holy Spirit descended on Korea and tens of thousands

of Koreans came to Christ each year. So many Koreans converted that

Pyongyang, the (now) capital of North Korea, became known as the Jerusalem

of the East.

Jeff King, President

International Christian Concern

The previous incidents of persecution were merely skirmishes, but in 1910, spiritual war broke out and Satan inspired the

Japanese to invade. They stayed in Korea for 35 years in a brutal occupation. The Church suffered as Japan was ruled by a

god-emperor who was to be bowed to. You can imagine how this went for the Christians.

The Japanese were expelled at the end of WWII, but right away Satan turned Korea into a meat grinder with the invasion of

the communists and the ensuing Korean War that resulted in the deaths of approximately 2.5 million lives. Saving his worst

for last, Satan then brought the Kims to power and North Korea has been hell on earth ever since. The Kims have probably

killed over 1 million Christians and another 2 million non-Christians (not counting the Korean war), many of them suffering

demonic levels of torture and abuse. North Korea currently has 200,000 people in torture-death camps and 30-70 thousand

of them are Christians.

The Church has largely forgotten the dead and living victims of North Korea, with many seeing it as only a rogue state or

geopolitical problem. Even the slice of the Church that is awake to persecution has largely given up on North Korea as the

problem seems intractable.

After interviewing defectors in 2016 and hearing their pain, I felt compelled to focus The Bridge 2017 on North Korea.

Within this month’s edition of Persecution, you will see the outworking of that broken heart for North Korea.

Using The Bridge, we seek to bring together government leaders, politicians, non-governmental organizations (NGOs),

ministries, the persecuted, and the free Church to focus on one persecuted country or region. It’s not an ICC conference,

but a gathering for all ministries to bridge the gulf of communication that exists between various sectors of humanity that

work on persecution.

In the end, we are seeking to build a bridge between the persecuted and those who need to hear their cries.

Please join us as we bandage and build His persecuted Church. As always, your donations will be used efficiently, effectively,

and ethically.

I promise!

Jeff King

President

International Christian Concern

www.persecution.org

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News

1

2

6

3

5

4

Cuban Pastor Sentenced to One Year

of Heavy Labor and House Arrest

1 | CUBA On July 7, 2017, Ramon Rigal, pastor of

Iglesia de Dios en Cristo, was issued a sentence of one

year of heavy labor and house arrest for opting to homeschool

his children. The pastor has openly voiced that

he decided to homeschool his children primarily because

of his Christian beliefs.

According to a religious freedom activist and pastor

named Mario F. Barroso, in sentences of heavy labor,

the state chooses a location, such as a farm, where the

accused is then forced to participate in demanding physical

labor. While Rigal was initially handed a one-year

prison sentence, the severity of his punishment was

reduced during a recent appeal. The pastor noted that his

legal counsel proved that he did not break any criminal

laws, yet he was given a serious penalty nonetheless.

Since Rigal’s arrest in February, many human rights

activists and concerned Christians around the world

have spoken out on his behalf. In May, protestors

gathered outside of the Cuban Embassy in Washington

D.C., while flashing signed that said, “Free the Rigals.”

However, the protestors also addressed the overarching

issue of the government’s repression of education in

Cuba and its ban on homeschooling. Homeschooling

poses a threat to this socialist society because it would

allow families to teach their children about religion and

other concepts that question the control of the regime.

A protest pushing for the release of Pastor Rigal.

Schools in

Nigeria Remove

Christian Study

2 | NIGERIA In

Nigeria, Christian

Religious Knowledge

has been removed

from secondary

schools as part of

a new curriculum.

In the new curriculum,

students are

now forced to study

either Islamic Arabic

Studies or French.

However, according

to the Christian

Association of

Nigeria (CAN), there

are very few French

teachers in secondary

schools, leaving

students without any

other choice but to

attend Islamic Arabic

Studies, regardless

of their own faith.

In response, CAN

protested the new

policies outside of

the Presidential Villa

in Abuja in June.

The group called

for a return to the

old curriculum and

criticized the change

as a step toward

the Islamization of

Nigeria.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Declares

Victory Over ISIS in Mosul

3 | IRAQ After years of ISIS occupation, Iraq’s

Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, announced in

early July that Mosul had officially been liberated

from ISIS. This victory came after more than three

years of ISIS control, as the group first captured

the city on June 10, 2014.

This announcement has been long awaited

by thousands of Christians who were driven

from their homes in Mosul upon the entrance

of ISIS years ago. In total, more than 100,000

Christians were forced to flee from Mosul and

the surrounding area and ended up in camps for

internally displaced persons (IDPs) throughout

Iraq. Those who chose to stay were given the

choice of converting to Islam, paying a protection

tax, or facing death. All 45 of the churches

in Mosul were either destroyed or taken over by

ISIS during the city’s occupation.

While this is absolutely a cause for celebration,

the fight is not yet over. Shortly after the prime

minister’s announcement, a local television station

reported that ISIS still occupied a neighborhood in

Mosul and attacks have continued since the liberation.

Let us remember to pray for this community

as they begin to rebuild and restore.

Mosul faces rebuilding after liberation from ISIS.

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Chinese authorities tore down a church that was deemed an “illegal structure” and arrested and beat several church members. This is

not an isolated incident, as the Chinese government continues a crackdown on Christianity in recent years.

Chinese Authorities Destroy Church, Arrest 40

4 | CHINA In May, government authorities demolished a church in

Henan, China. Authorities claimed that the church building was an

“illegal structure” and that the church did not pay a required “road

usage fee.” In the midst of the demolition, 40 churchgoers were

detained without formal arrests as they were trying to protect their

church. Furthermore, several members of the church were beaten by

authorities. Christians in China continue to suffer from restrictions on

their religious freedom at the hands of the government.

Christian Refugee Dies in Detention Center

5 | THAILAND In late May, a Pakistani Christian refugee named Ijaz

Tariq died in a detention center in Thailand. Although he reported

chest pain, Tariq was not permitted to go to the hospital by immigration

authorities. Within a matter of hours, he suffered a fatal heart

attack and died in his cell. Pakistani refugees living in Thailand

often face poor treatment from the government as they are treated

as illegal immigrants and forced into detention centers which are

widely criticized for their poor conditions.

Gunmen Kill at Least 35 Coptic Christians in Egypt

6 | EGYPT As part of an ongoing anti-Christian campaign of violence in Egypt,

gunmen ambushed a caravan of Coptic Christians in late May. The two buses

and two other vehicles were travelling to the Monastery of St. Samuel the

Confessor, roughly 140 miles south of Cairo. Suddenly, a group of masked gunmen

stormed the vehicles and opened fire on the passengers. In total, at least 35

people died in the attack and more than 25 were wounded. Many of those who

were killed or wounded were children. Sources told ICC that the precision and

execution of the attack indicate that it was planned out well in advance.

In recent months, there has been an increase in both the scale and

severity of attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt. In one instance, an

ISIS affiliate promised to eliminate the Christian minority, claiming that

they were the group’s “favorite prey.”

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Christians face continued attacks in Egypt.

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News

1

6

5

2 3

4

Christina was reunited with her family

after three years with ISIS.

Young Girl Reunited with Family after

Three Years of ISIS Imprisonment

1 | IRAQ In August 2014, a young girl named

Christina was kidnapped by ISIS militants right out of

her mother’s arms at the tender age of three. She was

taken shortly after ISIS militants took over the primarily

Christian town of Qeraqosh. As many Christian

families fled the region, Christina’s family was forced

to remain behind because her father is blind. Now,

after nearly three years of captivity, Christina has been

reunited with her family.

However, years in ISIS captivity, especially at

such a young age, does not come without scars.

Upon the reunion, there was much celebration and

dancing, but something seemed amiss. As Christina

sat upon the shoulders of her dancing father, her

face seemed to be struck with confusion and a

feeling of being overwhelmed. Her mother reports

that Christina forgot who her parents were, but

that she is slowly learning to call them “mum” and

“dad” again. Despite

the trauma, the family

expressed their

immense joy over the

return of their daughter

and gratitude to

all those who prayed

for Christina’s return

throughout the three

years.

According to witnesses,

she seemed

to be in good physical

health, but it will

be a long road to

recovery to establish

a new life with her

family apart from the

life she developed in

captivity. Reports

indicate that during

her time away

from her family, she

lived with a Muslim

family in the Tanak

neighborhood of

Mosul.

Christian women

and girls in the

Middle East have

long suffered from

kidnapping and

abuse.

As ISIS begins to

lose power in the

region and some

families experience

the joy of restoration,

let us not forget to

pray for them as the

road to recovery will

surely be difficult.

“The issue of ‘untouchability’

has caused untold

discrimination against

Christians in Pakistan.”

Christian Sewer Worker Dies After

Doctor Refused to Touch Him

2 | PAKISTAN A Christian sewer worker named Irfan

Masih recently died in a Pakistan hospital after doctors

refused to touch him. Masih was cleaning in a

manhole for work when he inhaled poisonous fumes

and fell unconscious. Although he was quickly taken

to the hospital, the senior doctor denied Masih treatment

because he was “fasting” and claimed that

touching him would make him unclean.

Masih’s brother, Pervaiz, reported that the doctor

would not touch Irfan’s body until it was cleaned.

Therefore, Pervaiz took it upon himself to clean his

brother. Even still, the hospital only issued Masih

an empty oxygen pump. If not for the preventable

delays and the hospital’s negligence, Masih’s life

could have been saved. Pervaiz has since stated that

authorities promised to investigate the case, which

is a glimmer of hope in a dark situation. While this

will not bring his brother back, it will hopefully

bring justice to this family as they grieve this unnecessary

loss.

The issue of “untouchability” has caused untold

discrimination against Christians and other religious

minorities in Pakistan. Those who are part

of a minority religion are often viewed as social

outcasts and relegated to the lowest rungs of society,

forcing them to take menial labor positions,

such as working in sewers. This mindset can lead

to discrimination and violence alike.

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12-Year-Old Christian Girl Kidnapped in Bangladesh

3 | BANGLADESH In late May, a 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped by a Muslim man nearly three times her age in Bangladesh. According

to her family, even though they have visited the police station on multiple occasions, the authorities have done little to provide them with any

assistance. The family even turned to local Islamic leaders to ask for assistance, who told the family that they would help, but have been unsuccessful

thus far. In response to the young girl’s disappearance, a group of fellow students decided to stage a protest against her kidnapping.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Christian children in Bangladesh are often kidnapped and taken to Islamic

madrassas where they are forcibly converted to Islam.

Kim Seung-mo arrested under spy charges for visiting family.

North Korean Faces Spy Charges After Visiting

Christian Relatives in China

4 | NORTH KOREA A North Korean man named Kim Seung-mo was

recently arrested after visiting Christian relatives in China. Seung-mo

was aggressively detained and dragged around by authorities outside

of a North Korean train station. One anonymous witness told Radio

Free Asia that it was evident that Seung-mo had been handled violently

because he had a black eye and cut lip. Due to the tight grip of control

that the government holds, authorities require that travelers report the

details of their trips. However, because he did not mention that his

family members are churchgoers, Seung-mo is now facing spy charges.

Al-Shabaab militants murdered one teacher and kidnapped others.

Al-Shabaab Murders Teacher in Kenya

5 | KENYA On May 31, suspected al-Shabaab militants stormed into

Fafi Primary School in Kenya and fatally shot one of the Christian

teachers. As they were about to shoot another Christian teacher,

a Muslim teacher tried to defend his colleague. Unfortunately,

the militants then kidnapped both of the teachers and took them

to an unknown location. As it shares the border with Somalia,

Christians living in northeastern Kenya often face violence at the

hands of the Somalia-based group, al-Shabaab. The incident has

increased fears among Christians in the community, who have

since called out for greater government protection.

Former Eritrean Church Leader Allowed to Attend Mass

For First Time in Over a Decade

6 | ERITREA In 2005, Abune Antonios, the leader of the Eritrean Orthodox

Church, openly called for the release of political prisoners in Eritrea. In response,

the Eritrean government then told Antonios to excommunicate 3,000 churchgoers

who had voiced opposition against the government. This would effectively strip

them of their right to worship as part of this body of believers. Antonios refused

and, as a result, was removed from leadership and forcibly detained.

Ten years later, at the age of 90, Antonios was able to attend mass for the

first time in more than a decade. While it was a relief to see that Antonios is

still living, unfortunately, he was quickly brought back to his place of detention

afterwards, deflating hopes of a possible release. During the service, Antonios

was not permitted to speak and was kept under careful control by authorities.

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Abune Antonios.

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Your Dollar$ at Work

HR 390 to Aid

Iraqi and Syrian

Christians

Where Most Needed

On June 6, 2017, HR 390, the Iraq

and Syria Emergency Genocide Relief

and Accountability Act, passed in the US

House of Representatives by unanimous

consent. As the name implies, the bill

would provide essential aid to groups that

have been targeted for genocide by ISIS.

The passage of HR 390 has been a

top priority for ICC. Over the past few

months, ICC has held an event in support

of this bill on Capitol Hill featuring

congressional members and a pastor from

Syria; held numerous meetings with congressional

members and staff to promote

funding and co-sponsorship of the bill;

and led multiple letters urging congressional

leadership to make this a priority.

Following the passage of HR 390 in the

House, the bill was sent to the Senate where

it awaits approval. However, at the time of

writing, the bill is currently stuck in the Senate

Foreign Relations Committee. As a result,

35 non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

joined together to sign a letter, led by ICC, to

Senate leadership urging them to prioritize the

passage of HR 390.

Additionally, ICC activated its grassroots

network, asking supporters to call Senate

leadership to encourage them to pass the

bill. ICC was also given the opportunity by

congressional allies to address a large group

of religious freedom NGOs and government

staff to update them on the bill’s progress

and importance.

This bill would ensure that the US takes

greater action on behalf of persecuted religious

minorities who have suffered gravely

under ISIS. ICC continues to work with congressional

staff to urgently pass this bill out

of the Senate to the president’s desk so that

Christians in Iraq and Syria can receive the

help they desperately need and deserve. We

ask for your continued support and prayers as

we seek to harness the resources of the federal

government to aid our Iraqi and Syrian brothers

and sisters in Christ.

Rep. Chris Smith at the HR 390 press briefing.

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Medical and

Clothing

Assistance

Hand of Hope

Badri, an Indonesian Christian, was

kicked out of his house seven years

ago after his family discovered that he

had converted to Christianity. His pastor

has been supporting him by giving him a

place to live and providing for his other

needs like food, clothing, and personal

care items. Unfortunately, Badri is starting

to have vision and hearing problems, but

his pastor cannot afford to take him to a

specialist nor to buy him glasses.

Thanks to our faithful donors, ICC has

been able to take Badri to see a doctor

to help him with his vision and hearing

problems. We will be purchasing a pair of

glasses, a hearing amplifier, and clothes

that he can use for ministry.

Once again, God proves that He takes

care of the needs of His people.

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Church

Equipment in

Indonesia

Broadcasting the Gospel

When a group of radical Muslims in

Indonesia threatened Pastor Edwin for

holding church services in his house, he was

forced to stop services for a few weeks. The

radicals demanded the church to be closed

permanently, but many community leaders

argued that the church had been there for over

10 years and had never created any problems

among them. After a period of time, Pastor

Edwin was able to restart church services.

We wanted to encourage the church so they

can continue to spread the Gospel. We bought

equipment that they desperately needed, but

could not afford. They were overwhelmed!

“I really thank ICC for...giving our church

all these things,” said Pastor Edwin. “It’s

really beyond our understanding on how the

Lord could answer our prayer through ICC.

Thank you ICC for this blessing!”

Clothing

Businesses for

Arish Widows

Suffering Wives & Children

T

hough Christians in El-Arish, Egypt, have

faced an intense upsurge in persecution,

they have no protection from an indifferent

state. Three Christian women, Marina, Sofia,

and Kasrin, were widowed when their husbands

were shot in front of them by militants.

Not only do they have to deal with overwhelming

grief, but they are now forced to

find a way to provide for their families.

To help them support their families, ICC

funded the start-up costs for a clothing business

so they can sell clothes and earn a sustainable

income. Marina conveyed her appreciation,

saying, “Thank you ICC for making

this project for me. It will help me to earn

money to support my children. You are the

only one who has stood with my children and

me in this hard circumstances. We appreciate

you helping us…”

9


Your Dollar$ at Work

New Business

for Persecuted

Christian in

Pakistan

Community Rebuild

Yasir Alvi, a Pakistani Christian, started his

own business driving a car. Unfortunately,

his Muslim colleagues did not like a Christian

living a lifestyle comparable to Muslims.

They kidnapped, tortured, and beat Yasir, and

severely damaged his car.

Yasir began to work as an assistant electrician,

with hopes of owning his own business, renting

speakers and microphones for weddings and

other functions. ICC heard of Yasir’s struggles,

and in late March, funded the start-up equipment

for Yasir’s small business.

Yasir and his family are very grateful.

His wife told us, “I have met several people

working in different NGOs…[but] I have

never experienced such a wonderful…initiative

for…victims. When Yasir lost his car and

source of earning, it was almost end of life for

us; however we had hope in Jesus and we are

now happy and thankful to God and ICC.”

Watch the CBN Interview at: www.goo.gl/

www1.cbn.com/content/isis-defeated-christians-still-fa

Following

Mosul from

Start to Finish

Where Most Needed

An essential segment of ICC’s mission

is to spread awareness about persecution

around the world. In doing so, ICC

has formed close relationships with media

outlets throughout the US and beyond. Due

to our staff on the ground and relationships

with indigenous partners, which both give us

real-time updates, ICC has become a leading

source for news related to persecution and

other religious freedom issues.

In July 2017, all eyes were on Iraq as the

Islamic State began to lose their grip on the

vitally important city of Mosul. On July 8,

ISIS was finally driven out of Mosul and the

700 Club contacted ICC in reponse to our

press release.

In addition to discussing updates about life

for Christians in Iraq, we were able to discuss

our recent work in Iraq and our April trip to

Iraq.

Proverbs 31:8 reads, “Speak up for those

who cannot speak for themselves, for the

rights of all who are destitute.” ICC takes

this command seriously and considers it a

privilege to share the stories of the persecuted.

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Your Dollar$ at Work

Campaign Aids Sudanese Churches

nkBfts or

ce-uncertain-future-iraq

Where Most Needed

As previously reported, in September

2016, 27 churches in Sudan were notified

that their church buildings were marked

for demolition. At the time of writing, two

have been demolished with others to follow

if their appeals are denied.

ICC launched an intensive grassroots campaign

to save these churches. We activated

our supporters, requesting that they email

the Sudanese embassy to call for an end to

the church demolitions. We also worked

aggressively within Congress. On July 11,

a bipartisan letter proposed by ICC was

sent from the US House of Representatives

to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,

requesting that he address this issue with

the Sudanese government. The letter was

signed by 12 members of Congress and sent

to Sec. Tillerson one day prior to a possible

State Department decision to evaluate

current sanctions against Sudan. This was

followed by meetings between ICC and the

State Department to ensure that the US does

not grant economic relief to Sudan while

they continue to persecute their own people.

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Iraqi citizens flee

the battle of Mosul.

Photo: Kainoa Little

11


est

atch

Church Banned from Township by Arbitrary Zoning Decision

hen Livingston Christian Schools

W (LCS) outgrew its facility, LCS

found a new home in Brighton Church of

the Nazarene, centrally located in Genoa

Township, Michigan. Unfortunately,

despite the recommendations of the town’s

planning commission and consultants who

approved the school’s application, Genoa

Township refused to give LCS a permit

to operate its school at the church, effectively

banning the school from operating

in the town. The school sued the Township

in federal court, but the federal district

court ruled against LCS. The First Liberty

Institute and attorneys from Covington &

Burling, LLP, filed a brief appealing the

district court’s decision to the US Court of

Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Oral arguments

were heard on April 26, 2017. On

June 2, 2017, a three-judge panel of the

Sixth Circuit upheld the Township’s denial

of the permit. LCS is continuing to fight

for the right to operate their school in the

Genoa Township.

Jackson County, Michigan, prayer case

threatens 200-year-old precedent.

County Government Sued

over Prayer before Meetings

Each month, the Board of Commissioners

in Jackson County, Michigan has

opened its proceedings with an invocation

given by one of the county commissioners.

In 2013, Jackson County was sued by a

plaintiff who argued that these legislative

prayers violated the US Constitution’s

Establishment Clause. A federal district

court ruled in favor of Jackson County.

However, in February of this year, a

three-judge panel of the US Court of

Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned

that decision, ruling that the invocations

violated the Establishment Clause. On June

14, 2017, the Sixth Circuit reheard the case

with all 15 judges participating. Their decision

is pending at the time of writing.

Since the founding of the US, governmental

invocations and days of prayer and

fasting have been common. This new challenge

to these traditions threatens to seal off

prayer from the public domain.

Supreme Court to Hear Groundbreaking Religious Liberty Case

After numerous cases challenging the

right of Christians to operate their

businesses in keeping with their religious

beliefs, a new case has come forward

which could set a groundbreaking precedent

for decades to come. Masterpiece

Cakeshop, located in Lakewood, Colorado,

has served people of every background

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop.

Moriah Bridges graduated from high

school in Beaver, Pennsylvania this

spring and was asked to give remarks at

the graduation ceremony on June 2, 2017.

Bridges prepared her remarks, but was then

forced to censor her comments of any religious

material upon the direction of her school

superintendent. He informed her that her

remarks could not reference religious content

and “most certainly may not recite a prayer

that excludes other religions.” On June 13,

2017, the First Liberty Institute sent a letter

to the school district on Bridges’ behalf pointing

out that her words were her own “private

speech, not government speech,” and as such,

since 1993; but in 2012, the owner, Jack

Phillips, was asked by a same-sex couple

to make a cake for their wedding. While

he offered to sell them any other items

from his store, he informed them that

his Christian beliefs precluded him from

using his artistic skills to make a cake

that promoted ideas that violated his

faith. The same-sex couple later sued

Masterpiece Cakeshop and won. A judge

then forced Phillips to bake the cake and

undergo extensive “re-education” and

compliance procedures.

In July 2016, the Alliance Defending

Freedom petitioned the United States

Supreme Court to take up Phillips’ case.

Thankfully, on June 26, 2017, the Supreme

Court granted review of the case and will

hear oral arguments later in 2017.

High School Senior Prohibited from Using Religious Language in

Graduation Remarks

could not violate the Establishment Clause.

Private religious student speech “is entitled to

full First Amendment protection.” The school

has not responded as of this writing.

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School Program for Low

Income Students Attacked by

Anti-Religious Activists

I

n 2011, Douglas County, Colorado created

the Choice Scholarship Program

to give low income students the chance to

attend a private school that best suits their

needs, even if that school is religious. In

June 2011, the American Civil Liberties

Union, Americans United for Separation

of Church and State, and several other

organizations sued to stop the scholarship

program. The court ruled that the

program violated the state constitution’s

Blaine Amendment, an anti-religious provision

adopted in the mid-19th century to

discriminate against newly-arrived Catholic

immigrants in the US.

In April 2012, the Becket Fund for

Religious Liberty filed an amicus brief in

the Douglas County School District appeal,

spotlighting the amendment’s unconstitutional

treatment of children in religious

schools who wish to be treated the same

as that of students in secular schools. After

years of battles in the court system, Douglas

County appealed to the US Supreme Court.

It is hoped that the recent win for religious

liberty in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church

of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer on June 27,

2017, will set a precedent that will protect

the Colorado Choice Scholarship Program.

Thousands of Colorado students risk

losing funds over a religious school

voucher lawsuit.

City Sued over WWII-Era

Cross Monument

I

n

Cross under fire in Pensacola, Florida.

Pensacola, Florida’s historic Bayview

Park, a large cross erected as a monument

in 1941 has been a part of the scenery

for generations without any complaints. In

May 2016, four plaintiffs, represented by

the Freedom From Religion Foundation and

the American Humanist Association, filed

a lawsuit to remove the cross. Two of the

plaintiffs live in Canada; one has held his

own ceremonies at the cross; another lives

seven miles away from the park. But they

all claim that seeing the cross offends them.

Despite recognizing that the cross “is part of

the rich history of Pensacola,” and that the

cross “might well pass constitutional muster,”

a federal court ruled that the cross has

a “religious purpose” and must be removed.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

came to the city’s defense, arguing that religion

is a fundamental aspect of human culture

and history, and the constitution does

not require the government to strip every

religious symbol from public property. The

case is now on appeal at the United States

Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit,

with a ruling expected in 2018.

Christian Applicant to

College Program Rejected

for Mentioning his Faith

D

ustin

Buxton applied to the Community

College of Baltimore County’s

(CCBC) Radiation Therapy Program for

the 2013 and 2014 academic years. While

his academic record exceeded the standards

of a competitive candidate for both years, he

was nonetheless denied admission.

During an interview in 2013, Buxton

was asked by the CCBC interview panel,

“What do you base your morals on?” He

replied, “My faith.” His faith was not mentioned

again; yet, in a written review of his

interview, the program director, Adrienne

Dougherty, stated that Buxton had lost

points because he “brought up religion a

great deal during the interview. Yes, this is a

field that involves death and dying; but religion

cannot be brought up in the clinic by

therapist or students.” After an initial loss

at a lower court level, Buxton’s case is now

before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

and is pending a ruling.

Teacher Reprimanded for

Offering to Pray for Her

Colleague

T

oni

Richardson is a teacher who

works with special needs students at a

high school in Augusta, Maine. In a private

conversation, Richardson offered to pray

for a coworker who was a Christian and

fellow member of her church. A few weeks

later, a school official ordered Richardson

to never make “faith-based” statements on

school grounds. Even phrases like, “that’s

a blessing” violated the First Amendment,

according to the school official. The school

threatened Richardson with further disciplinary

action, including possible termination,

if she said anything considered

“unprofessional” in the future, including

using faith-based phrases.

On May 16, 2017, the First Liberty Institute

and the Eaton Peabody law firm filed a complaint

of religious discrimination and retaliation

against the school district with the US

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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13


THE

BRIDGE 2017

North Korea

We gathered the Church, the persecuted, government leaders, ministries,

and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on Capitol Hill and at

Saddleback Church in Southern California to loose the chains of the

persecuted in North Korea.

By Jeff King, President of ICC

Over a year ago, I sat and

interviewed numerous

defectors from

North Korea, including

Young Gwang Il.

He wasn’t just a defector,

but had also served

time in its infamous

prison camps.

He told me of the different forms of torture

he experienced and then spoke of how to

this day he cannot fall asleep unless he has

music blaring in his ears to suppress the terror

that still imprisons him. Another defector

recently testified before the UN about how

camp guards tortured her repeatedly until

she agreed to drown her baby with her own

hands.

Another defector testified about how he

saw 13 of his cellmates die in his short

stay at a camp. This is really the purpose

of the worst camps. They are death camps

like Auschwitz. They kill their victims a bit

more slowly, and with starvation instead

of gas, but make no mistake, the spirit of

the Nazis is still here with us on earth even

though politicians everywhere mouth the

slogan “Never Again!”

You may hear a lot about North Korea in

the news, but the narrative usually centers

around missiles and geopolitics.

What’s lost are the voices of 30,000

Christians and another 170,000 or more

prisoners of its death camps.

Even among the persecution movement,

we tend to ignore North Korea because it

has been so bad for so long.

For this reason, we felt compelled to

gather the Body together to expose the horror

of North Korea and move the Body of

Christ to send the Gospel in and to care for

her defectors.

Since you may not have been able to

attend, we wanted you to see and understand

the various pieces of The Bridge and

invite you to come to next year’s Bridge,

where we will work to build a bridge

between the free and persecuted Church.

Learn more about The Bridge and sign up

to stay informed about next year’s conference at:

www.thepersecutionconference.org

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“The Spirit of the Lord

is on me

to bring

good news,

to set the oppressed

free,

to proclaim freedom

for the captives,

and release from

darkness for the

prisoners.”

Isaiah 61:1

I have inscribed you on

the palm of my hands.

Your walls are

ever before

Me!

Isaiah 49:16

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15


SPEAKERS

GOVERNMENT POLICY

RICK WARREN

“In North Korea alone,

estimates of 70,000

Christians are languishing

in dark prisons.”

FRANCIS CHAN

“God, I hate suffering,

but I hate my pride even

more.”

HYEONSEO LEE

“I believe God works

through His believers. It

is our duty to part the Red

Sea for the North Koreans.”

JOHNNIE MOORE

“We have to do a little bit

more. We are obligated to.”

MARK RUTLAND

“Those people in North

Korea must somehow

know that we know they

are there.”

JOSEPH KIM

“Unfortunately this

isn’t just my story, but

the story of millions in

North Korea.”

US SENATE

Senator Ted Cruz

Senator James Lankford

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

T. Kumar

HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Bruce Klingner

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF

CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP

Dr. Mark Rutland

US HOUSE OF REPS.

Congressman Chris Smith

Congressman Ed Royce

HUDSON INSTITUTE

Melanie Kirkpatrick

ONE FREE KOREA

Joshua Stanton

THE COMMITTEE FOR

HUMAN RIGHTS IN N.K.

Greg Scarlatoiu

THE CALL TO THE CHURCH

The 2017 Bridge featured a variety of speakers

who brought different topics to the main stage.

North Korean defectors, experts, US officials,

church leadership, and many others joined us.

The dedication and unity of our speakers was an

invaluable aspect of The Bridge 2017.

POLICY CHANGE

To share expertise on the political and legal

scene surrounding North Korea, the 2017 Bridge

included a Policy Day in DC with numerous

government experts.

Their knowledge and experience brought the

2017 Bridge to new depths of understanding.

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MINISTRIES & NGOS

THE CHURCH

International Christian

Concern

Voice of the Martyrs

North Korea

Freedom Coalition

Justice for North Korea

Improving North Korean

Human Rights Center

Open Doors USA

Christian Solidarity

Worldwide

Liberty North Korea

Crossing Borders

Free North Korea Radio

The JESUS Film

Saddleback Church

Bethel English Church

Young Nak

Celebration

Grace Korean Church

Crossway

Community

We Are Church

Revival Church

King of the Nations

PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS

Our partners across the country and the world

joined us this year to share their work and hope

for the people of North Korea. They brought reallife

experience and knowledge to The Bridge.

Bridge attendees were given special insight to the

work happening on the ground in North Korea.

CHURCH LEADERSHIP

The Bridge brought together church leaders and

communities from across America. A united

American Church is the first step to a united

global Church.

Our spiritual leaders are awakening a revival

that will soon reach North Korea.

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17


Feature Article

ICC’s Policy Day Provides

“It is worth remembering for

everyone here that the light is

stronger than the darkness, and

truth is stronger than lies. And

the work of the people here is

speaking truth and singing light.”

– SENATOR TED CRUZ

By Nate Lance

““Let us not love with words or

speech but with actions and in

truth.” 1 John 3:18 (NIV)

Action”

a n d

“truth”

are two

words

n o t

usually

associated

with

Washington DC, but ICC brought

both to Capitol Hill during The

Bridge’s annual Policy Day: a

one-day event in Washington DC

assembling together senators,

congressmen, and other policy

leaders to discuss possible solutions

to the humanitarian crisis

that continues for Christians and

others in North Korea.

For a place once called the

“Jerusalem of the East” because

of its strong Christian faith, North

Korea has become one of the

world’s most egregious human

rights and religious liberty violators.

Although North Korea’s

regime seems to be a problem

without solution, ICC’s Policy

Day speakers highlighted mul-

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Feature Article

Real Solutions

tiple potential solutions to the

“unsolvable” problem.

Senators, Policy

Experts, and

Religious Leaders

Tackle North Korea

Speakers included elected

leaders such as Senator Ted

Cruz from Texas, Senator James

Lankford from Oklahoma, Rep.

Chris Smith from New Jersey, and

Rep. Ed Royce from California,

as well as policy experts and

religious leaders such as Dr.

Mark Rutland, speaker, author,

and former president of multiple

Christian universities.

Senator Lankford summarized

North Korea’s fear of

Christianity when he stated, “The

regime is terrified of the words in

[the Bible], like these ones, ‘You

shall love the Lord your God

with all your heart, with all your

soul, and with all your mind.

This is the first and foremost

commandment. The second is

like it: you shall love your neighbor

as yourself. On these two

commandments rely the whole

law and the prophets.’ The Kim

regime is terrified of that statement:

to love God and love your

neighbor.”

Senator Cruz echoed a similar

sentiment: “It is worth remembering

for everyone here that

the light is stronger than the

darkness, and truth is stronger

than lies. And the work

of the people here is speaking

truth and singing light.” Senator

Cruz continued by emphasizing

that one of the most important

things we can do as a country

and as Christians who want to

help our fellow brothers and

sisters in Christ is to continue

to speak out on their behalf.

He ended his remarks by saying

that he wants to encourage

those seeking change in North

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Senator Ted Cruz of Texas speaks at ICC’s Policy Day.

Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey speaks at ICC’s Policy Day.

‘The North Korean regime fears

Christianity because it offers a

venue for the exchange of ideas. ’

– GREG SCARLATOIU

Korea “to keep on and double

your efforts. To speak truth and

change the world.”

While both of these senators

focused on the need to be outspoken

against the lies of the North

Korean regime, they also encouraged

action by our federal government

in supporting change.

Senator Lankford explained that

while there may be few actions

that can be taken, the United

States and our allies should do all

that can be done to bring relief to

the people of North Korea.

Dr. Mark Rutland also made a

call for action against the facilitators

of North Korea’s violations

against the rights of Christians

and others. Rutland spoke about

the need to continue to spread

the truth and let its light be the

catalyst for change. However,

he also highlighted the need to

put pressure on countries with

diplomatic relations with North

Korea, like China. The Chinese

represent the vast majority of all

trade with North Korea, making

them responsible in part for

Kim to continue his totalitarian

regime, and a prime target for

future economic sanctions.

Following the keynote speeches,

a panel of policy experts including

Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive

Director of the Committee for

Human Rights in North Korea,

Joshua Stanton, head of One

Free Korea and Korean policy

expert, and T. Kumar, Director for

International Advocacy at Amnesty

International, offered their views on

the future of this crisis and policy

proposals to address it.

Greg Scarlatoiu explained that

Christianity is a considerable

threat to the North Korean regime.

He stated that there are at least

60,000 Christians in the country.

He continued, “The North

Korean regime fears Christianity

because it offers a venue for the

exchange of ideas. Remember,

this regime has maintained its

19


Feature Article

Expert panel at the 2017 Bridge Policy Day.

“As a human being you have to see

this as a problem we need to address.”

– T. KUMAR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

grip on power through information control,

through an absolutely overwhelming level of

coercion, surveillance, punishment…each and

every person has to be an informer in Korea.”

He went on to discuss that economic market

forces and information from the outside

world, as well as the underground church, are

tremendous agents for change in North Korea

and should continue to be supported by the

US government.

Joshua Stanton focused on the need for

the existing sanctions on North Korea to

be enforced to a much higher degree. He

explained that the Trump administration

should use the US dollar and sanctions to

force China to decide between trading with

North Korea and facilitating the evil regime,

or continuing trade with the United States, a

country they need to continue to be the economic

powerhouse they have become.

Stanton also noted that the North Korean

government has not been listed as a terrorist

organization. However, the actions of the

regime have proven otherwise. They have

sent assassins to kill human rights activists

and dissidents, among other terrorist acts.

Rounding out the panel, T. Kumar stated

that North Korea is by far the most isolated

country. He offered two possible solutions

to addressing this humanitarian crisis: insert

information from the outside world into North

Korea and convince other countries to get

involved. He explained that “as a human

being you have to see this as a problem we

need to address.”

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Feature Article

Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma speaks at ICC’s Policy Day.

In addition to the inperson

attendees at the

event, over 30,000 viewers

were able to participate

through ICC’s livestream of

Policy Day via Facebook.

Additionally, the Policy

Day received a variety of

media coverage. Articles

were written by The Blaze,

Christianity Daily, The

Christian Post, National

Prayer Chapel, and Pakistan

Christian Post. Other news

outlets that attended the

event in-person included

Voice of America and

Radio Free Asia. With

this strong coverage, the

message of The Bridge was

spread far beyond those

who attended in person.

Facebook livestream of 2017 Bridge Policy Day.

Practical Application on

Capitol Hill

These policy prescriptions from elected

leaders and our panel of North Korea experts

coordinated well with one of ICC’s main

advocacy objectives of the Policy Day—to

raise awareness and support for H.R. 2061

and S. 1118, the North Korean Human Rights

Reauthorization Act of 2017. These bills in

the House and Senate would: 1) promote

international cooperation on North Korean

human rights, 2) increase transparency in the

provision of humanitarian assistance to the

North Korean people, and 3) protect North

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Korean refugees.

Policy Day attendees took part in advocating

for these bills through our annual

literature drop on Capitol Hill. Attendees

who wished to participate visited more than

400 offices, delivering literature on the North

Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act.

The literature drop also focused on urging

the Trump administration to appoint a new

Special Envoy on North Korea. This envoy

would seek to document human rights abuses,

report to the State Department on their

findings, and offer policy recommendations

to improve conditions for Christians and others

inside North Korea.

Solving the Unsolvable

Problem

For a problem that seemed unsolvable to

some before their attendance at the Policy

Day, numerous solutions were discussed

that could improve the lives of our brothers

and sisters in Christ in North Korea.

What was made clear throughout the event

is that speaking the truth of God to the

people of North Korea and the Kim regime

holds tremendous power that could serve

as a catalyst to bring about a return of the

Jerusalem of the East.

21


Rick Warren

Challenges the Free Church

at The Bridge 2017

By Jorge Gomez

Christians are the

most persecuted

group on the planet.

Now that might be

a surprise to most

people because it is

the most ignored,

overlooked, and

underreported news

in the world,” noted

Pastor Rick Warren, best-selling author and

founder of Saddleback Church. “The source

[of persecution] is Satan. We are in an unseen

spiritual battle. It’s going on all around us.”

Pastor Warren spoke on Christian persecution

from a place of authority and experience

at this year’s Bridge. Despite his famed

accomplishments, he is known to be humble

and gentle in spirit, all while maintaining an

unwavering conviction to God’s Word. In

2010, under Warren’s visionary leadership,

Saddleback became the first local church

to send a missionary to every nation in the

world. His endeavor to reach the world with

the Gospel is evidence of his commitment

to empathize and care for the least and most

vulnerable among us.

Warren imparted a practical message to

Bridge attendees of what it means to stand up

for the Christian faith. In his characteristic

fatherly tone, he explained the spiritual foundations

associated with persecution. First, he

reminded us that “opposition can make us

more like Jesus.” When facing trial or persecution,

we have to recognize that there is a

more profound purpose in our suffering and

pain. God’s transcendent plan is to transform

us into the image of His perfect Son, Jesus

Christ. In the midst of tribulation, it is easy

to be distracted from this idea. But following

Christ comes at a cost, at times the cost of

knowing that we will be the enemies of the

world, scorned and battered. Nevertheless,

that is the same type of opposition and rejection

that Christ faced, which will ultimately

lead us to become more like Him.

Secondly, when thinking of persecution,

we may also be predisposed to interpret

suffering and criticism as negative signs.

Warren exhorted the Body to acknowledge

that “persecution and oppression are a sign

that we are doing something right.” The

Bible supports this spiritual truth, as outlined

in 1 Peter 4:14 (NIV), “If you are insulted for

the name of Christ, you are blessed.” As followers

of Christ, we cannot ignore the reality

that we are set apart from the world. When

we proclaim and magnify His name, we are

alerted about the inevitable affliction and

“Cause us to care

not just about

ourselves, but all

those around the

world who are

right now sitting

in prison…and the

millions that will

die, unless you do

something

about it.”

persecution we will face (John 15:18-20).

Repression and harassment are indicators

that we are adhering to God’s truth. This is

the consolation and solace that thousands of

brothers and sisters in Christ hold on to when

they face persecution.

Thirdly, Warren offers hope to those who

face persecution and affliction, encouraging

them to remember that “opposition will

give us more rewards in heaven.” This does

not mean we stand up for our faith simply to

extract some type of benefit from God. On the

contrary, we are to stand firm by our beliefs

and face persecution with valor. In spite of

any temporary loss in this world, we will reap

a greater reward when we are reunited with

Christ. For all who face persecution, whether

those that suffer violent attacks or those that

encounter ridicule from their peers, the hope

of future riches in God’s Kingdom provides

a reason to remain joyful. It is not so much

about acquiring or amassing riches in heaven,

but knowing that by doing His will and fulfilling

our obligations as His emissaries, God’s

blessings will outweigh even as we encounter

persecution, affliction, and difficulties.

What’s the significance behind these key

spiritual principles and how do we apply

them? Warren’s pragmatic advice to the

Church and to the persecuted is this: Do not

be afraid or surprised by persecution, nor be

ashamed of being a Christian. When persecution

or affliction strikes, do not retaliate;

instead, respond by praying for those that

persecute you. He concludes with the counter-intuitive

yet powerful truths of Scripture,

telling us to combat persecution not with further

attacks, but by offering blessings. The

underlying principle, he states, is to be filled

with God’s love: “When you return good for

evil, when you return love for hatred, racial

bigotry, injustice, all of these kind of things,

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Did You Know?

• Warren’s mega best-seller,

“The Purpose Driven Life,” was

on the NY Times’ best-seller

list for 90 weeks.

• When Warren received a

windfall from the book, he

paid back Saddleback Church

25 years of salary.

• Warren “reverse tithes” and

gives away 90 percent of his

income.

• Saddleback has trained

400,000 pastors around the

world.

• Saddleback has sent

missionaries to every nation

of the world.

• Warren started Saddleback

only after being rejected as a

missionary to China.

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Pastor Rick Warren

Rick Warren is a leading

evangelical pastor and author best

known for “The Purpose Driven

Life.” He is the founder and senior

pastor of Saddleback Church in

Lake Forest, California. Saddleback

Church partnered with The Bridge

and hosted the 2017 conference.

…it is the single most powerful form of witnessing.”

In his final challenge to the free Church, Warren

asked, “If it became a crime to follow Jesus in the United

States of America, would there be enough evidence

to convict you? Would you be thrown in jail because

everyone knows that you live for Christ? Let me ask

you another question. When people say insulting things

about Christians, do you wimp out and keep your mouth

shut and say nothing? Or do you stand up for your brothers

and sisters?”

Warren’s closing prayer demonstrated his heart for the

persecuted and for our courageous involvement: “Father,

may [the persecuted]…motivate us to pray, to give, to

serve, to advocate, to elect leaders that will push for

this, …to do everything we can to relieve the burdens

of [the persecuted]. I pray that... [we may have] a new

commitment to be fearless for Christ…to not back down,

but to share God’s love everywhere, with everyone as

fast as we can. Cause us to care not just about ourselves,

but all those around the world who are right now sitting

in prison…and the millions that will die, unless you do

something about it. I ask you to motivate us all to be

more courageous for Christ.”

23


FRANCIS

CHAN

By Amy Penn

“Remember those who are in prison, as

though in prison with them, and those who

are mistreated, since you also are in the

body.” Hebrews 13:3 (ESV)

We live in

an individualistic

society

guided

by principles

of selfreliance,

comfort, and status. We aren’t taught to ask

questions about who our neighbor is or who

we have a responsibility to help, especially

if the answers impede our pursuit of comfort.

It can be difficult to understand how we can

be connected to our persecuted brothers and

sisters worldwide, but when Francis Chan,

pastor, renowned speaker, and best-selling

author of Crazy Love, spoke at The Bridge

2017, he indelibly showed us both our responsibility

and connection to those outside of our

immediate circle.

Chan acknowledged that it is difficult to

face issues like persecution because of the

environment that surrounds us. It’s extremely

difficult to even begin to imagine the suffering

faced by others around the world, so God has

to supernaturally change our minds and help

us to focus.

The Body of Christ

Chan presented us with a mystery. In

Ephesians 5, Paul talks about the “profound

mystery and I’m talking about Christ and the

Church.” Have you ever considered the mystery

associated with Christ and His Church?

As Chan explained, “This God who dwells

How do we

“nourish

and cherish”

each other,

especially with

thousands

of miles

separating us?

in unapproachable light, the Bible says He

shines brighter than the sun…and yet the

Bible is saying that there is this profound mystery

that the God who…lives in this high and

holy place, somehow, I can become a member

of His body.”

It doesn’t matter who you are…anyone can

be a part of the Church, and thus be connected

together as the body of Christ. “To think that

Christ sacrifices for me to be a member of His

body and you’re attached to me, and therefore,

I cherish and I nourish you.”

Joining in Suffering

That’s the connection: the Church. Because

we are members of His body, we are connected

to one another, including our persecuted

brothers and sisters worldwide. But what do

we do about this connection? How do we

“nourish and cherish” each other, especially

when there are thousands of miles separating

us?

Chan refers to Hebrews 13:3 in an attempt

to answer the question. “Remember those

who are in prison, as though in prison with

them, and those who are mistreated, since

you also are in the body” (ESV). How do you

remember as though you’re in prison?

Joining someone in prison is a countercultural

idea. As Chan contended, we think

rescue first. “Let’s rescue them…let’s get

them in a house with a pool, put their kids

in soccer, right? I mean, that’s just the way

we think…We got them out…Yay!...I’m not

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saying at all that that would be wrong…but I

want to challenge you with something.”

Is that what the New Testament tells us to

do? No, the New Testament tells us to join in

suffering. Chan cites Paul’s letter to Timothy

where Paul tells Timothy to join him in prison.

Paul doesn’t try to join Timothy’s more

comfortable lifestyle; rather he tells Timothy

to come to him. Yes, that means we will be

scorned, laughed at, and humiliated by the

world’s standards.

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Pastor Francis Chan

Francis Chan is a pastor and

best-selling author of Crazy

Love, Forgotten God, and You

and Me Forever. He founded

Cornerstone Church and

Eternity Bible College.

That’s hard. But look at Jesus. Jesus’ death

humiliated him on earth. But, the Bible says,

“he learned obedience through what he suffered”

(Hebrews 5:8 ESV).

“Jesus, the Son of God, learned obedience

through suffering,” Chan exclaims, “How can

you stand that? It’s like, ‘God, I keep wanting

to learn without suffering’…but that’s pride…

so yes, ‘God, teach me obedience through

suffering.’ ”

Intimacy through

Suffering

God will never abandon us during times

of suffering. In fact, Chan argued, He reveals

Himself in uniquely intimate ways to those

who suffer. Chan told us about a group of

Korean missionaries who were being held

by the Taliban. The missionaries accepted

their impending deaths and all but two died.

The ones who escaped returned to Seoul. The

missionaries told Chan that since their return,

they tried to reconnect with God at the same

level of intimacy that they experienced in

captivity. But they couldn’t find it.

No amount of prayer, fasting, Bible reading,

or service had ushered them into the same

intimate relationship. Chan realized that God

reveals Himself to those who suffer in ways

that He doesn’t do to those in relative comfort.

The Profound Mystery of

the Church

Chan challenged us to fully live the profound

mystery of the Church—to be afraid of

our own discomfort and pride and to be connected

with our brothers and sisters around

the world in their suffering.

As the body of Christ, we are immediately

responsible to enrich and assist fellow

members of the Body. Sometimes that means

rescuing and aiding, but ultimately it means

sharing in their suffering—mourning their

losses, sharing their pain, and remembering

them in prayer. These are difficult tenets to

follow because we live in a culture of comfort;

however, they’re the tenets Scripture

challenges us to follow.

“But God has so composed the body…

that the members may have the same care for

one another. If one member suffers, all suffer

together” (1 Corinthians 12:26-26 ESV).

25


Pastor Greg Zetts speaks at ICC’s 2017 Bridge conference.

Zetts is a veteran missions pastor who has traveled all over

the world. He is the head pastor of King of the Nations

Christian Fellowship in Rockville, Maryland.

A REVIVED BRIDE

By Jordan Hawkins

Nobody is going to

burn my house

down, kidnap

my children, or

rape my wife

because I preach

the Gospel this

coming Sunday,”

Pastor Greg Zetts

expressed to a

customs official as he returned to the US from

a mission trip in North Africa. “But where I

just came from, they experience that.”

Now, Zetts shares passionately shares his

heart for persecuted believers with others.

Personal Revival

Pastor Greg Zetts participated in this year’s

Bridge as both a speaker and a minister

to attendees. Amidst the hustle and bustle

of sessions and speakers at the conference,

Zetts witnessed God stirring revival within

the hearts of individual lives. Attendees who

may have come in hopes of loosening North

Korea’s bonds found that God also wanted to

destroy their own chains and bring revival to

the Western Church.

Many attendees approached Zetts for prayer

and counsel throughout the conference. “Some

of the people I ministered to were machines,”

he shared. “They were working for God rather

“Our hearts

need to break

that our people

and our nation

have left God.”

– ICC PRESIDENT JEFF KING

than working with Him,” and harbored uncertainty

about God’s love for them. Caught up

in the cycle of performance, they were striving

to please God but felt unsatisfied in their

relationship with Him. “The most important

ministry,” reflected Zetts, “[is] just loving Him

and being a worshipper.”

Others struggled with histories that held

them back from intimacy with God; they

were challenged to be vulnerable before Him.

“When a person is vulnerable, he gives the

Father access to their heart,” Zetts explained.

This same vulnerability toward God allowed

attendees to confront aching questions during

The Bridge—questions about bitterness, lack

of forgiveness, resentment, condemnation,

shame, guilt, and listening to the devil’s accusation,

all which distance believers from God.

These breakthroughs are the first step

toward reaching out to the persecuted

around the world. It gets to the heart of the

message of the persecuted: revival. Personal

revival precedes large-scale revival. Jesus

shared His heart with twelve men, and those

disciples then reached others who radically

altered the world.

A Revived Church

Zetts senses “an unprecedented harvest that’s

coming…. A church that’s revived means God

gets His possession,” Zetts explained. “Jesus

gets His bride…. When you’re revived, then

you become aware; you become sensitive to

the Holy Spirit,” Zetts related. His time at

The Bridge encouraged him of God’s work.

“That’s what I see happening—this awakening

that’s going to bring people into a place of

prophetic sensitivity to what God wants to do

in nations like North Korea.”

ICC’s president, Jeff King, passionately

desired to see revival at The Bridge—revival

individually, and revival of the Western

Church: “Our hearts need to break that our

people and our nation have left God.” God

desperately wants the Western Church to have

His heart for persecuted believers around

the world—persecuted believers who are our

brothers and sisters, part of the body of Christ.

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To do that, though, God must first have the

heart of the Western Church.

Awakening to God

Zetts shared that awakening to God is a

critical first step before serving persecuted

brothers and sisters around the world. “When

we make time to hear God’s heart, to hear

testimonies, to go into the Word of God and

get an understanding of what God is saying

about the persecuted Church, it can bring

radical changes,” conveyed Zetts. “We cannot

despise the day of small beginnings.”

His words echo King’s burden for the

Church: “[God] has to have all of us. We

need to hear His heart, and to do that, we just

need to give Him everything.”

Zetts remembers when God challenged

him to give everything. Over twenty years

ago, he boarded a plane to Andhra Pradesh,

India. He felt God asking him how far he

would go for souls. Would he still get on the

plane if he knew he would not come back? “It

rocked my world,” he related.

Since that time, Zetts has witnessed persecution

around the world that greatly impacted

his relationship with God.

Awakening to God may not look dramatic.

It may look like a faithful life. It may look

like intentionally digging into Scripture. It

may look like prayer and fasting. It may

look like giving up our will to follow God’s

will. “I think if the American Church can

capture that, we will go way, way out there

in the grace of God to touch the persecuted

Church,” concluded Zetts.

“The solution is on our knees,” King shared.

“We need to cry out, and we need to invite

Him back to be first place in my heart, and in

your heart, and in our nation’s heart.”

1 Bridge attendees join in prayer for North Korea.

2 Attendees praise God during a worship session.

3 Bridge attendees welcome speakers to the stage.

4 Saddleback Church worship team leads during The Bridge.

1

2

4

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3

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THE BRIDGE 2017

The “secret agenda” of the The Bridge is to show Western believers the example of the

persecuted where we see pure devotion at a high cost so that our hearts are revived and

the free Church is inspired to go deeper in their faith.

The 2017 Bridge brought together the humanitarian leaders and experts on the persecuted

Church. This panel included (from right to left) Jeff King of ICC, Todd Nettleton

of Voice of the Martyrs, Mervyn Thomas of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (UK), David

Curry of Open Doors, and Isaac Six of ICC.

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1 North Korean testimonies

2 Bridge attendees in worship

3 Defector Hyeonseo Lee

4 Anaheim gathering

5 Policy Day on Capitol Hill

6 Speaker Johnnie Moore

1

5

2

6

3

4

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“Almost hard to conceive of something like this. I felt encouraged by

the people who cared about it but left profoundly impacted by the

magnitude of the problem for people under that regime.”

“Did not know how bad it was in North Korea. Media

only talks about the political part of what’s going on.”

“The REAL heroes in this life are those who have survived and tell us what is going on

inside. Life-changing for us who live in a free society.”

“It was a drumbeat to my long craving to be brought to the banks of the river

we must cross to the deliverance of His special people from the tyranny. “

“It challenged me to re-engage in prayer and action

especially for the people of North Korea.”

“Very helpful and awakening.”

“It motivated me to get more involved.”

“The stories from the North Korean refugees were very

moving and eye-opening.”

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THE BRIDGE 2017

“I have prayed for North Korea for over

15 years so to have an opportunity to

hear from and personally meet several

brothers and sisters who shared what

life is like in North Korea was a privilege

and emotional experience.”



“THANK YOU! I loved EVERY moment

and will tell others. I also LOVED that

leaders from many organizations came

and spoke. UNITY!”

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UNITY IN THE FACE OF

GLOBAL PERSECUTION

By Isaac Six and Samantha Gassaway

On June 3, 2017,

attendees of

ICC’s annual

Bridge conference

had

an incredibly

unique opportunity.

Assembled

before them

were leaders

from four of the world’s largest persecution

ministries: Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), Open

Doors USA, Christian Solidarity Worldwide

– UK (CSW), and International Christian

Concern (ICC).

The ministries united together to provide

unparalleled insight into how to aid

the persecuted Church. The four leaders

represented well over half a century of

experience in ministering to the persecuted

as well as oversight over hundreds

of projects in dozens of countries. Here

are just a few highlights from this unprecedented

gathering of persecution ministry

leaders.

Q: What was it that led you into this work

to begin with? How were you called to this

type of ministry?

David Curry (Open Doors–USA): Years

ago, I was doing ministry down in Peru, when

the Shining Path, an extremely violent terrorist

group, came in and tried to take over an

event we were doing to train pastors. They

threatened my life, and it was in that moment

when I really became acquainted firsthand, if

only for a brief period of time, with what it

was like to be under pressure for your faith. It

was my introduction [to persecution] and the

beginning of a journey that led to Open Doors.

Jeff King (ICC): I had a dream: I was talking

on the phone to an imaginary businessman

I call ‘Bill.’ I hang up the phone and decide

to go visit his business but all his workers are

standing outside. I ask them, ‘Where’s Bill?’

and they say, ‘Bill’s gone.’ I said, ‘Well, where

is he? I was just talking to him.’ They said,

‘No, no, he’s dead.’ I said, ‘He’s not dead, I

was talking to him five minutes ago.’ I woke

up and I looked at my cell phone and one of

my supporters had called—she’s never called

me in 11 years. I get up and call her back,

and she says, ‘My husband and I are involved

with this organization, and the founder just

died, and all I can think is that you’re the guy

that’s supposed to run this organization. Are

you interested?’

Q: How do you keep people excited or

involved in helping the persecuted Church?

Mervyn Thomas (CSW): I simply

encourage people by telling the stories of

those people that I meet, that I have the privilege

to meet. And I’ve met so many incredibly

inspiring people… One of my greatest

friends was a guy called Shahbaz Bhatti,

who was a Christian minister in Pakistan.

And I said, ‘Shahbaz, are you frightened?’

And his face, I remember it, he just broke

out into a broad smile and he just said,

‘Frightened? No, I’m privileged. Jesus gave

His life for me, so nothing I could do short of

that would be [enough]. I really am prepared

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Ministry Heads

ICC’s Isaac Six (far left)

moderates the executive

panel at The Bridge 2017.

David Curry, CEO of Open

Doors-USA, Mervyn Thomas,

CEO of Christian Solidarity

Worldwide, Todd Nettleton,

Director of Media and Public

Relations for Voice of the

Martyrs-USA, and Jeff King,

president of ICC, gathered at

The Bridge to talk about what

unites us all: the cause of the

persecuted.

to put my life on the line.’ And two months

later he did.

Todd Nettleton (VOM): If one of my

brothers was in prison getting beaten every

single day, what would I do? I wouldn’t stop

with anything. I would say, ‘That’s my brother.

They’re beating on him every day. How are

you going to help me stop this?’ The people

that we’ve talked about in North Korea, those

are our brothers and sisters. So I think when

you understand that, I don’t think motivation

is a problem anymore.

Q: What is one of your favorite projects,

one of the things your ministry has done

that is fascinating or something you’ve

thought is a really great project and loved

doing that?

King: We were at a Religious Liberty

Partnership meeting overseas and I’m thinking,

‘Why don’t you take this [broadcast]

approach?’ We found a great media ministry

who does a lot of this work, and we developed

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this 24/7 Gospel-oriented programming for

Muslims who have converted to Christ

Thomas: This lady, she had come out of

North Korea. And she told me she wasn’t

able to tell anybody [for two years] that she

had accepted Christ. Then she pulled out two

books. She said, ‘This is my journal of my

spiritual journey.’ My mind was going, ‘How

do you have a spiritual journey when you’ve

not got a pastor, a fellowship, a Bible?’ And

then the person who was with her started

interpreting and there was Scripture in there.

She talked about things that she could never

have known about except the direct inspiration

of the Holy Spirit. And there’s going to

be lots of stories like that lady because God is

doing His work and He’s building His Church

despite everything else.

Q: What’s the most challenging situation

or story you’ve come across?

Thomas: It dates back to about 1989, 1990,

when I was in Russia… I said to [Konstantin

Kachev, a Russian official], ‘Would you allow

us to bring in a million Bibles?’ He immediately

said, ‘Yes.’ Eighteen months later,

that man came back to the UK and he met

with me. The first thing he said was, ‘I’ve

got a problem, because you only sent in half

a Bible.’ We had sent in a million Russian

New Testaments. ‘Would you like permission

to send in another million, on the condition

that they’re the full Bible?’ I said, ‘Of

course, but Mr. Kachev, you’re an atheist.

Why would you suddenly want to flood Russia

with Bibles?’ He said, ‘Well, we have tried

to drive Christianity out of the country over

many, many years. All we’ve succeeded to do

is drive it underground. I come to your country,

where I find a Bible in every hotel room I

go to. I know that every home has more than

one. But I go into your churches and they’re

empty.’ This communist had seen and thought

that if he flooded Russia with Bibles, then he

would empty the churches.

Nettleton: This one lady shared how, in

the camp, they had forced her to hold out her

hands and they beat her hands with an iron

bar. And her hands were mangled. And I was

like, ‘What can we do to help?’ There’s nothing

you can do for them. Except, and I take

great comfort in this, we can pray for them.

And God can go. I’ve heard the rest of the

story, after they come out of the camp and

they say, ‘God was with me, I experienced

Christ. I sometimes wish I could go back to

prison.’ Because they’ve had that experience.

Today, all four of the organizations represented

on the panel work closely to raise

awareness, advocate, and assist the persecuted

Church around the world.

33


IDOP 2017

IS COMING

I N T E R N A T I O N A L

DAY OF PRAYER

FOR THE PERSECUTED

2017

11/5 or 11/12

Register for an IDOP kit

or Request A Speaker:

ICC’S IDOP 2017 KIT

Register today to receive ICC’s International Day of Prayer

(IDOP) Resource Kit! Our kit includes tools and resources for

your church and faith community:

• Resource Guide

• Prayer Bulletin Insert

• Worship and Prayer

PowerPoints

• Sunday School Lesson

• Sermons

• Social Media Tools

• Petition

• Video

SCHEDULE A SPEAKER

Interested in having ICC’s president or a persecution expert

speak at your church? Contact us today through the web

address below.

info.persecution.org/idop2017

or call 1-800-422-5441

PASTORS TRIP

ICC is inviting missions-minded pastors to

come with us to Egypt to see, touch, and feel

persecution firsthand.

For more information, visit

info.persecution.org/pastors-trip

or call 1-800-422-5441

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COME SERVE THE PERSECUTED

“I have but one candle of life

to burn, and I would rather

burn it out in a land filled

with darkness than in a

land flooded with light”

- John Keith Falconer

VOLUNTEER:

We need volunteers to assist us in each of our goals to

make a difference in the lives of our suffering brothers

and sisters in Christ: www.persecution.org/how-youcan-help/volunteer

INTERN:

We match your skills and career paths to engage in real,

impacting, and tangible work: www.persecution.org/

how-you-can-help/internsandfellows/internships

Communication Director/Manager:

Five to ten years of experience

in managing a marketing/

communications office (graphic

design, inbound marketing, social

media). Must have excellent

writing skills and management

experience.

EMPLOYMENT AT ICC:

Administrator ($20/hr):

Looking for a talented administrator

with five or more years experience.

Initial four month contract with

strong possibility of permanent

placement for those with excellent

performance. Strength in creative

writing a big plus.

Capitol Hill Fellowships:

Two openings - 9 mon. to 1 year

Become expert in Christian human

rights through our Fellowship

Program. Advocacy mentorship

at ICC HQ (3-6 mos). Then

qualified fellows will be placed in a

legislator’s office on Cap. Hill for 6

mos. Stipend of $30k/annual.

Openings: Now and Jan. 2018

Learn more at: www.persecution.org/how-you-can-help/work-with-us/

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35


You Can Help Today!

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SEND DONATIONS TO:

ICC

PO BOX 8056

SILVER SPRING, MD 20907

OR ONLINE AT

WWW.PERSECUTION.ORG

OR BY PHONE

800-ICC-5441

GIVING TO ICC VIA

YOUR WILL

Provide now for a future gift to ICC

by including a bequest provision in

your will or revocable trust. If you

would like more information on giving

to ICC in this way, please give

us a call at 1-800-ICC-5441.

MEMBER

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or part of this publication is granted provided

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