God is using the coronavirus pandemic as a time to “prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit,” ultimately allowing the Body of Christ to become more “fruitful,” according to popular speaker and author Francis Chan.
Chan, former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, on Wednesday participated in the Q 2020 Virtual Summit, an annual event that equips Christian leaders to thoughtfully engage culture from a Christian worldview.
“I hear a lot of talk of people being concerned about whether their church is going to survive,” Chan, speaking via livestream, told host Gabe Lyons. “The illustration I think of is, if I had a diamond right here, and I just smash it with a hammer, what would happen to that diamond? Nothing. If it’s a real diamond, if it shatters, it wasn’t real.”
He pointed out that in Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
“This is going to be a group that the gates of Hell can’t stand against,” Chan explained. “No virus, no government, no economic this or that, life, death, nothing. And so we as believers are supposed to trust the words of Jesus and go, ‘The Church is going to be fine. If anything, this is the time where God is going to prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit, but it’s only going to become more fruitful.’”
“And so with that type of confidence, we have to move forward and go, what’s the worst thing that happened to me? I die and receive the award I’ve been … longing for my whole life. We can be fearless.”
Statistics from a recent Barna Group survey found that six to nine percent of pastors are unsure or not P attractive, credible and influential in the church, our communities and the next generation,” notes the event website.
Founded in 2007 by Gabe and Rebekah Lyons, this year’s conference focused largely on the COVID-19 pandemic and the role and obligation of the Christian church in response.
“We’re trying to understand the cultural moment as best as we can,” Gabe Lyons said at the start of the conference. “And in doing that, really relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us … the power of the Spirit is critical to us understanding. This is what separates us as Christians from the rest of the world and those who don’t believe and don’t understand. We are to have ears to understand and eyes to see.”
“I hope we all can come into this with a posture of worship,” he added. “With a posture of, we don’t know it all, we won’t know it all, but we do know the one who understands, who sees, who knows the future, who we can have hope in. That’s where we want to place our hope.”
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Two Pastors from Beijing’s Zion Church Arrested 3 Years after Authorities Forced Church to Close
Two preachers from the heavily persecuted Zion Church in Beijing were forcibly taken from their homes and are being held in detention for interrogations after authorities with China’s Communist Party forced the church to shut down over three years ago.
Persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern reports that, according to urgent prayer requests sent out by the now-disbanded house church, police apprehended preacher Qie Jiafu at his home in Changping district at 11:30 p.m. on April 28 for interrogations.
Qie’s wife received only one phone call from the police two days later, informing her that Qie was placed under 10-day administrative detention for violating Article 54 of the Regulations on Administrative Penalties for Public Security. He was also fined $77 (500 Yuan).
Preacher Huang Chunzi was reportedly detained at the same time, but her apprehension was only discovered three days later. Church members last heard from her on April 28, when she notified them that authorities were at her door. She soon went missing.
After being detained for more than 72 hours, authorities have yet to notify her only contactable family member and have refused to reveal the why, when, and where of her detention.
ICC said the church is asking for prayers so that Huang will be given “all the strength she needs from the Lord, and that the Lord will make way so the church can gain current updates.” They also pray for “sufficient grace for Preacher Qie and the many servants who are paying the price for Christ in this day and age.”
Zion Church, established in 2007, used to be the largest unofficial Protestant church in Beijing, reportedly drawing 1,500 congregants every Sunday. In September 2018, city authorities forced the church to shut down and confiscated “illegal promotional materials.”
The Beijing Chaoyang district civil affairs bureau reportedly said that by organizing events without registering, the church was breaking rules forbidding mass gatherings and was “legally banned” and its “illegal promotional material” had been confiscated.
Despite the church’s closure, members have faced continued harassment and persecution at the hands of authorities.
Zion Church Pastor Ezra Jin Mingri has been banned from leaving the country for nearly three years, and his daughter, Grace Jin, was unable to register for law school in the United States in July 2019 due to travel restrictions placed on her by authorities.
Gina Goh, ICC’s regional manager for Southeast Asia, said that the arbitrary arrests of the two Zion Church preachers indicate Beijing’s intention to root out house churches.
“Along with the ‘Administrative Measures for Religious Clergy,’ which came into effect on May 1, the Chinese government wants all religious leaders to submit to the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership and its ideology. Those who do not will face persecution. The ongoing crackdown against Christianity in China deserves the world’s attention,” Goh said.
Officially, China’s constitution guarantees religious freedom. However, since President Xi Jinping took office in 2013, the ruling Chinese Communist Party has tightened restrictions on religions seen as a challenge to its authority.
Churches are being monitored and closed down across the country, whether they are underground or part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the officially sanctioned Protestant church in China. The government has also used high-tech surveillance to oppress and monitor believers.
Other crackdowns on Christians have involved ordering Christians to renounce their faith and replace displays of Jesus with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping, as well as the ongoing demolition of churches.
Last week, it was reported that CCP authorities removed Bible Apps from the App Store in China, and Bibles in hard copy are no longer available for sale online either. In China, Bible Apps can only be downloaded with the use of a VPN.
Pastor Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid that provides legal aid to Christians in China, wrote on Twitter: “On Wednesday official WeChat public accounts aimed at providing resources on Bible & guides on edifying the church to Chinese Christians were suddenly suspended. #CCP suspends Old Gospel &The Gospel Coalition. Both have a large number of readers within China’s pastoral network.”
Open Doors ranks China at No. 17 on its World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted.
The communist regime’s crackdown on religious freedom has also led the U.S. State Department to label it as a “country of particular concern” for “continuing to engage in particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”
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Catholic Priest Blasts Joe Biden over Abortion Policy
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Franklin Graham: ‘I tend to believe’ President Trump when He Says Election Was Rigged, Stolen
Evangelist Franklin Graham, who has been a supporter of President Donald Trump, said he tends to believe the president when he says the 2020 presidential election has been rigged or stolen because Trump “has a track record of being right.”
“In 2016, Donald J. Trump told the American people that the government was spying on him. The media said that he was paranoid. The Obama administration and the Democrats said that this was an absolute lie and that Donald Trump was not fit to be president, only for us to find out later that the U.S. government did spy on Donald Trump, and what he had said was in fact true,” wrote Graham on his Facebook page Saturday.
On Jan. 19, 2017, The New York Times first reported on the wiretaps in a print article that ran with the headline: “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides.”
Last November, Trump accused the previous Obama administration of spying on his 2016 presidential campaign.
“You’re dealing at the highest levels of government. They were spying on my campaign. This is my opinion. I said it a long time ago,” Trump told Fox News at the time. “Remember, when I put out a tweet and I talked about, they’re wiretapping, in quotes, meeting, modern-day version of whatever wiretapping may be. And all hell broke loose. You know, who would have thought.”
Graham, the president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, added that Trump remained under investigation for two years based on false allegations of collusion with the Russians.
“The President said there was no collusion, but night after night, the media and the Democrats said there was collusion. After an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, it turned out to be false — there was no collusion. President Trump was right again,” he writes.
Trump and his campaign members, business partners, administration nominees, and family members were subjected to intense scrutiny and gave hours of testimony before members of Congress during the investigation.
Graham continued by noting that Democrats in the House impeached the president (but their efforts failed in the Senate) over a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he asked him to look into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine.
“The President has been maligned, falsely accused, and attacked on every front since before the election in 2016,” he added.
Graham concluded by saying that when Trump says that this election has been rigged or stolen, “I tend to believe him.” Trump, he explains, “has a track record of being right. Pray for President Trump, pray for Joe Biden, and pray for our nation — that we will get through this, and for God’s will be done.”
Last Monday, the Electoral College voted to cement President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 election, CNBC reported. The RNC, Trump campaign, Texas, along with seven other Republican-led states, and individuals have all filed lawsuits in federal and state courts seeking to nullify the election results due to alleged irregularities in six states.
The Electoral College delegates confirmed the Nov. 3 election results, in which Biden won with 306 electoral votes, well above the 270 needed to win.
“The Electoral College votes which occurred today reflect the fact that even in the face of a public health crisis unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes, the people voted,” said Biden in remarks emailed out to supporters. “They voted in record numbers. …”
More votes were counted in the 2020 presidential election than any other in U.S. history. Biden got over 80 million votes, the most votes for any presidential candidate, to Trump’s 74 million, the second-most votes in an election. Their totals also broke the record of votes cast for former President Barack Obama, who received 69.5 million votes in 2008.
IN response to the Electoral College vote last Monday, Graham said on Facebook: “I am grateful — grateful to God that for the last four years He gave us a president who protected our religious liberties; grateful for a president who defended the lives of the unborn, standing publicly against abortion and the bloody smear it has made on our nation.”
He went on to say that he believed “President Trump will go down in history as one of the great presidents of our nation, bringing peace and prosperity to millions here in the U.S. and around the world.”
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler Jr., who did not vote for Trump in 2016 but later supported him in 2020, expressed disappointment with the result, saying Biden “is now the president-elect of the United States.”
“It is no secret that I was disappointed in the way that the election turned out,” said Mohler. “I did not want Joe Biden to be elected president of the United States, but he is now the president-elect.”
Trump has said Biden will be an “illegitimate President.”
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