Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.
* Stormie Omartian WINNER 2020
I was raised by a mentally ill mother who was very abusive and kept me locked in a closet for much of my early childhood. My dad was gone a lot working long hard hours just to eke out a living. When he was home he was exhausted and passive and, although he was a kind person, I didn’t feel he was there for me as a protector from my mother. As a result, I grew up with a lot of depression, fear, anxiety, anger, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, futility, and rejection. By the time I was in my twenties, I was still locked in a closet emotionally.
I tried everything I knew to get out of that closet of pain. I drank alcohol, took dangerous amounts of drugs, went deeply into eastern religions, the occult, and unhealthy relationships. But these things gave me nothing more than a temporary relief from the pain, after which I was worse off than before. I became more and more depressed, fearful, anxious, and hopeless, until finally I couldn’t stand the pain any longer. I wanted to die. Actually, I didn’t want to die. I just saw no other way out of the pain that was so debilitating I could no longer live with it. So I planned to kill myself with sleeping pills, as soon as I could get my hands on enough of them to do the job right. (read more) https://www.stormieomartian.com/
* Pastor Andrew Brunson
When they called us in, we thought we were getting our residence permits. But then they said, “No, you’re being arrested for deportation.” Norine was released after 13 days, but they kept me. There are several reasons, and they changed over time, but the big thing is that they wanted to make an example of somebody, of a missionary, to intimidate other missionaries so that they would self-deport. And they also wanted to intimidate local believers. At some point, the government decided to keep me as a political pawn, a bargaining chip. They wanted concessions from the US.
But there are two issues here, one human and one spiritual. I think there was a larger drama going on behind the political dealings, which was God’s story, what he was accomplishing through my imprisonment.
You explain that your two greatest fears in prison were losing your faith and losing your mind. How would you encourage other believers who are struggling to keep their faith and sanity in the midst of suffering and trauma?
Whatever you’re going through, if you’re working for Christ and his kingdom, then it is very precious to him. Throughout the day, I would repeat to myself that there was purpose in my suffering, that God was involved in it, and that it had eternal value because it was suffered for his sake. (read more)
* Asia Bibi (Blasphemy Case Involves Pakistani Christian Woman)
Asia Bibi, a 37-year-old Pakistani woman from the village of Ittanwali, was arrested by police on Friday, June 19, 2009. Asia (also called Asia Noreen) is the wife of 50-year-old Ashiq Masih, and their family is one of only three Christian families in a village of 1,500 families.
Many of the local women, including Asia, work on the farm of Muslim landowner Muhammad Idrees. During their work, many of the Muslim women have pressured Asia to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. In June, the pressure became especially strong.
On Friday, June 19, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam. Asia responded by telling them about her faith in Christ. Asia told the Muslim women Christ had died on the cross for sins, then asked them what Mohammad had done for them, according to VOM sources. She told them Jesus is alive, but Mohammad is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them, “and yours is not true.”
Upon hearing this, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from the mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey. Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. She was held at the police station in Nankana city. Christians there urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but police claimed they were under pressure from local Muslim leaders.
Seventeen months after Asia’s arrest, she was convicted of violating subsection C of Pakistan’s 295 blasphemy law - blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad - and was sentenced to death. No Christian in Pakistan has ever been executed under the blasphemy law, but in several cases, extremists have murdered Christians after their release from prison. Asia’s conviction and death sentence have brought international attention to the country’s blasphemy laws. Christians have called for Asia’s release and for a repeal of the laws, while extremists in Pakistan continue to demand that she be executed.
The Voice of the Martyrs urges Christians around the world to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.
Asia Finally Allowed to Leave Pakistan - May 2019. Seven months after being acquitted of blasphemy, Asia Bibi has finally left the country, according to her lawyer.
Though she was acquitted and released in October 2018 after more than eight years in prison, as of April 10, 2019, she remained in Pakistan, in limbo after Islamists staged massive riots protesting her release. Many threatened to kill her, raising concerns for her safety post-release.
Asia has joined her daughters in Canada, where they were given asylum last December. (read more)
* Matthew Murray (King’s Kenya - One By One)
You’ll be inspired by He Still Heals. Given just three hours to live by the medics, Matthew Murray was on the very edge of eternity when his wife, Becky, put out a desperate call among her Facebook friends. #PRAY4MATT went viral, and instead of dying his body began to battle against the disease. Matthew’s amazing recovery from multiple organ failure is a real life testimony to build faith, even in the midst of despair.
“Your miracle – just like mine – could be just around the corner.” Matthew Murray (read more)
* Actress Brenda Epperson (California's Devastating Wildfires)
Epperson says in a Facebook video that she prayed Psalm 91 over her home, and the fire miraculously stopped right at the border of her property.
"I just kept praying Psalms 91 over our home, 'whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in his mighty shadow. I will say of the Lord he is my refuge and my God in whom I trust. Surely, he will save you from the fowler's snare and the deadly pestilence. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you."
Epperson's home is an oasis of green and life in the midst of her scorched neighborhood. Even the horses from other farms took refuge at her home during the fire.
"We could only evacuate the horses that could fit in our trailer which was three horses. And then all of our neighbors had borders so all of their horses, 25, 30, horses went in that pen. And so there were 35 horses there and the fire stopped. God stopped that fire, Wendy, right at our property line," she said. "Every horse was okay. They had water, they didn't even have ash on them." (read more)
* Nina and Joel Schmidgall ( Circles Around Your Marriage)
Marriage was not an easy one for Joel and Nina. They were two different people from very different backgrounds. Nina’s parents divorced when she was a baby. It was middle school before she actually realized the importance of Jesus in her life. She grew up with longings for marriage and terrible fears about it as well. When Nina and Joel began dating she struggled with how much time and work it took to come to a place where they could consider marriage. “The Lord knew exactly what I needed in order to have the marriage I had hoped and prayed for,” shares Nina. Joel grew up in a Christian home where his parents never seemed to fight. He viewed marriage as something which should be effortless. He thought if you had to work through issues it meant you were incompatible. Joel held high expectations for a future spouse. As a young adult Joel entered a dating relationship that suddenly came to an end after four years. The devastating end to that relationship was magnified when he suddenly lost his dad to a heart attack soon (read more)