Prayer Targets: Wurmbrand's Stand; Religious Liberty & the High Court; World Vision, Elane Photography
March 27, 2014
If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (Mt 15:14b); Choose... able men who fear God; men of truth who hate covetousness; make such their leaders (Ex 18:21, abridged).
Dear Praying Friends,
In 1967, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand (1909-2001; 1913-2000 - bios) founded Voice of the Martyrs, a worldwide ministry to persecuted Christians. Born Jewish and trained by the Russians as communist activists, Richard and Sabina met Jesus in 1938, and immediately dedicated themselves to His service. Wurmbrand's Tortured for Christ is extremely relevant today:
Beginning August 23, 1944, one million Russian troops entered Romania... the Communists came to power in our country. Then began a nightmare that made suffering under the Nazis seem easy... In Romania [then a population of 24 million], the Communist party had only ten thousand members. [Yet the Soviet Union demanded that Romania]" appoint Communists to the government." Our army and police were disarmed and ... by violence ... the Communists came to power. It was not without the cooperation of the American and British.... Americans must know that they...unwittingly assisted the Russians in imposing upon us a regime of murder and terror...
Once the Communists came to power, they skillfully used the means of seduction toward the Church. The language of love and the language of seduction are the same... Unfortunately, when the Communists came to power, thousands of priests, pastors, and ministers did not know how to discern between the two voices. The Communists convened a congress of all Christian bodies in our Parliament building. There were four thousand priests, pastors, and ministers of all denominations... These men of God chose Joseph Stalin as honorary president of this congress. [He was also] president of the World Movement of the Godless and a mass murderer of Christians. One after another, bishops and pastors arose and declared that communism and Christianity are fundamentally the same and could coexist. One minister after another [praised] communism and assured the new government of the loyalty of the Church. My wife and I were present .... Sabina told me, "Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face." I said to her, "If I do so, you lose your husband." She replied, "I don't wish to have a coward as a husband." Then I arose and spoke to this congress, praising not the murderers of Christians, but Jesus Christ, stating that our loyalty is due first to Him. The speeches at this congress were broadcast and the whole country could hear proclaimed from the rostrum of the Communist Parliament the message of Christ! Afterward I had to pay for this, but it was worthwhile. Orthodox and Protestant church leaders competed with each other in yielding to communism. An Orthodox bishop put the hammer and sickle on his robes and asked his priests... to call him..."Comrade Bishop." [Some] were more direct. They became officers of the secret police. [One Lutheran bishop] began to teach in the theological seminary that God had given three revelations: one through Moses, one through Jesus, and the third through Stalin... (Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ, 1967; Voice of the Martyrs).
Religious Liberty & the Supreme Court - Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation had their day in court on Tuesday. Each side had 45 minutes to present their case. Experts say it is difficult to discern which side prevailed but FRC's Senior Fellow for Legal Studies, Cathy Ruse, who was in the courtroom, says she is "cautiously optimistic." Others expect a 4-4 standoff with Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy casting the deciding vote. The ruling will impact every religious liberty case going forward that involves business owners and whether the Obama administration can override the religious conscience of their owners. Does the Obama administration have a compelling interest in requiring pro-life Christian businesses to provide contraceptives to all female employees, some of which may cause abortions? Life is viewed as sacred by Bible-honoring believers and other religious groups. The Court's ruling will impact the religious liberty of every American.
We need a win because: 1) If our First Freedom is not upheld in this case, where will it be protected against government mandates? 2) Legal momentum in favor of religious liberty must be regained across the nation; 3) Too many Christian leaders are either silent or have compromised God's word as it pertains to government imposed evil, rather than taking a stand; 4) Thousands of Christian employers will be forced for economic reasons to forgo providing employee health insurance to reduce the fines they will have to pay for choosing to obey God rather than man in this matter; 5) Thousands of employees will lose their jobs and/or be required to buy less desirable, more expensive insurance or to participate in Obamacare - many against their own consciences (see Transcript-Oral Arguments; ADF Roundup; Hobby Lobby Encouraged; Hobby Lobby Day; Hear Tony Perkins Discuss Tuesday's hearing also Cathy Ruse, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., and Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa.; Post Argument Predictions).
- Heavenly Father, we appeal to you, Judge of the Universe. We know that your Eternal Law commands, "Thou shalt not kill." Please guide the thinking of our Supreme Court Justices. Move them to do right and to reaffirm the religious liberty guaranteed by our Constitution. Stir Churches across America to join this appeal! May your will be done! (Gen 18:25b; Ex 18:21; Dt 4:35-40; Ps 7:10-13; 82:1-5, 8; Pr 21:1-3; Lk 18:1-8)
World Vision Steers off biblical Course, Seeks Return - In a detailed Christianity Today article on Monday, the world's largest Christian relief agency announced a shocking change in its employment policy. "Why We're Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages" opened:
President Richard Stearns says change is a symbol of Christian 'unity' not 'compromise.' World Vision's American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman. Abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. But a policy change announced Monday [March 24] will now permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed at one of America's largest Christian charities... Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues," he said. "It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage...
Supporters were shocked and reacted swiftly, pummeling World Vision with calls expressing their sense of betrayal and cancelling their pledges of support. Christian leaders, too, widely denounced World Vision's decision as a departure from Christian faith and truth. Rather than producing "unity," the decision deeply disturbed Bible-believing Christians everywhere.
But as the Prayer Targets went to press yesterday, World Vision's President, Richard Stearns, and Chairman of the U.S. Board, Jim Beré, delivered a letter to supporters:
Today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our employment conduct policy. The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.
We are writing to you our trusted partners and Christian leaders who have come to us in the spirit of Matthew 18 to express your concern in love and conviction. You share our desire to come together in the Body of Christ around our mission to serve the poorest of the poor. We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness...
- May God grant World Vision and its leaders thorough repentance! May He use this leadership failure as a teaching moment to all Christian leaders who face pressure from within and without to compromise God's Word. May God's people receive greater discernment, strength, reverence for and obedience to His Eternal Word! (Gen 18:22-26; 1 Chr 7:14; Eze 3:17-21; Mt 19:4-5; 1 Cor 5:6-9; 1Ti 4:12-13; 2 Tim 3:16; 4:2-5).
Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, deferred its decision whether to hear the case brought by Elane Photography, the New Mexico couple who refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony in 2007, were charged with illegal discrimination by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission and ordered to pay their adversaries' legal fees - nearly $7,000. ADF Attorneys expect the Court to reconsider this Friday. Thank you for praying!