Thursday, April 20, 2006

When weaknesses occur?

"Weaknesses occur, as always, when men fail to work out the full implications of what they believe, and also when they fail to understand what it is that they are actually doing."
F.R. Coad, A History of the Brethren Movement,
Exeter : Paternoster Press (1968) ISBN 0853640858.
Second edition (1976) ISBN 0853641641.
Modern reprint: Vancouver : Regent College (2001) ISBN 1573831832.

I first read this book by Frederick Roy Coad over 33 years ago, and coming to this quotation towards the end of his work, I was so impressed by the wisdom of these words that I copied them into my journal. The sub-title of the book about the Christian Brethren was "its origins, its worldwide development and its significance for the present day".

Although this summing up remark had a particular relevance to the subject he was writing about 38 years ago, I thought then, and continue to think today, that it has a much wider application to all manner of circumstances in the sphere of religious faith and practice. Ponder these words deeply, and see what it might mean for you to avoid the same kinds of failure he was writing of.

Isn't it the duty of every thinking Christian to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" ? (Phil. 2:12b,13).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

200 years ago in Kabul, Afghanistan

The recent news about Abdul Rahman the Afghan Christian who was sentenced to death in Kabul for apostasy from Islam has prompted me to do something which I've been meaning to do for some time.

There is an almost forgotten story about a remarkable series of events that began about two hundred years ago in Kabul, relating to the coming to faith in Jesus Christ of one of two friends who were traveling through Asia after their pilgrimage to Mecca.

The story begins like this:
SABAT was the son of Ibrahim Sabat, of a noble family in Arabia, who trace their pedigree to Mahomed. Abdallah was his intimate friend., and also a young man of good family. They agreed to travel together, and to visit foreign countries. Both were zealous Mahomedans. Accordingly, after paying their adorations at the tomb of their prophet, they left Arabia, travelled through Persia, and thence to Cabul. Abdallah was appointed to an office of state under the king of Cabul, and Sabat leaving him there, proceeded on a tour through Tartary.

While Abdallah remained at Cabul, he was converted to the Christian faith by the perusal of a Bible belonging to an Armenian Christian, then residing at Cabul; for the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. In Mahomedan countries it is death for a man of rank to become a Christian. Abdallah endeavoured, for a time, to conceal his conversion; but finding it no longer possible, he determined to flee to some of the Christian Churches near the Caspian Sea. He, accordingly, left Cabul in disguise, and had gained the great city of Bochara in Tartary, when he was met in the streets of that city by his friend Sabat, who immediately recognized him. Sabat had heard of his conversion and flight, and was filled .with indignation at his conduct. Abdallah knew his danger, and threw himself at the feet of Sabat. He confessed that he was a Christian, and implored him by the sacred tie of their former friendship to let him escape with his life. “But, sir,” said Sabat, when relating the story, “I had no pity. I caused my servants to seize him, and I delivered him up to Morad Shah, king of Bochara. He was sentenced to die, and a herald went through the city announcing the time of his execution. An immense multitude attended, and the chief men of the city. I also went and stood near to Abdallah. He was offered his life if he would abjure Christ, the executioner standing by him with his sword in his hand. ‘No,’ said he, ‘I cannot abjure Christ.’ Then one of his hands was cut off at the wrist. He stood firm, his arm hanging by his side, but with little motion. A physician, by desire of the king, offered to heal the wound if he would recant. He made no answer but looked stedfastly towards heaven, like Stephen the first martyr, his eyes streaming with tears. He did not look with anger towards me. He looked at me, but it was benignly, and with the countenance of forgiveness. His other hand was then cut off. “But, sir,” said Sabat in his imperfect English, “he never changed, - he never changed. And when he bowed his head to receive the stroke, all Bochara seemed to say, What new thing is this?”
For the full story of what happened afterwards in Sabat's own life, go to the article Sabat the Arabian, by Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813-43) now posted on my website.

For news about how you can help Christian believers facing pressure from Islamic societies and governments, please visit the website of the Barnabas Fund.

Meanwhile also, please continue to pray for those Afghan Christians today who unlike Abdul Rahman are not able to find asylum in a foreign country like Italy, but who face the continued danger of being persecuted inside Afghanistan, away from the eyes of reporters and the world media.

Note: The original spellings have been retained in the article by M'Cheyne. Bochara in this story is modern day Bukhara in Uzbekistan.

Care not Killing

Care not Killing

Care NOT Killing is a UK-based alliance of individuals and organisations which brings together human rights groups, healthcare groups, palliative care groups and faith-based organisations with the aims of:

1. Promoting more and better palliative care
2. Ensuring that existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are not weakened or repealed during the lifetime of the current Parliament
3. Influencing the balance of public opinion further against any weakening of the law

Please visit it soon and sign their petition against Lord Joffe's Bill - that seeks to legalise assisted suicide.

The Evangelical Library e-books project

There was a media release about the launch of this project in January 2006. I'd like anyone visiting this blog to become aware of this useful study resource.

The Evangelical Library e-books project

From the Aims page:
The development of the internet has been a change in global communications as significant as the development of the printing press. It is our desire to use modern technology as a tool to further the Kingdom of Christ on earth. We believe that the Evangelical Library contains a wealth of wisdom from the past for Christians of this generation.

The e-books project is seeking to make this wisdom accessible for Christians world wide in a way that allows rapid discovery of the relevant sections of the text on the one hand and a full preservation of the original document in image format on the other.

Our long term goal is to provide an electronic library which will supplement the physical libraries of pastors around the world. We aim to integrate this material so that relevant passages are quickly provided for any passage of scripture.

We aim to aid pastors around the world as they seek to "Make disciples of every nation... teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you.".

Note: The project is open to all, not just to members of the Evangelical Library!