Greek woman’s marriage to Muslim turned to ‘Nightmares in the Saudi Arabian desert’ | The Muslim Issue

It’s absolutely horrendous to hear that the German government is now funding courses helping Muslim men to groom themselves into relationships with German women. We cannot warn enough of this…

Source: Greek woman’s marriage to Muslim turned to ‘Nightmares in the Saudi Arabian desert’ | The Muslim Issue

Treasure hidden in weakness and suffering

Under Reconstruction

The phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” never sat right with me. I was never sure why, until recently.

It brings to mind a kind strength that is callous toward pain and indifferent to weakness. Or a cold strength of ambition that propels you forward, faster, higher, while paying no heed to what you leave behind. Maybe I’m reading too much into a quip, or maybe I’ve come to desire a radically different kind of strength.

The strength I desire could be mistaken for weakness. You could say that what hasn’t killed me has made me weaker. Weaker in that I feel pain more acutely, mine as well as others’. Weaker in that I am aware of my own shortcomings, and those more forgiving of others’. And weaker in that I relinquish all desire to live life in pursuit of self-glory, instead accepting whatever God places before me, determined to find…

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The Beauty In Different

The true meaning of Christianity and being a Christian.

Hope For The Broken

It’s sad to say, but it’s true.. Too often Christians are known for what we are against.. Not for what we are for. Not all of us.. Not all of the time.. But a lot of the time.

Sometimes people are turned off by the church in general. And hear me when I say that THE CHURCH is not the building. Sometimes it’s because they feel judged by those in the church. Other times it’s because of a past incident in the church where they were treated like an outcast. An outcast. Cast out.. think about it. We, as Authentic Followers of Christ Jesus should not cast someone away just because they are different.

We are called to love like Jesus. Is it always easy? I think you know the answer to that. It is only possible if we let Jesus love through us.

I love my church. One of…

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Grocery Bagging Teen is ‘Busted’ Doing Kind Act for Elderly Man and Gets Attention for It. Bigtime.

Original post from IJ Review


Christian Trouesdale is a “shy” 18-year-old who works for an Aldi’s in Great Britain.

And when a 96-year-old elderly man needed someone to walk a mile in his shoes, Christian was right there to help him out.

 <div id=”fb-root”></div><script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = “//″; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));</script><div class=”fb-post” data-href=”;set=a.1929903697551.115366.1541006132&amp;type=1&#8243; data-width=”500″><div class=”fb-xfbml-parse-ignore”><blockquote cite=”;set=a.1929903697551.115366.1541006132&amp;type=1″>Posted by <a href=””>Samantha-Jayne Brady</a> on <a href=”;set=a.1929903697551.115366.1541006132&amp;type=1″>Friday, 24 April 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>

Not only did the pensioner appreciate the teen’s kindness for giving him a helping hand, he has sought him out as his grocery-bag buddy on more than one occasion.

The Bolton News reported how the teenage Good Samaritan was photographed with the elderly gentleman and has since become the focus of worldwide attention. Christian responded to his newfound fame for a random act of kindness:

The reaction has been completely crazy, my facebook is just overflowing with messages, I can’t even start to read them all.

“One woman posted on my wall from America saying that she wished there were more people in her country like me, it has been really amazing.

“I went back into Aldi this afternoon and a lady came up and hugged me and said she loved what I had done.”

Bravo, young man. You’ve undoubtedly inspired millions of people around the globe to perform their own seemingly small acts of kindness. And that adds up to something pretty big.

A young man who survived “ex-gay ministries” taught me what it means to be a Christian

Original post from Salon

‘………The campaign against marriage equality sent me fleeing from the church. Here’s what brought me back

A young man who survived "ex-gay ministries" taught me what it means to be a Christian

Cover detail of “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church”

One muggy summer morning, when we’d roused ourselves in enough time to pull into the church parking lot just a few minutes late, we noticed a half-dozen red, white, and blue lawn signs growing from the strip of grass between the highway and the freshly paved blacktop. They said “VOTE YES ON ONE” across the top and “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman” across the bottom. In the middle was a stick-figure family holding hands.

 I groaned.

It’s no secret that the Tennessee state legislature has kept itself busy over the last decade producing mountains of wholly unnecessary legislation designed to protect what it considers to be Tennessee’s most threatened demographic: white evangelical Christians. One proposed bill would have made practicing Islam a felony, punishable by fifteen years in prison. Another sought to ban middle school teachers from even mentioning gay relationships to their students. House Bill 368 (signed into law in 2012) encourages teachers in public schools to “present the scientific weaknesses” of evolution and climate change. In 2013, panicked rumors among legislators that renovations to the capitol building included the installation of a “Muslim foot bath” were assuaged when it was revealed that the fixture in question was, in fact, a mop sink.

That particular summer, Tennessee lawmakers were busy amending the state constitution to include a ban on same-sex marriage. Churches and conservative organizations across the state had organized a campaign to remind voters that if they wanted to say no to gay marriage they needed to vote yes on proposition one and the Tennessee Marriage Protection Amendment. Nearly every church in town boasted several signs on their lawns, and now ours did too.

“We might as well hang a banner over the door that says ‘No Gay People Allowed,’” I muttered.

I didn’t have a lot of gay friends at the time. I hadn’t met Andrew or my friends Justin, Jeffry, Matthew, and Kimberly. I hadn’t yet reconnected with those high school classmates who, before they came out, got as far away from Rhea County as they could. I wasn’t even sure what I thought about same-sex relationships at that point in my life, but I had no intention of voting yes on prop one because I didn’t see why my religious concerns should have any bearing on whether my fellow citizens enjoyed the same rights and privileges as I did under the law. When you grow up just a few miles from 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, and when you move to a town situated on the old Trail of Tears where a man was once prosecuted and fined for teaching evolution, you get a little sensitive about constitutional amendments designed to restrict rights rather than protect them. Sure, the Tennessee Marriage Protection Amendment sounded like a good idea to a lot of folks at the time, but how would it sound in twenty-five, fifty, or a hundred years? I just wasn’t convinced we had this one right.

Of greater concern to me was the way these signs were sprouting up like weeds in every church lawn in the county. If Christians in East Tennessee wanted to send the message that gay and lesbian people would be uncomfortable and unwelcome in our churches, that their identity would be reduced to their sexual orientation and their personhood to a political threat, then we’d sure done a bang-up job of communicating it. We’d surrounded our churches with a bunch of stick-figured families who, with linked arms and vacuous smiles, guarded our houses of worship like centurions. If you wanted to get through, you had to know your place in the chain. You had to assimilate.

During the announcements, a man I didn’t recognize invited us to attend a meeting that night to discuss the “radical homosexual agenda in America and how Christians should respond to it.” He spat out the word homosexual the same way others spat out the wordsliberal, feminist, and evolutionist, and it occurred to me in that moment that maybe I wasn’t the only one who brought an uninvited guest to church on Sunday morning. In a congregation that large, there was a good chance the very people this man considered a threat to our way of life weren’t out there, but rather in here—perhaps visiting with family, perhaps squirming uncomfortably with the youth group in the back, perhaps singing with the worship band up front. How lonely they must feel, how paralyzed. Sitting there with my Bible in my hands, twisting its silk bookmark nervously between my fingers, I realized that just as I sat in church with my doubt, there were those sitting in church with their sexuality, their race, their gender, their depression, their addiction, their questions, their fears, their past, their infertility, their eating disorder, their diagnosis, their missed rent, their mess of a marriage, their sins, their shame—all the things that follow us to church on Sunday morning but we dare not name.

The words from Anne Sexton’s poem “Protestant Easter” floated into my brain:

Jesus was on that Cross.

After that they pounded nails into his hands.
After that, well, after that,

everyone wore hats . . .

And smiles. And masks. And brave fronts.

I didn’t stop going to church after the Vote Yes On One campaign, but I stopped being present. I was too scared to speak up in support of LGBT people, so I ignored my conscience and let it go. I played my role as the good Christian girl and spared everyone the drama of an argument. But that decision—to remain silent—split me in two. It convinced me that I could never really be myself in church, that I had to check my heart and mind at the door. I regret that decision for a lot of reasons, but most of all because sometimes I think I would have gotten a fair hearing. Sometimes I think my church would have loved me through that disagreement if I’d only been bold enough to ask them to. Like a difficult marriage, my relationship with church buckled under the weight of years of silent assumptions. So I checked out—first in spirit, then in body. When our closest friends from Sunday night moved to California, our interest in the social events began to dwindle. After a few months, Dan and I began sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

* * *

Seven years after the “Vote Yes On One” campaign sent me fleeing from the church, I discovered church again in an unlikely place: the Gay Christian Network’s annual “Live It Out” conference in Chicago.

Founded by Justin Lee, a young gay man who grew up Southern Baptist and survived the destructive effects of “ex-gay ministries” to eventually accept and embrace his sexuality, the Gay Christian Network offers community and support to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians, along with their friends, family, and allies. The group is ecumenical, but attracts a lot of evangelicals, many of whom have been marginalized or kicked out of the churches in which they grew up. Some of the more than seven hundred attendees believed Scripture compelled them to commit their lives to celibacy while others believed Scripture granted them the freedom to pursue same-sex relationships and marriage. There was room at the table for all.

I spoke at the conference as an ally, but within hours of arriving at the Westin on the Chicago River, it became clear I had little to teach these brothers and sisters in Christ and everything to learn from them. I speak at dozens of Christian conferences in a given year, but I’ve never participated in one so energized by the Spirit, so devoid of empty showmanship, so grounded in love and abounding in grace. As one attendee put it, “this is an unapologetically Christian conference.”

Indeed it was. There was communion, confession, worship, and fellowship. There was deep concern for honoring Scripture and loving as Christ would love, even through differences and pain. There was lots of hugging and crying and praying . . . and argyle.

But what startled me the most was the degree to which so many attendees had suffered, sometimes brutally, at the hands of Christians trying to “cure” them of their sexual orientation. One young woman described undergoing an exorcism ceremony designed to cast the demon of lesbianism from her body. Another went to counseling where her Christian therapist insisted she must have been molested or mistreated by her parents when she hadn’t. One man followed the advice of his pastor and married a woman, hoping heterosexual sex would make him straight, a decision that led to heartbreaking consequences. Many at the conference had gone through evangelical ex-gay ministries, the largest of which had recently shut its doors when its president admitted that reparative therapy to change sexual orientation is rarely, if ever, effective. Person after person told stories about getting kicked out of their church or their family upon coming out. (Of the estimated 1.6 million homeless American youth, between 20 and 40 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.) Far too many described contemplating suicide as teenagers after begging God to “fix” them to no avail.

And yet here they were, when they had every right in the world to run as far away from the church as their legs would carry them, worshipping together, praying together, healing together. Here they were, being the church that had rejected them. I felt simultaneously furious at Christianity’s enormous capacity to wound and awed by its miraculous capacity to heal.

The final night of the conference was set aside for an open mic, in which participants were invited to share their stories in front of the whole group in the main ballroom. One by one, hundreds of brave men and women approached the microphone, took a deep breath, and told the truth.

“I’m Mary and I’m Jacob’s mom,” said a short woman with a midwestern accent who wore jeans, a white T-shirt and, like several of the parents at the conference, a giant button pin that announced “FREE MOM HUGS” in tall red letters.

“Tonight I want to ask Jacob’s forgiveness, and your forgiveness too, because . . .” Her voice began to tremble. “Because until this weekend I was ashamed of my son.”

She stifled a sob with her hands while we waited in a thick silence.

“I didn’t want the people at my church to know he was gay because I was afraid of what they would think, what they might say,” she finally said. “But not anymore. I’m so proud of my beautiful son, and of all of you. I’m so proud that I’m going to shout it from the rooftops!”

A gentle laugh rippled through the room.

“I’m so sorry,” Mary said, first looking to her son on the front row and then to the rest of the audience. “I’m so very sorry. Please forgive me.”

“We forgive you!” shouted a woman behind me.

Jacob ran to front of the room and embraced his mom. They held each other for a few minutes before the next person approached the mic.

“I remember the first time I was called a . . . homophobic word,” said a young woman, no more than twenty, who wore a flower in her hair and kept her eyes on her shoes. It took her a few moments to form the next words.

“It was at church.”
 Around the room, people hummed in sad ascent.
 “This is the first time in a long time I’ve been able to be around Christians without totally freaking out,” she said, without ever looking up. “So thanks for that.”

“From the time I was a teenager, I’ve started every day the exact same way,” said a handsome man who wore a fedora and spoke with confidence.

“First, I look in the mirror and ask myself, ‘Does this outfit look too gay?’”

The crowd chuckled.

“After I’ve changed,” he said with a wry laugh, “I go back to the mirror and say to myself, ‘Mike, watch your hands. Mike, be careful with your voice. Mike, don’t laugh too loud. Mike, don’t walk that way. Mike, whatever you do, don’t act so gay.’”

His voice suddenly cracked.

“I didn’t want to lose my job in ministry,” he said, after collecting himself. “But I’m so tired of that routine. After twenty years, I can’t keep doing that. I’m done. I’m done pretending. I’m done faking it. It’s time to tell the truth: I’m a Christian and I’m gay.”

The crowd applauded.

An African American man in a wheelchair followed and brought the house down when he approached the mic, waited a moment, and declared, “I’m black. I’m disabled. I’m gay. And I live in Mississippi. What was God thinking?”

He was followed by a college student who said he finally worked up the courage to come out to his parents.

“It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped,” he said. And in the painful silence that followed far too many understood.

And then there was the young man who had attended the year before in the midst of a deep depression, but who had returned this year with a new church, a healthier family dynamic, and a boyfriend. “It gets better,” he said.

Near the end of the session, a slight, middle-aged man in a dress shirt approached the microphone.

“I’m here to ask your forgiveness,” he said quietly.

“I’ve been a pastor with a conservative denomination for more than thirty years, and I used to be an antigay apologist. I knew every argument, every Bible verse, every angle, and every position. I could win a debate with just about anyone, and I confess I yelled down more than a few ‘heretics’ in my time. I was absolutely certain that what I was saying was true and I assumed I’d defend that truth to death. But then I met a young lesbian woman who, over a period of many years, slowly changed my mind. She is a person of great faith and grace, and her life was her greatest apologetic.”

The man began to sob into his hands.

“I’m so sorry for what I did to you,” he finally continued. “I might not have hurt any of you directly, but I know my misguided apologetics, and then my silent complicity, probably did more damage than I can ever know. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent of my actions. Please forgive me.”

“We forgive you!” someone shouted from up front.

But the pastor held up his hand and then continued to speak.

“And if things couldn’t get any weirder,” he said with a nervous laugh, “I was dropping my son off at school the other day—he’s a senior in high school—and we started talking about this very issue. When I told him that I’d recently changed my mind about homosexuality, he got really quiet for a minute and then he said, ‘Dad, I’m gay.’”

Nearly everyone in the room gasped.

“Sometimes I wonder if these last few years of studying, praying, and rethinking things were all to prepare me for that very moment,” the pastor said, his voice quivering. “It was one of the most important moments of my life. I’m so glad I was ready. I’m so glad I was ready to love my son for who he is.”

By the end of the open mic session, I understood exactly why they say not to bother with mascara at this thing. It was two of the most healing, powerful, grace-drenched hours of my life. It was, at last, church.

I had a conversation with someone the other day who said he wondered if perhaps LGBT Christians had a special role to play in teaching the church how to more thoughtfully engage issues surrounding gender and sexuality. I told him I didn’t think that went far enough, that ever since the Gay Christian Network conference, I’ve been convinced that LGBT Christians have a special role to play in teaching the church how to be Christian.

Christians who tell each other the truth. 
Christians who confess our sins and forgive our enemies. Christians who embrace our neighbors.
 Christians who sit together in our pain, and in our healing, and wait for resurrection.

* * *

Sometimes people ask me if I believe in faith healings.
 What I think they’re asking is if I believe a pastor can lay hands on a man and cure him of alcoholism, or if a religious shrine possesses the power to coax the paralyzed out of their wheelchairs, or if rallying around a little girl with twenty-four hours of prayer can reverse the progression of her cancer.

I don’t know. I’ve watched too many people of strong faith succumb to illness and tragedy to believe God shows any sort of favoritism in these matters. (And yet, inexplicably, I always pray.)

So when I’m asked about faith healings, I tell people about Thistle Farms. I tell them about the Gay Christian Network. I tell them about the widows I met in India who haven’t been cured of their HIV but who are healing from their poverty and hopelessness by loving one another well. I tell them about the Epic Fail Pastors Conference, and the abuse survivors I’ve met through the blog. I tell them about my own journey away from and back to church. Then I shrug my shoulders and say, “I suppose anything’s possible.”

Excerpted from “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church” by Rachel Held Evans. Copyright © 2015 by Rachel Held Evans. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved



The Christian tragedy in the Middle East did not begin with Isis

Original post from The Independent

‘………….A hundred years on from the Armenian genocide, and a Christian minority is again suffering

One summer’s day in 1990, I walked into a beautiful Crusader chapel in Keserwan, a gentle mountainside north of Beirut, where an old Catholic Maronite priest pointed to a Byzantine mosaic of – I think – Saint John. What he wanted to show me was the holy man’s eyes. They had been stabbed out of the mosaic by a sword or lance at some point in antiquity. ‘The Muslims did this,’ the priest said.

His words had added clarity because at that time the Lebanese Christian army General Michel Aoun – who thought he was the president and still, today, dreams of this unlikely investiture – was fighting a hopeless war against Hafez Assad’s Syrian army. Daily, I was visiting the homes of dead Christians, killed by Syrian shellfire. The Syrians, in the priest’s narrative, were the same ‘Muslims’ who had stabbed out the eyes in the ancient picture.

I remember at the time – and often since – I would say to myself that this was nonsense, that you cannot graft ancient history onto the present. (The Maronites, by the way, had supported the earlier Crusaders. The Orthodox of the time stood with the Muslims.) Christian-Muslim enmity on this scale was a tale to frighten schoolchildren.


And yet only last year, as shells burst above the Syrian town of Yabroud, I walked into the country’s oldest church and found paintings of the saints. All had had their eyes gouged out and been torn into strips. I took one of those strips home to Beirut, the painted eyes of the saints staring at me even as I write this article. This was not the sacrilege of antiquity. It was done by ghoulish men, probably from Iraq, only months ago.

Like 9/11 – long after Hollywood had regularly demonised Muslims as barbarian killers who wish to destroy America – it seems that our worst fears turn into reality. The priest in 1990 cannot have lived long enough to know how the new barbarians would strike at the saints in Yabroud.


Note how I have not mentioned the enslavement of Christian women in Iraq, the Islamic State’s massacre of Christians and Yazidis, the burning of Mosul’s ancient churches or the destruction of the great Armenian church of Deir el-Zour that commemorated the genocide of its people in 1915. Nor the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls. Not even the very latest massacre in Kenya where the numbers of Christian dead and the cruelty of their sectarian killers is, indeed, of epic, Hollywood proportions. Nor have I mentioned the ferocious Sunni-Shia wars that now dwarf the tragedy of the Christians.

Soldiers standing over skulls of victims from the Armenian village of Sheyxalan in 1915, believed to be victims of the Armenian Holocaust

Soldiers standing over skulls of victims from the Armenian village of Sheyxalan in 1915, believed to be victims of the Armenian Holocaust

But the Christian tragedy in the Middle East today needs to be re-thought – as it will be, of course, when Armenians around the world commemorate the 100th anniversary of the genocide of their people by Ottoman Turkey. Perhaps it is time that we acknowledge not only this act of genocide but come to regard it not as just the murder of a minority within the Ottoman Empire, but specifically a Christian minority, killed because they were Armenian but also because they were Christian (many of whom, unfortunately, rather liked the Orthodox, anti-Ottoman Tsar).

And their fate bears some uncommon parallels with the Islamic State murderers of today. The Armenian men were massacred.  The women were gang-raped or forced to convert or left to die of hunger. Babies were burned alive – after being stacked in piles. Islamic State cruelty is not new, even if the cult’s technology defeats anything its opponents can achieve.

Kuwait last week, a good and thoughtful Muslim, an American university graduate – within the al-Sabah family and prominent in the government – shook his head with disbelief when he spoke of Islamic State.  ‘I watched the video of them burning the Jordanian pilot alive,’ he told me. ‘I watched it several times. I had to, because I had to understand their technology. Do you know they used seven camera angles to film this atrocity?  We could not compete with this media technology. We have to learn.’

And this is true. The West – that amorphous, dangerous expression – has still not understood the use of this technology – especially the use which the cult makes of the internet – nor have the Muslim Arab imams who should be speaking about the fearful acts of Islamic State.

But most are not, any more than they denounced the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, when around a million Muslims killed each other. Because they were on Saddam’s side in that war. And because the Islamic State’s ideology is too obviously of Wahabi inspiration, and thus too close to some of the Gulf Arab states.

The crimes of Islamic State are as brutal as any committed by the German army in the Second World War, but Jews who converted were not spared Hitler’s plan for their extermination. What the Islamic State and the 1915 Ottoman Turks have in common is a cruelty based on ideology – even theology – rather than race hatred, although that is not far away. After the burning of churches and of synagogues, the rubble looks much the same.

The tragedy of the Arab world is now on such a literally Biblical scale that we are all demeaned by it. Yet I also think of Lebanon where the old priest showed me his mosaic with the missing eyes and where the Lebanese Christians and Muslims fought each other – with the help of many foreign nations, including Israel, Syria and America – and killed 150,000 of their own people.

Yet today, Lebanese Muslims and Christians, though still politically deeply divided, are protecting each other amid the gale-force winds around them. Why? Because they are today a much more educated population. It’s because they value education, reading and books and knowledge. And from education comes justice. Which is why, when compared to Lebanon, the Islamic State is a nation of lost souls. ……..’

The Atheist Professor & God

Madamsabi's Blog

An atheist professor was teaching a college class and he told the class that he was going to prove that there was no God.

He said, “God if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you 15 minutes!” Ten minutes went by. He kept taunting God, saying, “Here I am God, I’m still waiting.”

He got down to the last couple of minutes as a big 240-pound Christian Marine happened to walk by the door on his way to a school recruiting meeting. He stopped and listened to what the professor said.

The Marine walked into the classroom and in the last minute, hit the professor full force, sending him flying off the platform.

The professor got up, obviously shaken, and said, “Where did you come from, and why did you do that?”

The Marine replied, “God was busy; He sent me!”

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Imam planted burnt pages of Koran in girls bag, it is alleged.

This is what happens when fanatics are allowed to take power.

It would appear that the innocent Christian girl was set up by the Imam, just to get rid of another Christian.

This is not the fault of the Islamic faith, but of those who interpret the faith for their own ends. Islam is not the only faith to have fanatical followers, they can be found in all faiths and none should be tolerated.

Until fanatics like this Imam and those in the other faiths are not allowed any power, then there will not be any peace in the world.