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5. NY2LA by Press Play (David Thulin Remix)

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(Westlake Village, CA) — In less than a year, one doctor in California has raised enough money via social media to free 1125 slaves in Sudan. Dr. Mark Girguis is a member of the Coptic Orthodox Church (the Orthodox Church of Egypt) and an active lay member involved in Bible studies, men’s groups, and youth ministry. When he heard about Christian Solidarity International’s efforts to free Christians and non-Muslims in Sudan, he felt led to do something significant.

“I couldn’t believe that slavery still existed,” says Girguis. “I thought when we defeated the institution in the United States, it had disappeared. Being Coptic Orthodox, with a tremendous Church history of persecution since our existence in the first century, we have a number of churches in Sudan, a neighboring country to Egypt. I remember in our youth group, we had two brothers that had fled Sudan because of persecution. I have two daughters who are incredibly precious to me. In putting myself in the shoes of the Sudanese parents who suffered the loss and kidnapping of their children, my heart was broken. God then led me to start the Free 1000 Campaign.”

In January 2020, Girguis began sharing his Free 1000 Campaign on social media, through his church, utilizing presentations and videos, and raising awareness of the problem of slavery. Last month, Dr. Girguis achieved his personal goal of freeing 1000 Sudanese slaves, raising over $250,000 for the effort. For a cost of about $250, Christian Solidarity International frees a slave in exchange for a much-needed cattle vaccine. Each liberated person is then given a survival kit of essential items, a dairy goat, and food as well as health care, plus safe passage back to their families and communities.

“As Christians, we are called to do acts of mercy and build the Kingdom of God,” says Girguis. “To release these Christians from the captivity of Muslims who force the slaves to adopt their religion was a great motivator for me. To allow these people to come back to Christ, released from Islam — well, there are very few opportunities where our actions can really change a life for eternity. From slavery to freedom, from Muslim control to Christian faith, restored to family, and heaven bound. I have prayed for the donors and the slaves and for lives being changed, and maybe one of the most profound changes, was in me. ”

 

Find out more information, support and follow the Free 1000 campaign journey at https://www.facebook.com/mgirguis/.

About Christian Solidarity International:

Founded over 40 years ago, CSI is an international Christian human rights organization, campaigning for religious liberty and human dignity, and assisting victims of religious persecution, victimized children and victims of catastrophe. CSI delivers emergency food assistance, medical treatment, and other lifesaving aid to victims of religious persecution and natural disasters in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Sudan, Pakistan, and other hotspots around the globe. CSI is currently the only organization working to liberate Christians and other South Sudanese forced into slavery by government-backed forces during the Sudanese civil war. For more information visit https://csi-usa.org.

 

What is left when a pandemic takes down our world?

 

     In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

       ‘Glory to God in the highest,
        And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’

      When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 

-Luke 2:8-19 (NASB)

God choses well the people whom He calls. Mary and Joseph were not perfect people. Nor were they successful by worldly standards. Their decision to follow the calling of God gained them nothing of material value in this life. They endured humiliation, poverty, and gossip. Christ’s birth came in a time of isolation and rejection. Joseph evidently died an early death. Mary watched her beloved son – the one born so full of promise; upon whom she had lavished her reputation, her trust, and her sacred honor – executed as a common criminal.

His life challenged her expectations. His death crushed her.

His resurrection made it all worthwhile.

This year is not like any our generation has known. We who have grown up in middle American Christendom have attached certain expectations to our faith, to our lives, to our dreams. We do not expect pain, isolation, or sickness. Suffering is not compatible with our interpretations of the Scriptural promise of abundant life.

This Christmas, the usual traditions we observe have been disrupted. In the place of a full table, we may be suffering financial distress. In the place of a full house, we may be existing in a place of extreme loneliness. But like Mary and Joseph, the strength of our calling is not dependent upon circumstance.  As the trials around us pare down our expectations and traditions, what is left is the pure sound of angels singing glory to God in the highest.

Mary wisely treasured everything she experienced with the Christ and pondered Christ His life in her heart. Instead of questioning the veracity of God’s Word and the faithfulness of our Creator, let’s take this time of hardship to contemplate all He has told us and what our part in His great work of deliverance should be. Even more in a pandemic, people need a Savior. His promises shine all the brighter in the darkness.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come! What else matters?

 

Be all the more diligent to make certain

about His calling and choosing you;

for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.

2 Peter 1:10

 

 

It’s Okay to Cry

 

Oh that my head were waters
And my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night
For the slain of the daughter of my people!

-Jeremiah 9:1 (NASB)

 

He is known as the weeping prophet.

Jeremiah was born in Anathoth, the son of a Hebrew priest. He lived approximately 650 to 570 B.C., and his ministry spanned the reigns of five kings of Judah: Josiah, JehoahazJehoiakimJehoiachin, and Zedekiah.

He was called from his youth to warn Israel of God’s anger at their idolatry and the impending judgment upon them if they didn’t repent. He suffered much for his obedience to God’s Word, persecuted by his own people. For decades his preaching fell on deaf ears.

Then, as Jeremiah had prophesied, Jerusalem fell captive to a foreign king.

Some are born to see and understand things beyond the natural realm of humanity’s senses. They feel pain deeper, sorrow harder over injustice, and hear the groaning of creation in a way most don’t.

Those who don’t know what to do with the pain live in depression. Those who understand the source, hear the Word of God, and receive the work of the Comforter live in great power. These are the intercessors, the advocates, the men and women who follow after the heart of God. They see His tears. They hear His grief over a dying world.

They weep with Him.

They have the courage to see what the Father sees, to feel what He feels, to be His hands and feet and voice to a world spinning out of control. When others run from danger, they run toward it to warn and rescue the perishing.

Their pain inspires them to positive action. Their suffering inspires them to love deeper, to speak the truth in gentleness.

If you look out over your world today and feel like crying, it’s okay. In fact, it’s good. Some people, like Jeremiah, were born to weep. Let your tears wash away the self-centeredness that is common to us all and inspire you to prayer more, love deeper, and speak the Word in truth.

Our planet is dying. Billions of people will die with it without ever knowing the Savior.

It’s okay to cry.

Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

-Ecclesiates 1:18 (NASB)