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Two Florida Street Preachers Murdered for Sharing The Gospel

In Persecuted Church on March 20, 2011 at 2:19 am

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, says a prayer before laying flowers on SW 2nd Avenue in Boynton Beach where two street preachers were shot and killed in January.

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD [is] the death of his saints.

Although it has gotten minimal coverage, a terrible tragedy occurred on January 30, 2011. Steven Ocean and Tite Sifra, 23 and 24 years old respectively, were shot and killed after sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with an 18 year old teenager in Florida. The 18 year old, Jeriah Woody, has been charged with two counts of first degree murder. The news reports stated:

Woody’s phone reportedly rang and he turned and walked away to take the call. But then he turned around again and started walking towards the street preachers. Sufra approached him and Woody allegedly shot him in the head. Ocean tried to run away, but police said Woody allegedly shot him in the back and then walked up to him and shot him again in the head at point-blank range.
The police account is based on the third street preacher that was with Sufra and Ocean when they talked to Woody. The unidentified third minister had escaped by running in the opposite direction.

Both Ocean and Sifra came from difficult backgrounds and had run-ins with unlawful behavior as teens but turned their lives around once they became born-again Christians. From that point they became ministers and regularly reached out to the youth of their area trying to encourage them to give up the lifestyle they had both experienced and seek a godly life by salvation in Jesus Christ. According to Ocean’s sister: “They go around and minister to boys and say where they came from,” the sister said. “They did that all day and all night.” Their frequent witnessing to gang members, leading them out of a life of violence and crime, led to a lot of resentment of them by gang members in their area and was the suspected motivation behind the shooting according to the Christian Defense Coalition.

Tite Sufra

This is truly a sad event, but a sign of how much things are changing in America. While we have documented the persecution of Christians overseas, where some can be jailed or killed for even possessing a Bible, this level of anti-Christian hostility has not been seen in the United States.

As believers we should lament over fallen saints of the Lord Jesus Christ. But also remember that we too have the same mission and command from Jesus: go forth into the world and spread the Gospel. Despite this tragic end, these two young saints were victorious! It is our obedience that God wants. And they obeyed to the very end.

Where Is the Media Coverage?

With such a stunning crime occurring right here in the United States, where is the news coverage of this event? One has to search and search to find any stories from any of the major news outlets. Why have we seen no comments from the Attorney General about potential hate crimes? Where is the ACLU and other advocacy groups who seek to protect “victims of hate” and discrimination? They seem to be silent in the face of Christian persecution.

Why The Gospel is So Important

Stephen Ocean

Once you are certain that you are a born again Christian, this is your main mission and purpose in the world. The last command Jesus gave to Christians was: “..repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.. 48And ye are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24) And it does not require traveling to a foreign country to spread the Good News. It can start right in your own home.

Are you too frustrated with family members to continue to share God’s Word with them? Do you feel too embarrassed to testify to God’s greatness and His grace when at social events? Are you a student worried that your friends will laugh and mock you if you start speaking to them about their eternal destiny? If so, hopefully the courage and bravery of these two young Christian men will inspire you to overcome your own anxieties to witness to those around you. If you are too scared to witness to strangers at this point, share the Gospel with family and friends. If that is too challenging, then just leave tracts in public places where they can be picked up and read by others. We can all do our part to share God’s Word and help plant seeds that can lead to souls being saved.

Pray for strength and also pray for the young man who killed them. that in this horrible sin, he can understand that the victims of this crime were only trying to make sure he would be forgiven for all the sins he had committed in his life, including this one. And as long as he is alive, Jesus is still waiting to forgive him. With repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior, even this young men, who killed two Christians can have all his sins forgiven. And that is the beauty of the Gospel. Spread the Word.

Romans 10: 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Iraq’s War on Christians

In Persecuted Church, Political Issues on December 18, 2010 at 9:46 am

Iraqi Christians survery the damage from the October 31st attack

The L.A. Times is one of the first major media outlets to run a major piece on the genocide against Christians in Iraq. In a hard-hitting op-ed piece, the Times sheds light on the reality of the massive persecution, Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq have endured since the start of the second Gulf War:

As much of the world once more prepares to celebrate the birth of Christ, it is a melancholy fact that many of the most ancient churches established in his name are being pushed to the brink of oblivion across the region where their faith was born.
When America intervened to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s Christians — mostly Chaldeans and Assyrians — numbered about 1.4 million, or about 3% of the population. Over the last seven years, more than half have fled the country and, as the New York Times reported this week, a wave of targeted killings — including the Oct. 31 slaying of 51 worshipers and two priests during Mass at one of Baghdad’s largest churches — has sent many more Christians fleeing. Despite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki promises to increase security, many believe the Christians are being targeted not only by Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has instructed its fighters “to kill Christians wherever they can reach them,” but also by complicit elements within the government’s security services.

In light of the horrific October 31st attack that left over 50 dead, we must not stop letting the world know about the atrocities that are occurring and continue praying for persecuted Christians around the world. The Islamic State of Iraq, the group claiming responsibility for the attack, alleges that it was prompted by the conversion of two women to Christianity “against their will.” Even following the horrific attack, they stated on their website: “We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood,”

The Bible of course gives us repeated warning of these days. Jesus Christ Himself prophesied to His disciples: Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

Iraqi Christians mourn their martyred loved ones

One wonders where President Obama is in the midst of this? The White House statement condemned the October 31st attacks but made no mention of the fact that the victims were specifically targeted because of their Christian faith. Nor has he commented on the exodus of Christians forced to flee because of persecution. And the L.A. Times minces no words in describing the administration’s response to the repeated Christian persecution:

The United States, meanwhile, does nothing — as it did nothing four years ago, when Father Boulos Iskander was kidnapped, beheaded and dismembered; or three years ago, when Father Ragheed Ganni was shot dead at the altar of this church; or two years ago, when Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was kidnapped and murdered; as it has done nothing about all the church bombings and assassinations of lay Christians that have become commonplace over the last seven years.

But that does not mean we cannot pray for a better day for Iraqi Christians and for leaders to have a change of heart on this issue if God so wills it.  The Bible instructs us to: “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”(Hebrews 13:3). If it turns out that this violence must persist against those who proclaim the glorious name of our Savior Christ Jesus, let’s pray for the Christians in Iraq to keep their faith and rejoice in the victory that Jesus has already won for them.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Nigeria: Christian Persecution Continues

In Persecuted Church on July 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Let's pray the wickedness does stop

Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved

Matthew 5: 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

After months of what seemed like relative peace in the city of Jos, Nigeria, the calm of the night was ripped apart by a vicious attack on Christians by Muslim Fulani herdsmen which resulted in 10 people dead, many wounded, homes destroyed and churches burned down. Here is an excerpt from the story:

The pastor of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Maza II, Reverend Nuhu Dawat, was said to have lost his wife and two children to the invasion while his church was also burnt down

Reverend Dawat, who spoke with newsmen after the tragedy, said that at about 1am he heard a knock at his door and opened but found nobody standing at the door. Immediately he locked the door, sporadic gunshot rent the air and he bolted out through the backdoor and hid in a nearby farm, he said

“I was there watching as the people were breaking into houses and running after those who escaped from their houses. After they left, I returned to my house only to find my wife, two children and a grandson hacked to death”.

Again, these murders and attacks were simply because the people in this area choose to put their faith in Jesus Christ as their savior. As the persecution continues and more Bible prophecy is fulfilled, we must not stop praying for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. We must ask the Lord to keep them safe, heal their wounds and strengthen their faith during these times of tribulation. And most importantly, continue to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ while demonstrating His love in their actions towards those who persecute them. May God let their light continue to shine in a very dark time.

Arizona Town Bans Bible Study

In Persecuted Church, Political Issues on March 23, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Biblical Principles

Proverbs 25:29 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Matthew 5:10 10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Well the time of outright American persecution seems to have arrived. The story of a the town of Gilbert Arizona banning home Bible studies of town residents has been getting a decent of media coverage. Here is a basic summary:

In November 2009, Oasis of Truth Church was ordered in a letter from a Gilbert code compliance officer to stop church meetings in Pastor Joe Sutherland’s home, based on the town’s Land Development Code. The officer was not responding to a complaint, but to signs he came across near Sutherland’s home about the meetings.

The town contends that, under its zoning code, churches within its borders cannot have any home meetings of any size, including Bible studies, three-person church leadership meetings, and potluck dinners. This ban is defended based upon traffic, parking, and building safety concerns. However, nothing in its zoning code prevents weekly Cub Scouts meetings, Monday Night Football parties with numerous attendees, or large business parties from being held on a regular basis in private homes. In fact, the zoning code explicitly allows some day cares to operate from homes.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a legal advocacy group that has done great work over the past several years to defend the rights of Christians in America, has now filed an appeal to overturn the town’s decision. The ruling on this is expected today. But the message is clear: there are actual concerted effort to truly limit the Free Exercise of Christianity in America.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The law appears to be on the side of the Church.

When the Apostles were ordered by the authorities to stop preaching in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior they made their feelings clear:
5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 5:28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Christians do not need to form their own government, secede or start any type of revolution. We also do not need to fight anyone. That is not what Jesus did on Earth and its certainly not what He commanded us to do. But He did command us to worship God, to believe on Him, to care for others and to share the Gospel. And we are to study our Word and pray with each other. And these are things that we should never have to compromise because of a “law.” I pray for the town of Gilbert to repeal this ordinance and for believers nation-wide to see this disturbing trend and increase their faith and devotion for the days ahead.

Nigeria – Christian Killing Fields

In Persecuted Church on March 9, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Nigerian Christians view a mass grave.

Biblical Principles

Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

The news is giving very good and extensive coverage of the slaughter of as many as 500 Christians in northern Nigeria, in addition to the scores of other victims who were badly injured during an attack this week. Large groups of Muslim attackers went into three villages and set homes on fire, blocked exit streets and went door to door hacking and murdering Christians with machetes. The military restored order far too late in the eyes of many of the residents there, some accusing them of complicity in the attacks. Even tiny children were not spared from the brutal attacks as they were struck with machetes as well.

Again we see that our brothers and sisters in Christ are being targeted just for their faith. The persecution around the world continues to spread at a rapid pace. We must continue to pray for Christians who are suffering overseas that their faith remains strong in the face of persecution. All of this is what Jesus prophesied 2,000 years ago. The Apostle Paul was constantly suffering persecution, whether it was being attacked or thrown in jail or attempts on his life. But yet when he wrote his disciple Timothy he simply stated: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12). And for those of us in countries where we are not being attacked for our faith by marauding gangs, let us give thanks To The Lord and use our time and freedom to spread the Gospel, build up one another in the faith and share the love of Jesus Christ. So when persecution comes, we will be ready to trust in our Savior and face it.

Killed for Christ – The Second War in Iraq

In End-Times/Eschatology, Persecuted Church on February 19, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Biblical Principles

Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

News of the fourth murder of a Christian in Iraq this week has still not garnered barely any mainstream media attention. Whether one supported the war in Iraq or not, our troops are there and deserve our support and prayers. But we must not also forget the rampant Christian persecution that has been taking place since the war started. In Iraq and many other countries around the world, there is an open war against Christians. This is spiritual at its core. The forces of darkness don’t want the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to spread across this world. Whether it’s church bombings, denial of basic rights, being jailed, beaten or killed, the persecution against the followers of Jesus Christ is growing to an all-time high. For men like Basil Mati Koriya Kaktoma, life as a follower of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ became a nightmare. As he stated: “What I saw was so horrible that I can’t even look at a map of my own country.” 1

Kaktoma, a retired oil company employee, was abducted by Muslim gunmen in May 2006. During the eight days of his captivity, he was physically abused, including the breaking of his right leg which has become permanently discolored. He was released because relatives in the United States and Canada paid the ransom. And all of this was just for being a Christian. Christians, who make up just 3% of the Iraqi population, have comprised 50% of the refugees leaving the country. An estimated 250,000 – 500,000 Christians have fled the country since the war commenced.

The end-time persecution of our brothers and sisters in the faith was prophesied by Jesus. Living in America. The 5th Seal of Revelation Chapter 6 shows us the souls of martyrs who “were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:” (Revelation 6:10). When they cry out for vengeance to God, He assures that they should wait “until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled” (Revelation 6:11). Persecution was not only prophesied, it’s going to be the final straw that brings God into action to judge those who have persecuted His saints.

Living in the United States it’s difficult to perceive at times how widespread the brutal attacks, harassment and killing of Christians is worldwide. We have no one trying to stop us from worshiping and many still have a hard time getting up on Sunday to do what others are being killed for. Stay on top of these issues. There are some great websites like persecution.com which provide updates and prayer requests for persecuted saints who are overseas. Learn their stories. Share their testimonies and support ministries that seek to spread the Gospel to the nations. We must continue to pray for Christians overseas who live in countries that permit persecution. In all of this sad news, the church is still growing exponentially! Nations like China are seeing tens of thousands of new Christians each month. Underground churches are spreading throughout the Middle East and Asia. Christ is indeed building His church!

Pray for these nations. Pray for the leaders of these nations to provide equal protection under the law for Christians. Pray for the people who are doing these attacks, that they can find Jesus and be forgiven for their sins. And pray for the faith of the Christians who are being victimized. That they can stand strong in the face of persecution. Pray that they respond in a Christ-like manner, blessing those who cruse them and praying for those who persecute them. And pray that they always remember Christ’s promise to all believers:

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

1. http://www.christianpost.com/article/20081201/iraqi-refugee-i-d-rather-go-to-hell-than-go-back/index.html

Teacher Fired for Offering to Pray for Sick Student

In Persecuted Church on December 28, 2009 at 7:15 pm

World Net Daily has an article about a teacher who was fired by her school for offering to pray for a sick student.  This is yet another example of the increasing movement to remove The Lord and anything related to Christianity from schools.  And for teachers, even a mention of God (despite the fact that the teacher was not at school at the time) can mean being terminated.

    Biblical Principle

Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.