Snow, being one of the most astounding miracles attesting to the existence of God, early January brought an amazing overnight and all day miracle to Lexington! Three neighbor boys made snow angels. The oldest and the youngest were done and gone before I could get my phone out, but the middle one stayed with it for the picture.
Ever see a double-rainbow? Most likely, if you’re over 10 years old, you have. They are not all that rare as many people think, but there is a lesson in the double-rainbow. Don’t be fooled by some of the pictures of double-rainbows; if the colors are in the same order, the photo was either doctored or it IS a RARE twin-rainbow.
A double rainbow in B.C., Canada
The rainbow was first seen by Noah, his wife, three sons and three daughters-in-law. Father gave it as a sign of His covenant with them, “and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:10-11)
The simple reason a rainbow had not been yet seen, even though the world was roughly 1,500 years old, was that no rain had fallen; a mist would rise from the ground and water it (Genesis 2:6), suggesting a canopy of water above the atmosphere that created a greenhouse over the whole earth. (See Genesis 1:6-8.) The Great Deluge, or Noah’s Flood, destroyed that protective canopy and allowed direct sunlight through the clouds, that had never been seen. As the light filtered through the clouds, the rainbow appeared.
If the physics of rainbows seems to take away the mystery of God’s sign of His promise, note that just because we understand how He does something does not take away from the fact that He is the one doing it. That Father chose to use a physical phenomenon to remind Himself . . . and us . . . of His promise should not surprise us, as He delights in using ‘ordinary things’ to show His amazing power and magnificence. He shows His eternal power and divine nature in the cosmos (Romans 1); He revealed His care for the mistreated to Hagar by providing her an ordinary well (Genesis 21); He displayed His Presence to Moses in a bush (Exodus 3); He affirmed His mercy to an ordinary young woman in whom He created a body for the Messiah (Luke 1); and He shows up in myriads of times in our lives to protect, rescue and guide us . . . if we are just attentive to the miraculous in the mundane. He loves using “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7) to reveal His enormous weight of glory. “The whole world is a series of miracles, but we are so used to them that we call them ordinary things.” (Hans Christian Anderson)
Co-opted by the LGBTQMX8ZRW activists 🙄, this also does not reduce a rainbow’s beauty or significance. “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” (C.S.Lewis) The devil is not very creative and cannot seem to do anything new, so he attempts to use what God has given and ‘twist’ it just a bit to make us think it is his idea. So love without genuine care becomes lust. Justice without mercy becomes malicious. Science without common sense becomes “proof” that the Creator of science does not even exist. “Believing something doesn’t make it true. A thing is true or not regardless of whether anyone believes it.” (Paul Little)
So what is the lesson in the double-rainbow? If we have become jaded to a simple rainbow, or perverted it to a flag to represent something other than Father’s intention, perhaps He just wants to remind us that He is present even in our darkening age. Against the clouds of confusion over gender, masks, vaccines, military movements and political lies, He reminds us that His love and holiness still provide beauty and meaning to our world.
As He speaks through the universe, as He has spoken most clearly through Yeshua (Jesus, the Messiah), as He has revealed Himself through prophets, priests, kings, children and women throughout the Bible, He still speaks to us today. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7) So look up and listen for His voice. Find His miracles in the mundane. He is here and He is not silent.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
Have you experienced a miracle that others thought was ordinary? Perhaps you thought at first, “This is just normal,” only to discover later that you were part of a miracle?
c.a. and anita
“They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” 2 Peter 3:4
We are such a short-sighted race, we humans. There is no distinction here for black, yellow, white or polka-dotted. After all, God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) We are all directly related, and should treat each other as brothers and sisters, because that is what we are.
But we are also all sinners, because Adam and Eve preferred to believe they had a better idea of how to live than their Creator did. They believed The Lie with which the father of lies continues to bewilder mankind: God is holding out on you, and YOU can be like Gods.
Some atheists have said, “Well, if there IS a God like Christianity teaches, I don’t want anything to do with Him.” They drank from satan’s cool-aid and believe lies about God’s nature, His intentions, His abilities, His power, or now even His existence. “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Or they have listened to false teachers with an agenda of self-gratification, selfish ambition or worse. Such false teachers are going to their well-earned destruction; do not go with them!
Would you reject a teacher who wants to do good for you, just because one of his students said bad things to or about you? Do not reject a God who loves you just because someone ‘claiming’ to know Him does something bad!
My heart aches for so many who are separated from The God Who Is, who has revealed Himself most clearly in Jesus, the Christ (or Anointed One). He does not want anyone to miss the eternal life with joy unspeakable and full of glory, a life without pain or disease or death or separations. However, He will not force anyone to trust Him – it must come from our choice of who to believe: the devil whose only goal is to steal and kill, or Him whose only desire is to bring more abundant life. He leaves that decision up to each of us, and no one can force or convince another if they are unwilling to believe.
Jesus IS coming soon, and we do not know the hour or the day, suggesting that His “rapture” (or catching away) of the Church could occur at any time.
Some refer to the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church as a “secret rapture.” However, according to reliable resources there are more than 2,300,000,000 (2.3 billion) “Christians” in the world, making it the world’s leading religion. Add that it is the fastest growing religion, most of the new converts coming out of Islam according to Al-Jezeerah in 2020. Africa and the Middle-East are the fastest growing areas of Christianity, even though the risks of claiming to be a Christian are greatest there.
Grant that some so-called ‘Christians’ are weeds among the wheat, even if only half are true believers in Jesus, the instantaneous and simultaneous disappearance of 1,150,000,000 (1.15 billion) people collected from every nation on earth would constitute a global catastrophe unlike anything the world has ever seen! And this number could be a significant underestimate because of many “underground” Christians who cannot yet publicly claim the Name because of persecution. Imagine up to 2,000,000,000 (2 billion) people or more disappearing in the twinkling of an eye! This would hardly be a “secret rapture.”
This would instead be the most ripe situation imaginable for a “Man” to come onto the global stage, and with “ten horns,” or ten major world powers backing him, initiate a global authority to regulate emigration/immigration, establish peace in the world’s worst trouble-spot, Israel, and begin to institute a global digital currency. This global currency will not become mandated until three and a half years later when this “Man’s” false prophet comes onto the scene to enforce it.
By then it will be too late for tears, wishing you had put your trust in Jesus before this global currency is the only way to buy or sell. But it will still not be too late to put your faith in Him; it will just be much more costly, because you will not even be permitted to get groceries without a ‘Mark’ that will allow you to do so. And to get this ‘Mark’ you must swear allegiance and loyalty to the Man ordering it. Even if the false prophet, charged with excuting anyone refusing this “Mark,’ fails to find you, no one is going to help you out. But the promise Jesus gives is that some will refuse the ‘Mark” and be saved, though through death.
The Creator of life and all that you see in the universe would do anything to bring you into the Truth if you will trust Him. But He will not force anyone; He will not ‘prove’ Himself beyond what He has already done by raising Jesus from the dead.
The slogan of several universities around the world is The Truth Will Set You Free. However, this slogan is not really referring to scientific or mathematical, or even philosophical truth. It comes from the words of Jesus in John 8:32, where the whole quote is, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
My friends, the time is short until Jesus will return. I appeal to you, that if I am wrong and Jesus is not God, if He did not arise from the dead, if He is not coming back to take us to Heaven, then none of this matters. BUT, if what I have presented is true, the most important thing in your world is to know Him and be found in Him at His return.
“This I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us . . .
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by [Jesus,] a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.” Paul, on Mars Hill, Acts 17:24-30
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.“ (Ephesians 6:12)
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Just as in the story of Ezekiel 37 and the dry bones, you may sometimes feel disconnected, lifeless and despairing. But Jesus can bring your life back together. He can make even dry bones dance again.
So, don’t quit. Don’t give up. The One who reassembled the dry bones and got them moving again can do the same for you.
All of us need to be reminded, especially when life seems hopeless, of God’s plan to restore us and give us a second chance — a divine reset.
As Biden’s humanitarian and military crisis in Afghanistan proceeds, friends in Afghanistan are trying desperately to find a way out of the country, mostly over land into neighboring countries. Imagine thinking “escaping to Iran” would be an attractive option!
In spite of the small number of Afghani Christians, missions agencies report that for several years Afghanistan has had the fastest growing population of Christ-followers, second only to Iran. This story is from the son of an imam who hated Christians when he was 17, but found out that Christians were offering peace and life while the Muslims of whom he was part were threatening him with death for simply reading the Bible. The following is a transcript from a Christianity Today podcast called Quick To Listen. Good reading and information in Christianity Today.
‘My Heart Is Broken’: An Afghan Pastor Grapples with the US Withdrawal
America’s departure and the Taliban’s ascent is forcing Christians out of the country.
Morgan Lee, August 20, 2021
Taliban patrolling Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced that after close to 20 years, the United States would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan. Last week, as the military began its exit, the Taliban was ready and within days had seized control of the country. The ascent sparked widespread fear and led to thousands arriving at the airport only to find their flights out of the country had been canceled. Some even grabbed hold of an aircraft in desperation.
Biden defended the decision, arguing that Afghanistan’s leaders “gave up and fled the country.” He also said: “The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments in the past week reinforced ending that US military involvement Afghanistan now was the right decision.”
He did concede: “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.” As the government fell, it was not clear if the US had done anything to protect those who had worked with the military as translators. Plans to resettle Afghans as refugees seemed to be formulated in real time. The rights of women and girls, which were suppressed under the Taliban’s previous time in power, also appeared in jeopardy. And the lives of Christians, who according to official numbers only make up a minuscule number of the country’s nearly 40 million people, seem in peril as well.
David Paiman is an Afghan pastor and evangelist. You can follow his ministry here. Paiman joined global media manager Morgan Lee and news editor Daniel Silliman to discuss how he converted from Islam to Christianity, the withdrawal’s consequences for the church in Afghanistan, and how we can best support the country and people during this time.
The transcript is edited by Faith Ndlovu
Highlights from Quick to Listen: Episode #277
David Paiman: Thank you for your concern about Afghanistan. We are grieving and our hearts are heavy. We see the news that Afghanistan is blaring and everywhere in the street, we can see hopeless people are left behind. But we see the reality more when we talk to people inside Afghanistan.
I’ve been talking to many believers inside Afghanistan. They are crying out for help, and they are crying out for the American army, and some of them sent me a video of many women and girls.
They have been to the airport and they’re crying out to American soldiers to help them. They have been there to serve them and help them but that is over. What we are seeing is too much and my heart is broken.
We are here in America, we see what we see on Twitter or television, but generally speaking, what do you find that Americans don’t know about Afghanistan that you really want them to know? What do they maybe misunderstand about what they do know?
David Paiman: Americans should know about Afghan believers, those who have converted to Christianity. Their lives are in danger, especially for people who are registered as Christians in Afghanistan. There are about many families there and they already got their identity. Many other Afghan believers only registered but they don’t have their identity cards yet; it’s still being processed. Suddenly everything has turned in a different way and they are in desperate need of help. Many people just heard the Taliban say very good news using soft words to say, “we forgive everyone, and we will do our best to build the country.” That’s not the truth. The truth we heard from inside is that they are going from house to house to search for people. They have been to many Afghan believers’ houses, and they took their Bibles. Praise God that the Afghan believers were not at their home. But they’re still searching for them.
Did President Ghani’s government require Christians to register?
David Paiman: They were not required to register, but they registered for the next generation. They don’t want their children to be called Muslims, they want their identity to be Christian.
Is your religion something that is printed on your ID cards?
David Paiman: Yes. But what the system did, because they don’t like Christians, when they printed out the cards for Christians they print out “other.” If they print out “Christian,” they face trouble with their own family, they cannot go to the bank, they cannot get a license, they cannot get anything. In reality they are Christian but they print out “other,” not Christian.
So, this was a big step historically for people to start declaring themselves in this official way, that they’re Christian and making public their faith, sometimes at great risk.
Afghanistan is a big country. Was this happening in Kabul? Was this happening in the villages? Where were these Christians deciding to take the stand?
David Paiman: All the Christians that registered are in Kabul. Today I heard the news, which I hope is false news. But I heard that three Christian families were taken by the Taliban and their houses were burned. We don’t know where they are, but I’m not sure yet that that is exactly what’s going on there.
There are very few Christians that live in this country. How did people end up hearing the gospel?
David Paiman: There are a lot of Christians during these two, three years. I am in media and get many calls every day, at least 10 calls from Afghanistan.
They want to receive Christ. Many house churches inside Afghanistan have started sharing the gospel with each other. Some families have been openly sharing the gospel with people and others heard from media, from Facebook, YouTube, and TV. But whenever they receive Christ, we try to connect them with them to get discipled and to grow in Christ, inside Afghanistan.
Take us back to 2001 when America invaded, what was that like for you? What was that like for Christians in the country?
David Paiman: Yeah, that’s what I call false hope. I will never forget in 2001 when the American army came and took over, everyone was celebrating, everyone got freedom and people were praising and thankful to America. Exactly 20 years later we see what’s happening now.
Where were you living at that time?
David Paiman: I was in Saudi Arabia.
With the hope that you experienced, what did you think might happen?
David Paiman: The real hope is Jesus Christ. Afghanistan has been trying many ways to get hope, to get peace inside Afghanistan, but they did not try Jesus Christ. They did not try God. They did not try His love and His mercy. My prayer and zeal are to share Christ with them. They can receive Christ and they can get the real hope, the living hope that never ends.
How old were you back in 2001?
David Paiman: I was about 17 years old.
What did you hear about the American military during that time?
David Paiman: I was very excited because I was a Muslim from Hazara tribes. My tribe experienced the pressure of the Taliban, because mostly Hazara from Shiá Muslim and all Taliban from Sunni Muslim. I saw many Hazara killed by the Taliban in those times and when America came in 2001, I was so excited that we got freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of everything that we could practice in Afghanistan.
Did that happen when the US first showed up in the first year or two?
David Paiman: From 2001 to 2006 it was good. From 2006 to 2010 it changed a little. From 2010 to 2021 it was not a good situation in Afghanistan as well because the government was corrupt. However, America helped the Afghanistan government, the Afghanistan government did not do what they were supposed to do. I don’t want to go into politics. I’m angry with Joe Biden because he said Afghanistan was not willing to take care of their country, yet billions of dollars have been used to help them.
It’s painful that many Afghanistans leave it behind and now we see that Afghanistan is bleeding and people are crying out for help, but it’s because they don’t take care of their own country.
Talking about the issue of women and girls, how did you notice how they were treated before the Americans arrived?
David Paiman: The girls could not go to school and the women could not go out without any man and there was trouble. Now Taliban is a little bit different, but this morning I heard the news that the girls and the women cannot go out without any men. I don’t know what to say about the Taliban 20 years ago and now, I don’t think they have changed. It’s still the same, the Sharia never changes.
But under the past 20 years though, you saw girls going to school, which was not happening under the Taliban. And you saw way more women working?
David Paiman: Yeah exactly.
Did you have any women who were leading churches or doing evangelism, or did they show up in church leadership too?
David Paiman: Yes, my sister-in-law, who is leading a house church there under the men’s leadership. She tries to help other women, does Bible study with them, and leads them woman to woman and men to men; under the men’s leadership which is what the Bible says.
Now the fear is that the schools that were open to girls are going to be closed and as you said, women may not be able to leave the house without men?
David Paiman: Yes. They cannot leave the house without the men. A few schools are open, but only girls under 14 years can go to school. We don’t know yet about college. In Herat city last week, the girls were supposed to go to college, but the Taliban stopped them.
You mentioned that in 2001 you were a Muslim. How did Jesus find you?
David Paiman: I didn’t want to come to the faith. I hated Christians and didn’t want to be one because I’m from a very religious Muslim background.
My father was an imam. They taught me how to be a good Muslim. I have been to Mecca six times, and I practiced my religion very well because I thought the Muslim religion is the only religion, the only way to God. But after my sixth pilgrimage to Mecca, a stranger came to me from Syria and he shared his testimony, how he received Christ inside the Mecca, how he saw the vision of Christ during his pilgrimage in Mecca. That made me get angry with him. I tried to fight with him. I wanted to kill him. But after 45 minutes of our conversation, he asked me, “Would you please let me pray for you?”
I was very proud. I said, “Okay, you pray for me. I will pray for you.” When he started to pray, I closed my eyes to listen to him and it seemed that he knew my problem. He knew my heart. He knew that I’m searching for real peace and that prayer led me to Christ. After he finished his prayer, the big questions came to my mind.
I said, “If he is an infidel, how could he know my heart?” He then gave me a New Testament Bible. I read but I didn’t accept it because my father taught me that the Bible is corrupt.
Six months later I went to Afghanistan, and I shared this experience with my best friend. He then gave me a Bible in my language. He said not to worry about the New Testament I should just start from Genesis. When I started reading from Genesis, I knew inside my heart that something is true here because God Himself is reaching humans, to bring them back to Him. It was so clear to me that this is God Himself wanting human beings to come to Him. I then took the Bible from him.
I started to read the Bible in my city Ghazni, which is about 250 kilometers from Kabul, and I started comparing the Bible and Quran. With two of my friends, every day we started comparing the Bible and the Koran to try to find which part of the Bible is corrupt.
While I was still reading the Bible, I was still a Muslim practicing Muslim, and I got caught by the police because somebody reported that I was reading the Bible. They took the Bible from me. I found myself in the mosque and there were about 60 or 70 people there and they started asking me why I was reading the Bible. I argued with the imam and started asking him a question from the Quran himself, he could not answer me. He started a claim that he proved that I was a Christian. I was not a Christian. I was Muslim. I did not want to become a Christian.
They started beating me until I became unconscious. I then found myself in a police station. I gave them a lot of money and then I ran away from the police station. I went to Kabul. I was hiding in a safety house, which had a lot of Americans.
A lady from Canada who was a missionary helped me to escape from my country to India. I didn’t know she was a missionary at that time. In India, I met Afghan Christians and I was very angry with them. I started to fight with them. One of the guys I fought with is now inside Afghanistan and is sharing the gospel there.
Three months later, one of my friends had epilepsy. I called the pastor and his friend, and they came and prayed for my friend who had epilepsy. At that moment he got healed and I saw the power, actually, I felt the power. I knew then there was power in the name of Jesus. I went to the bathroom, and I received Christ and asked Him to come into my life and I received Him. I gave my life to Christ in 2008.
Why did you go to the bathroom?
David Paiman: Because I didn’t want to receive Christ in front of them because I didn’t want to become a Christian.
I didn’t want them to know that I am receiving Christ. I wanted to receive Christ very secretly.
How did that practically change your life in 2008?
David Paiman: On that night after I came out from the bathroom and had washed my face as I had been crying, I proceeded to make tea for my guests and the pastor knew something had happened to me. After the tea service, the pastor came to me and asked if he could pray for me.
I said, “of course.” He put his hand on my shoulder and started to pray. I started to cry and confess my sin. The next day everything changed. I felt different. I talked differently and everything changed in my life. I saw things differently. I could see people differently and I started sharing the gospel the next day, right away.
I started sharing the gospel with people. I told them only Jesus could save their lives. Only Jesus can give you peace only Jesus can give you hope.
When you started telling people did anyone believe you? Did anyone decide to learn more about Christianity?
David Paiman: At first believers didn’t believe me because I had been persecuting them.
They thought maybe I had come from the Afghan government because I had a very close friendship with the embassy. They thought maybe I was a spy from them. But later on, they believed me.
But yeah. I saw many people come to Christ in India. I received Christ in India in 2008.
And then you started telling people in India for many years?
David Paiman: Yes. I was in India for five and a half years, and then I moved to Indonesia. I was in Indonesia for three years.
We started house churches there and then we baptized about 72 Iranian people. During those three years, 17 Afghan Muslims converted to Christ, and we baptized them. In 2015, I moved to Australia. I started an Afghan church in Sydney, Australia till 2019.
In 2019, I moved here and now we have a ministry. We are helping refugees and we started our house church here in Memphis, Tennessee.
What do you find about God or Jesus resonates with Afghans? What do they love about Christianity?
David Paiman: I heard many people like my friends, especially here saying they see the reality of love in Christian life.
They love you unconditionally. They don’t expect you to do something. They love you just as you are. In Afghan culture when you love some people you expect them to love you back but many of them say they see true love here in American people and Christian people.
That love has now opened the door for us. We can share the gospel with our Afghan friends here.
What’s your sense of what American Christians should be doing out of love right now?
David Paiman: For me, all Christians should practice at least two things, go, and give. If you cannot go, you should give. If you’re a believer, you have to share the gospel, go, or give, giving and supporting it’s all the one part. Christians in America can also pray and help financially. Send them food to eat. This morning I talked to one leader and he’s ready to go to Christ and what he asked me was, “after I go will you please take care of my family.”
He shared Philippians 1:20 (Phil 2:20) which says, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He said, “to die, I get my life. I start my life with Christ” and that encouraged me. The only thing for me is the burden of his family. He has given his life to Christ.
I have a burden in my heart to take care of his family and it’s the burden for all Christians in America and to cry out to God and pray for them. If you know people in Afghanistan help them out of Afghanistan. That’s the greatest help.
So, you would say American Christians should also support welcoming thousands of refugees here.
David Paiman: Exactly.
What type of long-term impact do you think that the withdrawal will have on the mission field in Afghanistan?
David Paiman: To help Afghan believers inside of Afghanistan. The missionary can easily come out of Afghanistan, but Afghanistans are left behind.
If they are discipled well, they can share the gospel inside Afghanistan. That for me is long-term, helping Afghan Christians inside Afghanistan. It should start from inside of Afghanistan not from outside Afghanistan, that’s my opinion.
Because now Afghans will be leading these churches, not foreigners?
David Paiman: No, Afghans should start leading the church. They should start discipling people and that’s all Afghans are doing now.
How do the Christians that you meet find Christianity? Who tells them about it?
David Paiman: It’s mostly from media, from Facebook, YouTube, radio, TV, those are the four sources that we have inside Afghanistan. Now it’s not too difficult we can give them the bible. When they’re sleeping in the bed, they can hear the gospel, and no one can stop that.
This past week has been demoralizing. How has it affected your faith in God?
David Paiman: Whenever I talk to believers inside Afghanistan, I find that their faith is very big and mine is very low, and they give their life to Christ. Jesus said, “if you don’t take your cross, you are not worthy to follow Me, if you don’t confess Me in front of people, I will not confess you in front of My Father. That’s exactly what they are doing now. They took their cross willingly and they tried to come under the grace of God, joyfully give their life to Jesus.
Daniel Silliman: Yeah. That’s compelling, that’s what we all believe as Christians and that’s our call daily to take up our cross and the challenges that they’re facing are serious. Thanks for sharing that with us.
David Paiman: The other thing that American believers and Americans should know is this word about the church. In Afghanistan, people know they are the church, and they understand that. But here, mostly most of America, they say the building is a church. There is a building with a cross on it that’s what they call church but, in Afghanistan, the real church is going on.
I’m so encouraged by their ministry.
What are you praying for as you speak to people back in Afghanistan and Afghans here?
David Paiman: To be honest in the first two, three days, I didn’t know how to pray, and I could not pray because my heart was so heavy and when I saw the news, I was so upset with Americans, I was so upset with the missionaries. I was so angry and that’s my human nature. I could not pray but praise God when I talked to them, they encouraged me. They said, “Jesus is with us now.” Now my prayer for Afghanistans, especially for believers is for the grace of God to be always over them because they cannot do anything out of the grace of God. With the grace of God, they can do all things. That’s my prayer.
As we close our conversation, is there anything else that you would like our listeners to know, any information you’ve heard from your friends and family back in Afghanistan that you want to share, or anything we didn’t ask you about?
David Paiman: Yeah, please pray for believers. They are leaving the country, especially pray for two families who just arrived in Pakistan, three families that are in Iran now, and four families that are in Tajikistan. Please pray for them and specifically pray for four families inside Afghanistan. I think I already mentioned their life is seriously in danger.
In their new countries, what should we pray for them, that they get connected to a church community and build their lives someplace new?
David Paiman: Yes, we are praying for them to make contact with other believers at churches and their second countries. Pray for us here that we can make decisions wisely and that we don’t give them false hope or false promises.
Would you be willing to end our show in a word of prayer?
David Paiman: Sure.
Dear Father. You are a good father. I know you know everything about my country. You love my people. You love the Taliban. You love even the people persecuting us. Lord. You command us to love them back. Please help Afghan Christians, especially those inside the country to love them and share your words with them. Lord, I pray for your protection over believers inside Afghanistan I pray for my people, they’re hopeless. They just see the darkness. Lord, I pray that your light will shine on them. Open their minds and their hearts to see you and to see that you love them to see that You died for them. Lord, open their eyes so that they can taste and see that you are a good God.
You are a merciful, God. Lord, I pray for the American army in Afghanistan. I pray that you protect them from evil. Help them, give them the wisdom to choose the right people, and bring them out. Lord, I also pray for my brothers and sisters outside Afghanistan. I pray for the churches. Thank you for my spiritual family here, Lord, they encourage us. Lord. I pray that you give them wisdom and knowledge to help us in Your way, not in their way. Thank you, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Five Times August is the name of a solo music project by Dallas, Texas independent singer/songwriter/guitarist Brad Skistimas. Another one on this same theme entitled Jesus, What Happened To US?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPzc8ROZEjU.
Lock down all towns
Everybody slow down
Give ’em everything you have
Mask up, vax up
Get your body trashed up
Better do what they ask
It’s alright, okay
Sorry, but ya can’t pray
Gotta keep the church doors closed
A saint politician
Will tell ya what you need to know
And brand new rules
Make everyone a hero now
So keep your distance
Only do what you’re allowed
Cash that check
Go dance in the wreck
But just don’t speak your mind
Get your facts from the paid contracts
‘Cause never would they tell a lie
They don’t know me
And they don’t own me
Oh God help us all
Look what we’ve become
Oh God help us all
And fix what we have done
See no evil
Bow to the needle
Didn’t we turn out great?
Sick is the new health
Poor is the new wealth
Truth is whatever they say
Tell me who to love and hate
Jail in the network
Hail to the Zuck-burg
Head down, just behave
Liberty, freedom, angels, demons
Someone’s in control
(Well) no way, no how
I wouldn’t say it too loud
Don’t you know they’re on patrol?
Need more likes
Post up, let’s fight
There’s no way that you’re wrong
Gott listen to the science
‘Cause it’s all about compliance
You agree or you’re gone
They don’t know me
And they don’t own me
Oh God help us all
Look what we’ve become
Oh God help us all
And fix what we have done
Sell my info
Hacked in, don’t know
Show me what I need to buy
Sex consumption, no corruption
Just as advertised
You’ve been labeled
And I’ve enabled
Time to organize
Shot, bang, who’s next?
Brain dead, useless
Show it on the TV screen
Tell me who to vote for
Gotta to start a new war
Wouldn’t want to live in peace
Divide and Conquer
Weak, not stronger
Everybody know your place
Do it now, won’t hurt
Dig into your own dirt
Virtue found it’s grave
They don’t know me
And they don’t own me
Oh God help us all
Look what we’ve become
Oh God help us all
And fix what we have done
Won’t you guide us?
You know what is best
For our own good
Anti-this and anti-that
Cancel this and cancel that
Take it to the streets
And the neighborhoods
Food and drugs
Give them your blood
Don’t believe your eyes
Don’t look around
Fake news, rumors,
Ignorance will stain our future
Will ya make it through
Or burn it down?
Oh God! Oh God! Help us all! Oh God! Help us all!
One year after the Beirut blast, a Lebanese Evangelical Christian reflects on the devastating explosion that left 300,000 homeless. by All Arab News Staff, August 4, 2021
How did Christian ministries respond to the crisis then? How should we be praying for the people of Lebanon today?
The following article was written by a Lebanese Evangelical Christian who lives and works in Beirut but is currently studying in the U.S. Because of the sensitive nature of the political and religious situation in Lebanon, the author’s name and organization are redacted.
BEIRUT, LEBANON – For every resident in Lebanon, and every Lebanese around the world, 6:07 p.m. on Tuesday, August. 4, 2020 marked the darkest day they can recount. Every person on Lebanese soil collectively experienced the largest non-nuclear explosion in history.
The blast nearly destroyed their capital. It killed 218 innocent civilians. It drove more than 300,000 individuals into homelessness. And left an entire nation traumatized.
Whatever you read about this day after the passing of 365 days, and whatever we all try to communicate about the tragedies of what happened a year ago, it is so difficult to explain the heartache of our people. We will never be able to relay the permanency and gravity of the loss, hurt and grief that millions of Lebanese continue to live in while also still living under the same ruling class responsible for the tragedy.
Not much has been done to bring justice to a nation that has been left to bleed economically, humanitarianly, socially, emotionally and politically since then. Facts about the cause of the blast are scarce. The site of the explosion remains an abandoned crime scene that leaves many questions unanswered for the families of the victims and for the Lebanese people as a whole. Most Lebanese who work in Beirut have to drive by that crime scene on a daily basis, reminded that somehow their lives must continue despite the heartache.
Many surveys are circulating across social media platforms about the effects of PTSD on those who survived, about survivors’ guilt, about mental health awareness and psychological support. These questionnaires only try to quantify the grief and categorize it into digestible pieces. But the Lebanese people still wake up the next morning to an ever-deteriorating Lebanese lira, scarcity of fuel, power outages, medicine shortages, and the complete dismantling of their quality of life.
The organization I work with here in Lebanon had offices less than three miles away from the epicenter of the blast. Most of my colleagues live within that same radius of the blast and can share individual experiences of loss on that day.
One team member shares about the miraculous way she was spared by running late to a wedding that she was going to attend less than a mile from the explosion that evening. A number of team members suffered damages to their apartments, and many more lived through the horrifying experience of long hours of survival check-ins from friends and family hearing news after news of whether the people they knew were dead or alive. As one team member explained it so well: “The explosion did not happen at the Beirut port. It happened inside every single apartment in Beirut.” What happened on August 4, 2020 literally extended to each of our team’s homes.
For me personally, it had been exactly a week since I left Beirut to return to the U.S. to pursue further education. I had argued with my dad for days to move my travel date forward from August 4 to July 29. He finally agreed. But if I had not won that argument, I would have been driving along that same route on that same day headed towards the airport.
I still remember so vividly on August 5 that our managing director gave a tearful message while addressing the entire staff as Arab Christians from all over Lebanon came to support the response on the ground in Beirut. It was so encouraging to see this response – it was organic, it was raw and it was difficult because it was the first time that every person working was both a victim and a first responder.
Our organization’s teams spread out across the city to spend the first several days cleaning up debris wherever there was a need. It soon became more evident, however, that our ministry was best positioned to respond to churches that were damaged or destroyed, Christian schools that were affected and any Christian families that were connected to either one of those two categories.
A week after the blast, we organized a team to venture into a new project, assessing material damage that was caused to the apartments of families that were referred to us by church members or affiliated Christian schools. The team quickly noticed that the immediate need was to secure apartments and to try and restore a sense of safety for families to be able to retreat to their own home with a peace of mind that, at the very least, they had a secure front door and that their windows were sealed. Therefore, the first response was to hire contractors who would ensure that all doors and windows of damaged apartments be restored for safety and security reasons. The work had to be done fast as families were pressing through their trauma and leaning heavily on us for emotional and physical support.
One of my colleagues told me a story from those intense days: “During our visit, the wife was in her living room watching TV as she prepared a traditional Lebanese meal for her family. When her husband started telling us about what happened on the day of the explosion, the wife started to get emotional. She got so emotional and repeatedly kept saying how she still could not believe that her husband is alive. She said, ‘He was so close to the explosion, it all happened in a matter of seconds. I called him several times, but he didn’t answer, so I assumed the worst had happened. Two hours later, I was breaking down. Nothing was clear. The whole country was in shock, and watching the news wasn’t giving me any answers. Then my husband called suddenly. I thanked God a million times for protecting him. If you knew how close he was [to the blast] you’d definitely understand what I went through.”
We knew exactly how close her husband’s work was to the explosion since we knew her husband very well. He was only a few feet away from where nearly 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate had exploded, and in the most crowded street that contains many restaurants, shops and old historic neighborhoods.
Every family that our team visited to pray with and encourage had a miraculous testimony of God protecting them. The losses “should have been far greater,” said one team member to me. “When you walk along every street, and you hear the clinking of glass, and see the mass destruction that ripped through an entire city, and that was heard across the country, and realize how the Lord protected so many, you cannot but declare it a miracle.”
A week after the blast – and after seven straight days of picking up glass and salvaging people’s belongings from whatever was left, for 10 hours every day – our team gathered and sang songs of praise in the damaged living room of one family. A team member shared with me that it was at that moment that the tears came rushing through. The shock had subsided, and the tears did not stop. Everyone, however, seemed to come out of the shock and began to grieve at different speeds.
At one point early during the crisis, the founder of our organization prayed with leaders from across the nation to seek God’s wisdom and guidance in how best to make a difference, saying, “We should all allow ourselves to cry, but the hardest thing for me has been my inability to do so. I have been asking God repeatedly, ‘When God? When will those tears come rushing down? When will I truly be able to feel again after this paralyzing shock?’”
Sometimes, not becoming too emotional too quickly was a good thing. After all, with every apartment that our team entered, the more tragic stories we saw and heard.
One team member shared with me his concerns before going in to meet the first devastated family. He said he did not feel prepared to handle what he knew would be the needs because this was a community that was deeply scarred by the Lebanese 1975 war and now has compounded trauma. He was expecting to see resistance, bitterness, rage and a rebellion against God. However, he said that in every encounter it was as if the Lord had gone before them and people’s hearts were somehow ready to give praise to the God of miracles for whatever they had left.
After doors and windows were sealed, Christians rallied to rebuild churches. Schools were repaired and began to function again. But our team of Lebanese Christians from all over the country knew that they were not ready to leave yet. The financial and economic situation in Beirut remains unbearable. Families have not been able to recover since the blast as the economy continues to get worse. We have provided food and hygiene supplies to many families, but there is still so much more to do.
Today, my Lebanese Christian colleagues and I do not celebrate the efforts or accomplishments or initiatives that God has allowed us to be a part of to help those in need after the Beirut port explosion. We cannot because we see so many man-made atrocities and negligence. We are glad to assist local churches, but so many challenges remain here in Beirut.
Still, we do praise God for every survivor, for every story that points to the faithfulness of God who is merciful and who heals. We praise God, not for restoration of windows and doors, but rather of people and souls. Yet, my colleagues and I are still grieving.
We know of three young children who lost their mother in front of their eyes. We know a young man whose only mistake was that he was lying in his bed and died due to the injuries he sustained. It is hard to find goodness in the midst of evil and to see hope in the midst of despair.
Yet, we are grateful that the Lord is working in small ways. We are grateful for the hundreds of families we were able to assist with more than 8,000 packages of food and other essential supplies. We are grateful for the hope that Christian and Muslim families found as we cared for them and showed the love of Jesus Christ in tangible and meaningful acts of service. We are grateful, too, for the residents of the 95 apartments, 19 churches and six schools that our organization was able to come alongside to love, encourage and assist.
Above all, we are grateful for the ways that many other Christians demonstrated Christ’s abundant love, mercy and grace to the people of Lebanon who live to tell the heart-wrenching stories of Aug. 4, 2020, and for the many miraculous stories of that fateful day.
Will you join us in continuing to pray faithfully for the people of Lebanon, a country we love so much?