Friday, November 30, 2018

A New Book is in the Works!

I am so excited to share with you that I am working on a new book.  Since the writing of my last book, "Nigerian Genocide," I have started and quit several books.  Life over the past few years has been nothing if not hectic.  I had to take a break from writing due to the enormity of what life was throwing at me.

But I have started writing again!  I am creating a Bible Study Series "Midnight Moments."  The first book in this series will be on Proverbs.

I am also looking at various options for publishing. A whole new adventure in itself!

What is exciting about this new series is that I aim to make it super accessible for all types of people but still keep it theologically deep.  So if you're a person on the go, or you're able to spend hours in study, you can benefit!  You go as deep as you want and as long as you want.  There will be media incorporated into it as well. I am super excited about it!

So why "Midnight Moments?"  Well, quite simply, I am a night owl!! I realized that I spent a lot of time reflecting on my day before I went to sleep.  And often, my family was long asleep before I even thought about going to bed (they are all early birds!).  After the past few years, I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on my life. So many lessons learned.  God has gifted us with experiencing a lot of life at early ages. It occurred to me that we often don't take the time to reflect and learn what God has been teaching us.  We are so busy trying to get through life that we don't take the time to really learn about life.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that many Bible studies do not spend time reflecting either.  So many great preachers and thinkers have influenced us through their reflections.  We should take time to do the same with our own lives.  After all, God speaks to all of us!  So I decided to create a Bible study that will not only teach but also reflect.

And it will meet the reader wherever they are in life.  Whether that is on the go, ten minutes or an hour, in-depth or on the surface, relational or theological.  I'm so excited about this book and the series that will develop from it!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Unwavering Convictions: Gao Zhisheng’s Ten-Year Torture and Faith in China’s Future

I have just completed this book, my first of Gao’s writings.  It is a definite read for those interested in human rights, religious freedom, and/or Christian persecution.  As a lawyer, and a Christian, Gao has dedicated his life to defending the rights of people in China.  Those actions landed him branded an enemy of the state.  That branding has put him in prison numerous times with countless bouts of torture.

Although this book deals with the torture aspect of his imprisonments, it does not stop there.  This glimpse into Gao’s life covers almost all the aspects of his experiences.  He talks briefly, but not into the gory details, of his physical torture.  However, he delves into the physical and spiritual aspects of the torture as well. 

Through this book, the reader learns to what extent the Chinese government will go to silence dissidents.  That extent is extremely far reaching.  Much like North Korea, the Chinese government won’t just go after the offending person.  It will go after that person’s family, friends and coworkers.  This book details exactly how suffocating that oppression is when you are the one under China’s microscope.

Through his eyes and conversations, you also get a glimpse into the lives of his captors, his torturers, his family, and his community.  Most importantly, the reader gets a glimpse into how the minds of the Chinese have been distorted by the policies and practices of the Communist government.

This book not only gives you an understanding of the atrocities the Communist government commits, it gives you an understanding of how oppressive the government is to all of its citizens.  Even those that are not being imprisoned and persecuted against are facing insurmountable obstacles that transform their morality and their psyche. 

Gao’s book demonstrates the complexity of Chinese society in a simple, easy to understand way; by simply telling his story.   By reading this book, you will see into the lives of those that are persecuted, and your view of China will be changed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Extremism, Human Rights, and Christians: A Small Glimpse into the DRC

World Watch Monitor: Reprinted with permission

Extremism, Human Rights, and Christians

We hear very little about the violence and persecution that goes on within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  It is in the top 10 countries for Catholicism (by population) and the first in Africa. Yet, the DRC is also known for its violence, corruption, and human rights abuses.

Formerly known as Zaire, the DRC has been riddled with violence and civil war.  From female genital mutilation to child soldiers and more, this country has seen little rest from violence.  Although democratic on paper, the country is struggling to actually be democratic.  It remains to be seen if the elections will be held properly and on time.  In addition, the government cracks down on political opposition, the media, and civil society groups.  Armed groups within the country attack civilians and reports are coming that the government attacks civilians too.  Islamists are fighting for control and rights are being violated on every side.

A new report by the UN Panel of Experts on the DRC discusses the presence of Islamist militants.  These militants are wreaking havoc in the eastern province of North Kivu.  There are numerous foreign armed groups that are entering the country and are responsible for “widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.”  The Allied Democratic Forces-National Association for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) is one of these groups.

The ADF-NALU was originally based out of Uganda and had the goal of overthrowing the Ugandan government.  Once overthrown, the ADF-NALU would replace the government with an Islamist state, and institute Sharia law.  However, the Ugandan government pushed the group out of its country and into the DRC.  Ever since, the group has been trying to rid the north-east area of the DRC of its Christians.  They rape, loot, kidnap, and murder.  This Islamist group was responsible for killing over 700 people since 2014, including hacking to death 36 Christians in August 2016.

That UN report covered 2016.  However, the violence has not quelled with the new year. In the first quarter of 2017, a rash of vandalism, looting, and arson affected the church of the DRC.  There were a total of 8 instances against the church and its property.  In addition to the attacks against the physical buildings and possessions of the church, 1 priest was kidnapped (and since released) and 25 priests were evacuated by the UN. Archbishop Pasinya told Aid to the Church in Need that "violent thugs" were sowing "terror among the Carmelite nuns."

In the DRC, it is sometimes unclear whether Christians are targeted for their faith or for their activism.  The Catholic Church is a heavy presence in the DRC.  Its stances on human rights are very public and strong.  The church often brokers peace agreements, helps mediate elections, and is outspoken about the atrocities committed within the country.  Because of the church’s involvement in politics and human rights, it is often attacked because of those things.  Therefore, whether they are being targeted because they are Christians who stand for justice, or because they stand for justice and happen to be Christians, can be confusing.  In either instance, however, it is apparent that Christians and churches are fair game for violence as they, and their religion, do not support the rebel cause in the DRC.

Archbishop Pasinya said “The material damage is considerable.”  He believes that the Church is “being targeted deliberately, in order to sabotage her mission of peace and reconciliation.”

Christians are not the only targets in the DRC.  As mentioned before, there are many armed groups in the country vying for control.  The UN received a report that in 4 days (February 9-13) soldiers killed 101 people during clashes with local militia members.

In March, 2 UN workers were also kidnapped, along with four citizens of the DRC.  These two men were in the Congo as part of a peacekeeping mission and to investigate possible human rights violations.  It had been reported that government soldiers had killed at least a dozen unarmed civilians, including children. It is suspected that these two UN workers were targeted because of their countries of origin: Sweden and the USA.  Although not related to Christianity, these two instances show the depths of the conflict within the DRC.

Christians within the DRC are not the only ones to experience the violence within the country.  They are, however, targeted.  They are targeted for their beliefs and for their actions upon those beliefs.  To stand for human rights and for peace, is to put a target on your back.