Compiled by Lisa Phillips of OpDeepState.com
Syrian Christians Look To Assad Regime For Protection From Jihadis
March 25, 2018
by John Hayward
Al-Monitor delivers one of the most sobering assessments of the bloody mess in Syria to date, as author Edward Dark returns to his hometown of Aleppo for a look at the plight of the dwindling Christian community, and finds them turning to dictator Bashar al-Assad for protection from the jihadis fighting to overthrow him.
The Syrian Christian community has always been an under-reported element of the civil war. Assad was inflicting gruesome horrors upon his citizens long before he uncorked his first tank of chemical weapons, taking him across a humanitarian “red line” that the world could not ignore, in part because that red line was meant as an excuse for ignoring atrocities the civilized world is not supposed to tolerate. Once the WMD forbidden zone was entered, it was no longer possible to overlook the lesser evils. The Syrian rebellion, on the other hand, began as the heroes in the Western world’s favored narrative of resistance against tyranny, only to be revealed as a jihadi jungle in which effective “moderate” forces that could be safely armed from the arsenal of democracy were hard to find. No one enjoys choosing sides in a conflict between villains and monsters.
Caught in the crossfire from Day One were Syria’s Christians, a minority Assad went to some lengths to protect. Dark interviewed a Christian community leader in Aleppo named Abu Fadi, and he was blunt about the situation his community faces: “There is no question at all about whom we support: the government, of course. It is the only force protecting us from the jihadists and extremists.”
Abu Fadi explained that resistance to the Assad regime was founded upon solid complaints at first, featuring protests against corruption and calls for reform, but the Christians soon concluded it was really about extremists seeking to take power for themselves, no matter how much damage they inflicted upon the country. “They soon showed their true faces, the religious extremism they were hiding. Anyone who took up arms against the state is wrong,” he declared.
He denied the notion that all the trouble is coming from foreign infiltrators such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, noting that local rebel units have also destroyed Christian homes and churches, and not just as collateral damage from shots fired at government forces. “They want to get rid of us, drive us from our lands that we have inhabited for centuries,” he asserted. “They have destroyed churches. Look at Kassab and Maaloula, do you need further proof?”
He’s referring to two towns where Syrian rebels drove out Christian populations. Kassab’s Armenian Christians say Turkish troops stood by and watched while Islamist rebels overran the town. Maaloula was reduced to rubble in the struggle between rebels who made a point of desecrating its historic churches, and Syrian government forces who presented their recapture of the city as evidence of Assad’s determination to protect religious minorities.
Unable to form their own effective militia units, as the Assyrian Christians have done, Aleppo’s Christians see enlisting with the Syrian military as their only option for self-defense. They appear acutely aware of how the outside world views them for throwing in with Assad. Dark’s narrative of Aleppo mentions that regime troops have been accused of looting towns they liberate from jihadist forces, but this is considered merely “annoying” compared to what rebel forces are prone to do when occupying Christian areas. The people he spoke with said they felt as if the very existence of their community was threatened, in a way no one could recall from before the rebellion began. They have memories of oppression, reminiscing darkly about times when it was extremely unwise to speak out against the government, but there is a difference between oppression and annihilation.
President Assad Fighting Against Christian Genocide in Syria
Watch the video on Vimeo: President Assad Fighting Against Christian Genocide in Syria
Apostle Paul’s Conversion Story
On the Road to Damascus Paul Made a Miraculous Turnaround
December 21, 2017
Acts 9:1-19; Acts 22:6-21; Acts 26:12-18.
Paul’s Conversion on the Road to Damascus
Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee in Jerusalem after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, swore to wipe out the new Christian church, called The Way. Acts 9:1 says he was “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” Saul obtained letters from the high priest, authorizing him to arrest any followers of Jesus in the city of Damascus.
On the Road to Damascus, Saul and his companions were struck down by a blinding light. Saul heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4, NIV) When Saul asked who was speaking, the voice replied: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:5-6, NIV)
Saul was blinded. They led him into Damascus to a man named Judas, on Straight Street. For three days Saul was blind and didn’t eat or drink.
Meanwhile, Jesus appeared in a vision to a disciple in Damascus named Ananias and told him to go to Saul. Ananias was afraid because he knew Saul’s reputation as a merciless persecutor of the church.
Jesus repeated his command, explaining that Saul was his chosen instrument to deliver the gospel to the Gentiles, their kings, and the people of Israel. So Ananias found Saul at Judas’ house, praying for help. Ananias laid his hands on Saul, telling him Jesus had sent him to restore his sight and that Saul might be filled with the Holy Spirit.
After his conversion, Saul changed his name to Paul.
Lessons From Paul’s Conversion Story
Paul’s conversion showed that Jesus himself wanted the gospel message to go to the Gentiles, quashing any argument from the early Jewish Christians that the gospel was only for the Jews.
The men with Saul did not see the risen Jesus, but Saul did. This miraculous message was meant for one person only, Saul.
Jesus did not distinguish between his church and his followers, and himself. Jesus told Saul he had been persecuting him. Anyone who persecutes Christians, or the Christian church, is persecuting Christ himself.
In one moment of fear, enlightenment, and regret, Saul understood that Jesus was the true Messiah and that he (Saul) had helped murder and imprison innocent people. Despite his previous beliefs as a Pharisee, he now knew the truth about God and was obligated to obey him. Paul’s conversion proves that God can call and transform anyone he chooses, even the most hard-hearted.
Saul of Tarsus possessed perfect qualifications to be an evangelist: He was versed in Jewish culture and language, his upbringing in Tarsus made him familiar with the Greek language and culture, his training in Jewish theology helped him connect the Old Testament with the gospel, and as a skilled tentmaker he could support himself.
When retelling his conversion later to King Agrippa, Paul said Jesus told him, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14, NIV) A goad was a sharp stick used to control oxen or cattle. Some interpret this as meaning Paul had pangs of conscience when persecuting the church. Others believe Jesus meant that it was futile to try to oppress the church.
Paul’s life-changing experience on the Damascus Road led to his baptism and instruction in the Christian faith. He became the most determined of the apostles, suffering brutal physical pain, persecution, and finally, martyrdom. He revealed his secret of enduring a lifetime of hardship for the gospel:
Question for Reflection
When God brings a person to faith in Jesus Christ, he already knows how he wants to use that person in service to his kingdom.
Sometimes we are slow to understand God’s plan and may even resist it.
The same Jesus who rose from the dead and transformed Paul wants to work in your life too. What could Jesus do through you if you surrendered as Paul did and gave him complete control of your life? Maybe God will call you to work quietly behind the scenes like the little known Ananias, or perhaps you’ll reach multitudes like the great Apostle Paul.
Source: Apostle Paul’s Conversion Story