Arrested for Speaking the Truth

On Friday 23 April, Pastor John Sherwood, the minister of a north London church, was preaching the gospel in the centre of Uxbridge (in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s constituency).

Several police officers arrived on the scene and a conversation with Pastor Sherwood ensued. When he refused to stop preaching and come down from the steps on which he was standing, a police officer took away the Bible in the pastor’s hand and pulled him from the steps. Three officers quickly gathered around the 70-year-old minister, handcuffed and arrested him and took him to a detention centre near Heathrow Airport, where he was kept overnight and not released until around noon the next day.

You can read an account of the arrest in this article written by Peter Simpson, who was preaching with the pastor at that time.

In the article, Mr Simpson asks, ‘what kind of nation have we become that the minister of a Christian church is arrested for upholding in the public square the very truths which Her Majesty the Queen promised to uphold in her Coronation Oath in 1953, with a Bible in her hand?’

Pastor Sherwood had been proclaiming the truth of Genesis 1:27, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. A few days later, Maya Forstater, a former think tank researcher fired over ‘trans-critical’ tweets, was back in court to defend her right to free speech. She had lost her job at the Centre for Global Development after tweeting her opposition to gender self-identification, and stating that ‘men cannot change into women’. It may be several months before a judgement is made.

Christian Couple Under Death Sentence for Six Years to Face New Hearing

Pakistani husband and wife Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Masih, both Christians, were sentenced to death on 4 April 2014 on a charge of blasphemy. They had been convicted of sending blasphemous text messages to an imam from a phone number registered in Shagufta Kausar’s name.

Now, on 3 June, a final hearing of their appeal will take place at Lahore High Court. The couple are to be represented by Saif ul Malook, who successfully argued for Aasia Bibi to be acquitted of a blasphemy charge in January 2019. Justice Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, who upheld Aasia Bibi’s conviction before it was overturned by the Supreme Court, will preside over the division bench hearing the case.

Please pray for justice to be done and for Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Masih to be freed.

For further background, see articles from the Express Tribune and the BBC.

Update

3 June 2020: The appeal hearing has been delayed, with a new date yet to be announced.

Intolerance – in the United Kingdom and Cambodia

Rev Ross Rennie, Director of Grace Missions, recently wrote to Mrs Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He assured her of his prayers, and those of many other Christians, regardless of political views or affiliation, who accept the authority of the Bible’s injunction in 1 Timothy 2: 1-2 to pray for all who are in authority. He wrote,

You are my prime minister and as long as you decide to keep your position I and the true Christian church of Jesus Christ will pray for your protection, for wisdom for our nation, to heal the wounds and rebuild this country, to root out bigotry and hatred in our nation, so as an Englishman I and others can be proud again of our nation and our democracy.

Ross also alerted the Prime Minister to two dangers which cause him great concern.

The Intolerance of the British Media

In his letter to Mrs May and another to the Director General of the BBC, Ross expressed his disappointment and anger at how the BBC has abandoned the value of impartiality with which it was founded and has become a platform for elitist, anti-Christian, anti-Brexit views. This is symptomatic of the way our news media have been corrupted.

To quote The Christian Institute,

The BBC has openly mocked the beliefs of millions of Christians and others with socially conservative views in its election commentary.

During an interview on Monday morning, Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys laughed at former MLA Nelson McCausland when he stated that the DUP’s policies are “compassionate”.

The BBC also ran a sizeable feature highlighting mockery of the DUP’s socially conservative values by various satirists.

Other media outlets have attacked the party for its views on sexual morality and marriage in recent days.

Telegraph columnist Dr Tim Stanley said the hostility shown towards the DUP because of its stance on same-sex marriage and abortion shows that mainstream Christian beliefs have become toxic in politics.

Writing about the resignation of Tim Farron as leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, who said, “To be a political leader… and to live as a committed Christian… has felt impossible for me”, Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, said,

“Tim Farron’s treatment demonstrates that Christians are simply not tolerated by the illiberal elite in positions of influence. This, alongside the widespread reaction to the DUP’s views on abortion and same-sex unions, is further evidence of this anti-Christian morality.

“The vilification of the DUP for its opposition to abortion and same-sex unions and castigation of Tim Farron is shocking and upsetting. If we continue in this crusade of ‘totalitolerance’, we will enter a harsh and conformist world where Christianity will be ‘no platformed’ and eventually squeezed out of every sphere of public life. The elite determines what are toxic unacceptable views. Unless you approve of their ‘new morality’ you are punished. At first comes the loss of privilege, a political position, a place at university, then the detriment: the refusal of a grant and ultimately criminal sanction.”

The Intolerance of Opposition in Cambodia

Ross wrote to Mrs May about the possibility of violence in Cambodia if the opposition party wins next year’s general election:

Many in Cambodia are very concerned about the possible actions of Mr Hun Sen, the Prime Minister, who has over many years marginalised all opposition even back to the time in 1997 when using his control of the army he ousted Prince Norodom Ranariddh when they were first and second prime ministers in a coalition government.

For many years Hun Sen has been seeking to neutralise the principal opposition party and he has made repeated threats that he will hold on to power, if necessary using military force, even if his party loses in the general election.

When Ross wrote to Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary, asking to discuss this with him, he was told he was too busy. Instead he was assured that the British government was giving money to Cambodia for election monitoring. Ross suggested to Mrs May that this was like giving money to Hitler to protect the Jews.

Alarm Bells

The alarm bells are ringing.

The tendency of the authorities in the United Kingdom seems to be to ignore them and only take action when it is too late, whether it is erecting barriers to protect pedestrians on London’s bridges or enforcing fire safety standards in high-rise buildings. Christians should be different.

  • It was said of the sons of Issachar they were “men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do….” (1 Chronicles 12: 32).
  • The Lord said to Ezekiel, “If the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.” (Ezekiel 33: 6)

Where are the watchmen? Who will speak up? Who will give a warning? What will you do?

Stand or Run?

Since 23 June, when I believe that God spoke about the destiny of the United Kingdom regarding Brexit, and on the night of the vote the shock and horror that went into the liberal left whose aims and objectives are totally anti-Christ, we have seen the twists and turns of the House of Lords and those with vested interests who really do not care about the British public or the wellbeing of this nation. The term for them is fat cats. These fat cats just want to get more and more and more wealth. I would be as strong to stay their father is the devil and we know what a liar and deceiver he is.

So we sit at the dawn of what I believe to be a new future for the United Kingdom. I also believe this is God giving our nation a last chance to redeem ourselves, owing to the fact that the spiritual leaders of this country did not stand up against the redefining of marriage. Their wimpish nature was to sign petitions at the back of their church buildings. We have the Archbishop of Canterbury now saying that if he is forced to marry a man and a man or a woman and a woman he will capitulate. God help us when we have leaders such as this. We have investigations going on in the world with the televangelists, who in my own personal opinion are a bunch of charlatans, and I am surprised that so many believers are mesmerised by these deceivers.My only consolation is when the Lord returns we shall all know the truth. Jesus our Lord Himself said,

My only consolation is when the Lord returns we shall all know the truth. Jesus our Lord Himself said:

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7: 22-23)

There are also many other verses in the word of God that state clearly about unfaithful servants. For example, read Matthew 24: 46-51 and Matthew 25: 1-13.

So it is very clear that we as leaders in the body of Christ must be very careful how we handle the word of God. I remember at Keswick 1984 the then Bishop of Chester Michael Baughen said, “The word of God is like a fire. Used correctly it brings life. Used incorrectly it burns.” I never forgot those words from such a wise bishop.

I am just glad that when the great and terrible day of the Lord comes and the dead are judged (Revelation 20: 11-15) and believers are judged (1 Corinthians 3: 10-15) that it is God who judges and not us. All I want to hear at the end of my life are the words of my Saviour, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your rest.” I hope like me you will hear the same words and not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine or the schemes of crafty men, as the apostle Paul once said.

Our main purpose on this earth is to lead as many as we can to the feet of Jesus our Lord and Savour. The decision they make is between them and the Lord. But I believe it is now time for true, Spirit-filled, Spirit-led Christians wherever they are in the world to stand up and be counted. We are the head, not the tail, and if we stand and allow injustices to go on around us we are as guilty as those who pass such laws. When I look back through history at Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and other writings, I see men and women of true faith who served the Lord in many parts of the world as missionaries even unto death.

What will you do for Jesus, stand or run? The choice is yours.

God bless you.

Rev Ross Rennie