To escape war-torn Iraq, eight-year-old Halla Mahler and her family fled to Jordan, then Lebanon and finally to the United States, where an uncle had prepared their green cards.
“It was a very traumatic time,” she told God Reports. “I don’t remember much.”
After Covid, Halla, 48, her husband and two children are “closer to Jesus than ever.” They attend a church in Newbury Park that insisted it was an essential service and flouted bans on church services imposed by government authorities.
The masks and distancing rules killed the spirit at her former church, she says.
Halla was born into a small minority of Iraqi Christians who trace their beginnings back to Saint Thomas and have dwindled to about 500,000 in recent years. As a minority among hostile Muslims, her family feared for their lives constantly.
Halla was never allowed to play over at a friend’s house or in the streets because the threat was constant.
“My parents were afraid we would be abducted,” she says. “The Muslims would abduct the Christians. Historically in the Middle East there’s always been that battle.”
Raised at the time of the Iran-Iraq War, Halla never passed a day without sirens. She lived in Baghdad and day and night, awake or asleep, ran for cover whenever the sirens blared to the dugout beneath the house her father had dug. It was a tunnel of sorts that served as a bomb shelter.
One day, an Iranian jet flew over undetected by radar, so no sirens warned the people of its coming. Suddenly, Halla remembers, there was an explosion in the sky and debris fell on their roof. She doesn’t know if the Iranian jet was hit or if it was something else.
“They didn’t care if they bombed homes,” Halla says. “If they saw lights, they would bomb it.”
The dangers of the war and the dangers of Muslims terrorists weren’t the only hazards. The family feared Saddam Hussein himself, who had the custom of personally visiting schools and asking students what their parents thought of him. If the kids unwittingly responded unfavorably, a death squad was dispatched immediately.
“My parents would sit us down every day and coach us on what to say or not say if Saddam Hussein visited our school that day,” Halla remembers. “If we didn’t say exactly the right thing, we would be assassinated.” Read the rest: Halla Mahler Thousand Oaks
She was Bahai, he was a militant agnostic, they fell in love, what could possibly go wrong?
After declining the offer to receive Jesus at a friend’s church, Emily and Aaron Armstrong found out what could go wrong: a dark presence began to torment them.
“We would wake up in the evening and really feel like somebody else was in the house when there really wasn’t,” Emily says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “He’d wake up with scratches on his back that I didn’t put there. He’d be fighting in his sleep all the time. He’d be swinging his arms as if he was trying to fend somebody off.”
The demons – the presence – left when the Canadian couple accepted Jesus into their hearts. To get to the place where they grappled with demons didn’t take a pact with Satan. Actually, very prosaic events in Emily’s life led her the wrong way.
Despite having lots of Christian friends whose company she enjoyed and with whom she went to youth group activities, Emily didn’t receive Jesus.
She received Bahai, the Iranian-based hodgepodge religion of idealism. It believes that one day, we’ll all have one religion, one economy, one language and universal harmony and equality.
“Because I was a perfectionist, I thought this was a beautiful and wonderful thing,” Emily says.
After graduating from college, she dated Aaron, who was sweet and charming but was an unmovable agnostic. Emily thought that inviting him to enough events would convince him about Bahai, but he always took a dim view.
Not long afterward, Aaron got invited to a 10-week seminar on the basic doctrines of Christianity, and they attended because they didn’t want to make their friend feel bad. It was interesting, but Emily and Aaron politely declined the invitation to receive Jesus.
That’s when the presence showed up.
“Strange things started to happen,” she says. “We would wake up in the evening and really feel like somebody else was in the house when there really wasn’t. I wasn’t seeing things that weren’t there.”
The scratches on Aaron’s back in the morning were really bizarre. Why was Aaron flailing his arms, as if fighting someone off during his sleep? Read the rest: Bahai opened couple to demons
The dead bodies hanging by a noose on public streets and markets disturbed Ramin Parsa, a child growing up in Iran during the strict Shiite Muslim regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
“They executed people in front of children,” Ramin says on a video posted to his channel. “I could not eat for two weeks, I was so shocked.”
When Khomeini and the anti-American Islamic radicals staged a coup and ousted the Shah of Iran, they implemented a stringent form of Islam that included public executions of alleged enemies and self-flagellation while walking barefoot through the streets.
“The newspaper is Islamic. The media is Islamic. Schools are Islamic. Society is Islamic. Everything you can see and hear is Islamic,” he says. They want to dish in doctrine. They want to brainwash you. We had no magazines, no books. They showed the caricature of the Israeli soldiers, killing Palestinian babies and they sowed the seed of hatred in our hearts.”
Deeply motivated to live for Allah, Ramin went to the mosque every morning at 5:00 am for the earliest of five callings to prayer a day. Every morning at school, they shouted, “Death to Israel! Death to America!”
But when his dad died, life dried up for him. He was no longer able to go to school.
“I started questioning my faith,” he admits. “Is this really the truth that we believe? I started going down and down and down into hopelessness, into depression. I left all my friends. I left all my family. I left everybody that I knew and I locked myself in a dark room, turned the lights off and was thinking about past and present and future.”
Death haunted him after his father’s death. It haunted him because Islam offers no real assurance that you will be admitted into Paradise. The true Muslim is constantly warned to do more, to pray and fast — and even join jihad — to curry Allah’s elusive favor and be granted entrance into the afterlife..
“Out of fear I said, ‘What is gonna happen to me when I die?” he says.
Aside from the public hangings, he also saw men’s backs slashed and bloodied for drinking alcohol. Mohammad prescribed public punishments to instill fear in the populace.
The Revolutionary Guard routinely prowled the streets. If you were wearing a T-shirt with the image of someone, they took it from you and punished you. Islam stringently prohibits artistic renditions of any person or animal as a means to avoid people falling into idolatry. This is why so many of the earliest architecture has ornate geometric patterns but no other artwork.
“I came to the conclusion that Islam is empty,” Ramin says. “I said, ‘If there is no god, then who made this creation, who made the stars, who made the heaven, who made the humans? If there is a God, then why isn’t He helping us?”
In spite of it being illegal, every house has a satellite dish, which is a great alternative to the non-stop religious propaganda pumped out over government-run channels.
So he flipped on Trinity Broadcast Network. He heard about Jesus. Everything he heard through Islam about Jesus was contradicted: The Son of God did indeed die for our sins; he was more than just a prophet.
Importantly, he rose from the dead.
Ramin didn’t immediately believe. He had been taught it was “baloney,” so he turned it off. Read the rest: Who is Ramin Parsa?
After days of thanking the medical clinic doctors with canoes full of flowers or fish, the Manaos tribal leaders dressed in white sang praises to God in their native tongue to celebrate Sean Feucht’s baptism in the Amazon River.
“Dad put me under the water, and when I surfaced, I felt a profound sense of destiny and calling on my life,” Sean writes in the autobiographical Brazen: Be a Voice, not an Echo. “The presence of God fell heavily upon me in that moment. I had become new and everything changed.”
Worship has marked Sean’s life, ever since that moment at age 10 when he dedicated his life to Christ’s service deep in the Amazon jungle, in the hinterlands of Jim Elliot. He’s played his guitar to bring healing around the world and in the Oval Office.
Sean Feucht loved the outdoors in his birth state of Montana. His dad, a doctor, accepted a 75% reduction of salary to lead missions with Christian Broadcasting Network and the family moved to Virginia. Sean despised the balmy suburbia of his new town and felt disillusioned with the loss of the Rockies until he was taken to the rainforests.
It was Sean’s job to fish for the medical team’s meals as the boat tooled up and down the Amazon River. They ate rainbow bass and large black piranhas. His dad and the medical professionals applied the science of medicine to heal natives, and when science came up short, they prayed and witnessed miraculous healings.
His father’s “brazen” faith became a legacy for Sean.
At first, Sean’s heart was to be a quarterback in football and a guard in basketball. Being a worship leader was not on his radar. But when a worship leader cancelled for his dad’s home Bible study, Sean was called upon to fill the gap after only owning a guitar for three weeks and knowing only three chords and three songs.
“The night was an absolute train wreck. I continually broke out in a nervous sweat, strained my voice and broke not just one but two guitar strings,” he complains. “I was embarrassed and ashamed in front of 15 of my peers. I remember running to my room afterward, vowing that I would never lead worship in public again.”
Oh, the irony.
He got called on again and again to direct praise in front of people as the Bible study grew to 70 people. Fairly rapidly, he moved into leading youth group worship and then took over church worship. He led youth group and challenged his peers to pray for people in the local hospital’s ICU.
Also in high school, he met Kate, who became his wife. He attended a worship rally in Washington D.C. and won a state football championship.
Despite sport successes, what really pulsed through his heart was the lost. He compiled a list of the least-reached peoples on the globe: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The opportunity to visit Afghanistan came first. It was right after the terrorists had downed the Twin Towers in New York City, and Americans were fighting the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan, right where Sean, just out of high school, wanted to go with his father’s trusted missionary associate.
The U.S. State Department warned Americans not to go there. And the Afghan Embassy refused to grant him — or any American — a visa, “under any circumstances,” Sean writes.
But the team leader was used to obstacles and encouraged Sean to believe more in God than the gloom and doom of so many detractors. “God will make a way, brother!” he told Sean confidently.
Sean was learning to not be deterred. He visited the Afghan Embassy in person and got an interview.
What could go wrong with a blond-haired, blue-eyed 18-year-old leading worships in the mountains owned by the America-kidnapping Taliban? he asked.
The Afghan official couldn’t disguise his astonishment at the visa request.
“Are you truly willing to give your life right now because there’s a high chance of that if you go?” the official said.
Astonishingly, Sean declared he would not leave the embassy until the visa was granted.
Flouting conventional wisdom and doing the contrary of what everyone expects has been Sean’s trademark ever since.
In the isolated mountain villages, the team ministered to peaceful people in the Farsi dialect. Sean discovered that music was a universal language to bridge divides. “My guitar broke down all our walls and misconceptions about one another,” he writes.
The team had been sternly warned: Don’t spend a night in the village. Stay on the move. The Taliban would love to abduct an American and demand a ransom from the American government.
“But after spending all day building relationship, sharing stories, laughing and eating together, it was so hard for us to leave,” he writes. “Many nights, we were invited to stay at the home of tribal leaders.”
Sleeping on the roof to beat the heat, Sean would look at the stars and think of Abraham, to whom God promised to multiply his descendants to be as countless as the stars overhead.
God had done amazing things, and Sean expected to continue with God’s blessing as he carted off to Oral Roberts University. He had seen God move through his guitar in Virginia and Afghanistan, so he offered his services to the worship team at college.
No, was the reply.
It was not the only discouragement. He tried to get involved in missions. No was the answer.
In the dorm, his roommate, despite being at a Christian college, mocked Christianity and blasted explicit hip hop to drown out any praises Sean tried to strum.
“Nothing seemed to work out,” Sean says, and he mothballed his guitar under his bed. Read the rest: Sean Feucht Burn 24/7
To make their soldiers fearless, Mohamad Faridi’s Iranian superiors made them sleep in empty graves.
Since a boy, Mohamad was fervent Muslim, praying 10 times a day, way more than the regimented five times. But nothing could ease his fear of death and his apprehension that he might be judged unworthy of being admitted into Paradise beyond the grave.
“I was in a lot of despair, a lot of depression, and I was hopeless. The only hope I had was to die, so I contemplated suicide,” he says on a Your Living Manna video “But I was afraid because if as a Muslim you commit suicide you end up in hell.
“I was living in hell in this world.”
The Tehran-born boy was taught to never question Islam.
“I went to my mom and ask her, ‘Mom, does this god, the god of Islam, speak Farsi (the language of the Iranians)? Can I speak to him in Farsi?’ My mom said, ‘You do not want to be tormented by Allah. You do not want to be tortured by Allah. A good Muslim only surrenders, only submits.’
“From that moment on, I just put my blinders on.”
Mohamad memorized entire chapters of the Koran, washed himself religiously, prayed ritually and fasted during the 30 days of Ramadan.
But the question nagged him: Would he ever be good enough to merit Paradise?
Allah, according to the depiction, weighed your good actions against your bad actions on judgement day. Nobody ever knew for certain who would get into eternal glory and who would be cast into torment.
The Shia sect of Islam practiced in Iran also has the ritual of self-flagellation with chains containing barbs and knives. By drawing blood in penance, they hope to curry the favor of the imams in Paradise so that they may pray for their souls, Mohamad says.
“Someone recites a eulogy and provokes the crowd to beat themselves, weep and cry,” he explains. “That’s how we’re gaining points and how we punish ourselves that maybe one of these Imams would intercede for us at the day of judgement. We beat ourselves so much that we bruise and bleed with chains on our backs.”
At age 19, he joined the Revolutionary Army to fight in the decade-long war against Iraq. The nation’s imams said that it was jihad, or holy war, which meant that if anyone died in it, he would be taken straight to Paradise.
His uncle and brother were part of the mass deaths of Iranians, but Mohamad was spared.
Back from the war, he resumed his rituals of desperately trying to appease Allah. During one 10-day stretch of self-flagellation, he beat himself so badly through nine days that he could not rise from his bed on the tenth to carry on.
“I was so broken and I was so bruised that I could not get out and go beat myself more on the tenth day,” he recounts. “I was ashamed of myself. I said this is the least asked of me and I cannot fulfill that.”
Light finally broke into the darkness. Mohamad rekindled a childhood friendship with a friend named Rasul. He noticed Rasul was uncommonly light-hearted.
“What is going on with you? What is happening to you?” asked Mohamad.
Rasul responded that he became a Christian.
“That was the first time I was hearing about Christianity without bad-mouthing it or without saying that it is corrupted,” Mohamad remembers.
“God loved his creation,” Rasul said. For two hours, he elucidated the free gift of grace through faith in Christ and his death on the cross.
Mohamad raised every objection he had heard at home or in the mosque.
Rasul tired of two hours of arguing, so he said he needed to go.
“The last thing I’m gonna tell you is Jesus was beaten, he was bruised, he was crucified, his blood was shed for your sin so that you can have everlasting life,” Rasul said.
Then he quoted to him John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The concept of Jesus being beaten and bloodied instead of Mohamad beating and bloodying himself left him astounded. It was an utter contradiction of everything he knew from Islam.
It resonated deep within him, and Mohamad decided at the end to accept Jesus as his Savior and Lord.
In the wake of a recent hacker attack that shut down electricity in Ukraine, U.S. cyber experts have upgraded their warnings to utility companies about the potential of hostile nations to disrupt the domestic power grid.
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have been touring the nation giving briefings to infrastructure leaders about the potential for foreign hackers to surreptitiously bypass security measures, commandeer master controls and even wipe out systems.
In the case of Ukraine, cyber attackers linked to Russia crashed the power grid for several hours on Dec. 23rd leaving 289 cities and towns either completely or partially blacked out. At the same time, perpetrators bombarded and overloaded the phone response system with spurious calls to divert administrators’ attention and prolong the shut down.
The malicious software attack was seen as part of the military conflict in which Russia has supported the pro-Russian Crimean separatists of Eastern Ukraine.
Ultimately, the Ukraine restored power by manually turning on switches. In the U.S., such a solution might not be so simple because of the greater dependence on computer automation.
“It is only a matter of the ‘when’ — not the ‘if,’” said Mike Rogers, head of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, in a speech March 2, as reported by the Jewish Voice news. “We’re going to see a nation-state, group or actor engage in destructive behavior against critical infrastructure in the United States. Read the rest of the article.
Stuxnet initially breached Iran‘s uranium enrichment facility at Natanz by simply agents dropping an infected thumbdrive in the parking lot. Some knucklehead picked it up, connected it to a work computer, and the virus was in — and it throttled thousands of centrifuges out of commission before and after it was detected.
To avoid cyberwarfare attacks, the plant had been isolated by a “cyber moat” from the Internet. As it turns out, it wasn’t so difficult for CIA agents to leap the moat.
I know how to get behind enemy lines and thwart their plans even better. It’s called prayer. The Spirit, Jesus said, comes and goes without anybody being aware. It is the ultimate stealth weapon. When an outsider report from the 1980s affirmed no visible vestige of Christianity in China, still revival flames were burning, and no one was never able to snuff it out.
The devil suppresses our spiritual warfare when he lulls us into a drowsy contentedness and lotus satisfaction. He hypnotizes us with materialism, success and the good life. We are full and busy pleasing ourselves, so we neglect prayer. Who will win the war? It depends on IF Christians pray.