3-18-2016 9-38-27 AMI have been reflecting back on the fact that it has been five years to the day that I began the ride of my life as the publisher of Athens Now. March 18th, 2011 was the first time I stared down a Publication Week, and I was not sure I was going to get through it with my sanity intact, let alone the sanity of the precious crew that I inherited when Steve and I bought the paper.

For those of you who may be interested in what is known in the biz as the “back story,” Athens Now: Information and Inspiration was started in 2077 by Wayne and Deborah Huff. I began to write for them in 2010, doing the front cover advertorials, copy editing, and an occasional op-ed piece. In 2011, the paper came up for sale, and we just knew that this was the next step for us. All I knew how to do was write, and the rest of it– the “putting the paper to bed” stuff, came by trial, error, and what can only be described as “flying by the seat of my pants, and my pants are on fire,” as my WWII pilot daddy and I used to say.

The journey, as well as the nearly vertical learning curve, have been one of the most intense I have ever encountered, as well as one of the most satisfying. I get people coming up to me all the time, saying, “I read your paper from cover to cover, every edition.” I am humbled by that—I am so keenly aware of the fact that I could not do it without Steve, Deborah Huff when she was handling sales, our columnists, our supernaturally patient production guy, Jon Hamilton of Curb Appeal Graphics, my adopted kiddo Rachel Clark, who writes the Med Updates and does copy editing, Kevin Blurton of the Times Daily in Florence, and my spunky webmistress, Teddy Wolcott, and, well, just all of you. Most of all, I could not do it without my Savior, which brings me to the real “point of the Point.”

3-18-2016 9-39-02 AM

Spring has sprung, no doubt about it, and I, for one, am ready for it. As the trees along the roads and highways of North Alabama dance in the breeze, displaying their tender blossoms, the tulips and daffodils are pushing up, demonstrating that they are once again truly unstoppable, and there is no room for going back to the bleak doldrums of Winter. The weather responds to the “dance” by being wild, mild, and wonderful. Sometimes, like life itself, it becomes unmanageable, and there are voluminous lessons in that.

However, the true hope of Spring isn’t the fleeting visual pleasure of floral triumph against all odds; it is what happened thousands of years ago, first on Passover, and then, with the Resurrection. Against all odds, Israel escaped, and will escape again. Against all odds, our Savior escaped, and because of that, we can escape. One of my favorite Psalms says, “Our soul is escaped, as a bird, out of the snare of the fowler. The snare is broken, and we are escaped, our help is in the name of the Lord.” I would say that escape is one of the unalterable themes of Spring, and let us enjoy it with abandon.

We are observing political madness of historical proportions, the threat of nuclear attack, a global economic house of cards, and the strong possibility that it will get worse before it gets better, but, the true hope of Spring is that Someone thought we were dying for, and if we just cooperate with Him, live or die, we shall triumph. The Happiest of Springs and a blessed Resurrection to you all, my dear Athenians, and thank you for a fabulous five years!
3-18-2016 9-39-16 AM

3-5-2016 9-05-54 AMMy birth name is Alice, and as a kid I was often teased in a friendly manner by folks who called me “Alice in Wonderland,” a literary reference to the book written by Lewis Carroll about a little girl who finds herself in over her head and completely out of her element through no fault of her own. Though “Alice” was written as a satire against the British government, it went on to become a fairy tale whose most famous phrase was “Curiouser and curiouser.” The butchered use of English was described as being the result of Alice being so thrown by what she was seeing and hearing in Wonderland that she could no longer speak her native language well.

I think I am beginning to understand the plight of my namesake. The craziness of this Presidential election season makes me wonder at times if our culture has become one giant, corporate Mad Hatter, and if we have permanently fallen down a rabbit hole. Even when I went to vote yesterday, the people at the polls were saying that this was the strangest election they had ever seen. People are literally shaking their heads at the Trump phenomenon, and while everyone from pundits to preachers are trying to figure out what is going on, and are virtually stammering while doing so, I wonder if we are being shaken by God down to the foundations of our American Experiment.

3-5-2016 9-06-17 AM

We have an avowed atheist and socialist as a contender for the Presidency by the name of Bernie Sanders. I remember when he first announced his candidacy, I didn’t think he would last for two weeks against Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton, who at the very least should be in jail and making license plates for a long, long time, is actually lecturing us about being more loving. I am reminded of tales told by the Secret Service about ash trays being thrown by her at her husband, President Bill Clinton, while she was First Lady, and I wonder how she defines “loving.” On the other hand, one might think that Bill was getting off easy.

Then, we have an uber-crowded field of candidates for the Republican ticket, most of whom don’t seem to be actually running any longer, but who were all listed on the ballot. And for the first time in my life, the ballot was dominated by those running as delegates, who technically are in a position to pick the presidential candidates themselves. There is talk that if Trump actually wins the popular vote in the Primaries, the delegates may keep him from getting the nomination, and Mitt Romney, who, as far as anyone knows is not running, may be the one who is picked to go up against Mrs. Clinton.

Or, said another way, the guy that reflects the anger of the people and has no problem expressing it, may technically win the Republican nomination, but not be able to ultimately run against the former First Lady who is somewhat legendary for her anger. Then, again, the evangelical could go up against the atheist. Any way you look at it, we need to go on our faces and do some serious repenting that this is the state of our constitutional republic. As Alice said, “Curiouser and curiouser,” and that will only increase in the days ahead.
3-5-2016 9-06-38 AM

2-19-2016 9-12-15 AMWant some really good news? Want to know what is going on outside our country that should make you shout, (that is, if you are a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)? It is, that according to a book written by James Rutz, the fastest growing religion on the planet is NOT Islam in any form, radical or otherwise. No, every 25 minutes, there are approximately 175,000 new Christians who become what we in the South typically refer to as “born again.” However, it doesn’t stop there. These are people who are quite used to miracles, the kind you have read about all your life. The “problem,” if there is one, is that this phenomenon comparatively speaking is not happening on our soil, and we are going to have to, at some point, ask why that is the case.
Personally, I have a number of theories. One is that we have killed over 50 million of our pre-born citizens, and God does not take kindly to the shedding of innocent blood. We have become so dependent upon technology that we have nearly pushed God out of health and medicine, and we are perishing. Another is that we have gotten too fancy for our pants, and have told God what He does and does not do in our day. To try and assert that miracles are not for today is just plain folly, but I am not here to make anyone unhappy, or get into a theological throw-down; I am here to celebrate. I hope you will join me.

2-19-2016 9-12-25 AMAccording to Rutz, who has gone to great lengths to document that which he asserts, here is what is occurring all over the world. “Very few people realize the nature of life on Earth is going through a major change,” he writes. “We are seeing a megashift in the basic direction of human history. Until our time, the ancient war between good and evil was hardly better than a stalemate. Now all has changed. The Creator whose epic story flows through the pages of Scripture has begun to dissolve the strongholds of evil. This new drama is being played out every hour around the globe, accompanied sometimes by mind-bending miracles.”

I am forever grateful that I was never taught that miracles are not for today. I have seen them, and I have experienced them. I am grateful that I have lived on the foreign mission field, where they were nearly commonplace. I experienced them in Iraq, and in Africa, and you are not going to be very successful in getting me to re-interpret what I have known to be true for the last 45 years.

2-19-2016 9-12-43 AM

Rutz says further: “There will be pockets of resistance and unforeseen breakthroughs. Still, at the rate we are growing now, to be comically precise, there would be more Christians than people by the autumn of 2032, about 8.2 billion.”

More Christians than people? What a divine comedy, indeed! Rutz continued, “The growing core of Christianity crosses theological lines and includes 707 million born-again people who are increasing by 8 percent a year.” These are people who can only be described as being those “of whom the world is not worthy.” For now, they are largely underground in China, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. But make no mistake, if Rutz is right, we will live to see these things happen in our lifetime, and I for one am going to be one glad girl.
2-19-2016 9-12-56 AM

2-5-2016 3-21-15 PMWhen I was in Iraq, I was required to take training with regard to recognizing and reporting human trafficking. It was called TIPS, an acronym for Trafficking In Persons, and was developed by the State Department and the Army. What would happen, especially with companies outside of the US, was that when third country nationals would arrive, their passports were taken from them, rendering them essentially helpless.

I had staff from the Philippines as well as India, and heard horror stories about what it was like to work in the Middle East. Every single time I travelled through Dubai on my way back to the States, I would have a hotel staff person approach me and beg me to get them out. It turns out that Dubai is one of the busiest parts of the human trafficking pipeline, especially as it pertains to the sex trade.

2-5-2016 3-22-25 PM

Sadly, the State of Alabama has a new “title,” albeit a nefarious one. We are part of the biggest human trafficking pipeline in the United States, with the concentration being along I-20, particularly near Birmingham. We have a dreadful nickname: “The Sex Trafficking Super-Highway.” The purpose of this Publisher’s Point is to sound an alarm and to raise awareness. It is also to let you know that there are several fine faith-based organizations that are fighting back, and will give you an invitation to get involved, should you choose.

One of the most disturbing things about “the Super-Highway” is that it transcends those who are traditionally the most vulnerable, teens from broken homes, the fatherless who are looking for love in all the wrong places, or those who are struggling with drugs. The recruiting techniques are sophisticated, and are greatly aided by social media.

First up in this evil scheme is what is known as a “Bottom Girl.” A Bottom Girl functions as a madam of sorts, as she befriends a potential target as a peer, gains her trust, and as is always necessary to close a deal, offer options, most often money or material things. The Well House is an Alabama-based ministry that helps victims of prostitution and sex trafficking, and has the following to say:

“The Bottom Girl introduces the girl to a new friend at a party. This new ‘friend’ quickly wins the admiration of the victim through different means, typically lavish gifts and the promise of ‘grown-up’ life experiences. Through this enticing, trusting relationship, the trafficker entices the teen to run away from home. And he or she will put them up in an apartment. Once the trap has been set, there’s no easy means of escape. And so enters I-20, the perfect means of transportation for this valuable ‘product’.”

EnditAlabama.org is another organization that is committed to put a stop to human trafficking in Alabama, and is holding a conference in Montgomery on February 5th, educating the public and legislatures with regard to trafficking here in our state. For more information, go to enditalabama.org

Athens Now is going to be featuring an article some time this Spring sponsored by Set Them Free International, which is also based here in Alabama. And finally, my friend Kathrine Lee has formed an organization called Pure Hope, which is involved in rescuing, housing, and restoring sex slaves to their God-given dignity. Pure Hope is headquartered in Texas.

Very soon I am going to be able to support Pure Hope on a regular basis, and I would request that you prayerfully consider doing what you can to shut down the Super-highway.
2-5-2016 3-22-36 PM

1-22-2016 9-36-57 AMAs is the case with just about any type of publication in January, the prevailing theme is some kind of plan to set goals, hit reset, and start over, usually through the use of what is commonly referred to as New Year’s resolutions. The first 2016 edition of Athens Now was no exception. We were full of recommendations for our city, our bodies, our brains, and our dogs.

And while at first blush the title of this article might not seem exactly cheery, if you’ll stick with me, you might find that this Publisher’s Point is a resolution in reverse, and if properly applied, will be useful in January, or any other time of year.

In the Old Testament, there are a number of warnings about perishing, and two of them to me are quite rich. Hosea, whose life as a man married to a harlot is a mind boggling reminder of our infidelity as humans, (as well as God’s faithfulness), said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

1-22-2016 9-37-07 AMGreat. What do we do? How do we gain the kind of knowledge that keeps us from being destroyed, either as individuals, families, or a nation? Well, first of all, repentance is always good. Making things right with God and man will quickly get you in a position to be able to receive the kind of wisdom that comes from above, and to then implement the second step.
The other bit of wisdom, which is more precious than gold or rubies, is to have a vision. “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” and that begs the question, does the converse have the opposite effect? Does having a vision prevent the people from perishing?

Well, in my view, yes and no. We could very well now be alive in a time when we will see many perish, at least physically. Our nation’s leaders are acting like Neville Chamberlain of old, trying to appease “Hitler” by thinking that somehow a nation that has sworn to destroy both us and Israel has magically become our friend. “Death to America! Death to Israel!” shows up on Facebook more than one might think, and the leaders of Iran must be laughing all the way to the bank, or the centrifuge.

We are in a political season when presidential candidates are acting like petulant, insolent children, and our nation is badly divided over issues that used to be regarded by all as being the very essence of Constitutional common sense.

1-22-2016 9-37-18 AMVision, you say? Yes! Have a vision that is not in any way controlled by the actions of others. Anyone who has ever done anything worthwhile, whether public or private, did it with a vision. They had to “see” what they wanted to have change, whether it was internally or externally first. Martin Luther King had his iconic dream. Corrie Ten Boom lived through a death camp and travelled the globe restoring people through unfettered forgiveness. Viktor Frankl had a vision for helping people find fulfillment in life as a result of his having lived through Dachau. George Bailey, the hero of It’s A Wonderful Life had a vision for the people of Bedford Falls to be able to afford their own home. While the story is fictional, the moral isn’t. Mayor Ronnie has a vision for a park where an abandoned plant stands. Frank Travis and Charlotte Fulton had a vision to tell the amazing story of Trinity School, and that vision will soon be coming to pass.

The other half of the vision/perish equation is the happiness that comes from obeying God’s laws. Now, obviously, there is only One who has ever done that perfectly, but having a heart to seek God’s kingdom as well as His righteousness results in happiness. It’s the other half of the promise, and it is the secret to the prevention of perishing. People have literally sung in the flames because they had a vision that was far beyond this realm, and they knew that the “Kingdom within,” though invisible, would never be destroyed. May your resolution this year result in having a vision that burns so brightly that it warms the many, and that no darkness can extinguish.
1-22-2016 9-37-28 AM

1-8-2016 9-16-15 AMDr. Ben Carson is a true American hero, one about whom I have already written in this column. Whether or not he becomes our next President, I have no doubt that he will continue to speak from a place of conviction, courage, and a refreshing lack of political correctness.

One of the things I like the most about him is that when he speaks up in adversarial situations, his moral and spiritual compass remain fixed, and his level of self-control is exemplary. Such was the case recently when someone tried to use the Constitution to trip him up and make him appear to be Islamaphobic.

1-8-2016 9-16-28 AM

The place was Staten Island, and a Muslim fellow, who interestingly is the chairman of the Staten Island Libertarian Party, quoted the following from Article 6, Section 3 of the United States Constitution: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The challenger, whose name is Hesham El-Meligy, tried to then make it seem that Ben Carson had previously stated that he would never want to see a Muslim in the Oval Office, and wanted to know how Dr. Carson could reconcile his alleged statements with what he was trying to make the Constitution appear to say. The response was as follows:

“That’s very easy to reconcile, actually. If you go back and look at what I said, I said I would not want a Muslim who accepts all the precepts of Islam, including Shariah.” What happened next was pretty surprising, given that Staten Island is in the middle of New York City. Dr. C got a standing ovation, and it went on for quite awhile.

1-8-2016 9-16-36 AM

It does not take a rocket scientist to show that Shariah law and our Constitution are at permanent loggerheads. The following is a comparison of critical portions of the two documents, proving that one would have to supplant the other:

Article VI: The Constitution is the supreme law of the land: Article VI: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall• be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby”

Shariah: “The source of legal rulings for all acts of those who are morally responsible is• Allah.” (a1.1, Umdat al-salik or The Reliance of the Traveller, commonly accepted work of Shariah jurisprudence); “There is only one law which ought to be followed, and that is the Sharia.” (Seyed Qutb); “Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and program.” (Seyed Abul A’ala Maududi)

Ben was being beneficent and gracious, and I will not judge the motives of Mr. El-Meligy. All I know, is I am grateful for a man who will fight for the truth of who we are as Americans, and what defines us. May God bless Ben all the days of his life.
1-8-2016 9-16-49 AM

12-18-2015 1-27-36 PMIn November, I wrote about a wonderful and necessarily hush-hush operation simply known as the Nazarene Fund. It has many projects, including supporting our vets, helping to protect Israel, disaster response, and feeding the hungry. However, for obvious reasons the details had to be necessarily sketchy regarding the plan to rescue Iraqi Christians from extermination at the hands of ISIS.

I am so pleased to report that they have gotten out, they are safe, and they are profoundly grateful. The footage I have seen of their “homecoming” has been its own Christmas gift, and my prayer is that this will be the first of many “ops.”

And where did they land? Who took them in and put signs up in the airport that said, “Welcome Home?” The tiny nation of Slovakia. Now granted, the lion’s share of the 13 million dollars it took to get this first wave safely out of Iraq was donated by Americans, and everyone that was part of the American team said the experience was transformational. But it was Slovakia, which has certainly seen more than its fair share of war and oppression during its history, who chose to open its doors to strangers that are brothers and sisters in Christ.

12-18-2015 1-28-04 PM

One woman, whose name is Ellen, had the following to say about how she was affected by the welcoming nation and those being welcomed:

“We have been rewarded beyond belief by being allowed to stay in Slovakia. Thank you for letting us be here to see the Iraqi Christian refugees come home. That is how things were greeted [sic] when they came to Slovakia, “Welcome Home.” This is one of the greatest times I have ever spent. Spiritual, uplifting, crushing, expanding! To witness these refugees who are willing to give up everything in life to gain everything eternal, is a miracle. I’m awed by the grace of the Slovakian people. I am inspired by the Slovakian government and their willingness to step up to the challenge other nations are turning a blind eye to. I am humbled and reborn by the strength of my Iraqi brothers and sisters. Today we are all one family in Christ. He loves and watches over us all. And expects us to watch over each other.”

I am going to resist the temptation to spend much time contrasting the response of the Slovakian government to that of our own, other than to say that several churches in America, who have the resources to sponsor families, have been turned down by our State Department.

And I won’t discuss at length the fact that ISIS has put threats in the mailboxes of Swedes that give them three choices: 1. Convert to Islam 2. Pay the “protection tax” 3. Or be beheaded in three days. This is Sweden, whose king stood firm against the Nazis during WWII, and providentially, the nation was not destroyed.

No, those rants will have to wait. For now, I am going to thank God the Iraqis are safe, and rejoice that in one tiny corner of a brave, tiny nation, there is peace on earth, and goodwill toward men. Merry Christmas, dear readers, and a Happy New Year! Keep on shining on.
12-18-2015 1-27-53 PM

12-3-2015 10-02-16 AMThere were several things about our most recent Thanksgiving that were memorable, but for me, as a kid who grew up during the Cold War, one of them was the chance to learn about a hero from nearly 60 years ago that until recently, was nearly completely unknown. His name was Jim Dawson, and he was an insurance lawyer.

Mr. Dawson is portrayed by Academy Award winner Tom Hanks in the Steven Spielberg film Bridge of Spies, and while most folks who know me are aware that I am always in the corner of the ground pounder (Army soldier), or any member of our armed services that gives of themselves to keep us safe, there is another war that is sometimes fought through words that can be just as impressive, and deserves just as much gratitude.

12-3-2015 10-02-35 AM

Such was the case in 1960 when a U-2 spy plane was shot down at 70,000 feet over Russia, and Gary Powers was taken prisoner. I was just a little girl, but I remember it well. Germany had been divided, Berlin had a wall that would stay up until the Reagan administration, and we lived under the continual threat of a mushroom shaped cloud.

Backing up, Jim Dawson was involved in prosecuting the Nazi command at the Nuremburg trials. It was his idea to make the harrowing footage of the kinds of things that went on in the concentration camp available as part of his prosecutorial strategy, and it sealed the doom of 12 of them for war crimes. It is said that up until the showing of the film of bulldozers pushing bodies into ditches, Goring was confident he would skate on the case. No such luck, thanks to Jim Dawson.

Jim was the brilliant, low-key negotiator who was asked to defend the top KGB agent in America, Rudolph Abel, who was arrested for espionage. He even argued a part of his case before the Supreme Court of the United States, and Mr. Dawson paid a big price for it. His family was threatened, and as a Naval Commander, he had to endure being called a Commie, which, back in that day, was like being called a pedophile or a member of ISIS.

However, Jim had a hunch that someday an exchange of spies was going to be needed, and this would then insure that we would have leverage. It was actually to our advantage that the spy avoid the electric chair, because it gave us a bargaining chip should we need it, and we most certainly did. He then secured the exchange of Abel for Gary Powers, as well as another US spy. There was also an innocent econ student named Pryor, who was arrested by the East Germans for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Jim negotiated his release, too.

In fact, Jim was responsible for the rescue of close to 10,000 people in Cuba, managed to negotiate with Fidel Castro, and be an insurance lawyer (at least, that was his cover) while he worked for the CIA.

But, as amazing as all of that was, the guy was a genuine family man, who was able to maintain deep relationships with his kids, and who loved his wife. Jim never fired a shot, but he was a warrior. He managed to command the respect of Fidel Castro, John F Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy. As for me, in this season of gratitude, giving, and light, I am glad to be reminded once again of the prices that have been paid for my freedom, and the right to worship according to the dictates of my conscience is because of people like Jim Dawson.
12-3-2015 10-02-48 AM

11-20-2015 2-11-24 PMWhen I came home from Iraq for the last time, my friend Rita Campbell flew over to Paris and met me. It was an absolutely extravagant way to experience re-entry from a combat zone, and it is a trip neither of us will ever forget. Together we explored Paris in the legendary month of April, as well as parts of Germany and Italy, and we were bathed in the beauty of it all, especially the museums.

11-20-2015 2-11-37 PM

I had been made aware while still in Iraq that there were now whole sections of Paris that the police would not enter due to the presence of shariah-ists, if I may coin a term, and there were kids who sported T-shirts that said (in French), “2030, We Take Over.” These areas are known as “no-go zones,” and there are several of them in the city. While I was there, I was on high alert for the presence of backpack bombs, and I suppose a certain part of me will stay that way until Yeshua, and not the Madi, comes back and sets things straight.
Right across the street from the Louvre, there is a long row of shops that have probably been there nearly as long as the Louvre has, and they “witnessed” the dreadful occupation by the Germans beginning in 1940. While shopping for souvenirs, I happened to look to my right, and on the inside wall of an arch was a brass plaque that commemorated the arrest in 1944 of several members of the French Resistance. As I looked down the mall of the shops, there was a giant Nazi flag hanging because a WWII period film was being made in the same area. It gave me the creeps, and I thought of a song I heard often when I was growing up. It was the Oscar-winning number written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, from the 1941 film entitled, “Lady Be Good,” and immortalized by Kate Smith, of “God Bless America” fame. The name of the song was “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” Some of the lyrics are as follows:

The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay
I heard the laughter of her heart in every street cafe
The last time I saw Paris, her trees were dressed for spring
And lovers walked beneath those trees and birds found songs to sing

The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay
No matter how they change her, I’ll remember her that way

The heart of Paris was ripped wide open on November 13th, 2015, when approximately 150 people were killed in several attacks. And while the worth of people does and will always outweigh the worth of things and buildings, please understand that it will be the intent of the “2030 crowd” to also destroy the contents of the museums, and possibly the buildings themselves. By contrast, the Nazis wanted the artwork for themselves, and expected to co-opt all of it for the Fuhrer. The great irony is that while the justification for destroying artwork is because it is idolatrous and an offense to Allah, often times it is sold in order to fund ISIS. This has already happened in Syria and Iraq, and I will be surprised if it doesn’t happen throughout Europe.

So, what do we do? Obviously, for people of faith, the first and most powerful option will be to pray, then to count the cost of being believer, and make our whole selves ready. We were told from the get go that in order to be a true Christian we are to consider our lives as not being our own. Furthermore, we are to be willing to literally lose them for the One we love. That One goes so far as to say,

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

A better translation is “be of good confidence and courage; I have conquered the world.”

I can say with conviction that the bad guys are counting on us being afraid, and that will be our greatest temptation. But if we can say, along with Paris, “our heart IS warm and gay,” then, “No matter what they do to US, we shall always be remembered that way.”

God bless you and your families this 2015 Thanksgiving, and please remember to thank a Vet for your freedom.
11-20-2015 2-11-50 PM

11-6-2015 9-40-17 AMMaybe you have seen a somewhat Arabic-looking smiley face with a dot in the middle all over the Internet and social media, and had no idea what it was. The illustration contained here in Publisher’s Point will bring you up to speed, but hopefully, you won’t stop there. The Nazarene symbol, (the smiley face thingy), is used by ISIS much the same way that the yellow Star of David was used by the Nazis against the Jews: it means that ultimately you are marked for death. If you are a Christian in Iraq, you have already seen a veritable holocaust, and yet, hope is coming in some gutsy ways that I want to tell you about.

11-6-2015 9-39-57 AM

When I was about 10 years old, several years before I became a Christian, I learned in Sunday School that in the early days of the Christian Church, believers would meet other people in the road, and draw with their sandal the top half of the fish symbol, the equivalent to the Arabic/Nazarene symbol in the time of the Roman Empire. If the other person were also a believer, they would complete the bottom half of symbol with their sandal, thus drawing a fish in the dust. Both people would know, (or at least hope), that the other was safe. I have never forgotten that story, and it is painful to know that while I live in freedom in the USA, others are being beheaded. Until recently, I did not feel able to do much more than pray.

11-6-2015 9-39-48 AM

And while I don’t believe we are yet in the Great Tribulation as classically portrayed in the book of Revelation, it cannot be denied that there is “great tribulation” and bloody persecution of Christians all over the earth—in China, North Korea, and the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. And, through the blessing of technology, there is something you can do to help Christians in Iraq and Syria.

11-6-2015 9-39-32 AMThere is a project that is called the Nazarene Fund, and it has raised millions of dollars to get Christians out of Iraq and Syria, and to safety. What has impressed me the most about this particular project is the use of lessons and questions learned and asked by the intelligence community when it comes to “screening” people to determine if they are authentic and genuine candidates for repatriation. This prevents dollars of well meaning people from being squandered, and does more to make sure that people are the “real deal,” and therefore veritable candidates to start a new life in a new land.

Right now there is a new airlift being organized, and like any good “op,” not much can be said about the details, other than the fact that a jet is being chartered, and another wave of people are going to make it out alive. We could not do much here in the States during WWII to save Jews, but I have heard the stories of many in Europe who risked their lives to get Jewish people to safety.
However, we as believers have a vetted opportunity to do what could not be done 75 years ago, and if that is something that would seem like a worthwhile way of expressing thanks and solidarity during this holiday season, you can go to www.now.mercuryone.org to find out more about what you can do. The Nazarene is being celebrated, and many of the Nazarenes in the Middle East can indeed be spared.
11-6-2015 9-41-56 AM