Tag Archives: conversion
Leader: President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi
Population: 27.2 million (a few thousand Christians)
Main Religion: Islam
World Watch List Rank: 10
Source of Persecution: Islamic extremism
There is some religious freedom for foreigners here but evangelism is prohibited and Yemenis who leave Islam may face the death penalty. Muslim-background believers are forced to meet in secret. If their faith is discovered, they face severe persecution from authorities, family, and extremist groups who threaten ‘apostates’ with death if they do not recant. Insecurity caused by Islamist movements makes Yemen very unstable. Christians are believed to be under surveillance by extremists and expat Christians can be a specific target for these extremist groups.
The number of local believers is estimated at just a few hundred. Ask the Lord to encourage them and increase their numbers
Several expat Christians have been kidnapped in recent years. Pray for protection for foreign Christian workers and NGOs
Al-Qaeda-linked groups are gaining more power. Pray that Yemen’s leaders will be able to restore peace to this deeply divided country.
Yemen is very unstable and its situation has deteriorated since the Arab Spring riots of 2011. The country is balancing on the brink of civil war. In the chaos, Al Qaeda militants have seized the opportunity to spread to parts of Yemen where formerly the government maintained some sort of order. These developments have led to an increase in oppression of Christians.
Kidnappings of foreigners occur regularly, and Christians are believed to be under surveillance by extremists. Several expat Christians have been kidnapped, though it is hard to discern to what extent religious factors play a role. Migrant Christian fellowships have been raided and forced to stop meeting.
Muslim-background believers face strong family and societal pressure. Threats from family, society and extremist groups are very serious and indigenous Christians have been killed for their faith. Due to this risk, many believers have had to go into hiding or even flee the country. Female converts are under threat of forced marriage once their conversion is revealed.
BY CLARE WALKER 11/23/201
Race With the Devil
My Journey From Racial Hatred to Rational Love
By Joseph Pearce
Saint Benedict Press, 2013
264 pages, $22.95
To order: saintbenedictpress.com
On Dec. 12, 1985, a 24-year-old radical white supremacist named Joe Pearce stood in the dock at the Old Bailey and was convicted of violating the British Race Relations Act. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Four years later, on March 19, 1989, this same Joseph Pearce was received into the Catholic Church.
As a professional race-baiter, Pearce was known for his provocative articles and hell-raising speeches. As a Catholic public figure, Pearce is known for his “literary biographies” and has written about G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Hilaire Belloc, C.S. Lewis, William Shakespeare, and, most recently, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Now, in an account of his own life, Pearce describes how this incredible transformation took place.
Pearce likens his early childhood in rural England to Tolkien’s Shire: innocent, idyllic, peaceful. But due to the negative influence of the adults in his life, by the time he was 15, racial politics had completely dominated his life.
He lied about his age to join the National Front (the leading white supremacist organization in Britain), and, that year, his photograph appeared in the local paper. “[T]o this day,” he recalls, “I remember the look of fanatical anger on my face. I had metamorphosed into a political extremist.”
Just before turning 17, Pearce became a full-time worker for the National Front: “I was now living every young radical’s dream of being a fully paid, full-time revolutionary, giving his life to the cause.” He stirred up hatred between white and black youths by inciting riots. He distributed racist literature at football stadiums. He scaled up his pro-British fanaticism by participating in demonstrations in Northern Ireland and joining the anti-Catholic Orange Order.
What eventually landed him in jail was his editorship of The Bulldog, the official newspaper of the National Front. In 1981, and again in 1985, Pearce was charged with “publishing material likely to incite racial hatred,” which in Britain is characterized as a “hate crime.”
He first stint in prison merely annealed his white, Anglocentric bigotry. But his second incarceration was different, because by that time he had discovered authors who challenged his racist worldview, including Solzhenitsyn, Belloc, and, most importantly, Chesterton.
“In reading Chesterton,” Pearce writes, “I was undermining my own most dearly held prejudices. … I realize now what I had no way of realizing then, that it was the combination of Chesterton’s eminently rational mind and his transparently virtuous heart that had captured and captivated me. It was the charm of goodness, the presence of goodness, the light of sanctity shining forth in the darkness, the life of love that can kill all hatred.”
This is an amazing conversion story. Joseph Pearce was truly a hard case, someone whose entry into the Catholic Church one would never dare predict.
But Pearce takes the trouble to weave into his story the small things that, with hindsight, make his conversion appear inevitable: his voracious appetite for books that led him to Chesterton and other Christian authors, his experiences of beauty in rural England and elsewhere that “baptized his imagination,” and small acts of kindness from strangers that struck him as remarkable, even in the midst of his angry-young-man period.
His inside look at radical movements is fascinating, as is the discussion of the books that formed him, for good and for ill.
Americans unfamiliar with British history may get a bit lost during certain sections, but these passages do not detract from the overall quality of the book.
Race with the Devil is a highly recommended and encouraging story of the power of God’s grace to change lives.
Clare Walker writes from Westmont, Illinois.
John F. Kennedy and C.S. Lewis: Where Are They
From the Bloggers
Tim Drake: The Infancy Narratives and The Hobbit
Filed under book pick, book review, clare walker, joseph pearce, race with the devil, racial hatred
CommentsPost a Comment
Posted by pjd on Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 4:02 PM (EST):
I recently read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only does it provide a better understanding of how many people are drawn into these radical racist groups, but it also shows how powerfully God can work in our lives in spite of it all. I highly recommend it.
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A minister colleague just starting out in his new Parish, went to visit a particular elderly member of his congregation.
This lady opened her door and rather abruptly said to him , “Here you are at last. I’ve had to stay in all day waiting for you. Well, since you’ve arrived, you’d better get on with converting me”
“Conversion?” he thought, “How?”
“Have you not brought any tools with you?”
“Tools?” – by this time, totally confused. “Bible? Book of Common Order? Holy Water – no”
“It’s over there” pointing to a cupboard under the stairs.
Obviously senile, but he thought he’d humour her. In the cupboard was a gas meter – that was it.
The proverbial penny dropped. She thought that my friend (even though he was wearing a suit and dog-collar) was the gasman (whom she had been expecting that day and therefore lept to that mistake in identity) and that he’d come to convert her gas supply.
All gas equipment in Great Britain (but not Northern Ireland) was converted (by the fitting of different-sized burner jets to give the correct gas/air mixture) from burning town gas to burn natural gas (mainly methane) over the period from 1967 to 1977
from The Catholic News Agency
Rome, Italy, Oct 1, 2011 / 12:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- John Wayne, for many, was a Hollywood legend who symbolized true masculinity and American values. To Fr. Matthew Muñoz, though, he was simply “granddaddy.”
“When we were little we’d go to his house and we’d simply hang out with granddaddy and we’d play and we’d have fun: a very different image from what most people have of him,” Fr. Muñoz told CNA on a recent visit to Rome.
Fr. Muñoz was 14 years old when his grandfather died of cancer in 1979. In his lifetime, “The Duke” won an Oscar, the Congressional Gold Medal and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Of all those achievements, though, Fr. Muñoz is most proud of just one – his grandfather’s conversion to the Catholic faith.
“My grandmother, Josephine Wayne Saenz, had a wonderful influence on his life and introduced him to the Catholic world,” said 46-year-old Fr. Muñoz, a priest of the Diocese of Orange in California.
“He was constantly at Church events and fundraisers that she was always dragging him to and I think that, after a while, he kind of got a sense that the common secular vision of what Catholics are and what his own experience actually was, were becoming two greatly different things.”
Fr. Muñoz’s grandparents married in 1933 and had four children, the youngest of whom – Melinda – is his mother. The couple civilly divorced in 1945 although, as a Catholic, Josephine did not re-marry until after John Wayne’s death. She also never stopped praying for her husband’s conversion – a prayer which was answered in 1978.
“He was a great friend of the Archbishop of Panama, Archbishop Tomas Clavel, and he kept encouraging him and finally my granddaddy said, ‘Okay, I’m ready.’”
As a result of a change in Panamanian leadership, Archbishop Clavel was exiled from his native land in 1968. Three years later, Cardinal Timothy Manning, then the Archbishop of Los Angeles, invited Archbishop Clavel to Orange County, where he served as pastoral leader to half of Orange County’s 600,000 Latinos.
By the time of Wayne’s request, however, Archbishop Clavel was too ill to make the journey to the film star’s residence.
“So Archbishop Clavel called Archbishop McGrath,” Fr. Muñoz said, explaining that Archbishop McGrath was the successor to Archbishop Clavel in the Archdiocese of Panama.
“My mom and my uncle were there when he came. So there’s no question about whether or not he was baptized. He wanted to become baptized and become Catholic,” Fr. Muñoz said. “It was wonderful to see him come to the faith and to leave that witness for our whole family.”
Fr. Muñoz also said that his grandfather’s expressed a degree of regret about not becoming a Catholic earlier in life, explaining “that was one of the sentiment he expressed before he passed on,” blaming “a busy life.”
Prior to his conversion to Catholicism, though, John Wayne’s life was far from irreligious.
“From an early age he had a good sense of what was right and what is wrong. He was raised with a lot of Christian principles and kind of a ‘Bible faith’ that, I think, had a strong impact upon him,” said Fr. Muñoz recalling that his grandfather often wrote handwritten notes to the Almighty.
“He wrote beautiful love letters to God, and they were prayers. And they were very childlike and they were very simple but also very profound at the same time,” he said.
“And sometimes that simplicity was looked at as naivety but I think there was a profound wisdom in his simplicity.”
Fr. Muñoz summed up the hierarchy of his grandfather’s values as “God coming first, then family, then country.” It’s a triumvirate he sees repeatedly reflected in his grandfather’s films. He believes those values are much needed in Hollywood today and, if “the Duke” were still here he’d be leading the charge.
“My grandfather was a fighter. I think there would be a lot of things he’d be disappointed and saddened over. But I don’t think he would lose hope. I think he would look at the current time as a moment of faith. People are in crisis and they’re looking for something more meaningful, more real,” Fr. Muñoz said.
“So I think he would look at the situation and say – don’t get discouraged! I think he would say get involved. Don’t go hiding in a shell and getting on the defensive from Hollywood. Get involved and be an agent for the good. I think he would do that. That’s what he did in his time.”
Some years ago when I was a Parish Minister, I happened on this particular occasion to be at the western General Hospital in Edinburgh visiting my new parishioners
I went to see Mrs Bloggs. I located the ward and the bed. “Hello, there, Mrs Bloggs, and how are you feeling today? “Not so bad, thanks, but I’ve got a bit of pain…about here” and she indicated her abdomen, and then proceeded to go into what I think can only be termed as very personal and indeed private, if not intimate detail about the effects of her recent surgery.
I was getting a bit hot under the dog collar by this time, and especially when she said that she would like to show me her operation scar.
“I think I’d better get a nurse, Mrs B”
“Right, DOCTOR” she answered
That’s when the penny dropped. DOCTOR a case of mistaken identity.
Needless to say, I made my excuses and left.
Mistaken identity. It happened on another occasion, back in the 1970s. I called upon this elderly lady, who opened the door, and said “I’ve been waiting in all day for you to come and convert me” A strange kind of remark
“It’s over here” she added and showed me a cupboard where the gas meter was situated.
“Have you not brought any tools with you?” she then asked.
Perplexed I was thinking ‘what tools?’ a bible? maybe a communion kit?,
And then the penny dropped – no, it clattered. She thought I was from the gas board and had come to covert her supply to the then new North Sea gas!
Let’s pause for a moment and think about these two incidents – in the hospital, the patient has been expecting to see a doctor; perhaps it was the time when he did his rounds – hence the mix up.
In the other case, the elderly lady had been anxiously waiting all day for the gasman to come; no doubt, she was a bit flustered; maybe her eyesight wasn’t as good as it could have been. She was expecting someone else – not a minister, even although I was wearing my collar; so…. when I turned up on her doorstep: Behold the Gasman cometh!
On that first Easter morning, Mary Magdelene went to the rock tomb where Jesus has been buried on the Friday, having been taken down from the Cross.
She was in a highly emotional state. She certainly wasn’t thinking straight.
The person in whom she had put her trust had been put to death. That was fact. Dead & buried.
Then, coming to the tomb early in the morning of that Easter day, she finds the stone rolled away. She tells Peter and John of her discovery; they run ahead of her to assess the situation.
Mary goes back herself, standing outside the empty tomb weeping.
We’re told that she sees angels who talk to her and ask her why she is crying.
This is an obviously emotionally charged situation. This poor woman is confused and disorientated.
And even although the signs are all there – the empty tomb – the angels (a sure symbol of divine activity) , her expectation level is low – the last person she would possibly hope to encounter is Jesus.
But she’s in a garden. Who else but the gardener should approach her and speak to her “Woman, why are you crying?” He may have looked like Jesus, and sounded like Jesus – but Mary, her eyes blinded by tears, her mind confused, expecting to see a gardener, sees a gardener. And thinking that he is the gardener, she asks him where they have put the body of Jesus.
But then he speaks her name, “Mary!”, and she knows…she knows.
Mary was seeking a dead Christ on Easter morning.
So do so many many others so often.
They say that he was a good man or a good teacher, a guru or a prophet…..but long since dead and gone. They do not realise – do not want to acknowledge that our Christ reigns forever. He goes unrecognised.
But he is alive! And once we know that, we see all the glory…..and like Thomas later in the Easter narrative, we too can say of him and to him “My Lord and my God”
The Meenister’s Log
At University, I would often attend services at Hope Park Church in St.Andrews.
Every Sunday morning, there would be this particular lady who would try to buttonhole worshippers as they went in to the church – with a question “Have you been saved?”
Not appearing to be rude, on the first time this happened to me, I replied “I think so”
“But you’ve got to KNOW so”
One Sunday, one of my fellow divinity students was stopped and asked the usual question, “Have you been saved?”
To which Gary answered, “Indeed, I have!”
“Where and When?” (such folk have a day and date and time fixed in their memory when they found Christ)
Gary: “At Calvary around about 33 A.D, Madam” and then proceeded to enter the kirk building.
An old joke: a tramp is wandering along a riverbank, when he encounters some Baptists carrying on full immersion in the waters.
The Pastor stopped our “Gentleman of the Road” and asked him “Have you found Jesus?”
“I don’t know” came the reply.
“Well come with me” – and with that he was dooked in the river by two Deacons.
(this was the first time he had encountered any water for years!)
Spluttering, he came back to the surface.
“Well, have you found Him?”
In he went again under the water and again, when he came up was asked the same question, “Have you found Jesus?”
Again a third time and the same question, “Have you found Jesus?”
With a large degree of indignation, our friend answered, “No! Are you sure that this is the place he fell in?!”