Sunday, December 9, 2007

Has Persecution Finally Come to the Church in America?
If so, are we ready?

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LAKE FOREST, CA (ANS) Like so many of you, I have been following the shocking news of the two shootings today (Sunday) in Colorado.

The first shooting took place at the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) training center in Arvada, Colorado, when a gunman killed two staff members, early Sunday after being told he couldn’t spend the night.

A statement from YWAM said the deceased were Tiffany Johnson, 26, from Minnesota, and Philip Crouse, 24, from Alaska. Both served as staff members at the YWAM Arvada campus. The third victim, Dan Griebenow, 24, has a bullet in his neck and is listed in critical but stable condition. The fourth victim Charlie Blanch, 22, suffered gunshot wounds to his legs.

About 12 hours later, a gunman fatally shot a person at The New Life Church, a megachurch in Colorado Springs before a guard killed him, police said. The gunman at the New Life Church was shot and killed by a church security guard after entering the church’s main foyer with high-powered rifle shortly before 1 p.m. and opening fire, Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers said.

Myers says one other person died at the scene the victim was believed to be a teenage girl.

Four additional shooting victims were taken to the hospital, some with life-threatening injuries, Myers said.

SWAT officers searching the New Life campus found several suspicious devices. Myers said they were conducting a second search Sunday evening.

At the time of writing, it was not immediately known whether the Colorado Springs shooting was related to the crime in Arvada, a Denver suburb about 65 miles to the north. Authorities in Arvada said no one had been captured in the shootings there.

YWAM has a mission training program has a small office at the church’s World Prayer Center on the New Life campus.

Many will be asking if this is the beginning of persecution of Evangelical Christians in America or if these were just isolated incidents.

If it is the start of persecution here, I wonder if we are ready for what lies ahead? Will Americans think twice about going to church in the future knowing that a crazed gunman could repeat these atrocities?

For millions around the world, they have faced these dangers for many years in countries like India, Iran, Iraq, all over the Middle East and even in the country of my birth, Nigeria, where I was born of British missionary parents.

During a recent trip to India, I asked a pastor how we could pray for him. He paused briefly and then said, “Please don’t pray that the persecution will stop. We consider it a privilege to suffer for Christ.”

Brother Andrew was once traveling in a restricted country and he was asked, “How many pastors in your country [Holland] are in prison for their faith?” He replied, “I don’t think there are any.” The Christian leader then said, “Why not? The Bibles says that those who live Godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution!”

I believe that suffering and persecution are part of the “normal Christian life” and that we, in the United States, have been spared up until now.

My plea to the Evangelical Church here in America is that we prepare for what might be ahead and unite under the banner of Jesus Christ who showed so much love for us.

And please don’t stop going to church. Let us realize that his “banner over us is love,” and we must not allow the gunmen to stop us worshiping the risen Savior.


Dan Wooding, 66, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma of 44 years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, “From Tabloid to Truth”, which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloidtotruth.com. danjuma1@aol.com.

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