November 3 was designated at the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

I hope your church, like ours, and thousands around the world, spent some special time praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith.

I receive e-mails and “real” mail from a number of Christian organizations that support the persecuted church and I understand the persecution is real and expanding in our world today.

In fact, there have been more Christians killed for their faith in the past 100 years than in the entire first 1,900 years of the church’s existence.

In many nations -- North Korea, China, radical Islamic nations in the Middle East and Africa and in other places -- each meeting of the church is a risk for arrest, torture and execution. But in each of these areas, unsaved people are coming to Christ and the church is growing. That, to my mind, is quite counterintuitive!

Yet on the other hand, it is the history of Christ’s church. In Acts, when the church burst onto the scene following Pentecost, there was severe persecution from both religious and civil authorities. But Acts tells us that every time the church met, souls were saved and the church “turned the world upside down”. Our world, and our nation especially, need a good “turning upside down” and a return to morality and righteousness that comes only from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In the Western world and the United States, the church is waning. Each week churches close their doors and organizations like Barna show us that church attendance and participation is plummeting. Why is it that in a place like America where, currently, it is safe to be a Christian and be active in the church, that this is significantly dwindling, but in places of severe danger the church is growing? What gives?

A few years ago, I interviewed a missionary from Eastern Europe. At that time Communism was making it difficult to live for Christ, but churches had been growing. When we talked, he discussed the fact that the churches there were no longer growing and vibrant. I asked the reason and he stated that the worst thing that occurred to the church was that it had become “westernized” (i.e. soft, apathetic, weak).

Why is it that in those places where the church is so persecuted, where Christians are daily losing all their possessions, are being imprisoned, tortured and killed for their faith, that others are accepting Christ and the persecution that’s sure to come? Because those who are dying for the Lord are showing, without question, that He is not only worth living for, He is worth dying for. And when onlookers see that, they are sure to want that same Jesus and are willing to give everything to and for Him!

Then why is it that the church in America is doing just the opposite. What are we showing to the lost, the sinners, those looking for answers and peace? We’re showing them that Christ is not worth everything. We’re showing them that Christ is worth our leftovers.

We give our leftover time to the Lord and the church. We give our leftover finances to the Lord. We give our leftover energies and abilities to the Lord. When we’ve used and expended everything on ourselves, what’s leftover He gets. And when the lost see that from those who profess to love and serve Him, they don’t see anything in Him they want!

Our church services have dropped off to one or at most two a week. We think the Bible teaches that church cannot last more than one hour, so at 45 minutes, we begin to look at our watches. We bring our phones and tablets into church, pretending to use them to search the Scriptures, but those who sit beside us know different.

Our worship has become programmed, a 15-30 minute “worship time”, led by a “worship leader” and a “worship team”. We turn it on and off on cue. We entertain more with videos and YouTube than with the simple preaching of the Word of God. We rush in and we rush out and the only contact we have with fellow Christians is via e-mail, text or Facebook.

Pastors don’t study the Word. They get outlines and illustrations online. They omit “difficult” or “culturally unpopular” Scriptures and tickle the ears of the few who come to church. Sin and repentance are seldom preached and sin is accepted in the body.

Too many churches in the “western world” have become more like social clubs, nightclubs or gaming parlors than houses of worship of the God of the Universe. And the church in America dies a little more each day and those who could stop that decline seem content to let it happen.

None of us want to suffer. We don’t want persecution in America, even though we see religious “rights” denied more and more each year. But the only salvation of the American church may be persecution. If persecution comes to America, to South Carolina, like it is in China, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, then we’ll see the church purified and the church will begin to grow again.

Why? Because under persecution, those who really don’t know Christ as Savior will drop out; those who don’t believe Jesus is worth living for and worth dying for will stop playing church and the church will be filled with men and women who truly are saved, who truly love Christ, who truly love each other and who truly love the lost. And those around will look at their testimonies, often sealed by their own blood, and will want that Christ who is really worth living for and worth dying for!

OCC Drop-Off Locations

Keep filling those Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and pray for the child who will get each one. The small, inexpensive gifts to a child we may never meet this side of heaven, will touch the children more than you and I can ever know.

I hope you’ve heard the story from someone who received a box! What a blessing! Drop-off week is next week, Nov. 18-25; drop-off times vary by church so be sure to call the church or contact person to check and see when they’ll be there.

Drop-off locations are: North Conway Baptist Church, 1608 Sessions St., Conway; Bethany Bible Chapel, 1668 Four Mile Road, Conway; Carolina Forest Community Church, 1381 Carolina Forest Blvd., Myrtle Beach; Ocean View Baptist Church, 7300 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach; North Strand Community Church, 2581 Mount Zion Road, Little River; Buck Creek Baptist Church, 11483 North S.C. 905, Longs; Garden City Baptist Church, 501 Pine Ave., Garden City; Antioch Baptist Church, 2080 S.C 129, Galivants Ferry; Green Sea Baptist Church, 1241 Green Sea Road, Green Sea.

Coastline Welcomes Abby Johnson

Coastline Women’s Center is hosting An Evening With Abby Johnson. Abby is the author of the book “Unplanned” which brought about the movie of the same name. She is the brave young woman, former head of a Planned Parenthood “clinic”, who witnessed firsthand the horror of abortion and shone the light on the lies of the abortion industry.

This special time will be held on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. in Christ United Church, Myrtle Beach. You won’t want to miss it. Tickets are still available. You won’t want to miss this!

Coastline also needs a number of volunteers for the event. Call Coastline Women’s Center at (843) 877-9653, e-mail to jeannieandcartersmith@gmail.com, or go online to coastlinewomenscenter.org.

Proudly Pro-Life Weekend

As we continue to fight the good fight for the lives of our most helpless citizens, our unborn children, we salute and support the organizations that lead us, groups like South Carolina Citizens for Life and Grand Strand Citizens for Life.

SCCL will again sponsor a Proudly Pro-Life Weekend, Jan. 10-11, 2020, in Columbia.

On the 10th, attend the Proudly Pro-Life Dinner Theater featuring a one-act pro-life play entitled Viable. This will be held at Seawells, 1125 Rosewood Drive. Tickets are $45. Doors open and silent auction begins at 5:30 p.m., buffet is served at 5:45 p.m. and the program begins at 6:45 p.m.

(If you wish to stay overnight, contact Graduate Columbia, formerly the Inn at USC at (843) 779-7779. SCCL has a block of rooms at a special rate available through Jan. 2, 2020.

On Saturday join the Stand Up For Life March and Rally. And on Jan. 15 there will be a press conference on the Heartbeat Bill.

Meanwhile, may we all pray that the holocaust of abortion will end soon!

Salvation Army needs you

The Salvation Army works 24/7/365 all around the world. At Christmas, there are a number of special ministries and you can help out. We’ve all seen the familiar Red Kettles, manned by bell ringers, collecting donations throughout the community. You or your organization can help out by ringing that bell. This will take place beginning in November through Christmas Eve.

Angel Tree is designed to provide new clothing and toys for children in our community. The trees are decorated with “Angel tags” with a child’s name, age and gender, and you purchase gifts for that child. What a great holiday family activity! Adopt an angel!

Last year more than 1,200 children received toys and clothes through Angel Tree. This year, the need may well be 1,500. If you can’t do an Angel Tree child, perhaps you can help with a Toy Drive, collecting new toys for needy children.

To see what you can do phone (843) 488-2769 or go online to www.tsahorry.org. And remember, need knows no season. Show the love of Christ to others all year long!

 “I Believe” Fundraiser

The 13th Annual I Believe Children’s Holiday Fundraiser to support Help4Kids will be held Dec. 10 from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. at the Hot Fish Club, Murrells Inlet. Tickets are $125 in advance, $150 day of. Tickets include entry, entertainment, food and open bar and are available on Eventbrite.com (searching “I Believe”).

Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry

■ Bethany Bible Chapel, 1668 Four Mile Road, invites you to Anniversary Sunday and Fall Revival. Anniversary Sunday will be Nov. 17; the Lord’s Supper is at 8:30 a.m., Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and Family Worship at 10:45 a.m. Lunch will follow in the church fellowship hall.

Revival Services will be held Nov. 18-21 at 7 p.m. Guest speaker will be Dr. John King, Princeton, W.Va. There will be special singing and a testimony each evening. All are welcome. Phone (843) 369-7729.

■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris will host the Allen Family Ministries, sharing God’s Word in music and song. This will be held Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. All are welcome. Phone (843) 756-3450.

■ One of the area’s most anticipated Christmas activities is back! Conway’s Maple Baptist Church, 4500 S.C. 65, will host its Eighth Annual Nativities’ Exhibition on Dec. 6 from 2 p.m.-6 p.m., Dec. 7 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Dec. 8 from noon-4 p.m.

The exhibit of more than 200 local, national and international nativities is located inside with a few large sets and a live nativity outside. This amazing exhibition contains sets in various sizes, materials and interpretations, including professional artwork, originals by local artisans and antiques.

Costumes are provided on Saturday for a photo op at the live nativity stable. There will be a silent auction, and snacks and goodies available for purchase. Papa John’s Pizza will be available Friday after 5:30 p.m. and BBQ plates to go will be available Sunday from noon-1 p.m. Free admission; donations accepted. Phone (843) 365-3685 or go to www.maplebaptistchurch.com. (Personal note: I have visited this exhibition the past two to three years and have found this a wonderful and worthwhile activity. Join me this year!)

■ St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 3449 S.C. 65, will be distributing food on the second and fourth Fridays of each month from 11 a.m. until all food has been distributed.

■ Loris First United Methodist Church, 3507 Broad St., has a Blessing Box in the church and it is available each Friday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. This box contains nonperishable food items and individuals in need are encouraged to come to the church at those times. Also, if you would like to donate items, please place them in the box.

■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris, has a food pantry on the third Saturday of each month from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.

■ Salem Baptist Church, 4008 Salem Road in Aynor, opens its Food Bank on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m.-noon. The mission: “We serve Christ when we serve people.”

Myrtle Beach/The Coast

■ On Thanksgiving Day, the Well by the Sea Church, 211 Forestbrook Road, is providing an absolutely free full-course homemade dinner for all who would like to come. Hungry? Alone? College student? First Responder? Unable to cook for yourself? Just want to get out? No need for hunger or loneliness this Thanksgiving Day! No RSVP; just come! More info? Phone the church office at (843) 236-8852 or Debbie Hamilton at (843) 733-2430. Or e-mail personalityprism@gmail.com. Help spread the word!

■ The New Beginnings Monthly Food Distribution will be held at the Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 17 Bypass in Surfside Beach, Saturday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. This includes free groceries, free lunch, social services information and a children’s craft table.

Faith Outreach Ministries of the Grand Strand and Lowcountry Food Back will also have “Drive Thru Free Food Distribution” at the Myrtle Beach Bowl, 101 Philip Gray Drive, Nov. 22 and Dec. 13 from 3 p.m.-5 p.m.

■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea, 65th Ave. North and N. Kings Highway, invites you to Friday night service at 7:30 p.m. (Kosher Oneg), Shabbat Service at 10 a.m. (Kosher Kiddush).

Sunday and Hebrew School, 9:30 a.m.-noon.

On Wednesdays: Advanced Hebrew 12:45 p.m.-1:45 p.m., Adult Education, 2 p.m.-3 p.m.; Conversion, 3 p.m.-4 p.m.

Current Second Nature Project: we are collecting canned goods and snack items to help both the Community Kitchen and Helping Hand. Place in the basket by the front door of the Rosen Center. All Mitzvoth greatly appreciated. Questions? Contact Karen Osborne at (843) 446-1060.

The Dinner Club will meet Sunday at 5 p.m. in Sam Sneads, Carolina Forest. Please RSVP. Text: (843) 685-3432; phone (843) 236-1828.

And Save the Date: next Mahjong tournament will be Dec. 13.

■ On Dec. 7, Broadway at the Beach will have its annual Christmas Parade. At 12:45 p.m. you will want to be part of the Flash Mob for Christ. What is the purpose? To offer hope during the holidays.

This is sponsored by Seacoast Vineyard Church and Journey Church of Myrtle Beach. There will be some practices and the dance will be available on Youtube to learn. Contact Kate Decker at decker@Iam4health.com or (732) 236-7917. All participants will need to sigh up and sign a waiver.

■ The Carolina Master Chorale will present Christmas and All That Brass at 4 p.m. on Dec. 14 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 706 14th Ave. S in North Myrtle Beach and at 4 p.m. on Dec. 15 in Trinity Church, 3000 North Kings Hwy. Tickets will sell fast so don’t wait to get yours. Phone (843) 444-5774 or go to www.CarolinaMasterChorale.com.

■ Each evening, from Dec. 22-30 at 5:15 p.m., gather at Valor Park in the Market Common for the Lighting of the Menorah.

■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, opens its Thrift Store each week, Thursday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy and, in so doing, you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Phone (843) 236-1121.

■ Temple Shalom, 4023 Belle Terre Blvd., invites you to Shabbat services each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Phone (843) 903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.

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