Verse for Prayer

Hello Everyone,

Islamic State militants have now reportedly abducted at least 226 Assyrian Christians over the past three days from their homes in 11 villages in northeastern Syria.

Men, women, and children from the ancient Christian minority are now thought to be under threat of the same fate of the 21 Coptic Christians recently killed by IS in Libya.

There was no armed resistance in the area, which now is under IS control.

Up to 3000 Assyrian Christians have fled their homes, worried that Islamic State fighters may make more predawn raids to kidnap them.

Some reports have upwards of 600 individuals taking refuge in a church in a nearby Kurdish held city.

Islamic State now has come to control the area of the villages – placing uncertainty on the unknown number of people not able to get away.

Here in Jerusalem there are both Coptic and Assyrian Christian communities.

They are praying for their communities protection – along with relatives and loved ones effected by the evil of Islamic State.

They are praying bravely too, for those captors to be forgiven despite the terrible things they are doing.

God knows every single soul involved. We can pray for His love, mercy, and protection to be upon those who are His... and that His Will will be done.

Friends, I can't ask you enough, that you kindly pray for the Christians here in the Middle East. Pray that fear would not control people – but rather trust – trust in the Living Almighty Lord.

Isaiah 41:10 reads a good verse for prayer for these persecuted Christians:

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

Thank you,

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Pray Hard

Hello Everyone,

We need to pray – and pray hard for at least 90 men, women and children of the Assyrian Christian community who have been abducted from their homes by Islamic State.

This happened in the northeast Syria at dawn near to a town called Tal Tamr.

Some of the indigenous Christians were able to escape, prompting an exodus of 3000 Assyrians reaching the nearby Kurdish controlled city of Hassakeh.

Islamic State's online radio station, al-Bayan, confirmed the kidnappings reporting that fighters had seized "tens of Crusaders".

Understandably there is great fear for the lives of these individuals given what happened to 21 Coptic (Egyptian) Christians last week in Libya at the hands of Islamic State.

But there may be a different plan at work here.

There is much talk of Islamic State forces pulling away from areas. This week, Kurdish forces have successfully taken 30 villages and towns back out of IS's control as they continue to advance deeper into IS-held territory.

This prompts the question; Part of this may be due to the perception that there is an upcoming battle for Mosul which, in essence, is Islamic State's capital city for lack of a better term.

IS may be taking prisoners in order to force a swap with Kurdish forces who hold much needed IS fighters.

Another possibility, though less likely, is that in this area where the Christians were abducted, it is strategically important to IS because it borders Turkey and Iraq's north west corner which is firmly controlled by IS.

The Jihadists then could be trying to 'scare out' people who could potentially turn upon them if IS were to be found in a vulnerable position – or to make numbers more manageable.

Whatever the reason for the action, these people were seized because they are Christian.

My brothers and sisters in faith – please pray for these people in your family of faith, that God will bring hymn and scripture to mind, the comfort and protection of the Holy Spirit, and the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

May it be that their lives may be spared, and if not – God grant them peace of soul, strength, and surety in your Glory awaiting them.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Snow in Jerusalem

Greetings Everybody!

It snowed last night and this morning in Jerusalem!

Fact is it has snowed elsewhere too in the Middle East...

Israel even had snow as far down south as Arad in the desert getting close to Eilat at the Red Sea.

Back here in Jerusalem I started to wonder how many snowfalls my 750 year old home has endured...

And how much water has been collected over the centuries in my cisterns!

My mind continued to wander...

Are there any references to physical snow in the Scriptures – I wasn't aware of any...

Surely it must have snowed during the time of David? the prophets? The New Testament era?

Why are there no mentions of snow!?

We do have those beautiful descriptions of Almighty God that reference snow.

But perhaps most telling is the fact that our sin leaves a stain – a color of scarlet - a shade of blood red upon us.

Jesus of course shed His blood for us - this is the Christian Hope - His sacrificial death atoning for my sin.

Isaiah, the great prophet of Israel, opens His book in verse 8 with the declaration: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow...".

So in the snow I thought:

How thankful I am for God's covering over me.

How thankful I am for His pure renewing – which I have no power or claim over.

How thankful I am for His great faithfulness.

How thankful I am for His Word.

How thankful I am for God using things within His creation (like snow in Jerusalem) to encourage me in Who He Is, What He does, and the Hope He gives to me that though I sin, He washes that stain away...

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Egypt's Appeal Against Islamic State

Hello Everyone,

After carrying out a second air raid into Libya targeting Islamic State fighters, Egypt has called on the international community to intervene.

Libya has been a mess with sectarian and tribal clashes since 2011 after Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's deposing and death.

There are two rival governments for the vast oil rich country, and this adds to the fertile soil of instability which Islamic State jihadists grows in.

Unfortunately, with the Middle East already in upheaval there is little international appetite for military involvement. The United Nations prefers a political and diplomatic solution.

Thousands of Egyptian Coptic Christians, along with some Muslim participants that included Sheikhs from al Azhar, Egypt's main center of Islamic learning which is over 1000 years old, condemned the beheadings and are mourning at the main Coptic Cathedral in Cairo as well as in al-Our village south of Cairo where 13 of the 21 men murdered were from.

Libya has condemned the actions of Egypt saying that the airstrikes were a violation of it's sovereignty.

But it is clear that there is no current power structure able to bring Islamic State into accountability.

Feeling the need to keep at the jihadists, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is calling for a United Nations Security Council resolution mandating international intervention.

Sisi knows the mentality here well and wishes to continue striking out at IS in Libya as much as he possibly can in order to send the clear resounding message – don't touch our Egyptian citizens.

It also serves his interests internationally by demonstrating that Egypt, as a Muslim country, will protect Christians, which in the past it has been accused by human rights groups of not doing enough to aid the ancient minority.

We can help – with our prayers. These men killed were simply seeking to work in Libya because their situation in Egypt is impoverished.

Islamic State in their action and words is targeting Christianity clearly in this video out of Libya. Pray for the Christians in Libya, the Egyptian Coptic Church, and believers throughout the Middle East, that God would give them hope, courage, protection, boldness, and sustenance.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Time to Pray

Hi Friends,

The Islamic State publishes a slick on line magazine detailing it's operations and espousing it's ideals.

In the current magazine an article was given to the alleged capture of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, handcuffed and wearing orange jumpsuits in a single file line with armed men in black around them.

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi says he, and a committee, are monitoring the situation and verifying the facts.

President Sisi has also said that Egypt has offered to evacuate its citizens from Libya via an airlift.

The background here is that several Egyptian Coptic Christians were kidnapped in two raids in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte back in December 31st and January 3rd.

Sirte is currently under the control of various Islamic militant groups. Libya itself is in a great state of flux, with different tribal and jihadist groups vying for power in the absence of a strong unified Libyan government.

Members of the Coptic community have protested in Cairo demanding action and expressing skepticism about the offer to evacuate people out.

Egypt's foreign ministry has warned Egyptians not to travel to Libya.

It has also said that those who are there should avoid areas of tension and leave. and said those already residing in the country should.

The article speaks about the kidnapped Egyptians are to avenge the fate of Muslim women "tortured and murdered by the Coptic church of Egypt".

There are additional questions as to whether these hostages in the photographs are the people from Sirte or new individuals.

Thousands of Egyptians work in Libya in the construction sector.

There has been violence in Libya before directed towards the oldest Christian Church, were one year ago seven Egyptian Christians were shot dead, their bodies discovered on a beach in Benghazi.

Please, take the time to pray for God's protection, mercy, and strength to be with these men at this terrible time of persecution.

Thank you.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Russia In Egypt

Hello Everyone,

Egypt is hosting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The State visit is important to both countries - but more so to their leaders.

Russia and Egypt have a long history together in modern times.

Today, Egypt wants Russian military hardware, which Russia is happy to sell amidst the sanctions the international community has in place for their actions in Crimea and the Ukraine.

Mr. Putin also wants to expand his influence in the Middle East and North Africa in light of the turmoil in Syria and Libya.

For Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Mr. Putin is a long time supporter who brings with him credibility in his approval of handling the borderline volatile landscape Egypt now is.

Key to the visit was the signing of an energy deal that will see Russia share in the building and running of a nuclear power plant for Egypt.

As America had stepped back from Egypt in 2013, due to the violent crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, it shelved military aid to the country - and it's influence. Feeling that America did not understand the dynamics of Egypt and the terrorism within, Mr. Sisi accepted Russia's overtures to fill in.

Russia, having often handled dissident actions within it's borders, has indeed stepped up and provided traction for the new Sisi Government and the county's development.

Mr. Sisi has long said he intends to fix Egypt's economy, and hosting Mr. Putin gave Egyptians the chance to hear how trade with Russia has been increased by 80% over the last year.

But the largest development by far is a deal worked by Russia's defense and foreign ministers with Egypt who visited Cairo back in November, 2014.

The two countries were reportedly close to signing a $3 billion dollar deal for Russian MiG-29 jet fighters and attack helicopters.

In addition to this large military exchange, there is little doubt as to the fresh leader being tutored in geopolitics from the experienced Putin.

Egypt has many challenges on it's borders with instability in Libya, containment of Hamas, and internal dissatisfaction by a majority of it's citizens.

But the crisis burning right now is in Northern Sinai as Islamic State seeks to strengthen its presence.

10 men were beheaded recently for allegedly being spies for both Egypt and Israel.

This comes after Egypt has taken military action against the jihadists, who have carried out multiple coordinated attacks on police and army in the area causing significant loss of life.

Mr. Sisi will no doubt be seeking to strengthen his image and abilities in light of Mr. Putin's visit and the challenges his government faces.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Jordanian Resolve After Death

Hello Everyone,

After the tragic event of the putting to death of the captured Jordanian pilot – Islamic State has seemingly not placed fear into the Jordanian Kingdom.

Jordan's King Abdullah II cut short his trip to Washington DC where he was due to be at President Barak Obama's prayer breakfast, after the on-line release of the documented murder by immolation of 27-year-old pilot, Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh.

After briefly meeting with President Obama, King Abdullah fly directly back to Amman and met with his military chiefs and other Jordanian officials.

Jordan has said clearly they will take action against Islamic State.

The King emphasized that Jordan is waging a war of principles against the militants because they are not only fighting Jordan, but also fighting Islam.

Jordan has since carried out dozens of successful air raids against IS assets in both Syria and Iraq.

There are unconfirmed reports that an American held hostage, Kayla Jean Mueller, was killed in one of those strikes by Jordan outside of Raqqa in Iraq.

After news emerged that Islamic State had murdered a captive Jordanian pilot, The Hashemite King Abdullah II offered his condolences to the pilot's family at their home.

Jordanian fighter jets, returning from a bombing mission, flew over the home of the slain pilot while the King was with the father.

Jordan has sent several sorties into both Iraq and Syria targeting IS.

Jordanians demonstrated by the thousands, including Queen Rania, showing their solidarity with the al-Kasaesbeh family and in the fight against Islamic State.

The message is very much that Islamic State does not represent Islam – and that Muslims must step up and fight the Sunni extremists and retake the image of their religion.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Shock for Jordan

Hello Everyone,

Much of the Middle East – particularly the Kingdom of Jordan, is in shock tonight.

Jordan confirmed the death of it's Air Force pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, who had been taken hostage by Islamic State after his plane went down back in December near Raqqa in Syria.

A brutal video was published online purportedly showing show al-Kasasbeh being burned alive.

Jordan is vowing "punishment and revenge" - an "earth shacking" retaliation against Islamic State.

Jordan is part of the coalition led by the United States carrying out airstrikes and reconnaissance against IS targets.

The video shows al-Kasasbeh at gunpoint, walking amongst rubble apparently caused by coalition air strikes targeting IS.

The Jordanian army is describing him as a martyr. There are already pressures mounting for the government to exact a price.

One thing that may happen is the expediting IS prisoners in Jordanian jails who are on death row awaiting execution.

Jordan's King Abdullah, who was on an official visit to Washington DC is en route back to Jordan after learning of the IS video and the fate of the 26 year old pilot.

Join me tomorrow on the Harvest Show for latest as I keep you abreast of the many different stories happening here in the Middle East.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

IS Strike in Sinai

Hello Everyone,

32 Egyptians, most of whom were soldiers, were killed in a series of attacks by Islamist militants in the north of Egypt's Sinai peninsula and the Suez.

The coordinated attacks were mainly in and around the provincial capital of the Sinai, El-Arish.

The Islamic State affiliated group Sinai Province fired rockets at police offices, a military base and a military hotel in El-Arish.

A car bomb was detonated at the military base and several checkpoints were attacked.

The attack in the Suez was carried out with a roadside bomb. More than 50 people were wounded in the extensive attacks.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has returned from an African Union Summit in the capital Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

The four separate attacks on security forces in North Sinai were the bloodiest in years.

These are the first significant assaults in the region since the most feared Sinai militant group swore allegiance to IS in back in November of 2014.??

These attacks will further weaken the attraction of tourists to Egypt and it's already frail economy.

It has now been four years since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, and many people fear their situation is less now than it was under Mubarak's rule.

President Sisi wishes to project stability for Egypt amidst cries of shaming the Muslim Brotherhood.

Earlier this week, the day after the fourth anniversary of the uprising in Egypt that ousted the former president Hosni Mubarak, his two sons were released from jail.

Their release followed deadly clashes between police and anti-government protesters commemorating the uprising.

Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, along with their father, are pending retrial for embezzlement.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Rattle in the North

Hello Everyone,

Earlier today Israel was rattled in the north of the country.

Two projectiles were fired from within Syria and landed in the Israeli controlled area of the Golan Heights.

After identifying the origin of the fire, the IDF returned artillery fire at the source of the projectiles.

An IDF spokesperson verified that the rounds made direct hits on the location in Syria.

Reports of injuries or damage in the attack were not readily made available.

The Syrian news agencies reported on that the Israeli artillery fire hit a Syrian military base where soldiers from the Syrian government were present.

Prior to the attack, rocket alert sirens went off in the area which included the Mt. Hermon ski area.

The rockets did in fact fall in Mount Hermon area, prompting the Israeli Army to clear the area.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

It comes amidst heightened concerns after an alleged Israeli Air Force strike nine days ago that killed approximately 13 men in a convoy of vehicles.

Seven were believed to be Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon.

The other six were reportedly Iranian, including a senior military general.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

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