"In terms of mainstream media, the little cliché they say is 'if it bleeds, it leads.' Bad news is always going to dominate the mainstream news cycle, and [the] same general thing will pervade social media," New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson tells "Byline Anew" host Fior Hernandez Thursday, Sept. 9, on Brighteon.TV.
But Richardson says that "there's a lot happening behind the scenes and behind the veil that our natural eyes can see."
"As believers, we need to recognize the fact that there's a much bigger picture. We need to have our priorities straight. It's not to say politics is irrelevant, but it's to say that there [are] things that are much more important," says Richardson, who is also a teacher and filmmaker affiliated with the Global Catalytic Ministries.
He relates a report that some Afghan Christians had engaged in Bible studies with some Taliban fighters that went to their village. "They are committed to continuing with evangelism and discipleship despite the horrors that we're seeing in the news."
Despite its strong Islamic background, Afghanistan reportedly has the second-fastest growing church in the world – next only to Iran. (Related: Praying "in the name of Jesus" now labeled "Islamophobic" by the increasingly deranged, anti-Christian Left.)
Richardson became a believer in 1991. Almost immediately, he became both confronted and burdened by the fact that while roughly half of all unreached people worldwide are Muslim, very few missionaries are sent to the Muslim world. Now, Richardson has more than 25 years of experience in Muslim-related ministry and serves on the board of three ministries dedicated to reaching Muslims.
"When you're dealing with these parts of the world, the Middle East, Central Asia, you're dealing with the underground church," says Richardson.
"Most people don’t often get to peek behind the church. Because I got to work with the underground church, I got to meet the people. I got to hear their testimonies. That's what I tried to communicate to the broader public, so that people will know that there’s more than just the bad news."
But Richardson makes it clear that the unfortunate things happening in Afghanistan are real.
In the rural villages of Afghanistan, especially among known Christians, the Taliban are taking young women and girls and giving them away as plunder to their fighters. In young families, the husbands are being executed and the women are being taken and raped.
Even the young boys are in danger of being subjected to sexual abuse. "A lot of people don't realize that even within historical orthodox Islamic theology, if a young man doesn't have a beard, he's sort of a potential object of [sexual] abuse," shares Richardson. (Related: CA governor signs controversial bill that reduces the penalty for sodomy with minors.)
Some believers are fleeing to the countryside.
"They are going to the mountains, the ravines, sleeping out with their sleeping bags and blankets, trying to weather the intensity of this moment, assuming they can eventually go back to their villages," Richardson told GodReports.com in a separate interview last month. "Christians are aware of what's coming. Some are saying they will stand firm. Some are still sharing the Gospel – it's amazing."
Richardson has received reports of Afghan Christians who are choosing to stay and share the gospel. "They say, 'we don't care, we're here because we love this nation, we love our people, and we're going to share the gospel regardless, even if it means losing our lives.'"
The fearless nature of these believers reminds Richardson of the character of the believers in the Book of Revelation.
"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives unto death. We are seeing that in real time," declares Richardson. "Our brothers and sisters are demonstrating the character that will be required to navigate the days ahead, as we approach the Last Days. Jesus made it clear, the gates of hell will not prevail against the kingdom of God."
Watch the full episode of "Byline Anew" with host Fior Hernandez featuring Joel Richardson here.
You can catch "Byline Anew" live every Thursday at 10:30-11 p.m. on Brighteon.TV
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