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Jihadist Who Once Terrorized Christians and Muslims Has a MAJOR Conversion

April 4th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

Author: Stephanie Parker

Isaiah 59:1 says that the Lord’s hand not shortened, that it cannot save. Basically, it means that no person is too far lost that they can escape the power of God. The stories coming out of the Middle East have been nothing short of miraculous, with countless Muslims converting to Christianity after Jesus appeared to them in their dreams.

This story is one of the most incredible yet. A former member of Syrian’s al-Qaeda has surprised his friends, family and himself by claiming Jesus Christ as his savior instead of the Muslim God he has spent the majority of his life praising.

Bashir Mohammad said that he once identified himself as a jihadist due to his deep ties to Al-Nusra Front, the Sunni Islamist terrorists who were known as al-Qaeda Syria until 2016 when the extremists officially broke ties with al-Qaeda. In doing so, the Syrian terrorists became ISIS’s main rival in the war-torn middle eastern country of Syria.

But four years ago when the 25-year-old was an active member, his thoughts on Christianity were quite different than they are now and so were the extremists.

He told The New York Times that “Frankly I would have slaughtered anyone who suggested (Christianity)” because of his love for Islam and extremism ideologies.

At 15 Mohammad was introduced to a jihadist preacher. And a few years after that, in 2011, the year the Syrian crisis broke out, a time when everyone witnessed the ugliness of fighting, he became “re-energized” with Islam extremism ideology the preacher spoke about. So like other young men who felt called by the movement, he joined al-Nusra on the front lines. In doing so, he tormented prisoners and committed a long list of horrors all in the name of Nusra and their propaganda. According to Mohammad, it all made the “violence seem tolerable.”

You know “(al-Nusra) used to tell us these (prisoners) were the enemies of God… and so I looked on these executions positively.”

But the front lines of war took its toll and on a “break” he went to visit his family and his fiancé (now wife), Rashid. Both his parents and Rashid expressed concern over his growing anger and short fuse. Instead of him staying at home like the family had suggested, he left and went back to fight alongside fellow soldiers in the movement.

But unlike before, he started noticing different things like Syrian national forces using barbaric measures to kill prisoners, just like his side. To him, he looked at this as an awakening. Saying, It was “Muslims killing Muslims.”

It was then, “I realized there was something wrong.” It conflicted with the reason why he joined the Syrian al-Qaeda, saying, “I went to Nusra in search of my God.”

The harshness that came with this realization made him say good-by to al-Nusra for good. And just a few months after returning to his home in Northern Syria he fled with his wife to Turkey.

At first it seemed like their new life would be relatively easy considering everything the young couple had been through. But it wasn’t. His wife Rashid fell ill.

And on a whim, he decided to ask his cousin Ahmad for help. And as soon as he realized his cousin had such a strong love for Christ, he decided to step away and find help a different way. But that didn’t work and there was no where else to go. So he called back his cousin because his wife was very sick. And his cousin had his Canadian prayer group sing and pray for Rashid’s health.

In a matter of days, her health improved to his surprise and his wife. It also sparked their interest in Christianity. So his cousin again stepped in and put them in touch with a middle eastern evangelical group as well as a preacher in Istanbul.

In doing so, it opened up Mohammad’s eyes to something new. A religion that he says allowed him to feel a sense of calmness and peace. Explaining that when he opened his Bible, he personal felt calmer reading it than he had before. Also adding that, he felt very welcomed in the Church compared to the neighborhood mosques.

Another moment of peace fell on him, when he began reciting the Christian prayers. Noting that they were “more generous” than Muslim ones he had spend almost a quarter of his life reciting.

Then on top of that, was his dreams. Him and his wife felt like each one of their separate dreams “sealed their conversion.” Saying that, his wife Rashid dreamed of a biblical figure who had used heavenly powers to divide the waters of the sea and Mohammad himself had dreamed of Jesus giving him chickpeas. Most importantly both felt loved during each vision and after.

And now he realizes that, “There’s a big gap between the god I used to worship and the one I worship now.”

In the past “We used to worship in fear. Now everything has changed.”

In the young man’s new life in Istanbul, he has created a new community with his wife. And every Sunday afternoon, he holds a Christian service in his Istanbul living room where himself, his wife and twenty-two other Christian refugees recite scriptures and celebrate God.

20 Ways to Celebrate Easter

April 4th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

Easter Sunday is around the corner. How much time have you spent preparing?

Have you done any decorating to signal to your family and neighbors that Easter is coming and that this holiday is important to you? Are you preparing for this day as the most important celebration of the entire year?

I could ask more questions but this is not a guilt trip.

It’s simply to illustrate that most of us begin thinking about Christmas months before December arrives. At five weeks our gift buying and decorating have begun and plans have been made for inviting loved ones and friends for parties and feasting.

I’m not suggesting we make Easter equal in terms of consumerism, but I am suggesting we make it much more than a Sunday morning event.

Here are 20 ideas to help you celebrate with great joy. You might want to print this list and mark the ideas you want to try and then mark your calendar with deadlines and to dos for making it happen. But don’t do them all. Discouragement will result not rejoicing! Rejoice if you choose to do even one!

    1. Start thinking about Easter and begin planning today. Don’t wait till Palm Sunday. Lent began this year on March 1, and is a season intended to help us prepare our hearts to receive and worship Jesus for His work on the cross. You aren’t a failure if you start late. Order our Messiah Mystery kit to help you and your family prepare your hearts and minds. Or follow our weekly Lent Lessons on the blog.
    2. Create anticipation with a countdown to Easter. Make a traditional numbered a paper chain for your kids to tear off one paper loop each day.
    3. Plan meaningful decorations for your home for Easter. Please forego the chicks and bunnies. Instead, hang the Easter Banner on your front door. Set fresh spring flowers on your mantle or kitchen to represent new life. Encourage your kids to build a cross with old pieces of wood and let them decide where to display it.
    1. Get your church and community involved with some advance planning. Organize a church or neighborhood Easter Egg hunt, using Resurrection Eggs. FamilyLife even offers a printable party planning packet to make it easy.
    2. Have your kids reenact Palm Sunday. Read aloud the story in John 12. Encourage them to create costumes, and even the scene if you have the space.
    3. Invite your friends over for a DIY craft night to make these Easter candles. Use them as décor on your kitchen or dining room table, but don’t light them until Easter Sunday. Waiting until Resurrection Day makes your Easter feast much more special and it signifies that the Light of the World is risen indeed!
    1. Celebrate Passover. This year Jewish Passover is on April 10th. For recipes, a dinner guide, and activities, click here.
    2. Tune your heart to worship the sacrifice of Messiah by reading John Piper’s book Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. It’s an excellent book for your personal devotion time, conveniently available as a PDF here.
    3. Watch The Jesus Film. Dear friends of ours, Tim and Darcy Kimmel, watch the movie on Saturday afternoon and take communion together as a family. Watching the story of Jesus every year will make Easter far more meaningful.
    4. Observe Holy Week. Starting on Palm Sunday, read the I AM statements and stories about Jesus from Behold the Lamb, one each day as your family’s devotions. Hang the cards on the chain garland that comes in the kit.
    1. Attend your church’s Good Friday services. Talk about Jesus’ death on the cross to make Jesus’ death and resurrection more real to your children. Tear a handmade curtain or a yard length of muslin fabric to explain the ripping of the veil in the temple. Then keep all your curtains and blinds closed to make your house dark. Your family will remember the deep sadness the disciples felt after Jesus died. Dress in black mourning clothes on Saturday’s Easter Eve. Then on Easter Sunday to symbolize Jesus rising from the dead, serve Resurrection Rolls, Tomb Cake, or special pancakes to illustrate the empty tomb.
    2. Send an Easter care package. If there’s someone you’d love to spend Easter with but distance keeps you apart, drop a meaningful gift in the mail to them. If they’ll be hosting the meal, send the Easter placemats or napkins. Or send the set of 8 Oh,Taste and See cards for someone single or alone to read as personal devotions.
    3. Include truth-telling gifts in your children’s Easter baskets. A new shirt to wear to the sunrise service is great, but also add something that will continue teaching your children about what Easter really means. Check out Growing Together in Forgiveness, a read-aloud storybook for families.
    4. Wear all white on Resurrection Sunday. Historically Christians have dressed in white at Easter to symbolize we are set free from sin and will one day be wholly pure. Think through what you have in your closet and your kids’ closets that you can dress in white. Or start shopping!
    5. Invite others. Around the world monumental events are rarely celebrated alone. Weddings, birthdays, graduations are grand occasions shared with family and friends. Easter should be the same and more! Use our FREE printable Easter invitation to invite extended family, friends, or neighbors to join you or partner with a friend who has more space to plan, prepare, and share a feast to be remembered!
    1. Help your church make Easter Sunday memorable. A good friend of mine, Andrea, a pastor’s wife, said Easter at their church is a party. She said they shoot confetti cannons and encourage all the members to bring bells to ring and banners to wave to enhance the celebration. Last Easter everyone was given a cake pop as they left the service.
    2. Prepare a special feast. Find a suggested Easter menu or ask friends for ideas. One of our favorites for our Easter meal is Spring Salad. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to add it to your menu.
    1. Create a grand tablescape for Easter lunch or early dinner feasting in a gold and white color scheme. Gold reminds us of our victorious King and white represents the purity of His perfect life and the purity that will be ours one day. You décor doesn’t have to be expensive. Set the DIY candles on blocks of wood to create varying heights. Fill mason jars with white roses, hydrangeas, or even baby’s breath. If the weather is glorious, eat outside with gold-rimmed paper plates, gold plastic silverware, paper cups. We even found gold striped paper straws for our photo shoot. A backyard picnic setup gives the kids space to play when the feasting is over.
  1. Recount the story of the Resurrection during your Easter feast. Read the miraculous stories on our Easter napkins, or by reading our Oh, Taste and See cards. The short stories are written for 10 years to adult, but younger children can listen quietly to the stunning wonders that God performed the first Easter.
  2. Make an Easter playlist of your favorite hymns and songs that focus on the cross and the resurrection. Listen for yourself and your family in the weeks before and after Easter, but on Easter Sunday, play them all day in your home and during your backyard celebration. I want to encourage you to respond to the miracles in words or songs by celebrating with exuberant dancing, clapping, or singing together. Easter is a day to party like no other.

The resurrection of Jesus the Messiah is the pinnacle of world history. It is the greatest miracle of all time. Is it any wonder the watching world isn’t impressed with our faith if our celebration is marked by the appropriate somber tone of Lent with only an hour or two of moderate joy on Easter Sunday?

I pray you will join us and hopefully thousands of others as we plan celebrations that are worthy of our risen Lord and the envy of all who don’t know Him. Christ’s victory on the cross is the answer for every wound and need in every heart.

“Come, let us magnify the Lord together.”

Good news story: Trio of runners help a fatigued woman cross the finish line of a half-marathon

April 4th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates

I love what Gilles Et Claudette wrote of Facebook about this video: “This is a life lesson, as Christians, it’s our job and call to support the weak or those who tumbles as they walk or run in our Christian journey on earth. Not to judge or criticize. Our life is filled with such instances, at the end, it’s to get to the end, with a little help of friends and the Grace of God.”

 

VIDEO: Easter According to Kids

April 4th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in For Kids
Get ready to laugh! These adorable kids know their bible stories… with a few additions for dramatic effect.

17 of the Best Cadbury Mini Eggs Recipes for Easter

April 4th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in For Kids

I’m not sure about you but around CHRI we’re just a little bit of obsessed with Mini Eggs… in fact it may be a problem how much we love them ;)

Which is why we were overjoyed to find a roundup of recipes that all use Mini Eggs! Desserts made with our favourite Easter candy, that’s what we call a win-win!

These are 17 of the best Cadbury Mini Eggs recipes from around the internet.
Perfect for Easter baking!

It’s a magical time of year, my friends.  A time when a devlish old friend creeps out from hiding and reappears on grocery shelves everywhere.  Who is this dangerous acquaintance, you might ask?  CADBURY MINI EGGS.  You guys, I have SUCH a problem with these little guys!  Oh man, they are SO good!  I eat them by the bagful handful.  Seriously. 😉 My sisters are as addicted as I am, and every year we send each other gleeful texts when we spot them on the shelves.  I can not walk by one of the mini sized bags without grabbing one.  It is physically impossible.  I wish I was kidding.

Each year I grab several large bags as well, with the intent to make the cookies that are first on this list, and I usually end up just snacking away most of them.  I was thinking wistfully about those cookies and decided to share that recipe link with you, as well as other Cadbury Mini Eggs recipes that are sure to make your Easter season an especially fattening and delightful one.  I have my eye on several to make in the next month.  (I’m looking at you, Cadbury Magic Bars . . .)

So, without further ado, I present to you 17 of the best Cadbury Mini Eggs Recipes from around the web.  Happy baking!

Cadbury Egg Cookies from Our Best Bites
(A favorite!  I make them every year.)

Easter Egg Nest Cakes from Sweet C’s Designs

Cadbury Magic Bars from Kleinworth & Co

Easter Thumbprint Cookies from Bowl of Mush

White Chocolate Easter Cupcakes from Garnish & Glaze

Bird Nest Cookies from A Mom’s Impression

Cadbury Mini Egg Cheesecake Dip from A Pumpkin and a Princess

Easter Bark from Say Yes

Cadbury Mini Egg Blondies from Chef in Training

Cadbury Mini Egg Brownies from Branna’s Recipe Box

Cadbury Mini Egg Layer Cake from The Gunny Sack

Bunny Chow from Something Swanky

Cadbury Mini Egg Pretzel Treats from My Sister’s Suitcase

Easter Nest Sugar Cookies from Seeded at the Table

Easter-Candy-Crack

Cadbury Crack from Honeybear Lane

cupcake-easter-copy

Cadbury Egg Cupcakes from I Heart Naptime

Cadbury Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cooking With Ruthie

Super Easy Empty Tomb Rolls for Easter

April 4th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Shout-out to Tim on Facebook for sharing this amazing recipe from oh sweet basil with us!

Empty Tomb Rolls
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  15 mins
Total time:  25 mins
Serves: 12

Easter is the perfect time of year to make empty tomb rolls. The marshmallow melts down into a yummy caramel sauce!

Ingredients

  • 12 Rhodes Rolls, or Homemade Dough, or Crescent roll dough
  • 12 Marshmallows
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • ¼ Cup Butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish.
  2. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Press the dough out into a circle. Roll a marshmallow in the butter and then the cinnamon sugar and place on the dough. Pinch the circle closed around the marshmallow and roll the dough in the butter and cinnamon sugar. Place in the baking dish. Repeat until you’ve used all the dough.
  4. Let rest 15 minutes and then bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately.