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Abiding in Christ

By Angela Wittman

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
(2 Timothy 3:12)

Dear Friends,

The recent arrest of a group of Christians here in America has compelled me to write to the Church in America about abiding in Christ and the inevitable persecution this will bring.

The recent persecution I am referring to is the arrest of eleven Christians, which took place in the city of "brotherly love" commonly known as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The group of Christians had gone to the annual homosexual event called "Outfest" (which covers a 15-block downtown area) to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The engagement of our culture as modeled by the Repent America group in Philadelphia is what we all are called to do, if we are true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Here is an excerpt of the November 15, 2004 press release, Preliminary Hearing Set for Christians Charged with Hate Crimes as released by Repent America:

They [the Repent America group] were met by the “Pink Angels”, an organization founded by attorney Chuck Volz, senior advisor to Philly Pride Presents, who had stated in a pre-event interview that their group would carry large signs to block Christians’ access to Outfest participants.

A group of the “Pink Angels” locked arms to create a human wall to blockade the public sidewalk and prevent the Christians from proceeding. The Philadelphia Civil Affairs Police Captain, William Fisher, initially broke the blockade when requested to do so by Marcavage, and confirmed that they had freedom to go where they wanted on the public street and sidewalks. However, Fisher failed to take subsequent action when the “Pink Angels” again surrounded the Christians and began to blow whistles, scream obscenities, and hold their approximately 10-foot-high pink Styrofoam boards to obscure the Repent America workers from anyone’s view.

After a complaint by an Outfest vendor, and some discussion with Marcavage about the legalities of both the “Pink Angels” and Captain Fisher’s actions, Fisher moved the Christians to a more remote location.

However, the “Pink Angels” continued to surround, obstruct and shout at the Christians.

Neither City Attorney Karen Simmons nor Chief Inspector of the Civil Affairs Division, James Tiano, would deal with the boisterous behavior of the “Pink Angels” nor would specify what laws, if any, Repent America workers were breaking.

However, when Marcavage and his group attempted to walk to another area, Chief Tiano unexpectedly placed all eleven Christians under arrest.

The Christians, including a juvenile, were held from 1:30 Sunday afternoon until Monday morning, with a sixty-seven-year-old woman not released until ten days later.

They were charged with three Felonies: Criminal Conspiracy, Ethnic Intimidation, which falls under “Hate Crimes”, and Riot; as well as five Misdemeanors: Reckless Endangerment, Possession of Instruments of Crime, Failure to Disperse, Disorderly Conduct, and Obstructing Highways. None of the “Pink Angels” were cited or arrested.

Out of this group of Christians arrested was the woman who was incarcerated for ten days. I listened to her story via Internet radio at the "Heart of the Matter with Pastor Ralph Ovadal," (http://www.theheartofthematteronline.com/archive.asp?archiveID=1131).

The first thing I noticed about this woman was the love of Jesus Christ reflected in her voice. She did not sound angry and bitter over her ordeal, but instead she expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve Jesus Christ in a women's prison filled with profanity and the vileness of lesbianism.

What the enemies of the cross meant for harm, the LORD used for good as the women inmates were exposed to the truth and beauty of the cross. As this woman won their respect, they soon refrained from using profanity in her presence and acknowledged her as a Godly woman.

This brave woman, Linda Beckman, truly knows the security of abiding in Christ and she has suffered for it. The authorities in Philadelphia should honor Linda for her faithful witness of love instead of wrongfully arresting her for it.

Scripture tells us "the eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms..."(Deut. 33:27 KJV).

May we place our trust in Christ as Linda has. Amen.

-----------------------------
Published 2004.

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