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December 21, 2013

A Message to Benghazi and the World

How can we show the lovingkindness and forgiveness of God?

Anita Smith shows the world how the cry of Stephen recorded in Acts 7: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" as she says she forgives the attackers.

Her husband, Ronnie Smith at age 33 was shot and killed two weeks ago in Benghazi while jogging in the morning near the American Consulate where the American diplomatic mission was attacked a year earlier on September 11, 2012 when U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans (Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty) were killed in a terrorist mob attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Ronnie had been there in Benghazi providing a heroic ministry of teaching Libyan students at the International School for the last 18 months.
For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Messiah 2Corinthians 10:1
Thanks to my sister in The Lord, Misha for sharing this unbelievable story today of Ronnie's incredible wife Anita who wants this message to go out to the attackers in Benghazi:
"I just really want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them, and Ronnie would want this, and I hope and pray that our son, Hosea, would believe this".

"I pray with all my heart that the attackers, that maybe this incident would call them to know the love and the forgiveness that's found in Jesus, I really do."
CNN reports:
To the attackers, she wrote: "I love you and I forgive you."

To the Libyan people, she said, "We came to bless you, but you have blessed us much more. Thank you."

Benghazi was the cradle of Libya's 2011 revolution that ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime but since then, the new government is struggling to control armed groups in the country.

Libya's second-largest city, Benghazi also is where militants attacked a U.S. diplomatic mission in September 2012, killing four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. The United States blames the Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia for the attack.

"I hear people speaking with hate, anger and blame over Ronnie's death, but that's not what Ronnie would want," Smith wrote of her husband. "I want all of you -- all of the people of Libya -- to know I am praying for the peace and prosperity of Libya. May Ronnie's blood, shed on Libyan soil, encourage peace and reconciliation between the Libyan people and God."
From the Austin Stone church here in Austin...
For right now, we ask you to:

Pray for Anita, Hosea, and the rest of Anita and Ronnie’s family
Grieve for the loss of our brother with the hope of Christ
Trust that God’s will is perfect and His purposes are good

The Austin Stone will be assisting Ronnie's wife, Anita, financially. If you would like to make a gift in memory of Ronnie Smith, please follow this link.

Proceeds from the sale of The History of Redemption, an illustrated collection of scriptures edited by Ronnie Smith, will support the Smith family. You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Is it any wonder that Ronnie Smith edited "The History of Redemption"?

Is it any wonder Ronnie Smith taught its message?

No. And you will know why when you read the glorious open letter 'To the Libyan people' his wife Anita Smith has written:
"My husband and best friend Ronnie Smith loved the Libyan people. For more than a year, Ronnie served as a chemistry teacher in a school in Benghazi, and he would gladly have given more years to Libya if unknown gunmen had not cut his life short on December 5, 2013.

Ronnie and I came to Libya because we saw the suffering of the Libyan people, but we also saw your hope, and we wanted to partner with you to build a better future. Libya was very different from what we had experienced before, but we were excited to learn about Libyan culture. Ronnie grew to love you and your way of life, as did I. Ronnie really was "Libya’s best friend".

Friends and family from home were concerned about our safety, as were some of you. We talked about this more times than I can count. But we stayed because we believed the Libyan people were worth the risk. Even knowing what I know now, I have no doubt that we would both make the same decision all over again.

Ronnie loved you all so much, especially his students. He loved to joke with you, tell stories about you, help you with your lives and challenge you to be all that you could be. He did his best to live out his faith humbly and respectfully within a community of people with a different faith.

To his attackers: I love you and I forgive you.

How could I not? For Jesus taught us to “Love our enemies” -- not to kill them or seek revenge. Jesus sacrificed His life out of love for the very people who killed him, as well as for us today. His death and resurrection opened the door for us to walk on the straight path to God in peace and forgiveness. Because of what Jesus did, Ronnie is with Jesus in paradise now. Jesus did not come only to take us to paradise when we die, but also to bring peace and healing on this earth. Ronnie loved you because God loves you. Ronnie loved you because God loved him - not because Ronnie was so great, but because God is so great.

To the Libyan people: I always expected that God would give us a heart to love you, but I never expected you to love us so much. We came to bless you, but you have blessed us much more. Thank you. Thank you for your support and love for Ronnie and our son Hosea and me. Since Ronnie’s death my love for you has increased in ways that I never imagined. I feel closer to you now than ever before.

I hear people speaking with hate, anger and blame over Ronnie’s death, but that's not what Ronnie would want. Ronnie would want his death to be an opportunity for us to show one another love and forgiveness, because that’s what God has shown us.

I want all of you - all of the people of Libya - to know I am praying for the peace and prosperity of Libya. May Ronnie's blood, shed on Libyan soil, encourage peace and reconciliation between the Libyan people and God."
With her incredible message of love to Benghazi and the world, Anita is living out the teaching and instruction, the Torah that was expounded by Messiah Yeshua:
You have heard that it has been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate your enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45
The Austin Stone church will be assisting Ronnie's wife, Anita financially. If you would like to participate just make a gift in memory of Ronnie Smith, please click here.
But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 2Corinthians 10:17
Back in February 2011, Joel Rosenberg posted this on his blog...
"Libya is referred to numerous times in the Scriptures, both directly and indirectly.

In Matthew 27, for example, we learn that it was a Libyan man — Simon of Cyrene (a part of ancient Libya) — who carried the cross for our Lord Jesus.

In Acts chapter 2, we learn that God-fearing men from Libya were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and heard the Apostle Peter preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Some 3,000 people that days repented of their sins and became fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. It is likely that Libyans were among them since they are mentioned in the text.

In Acts 11, we learn that Libyan (Cyrene) followers of Jesus Christ helped bring the gospel to Antioch, Syria, and made disciples for Jesus there.

In Acts 13 we learn that a Libyan man — Lucius of Cyrene — becomes one of the leaders of the church at Antioch, helping send out Barnabus and Paul to take the gospel to Asia and Europe.

Again and again in the Scriptures we see that the Lord loves the people of Libya. He wants them to know Him and receive His free gift of salvation.

That said, Bible prophecy also tells us the government and many of the people of Libya will be engaged in great evil in the End of Days.

In Ezekiel 38-39, we learn that Libya is one of the nations that joins the Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel in “the last days.” In this prophecy, Ezekiel uses the name “Put.”

The first century historian Flavius Josephus wrote in his famous book, The Antiquities of the Jews, that “Put” or “Phut” is “ancient Libyos.” Ancient Libyos, we know, certainly included the territory of the modern nation state we refer to today as Libya, but also included Algeria and possibly Tunisia. This tells us the no matter what the near term outcomes of the revolutions underway in North Africa are, in the not-too-distant future Libya for certain and her neighbors will have virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel leadership who will eagerly join a coalition bent on destroying the Jews and occupy the land of Israel."
Rosenberg went on stating:
"In Daniel 11, we learn that Libya is one of the countries that will be under the control and direction of the Antichrist in “the last days.” The Hebrew Prophet Daniel tells us that “a despicable person will arise” during “a time of tranquility” and will seize global power “by intrigue” and by “overflowing forces” in the End Times.

This person, known in Christian theology as the Antichrist, “will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.” The Bible tells us the Antichrist “will enter the Beautiful Land” — that is, Israel — and “will stretch out his hand against other countries.” Eventually, the Antichrist will gain control of the entire world and force all people who haven’t received Christ as Savior and Lord to bow and worship him or be beheaded. But the Bible specifically notes that the Antichrist “will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Ethiopians [the people of “Cush,” which includes modern Sudan, Ethiopia and possible Eritrea] will follow at his heels.” It is not entirely clear why the Bible points specifically to “Libyans” and “Ethiopians” as among those who will follow and serve the Antichrist, but this is what the Lord tells us in advance will happen.

This is all the more reason the Church must seek to reach all of North Africa with the gospel of Jesus Christ before it is too late. Please be praying faithfully for Libya and all of North Africa at this critical hour."
Joel Rosenberg is a gifted writer, he is recognized by The New York Times as a Best Selling" author and he studies the Bible. He is concerned about an anti-christ person, a deceptive, demon possessed evil world leader, that may be accurate but I am gravely concerned about an antichrist movement, a Shariah beast system of terror rule led by false prophets, the Imams, Muftis and Clerics teaching deception from the Hadith's and the Qu'ran. I am deeply concerned about an antichrist spirit of oppression that declares Jesus is not the Son of God and ultimately brings terror and death to innocents like Ronnie Smith and tens of thousands of others whether in Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Beirut, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Nigeria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Entebbe, Glasgow, London, Bali, Somalia, Indonesia, Islamabad, Casablanca, Istanbul, Ankara, Madrid, the Twin Towers, Fort Hood or Benghazi.

I hate to say it, but there will be many more global casualties from terrorism to be recorded abroad and at home, many more places to name, many fatalities and injuries to grieve over and never forget, yet our focus must be on Israel and Jerusalem.

Strangely, the waves of Islamic terrorism began shortly

The letter of 1 John 4 describes that this deadly "spirit" was alive and well almost 2,000 years ago there in the Promised Land:
"Beloved, don't believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Yeshua the Messiah has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn't confess that Yeshua the Messiah has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the anti-messiah, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already." 1John 4:1-3 HNV
Update February 16, 2015: Sisi warns of response after Islamic State kills 21 Egyptians in Libya
"CAIRO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Islamic State released a video on Sunday that appeared to show the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned that his country would respond to the deaths as it saw fit.

Speaking on national television hours after the release of the video, Sisi said Cairo would choose the "necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings".

Egypt's state news agency MENA quoted the spokesman for the Coptic Church as confirming that 21 Egyptian Christians believed to be held by Islamic State were dead.

The beheadings could stiffen Sisi's resolve in dealing with security threats from militants thriving in neighbouring Libya's chaos who want to topple his U.S.-backed government.

Egypt has denied reports in the past that it had taken part, along with its close ally the United Arab Emirates, in air strikes against militants based in Libya.

The footage showing the deaths of the Egyptians appeared on the Twitter feed of a website that supports Islamic State, which has seized parts of Iraq and Syria and has also beheaded Western hostages.

In the video, militants in black marched the captives, dressed in orange jump suits, to a beach the group said was near Tripoli. They were forced down onto their knees, then beheaded.

A caption on the five-minute video read: "The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church." Before the killings, one of the militants stood with a knife in his hand and said: "Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for."

Thousands of Egyptians desperate for work have travelled to Libya since an uprising at home in 2011, despite advice from their government not to go to a country sliding into lawlessness."

Update January 13, 2015: This horrific new report comes today: Libya ISIS Libya affiliate claims to kidnap Christians
"CAIRO - A Libyan affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed the abduction of 21 Coptic Christians and released pictures of the captives.

The claim and photos were posted Monday on jihadi forums used by ISIS supporters. The Egyptian workers were seized last month in the central Libyan city of Sirte.

"The soldiers of the Islamic State in the province of Tripoli hold captive 21 Christian crusaders," the photo caption read, using a the name the group uses for itself."

Update November 29, 2014: This audio update is from Crescent Project.

Crescent Project's mission is to inspire, equip and serve people to reach out Muslims with the Gospel of Christ for the Glory of God. The audio was recorded on Revival Radio WROL 950, a Christian radio station in Boston, Massachusetts. It is titled: Speaking life into the darkest night - Part 1.

Crescent Project interviews Anita Smith, widow of Ronnie Smith, chemistry teacher slain in Benghazi, Libya. Approaching the one year anniversary of this dark event, Anita shares their story and her remarkable response, a Gospel light shone into a dark world.

What does this all mean? 

Consider a prayer: Please, God, guide me by your Spirit as to what I should hear and do.

It's time to repent and return to God's voice, return to hear and do His words and walk in the faith of His Kingdom path so that you can ready your lamp for your assignment. 

Stretch out your hand, and take from the tree of life, and live forever.

Open a Bible, read it, listen to God's voice and do Yeshua's teaching about the forever jots and tittles. 

You can learn how the things which are written in the Torah, the Prophets, and the Psalms are concerning Messiah and you can teach others to live life like Jesus, it's love in God's way:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:16-17
Today is the time, open your eyes if you're dead in your own valley of dry bones.

Look up and you'll recognize Messiah from Abraham's promise passed on to Isaac and Jacob as written by Moses in the Torah. You can see Him too in the Prophets and the Writings.

Repent and walk your Emmaus Road with Messiah. Study the Scriptures He taught every Sabbath that are filled with doing life God's way in the Kingdom, and tell others about Him. Be a gatekeeper until the house is complete.