We are currently finalizing plans for the first “Epicenter Conference” in Asia for early 2010. We are finalizing plans for our first U.S. East Coast “Epicenter Conference,” to be held in Philadelphia in the summer of 2010. I also just got off the phone with Pastor Greg Laurie from Harvest Ministries. He’s developing a prophecy conference in California for the spring of 2010 and has invited me to participate. I’ll have more details on all these events soon.
My team and I would be deeply grateful for your prayers as we seek to educate Christians here at home and around the globe and mobilize them to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus at this critical moment. Thanks so much.
* After analyzing the data, we now estimate that more than 265,000 people participated in the 9/11 Town Hall meeting via webcast, via the hundreds of church congregations that showed the event, and via 750 Christian radio stations that aired the event live or by tape delay.
* Many more watched the event on TV as it was carried live or by tape delay by five Christian TV stations and networks. But we did not include those numbers in our total because we could not determine with any precision just how many were watching.
* There have been 4.9 million hits on the www.insidetherevolution.org website since it was launched, representing people in 162 countries. These don’t represent 4.9 million individual people, but rather tens of thousands coming to the web page and using the site extensively.
* A month later, we’re still getting 800 visitors a day to the site.
* More than 4,000 people from 57 countries have downloaded the podcast of the event since 9/11.
* More than 20,000 people have purchased a copy of the Inside The Revolution documentary film on DVD — many have told us they have shown it to the church congregations, as well as to family, friends, Bible studies and home fellowship groups
* By way of context, the original “Epicenter Conference” we held in Israel in April 2008 at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem drew some 2,000 people.
* The first U.S.-based “Epicenter Conference” we held in San Diego in April 2009 drew more than 20,000 people, including 7,000 people who came to Cox Arena on the campus of San Diego State University.
On October 19th, I wrote a weblog entry entitled, “Turkey Turns On Israel.” That dynamic is now accelerating. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced “Erdo’-wan”) is now in Tehran, embracing President Ahmadinejad, calling Iran’s tyrannical regime a friend, endorsing Iran’s nuclear program and international defiance, and continuing to denounce Israel. This is a nasty development in its own right. It also is consistent with biblical prophecy. Ezekiel 38-39 indicates that in the “last days” Iran and Turkey (“Persia” and “Gomer,” respectively) will form an alliance with each other, with Russia and a group of other nations hostile to Israel. Developing….
We just completed several days of Joshua Fund board meetings. I’ll have much to report soon. But one thing I wanted to let you know is that with the threat of a war with Iran so high, the board has authorized funding for two ambulances for Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s national emergency medical service. Lord willing, we’ll be able raise the necessary funds and transfer them to MDA by the end of this year. The purchase of ambulances (similar to the one pictured) was not in our original 2009 budget. But we added this as part of our approach of “praying for peace, but preparing for war.” For more information, and to learn how you can financially contribute to Joshua Fund projects like this, please click here.
"British soldiers give a hand in rescue operations at the site of the bomb-wrecked U.S. Marine command center near Beirut airport Sunday, Oct. 23, 1983. A bomb-laden truck drove into the center collapsing the entire four story building." (AP Photo/Bill Foley)
At 6:25 local time on the morning of October 23, 1983, agents of the ayatollah used a suicide bomber to plow a truck filled with explosives into the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
The attack resulted in “the largest non-nuclear explosion that had ever been detonated on the face of the Earth,” according to a U.S. federal court judge who found the Islamic Republic of Iran guilty of perpetrating the crime. Locked doors on a building nearly three hundred feet away were ripped off their hinges. All the trees in the surrounding area were stripped completely bare of their leaves. The windows in the control tower at Beirut’s international airport were blown out. And the four-story cement and steel Marine facility collapsed into fifteen feet of rubble, ash, and smoke.
When my wife and I got married in the summer of 1990 and settled in the Washington, D.C., area, we soon met Charlie and Lynn Derbyshire, a couple at church who had experienced the evil of the Iranian Revolution firsthand. Lynn lost her oldest brother—Marine Captain Vincent Smith—in the Beirut bombing. Charlie was still helping her heal from the loss when we met. But the horrors of 9/11 and the subsequent deaths of American and Israeli forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon in the years that followed ripped open those wounds afresh. Through Lynn and Charlie, my wife and I have gotten a personal and painful glimpse at the lasting emotional scars left by the jihadists.
When I set out to write this book, I wrestled with whether or not to even ask Lynn if I could share her story. In the end, however, I did ask. I felt it was important for others to understand the human impact of the Revolution and to realize that for the victims of terrorism, the trauma is in many ways as real today as it was so long ago.
Graciously, Lynn and Charlie agreed.
In October of that year, Lynn was living in New Mexico. Newly married, she and her husband had just come home from church on a beautiful Sunday morning when her neighbor ran to meet her. Tears were streaming down her neighbor’s face. She grabbed at Lynn’s arm as Lynn was getting out of the car. “You’ve gotta come in the house,” she said. “Something terrible has happened! You gotta come watch the news.”
“It was about ten in the morning,” Lynn recalled. “I kept saying, ‘Well, just tell me what’s happened—just tell me.’ We went into her house—and this was before they had 24/7 coverage of news events, so we had to wait through whatever the program was until the next time they broke in with their special report—and I kept saying to her, ‘Tell me what’s wrong; tell me!’ We were both crying, and I just couldn’t conceive of what was happening. So then when the news came on, I was obviously prepared that there was a huge tragedy, but I just didn’t . . . I just couldn’t think. And so when the news came on the television, it was almost like being physically hit. I kind of sat back in the chair—‘This can’t be happening, this can’t be true.’”
Network newscasters reported that suicide bombers had attacked the Marine barracks in Beirut as well as the barracks housing French peacekeepers. There were 241 Americans dead, 56 dead from the French barracks, and many more wounded.
Lynn rushed back home and called her parents, who were living in Washington, D.C., but they were not home. Nobody had cell phones back then, so she had no way of reaching them.
She then called Vince’s wife, also in the D.C. area, and found her parents already there, trying to comfort her and her young son. Lynn asked her father, who was an active duty colonel in the Marine Corps at the time, “Dad, don’t you know what’s happening? Can’t you tell us anything?”
“We just don’t know anything yet,” her father replied, noting that his colleagues were saying a massive search-and-rescue operation was under way because there were so many men still unaccounted for.
“That was a Sunday,” Lynn remembered, “and it was two and a half, almost three weeks later before they were able to identify Vince’s body. So it was just every day—going into my neighbor’s house to watch the television and calling my parents every day. My dad finally said, after about the fourth day, ‘Honey, I know it’s hard, but I promise I’ll call you if I find anything out. I’m not gonna leave you out. I promise I’ll call.’
“I was a schoolteacher, and I went to school and was trying to teach, and I just couldn’t even function. I would be writing on the blackboard and forget midsentence what I was writing. I would turn around and look at these little sixth graders, and I just kept leaving the room. But I couldn’t not go to work, because that’s even worse. So if you can just imagine . . . waiting—nineteen days—to find out whether someone you love is dead or alive. It was torture.”
“How did you finally get the news?” I asked her.
“My father called me on a Thursday morning. It was about 5:00 a.m., I think. And when the phone rang, I knew. I just knew. You know, you have a sixth sense about that stuff. I answered the phone, and he said, ‘It’s time to come home. They’ve identified Vince, and it’s time to come home to bury him.’
“That was a whirlwind in itself, trying to get from a tiny little town in central New Mexico back to Washington, D.C., and see to the funeral arrangements, and it was just surreal. They buried him in Quantico Cemetery. It was the first time I had been back together with most of my family since my wedding day. So to go from the joy of seeing your family at your wedding and then to be together at a funeral, it was just terrible.
“And I really couldn’t believe it. I spent a long time in that first of stage of grief, where you say, ‘This isn’t happening; this can’t be real; this isn’t me.’ Because I was accustomed to Vince being gone for a long time. He was seven years older than me. When I was eleven, he went away to the Naval Academy, and I was accustomed to not seeing him. He would be gone for long stretches, and then we would get letters and hear whatever was going on with him. Then he would be home for a few days, and then he’d be gone again for six months. So I just had this surreal feeling that, ‘He’s gonna come home. He’s gonna come home.’
“Of course it was a closed casket, so I had to talk myself into believing that he was in that box. I remember when we went to the funeral home the night before the funeral. They had the casket in a room and you could go in and kneel down and pray, and they gave each of us an opportunity to do that. Here’s this flag-draped casket and all these flowers, and there’s nothing there that was Vince. It couldn’t be—it just couldn’t be. I remember kneeling down and praying, ‘Lord, how could You do this? If You really are a loving God, how could You let this happen?’”
In time, U.S. authorities reconstructed the chain of events that led to the bombing.
They learned that after months of monitoring operations at the barracks housing the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, Hezbollah operatives had ambushed a truck that was headed to the compound to deliver fresh water. The operatives then quickly replaced that truck with one they had painted to look like the one Marine guards were expecting. This nineteen-ton vehicle, however, had been outfitted with some 2,500 pounds of high-tech explosives.
The driver, the U.S. later learned, was a devout jihadist, eager to give up his life to kill Americans and thus, he hoped, secure his place in paradise.
As the sun was just beginning to rise on a gorgeous autumn day in the Lebanese capital, “the driver drove past the Marine barracks” and “circled in the large parking lot behind the barracks.” He then pushed the accelerator to the floor, “crashed through the concertina wire barrier and a wall of sandbags, and entered the barracks.” The force of the explosion was equivalent to between 15,000 and 21,000 pounds of TNT.
At the time, of course, Lynn and her family knew almost none of the details. They were operating in the fog of war, amid rumors and scraps of information. Moreover, they were dealing with a kind of warfare that had never been used against Americans before.
“I’d never heard of suicide bombing,” Lynn recalled. “And up until Vince went there, I had never heard of Lebanon. I’m embarrassed to say I was one of the average Americans who doesn’t know anything about geography. We had to look it up on a map. I had never heard of terrorists, of course. I had heard of Muslims, but I’d never heard of this whole idea of radical Muslims and jihad and all of that sort of stuff. None of us had ever heard of that.”
Lynn was not alone; this was the first known suicide bombing by Muslims against American targets in history.
“Right after the bombing,” Lynn explained, “Hezbollah came forward and claimed credit for having done this, and in a very bragging, grandiose way: ‘We killed all these Americans! We’re gettin’ ’em! We’re gettin’ ’em where it counts, and we’re the ones; we did it!’ But by pretty early in 1984, it became clear that Hezbollah was doing this at the behest of the Iranian government.”
Sure enough, over the next few years, as the U.S. government continued to investigate the attack, it became increasingly clear that the entire operation had been set into motion not by Hezbollah alone but with the direct assistance of the Khomeini regime in Tehran. The mounting evidence was so compelling, the families of the slain Marines eventually decided to join together and file a wrongful death suit against the Islamic Republic of Iran. In so doing, they hoped to prove once and for all in a court of law that Iran was, in fact, responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. They also hoped to punish the regime in the only way they could, since neither the Reagan administration nor any U.S. administration that followed had punished anyone for the wanton murder of American Marines.
“I’m just a soccer mom,” Lynn demurred. “Really, I’m just trying to raise my children and keep my household running. I’m going to the grocery store and doing the laundry and those kind of things, so most of this about radical Islam I don’t really understand. It’s way above my pay grade. It wasn’t until we were actually at the trial and I was hearing the testimony they had gathered that I understood how cut-and-dried the case really was, how completely and thoroughly responsible the government of Iran was for the death of my brother and the other 240 Americans that were killed that day.”
Lynn was right. During the court case, which the families ultimately won, many facts came to light that proved beyond a doubt that Iran was behind the attack. Consider the following excerpts from the trial judge’s written opinion:
“The post-revolutionary government in Iran . . . declared its commitment to spread the goals of the 1979 revolution to other nations. Towards that end, between 1983 and 1988, the government of Iran spent approximately $50 to $150 million financing terrorist organizations in the Near East. One of the nations to which the Iranian government directed its attention was the war-torn republic of Lebanon.”
“Dr. Michael Ledeen, a consultant to the Department of Defense at the time of the Marine barracks bombing and an expert on U.S. foreign relations, testified at the trial that ‘Iran invented, created, funded, trained, and runs to this day Hezbollah, which is arguably the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization.’”
“The fake water delivery truck . . . [was] driven by Ismalal Ascari, an Iranian.”
“On October 25, 1983, the chief of naval intelligence notified Admiral [James A.] Lyons of an intercept of a message between Tehran and Damascus that had been made on or about September 26, 1983. . . . The message directed the Iranian ambassador to contact . . . the leader of the terrorist group . . . and to instruct him to have his group instigate attacks against the multinational coalition in Lebanon, and ‘to take a spectacular action against the United States Marines.’” (emphasis added)
“Based on the evidence presented by expert witnesses at trial, the Court finds that it is beyond question that Hezbollah and its agents received massive material and technical support from the Iranian government.”….
When the trial was over and all the evidence had been examined and thoroughly reviewed, the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth, the U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia, ruled that agents acting on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran “caused the deaths of over 241 peacekeeping servicemen at the Marine barracks” in a “willful and deliberate act of extrajudicial killing.” Moreover, Judge Lamberth concluded that Hezbollah, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security “are jointly and severally liable to the plaintiffs for compensatory and punitive damages.”
On September 7, 2007, after reviewing the merits of each individual member of the class action suit, Judge Lamberth ordered Iran to pay more than $2.6 billion to the nearly one thousand survivors and family members of those killed. “The cost of state-sponsored terrorism,” he said, “just went up.”
The families of the victims know that the chances of their ever actually receiving any of the settlement money are very low. And even victory cannot heal all the wounds.
“Twenty-four years later, the wound in my heart over Vincent’s death is still gaping wide,” Lynn shared with me as our conversation drew to a close. “Now why is that? It’s because the criminals are getting away with their crime. And it’s because they’re continuing to commit similar crimes and other people are suffering and dying at their hands.”
May we never forget the Americans Iran killed in Beirut in 1983. May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God, praying faithfully for the victims and their families and friends, as well as the criminals.
This article is adapted from Joel C. Rosenberg’s New York Times best-selling non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution.
Excerpts from AP coverage: “Israeli forces stormed Jerusalem‘s holiest shrine Sunday, firing stun grenades to disperse hundreds of stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in a fresh eruption of violence at the most volatile spot in the Holy Land. A wall of Israeli riot police behind plexiglass shields closed in on the crowd, sending many protesters — overwhelmingly young men — running for cover into the black-domed Al-Aqsa mosque. The mosque is one part of the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Dozens of protesters remained holed up inside the mosque for several hours, occasionally opening shuttered doors to throw objects at police. The Israeli forces did not enter the building, and the protesters eventually left peacefully and the compound was closed, police said. There were no serious injuries. Israel‘s national police chief, David Cohen, accused a small group of Muslim extremists of trying to foment violence — echoing a charge made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago. ‘The police will act with a strong hand against anyone who disrupts order on the Temple Mount and against those incite to riot,’ Cohen said….”
The U.S. and other Western powers seem convinced Iran is making a major concession. Iran’s leaders say they will agree to ship about 1.2 tons of enriched uranium to Russia and France to be reprocessed. It will then be sent back to Iran in a form that could be used as fuel for a reactor but couldn’t be turned into nuclear weapons.
I don’t buy it. Iran would still be enriching more uranium. Within 9 months to a year, experts say, they would again have enough enriched uranium to be able to build 1 to 2 nuclear bombs. What if they have more enriched uranium hidden away that we don’t know about?
A deal in the next few days would be hailed as a great Western victory, perhaps even a reason for President Obama to have actually won the Nobel Peace Prize. Iran would slip out of the sanctions noose. The Israelis would have absolutely no international support for a preemptive military strike, even if it felt one were still needed.
I will wait to read the fine print before rendering a final judgment. I continue to pray for peace, and hope there is a true way out of this crisis. But at this stage, I’m highly skeptical that the Iranian leadership has suddenly “seen the light” and given up its stated goal of annihilating the U.S. and Israel. I believe the regime in Tehran is craftily trying to buy time to complete its nuclear weapons program by forestalling crippling international economic sanctions, and/or an Israeli preemptive strike. Developing….
UPDATED: On Friday night, October 30th, I will be addressing the Christian Embassy’s annual fellowship dinner in the Washington, D.C. area. The event is designed to introduce their ministry and to raise financial support to reach leaders in the nation’s capital. Christian Embassy reaches out to leaders on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon, in foreign embassies and to Presidential Appointees. I will be discussing Inside The Revolution, the rising threat of Radical Islam, the dramatic advances being made by the Revivalists, and the recent screening we had on Capitol Hill. During the evening, you will also hear about what God is doing in our nation’s capital and how lives are being changed with the gospel through this dynamic ministry. There is no cost for the dinner, but an opportunity for a financial investment will be provided. For further information or to register, contact Danielle at 703-525-1770 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are the intensifying Turkish-Israeli tensions prophetic?
Turkey is a beautiful, wonderful and fascinating country.
The Apostle Paul wrote much of the New Testament either in Turkey (then “Asia Minor”), or to the churches located throughout that remarkable land. The Apostle John saw in Turkey the startling vision of the End Times that became the Book of Revelation. The country later became the seat of the Ottoman Islamic empire. Later it became a modern democracy, a NATO ally, a friend of Israel, and the original “Reformer” country. I have been there numerous times and shot part of the Inside The Revolution documentary film there last year.
But something is amiss. Just back from a family vacation abroad, I have come home to find the international news media filled with stories about escalating tensions between Turkey and Israel. Over the past 10 days or so:
Turkey has canceled a NATO military exercise because Israel was invited to participate
Turkey has aired a drama on state-run TV portraying an Israeli soldier walking up to a Palestinian child and barbarically shooting her point-blank
Turkey has made moves to draw closer to Iran and Syria, including choosing to engage in military exercises with Syria instead of Israel
Turkey has made moves to draw closer to Russia
These are troublesome developments on two levels.
First, they indicate that Turkey is not simply turning against Israel but doing so, in part, to curry favor with an emerging Russia-Iranian-Syrian alliance.
Second, these developments are consistent with Bible prophecies found in Ezekiel 38-39 which indicate that in the “last days” Turkey (identified in the prophecies as “Gomer” and part of “Beth Togarmah”) will join a Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel. While it remains too early to draw any conclusions on whether the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecies will come to pass in our lifetime, much less soon, it is not to early to be concerned about the pivot Turkey is making away from Israel and toward her enemies, and ours.
Please pray for the leaders of Turkey to resist the temptation so many other world leaders are having to turn against Israel. Please pray, too, for the gospel to spread throughout all of Turkey and that many in that country find the amazing love and grace and forgiveness found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Finally, please pray for the leaders of Israel to have the wisdom to know how best to handle the current tensions with Turkey.
Russia launches new Mideast arms push….in Libya: “Russia’s state arms exporter is launching a big drive at the Tripoli air show to sell combat jets, missiles and air-defense systems to Middle Eastern states, including the state-of-the-art S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile that Iran and Syria desperately want to acquire.”
IAEA passes resolution against Israel: “The IAEA General Conference (GC) was able on September 18, 2009 to pass a resolution that “calls upon Israel to accede to the NPT and place all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.” The resolution did not call on India and Pakistan, members of the same IAEA region and two countries that carried out underground nuclear tests, to accede to the NPT, and there was no resolution reprimanding Iran for its continuous non-adherence to the requests of the IAEA for information on its suspect nuclear program.”
On Tuesday night, I was invited up to Capitol Hill for an “Inside The Revolution” event. Attending were 13 Members of Congress, several of their wives, several chiefs of staff, some Congressional staffers, the ambassador of an African country, a diplomat from an Asian country, several pastors, ministry leaders and lay people. In all there were about 60-70. We showed 30 minutes of excerpts from the Inside The Revolution documentary DVD. I spoke for about 15 minutes on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s End Times theology, and how it is driving Iranian foreign and military policy. Then I answered questions for about an hour. Excellent questions. Fascinating discussion. Wish I could have brought you all into the room. In 2 Kings 6:17, the Hebrew Prophet Elisha prays, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Please pray that the Lord opens the eyes of our government and religious leaders, and that they truly understand the threat Iran poses. Pray, too, that our leaders will have their opened to precisely how they can and should properly defend the United States and our interests, and to the critical importance of standing with Israel and blessing the Jewish people. Finally, please pray that our leaders will not only bless Israel, but will also be champions for the freedom and human rights of oppressed Muslims in the epicenter who suffer under such tyranny, and the growing threat of a major war.