Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Furor After Ceremonial Flag-Folding Readings Pulled From Military Funerals

A group of congressmen has asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to retain the tradition of reciting the significance of each fold in the flag-folding ceremony at military funerals."The flag folding recitation is a longstanding tradition which brings comfort to the living and honor to the deceased," Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., writes in his letter Tuesday signed by 11 other congressmen. "The recitations accompanying each fold pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families, the nation they proudly serve, and the beliefs that they hold dear."Veterans Affairs has a policy that allows for a full military funeral, which includes the playing of taps and the folding of the flag in respectful silence. Upon request, family can have honor guard read special recitations, which include religious symbolism.A complaint was filed to the White House after one of those recitations was read incorrectly. Steve L. Muro, the director of the National Cemetery Administration's field programs office, ordered cemetery directors to stop the readings."There are no federal laws related to the flag that assign any special meaning to theindividual folds of the flag," Muro wrote in a memo obtained by FOXNews.com. "The National Cemetery Administration must not give meaning, or appear to give meaning to the folds of the flag by endorsing or distributing any handouts on 'The Meaning of Each Fold of an Honor Guard Funeral Flag."The stopping of the recitations has caused a furor among veterans. Members of the American Legion have been flooding national headquarters since the decision, according to Ramona Joyce, an organization spokeswoman."To me, it's a slap in the face for every veteran, every member of the Memorial Honor Detail and every family of the deceased veteran," said Rees Lloyd, a member of the American Legion's Memorial Honor Detail for services at Riverside National Cemetery in California.At issue are secondary meanings attached to the folding of the flag. As the honor guard makes the 13 folds — traditionally representing the original colonies — they recite "the first fold of our flag is a symbol of life, the second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life, etc."A complaint about the recitation for the 11th fold — "in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob" — garnered a complaint and prompted the ban.The Sept. 27 ban was an effort to create uniform services throughout the military graveyard system, spokesman Mike Nacincik said, adding the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government-approved."We definitely think it is a matter left up to the families," Joyce said. "It's a nice ceremony; we've been doing it for years. Our honor guards have been doing it," she said."It's respectful and it's something the family should be able to choose to have done if they so wish for their veteran," Joyce continued.
Lloyd thinks it's a matter of political correctness gone wild."The entirety of this issue is an absurdity that shows political correctness and secular cleansing run amok," Lloyd said. "This is about families of deceased veterans putting to rest their loved ones. No one should interfere with their choices."The 12th fold recitation is geared to Christians, saying the fold "represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost."In the Legion's burning ceremony for the dignified disposal of unserviceable flags, a chaplain invokes the name of God with lines like "as they yield their substance to the fire, may your holy light spread over us and bring our hearts renewed devotion to God and country," Joyce said.
"When we got back from the war, we didn't ask for a whole lot," said Bobby Castillo, 85, a World War II Navy veteran. "We just want to give our veterans the respect they deserve. No one has ever complained to us about it. I just don't understand."Lloyd and Castillo are part of a 16-member detail that have performed military honors at more than 1,400 services. They were preparing to read the flag-folding remarks at the Riverside cemetery when graveyard staff stopped them.Charlie Waters, parliamentarian for the American Legion of California, said he's advising memorial honor details to ignore the edict."This is nuts," Waters told the Press-Enterprise by telephone from Fresno."There are 26 million veterans in this country and they're not going to take us all to prison."Nacincik said that while the flag-folding narrative includes references to God that the government does not endorse, the main reason for the new rules is uniformity."We are looking at consistency," Nacincik said. "We think that's important."Rabbi Yitzhak Miller of Temple Beth El said he understands the ban."It is a perfect example of government choosing to ignore religion in order to avoid offending some religions," Miller said. "To me, ignoring religion in general is just as problematic as endorsing any one religion."Shuler's letter urged Veterans Affairs to change its mind."Please reconsider the policy and allow the Memorial Honor Detail volunteers to perform the traditional flag-folding recitation if requested by the family of the deceased," he wrote.Lloyd said the honor guard would decide whether to defy the ban next Tuesday, when it will serve at more military funerals."We are going to abide by the wishes of the families," Lloyd said. "Not some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. Period."

As in the days of Noah....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Royce Introduces Resolution on North Korea Refugees:Measure Calls on China to Halt Forced Repatriations

Washington, Oct 15 - Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-40) introduced legislation focused on China's forced repatriation of North Korean refugees, calling on Beijing to halt the practice. Royce is a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the Subcommittee on Asia. He recently returned from a trip to Seoul where this issue was raised with members of the South Korean National Assembly and others. Joining Royce in introducing the resolution is Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA-33), Chair of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Interparliamentary Exchange."Given the horrendous conditions in North Korea, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have fled to northeastern China. Yet despite its international obligations, China forcibly repatriates North Korean refugees to North Korea, where they face brutal imprisonment in concentration camps or even death," said Royce upon the resolution's introduction. "This resolution sends a strong message to Beijing: this practice must stop."Specifically, the resolution calls on China to honor its obligations under the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol by: halting the forced repatriation of North Korean refugees; terminating the practice of automatically classifying all North Korean border crossers as illegal economic migrants; and granting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees unfettered access to such refugees. "This situation is not new. Unfortunately, it has been going on for a number of years, and now numerous reports indicate that the practice has been stepped-up over the past year or so," said Royce.The plight of North Korean refugees was discussed during Rep. Royce's recent visit to Seoul as the Vice-Chair of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Interparliamentary Exchange. The issue was also a primary topic at the International Parliamentarians Coalition for North Korean Refugees' Human Rights meeting in Seoul on August 29, 2007, of which Royce participated. "This coalition of parliamentarians from across the globe called for efforts to protect North Korean refugees to be increased. Significantly, the Korean-American community has answered that call, working tirelessly to bring awareness to the plight of the hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees living a life of fear in China," said Royce.Last week, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, of which Royce is a member, released its 2007 Annual Report (http://www.cecc.gov/). The Commission recommended similar actions as that proposed in Royce's resolution. The unique Commission, consisting of Members of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Administration was created in 2000 to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China.
As in the days of Noah....

NEW INDIA BIBLE CHURCH PASTOR & WIFE ATTACKED IN MIDNIGHT ASSAULT

Rev. T. C. Joseph and wife Ammini, of New India Bible Church, Mannanthavady, Wayanad, Kerala, were cruelly attacked by a group of more than ten masked men at their church parsonage during the early hours on Sunday, October 14, 2007. The unidentified group first cut off power to the church building and parsonage and then damaged phone lines before breaking into the pastor‘s residence at about 2:30 a.m.. In the melee which followed, Joseph was repeatedly beaten with steel rods and kicked by his assailants. When his wife, Ammini, ran to her husband‘s rescue, she was assaulted on the head, leaving her with multiple bleeding wounds from scalp injuries.Both Rev. Joseph and Ammini were admitted to the local government hospital and are in critical condition. The attack upon them is said to be the handiwork of fanatic Hindu elements. A police case has been registered and the pastor’s parsonage has been sealed for further investigation. The local superintendent of police has visited the victims in the hospital and assured them of assistance and protection.Please pray for peace in the area and for the physical healing and restoration of the Joseph family.Pray that the perpetrators of this crime would know the truth, receive God’s love, and accept His forgiveness and grace.
http://www.odusa.org/
PS:the samw way there are fanatic jihadists muslims there are fanatic,hatred fueled hindus-driven by the enemy- that in their spiritual blindness would kill the same way muslims would do-christians and whoever doesn't worship there 33 million gods.....
Please keep these precious pastor and wife and church in your prayers!!!!!!

As in the days of Noah....

Two Christians Murdered in Kaduna, Nigeria:Sword, wooden club attacks follow calls for violent jihad by Muslim leaders.

KADUNA, Nigeria-One man has been killed with a sword and another bludgeoned to death in this city in central northern Nigeria following Muslim leaders’ appeal to wage violent jihad against youthful Christians.Muslim extremists on October 12 murdered Henry Emmanuel Ogbaje, a 24-year-old Christian, at an area known as Gamji Gate. The following day, church leaders said, a young Christian identified only as Basil was killed with a sword in the same area.Ogbaje was a Sunday school teacher with the Military Protestant Church at Kotoko Barracks in Kaduna, while Basil, church leaders said, was a member of the Our Lady of Apostles Catholic Church. He was from Kagarko Local Government Area.Elder Saidu Dogo, secretary of the northern Nigeria chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), told Compass that [[[[Islamic leader Sheik Gumi had urged Muslims to wage jihad against Christians during Tafsir, the reading and interpretation of the Quran, in televised broadcasts during the Islamic month-long observance of Ramadan.“I saw Sheik Gumi on the television, NTA [Nigeria Television Authority], during that period preaching this inciting sermon – in fact, the same sermon was again broadcast by NTA Kaduna, on September 21 and 22,” Dogo told Compass Direct. “He specifically called for a jihad, and that when they go killing they should not kill the elderly people, because the elderly have spent their years already, but that Muslims should kill young Christians.”Dogo said that Sheik Gumi justified his call for jihad by saying in the same way Muhammad captured the Arabian peninsula, and Usman dan Fodio influenced northern Nigeria. Sheik Gumi concluded that because the British took northern Nigeria from the Islamic reformer (1754-1817) by force, Muslims “should fight to take over Nigeria by going to war against Christians.”“With these kinds of statements coming from Muslim leaders, why would the followers of Islam not attack Christians?”]]]] Dogo asked. “We believe that the killing of Henry Ogbaje and Basil are the result of such sermons of these Muslim leaders.”Dogo expressed dismay that the NTA, an agency of the Nigerian government, could be used to air such inflammatory messages. Nor is the Nigerian government making any efforts, he said, to curb such manipulation of the media.
Left for Dead
Henry Ogbaje’s father, Sgt. Emmanuel Ogbaje, told Compass that his daughter phoned him in Abuja on October 12 with news that Muslims had beaten his son to death with wooden clubs.
“She said they attacked him around the hours of five and six in the evening in the Gamji gate area, where they left him unconscious believing they had killed him,” Ogbaje said. “Henry was left in that state for about three hours with no one helping him.”The young man regained consciousness, and a passer-by helped bring him home, where family members immediately took him to the 44 Military Reference Hospital, Ogbaje explained. Stationed in Abuja with the National Defense College, the elder Ogbaje rushed to Kaduna and found his son at the hospital.
A doctor treated him on October 12, a Friday, and requested that he be brought back to the hospital the following Monday for further examination.“I went back to Abuja on Sunday, October 14, to enable me get a pass before returning to Kaduna the day Henry was to see the doctor again,” Ogbaje said. “But by Sunday night, my family phoned me that Henry’s situation had become worse and that he had been rushed back to the hospital. By 8 p.m. that Sunday, Henry died in the hospital and his corpse is now at the Nigerian Air Force Hospital mortuary, because the mortuary at the military hospital is being renovated.”Ogbaje said the attack was doubly shocking for the family as they knew the young man had no known conflicts with anyone. “Henry was a peace-loving person. He was straightforward,” Ogbaje said. “He was not a troublemaker.”A brilliant soccer player, Henry Ogbaje was a high school graduate seeking admission to university at the time he was killed, his parents said.
Resisting Retaliation
CAN’s Dogo said at least one Muslim attacked Basil with a sword at Gamji Gate while the Catholic was on his way from church.“Basil was attacked and left in his pool of blood, but died while he was being rushed to the hospital,” Dogo said. The victim’s family had traveled out of the city for his funeral in his hometown at the time that Compass was in Kaduna, the capital of Kaduna state, and was unavailable for comment.Both murders took place as Muslims were celebrating the Eid-El-Fatr festival marking the end of Ramadan.Noting that other Muslim leaders also preached attacks against Christians during Ramadan, Dogo raised a plea for the Nigerian government to act quickly to forestall what he and other Christian leaders said was a systematic effort to wipe out Christianity from northern Nigeria. “We are alarmed over these types of killings and plead that the government seriously do something about these security breaches,” he said.The Rev. Joshua Magaji, assistant secretary of the Kaduna state chapter of CAN, said the killings were meant to provoke Christians into angry retaliations and trigger another religious crisis in the state, which has seen tens of thousands of deaths from religious violence in the past three decades. Violence has broken out several times since the imposition of sharia (Islamic) law in 2000.“We thank God that Christians in the state have restrained themselves from avenging the killing of these two, and we would like to appeal that they continue in this spirit,” Magaji said.Magaji said Christian leaders have already met with the deputy governor of Kaduna state and the permanent secretary of the state Ministry of Religious Affairs over these two murders. He called on the state to ensure that the murderers be brought to justice. “So also, I want to appeal that Christians and the government of Kaduna state should assist the two families in this difficult time,” he said.Government efforts at curtailing the conflicts through the establishment of inter-religious councils and interfaith dialogues between Muslims and Christians have yielded little or no results, he said, as [[[[attacks against Christians have continued unabated.]]]]

http://www.opendoorsusa.org/content/view/302/
PS:I'm so glad I serve a Risen Saviour that is also a God of Love.....!!!!This story and these statements by this muslim leader are sickening
As in the days of Noah....

Iraqi PM Pledges to Protect Christians

The Iraqi government is committed to protecting and helping the Iraqi Christian community whose members have been emigrating in large numbers due to the violence in the country, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Saturday. Maliki made the promise in a statement as he received Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldeans, in Baghdad to congratulate him for his recent appointment as cardinal, AsiaNews reported Monday.Maliki pledged his support to the patriarch in his "new role," which he said "is a victory for Iraq in the international community which we hope will contribute to bring peace against terrorism, extremism, and sectarianism." He added his government was willing and determined to defend the small Christian minority and stem the flight of its members.Since 2003 Iraqi Christians, mostly Chaldean, have been targeted by Islamic extremists because they are seen as allies of the U.S. army. Like Shias and Sunnis, Christians have experienced abductions, murders and violence, but they are more vulnerable because of their lack of political clout and their refusal to take up arms.Before 2003 Chaldeans numbered some 800,000 but the brutal persecution to which Christians are subjected has forced many families to flee to neighbouring countries. Unconfirmed estimates put the number left in the country at 200,000.
http://www.thecronline.com/news_article.php?nid=3192&ndate=30/10/2007
As in the days of Noah....

Friday, October 26, 2007

ISRAEL: ARSON ATTACK DAMAGES CHURCH

Attack marks second arson against Christian building on same lot.
JERUSALEM-Rapid police and fire department response to a blaze in a Western Jerusalem Baptist church averted extensive damage from an act police suspect is arson.In 1982 ultra right-wing Jewish arsonists set a fire that razed a church that had stood on the same property.The arson attack on Narkis Street Baptist Church at approximately 10:45 p.m. October 23 destroyed 60 chairs and caused smoke and water damage. The arsonist or arsonists forced entrance through a side door and used flammable material to kindle flames at three places in the sanctuary.Pastor Charles Kopp of the English-speaking international Narkis Street Congregation said that the alertness of the building’s caretaker prompted a speedy fire department and police response. “They kept [the fire] from going big, destroying the piano or the pulpit or platform,” Kopp told Compass.The German woman living in an adjoining church-owned building phoned Kopp at around 11 p.m. after loud voices woke her. When Kopp arrived, he saw water on the floor and burned chairs. The woman was unhurt, he said.Throughout the week four congregations meet for services in the building. Kopp’s congregation, which gathers Saturday mornings, is attended by local Christians and visited by tourists from around the world. A Russian Messianic Jewish congregation, a Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation and an English-speaking American Baptist congregation also meet in the building.Because the alarm system was switched off, the church’s insurance company may not cover the damages. “People come here at all hours of the day and night, and they don’t know how to arm or disarm the alarm system,” Kopp said. “We fell into the disuse of the alarm system.” New security measures are now being discussed, including the use of video cameras and re-arming the alarm system.Volunteers have cleaned the floors, walls, windows and lamps, Kopp said. Professionals, however, must clean the electronic equipment and ceiling, which is covered by acoustic material. “We don’t know what kind of expenses will be involved,” he said. The Baptist Village near Petah Tikva lent chairs for this weekend’s services.The previous church built on this property was destroyed by fire 25 years ago during the Feast of Tabernacles. Kopp says that individuals affiliated with the extreme right-wing Kach movement set the 1982 blaze. Following that act of arson, the English-speaking congregation met for years in a tent. The new US$1.2 million sanctuary is built of strong stone.No threats have been made against Kopp’s congregation. Victor Blum, however, pastor of the Russian Messianic-Jewish congregation that meets Friday nights, says for several years the anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim has warned Israelis to stay away from him and his congregation. “They are spreading leaflets in Hebrew and Russian stating that we are members of a very dangerous sect, the Messianic Jews [who are] converting the Jewish people to Christianity,” Blum said.Blum says the leaflets show pictures of his wife and himself, in addition to children and eight women in the congregation. The leaflets were glued around the Baptist House several years ago. Later the leaflets were distributed in mailboxes around Jerusalem.About five years ago a 14-year-old boy from the congregation was delivering invitations for free Yeshua videos when a ski-masked man stabbed him.Blum said he changed his phone numbers after unknown individuals phoned threats in the early hours. He pressed no charges because those making the threats were never identified.Blum says he has received expressions of support from Israelis after this latest arson attack. One message of support was from a Jewish man in his 70s who made a special trip to say he was sorry about what had happened.Kopp says that another church offered its building for this weekend’s services. Also a rabbi of a Reform Jewish congregation offered its synagogue for Christian meetings. It appeared unnecessary to accept these offers. Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby says so far there are no suspects. “There is a special investigation team that investigates the event,” Ben-Ruby said. “We take it very, very seriously.”
As in the days of Noah....

After complaint in Riverside, flag-folding recitation banned at veterans cemeteries nationwide

Through thousands of military burials, Memorial Honor Detail volunteers at Riverside National Cemetery have folded the American flag 13 times and recited the significance of every fold to survivors of those being laid to rest.The first fold, a narrator tells relatives, represents life, the second a belief in eternal life.The 11th fold celebrates Jewish war veterans and "glorifies the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."A single complaint lodged against the words for the 11th fold recently prompted the National Cemetery Administration to ban the entire recital at all 125 national cemeteries.A spokesman in Washington said the complaint originated from someone who witnessed the ceremony at Riverside National but would provide no other details and declined to release the directive banning the flag-folding recital, saying it was "an internal working document not meant for public distribution."Veterans are furious."That the actions of one disgruntled, whining, narcissistic and intolerant individual is preventing veterans from getting the honors they deserve is truly an outrage," said Rees Lloyd, 59, a Vietnam-era veteran and Memorial Honor Detail volunteer. "This is another attempt by secularist fanatics to cleanse any reference to God."World War II Navy sailor Bobby Castillo, 85, another member of Memorial Honor Detail 12, called the federal decision "a slap in the face to every veteran." "When we got back from the war, we didn't ask for a whole lot," said Castillo, who was wounded in 1944 as he supported the Allied landings in France. "We just want to give our veterans the respect they deserve. No one has ever complained to us about it. I just don't understand."The pair, part of a team that has performed military honors at more than 1,400 services, said they were preparing to read the flag-folding remarks when workers in a staff car came up to them and stopped them.Charlie Waters, parliamentarian for the American Legion of California, said he's advising memorial honor details to ignore the edict, even if it means being kicked out of cemeteries."This is nuts," Waters, a Korean War veteran, said in a telephone interview from Fresno. "There are 26 million veterans in this country and they're not going to take us all to prison."
Washington's Explanation
Mike Nacincik, the spokesman for the National Cemetery Administration, said the new policy, which was outlined in a Sept. 27 memo, is aimed at creating uniform services throughout the military graveyard system.He said the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government approved. After the complaint made its way through government channels, Steve Muro, director of field operations, wrote the new policy.Nacincik said that while the flag-folding narrative includes references to God that the government does not endorse, the main reason for the new rules is uniformity."We are looking at consistency," Nacincik said. "We think that's important."As for comments that the edict is an attack on religious beliefs, Nacincik said, "People are going to have their own views on that."He said the flag-folding narrative can be read but only if families make arrangements on their own and do not use cemetery workers, which include volunteers. The U.S. government owns Riverside National, the most active national cemetery in the country with more than 8,000 burials of veterans and immediate family members each year.
A Jewish Perspective
Rabbi Yitzhak Miller, of Riverside's Temple Beth El, said he understands the government's decision to ban the recitation but believes it is a quick solution to a complex issue."It is a perfect example of government choosing to ignore religion in order to avoid offending some religions," Miller said. "To me, ignoring religion in general is just as problematic as endorsing any one religion."Miller said the 11th fold, and the 12th fold, which refers to the Christian Trinity-"God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost-amounts to an endorsement of Judaism and Christianity. He said he would like to see a reference to "God as we understand God" mentioned in the ritual but without endorsing any specific tradition."To acknowledge those two without acknowledging others denigrates the patriotic men and women of other faiths who serve our country," he said.
Family Wishes
Lloyd and Castillo said they always speak to families before providing military honors to their loved ones. Honors include a rifle salute, the playing of taps and the folding of the flag. Some families don't want any honors; others decline specific parts of the ceremony. Those wishes are paramount and are always respected.Lloyd said the 16 members of the Memorial Honor Detail he serves on have distributed hundreds of copies of the script they recite while folding the flag. They've received dozens of letters thanking them, and several mention in particular the flag-folding recitation. But now presenting families that memento isn't allowed under the directive.
Lloyd, a member of the state American Legion, said he knows Riverside National Cemetery workers are just obeying orders. The real battle is with Washington.
"We're going to fight this tooth and nail, hammer and boot," he said.
Flag folds
These meanings, not part of the U.S. Flag Code, have been ascribed to the 13 folds of American flags at veterans burial services:
1. Symbol of life.
2. Symbol of our belief in the eternal life.
3. In honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.
4. Represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.
5. A tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."
6. Represents where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
7. A tribute to our armed forces.
8. A tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.
9. A tribute to womanhood.
10. A tribute to father.
11. In the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
12. In the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
13. When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God We Trust."


As in the days of Noah....

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Missionary couple kidnapped in South Africa

South Africa -Reports of 50 murders a day and one rape every 40 seconds are keeping tourists away from South Africa. The incredible crime problem is also causing problems for the country's economy and for missionaries working there.Trans World Radio - Swaziland missionaries Doug and Madeleen Schumacher were viciously carjacked and kidnapped Tuesday at gunpoint in Johannesburg. The Schumachers had just arrived to visit another missionary family when a carload of thugs pulled in behind them and forced them into the backseat of their own car. The two bandits then drove off and for the next 20 minutes told the victims that they intended to kill them. A worldwide e-mail went out to TWR staff and friends around the globe asking for prayer. Meanwhile, other TWR missionaries got in their cars and scoured the area for any signs of their then-captive colleagues. TWR's Ray Alary says the rest of the story is miraculous. "The man who was holding them at gunpoint said to them, 'I was going to kill you, but you obviously have people praying for you and I am not going to kill you.'"The bandits then dumped the Schumachers 50 kilometers away from their home. The couple was uninjured and praised the Lord for His protection.However, Alary says Schumachers weren't the only victims. "When these events happen, it traumatizes everybody who hears about it -- all the missionaries that are working there. For many months to follow, everybody questions whether or not that could happen to them."Does is affect their work in evangelism, discipleship and other areas of ministry? Alary says, "Initially right now, it will. We will have to create stability again. Very often what happens is we do delay our plans to do certain things until we can have a sense that things are back to normal."Alary is asking Christians worldwide to pray for the TWR team in South Africa. "Pray for our safety. Pray for a sense that things will get back to normal, in time. And pray that this never happens again -- that God will give us protection from this."

As in the days of Noah....

Arsonists attack Jerusalem’s Baptist House

There will be no Bible study tonight at the Baptist House in central Jerusalem as late Tuesday night the building was set ablaze causing extensive damage to the sanctuary where four local congregations meet weekly.“If this happened to a synagogue abroad, everyone would shout anti-Semitism,” a neighbor told Israel Today.Contrary to media reports, Joe Broom, business service manager of the Baptist Convention in Israel said that Bibles remained unscathed. Broom was called to the Baptist House by neighbors who witnessed flames and smoke coming from the building.“The neighbors called the fire department, when I arrived there were three fire trucks outside,” Broom told Israel Today. “The fire had already been put out by the time I arrived, but I couldn’t see the other end of the building as it was filled with smoke.”Services at the Baptist house have been canceled for this weekend as the building undergoes a thorough cleaning and receives a new coat of paint. Broom says he hopes the congregations that share the facility will be able to hold services the following weekend.
There are no official suspects in the arson of the church, but the Baptist House has had a history of damage caused by Orthodox anti-missionary groups.

As in the days of Noah....

BETHLEHEM TV STATION FORCED TO CLOSE

The only Christian television station in the Holy Land will be closing its doors as a result of constant Muslim threats and intimidation and a growing financial deficit."It is with great regret that we are informing you of our decision to close The Nativity - 'Al-Mahed' - television station in spite of its inestimable service to the Church and to the existence of the Christian community in the Holy Land," said the station's owner and director, Samir Qumsieh, in a press release picked up by Vatican Radio.Qumsieh, who belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church, started The Nativity together with his brothers in 1996. In addition to Christian programming, the station also broadcast Friday Muslim prayers.
http://www.israeltoday.co.il/default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=14382
As in the days of Noah....

Holy Land: Jewish neighbours save church from arson attack

A church in central Jerusalem used by several denominations survived an arson attack on Tuesday, thanks to quick action from Jewish neighbours who called the emergency services.
The church, which is used by Messianic Jews and three other congregations, had been broken into and set alight in three places, but the damage has been described as 'moderate'. Some furniture and the floor was charred but no books were damaged, American-born pastor Charles Kopp said.In 1982 the church was burnt down by an ultranationalist Jewish group, but it was later rebuilt, Pastor Kopp said.He commented: "We all still need to learn the lessons of tolerance and to accept the different among us. We don't suspect anyone specific but they were extremists for sure.''He added: "We've had a lot of support from our immediate neighbors. The rabbi of a neighbouring Reform congregation has offered the use of her synagogue for services."The Israeli office of the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate crimes, called for tolerance. In a statement, the organisation said: "The ADL strongly condemned this arson and apparent hate crime. We urged authorities to do everything in their power to protect all religious sites and see that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice.'' A police investigation is now underway. A municipal spokesman said an attack of this kind was extremely unusual and the suburb generally enjoyed very good community relations.

As in the days of Noah.....

Tortured Eritrean Gospel Singer Granted Asylum

An Eritrean Christian gospel singer who was tortured and imprisoned without charge for two years by her government was recently granted asylum in Denmark.Helen Berhane, 32, arrived in Denmark on Friday almost a year after she was freed by the Eritrean government in December 2006.Previously, she was held inside a metal shipping container and beaten in an effort to force her to recant her faith and promise not to participate in church-related activities. Berhane repeatedly refused to denounce her faith and as a result was severely beaten and tortured leaving her legs permanently injured and wheelchair-dependent.More than 90 percent of Eritreans belong to one of four recognized religions – Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran Churches and Islam. However, an estimated 2,000 Eritrean are members of unregistered “illegal” evangelical church groups that the Eritrean government has increasingly cracked down upon in recent years.Berhane is a member of the unregistered Rhema Pentecostal Church and had just released a gospel music recording when she was arrested in the Eritrean capital in May 2004.Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s chief executive, Mervyn Thomas, who has advocated on her behalf, said he was happy that Berhane had “finally” found refuge after “so many years of suffering.”“The profile of her case made it impossible for Helen to remain in Eritrea, and in Sudan she faced the constant threat of being sent back,” Thomas said. “She was forced to move house on several occasions as delays in the asylum process left her in an increasingly vulnerable position, yet her courage and faith throughout her ordeal has been deeply inspiring.”Although Berhane’s legs were badly injured, she was able to escape to Khartoum with her sister in order to escape being killed by the government, which allegedly wanted to cover up her story. Berhane is one of the most high-profile former prisoners from Eritrea. Her daughter Eva joins her in Denmark.Thousands of Eritreans flee their country each month, according to CSW. The Eritrean government reportedly executes publicly anyone found to be assisting those who escape, including the man who helped Berhane’s daughter. The man’s body reportedly was placed in a sack after execution and placed in front of his parent’s home, according to CSW.“We are relieved that Helen and Eva are finally safe and would like to thank everyone who has supported them,” said Dr. Berhane Asmelash, director of Release Eritrea.“We hope that Helen will now have the peace and space to recover her health and rebuild her life.”CSW’s Thomas added, “We urge the international community to stop watching this situation develop and start intervening to create a brighter future for the people of this overlooked country.”The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in May recommended that Eritrea be re-designated by the State Department as one of the 11 “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) for 2007. The U.S. Department of State for three straight years has designated Eritrea as a CPC – the worst label for religious freedom violators.

As in the days of Noah....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New documentary exposes Christian persecution in Iran

A new resource from Open Doors USA seeks to tell the untold story of the persecuted church in Iran.The DVD, A Cry From Iran, was produced by brothers Andre and Joseph Hovsepian, sons of a Christian, Haik Hovsepian, who was martyred for his faith in Christ. The DVD tells the story of Haik, who led a campaign in the early 1990s to have the death sentence of a Christian overturned. That sentence was eventually overturned, but Haik's body was found a few days later, with 26 stab wounds.Andre Hovsepian says his dad's story shows how Christians in Iran, who are vocal about their faith, regularly risk their lives. Forty religious and political experts were interviewed for the documentary, which has won numerous awards.The goal with the documentary, he shares, is to show how God works in the midst of trials and valleys."We didn't make [this DVD] to get revenge ... or to pay the government back or anyone who did this thing. That's not the direction that we have taken and that wasn't the message that we wanted to give to people," Andre says."But instead it's exactly the opposite-and we wanted to actually show people how God can work through his forgiveness and the Holy Spirit to basically minister to us."Andre explains that many people do not realize how widespread the persecution of Christians is in Iran. "But after this documentary, people will learn about the persecution," he says. "People will learn about the thirst that people of Iran have, and they will learn that Iran is not only evil and all of them are not terrorists. But of course there's a great thirst for the message of the gospel, and people are open for the gospel."Andre's entire family is in ministry with a focus on taking the gospel to Iran. http://www.onenewsnow.com/2007/10/new_documentary_exposes_christ.php
As in the days of Noah.....

Ethiopian Christians send call for help; international body responds

Ethiopia-Voice of the Martyrs' Canada reports that on October 16, a Muslim attack on 25 Christian families in Seka Yoyo--a town just southwest of Ethiopia's capital--demolished a dozen houses.The families were forced to flee to the nearby city of Jimma where several incidents of violence have occurred in recent months, leaving at least six Christians dead. Approximately 98% of the population is Muslim.Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton says this is one incident among others that led to the passage of the "Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007" in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, which is now in the Senate for a vote, is aimed at encouraging and facilitating the consolidation of peace and security, respect for human rights, democracy, and economic freedom in Ethiopia."The more you have freedom in a country, that's also going to filter into the area of religious freedom," explains Nettleton. That also extends to "freedom for our Christian brothers and sisters there. So in that sense, it is tied in just as freedoms are tied together, but it doesn't seem to directly play into the idea of religious freedom."However, while the bill is aimed at improving conditions, the former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia Vickie Huddleston is quoted as suggesting that the bill would aggravate present conditions by "weakening" the Ethiopian government.Opponents feel it focuses only on the country's shortcomings while ignoring the progress the country has made in these areas. Others protest that such legislation should be aimed at countries notably less open to religious diversity and freedoms, like neighboring Eritrea.Meanwhile, there have been increasing reports of the clamping down on religious freedom in Ethiopia. Nettleton says that only serves as a backdrop to growth. "One of the exciting things that is happening is a renewal movement in the Orthodox church, a real return to a Scriptural understanding of Christianity and what it means to be a believer. There is also an effective evangelism going on amongst Muslims in Ethiopia."Thank the Lord that no Christians were killed or seriously harmed in the Seka Yoyo attack. Ask God to continue to protect these believers and others. Pray that they will set Christ apart as Lord and not give in to fear.
http://www.mnnonline.org/article/10490
As in the days of Noah....

New Report Details Systematic Abuse in Burma

A new report from an alliance of NGOs working with the displaced people of Burma has accused the country’s military regime of intensifying its oppression of ethnic minorities through a systematic campaign of torture, rape and arbitrary killing.A Myanmar man sits next to posters and photos of the recent protests in Yangon erected at an office of Myanmar's political prisoners assistance in Mae Sot, Thailand Friday, Oct. 12, 2007. Myanmar's national airline announced Friday it was halting most of its flights amid a dramatic downturn in visitors, as the U.N. rushed its envoy back to Asia to promote talks between Myanmar's junta and the democratic opposition.The Internal Displacement in Eastern Burma Survey, released Monday by the U.K.-based Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), details the eradication of 167 Burmese villages and the forced internal displacement of around 76,000 people between January and September 2007.Research was carried out in 38 districts of Burma, also known as Myanmar, for the report and accuses the military dictatorship of “carrying out systematic human rights violations through targeted attacks on the civilian population."“This report confirms once more that Burma’s military junta is prepared to use all means necessary in its large-scale and bloody war against Burma’s minorities,” said Atle Sommerfeldt, general secretary of Norwegian Church Aid, on Monday at a seminar in Oslo to launch the report .Norwegian Church Aid, a partner organization of the TBBC, believes that as many as half a million people are currently displaced and said the worst affected area was Karen State, where at least 38 people have been murdered in the Thanduang province in 2007 alone.“It (the report) reinforces yet again the image we have of Burma’s regime as the most violent and oppressive in the world today,” Sommerfeldt stated.Late last month, the ruling junta of Burma drew worldwide criticism and media attention when it began a major crackdown on Buddhist monks and the tens of thousands of protestors that they led in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.Military troops used bullets, tear gas, and clubs to break up the street protests. The government also launched an intimidation campaign that included late-night arrests of citizens.The Light of Myanmar, a mouthpiece of Burma’s ruling junta, reported that as few as 10 people were killed in the junta’s Sept. 26-27 crackdown and that only some 1,000 remain in detention centers. Dissident groups, however, said more than 200 had been killed and nearly 6,000 arrested in the crackdown against demonstrations spearheaded by Buddhist monks.At an emergency session on Oct. 2, the U.N. Human Rights Council condemned the crackdown and urged an immediate investigation of the rights situation in the country.After barring the U.N.'s human rights investigator from entering the military-ruled country since 2003, Burma’s government on Friday agreed to an urgent visit by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who was appointed as the U.N's independent expert on human rights in Burma seven years ago.In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Myanmar's Foreign Minister Nyan Win suggested that Pinheiro's visit take place before the Nov. 17 summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said.

As in the days of Noah....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Chad Says U.S. Missionary Kidnapped by Rebels

A U.S. evangelical church missionary has been kidnapped by rebels in northern Chad, a Chadian Interior Ministry official said on Thursday."The governor of the northern BET region has told me that an American priest has been kidnapped in the Tibesti (mountains) by remaining members of the MDJT rebel movement," Secretary of State for the Interior Abderamane Djasnabaille told Reuters."The rebels took his vehicle and they are holding him at Zoumri."A leader of Chad's Evangelical Church named the kidnapped man as Steve Godbold and said he was seized earlier this month. Other people in his group were also abducted but later released, Pastor Ngardei Bako said.Djasnabaille said negotiations were under way with the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT) rebels to obtain the release of the kidnapped missionary.A U.S. embassy spokesman in the capital N'Djamena said he could not immediately confirm or deny the report.The MDJT was formed in 1998, when it launched an armed insurgency in northern Chad under the leadership of President Idriss Deby's former defense chief, Youssouf Togoimi.It fought sporadic battles with government forces in the remote region, which has the highest mountains in the Sahara, before signing a peace deal in August 2005. A splinter faction refused to sign.The MDJT attracted international attention in 2005 when it captured Amar Saifi, then the second most powerful man in Algeria's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), an Islamist group which has pledged allegiance to al Qaeda and is classed by Washington as a terrorist organization.Saifi, also known as el Para, and a dozen of his followers were captured by the MDJT after fleeing neighboring countries. Believed to have a wealth of information on rebel activities, he was handed over to the Libyan authorities after lengthy negotiations before being taken into custody in Algeria.The GSPC renamed itself Al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb in January 2007 and in subsequent months carried out several suicide bombings that killed dozens, including a failed attempt to assassinate President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

As in the days of Noah

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Missionary who 'knew the risks' now scheduled for public execution in N. Korea

A campaign is under way by Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) to help secure the release of a North Korean missionary sentenced to a public execution.Son Jong Nam was an Army officer in North Korea who defected to China after secret police kicked his pregnant wife in the stomach, causing her to miscarry. Once Son was in China, he met a missionary and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. Soon afterwards, he felt called to be an evangelist in North Korea. However, before he could go back, he was arrested by Chinese authorities and extradited to North Korea where he served three years for taking part in illegal Christian activities.After his release, Son returned to China to continue his studies and again felt the urge to return to North Korea to share the gospel. He did so and was soon arrested and sentenced to be publicly executed. VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton says Son returned to the communist nation fully aware of the risks.
"He knew the price that he could potentially pay," Nettleton shares. "All Christians in North Korea know that their lives are at risk. They know that their Christian activity and Christian witness is against the law-and so he knew the risks ... yet willingly went back to share the gospel in that country," he says.Nettleton says although a campaign is under way to publicize the case, it has been difficult to find information about Son's condition. "One of the things that we hoped that this campaign would produce is that the North Korean government would account for him, would give us an update on his status, his condition in prison," he says. "Instead, they have been completely silent, and so we don't know what his status is."The VOM spokesman says that as of March of this year contacts have informed the ministry that Son is alive-and according to Nettleton, since Son is scheduled for a public execution, VOM would know if it happened. VOM featured Son on its prisoner alert website and nearly 4,000 letters have been written on his behalf.

As in the days of Noah...

PrayforChina 2007/10/16-10/22

Tuesday
Drinking freshly squeezed juice is fashionable. In Wuhan, a reporter found that canned juices are sold as fresh and fresh juices are diluted with concentrate. Such practices occur even in high-end establishments. Cheating on labor or materials is considered normal or even expected. It is very difficult as Chinese believers struggle with Biblical ethics and profit-making daily. Let us pray for the courage of not compromising and honoring God in everything we do.
Wednesday
“Pay back the debt on the New Year” is a story in Mao’s memoir. Chairman Mao paid back a debt of 20,000 silver dollars he borrowed in 1920 for the revolution nearly 50 years later (in 10 yearly installments on every Chinese New Year.) Many Chinese believers speak of “Paying back the debt of Gospel” to Western missionaries. Let us pray for true fervor and missionary efforts among Chinese churches. We too remember all those who are serving abroad and are supported by churches in China.
Thursday
37 million Chinese will travel and spend more abroad this year. China will become the fourth largest source of outbound tourists in the world by the mid-2010s according to the United Nation. Many Chinese church leaders and pastors have visited churches abroad. We pray that what they have visited and learn will give them new vision and direction for their churches and ministries.
Friday
A bright spot in ministry work in China is on college campus. There are many student fellowships, large and small, and new students are always attending. Many students accept Jesus, but then graduate without real discipleship and follow-up. The universal problem is a lack of mature leadership. Let us pray for equipping and training leaders who are willing to help train new believers.
Saturday
Traffic congestion in Beijing is expected to get worse before the Olympics, with 90% of roads operating at full capacity and little room for expansion. There are now 3 million automobiles in the capital. Traffic delay and congestion play a role in discouraging many believers attending weekday services and meetings. Weekday meeting attendances are down among urban churches. Let us pray as churches make adjustments and seek ways to care and strengthen their sheep.
Sunday
More than 10 million Chinese are regular users of drinking water machines or bottled water. Yet, more than half of the bottled water in Beijing is “counterfeit.” Such practice is said to be widespread because the authentic bottled water costs twice as much. Cults and Mormonism presenting themselves as Christian are making significant advance in China recently, even drawing away unsuspecting believers. Let us pray for this alarming trend and for believers’ discernment.
Monday
It has been a boom year in the Chinese stock and real estate market. It seems that everyone believes that the government will not pop the present bubble of euphoria before the 2008 Olympic Games. Churches in China have endured persecution and survived attacks by occult forces but they are doing poorly combating the present torrent of materialism. May the Lord's mercy protect all of us against materialism and the Chinese churches from becoming merely lukewarm groups of people.
As in the days of Noah...

Atheist China Vows to Encourage Religion

China has promised to offer religious services to foreigners at the 2008 Olympic Games and to have religion play a positive role in the future of the officially atheist country, the top religious affairs official said Wednesday.A large number of religious athletes and tourists are expected at the Games and Beijing will “make sure” their religious needs are met, Ye Xiaowen, director-general of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said to reporters at the ruling Communist Party’s 17th Congress, according to Reuters.“Here I can promise that religious services we offer will not be lower than the level of any previous Games,” Ye said. He did not say, however, if China will allow proselytizing like other Olympic hosts.Ye also urged the Vatican to establish diplomatic ties with China, where there are some 10 million Catholics either in state-approved churches or “underground” churches.Catholics in state-approved church respect the Pope as a spiritual figurehead but do not recognize his authority as those in the “underground” church do.Since 1949, China has not had diplomatic relations with the Vatican following the Communist revolution. There has been significant tension between the two powers because of differences on issues such as the authority to appoint bishops, the recognition of the pope, and the Vatican’s relationship with Taiwan.“There comes a separating river when the two sides approach nearer to each other. Then you should build a bridge or find a boat to cross,” Ye said. “You cannot just stand on the other side of the river, crying foul and cursing China,” he said.The top religious affairs official acknowledged that in recent years the number of Chinese religious followers, including Christians, has grown. Ye claims the Communist Party will now encourage religion to play a positive role “in promoting economic and social development” in the future instead of crushing religions, quoting Party chief Hu Jintao’s speech.China seems to be making great efforts to repair its religious freedom and human rights image before the Olympics. For months the world’s most populous country has been under scrutiny and fire for its oppressive religious restrictions including forcing churches to register and imprisoning and even torturing house church leaders.Recently though, China has reportedly softened its crackdown in light of international pressure by using tactics such as forbidding owners of rental housing properties from leasing space to house churches or worship services.Public Security Bureau officials still continue to arrest house church worshippers, however – just in a much quieter way to avoid attention.China likely lessened conspicuous crack downs in light of the media attention it received earlier in the summer for expelling foreign Christians. Between April and June more than 100 foreign missionaries were expelled from China as part of a government-sponsor campaign to prevent evangelization during the Olympics, according to the U.S.-based China Aid Association.The expulsion of foreign missionaries is the largest since 1954, when the Chinese Communist government expelled all foreign religious workers after taking power.Chinese religious affairs head Ye also dismissed accusations that China restricts the printing and sales of Bibles, saying the Bible is only distributed through state-run churches and not through bookshops.“The purpose is merely to prevent illegal vendors from driving up prices, which are kept extremely low by government subsidies,” Ye claimed.However, China recently arrested a Christian leader who attempted to pick up a large cargo of Bibles from a bus stop. The Christian leader said there were not enough Bibles available in his rural area so he asked a friend to ship them to him to share with locals.China has an estimated up to 100 million Chinese Christians who worship outside of registered churches.

As in the days of Noah....

Pastor Honored for Risking Life for Hundreds of North Korean Refugees

NEW YORK-A pastor who has helped rescue North Koreans fleeing the country through an “underground railroad” was honored Tuesday night with the Civil Courage Prize.The Rev. Phillip Jun Buck, originally from North Korea, accepted the $50,000 award at the Harold Pratt House where The Train Foundation recognized his “steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk.”Buck began his speech by thanking God and went on to describe the plight of North Korean refugees.“I would like to receive this award on behalf of all North Korean refugees who have been killed or died because they have acted with an instinct to survive,” said Buck, whose daughter, Grace Yoon Yi, assisted with translation.The 66-year-old pastor said he would use the prize money toward helping underground churches in North Korea, North Korean orphans in China, and North Korean refugee women who are victims to human trafficking.The relationship between Buck and North Korea runs deep.The North Korean native was separated from his family during the Korean War and spent his childhood in an orphanage in South Korea. He received an education and even a college degree through the support of an elderly Christian woman.Buck later immigrated to the United States, where he pastored a Seattle church for 24 years until he was sent by his denomination as a missionary to Russia in the early 90s. Eventually, the pastor expanded his ministry to China where through the course of ten years, he provided financial support, shelter, and food to over 1,000 North Korean refugees.Most of the refugees had fled from the communist regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, whose rule has been marked by terror, famine, disease, and political oppression.Melanie Kirkpatrick, Deputy Editorial Page Editor of The Wall Street Journal, who nominated Buck for the award, said that the deplorable situation continued even once the refugees reached China.Men were sold into slavery and women were sold as brides or sexual slaves to Chinese men, described Kirkpatrick.“Still, it was a better life than what they left behind in North Korea,” she added.Furthermore, continued Kirkpatrick, instead of accepting the refugees, China even offered bounties for refugees and repatriated them back to North Korea, where they face imprisonment, torture, and sometimes execution for leaving the country – a state crime.
“North Korean citizens and refugees are human, each having a right to eat, a right to live, and a right to enjoy freedom,” proclaimed Buck.In 1998, the Korean pastor said he made the decision to dedicate his life to helping refugees and “to live and to die with them.”“My life calling is as a missionary,” said Buck. “I have always shared the word of God every time I gave money to these North Korean refugees. I did so to inspire and give faith in the future.”In 2001, Buck began to move refugees to South Korea. To this day, he has guided over one hundred North Korean refugees out of China and ultimately to safety in South Korea.But his efforts did not go unnoticed by Chinese authorities, who discovered his identity after obtaining his passport while raiding his apartment, where refugees were housed.After escaping the arrest, Buck, then known as John Yoon, returned to the United States where he underwent the legal process to change his name.“I did not see what I was doing as something wrong,” he said. “God has instructed us to help those who are in need, and I take that instruction very seriously.”Buck returned to China in 2002 to continue his work but was arrested and imprisoned in May 2005. He was released August 2006.“I have huge respect … for his courage and his cause,” said the Rt. Hon. Sir Geoffrey Howe, former Foreign Secretary of Britain, in his address speech.Steve Kim, a furniture importer from Huntington , N.Y., who was recently released after serving time in the same prison as Buck, was also present at the award ceremony.

As in the days of Noah....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Masterminds behind Christians' deaths identified:Letter naming suspects in deaths of 3 given to prosecutors

The masterminds behind the martyrdom of three Christians at a Bible publishing house in Turkey earlier this year have been identified in a letter that is being forwarded to prosecutors there, according to a new report from Voice of the Martyrs, the worldwide ministry to persecuted Christians.About 10 suspects in the actual executions of Tilman Geske of Germany and Turkish nationals Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel already are in custody, authorities have confirmed.But Voice of the Martyrs is confirming that the letter provides the names of three Malatya, Turkey, officials – including an "Islamic faculty member," and "a colonel" in the military – as the masterminds who planned the attack for several months.VOM said the Turkish media recently discovered an e-mail that was sent to Turkish Christian leaders weeks after the attack revealing the names of the organizers, a document that was submitted to the prosecutor's office by the Christian leaders."According to Compass Direct News, 'The Firat News Agency reported on Sept. 18 that an anonymous e-mail message signed 'A.A.' had named a colonel in the Malatya gendarmerie along with an Islamic faculty member, as the instigators of the plot to kill three Christians," VOM said. "The ANF article identified the officer … but gave only the initials of several others. A Sept. 19 article in Birgun newspaper, however, listed the name of the faculty member … It also identified a member of parliament from Malatya, one military commander and another suspect, claiming that the murder conspiracy had been planned for four or five months in advance," VOM said.The e-mail, reports said, noted the writer decided to distribute the information "as my duty as a citizen."Authorities report that five suspects, including a man who jumped out of a third floor window, were arrested at the scene of the crime at Zirve publishing house, which is owned by Turkey's Protestant community.The arrests of five more men-like the others ages 19 and 20-were announced later by Malatya Gov. Halil Ibrahim Dasoz, but no details were provided. Reports said the suspects, who shared living space at a dorm run by a religious foundation, were carrying copies of a letter that said: "We did it for our country. They are trying to take our country away, take our religion away."Christians make up less than 1 percent of the population in Turkey, and have been subjected to a list of attacks in recent years. In 2006, a Turkish teen shot to death a Roman Catholic priest as he prayed in his church. Two other priests were attacked the same year. Early in 2007 came the death of Armenian Christian editor Hrant Dink.Turkish television has suggested police were investigating the possible involvement of Turkish Hezbollah, a Kurdish Islamic group that seeks a Muslim state.The three victims were found with their hands and legs bound and their throats slit at the publishing house. Authorities said police were dispatched after getting calls about a fight.When the attack became known, Geske's widow, Susanne, responded in a way that hit the front pages of the nation's largest newspapers."Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do," she said, agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23.34), according to a letter Christians in Turkey have written to the worldwide church, a letter released through Voice of the Martyrs."In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne [Geske] has changed lives," the letter said. "One columnist wrote of her comment, 'She said in one sentence what 1,000 missionaries in 1,000 years could never do.'"The letter titled "A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna" was received by VOM shortly after the slayings, and the ministry organization that works with the Persecuted Church worldwide is publicizing it."The Voice of the Martyrs has already been actively involved in assisting the families of these courageous Christians. We encourage you to pray for them as they grieve, and to pray that this will be a significant turning point for the gospel in Turkey," the organization said.VOM noted that 2,000 years earlier, this location of Christians was addressed in Rev. 2:8-11: "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write… 'Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation 10 days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.'"The letter described the work Geske, 46, was doing on a new Turkish Study Bible. That morning, he went to the offices of Zirve publishing, which produces and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and other parts of eastern Turkey, for a Bible study. Pastor Necati Aydin, the father of two, also left for the same office, as did Ugur Yuksel."None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ," the letter said.Also heading to the Bible study were five men thought to be "seekers" who had been guests of Pastor Necati at an invitation-only evangelistic service earlier."No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story," the letter said."The young men got guns, bread knives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible study, around 10 o'clock," the letter said. "Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman's hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours."When officers entered, they found, "Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their necks slit from ear to ear. Ugur's throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive," the letter said.The letter said persecution of Christians-bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse as well as media propaganda-moved into the intense range following a decision in 2001 by the National Security Council of Turkey to consider Christians a threat to national security on the same level as al-Qaida.

As in the days of Noah....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Islam's Peace Offensive

In a move eerily reminiscent of the Soviet "peace offensives", 138 leading Muslim scholars have composed a letter to Christianity's leaders,with Pope Benedict's name heading the list, requesting a meeting to discuss the "common essentials of our two religions." The authors warn that "the survival of the world" is at stake if the two religions do not make peace, which, the Muslim authors believe, is possible since the basis of Islam and Christianity is "the two commandments of love."While it is at least admirable that these learned representatives of Islam acknowledge that their religion is at war with Christianity (since much of the Christian world is in denial), the main sticking point, the letter makes clear, is the aggressive nature of Christianity. The Muslim scholars emphasize that: "As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes."The problem with this theme, however, is that the religious believers being oppressed and driven out of their homes in the world today are Christians, and other non-Muslims, who find themselves trapped under Muslim rule. It is not surprising that the Muslim scholars' "peace" letter nowhere mentions the murder of Palestinian Christian Rami Ayyad, who was recently abducted, tortured and murdered in Gaza City. Six months earlier, a bomb had destroyed his Christian bookstore, the Holy Bible Society. Ayyad's murder and the bombing of his bookstore are consistent with the pattern of barbaric violence that is being carried out by Muslims against Christians in the Gaza strip today, particularly by a jihadist group that calls itself "The Righteous Swords of Islam."Christians living under the Palestinian Authority are habitually brutalized and must now practice their religion in secret. Hamas is planning to enforce the jizya, the special tax mandated by the Qur’an (9:29) for Jews and Christians. Christian women, meanwhile, must veil themselves or face dire consequences. A few years ago, members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades shot dead two Christian women for not wearing the Islamic veil. The Muslim group explained: “We wanted to clean the Palestinian house of prostitutes.” It is no wonder then that a mass exodus of Christians is occurring under the Palestinian Authority - just as has been the case almost everywhere where Christians have been trapped under Islamic rule. Bethlehem used to be 85 per cent Christian sixty years ago. Today, after decades of Muslim persecution, Christian believers in one of Christianity's most holy sites comprise only 15 per cent of the population.In Iraq, meanwhile, Christians are the victims of a reign of terror being waged by Muslims – a tragedy epitomized by the murder of Syrian Orthodox priest, Fr. Boulos Iskander, by Muslims in the Iraqi city of Mosul. To be sure, Rami Ayyad’s and Fr. Iskander’s tragic fates represent the victimization of all Christians, everywhere from Egypt to Pakistan and from Sudan to Nigeria, at the hands of Muslims. Christians in these Islamic settings suffer constant discrimination, harassment and persecution.In the context of these ugly realities, the question must be asked: why did the Muslim authors of the "peace" letter not mention these ingredients of Muslim-Christian "relations"? Why did they not condemn the persecution of Christians by Muslims and denounce the teachings on which this persecution is based? Why did they not acknowledge that it is Muslims, not Christians, who are killing other Muslims and driving them out of their homes today? For instance, the United Nations calls Darfur the worst human rights situation in the world today. It is a place where Muslims have killed about 300,000 of their fellow Muslims. And the worst case of war being waged against Muslims on account of their religion exists between Shiites and Sunnis -- who slaughter each other off in Islamic countries like Iraq and Pakistan in the thousands. Al Qaeda and its extremist allies are no slackers when it comes to killing Muslims, the Algerian civil war being a good example. Oppression and honor murders of Muslim women in both Islamic and western countries are also not committed by Christians and peoples of other faiths. It is Muslim men who oppress them, not just driving them out of their homes, but also throwing them to their deaths over the balconies of their domiciles. Why did the Muslim authors of the "peace" letter not mention these facts?If the Muslim authors of the “peace” letter truly wanted to make peace with Christians, one would also think that their letter would have contained a categorical rejection of traditional Islamic law that mandates the death penalty for any Muslim who leaves Islam, in accordance with Muhammad’s command: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” Indeed, this is still the position of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence. Thus, Muslims who have converted to Christianity have suffered -- and continue to suffer -- vicious persecution all over the Islamic world. Christianity, meanwhile, has no equivalent of such a teaching and Christians are free all around the world to convert to the religion of their choosing -- including to Islam without a fear for their lives.It is also curious: why did the Muslim authors not include a condemnation of Sura 9:29 of the Qur'an, which commands Muslims to fight Jews and Christians until they "pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued"?At the same time, why did they also not renounce the imperative in Islam to subjugate the world under the rule of Islamic law, which is deeply embedded within Islamic theology (see Qur'an 9:29, discussed above; Sahih Muslim 4294; and a host of other evidence from all the Sunni madhahib and Shi'ite sources as well). Indeed, all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through jihad. Muslims waging jihad against the West perpetually justify their acts on the basis of what they read in the Qur'an. If Islam and Christianity are truly to exist peacefully, isn't it vital that this reality be dealt with by Muslims who want true peace with Christianity?If the Muslim authors of the letter truly wanted peace, one would also think that they would have mentioned and repudiated Qur'an 5:17, which says that those who believe in the divinity of Christ are unbelievers, or 4:171, which says that Jesus was not crucified, or 9:30, which says that those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are accursed. One would think they would know it is common sense that renouncing these teachings is a mandatory stepping stone to better relations with Christians.Overall, the main issue ignored by this letter is that it is the Christian West that has shown its tolerance and respect for the Muslim religion by allowing millions of its adherents to immigrate here, to build their mosques and religious schools (sometimes with taxpayers' money), proselytize and practice their faith unmolested, protected by scores of laws and human rights codes. Which begs the question: if Christianity was so aggressive and thought itself at war with Islam, why would it allow millions of the enemy's followers to settle within its borders? Church leaders in Muslim countries would be overjoyed to enjoy just a slight percentage of the freedoms and legal protections granted to Islam in western countries. And what has the West received in return for its tolerance? The attacks of 9/11, the Paris riots, the Madrid and London bombings, and countless other thwarted terrorist attacks – not to mention “peace” letters accusing it of an exterminating aggression.The Muslim "peace" letter and its calling of a Christian-Muslim peace conference reminds one of the old Soviet practices of always claiming victim status and talking peace while waging war around the world -- and at home against its own people. And the Soviets always approached peace talks with the one-way street attitude: what's ours is ours; what's yours is negotiable. Even from the theological point of view, the Bishop of Rochester in England, Pakistani-born Dr. Nazir-Ali, says that the Muslim scholars' letter "seems to verge" on dictating "the terms on which the dialogue must be conducted." Again, that manipulative, one-way street approach.Before any "peace talks" are held, it would be wise -- and fair - for the Muslim scholars to prove their sincerity in desiring real peace and tolerance between the two religions. They must unequivocally condemn the terrorism committed in the name of Islam; they must renounce violent jihad and dhimmitude as obstacles to peace; they must renounce the more offensive parts of Sharia law, such as slavery and discriminatory laws against women and non-Muslims; and they must call for the end of all restrictions on minority religions in Islamic countries. If these Muslim scholars signed a letter supporting the building of Christian churches, even just one, in places such as Saudi Arabia, then one could believe their desire for peace was genuine.But if these things are not done, then the peace "letter" of the Muslim scholars can be seen to be what it really is: a passive-aggressive, disingenuous, Soviet-style tactic to psychologically disarm the enemy in a larger war that these learned Muslims admit their religion is already waging.

As in the days of Noah....

Christians to Pray for 'Secret Believers' in Islamic Countries

Christians worldwide are being invited to join a global prayer event next month focused on the “secret believers” that live in Islamic countries.The International Day of Prayer (IDOP) on Nov. 11 is a day designated specifically for all concerned Christians worldwide to unite in prayer for persecuted Christians. Hundreds of thousands of people and congregations participate in the event annually.“This year, which marks the 10th anniversary of IDOP, our focus is on ‘secret believers,’” wrote Dr. Carl A. Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, in a letter.Secret believers are Christians who have left Islam to follow Jesus in countries where Islam is the dominant religion.“They are paying the highest price for their faith,” Moeller stated.Earlier this year, Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, released his new book entitled, “Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ.” The book tells of the real-life experiences and sufferings of converts to Christianity living in countries where the majority of people are Muslims. The characters, whose names are changed for their protection, are all friends of Brother Andrew.“In their (the Secret Believers‘) countries, the biggest evil is if you turn away from Islam and become a Christian,” explained Brother Andrew to The Christian Post during an earlier interview on his book. “It’s not bad to be an atheist but to follow Jesus Christ is a deadly sin there.”Brother Andrew said his “cry” in the book was for Christians to become more involved and accept more responsibilities for the welfare of their Muslim-background brothers and sisters in Christ.Christians should realize that “if we lead people there to Jesus, they will be shunned by their societies and their family is honor-bound to kill them – that is the real situation,” said the Open Doors founder.Six of the top ten spots on Open Doors’ 2007 Persecution Hot Spots list were countries where Islam is the major religion: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia Maldives, Yemen, and Afghanistan.There are an estimated 200 million Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith including interrogation, arrest and even death, according to Open Doors. Another 200-400 million face discrimination alienation.Churches and individuals who are interested in participating in November’s prayer event can request a free IDOP kit that contains:
- Country profiles where Secret Believers face hostility- Testimonies of Secret Believers- DVD presentations- Other visual helps to guide prayer- Children’s activity pack
Christian groups who are actively involve in serving the persecuted Church include Christian Freedom International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, International Christian Concern, the Voice of the Martyrs, and World Evangelical Alliance.“It’s my prayer that together we’ll witness many spiritual victories through this international prayer campaign,” said Moeller.
On the Web: The IDOP kit at
PS:I received the package yesterday and I'll watch the DVD tonite.I'm really excited about it and I encourage you to request for this and share it in family and at church.Remember to pray for your persecuted brothers and sisters!!!!!
As in the days of Noah....

Friday, October 12, 2007

Airport Employee Suspended for Displaying Jesus Portrait

A Catholic airport worker in England was temporarily suspended for posting up an image of Jesus in the airport’s staff room [[[after a Muslim colleague complained.]]]Gareth Langmead, who is a car park supervisor at Manchester City Airport, was accused of posting up the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – a picture popular among many Catholics – [[[as “an act of provocation,”]]] according to the complaint.Langmead says he found the image when clearing out a desk drawer and decided to hang it up rather than throw it away.After hanging up the picture, a Muslim colleague complained and Langmead was consequently escorted off the airport’s premises and barred from work while his employers investigated the claim.A spokesman for the airport later said Langmead had been found innocent of wrongdoing, according to The Times newspaper, and was reinstated after three days.“This investigation was swiftly concluded and the employee has returned to work with a clean record,” the spokesman said.“Given the nature of this incident, we have agreed with our airport chaplain that he and his team will work with the employees involved to foster a greater level of understanding about each other’s beliefs and how this applies in the workplace.”In 2006, Nadia Eweida, a Christian check-in worker for British Airways at London’s Heathrow airport, was suspended for four months for wearing a cross on her necklace. The airline later agreed to review its uniform policy after extensive bad publicity, and Eweida was allowed to return to work.
PS:Wherever muslims go WEST they ARE a PROBLEM and they cause PROBLEMS to what they call the "infidels" taht is the rest of the wrold that is not muslim.
As in the days of Noah....

Indian Christian Schools Attacked for Not Observing Hindu Holiday

Two missionary-run schools in the Indian state of Maharashtra were ransacked by a little-known Hindu group on Wednesday for not declaring a holiday on the “Pitramoksha Day.”Although the state government declared Wednesday a holiday for all state-run educational institutions in Maharashtra, the Holy Cross and Saint Xavier's schools had decided to remain open.In light of the decision, authorities at the Christian schools were accused of taking up Western culture rather than acting according to age-old Indian culture."Missionary schools declare holidays during Western festivals, but they don't respect Hindu festivals,” commented Kishore Kothari, leader of Dharma Sena (Religion Army), a Hindu fundamentalist group supported by the VHP.“If my son goes to school on 'Pitramoksha Day,' how can he learn our traditional rituals?" he asked the local Indian Express.According to the city’s superintendent of police, Shashi Mohan Singh, the group behind Wednesday’s attack was armed with rods and sticks, and damaged two buses belonging to the Saint Xavier's school at Ashoka Towers in Shankar Nagar, Nagpur.Kothari further warned that "if missionary school managements don't mend their attitude, more protests will take place,"Pitramoksha Day, or Pitramoksha Amavasya, is an important day in the Hindu calendar when prayers are offered to the departed immediate relatives.

As in the days of Noah...

Missionary attacked with panga

Johannesburg - A South African missionary working in Mozambique has been admitted to hospital after being attacked by a gang of panga-wielding robbers.Jimmy Meyer, 35, and his wife Marlize, 30, have been doing mission work in Gondola, in the Manica province of Mozambique, for more than a year.Dewald van den Berg, head of the Evangelical Rural Mission Organisation, said the gang of five had overpowered the couple in their house at the mission station, at about 02:00 on Thursday. "Jimmy jumped up to protect Marlize and was struck on his head and arm. He was also badly beaten in the face. They tied him and Marlize up and ransacked the house," Van den Berg said from Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal.
Slid in pools of blood
Apparently there was so much blood on the floor from Meyer's injuries that the attackers slid in the pools of blood.They made off with about R20 000 and other items. The mission station also cares for widows and orphans."We've been aware for some time that the gang was operating in the area, but nobody expected in their wildest dreams that they would beat the missionaries half to death," Van den Berg said. The couple were expected to fly to South Africa on Friday or Saturday. Jimmy could not be moved earlier because he'd lost so much blood.When they are back in South Africa, they'll both receive counselling. The mission house is in the grounds of the mission station, along with a large church and accommodation for the widows and orphans. It is situated just outside the town of Gondola.South African farmers in the area contacted Van Den Berg after the attack, and supported Jimmy and Marlize in the hospital."Just after they'd contacted me, I decided to phone Marlize's cellphone, and would you believe it, one of the men (a suspected robber) took the call," he said.Van den Berg told him what he thought of him, and after the scolding all the man had to say was "I understand".The incident was reported to the Mozambican police and three suspects had been arrested by late on Thursday.Marlize apparently recognised one of the suspects. None of the stolen items have been recovered.

As in the days of Noah...