Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hamas' Christian convert: I've left a society that sanctifies terror

A moment before beginning his supper, Masab, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, glances at the friend who has accompanied him to the restaurant where we met. They whisper a few words and then say grace, thanking God and Jesus for putting food on their plates.It takes a few seconds to digest this sight: The son of a Hamas MP who is also the most popular figure in that extremist Islamic organization, a young man who assisted his father for years in his political activities, has become a rank-and-file Christian. "I'm now called Joseph," he says at the outset. Masab knows that he has little hope of returning to visit the Holy Land in this lifetime."I know that I'm endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he'll understand this and that God will give him and my family patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity. Maybe one day I'll be able to return to Palestine and to Ramallah with Jesus, in the Kingdom of God." Nor does he attempt to hide his affection for Israel, or his abhorrence of everything representing the surroundings in which he grew up: the nation, the religion, the organization. "Send regards to Israel, I miss it. I respect Israel and admire it as a country," he says. "You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death." Is that the justification for the suicide attacks? "More than that. An entire society sanctifies death and the suicide terrorists. In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheikhs tell their students about the 'heroism of the shaheeds.'" And yet, in spite of the criticism of the place he left, California can't make the longings disappear. "I miss Ramallah," he says. "People with an open mind. ... I mainly miss my mother, my brothers and sisters, but I know that it will be very difficult for me to return to Ramallah soon."
The continuation of this article will appear in the Haaretz Weekend Magazine.To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Son of top Hamas leader converts to Christianity:'I hope my father and family open their eyes to Jesus and the Kingdom of God'

Sheik Hassan Yousef (
JERUSALEM-The son of one of the most popular leaders in the Hamas terrorist organization has moved to the U.S. and converted to Christianity, it has emerged.In an exclusive interview with Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Masab Yousuf, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, slammed Hamas, praised Israel and said he hoped his terrorist father will open his eyes to Jesus and to Christianity."I know that I'm endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he'll understand this and that God will give him and my family patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity. Maybe one day I'll be able to return to Palestine and to Ramallah with Jesus, in the Kingdom of God," Masab said.Masab said he previously aided his father with Hamas activities, but he now has affection for Israel and laments Hamas."Send regards to Israel, I miss it. I respect Israel and admire it as a country," he says."You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Muhammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death."Masab slammed Palestinian society as "an entire society that sanctifies death and the suicide terrorists. In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheiks tell their students about the 'heroism of the shaheeds.'"Masab's father is considered the most popular Hamas figure in the West Bank. He is serving a sentence in Israel for planning or involvement in multiple terror attacks, including an infamous 2002 suicide bombing in the school cafeteria of Jerusalem's Hebrew University in which nine students and staff members were killed.In a statement to the Palestinian Maan news agency, Masab's brother, Suhaib, strongly denied that Masab converted to Christianity.But Haaretz stood by its story. The newspaper said it sent a correspondent to the U.S., who met with Masab for a detailed, in-person interview.
PS:Lets pray for Sheik Yousuf and for his son in the US now.There is nothing impossible with God....!
As in the days of Noah....

Bush to Attend Church in China, Urge Religious Freedom

US President George W. Bush plans to attend church while in China for the opening of the Olympic Games next month, and will speak about freedom of religion,a top aide said Wednesday. "When he goes to church on Sunday (August 10) he will make a statement afterwards in which he discusses his view on religious freedom in China," said national security council director of Asian Affairs Dennis Wilder."You can deliver the message of freedom without politicizing the events of the game," Wilder said."The president will have diplomatic meetings with the Chinese leadership that are separate from the games. And in those meetings with the Chinese leaders he will of course bring up these issues."Bush, a devout Christian, has walked a diplomatic tightrope over the Olympics, repeatedly insisting the games are not a political venue while recently stepping up his public criticism of Beijing's rights record.Bush will attend the August 8 opening ceremonies of the games, having rejected human rights activists' appeals for him to boycott the gala in protest of China's overall rights record, including a crackdown in Tibet in March.Wilder said the United States was "disappointed that they have cracked down on the Internet," and expressed hope that protests planned around the event would be open to non-Chinese."The Chinese have announced that there will be protesters. We very much hope that those protest areas will be open not only to Chinese citizens but to foreigners," Wilder said."We hope that the rules for operating within those protesters' areas are opening up, that those who want to protest can. We hope that these protest areas are truly like those areas that have been allowed at other Olympics."That is yet to be demonstrated, I think, that the Chinese are truly moving in that direction."On the whole, the United States looked to Beijing to use the attention of the Olympics to show progress in granting various rights, such as free speech and free press, Wilder said."What we are looking for in China is not gestures, we are looking for structural change,we are looking for long term change," Wilder said."We are looking for the Chinese at these games to show that they are making progress, to demonstrate to the world, the spotlight is on Beijing, this is an opportunity for Beijing to show that it is widening ... freedom of press, freedom of expression," he said."The ultimate goal here is to get the Chinese government to see that it is in their interest to free up their society."Asked about China's failure to release political prisoners as a goodwill gesture ahead of the Games, Wilder said: "Obviously I would like to see all these political prisoners that we have on our lists released."We have handed the Chinese lists of people that we think are unfairly in prison."
PS:Lets pray for Hu Jintao,that the Lord will soften his heart and that the outcome will be the expected by the church,for God's glory!!!!!!!!
As in the days of Noah....

Bombing widens division in Turkey

Turkey-Deadly twin blasts in Turkey this weekend heightened insecurities over the secular-religious rift.SAT-7's David Harder says partner TURK-7 feels the pressure. "Turkey is in a very tense time. The ruling political party is on trial right now to prove that it should exist. It's a very complicated scenario. Nobody knows how it will play out. That is a big threat in the background to the stability of the country."The Constitutional court's decision could shut down the Justice and Development Party's government for alleged Islamism.Doing away with it would fly in the face of the nationalist thinking that ‘"to be Turkish is to be Muslim, and to be Muslim is to be Turkish."Analysts think any changes to the 85-year-old system could trigger months of political upheaval. Already, the rumblings can be felt in the streets. Add to that the shock of the terror attacks, and the tensions go up even higher.Christians are often singled out in times of sectarian violence. While the Turkish constitution includes freedom of religion, worship services are only permitted in "buildings created for this purpose," and officials have restricted the construction of buildings for minority religions.The few who dare to profess Christ face harassment, threats and prison. Evangelism is difficult. According to a 2007 report from I.N. Network, a ministry working in the country, the number of believers reportedly declined from 22% to only .2% between 1900 and 2000, and most of these Christians are non-Turkish.Even so, the TURK-7 team shares the hope of Christ through programs produced in Istanbul.Harder says no one from their ministry was hurt in the bombings. He urges prayer for the team in Turkey because "they are members of the community. They are the ones who can most effectively train and encourage the Christians who are living near them. SAT-7 is working within the local community, making the program locally, because they will be the most effective to minister in the region."With a population of 70 million people, of whom 99% are Muslim, the evangelical church of the 21st century desires to build relationships with their Muslim neighbors.
Pray that local officials will stop harassing Christians.
Pray for opportunities for Christians in Turkey to share the truth of who Jesus is with those around them
As in the days of Noah...

Persecution continues in India, Bible students committed

India-Radical Hindus in India are angry and helpless.Thousands of Hindus are giving their lives to Christ.That is causing extremists to lash out at Christians. According to Gospel for Asia, last week two of their Bible college students were beaten and ridiculed for handing out evangelistic tracts in the state of Maharashtra. They were on their weekend outreach when the incident occurred.Founder and President of Gospel for Asia KP Yohannan says,"This is one of the toughest states. Not only two, but a group of seven of our students while they were going out for outreach, they were rounded up by 30 or 40 people who simply destroyed their literature, burned their Bibles, and beat them up without mercy."
The trouble began when Mohan, a third-year student, came across an automobile driver who questioned his authority to distribute tracts about Jesus. The automobile driver then slapped Mohan on his face.Simson, another third-year student, was distributing Gospel tracts nearby and rushed to protect Mohan.The scene drew a crowd of people and they, too, began to interrogate the students. They shouted at Mohan and Simson, using vulgarities to speak out against them. Their attackers shoved the two students around and beat them until they were severely bruised. One of the attackers pushed Simson down and kicked him.
At first, no one came to the students' aid. Finally, a few people from among the crowd told the assailants to stop beating them. The attackers grabbed their Christian literature, telling them, "We don't want any Jesus." Then they let Mohan and Simson go, warning them not to return.
GFA has 120 students enrolled in the Maharashtra Bible College. These are just a few of the many young people who are receiving the Bible school training. Yohannan says many more would like to attend. "For $30 a month, anyone can help to train one of these young people. We have 7,000 young people now in our Bible colleges all across the Asian nations. And, we have the possibility to recruit thousands more, if we had people pray and help them."According to Yohannan, this training is serious. "We tell them, 'You are going to the mission field because Jesus is sending you, and this is what He said: Are you willing to make a commitment and lay down your life for My sake?' So far, I don't know any graduates that have said, 'I don't want to get beaten up, and I don't want to get killed.'"
According to Yohannan, persecution is expected. "Wherever people are coming to Christ in large numbers, we see persecution increase. However, wherever the persecution is harsh and increasing, there we find more people coming to Christ. That is a strange irony."
As in the days of Noah....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

President George W. Bush Meets with Bob Fu

Today just before noon, Bob Fu, President of China Aid Association, met withPresident Bush along with 4 other leaders advocating for human rights and religious freedom in China.This historic meeting sends a strong statement to the Chinese government officials of the President’s priorities in his visit to the opening Beijing 2008 Olympic Games next week. President Bush explained his desire to talk to the Chinese officials about human rights violations, and also speak with the Chinese people about the importance of religious freedom. ThePresident promised to discuss with President Hu Jintao that the Christians inhis country are peace-loving and caring people, and that he should not be afraid of them. Bob Fu delivered “Prayer for China” wrist bands to the President and encouraged him to wear them as a symbol of solidarity with the Chinese people.In addition to explaining the deteriorating situation for religious freedom in China as the Olympics approach, Bob Fu also raised thecase of house church leader Zhang Rongliang, who is serving his 7 ½ year prison sentence and Bob asked President Bush to intercede in his behalf.
President Bush’s willingness to meet with Bob Fu and other activists despite the sensitivity and complexity of Sino-American relations is a clear showing of his commitment for basic human rights within China.China Aid Association is deeply thankful to President Bush for his courageous stand in the advancement of Religious freedom in China and around the world.
Issued by CAA July 29, 2008
For more information please visit:
As in the days of Noah....

Islamic Extremists Kill Somali Christian:Fifth Christian Martyred in Somalia in the Last Nine Months

The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Islamic extremists shot and killed a Muslim convert to Christianity on July 10, 2008 in Afgyoye, a town 18 miles away from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital. The victim's name was Sayid Ali Sheik Luqman Hussein, and he was 28 years old.On Tuesday, July 8, two Muslim men approached Mr. Hussein and asked him if he faces Mecca when he prays (Mohammed instructed his followers to face the city of Mecca when they pray). Hussein told them that as a Christian, he does not have to face a specific direction to pray because God is omnipresent.The two Muslim men returned on July 10th armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and a semi-automatic handgun and shot Hussein to death.Hussein's wife went into premature labor and delivered a stillborn baby upon hearing of her husband's murder.Hussein came to Christ from Islam in 2004. He grew in his faith and started to evangelize in the community in which he was working as a teacher. Hussein's pastor described him as the most effective evangelist in his area. One of Hussein's students described him as the godliest man he has ever met.Recently, Islamic extremists have intensified their attacks against Christians in Somalia. In the past nine months alone, five Christians, including Hussein, have been martyred for their faith. The other four martyrs are:David Abdulwahab Mohamed Ali, Da'ud Ali, Mohamed Yusuf and Hassan Mo'alim.ICC's regional manger for Africa, Jonathan Racho, stated, "Somali Christians are paying the ultimate price for their faith in Jesus Christ. Despite the spike in persecution they face, they have chosen to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to the point of death.Christians should continue to pray and support their brothers and sisters in Somalia."
To learn more about the needs of Somali Christians and how you can help them, please contact ICC.
PS:PLEASE REMEMBER PRAYING for Sayid's wife and family and the church in Somalia through this difficult time.
As in the days of Noah....

Muslim Mob Stones Christians in Eastern Ethiopia:Spread of Radical Islam Brings Increased Attacks Against Christians in Ethiopia

The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that mob of Islamic extremists stoned Seid Ahmed and Musa Ibrahim [names changed for security reasons] in Jijiga, a city on border with Somalia. The attack is the latest attack against Christians in Ethiopia where the spread of radical Islam is fueling the persecution of Christians.On July 19, 2008, Ahmed and Ibrahim were going to a church meeting when they were confronted by nine extremist Muslims yelling anti-Christian slogans.The extremists started hurling rocks at the two Christians.Ahmed, who is a church leader, was hit by eight stones and suffered a severe concussion and injuries on his torso. He was admitted to Karamara Hospital where he was treated for his injuries.Mr. Ibrahim escaped physical harm as he fled the scene to call the police who never arrived to stop the attack.The mob finally dispersed when Mr. Ibrahim ran in the direction of the local police station.Jijiga is the capital city of Somali Regional State, which is one of nine states in Ethiopia. The majority of residents in Somali State are ethnic Somalis who are majority Muslim.This is not the first time that Christians have been attacked in Jijiga. On August 5, 2007, the Ethiopian Full Gospel Church in Jijiga was bombed.Though the church was packed with five hundred people, no one was hurt by the explosion.The same church was attacked by bomb five years earlier.ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said, "Unless the growth of radical Islam is curbed in Ethiopia, the attacks against Christians will continue to rise. Ethiopian government officials, particularly local officials in Muslim dominated areas of the country, should be made accountable for failing to protect Christians against such attacks."
As in the days of Noah.....


Please remember to pray for the people in the Gaza Strip that are subject to this horrible sufferings.Remember also those persecuted for their faith and the widows and orphans of christians murdered lately...THEY NEED OUR PRAYERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

As in the days of Noah....

GHANA:Executive director attacked, robbed

Ghana-Three masked gunmen attacked and robbed the home of Walter and Marian Pimpong on the night of July 23, 2008. They are very traumatized, but safe.Rev. Walter Pimpong is the Executive Director of IN Network in Ghana.He works to free girls and women from traditional sexual slavery at village shrines.The Trokosi tradition has thrived in the Volta region of Ghana, where the practice of voodoo originated, for hundreds of years.When a villager commits a crime, the aggrieved person reports the crime to the fetish priest.The priest then afflicts the villager's family with curses and misfortunes.To stop the curses, the family must give up a virgin daughter, usually between eight and fifteen years old but sometimes as young as five, to the priest. She becomes his property through a humiliating initiation ceremony. Her labor and her body are his to demand, usually for the rest of her life. The priest controls everything she does and beats her if she tries to escape.The priest will not provide food, clothing, schooling, or basic medical care for any of the girls enslaved at the shrine.The Trokosi often bear children, who live in bondage with them.Although the practice became illegal in 1998, the law is difficult to enforce due to the pervasive fear of the curses.For several years, Rev. Pimpong has been working to free the Trokosi. Rather than paying ransoms for the women, he works through a slow process of negotiation, building relationships and trust with the priests and village elders.By that method, he can usually persuade the shrine to agree to cease the practice of Trokosi.So far, 31 shrines have dropped the practice, and 3,500 women and their children have been liberated.It is estimated that about 2,000 are still enslaved, along with approximately 8,000 children.IN Network hopes to free them in the next few years, while the political climate is favorable. However, the work does not end with the women's release. IN Network provides the women with counseling, vocational training, education, Bible teaching, food, healthcare, clothing, and a micro-credit plan. Their children are assimilated into IN Network's sponsorship program. More than 95 percent of the freed Trokosi become followers of Jesus Christ.IN Network ministers not only to the women but also to the villages surrounding the shrines.When the Trokosi practice comes to an end, the entire village is freed from the fear of the curses.Through the continued relationship with Rev. Pimpong and other national workers, the village receives sanitation, clean water, and education for the children. In addition, national Christians often have the opportunity to plant churches in former Trokosi villages.
Pray that the Pimpongs will recover from the attack.
Pray also for their protection and for the continuation of their ministry without opposition.

As in the days of Noah...

Unique Open Doors Seminars Training Church Leaders To Better Counsel Traumatized Arabic Refugees

SANTA ANA, Calif.-Many members of Christian Iraqi families in cities like Baghdad and Mosul have faced traumatic experiences, such as the lost of a loved one or a kidnapping.These experiences are often the main reason families leave their city and flee to northern Iraq, Syria or Jordan. Although they flee, the trauma often doesn’t disappear.Many psychologists and psychiatrists say that trauma does not automatically go away in time; rather trauma victims need careful handling through talking about their frustrations and feelings. But in the Arab culture, it is not common to talk about your feelings. Rather it is a culture of honor and pride; the kind of culture where one does not shame his or her family by talking about their deepest emotions. This causes a dilemma for people who want to help. On one hand, the refugees are in great need of trauma counseling. However, they are not used to counseling as a form of treatment.Most of the refugees who went to Arab churches in northern Iraq, Syria and Jordan were only able to receive minimal counseling from the leaders of these different churches. Though these leaders have a lot of experience, they are not trained in trauma counseling. They need extra training and support. As a result, Open Doors has set up – in cooperation with local Christian leaders – an unique training program with foreign and Arab trainers to give the churches and Christian leaders the tools to handle the traumatic experiences that the refugees have faced.
Difficult To Forgive
Forgiveness is an important word in the Bible and the concept of that word is one of the key elements of Christian theology. However, the emphasis on forgiveness in the Bible is almost opposite to the culture of the Middle East. There it is often more talk about revenge rather than forgiveness. Some Arab Christians have problems with the concept of forgiveness after so many years of oppression by other religions. Biblical truth is taught from the pulpit, but “forgiving your enemy” is often not part of that teaching. Though Arab Christians know that the Bible instructs us to forgive, it is difficult to forgive a person who has hurt or killed one of their family members. “There is nothing against anger and frustration, but you have to channel those emotions in a right way, otherwise it is possible that you will commit a sin, maybe a crime, and that is not God’s way. So a person experiencing trauma needs to learn how to deal with that anger and feelings of revenge. Therefore we have organized these sessions,” one of the trainers said.
‘Big Step Forward’
Counseling Iraqi refugees with trauma is a long process and can take years, depending on the person. Open Doors has started the first sessions in trauma counseling and hopefully many will follow. “It is unique what we are doing here. Challenging Arabs in areas of forgiveness, revenge, shame and honor is new in this world, but it is a blessing to be able do this,” one of the Arab trainers said.The participants are overwhelmed with the material and the information: “I am in need of this material when I am dealing with Iraqis suffering with trauma in my church. There are so many questions and unanswered problems, but we have made a big step forward now.”

As in the days of Noah....

Muslims Come to Jesus in Egypt

Bashir (pseudonym) is passionately excited about how God is working in Egypt. “God is doing something wonderful in our region and is restoring the inheritance of what God left for us many years ago,” he said, and the persecution they face is not deterring them. Bashir explains, "There was a wonderful Christian couple from a Muslim background living quietly in their home for five years until they were reported for not attending the mosque. They were beaten and taken to the police station, and accused of being infidels. The police then beat the believers badly again. A week later the police advised them to leave their house. We had to re-settle them in a safe location. However, all of these persecutions are not stopping Muslims from coming to the Lord.”
Prayer Points:
*Pray for the Muslim-background believers who experience severe opposition from their family and community when they decide to follow Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 10:32f)
*Pray for the Christians who were unable to bear the persecution and have denied Jesus; pray that they will receive God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy. (Matthew 26:41)
*Pray for the Christian leaders and their families in Egypt who risk their lives serving newly converted Muslim-background believers. (Philippians 1:4,5)
Source:Open Doors
As in the days of Noah....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Freed U.S. hostage was Chad rebels' "guest of honor"

U.S. Missionary Steven Godbold (C) stands with U.S. Ambassador Louis Nigro (L) and Chad's Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat after being freed, by Chad's rebel Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT), in N'djamena, July 26, 2008.
N'DJAMENA-Freed U.S. missionary Steven Godbold expressed relief to be on his way home on Saturday but said Chadian rebels had treated him as "guest of honor" during his nine months as a hostage deep in the Sahara.Godbold, 49, was captured in October as a suspected spy by rebels in the remote, mountainous north of Chad while helping a local organization transport equipment to drill water wells.He was freed late on Thursday to local officials in northern Chad and formally handed over to the U.S. ambassador by the Chadian government in the capital N'Djamena on Saturday."My main feeling is relief at being released. I am very happy," Godbold said. "I am very happy with everything the Chadian government has done to obtain my release, and the way they have worked with rebel groups to achieve that."Godbold, who is married and has four children according to The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), based in Wheaton, Illinois, said he had found his imprisonment psychologically difficult, especially being separated from his family."But I was never physically mistreated. Nobody ever said a threatening word to me. I was treated almost as a guest of honor. We ate together, we drank tea together, we played cards together and we chatted together," he said.Godbold, of Sarasota, Florida, has worked as a missionary in Chad since 1991. He was captured last October by the rebel Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT) on suspicion of being a spy for the Chadian government.
Chad's MDJT was formed in the Tibesti mountains in the Sahara in the late 1990s but has been eclipsed in recent years by eastern rebels battling Chadian President Idriss Deby from bases near the border with Sudan's Darfur region.Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faky Mahamat, who handed Godbold over to U.S. Ambassador Louis Nigro, said the government had made no deal with the rebels for Godbold's release."We didn't launch a military operation so as not to put his life in danger," he said.At the time of his seizure, Godbold was working on a humanitarian assistance project drilling water wells in the Zoumri region, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.In January the MDJT said its inquiries showed Godbold was not working for the Chadian government as it had originally suspected, but on that and several subsequent occasions hopes of an imminent release came to nothing.Godbold's TEAM organization said on Friday his release had followed "extensive negotiations between his captors and TEAM"."TEAM emphasizes that Godbold's release was unconditional and that no ransom was paid and no concessions of any type were made to secure his release," the evangelical group said.TEAM said Godbold would be flown home to his family in the United States via Europe, though it was not clear when he would leave N'Djamena.A plethora of armed groups operate in the Sahara, and several have taken Westerners hostage in recent years. Al Qaeda's North African arm is thought to be holding two Austrian tourists on the Mali-Algeria border hundreds of kilometers (miles) west of Chad, after seizing them in Tunisia in February.
As in the days of Noah...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chad rebels free U.S. missionary after 9 months

N'DJAMENA-Chadian rebels have freed a U.S. missionary after holding him hostage for more than nine months in the remote north of the central African country, his U.S. evangelical organization said on Friday.Steven Godbold, who was captured by rebels in October while helping a local organization transport equipment to drill water wells, was freed late on Thursday, The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), based in Wheaton, Illinois, said in a statement.Godbold, 49, was held by Chad's rebel Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT) on suspicion of being a spy for the Chadian government. Godbold had worked in Chad since 1991 and is married and has four children, TEAM said.The rebel group was formed in Chad's mountainous north in the late 1990s but has been eclipsed in recent years by eastern rebels battling Chadian President Idriss Deby from bases near the border with Sudan's Darfur region."Godbold was released by his captors in Chad on Thursday evening, July 24th. He was released near the town of Bardai in northern Chad, and is presently a guest of local officials in Bardai," TEAM said.It said arrangements were being made to send a plane to Bardai to evacuate Godbold to N'Djamena. "From there he will travel to the United States via Europe for reunion with family and colleagues, debriefings and medical checks," it added.Chad's Communications Minister said he could not confirm Godbold's release but added that "there will be a meeting about this matter tomorrow".He said the meeting would be at the Interior Ministry, but declined to give any details.At the time of his seizure, Godbold was working on a humanitarian assistance project drilling water wells in the Zoumri region, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. MDJT leader Aboubakar Choua Dazi told Reuters within a fortnight of Godbold's capture that the movement would soon free him, and the MDJT has suggested several times since that he was about to be freed, but to no avail.In January the MDJT said its inquiries showed that Godbold was not working for the Chadian government as it had originally suspected."Godbold was ultimately released following extensive negotiations between his captors and TEAM. TEAM emphasizes that Godbold's release was unconditional and that no ransom was paid and no concessions of any type were made to secure his release," the evangelical group said.

As in the days of Noah...

Chad Rebels Release Stephen Godbold After 9 Months

The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) is very pleased to announce the release of Cash Stephen Godbold, a missionary held captive in northern Chad for more than nine months. Godbold was released by his captors in Chad on Thursday evening, July 24th. He was released near the town of Bardai in northern Chad, and is presently a guest of local officials in Bardai. Arrangements are in process to send an aircraft to Bardai to evacuate Godbold to N'Djamena. From there he will travel to the United States via Europe for reunion with family and colleagues, debriefings and medical checks. Godbold was captured on October 10, 2007 in Zoumri in the Tibesti region of Northern Chad. He was assisting a Chadian non-governmental organization transporting water well drilling equipment into the Tibesti in order to provide clean and safe water to residents of the region. He is 49 years old and has served in Chad since 1991. He is married and has four children. The Movement for Democracy and Justice in T'Chad (MDJT) claimed responsibility for Godbold's captivity. Mr. Choua Dazi, the President of the MDJT, made numerous statements to the international media and others during the months of captivity, reporting that Godbold would be released as early as last November. No explanation for the failure of the MDJT to honor those promises has been provided. Godbold was ultimately released following extensive negotiations between his captors and TEAM. TEAM emphasizes that Godbold's release was unconditional and that no ransom was paid and no concessions of any type were made to secure his release. Dr. Charles Davis, International Director of TEAM, expressed gratitude and appreciation for the efforts of many organizations and individuals in Chad and the United States: "Governments, the church, other faith-based organizations and individuals worked together to make sure that Steve was kept safe and ultimately released. We are so very grateful for this assistance and praise God for every person and agency that helped bring Steve home." Additional information will be provided as it becomes available during the repatriation and debriefing processes.
As in the days of Noah....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Islam Court Stands Behind Kidnapping, Forced Conversion and Rape of Christian Girls...

A Christian father in Pakistan is trying without success to gain custody through the courts of his two pre-teen daughters who were kidnapped and made to convert to Islam - writes Anto Akkara.On 12 July 2008, a judge in Pakistan's Punjab province ignored pleas that Saba Younis, aged 12, and her 10 year old sister, Anila Younis, who went missing on 26 June from the small town of Chowk Munda, had been kidnapped while on their way to their uncle's residence and ruled that their conversion to Islam was legal.The kidnappers, who had married the girls, had also filed for custody of the girls at a local police station on 28 June, asserting that the sisters had converted to Islam and their father no longer had jurisdiction over them."We are shocked by this court order," Anita Maria, a lawyer and a spokesperson for a Pakistani Christian group told Ecumenical News International recently. "Poor Christians in remote areas have to live with that." Maria said that in some cases young women who have been abducted are charged with adultery if they refuse to convert and marry their abductors.The police had been unable to trace the girls, and members of the local Christian community were shocked when their abductors came forward to claim that the girls had converted to Islam and that they had married the girls.The Muzaffargarh district court on 12 July said the disputed conversion of the girls was legal, and it was this ruling that left the local Christians stunned."We will move the [Lahore] high court to challenge this order," said Maria, who works as the programme coordinator for Pakistan's Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement.The Pakistan Minorities Concern network said in a statement that Younis Masih, the father of the kidnapped girls, was threatened by the local police when he went to complain about the kidnapping of his daughters. The statement noted that the village has only a few Christian families living among 150 Muslim families, and said that police refused to support the Christian family. The network pointed out that in 2005, nearly 50 Hindu girls and 20 Christian girls were kidnapped and the majority had been forcibly converted to Islam."This is a travesty of justice. But unfortunately, this is the practice here," lamented Victor Azariah, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, which groups four Protestant churches. Azariah said, "The courts never help us."

As in the days of Noah....

Monday, July 21, 2008

B.C. couple brutally attacked in Kenya to return home

John Bergen, and his wife, Eloise Bergen, are seen resting in a Nairobi Hospital earlier in July after they were attacked at their guarded residence in Kenya. (Sayyid Azim/Associated Press)
A Canadian missionary couple recovering from severe injuries sustained in a vicious attack in Kenya will be returning home soon, said their daughter-in-law.John Bergen, 70, was attacked on July 9 by a gang of robbers armed with machetes, suffering broken arms and a skull fracture.His 63-year-old wife Eloise was tied up and sexually assaulted. The couple had moved from Vernon, B.C., to Kenya in March to do missionary work and run programs to feed the poor.Seven people have been arrested in the attack, including two security guards hired to protect the fenced-in compound where the couple live in the volatile region of Mount Elgon.Initially, the couple said they wanted to stay in Kenya. But Robin McGeogh, the Bergens' daughter-in-law, told CBC News that they have been convinced to come back to Canada because of extent of their injuries and the better care they can receive at home."Canada's got the really good rehab, and the faster you get home and start a good rehab, the faster you can get out and do things like … end up back in Kenya," McGeogh said from her home in Chestermere, Alta., east of Calgary.Her son and two of the Bergen's sons flew over to Kenya after the attacks to be with them.
Plans to visit, pray for accused assailants in jail
The Bergens say they suspect their attackers may have been connected to some security guards they recently fired and may have been seeking revenge. Theft was also likely a motive since the couple's laptop and cash were stolen during the attack.McGeogh said her father-in-law may get out of the hospital in Nairobi on Saturday, but that doesn't mean he'll get on the plane the next day.She said he plans to visit the men charged with the crime in prison to pray and forgive them. "I know that John and Eloise would not want them to go for, on death row or anything like that, so that might cause even more delay because that might keep him there to protest that," she said.The couple plans to spend some time in Calgary before returning to Vernon, McGeogh said.

As in the days of Noah....

President of Chinese House Church Alliance Forced to Live on Streets For meeting with American Congressional Delegation

Beijing- CAA has learned that on July 6, 2008 Pastor Bike Zhang , chairman of the Federation House Church and his wife, Xie Fenglan, were forced to leave their home in Chaoyang District by Beijing PSB officials. The couple was able to find shelter in the home of a friend, Niu Bei until officials again found the home and forced the Zhangs to leave. Zhang and his wife were forced to move into a hotel in Guo Xian town, Tongzhou District, and were allowed extended residence by the owner. At 16:00 on July 14 Tongzhou PSB officials threatened the owner of the hotel to evict the couple or face incarceration. The couple then decided to find residence in Changping, but were stopped by police officials while on their way and taken to the Town Government office. Police proceeded to interrogate the couple rotating them on a one on one basis without food, drink, or rest. At 6:00am Xie Fenglan collapsed due to the stress of the torture but was not taken to the hospital until 11:00am. The couple was released from the government office and stopped at a local hotel on their way out of town. While local police officials again drove the couple out of the hotel and forced them to leave. After a short while of living in Tongzhou, the couple were again accosted by local police and forced to move. Zhang begged the PSB officials to allow his sick wife to stay in the location and rest overnight. The officials rejected this plea and forced Zhang to send his wife to her sister’s residence in Sanhe, Hebei for recovery, while Zhang found residence in a local hotel. On July 16th, while going out to buy medicine for his wife, local police officials followed Zhang and forced his wife to move out from her sister’s home. Both Zhang and his wife are now forced to live on the streets and are not able to find shelter. When asked why the couple was being expelled from Beijing, officials responded, “Because Bike Zhang met the Americans, and destroyed the harmony of the Beijing Olympic Games.”This egregious treatment of one of China’s most respected and well-loved house church leaders is a shocking and outright violation of basic human rights and rule of law. The Chinese Government has shown neither remorse nor discretion in violating UN and international mandates to grant citizens basic human liberties such as shelter and protection. The acts against Pastor Bike Zhang and his wife are unjust and unlawful. This type of behavior exhibited by the CPC is reflective of a dictatorship with no regard for the wellbeing of its citizens and not a world leader worthy of the honor of hosting the Olympic Games. We urge the international community and those concerned to voice their objection of these acts to the Chinese Government.
To voice your concern, please contact:
Chinese Embassy in Washington DC Address:
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.,
Washington D.C. 20007
Tel: (202) 338-6688, (202)5889760
Fax: (202) 588-9760
Attn: Chinese Ambassador to the US, Mr. Zhou Wenzhong
PS:Please PRAY,PRAY,PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As in the days of Noah....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Court says 'gay' rights trump Christian rights:Dismisses free-speech case filed by Philadelphia 11

The Philadelphia 11 included (Front, L-R) Arlene Elshinnawy, Susan Startzell, Lauren Murch, Nancy Major, Linda Beckman. (Back, L-R) Gerald Fennell, Mark Diener, Dennis Green, Michael Marcavage, James Cruse, Randall Beckman
A federal appeals court dismissed a civil rights complaint by 11 Philadelphia Christians, ruling their First Amendment rights were trumped by the First Amendment rights of homosexuals at the city's taxpayer-funded "Outfest" celebration in 2004. "The city has an interest in ensuring that a permit-holder can use the permit for the purpose for which it was obtained," this week's opinion from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said. "This interest necessarily includes the right of police officers to prevent counter-protestors from disrupting or interfering with the message of the permit-holder."The decision upheld a lower court's dismissal of the civil action against the city of Philadelphia and its police filed by the "Philadelphia 11," as they have come to be known.Ted Hoppe, a lawyer allied with the Alliance Defense Fund, had argued in the appeal that speech "cannot be silenced simply because another person or group does not agree with it. City officials must be held accountable for their decision to violate the First Amendment rights of Christians who wanted nothing more than to engage in peaceful assembly on a public street."Marcavage, founder of Repent America and organizer of the protest, said the lawyers were reviewing the appellate ruling and deciding whether there are further open doors for the plaintiffs.Members of the "Philadelphia 11" were arrested Oct. 10, 2004, after quoting the Bible and expressing their views against homosexual behavior on a public street during "OutFest," a publicly funded celebration of homosexuality.The protesters were jailed overnight, but a judge later dismissed any criminal counts as having no basis in fact. The individuals then filed the damage lawsuit against the city.U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel had concluded in dismissing the civil rights claim that a "permit" granted by the city to the homosexuals allowed police to silence the Christian activists' message on public streets."It is without question that Judge Stengel's decision has set a precedent to eliminate the First Amendment rights of others by citing that a 'permitting scheme' can be used by police and event organizers to 'exclude persons expressing contrary messages' in public areas and at public events," Marcavage said earlier.Marcavage told WND today the issues of speech rights should have been left to a jury."It's very interesting the court affirmed our rights to be at Outfest, but it should have been left to a jury to decide whether or not our presence was disruptive," he said.He said the appellate opinion cited as fact issues a jury should have been allowed to determine, since the 11 were charged with both felonies and misdemeanors in the original criminal case – but not being a disruption, which was cited in the ruling.A video of the arrest has been posted on YouTube:

According to Repent America, the Christians on that day "were confronted by a militant mob of homosexuals known as the 'Pink Angels' who blew loud whistles and carried large pink signs in front of them to block their message and access to the event, while others screamed obscenities." "The Philadelphia police, under the direction of Chief Inspector James Tiano, the city's 'police liaison to the gay and lesbian community,' refused to take any action as the Christians were continuously followed, obstructed and harassed, even though they respectfully cooperated with police, obeying orders to move, short of being directed out of the event," the group said.The Philadelphia 11 spent 21 hours in jail and faced criminal counts that could have resulted in prison terms of 47 years and $90,000 fines before the counts were dropped.The civil rights complaint then followed."While, in its decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit did ultimately side with the city of Philadelphia, it did make some important rulings which should serve to support the rights of Christians to speak in the public square. In its decision, the appeals court rejected U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence F. Stengel's decision from earlier this year in which he ruled that the Philadelphia 11 should have been prohibited from engaging in their constitutional rights on the public streets and sidewalks because 'once the City issued a permit to Philly Pride for OutFest, it was empowered to enforce the permit by excluding persons expressing contrary messages,'" Repent America said.Repent America said the appeals court found that despite the fact that the event organizers had a permit, the Philadelphia 11 had a constitutionally protected right to be present on the public streets and sidewalks within the event area and convey their message.The court's justification for supporting police actions against the Christians was based on "the court's perception that the Philadelphia 11 were 'disrupting the event,'" the organization said. "The court came to this conclusion even though the Christians were not charged, arrested or even threatened with arrest for being 'disruptive.'"Hoppe said that result is "concerning.""We believe that a review of the video footage of the event clearly shows that the Philly 11 went out of their way to be cooperative and not be disruptive themselves. The only disruption that occurred, if any, was due to the crowd's reaction to the message that the Philly 11 was conveying," Hoppe said."It is encouraging that the court affirmed the rights of Christians to go into the public square and engage in free speech activities. However, it does seem somewhat contradictory to say that, on the one had the Philly 11 had a constitutionally protected right to be present at the event and to speak, but then to also say that if the crowd does not like their message, the Philly 11 can be removed."
As in the days of Noah...

Kidnapped Christian girls, judge ratifies marriage and conversion

The district of Muzaffargarh rules in favour of the Muslims, rejecting the request from the family that wants to bring home the two sisters - 13 and 10 years old - kidnapped last June 26. Christian associations charge that they could end up as prostitutes...
Islamabad-District judge Mian Muhammad Naeem, of the section of Muzaffargarh, has ruled that the two Christian sisters "have converted in a legitimate manner to Islam", and for this reason they cannot be "restored to their family of origin". Setting aside the request from their father to regain custody of his daughters, the judge also admitted the "validity" of the marriage of the girls to two Muslims.Saba Younas, aged 13, and her sister Anila were kidnapped last June 26 in the village of Chowk Munda, in the province of Punjab, where they had gone to visit their uncle, Khalid Raheel. This is the same uncle who in recent days reported their kidnapping, asking for help from news organisations and human rights groups. According to Raheel's account, a Muslim fruit vendor named Muhammad Arif Bajwa kidnapped the girls, and then handed them over to a friend, Falak Sher Gill, who then organised the marriage between his own son and the older of the Christian sisters, Saba. In court, moreover, father and son both stressed the "complete willingness of the girl to contract marriage".The girls' uncle does not conceal his preoccupation, and denounces to AsiaNews that the Muslims involved in the kidnapping are acting as a "gang", recruiting the girls in order to "make them work in a bordello".This alarm has also been heard by the Catholic commission for justice and peace (NCJP) in the country, which confirms the words of Khalid Raheel: the kidnappers are believed to be human traffickers linked to prostitution, known to the police and under the protection of some local politicians."For these unscrupulous people", charges Naeem Asghar, local coordinator of the NCJP, marriage is a pretence in order to control the girls, run their lives and exploit them for their own business purposes".The Catholic community continues to uphold the cause of Saba and Anila, and promises that the family will not be left to itself. Expressing the hope that the girls will be brought back home, the coordinator of the NCJP emphasises that "an appeal will soon be presented to the high court of Multan, to contest the decision of the district judge" and have the girls "restored to their parents".
by Qaiser Felix
As in the days of Noah...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

World's Former Only Hindu Country Opens to Christianity

The world’s former only official Hindu country is now open to the preaching of the Gospel, a Christian missionary working in the country shared this past weekend with joy.Formerly, Christians were reportedly arrested and imprisoned for preaching the Gospel in Nepal. Speaker Narayan Sharma, Gospel for Asia’s Nepal country leader, said at the GFA “Renewing Your Passion” Conference in Dallas, Texas, on Friday. He recounted when he himself was arrested and put into a dungeon-like prison cell because he shared his faith.“In all this darkness, there was no imagination that the country would ever be open,” Sharma said.But in April, Nepal held its first election for a new legislative assembly, and in May lawmakers legally abolished the monarchy and declared the country a republic.The king was previously considered to be a god.Newly elected officials also promised to allow religious freedom in the government. Now, Gospel programs are aired over the same government-owned radio stations that used to carry reports of Christians being arrested, Sharma said.“The Bible says that after the night, joy comes in the morning, and morning has come to Nepal!” Sharma told the audience of more than 1,000 people. Missionaries from Myanmar (also known as Burma), Sri Lanka, India, and the United States also spoke.The Myanmar missionary shared about how locals saw the heart of God when missionaries and volunteers brought them food and supplies after the recent cyclone disaster.“Buddha did nothing while we were suffering. But your Jesus loves us,” the missionary recalled a family telling him.“Now every Sunday they are coming to church and worshipping the Lord,” he added.Following a message about the importance of prayer, GFA leaders and attendees held a late-night prayer vigil on Saturday.GFA says it has 16,500 native missionaries working in about 11 south Asian countries.The “Renewing Your Passion Conference” began on Friday with GFA president and founder K.P. Yohannan greetings and ended on Sunday.

As in the days of Noah....

Free Video Download and Prayer Guide to Help You Pray for China during the Olympics

In just a few weeks—on August 8th, 2008—the Olympics will begin in China. It's a strategic opportunity for Believers all over the world to pray for China.The church in China has experienced incredible growth in the past 30 years. Yet at the same time Chinese Believers have faced much suffering and persecution; in some cases they have even lost their lives for their faith.While officially tolerating religion, the Chinese government has done much to control and restrict the growth of Christianity. Over the past 12 months leading up to the Olympics, the pressure has intensified. Visas for foreign workers have also been cancelled and greater restrictions imposed on tourist visas. Despite this, thousands of Christians will be working in creative ways to share the message of God's love through their actions and attitudes during the Olympics.During the same period, we would love to see tens of thousands of Christians around the world praying that God's Kingdom purposes would be established in China. Can you and your church join in bringing this flood of prayer before God's throne? We have materials ready for you, which you can download at
• An Olympic Prayer Guide (in English, Spanish, German, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese)
• A 4-minute and 6-minute Olympic Prayer Video (in low, or hi-resolution)
Here are 3 ways you can help:
First, join with churches around the world to pray for three minutes during your normal service on Sunday, August 3. You can show the 3-minute video, which features short messages from a Chinese pastor and a past Australian Olympic athlete. After watching the video, you can spend 3 minutes praying for China with the help of the Olympic Prayer Guide. Second, copy the Olympic Prayer Guide for each member of your congregation and include it with your church bulletin. Rather than just being spectators to the various Olympic events, encourage people to participate in God's agenda by keeping the prayer sheet close to the television and spending time praying during the commercial breaks.
Third, organize a combined churches prayer meeting some time during the week leading up to the opening ceremony on Friday, August 8.
The people of China need our prayers at this important time in history. Let's stand with them.
Source: Australian Director - Chinese Church Support Ministries
As in the days of Noah....

Zimbabwe's Christian churches reject Mugabe victory

Robert Mugabe ralling supporters
Mugabe's Inauguration Ceremony

Victim of violence:11 months old Blessing Mabhena whose legs an feet were broken by Mugabe loyalist soldiers with the ZANU-PF.Doctors doubt he will ever walk...
Victim of ZANU-PF violence Angela Campbell still unconcious after the severe beatings
Victim of ZANU-PF violence farmer Ben Freeth
Victim of ZANU-PF violence farmer Mike Campbell
HARARE-Zimbabwe's Christian community has rejected President Robert Mugabe's re-election last month as marred by violence and intimidation and expressed support for efforts to form a government of national unity.In a statement obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, the heads of all the churches in the predominantly Christian country said the race between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was marked by the worst violence since independence in 1980.Tsvangirai pulled out of a run-off ballot last month, citing a campaign of intimidation and killings by Mugabe supporters that Western governments said made his re-election illegitimate.U.S. President George W. Bush said on Tuesday he was disappointed Russia and China had vetoed broader sanctions against Mugabe and other Zimbabwean officials, but said the United States may impose tougher penalties of its own.In their statement, the Zimbabwean churches said they were "ready and committed to partner with all efforts that will result in a transitional authority and subsequently a government of national unity, to bring peace stability and reconciliation within the nation.The Heads of Christian Denominations said the torture, murder, abductions, displacement and psychological trauma had fatally undermined the election."Our conclusion is that the will of the people of Zimbabwe was not given authentic expression during these elections," they said, adding that the violence was continuing.Mugabe, 84, in power since the end of British rule, blames the opposition for the bloodshed.Tsvangirai has demanded the government halt all attacks on his supporters as one of several pre-conditions to negotiating with Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF.
Preliminary talks between Tsvangirai's MDC, a smaller faction of the party and ZANU-PF appear to have stalled despite the efforts of South African mediators to get all three to agree to a framework for more substantial negotiations.An opposition source said on Tuesday the talks were set to resume on Wednesday.Tsvangirai topped the first round but failed to get the absolute majority needed to avoid a second ballot.He wants an African Union envoy named to help mediate talks, something South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad rejected on Tuesday.South Africa and other AU members are pressuring Mugabe and Tsvangirai to accept a power-sharing deal similar to the one that ended post-election violence in Kenya earlier this year.African leaders see a unity government as the way to avert a spread of violence and total economic collapse in Zimbabwe, which has the world's highest inflation rate, estimated at more than 2 million percent, and chronic food and fuel shortages.The United States and Britain, among Mugabe's fiercest critics, have called on African nations to take a tougher stand on his government and Bush said Washington could act alone."I think the thing we need to do now is for us to analyze whether or not we can have some bilateral sanctions on the regime leaders," he said in Washington.
As in the days of Noah....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Iran shows defiance; believers forced underground

Iran-Iran is playing a dangerous game with diplomacy and nuclear arms and now faces fresh sanctions.Iran successfully test fired nine long and medium-range missiles on Wednesday.The existence of a nuclear program has sparked a war of words and more threats.Iran expects talks on its disputed nuclear program to begin within days.All of this, says Open Doors' Carl Moeller, puts believers in a precarious position."The government itself is actually responding to this internal political pressure and the external realities of Christian influence in Iran with greater repression."Although foreign missions are not allowed to enter Iran,many agencies are cooperating with the existing church.As a result, as more Muslims have become disillusioned by their religion, a growing number have converted to Christianity.That often leads to more oppression.According to a recent Compass Direct report, a newly converted Christian couple was arrested by police for holding Bible studies with Muslims in their home and attending a house church.31-year old Makan Arya and 28-year old Tina Rad were seized from their home in east Tehran after one of Makan's relatives informed security police of the couple's Christian activities. Eventually the couple was pressured into signing a statement claiming they had not changed their religion from Islam and promising that they would stay away from their house church and other Christians.Christians make up less than one-half of one percent of the population and the persecution has forced believers underground.Iran is considering a change in their penal code that would mandate the death penalty for apostasy from Islam.In spite of that, officials at many ministries working to reach Iran say they've been flooded by the increase in the response from Iran.Many believers though, are cut off from fellowship and have limited access to resources that will help disciple them.Moeller says that's why they can't give up."Organizations like Open Doors that are committed to serving persecuted believers within Iran find it more difficult to do the things that we do.Let's just say that the impact of increasing Bibles, and the teaching and evangelism programming, is profound."He urges prayer."It is important that we remember that it's a spiritual battle and that we engage the forces of the enemy that would seek to use these political pressures and these tortures and these arrests to stop the growth of the church. But when God moves, no force on earth can stop it."
Pray for strength for those who come to Christ, despite the threats and dangers.
Pray that the government will be open to change and allow full rights and protection for non-Muslims.
As in the days of Noah...

Local church leaders help rebuild

China Quake Aftermath:Sichuan Province Refugee Camp
Cyclone Nargis Aftermath:Myanmar Irrawadi Delta Refugee Camp
Asia-Christian leaders in China and Myanmar plan to help with long-term rebuilding after the recent natural disasters, and Partners International is committed to supporting them."Our desire as Partners International is to help brothers and sisters in Christ who are already reaching their neighbors long before these disasters occurred, and helping them to strengthen their outreach and ministries in practical ways," said Howard Amland, Vice President, Resource Partners, of Partners International.Thousands died, and millions lost their homes in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan Province, China on May 12. Cyclone Nargis left 50,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless in Southern Myanmar on May 2-3. It also wiped out the rice harvest in the Irrawaddy Delta, a region that was poor even before the cyclone, and destroyed the fishing boats."A long-term presence is needed in order to...rebuild those communities into viable places in which to live and work,"Amland said."In farming communities and fishing communities, individuals can't really make a living right now.Entire areas...won't be able to be replanted for quite some time to come."Ministry partners are building houses and providing basic necessities like plates, bowls, and shoes in Burma.In China, its partners are helping with construction projects, counseling, caring for orphans and the elderly, and developing micro-enterprise projects.Partners International works with about 100 ministry partners, primarily in the 10/40 window.Many of these partners live in economically-depressed areas and must rely on outside assistance to grow their ministries."Many of our partners, particularly in the difficult areas, they're just doing ministry: they're reaching the lost, which is very admirable," Amland said. "But in order for them to grow beyond those initial beginnings and one-to-one ministry, they'll need resources and training in how to better communicate, particularly with the Western world."Ministry partners also receive biblical training and mentoring in stewardship and board governance. In China, they are involved in church planting, theological training, poverty relief, and reaching unreached people groups. Ministry partners in Myanmar have been involved in church planting, leadership training, youth centers, orphanages, child sponsorship, drug rehabilitation, and training local missionaries.Servant partnership, Amland says,"is partnership done in the spirit of our Lord's agape love, not to seek fulfillment or personal satisfaction.It's done with the primary desire to help accomplish the objectives and fulfill the vision of the other partner.""Those of us who have the privilege of living in the resource-rich area of the West need to reach out to our brothers and sisters in the non-western world who have opportunity-rich situations."
Pray that God will strengthen His church in Myanmar and Sichuan Province.
As in the days of Noah...

Nepal's new government vows not to harm Christians

Nepal-Christians are hopeful now that Nepal has a new government.As of May 28, Nepal became a democratic republic,ending 200 years of being the world's only Hindu monarchy. Through the years, Christians in Nepal have paid a heavy price:threats, beatings, ridicule and even imprisonment-for choosing to love and follow Jesus.Now much of Nepal-Christians included-is hopeful at the news of this new government. During recent months, a Maoist leader initiated a meeting with Nepal's major Christian leaders, expressing that the Maoists would guarantee religious freedom in Nepal and vowing not to harm Christians.The Maoists have also made verbal promises to work toward peace in the nation.There is a certain expectancy that Christians will enjoy more freedom-and, with it, more opportunities to share the Gospel of hope. Gospel for Asia's Nepal regional leader, Narayan Sharma, clearly recognizes this."The Lord had His eyes on Nepal from the beginning of the formation of this nation and people," Narayan says. "We see how God is fulfilling His promise, ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' A nation which was hostile to the Gospel had to change its Constitution and laws to accept Nepali Christians as their fellow citizens with respect. We believe that Nepal will change continuously from past history to new reality...from darkness to the light of the Gospel. It is true: what was sown in tears is now being reaped with joy."GFA's work in Nepal began in 1988. The ministry includes personal evangelism, church planting, ministry to children, Bible schools, Gospel literature distribution-the largest in Nepal, film ministry and radio broadcasts in Nepali and Sherpa.The first order of business for the new governing assembly is to draft a new constitution. Narayan requests earnest and faithful prayer for his nation during this critical time as a new government and constitution are formed simultaneously, and for the believers in this country that they can continue to "spread the influence and fragrance of the Gospel in this beautiful nation."
Pray that Christians will be allowed to worship freely.
As in the days of Noah...

Bible Publishers Sued for Anti-Gay References

A Michigan man is seeking $70 million from two Christian publishers for emotional distress and mental instability he received during the past 20 years from versions of the Bible that refer to homosexuality as a sin.Bradley LaShawn Fowler, a gay man, claims his constitutional rights were infringed upon by Zondervan Publishing Co. and Thomas Nelson Publishing, both of which, he claims, deliberately caused homosexuals to suffer by misinterpretation of the Bible.Fowler, 39, is seeking $60 million from Zondervan and another $10 million from Thomas Nelson.According to a USA Today report, Fowler’s two separate suits against the publishers claim the intent of the Bible revisions that refer to homosexuals as sinners reflect an individual opinion or a group's conclusion.Fowler says the deliberate changes made to first Corinthians, chapter six, verse nine caused him "or anyone who is a homosexual to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence ... including murder."Fowler, who is representing himself in both lawsuits, claims the publishers are misinterpreting the Bible by specifically using the word homosexuals, which made him an outcast from his family and contributed to physical discomfort and periods of demoralization, chaos and bewilderment. “These are opinions based on the publishers and they are being embedded in the religious structure as a way of life," he tells a local NBC TV station affiliate in Grand Rapids.Fowler admits that every Bible printed is a translation that can be interpreted in many ways, but he says specifically using the word “homosexual” is not a translation but a change.Fowler says Zondervan Bibles published in the ‘80s used the word homosexuals among a list of those who are “wicked' or unrighteous and won't inherit the kingdom of heaven.”Zondervan, for its part, issued a statement to the Grand Rapids press stating it does not translate the Bible or own the copyright for any of the translations it publishes.“We rely on the scholarly judgment of the highly respected and credible translation committees behind each translation and never alter the text of the translations we are licensed to publish,” the statement reads.“We only publish credible translations produced by credible Biblical scholars.”U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr., who will hear Fowler’s case against Thomas Nelson, says the court “has some very genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of Fowler’s claims."
By: Rick Pedraza
As in the days of Noah...

PAKISTAN:Christian Shepherd Boy Dies of Rabies After Muslim "feudal lord" Refused to Provide Medical Treatment

Impoverished Christian parents in Pakistan’s Punjab province were still awaiting justice more than 2 weeks after their teenage son died from rabies while working as a shepherd, because a Muslim “feudal lord” allegedly refused to provide medical treatment.Nasir Masih, 15, perished June 10 after the landowner kept the severely sick boy at his farmhouse to work and concealed his illness for 41 days, as reported byBosNewsLife.It is not uncommon for Christian teens and younger children to be held in slave-like conditions in this Muslim country. Struggling families in rural areas often send their children to landowners as they have no means to provide for them. After Nasih’s death, the landowner allegedly warned the parents to not inform police or he would file a case of “blasphemy against Islam” against the them. Rights and church groups say that current blasphemy laws have often been misused to settle disputes.
Pray that local authorities would take action against this landowner and that Pakistan would become a land that respects religious minorities.
Pray that authorities would see through the misuse of these blasphemy laws, and they would lose their power to intimidate and subjugate Christians, and other minorities.
Pray for Nasih’s family, and other’s like them who have been bereaved, and that they would experience His healing presence and power to love their enemies
As in the days of Noah....

COLOMBIA:Pastor Receives Death Threats

A series of death threats against Wilmer Ribon, 31, pastor of Rivers of Living Water Church in Belen Rincon, a paramilitary-controlled neighborhood with a high violent crime rate, has prompted Wilmer and his family to flee to Colombia’s capital, according to a report by Compass Direct. During his 3-year tenure at the church, Ribon has launched a number of public outreach programs, including weekly evangelistic services when the two-month series of death threats began.The threats continued until Wilmer felt compelled to leave with his family until things settled down.A Christian worker in Colombia said this type of “expulsion” is occurring elsewhere also as paramilitary groups attempt to regain control of areas from rebel guerrillas.“Pastors are always targeted by these groups because pastors preach about peace, which does not suit these groups,” the worker said. The Ribon family is now living in a cold, windowless warehouse.
Pray for the Ribon family that they will be sheltered in His care and will know what God would have them do next.
Pray that these paramilitary groups would not be successful in their attempts to drive out Christian workers and that God’s people would be protected under His wings.
Pray that God’s Spirit would hover over this country where drug-induced violence has long held sway, and bring a supernatural peace that will cause the Gospel to prosper.
As in the days of Noah...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Christians bear brunt of violence in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka -Voice of the Martyrs' Canada reports more violence against Christians in Sri Lanka.The faithfulness of believers in the face of opposition is evident in that there has been a significant growth of evangelical Christianity since 1980.Local monks, threatened by the loss of power and the growth of the church, have been stirring up increased opposition with militant Buddhists. Many churches have been burned, and Christians have been beaten and stabbed.Regular attacks come against those who are in Christian work. The National Christian Evangelical Alliance reported on two recent situations.In Middeniya, several militants opposed to an Assemblies of God church pastor's outreach began threatening him. Then, on July 3, someone burned his house down. The family managed to put out the blaze before it caused extensive damage, and no one was injured.Three days later, a mob attacked Calvary Church in Colombo after false rumors about Christians attacking a temple spread. According to Voice of the Martyrs, five Buddhist monks charged into the church building during a worship service and demanded that the service cease.The monks told the pastor that there was no need for Christians in the village and threatened to destroy all local churches. Fearing violence, the pastor sent his congregation away.The mob then attacked the building, and beat the pastor and at least five others with clubs and rods. They did survive, but with serious injuries.While the Constitution supposedly guards freedom of religion, many Christian activities are seen to violate the law. Amendments to existing laws and the introduction of a new anti-conversion law would only serve to further hinder religious freedoms within Sri Lanka.
Pray that the faithfulness of Christians in Sri Lanka will be a light that draws others to Christ. Pray that the Gospel message will continue to grow and that many will come to Christ.
Pray for protection for Christians as they are confronted by opposition

As in the days of Noah....