Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Catch 22' custody crisis for Christian mom

A Virginia mother is fighting off attempts by her former lesbian partner to gain visitation rights to a child.Lisa Miller, a former lesbian and now a born-again Christian, faces jail time for refusing to surrender her daughter to her ex-girlfriend in Vermont.WorldNetDaily reports that Miller could go to prison for refusing to allow her daughter to spend an unsupervised Thanksgiving holiday with her former lesbian partner Janet Jenkins. When Isabella Miller, Lisa's daughter, was 17 months old, Lisa left the homosexual lifestyle and became a Christian. However, when Miller gave birth to Isabella, she was in a civil union with Jenkins. Miller allowed Isabella to visit Jenkins a couple of times after their separation, but she then determined it unhealthy for her daughter and refused to let the unsupervised visitations continue. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear the case, but there are additional hearings next month and another chance the case will go to the high court. Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver wants the court to take the case because Virginia and Vermont are struggling with competing marriage laws."And more important, people like Lisa Miller and her Christian daughter Isabella are hung in the balance, and their lives are really torn back and forth between these states that want to impose homosexuality or same-sex unions into another sister state," he points out. Staver contends Lisa Miller is caught in a lose-lose situation. "She either protects her child and does not permit unsupervised visitation in an activist lesbian household in Vermont, or she protects the child and faces the fear of a court order to take the child away and putting her in the custody of an activist homosexual-and that's a 'Catch 22' no parent wants to be in," he concludes.
By Charlie Butts and Marty Cooper
As in the days of Noah...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Letter from North Korea Defector

This is a narration of a letter from a North Korean underground church teacher, accompanied with photos of North Korea and its people....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Colo. Megachurch Reflects One Year after Shooting

Slain sisters Rachel (16)and Stephanie Works (18) New Life Church,Colorado
Tiffany Johnson 26 and Philip Crouse 24, killed at Youth With a Mission-Arvada,Colorado
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP)-After a year of accolades that followed her shooting of a gunman who killed two teenage sisters at her church, security guard Jeanne Assam remains "low key" and says she thinks of the family of gunman Matthew Murray."He didn't start off to be mixed up and confused. He started off to be a good person but he went down a wrong path," Assam said during a news conference after a church service Sunday. A former police officer, Assam said that now she is hoping to join the Colorado Springs police department.Assam shot and wounded Murray after he opened fire at New Life Church on Dec. 9, 2007. Murray then killed himself, ending a spree that killed four people in two cities.Assam said volunteering as an armed security guard at the church remains the highlight of her week.In the year since the shooting, Assam said, she has received an award from a Second Amendment group, as well as other accolades that include a resolution in the state Legislature. She also met President George W. Bush."I don't feel bad about what I had to do," she said. "I'm sad that people died...I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. It still feels a little surreal for me for some reason."Murray began his shooting spree at the Youth With a Mission center in the Denver suburb of Arvada just after midnight Dec. 9. There, he killed Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24.Hours later, he drove 65 miles south to New Life Church in Colorado Springs and began shooting as worshippers left a Sunday service. Sisters Rachel Works, 16, and Stephanie Works, 18, were killed. A memorial that includes a stone bench and two blue spruce pine trees will be dedicated on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary.A candlelight vigil is also planned Tuesday in Chisholm, Minn., Johnson's hometown."I can't explain why I'm here and two wonderful daughters and sisters aren't here," the teens' father, David Works, told 9,000 people at a service Sunday, with wife, Marie, and daughters Laurie, 19, and Gracie, 12, on stage with him. "All I know is God was with us then and he's with us now."David Works, who was shot just above the waist and in the leg, has recovered and has returned to work as an IT specialist. After the service, Works said he has written a book in tribute to his daughters."You have to rebuild your family again," he said.
He said he misses watching Stephanie play chess with Gracie every night, as well as long philosophical talks with Stephanie.He also misses Rachel and her movies."There's no playing chess in the evening anymore," Works said, adding that counseling has helped him to not assign his surviving daughters the former roles of Stephanie and Rachel.During his sermon, Pastor Brady Boyd talked about mourning and how the congregation has had to grieve the death of the Works' sisters and the loss of founding pastor Ted Haggard, who resigned two years ago amid a homosexual sex and drug scandal."Where death happened, life will spring up," Boyd said, later adding: "The best is yet to come at New Life."After the service, Boyd and parishioners said Assam's heroics were miraculous. Boyd called it a "David and Goliath" moment.Wearing a trench coat and carrying an assault rifle, Murray opened fire in the church complex's parking lot and headed into the church. He walked past a playground, which church spokeswoman Amie Streater said was empty that day because it had been snowing, and entered a hallway that led toward the sanctuary past a children's worship area.Outgunned and stationed near the children, Assam stepped out from a doorway, confronted the gunman and then fired 10 shots from 63 feet away, hitting Murray once in the wrist and twice in a leg. Murray died in the hallway barely 40 feet from where he entered."There was no earthly reason why more people shouldn't have died," said June Gordon, 51, with tears welling up as she recalled the horror of the day. "I just know it was God.""There were too many things to happen that went right for there to have been a coincidence, an accident," said her husband, Russ Gordon. "We really believe that was divine."
In addition to David Works, two others were wounded at New Life. A gray column in the hallway where Murray fell has slight discolorations where Streater said bullet holes had been patched.
Assam has said she is writing a book about the role forgiveness has played in her life, but she didn't talk about it Sunday. In the days after the shooting, much was made about her single status, which Boyd said resulted in a flood of e-mails to the church from interested men.When asked if she had met anyone, Assam replied, "No, I have not yet, which is just fine."
By Associated Press Writer
P. Solomon Banda
As in the days of Noah....

Bible movies show Mongolians the Gospel

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (BP)-In an Ulaanbaatar conference room, five Mongolian men ages 26 to 57 sit around a table, fanned out like spokes of a wheel. One is a former Buddhist artist. Another served as an army officer for 26 years. Along one wall is a map of Mongolia with pinned-on yellow triangles. The plain ones stand for ministry sites visited.The 10 with an adorning cross represent new, indigenous churches. Lines partition the Mongolian region into five slices-one for each of the men gathered around the table. For two years, these men have traveled the countryside together, bringing the Gospel to isolated, nomadic communities. Now they will ride out separately, each carrying the Good News to one of the outlined regions.These are the men of Steppe-by-Steppe (named after Mongolian prairielands, called steppes). Each month these believers travel to the outlying areas of Mongolia, showing Bible movies and discipling believers to establish churches and strengthen existing ones. Under the discipleship of Southern Baptist worker Will Everett,* the men have shown movies to more than 25,000 Mongols in 84 communities since 2006."These guys blow me away with what God's done in their lives," Everett said. "More than anybody else in the country, these guys know its pulse. They are the experts of Mongolia."These men are not the first to travel to Mongolia's outer aimags (provinces). When the country opened up in the early '90s after communism, American believers trekked to the countryside to show the JESUS film on ger (tent home) walls and at other venues. Many accepted Christ through the campaign.A decade later, a survey of the country's churches found discipleship to be lacking. Driven by the success of the JESUS film, believers identified a set of 10 movies about the Bible, from Genesis to the New Testament. The men trek to the nomadic areas one to two weeks monthly, showing a movie each night and using the story to bridge the discussion to "Who is Christ?"They offer Bible studies each morning and either filter new believers into existing churches or disciple them to form their own. Sometimes the team's efforts are met with anger: chairs flying when the movie doesn't work, antagonists pulling the plug during a showing. Yet there are also stories about people flagging down a ride to the movies. Others have followed the team to the train station, walking in snow for miles to see them off on their continuing journeys. One member recalls digging a hole in the Gobi desert for a spontaneous baptism.Distrust often can turn to hope when these believers tell the difference Christ has made in their lives. Tumen,* a former military man who once struggled with alcohol, shared his story with alcoholics in a community marketplace.Approximately 60 men cried at the end of his talk. Building seminars from such experiences, the team is addressing villagers' needs-and providing material that can be repurposed for prison ministry."Ministry to those outside the city is new ground," Southern Baptist worker Marie Dawes* said. "Even Mongols are asking, 'How do we do this?' It's going to have to be nomads to nomads.They are in the most unreached area."
by Dea Davidson
*Name changed.
Dea Davidson is a writer for the International Mission Board.
As in the days of Noah...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bill Targets Religious Discrimination in Okla. Schools

OKLAHOMA CITY-The first House bill filed for the 2009 legislative session seeks to clarify where the line is drawn on allowing religion in public schools, but opponents say the bill is an ideologically driven measure that will create more problems than solutions.House Bill 1001, authored by Oklahoma City Republican Reps. Sally Kern and Mike Reynolds, is titled the “Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act.”
The bill allows students to express religious viewpoints in the classroom or in assignments without discrimination and prohibits students from being penalized or rewarded for the religious content of their work.The measure also allows religious groups or clubs to have the same access to school facilities as secular groups and requires school districts to adopt policies on student speakers that does not discriminate against expressions of religious viewpoints.
Reynolds said the goal of the bill is not to create any new policies for districts to follow, but simply to codify into law what already has been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding religion in schools.
“There’s nothing new about this bill,” Reynolds said. “It makes it very clear that we agree with the Supreme Court.“The second thing it does is provide for a model policy for school districts to adopt so they don’t have to hire lawyers to come up with these policies.”If a district adopts the model policy contained in the bill, Reynolds said the state attorney general’s office would be required to defend the district if it were sued over the policy.But some lawmakers, including Rep. Ed Cannaday, a former teacher and school administrator in eastern Oklahoma, described the measure as a “cotton candy bill.”“It’s tasteful and you enjoy it, but it does nothing for you,” said Cannaday, D-Porum.Cannaday said the bill also could open the door for radical religious groups to demand equal time in Oklahoma schools.“What’s more dangerous is that this cotton candy has been laced with arsenic,” Cannaday said. “The radical, non-Christian fringe groups who want to undermine our faith will use this to disrupt and to distract from our spiritual base.”
A nearly identical bill last session passed the House and Senate, but was vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry.In his veto message, Henry said students already are allowed to express their faith and that the bill could subject school officials to “an explosion of costly and protracted litigation.” “While well intended, this legislation is vaguely written and may trigger a number of unintended consequences that actually impede rather than enhance such expression,” Henry wrote.Kern, also a former public school teacher, disagreed with Henry’s take on the bill, saying the measure would provide more clarity for schools.“That is totally bogus,” Kern said of Henry’s veto message. “I doubt he even read the bill.”Dr. Richard Broughton, an associate professor of zoology at the University of Oklahoma and the president of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, said he opposed the bill last year and plans to do so again this year. Broughton thinks the bill is an attempt to inject religion into science classrooms, a move the group adamantly opposes.“We think that only science should be taught in science classrooms,” Broughton said. “It doesn’t deal with specific science or content, but the implications are pretty clear about what kind of things could happen if the bill passes.”With Republicans now controlling both the Oklahoma House and Senate, Broughton said he fears more bills will be introduced that are driven by ideology than good public policy.“I really hope we don’t see them, but we’re concerned,” Broughton said. “Those kinds of bills have died in the past, but could re-emerge in the political environment we have now.”
As in the days of Noah...

Church Ad Banned for Being Offensive to Gays

An advertising watchdog has banned a newspaper ad-run by a Belfast, Ireland, church-condemning homosexuality. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the ad was offensive and indecent.Sandown Free Presbyterian Church ran a full page ad entitled “The Word of God against Sodomy” in the Belfast Newsletter to coincide with Belfast’s Gay Pride parade.The ad states that homosexuality is an “abomination” and warns of “God’s judgment upon a sin.” It also says that it is “a cause for regret that a section of the community desires to be known for a perverted form of sexuality.”The church said it had been “obliged under God to publicly challenge the vices of this generation.” The Belfast Newsletter said that not publishing the ad would have been an “infringement of freedom of expression on a matter of public interest.”The Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints from seven members of the public who felt the ad was homophobic, ruling that it had “caused serious offense to some readers.”The ASA determined that the ad went “further than the majority of readers were likely to find acceptable,” although the Rev. David McIlveen of Sandown church said there was no evidence of this.It also rejected some complaints that the ad would incite hatred and violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community."The ad did not in itself incorporate language likely to incite a violent emotional response," the ASA ruled. But it went further to say the ad should not appear again in its current form.McIlveen said ASA’s ruling on this point was “a vindication of the true spirit in which the statement was formulated.”“However, we believe that the part of the adjudication in which the ASA upheld the complainants position shows a basic and fundamental ignorance of the teaching and application of God's Word on the subject of sodomy,” he continued.“By adjudicating on what is in effect the message of the bible on the code of decency is, in our opinion, the setting of a very dangerous precedent.”He also rejected ASA’s ruling that the ad was indecent.“Many thousands of people throughout the UK are in possession of scriptures that declare sodomy as an abomination, a perversion of sexuality and a sin before God.“Therefore by determining that quotations of bible texts and their application have breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency), the ASA is taking the view that the printing and publishing of certain biblical texts is indecent.”He continued: “This is an offense to every bible believer. It is ironic that an authority that seeks to prevent others from being offended appears to have no scruples in offending those who hold to the plain teaching of the word of God.” McIlveen said it would not heed ASA’s recommendation that it seek advice from its copy team before publishing material in the future.“We see as an unwarranted interference into church affairs. It is totally unacceptable for any church to look to an outside body for their approval to print gospel tracts that are based on the word of God. This we cannot and will not do.”
As in the days of Noah...

Thai Church Appeals for Prayer amid Political Unrest

The head of the Thai partner church of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is appealing for Christians around the world to pray for the country as it undergoes a political crisis that has thrown parts of the country in upheaval.Although protesters began to clear out of Bangkok’s main international airport on Tuesday as a court forced the prime minister from office, the week of demonstration has left hundreds of thousands of travelers still waiting for flights out of the country.It will reportedly take weeks before the airlines can clear the backlog of an estimated 350,000 people who missed flights, according to Agence France-Presse."Please pray for the situation throughout our country for wisdom and humility on the part of decision makers and for a swift, just and peaceful solution to hostilities," wrote the Rev. Sayam Muangsak, general secretary of the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) in an email that was received by the PC(USA)'s area coordinator for Asia/Pacific.Anti-government protesters occupied both of Bangkok’s airports last week, forcing them to close and resulting in a mass number of canceled flights.They have also occupied the prime minister compound since August.The protesters, members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), demanded that Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat be ousted from the government.Protesters accuse Somchai of being a puppet of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was accused of government corruption, abuse of power, and suppression of free speech.Thaksin was removed from office by a bloodless coup by the Thai military while he was in New York in 2006.But despite the seeming resolution between the PAD and government on Tuesday, the conflict is far from over.Supporters of Somchai vow they will press charges against PAD leaders for their takeover of airports and Government House.Also, the PAD has declared it will not accept any prime minister or politician linked to Thaksin. Despite its name, the PAD is not as democratic as it sounds, but rather royalist.The PAD did not recognize the fact that Thaksin was elected by a landslide and his replacements were democratically selected.Instead, the PAD attacked Somchai’s party until it was found guilty of electoral fraud and disbanded. Meanwhile, Somchai is banned from politics for five years and Deputy Prime Minister Chaowarat Chandeerakul is now acting prime minister. During the past months, there have been several isolated incidents of violence by both the PAD and those who oppose them (the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship or UDD).Over the weekend, more than 50 people were injured in clashes between PAD supporters and pro-government counter-protesters.But in addition to the political situation, the Church of Christ in Thailand also said it is worried that the global economic crisis and the expected loss in the country’s tourist industry will have a long-term detrimental financial effect on Thailand.“We here in the Church of Christ in Thailand value your prayers at this particular time,” wrote CCT’s Rev. Sayam Muangsak.
By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
As in the days of Noah...

Two Arrested for Killing of Youth Minister

CLEVELAND, Ga. - A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with the killing of a church youth minister in Cleveland, Georgia.Cleveland's police chief identifies the suspects as 21-year-old William Joseph Dyer and 29-year-old Jennifer Dawn Lineberger. Both are charged with felony murder. Dyer is also charged with armed robbery.The body of the Rev. Edward Frank Harris Jr. of Clermont was found shortly before 4 a.m. Monday in the yard of a home in Cleveland. The 44-year-old Harris had called his family Sunday afternoon after church to say he was giving two stranded people a ride into town before he returned home.
As in the dasy of Noah....

Nigerian Refugees Flee Muslim-Christian Violence

JOS, Nigeria - Iki Atsen, a Nigerian Christian, says he told the women in his home to flee and grabbed an ax as a man with a bullhorn urged 100 Muslim men to storm the home and kill all non-Muslims.Atsen survived, but his two brothers were cut down by machetes and tossed by the mob into a well.They were among over 300 people slaughtered last week in the worst violence to hit Nigeria in years.The Nigerian Red Cross says some 12,000 people have sought refuge at 13 makeshift camps across the central city of Jos, where homes, churches and mosques lie in ruins.
As in the days of Noah...

Iraqi Christians Slowly Returning Home to Mosul

An Iraqi Christian carries humanitarian aid distributed by the Iraqi Red Crescent, at Saint George Church in Baghdad, Iraq , on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. About 45 Christian families came to Baghdad from Mosul after violence against their minority in the area.
(Photo: AP Images / Khalid Mohammed )
BAGHDAD-Iraqi Christians have started to trickle home to the restive city of Mosul in recent days as attacks against them have tapered off, authorities said Friday.Jawdat Ismaeel, a local migration official in Mosul, said Christians are no longer fleeing the northern city following a spate of threats and killings earlier this month. Sunni insurgents are believed to be behind the campaign to drive them out."Christian families have stopped leaving and started to come back to their houses in different neighborhoods in Mosul," Ismaeel said.He said 35 Christian families, or about 210 people, have returned.The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has condemned the violence and is trying to lure Christians back to Mosul by offering each family that returns 1 million Iraqi dinars-about $865.The initial response to the offer has been lukewarm, however, according to local officials.Ismaeel said the migration department has also granted Christian government workers and students a leave of absence from work and class until Nov. 1.In Baghdad, meanwhile, some 300 people rallied in front of a Chaldean church in support of Iraqi Christians and to condemn the attacks against them."I am sure that 99 percent of Iraqis are sympathizing with Christians," the Rev. Louis al-Shabi told those gathered. "This is a good indication of the unity and love among Iraqi people."Attacks against Christians and other minorities in Iraq had tapered off amid a drastic decline in overall violence nationwide. But some 1,800 Christians families, or 13,000 people, were chased away by threats and extremist attacks in Mosul earlier this month.That is over half the community in a city where Christians have lived since the early days of the religion.Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the country in the face of violence by Islamic extremist.
As in the days of Noah...

Militants step up fear campaign

Somalia-Voice of the Martyrs is confirming the murder of a Somali Christian in Manyafulka village.It is the latest in a wave of such attacks on Christians in Somalia recent months.Somalia is almost exclusively Sunni Muslim, with less than one percent of the population Christian.There has been a noticeable increase in the number of Christians in Somalia. A number of believers have been martyred, and others have been publicly named as targets for execution.In many hardline Muslim areas, to convert from Islam to Christianity is apostasy, punishable by death. Compass Direct reports militant Islamists caught up to Mohammed, staged a mock trial and pronounced Mansuur Mohammed an apostate and a spy for Ethiopian soldiers.After stirring up the passions of the crowd, the militants beheaded the 25-year-old convert. They then circulated the video in an effort to instill fear in those contemplating converting from Islam to Christianity.
--Pray for comfort for those who mourn the loss of these Christians.
--Ask God to give strength and comfort to the people in Manyafulka village and the surrounding area.
--Pray that those responsible for these dark deeds will come to know the light of Christ's love
--Pray for a full and lasting peace in this war-torn country.
--Pray for encouragement and strength for the Christians remaining in Somalia as well as for those who have been forced to leave their homes.
As in the days of Noah...