|Zprávy HCJB 10.12.2006 - 16.12.2006|
|Německý turista odsouzen v Maroku za svědectví.|
|Sadek Noshi Yassa, německý turista cestující po Maroku, dostal v úterý 28. listopadu šest měsíců vězení a pokutu odpovídající 60 dolarům za údajný pokus „otřást vírou muslima.“ 64letý Němec, původem Egypťan, byl obviněn z šíření křesťanských knih a CD mezi mladými muslimy na ulici v Agadiru. Soud muže odsoudil na základě zákona umožňujícího uložit trest vězení do 6 měsíců „každému, kdo se pokouší otřást vírou muslima nebo ho obrací na jinou víru.“ Němci se podařilo zemi opustit před předáním rozsudku a jeho místo pobytu je neznámé. Marocká ústava umožňuje svobodu vyznání, ale islám je charakterizován jako „státní náboženství,“ což křesťanům ztěžuje vyznávat jejich víru. Státem řízené sdělovací prostředky křesťany obviňují z rozvíjení „utajované kampaně“ zaměřené na konverzi marockých muslimů ke křesťanství. V 33 milionovém Maroku je asi 1% křesťanů. (Evangelical News/BosNewsLife)|
|Britský pomocný duchovní ukamenován k smrti v severní Indii|
|Tělo 23letého pomocného duchovního z Británie Michaela Blakea bylo objeveno v neděli 26. listopadu, tři dny po jeho zmizení. Muž byl očividně ukamenován k smrti a hozen do strže poblíž St. John´s Church, kde sloužil během svého pobytu ve státu Himachal Pradesh v severní Indii. Blakey se měl vrátit do své rodné Anglie právě několik dní po své smrti, aby se svou rodinou strávil vánoce. Absolvent univerzity si vzal roční volno od studia, aby pracoval s Tong Len Charity, kterou pomohl založit pro podporu tibetských uprchlíků. V této oblasti žije v exilu tibetský vůdce Dalajláma, a je tedy všeobecně považována za bezpečnou. Policie i nadále pátrá, ale domnívá se, že kamenování provedlo více než jedna osoba. (Assist News Service|
|Křesťané zahájili půst po výhrůžkách rozhlasové stanici v Keni.|
|Křesťané v letničním sboru v Nairobi v Keni zahájili v neděli 10. prosince třídenní půst, když jejich biskup dostal dopis obsahující výhrůžky směřující na přidruženou rozhlasovou stanici Naděje FM. Biskup Bonifác Adoyo četl dopis členům sboru minulou neděli při shromáždění a pak je vyzval k půstu s tím, že i jiným sborům je z různých příčin vyhrožováno. Naděje FM byla cílem útoku před sedmi měsíci, po vysílání pořadu „Ježíš je Cesta,“ který srovnával Bibli a Korán. Při tomto útoku 12. května byla jedna osoba zabita a dvě zraněny střelbou a ohněm. Útočníci tehdy začali střílet s úmyslem stanici a okolní budovy zničit. V pátek 8. prosince se starší sboru David Oginde setkal s vládními úředníky v Nairobi, kteří mu slíbili zahájit vyšetřování s cílem najít pisatele dopisu. Vláda také v případě předchozího útoku rychle reagovala politováním, přičemž úředníci odmítli jakékoli náboženské souvislosti a vyzývali k toleranci mezi náboženskými skupinami. (Compass Direct News)|
|Muslimové v somálském městě hrozí popravami těm, kdo se nemodlí|
|Obyvatelé v somálské městě Bulo Burto čelí hrozbě poprav, pokud se nebudou pětkrát denně modlit. Sheik Hussein Barre Rage, předseda městského islámského soudu, vyhlásil, že všechny obchody, čajovny a veřejná místa budou zavřena během doby určené k modlitbám a že nikdo by neměl být na ulicích města, které leží asi 125 mil na severovýchod od Mogadishu. V poslední měsících kontrolují velkou část Somálska ozbrojená milice a fundamentální islamisté. Rage řekl Associated press, že ti, kdo v příštích třech dnech neuposlechnou vyhlášku o modlitbách, “budou podle islámského práva s určitostí popraveni.” Dále dodal, “jako muslimové bychom měli praktikovat islám plně, nejen částečně, to nám nakazuje naše náboženství.” Soudy také v nedávné době zavedly veřejné popravy, bičování odsouzenců a zákazy plavání žen na veřejných plážích Mogadishu a prodeje žvýkání khatu, listového stimulantu, který se konzumuje v Horn of Afrika a na Blízkém východě. (Assist News Service/Associated Press)|
|Iránská policie při zátahu zadržela a uvěznila 8 vedoucích domácích sborů ve 4 městech.|
|Iránská tajná policie zahájila v neděli 10. prosince pronásledování a zavírání vedoucích pracovníků místního hnutí „Jen Ježíš“. V časných ranních hodinách policie bez ohlášení vnikla do domu náboženských představitelů ve městech Tehran, Karaj, Rasht a Bandar-I Anzali. Od té doby bylo mnoho členů těchto domácích sborů povoláno k výslechu a později propuštěno. Avšak osm z nich včetně jedné ženy zůstává ve vazbě. Hrozí jim tresty za 10 různých obvinění včetně evangelizačních aktivit a činů proti národní bezpečnosti Iránu. Přes 600 příslušníků této skupiny bylo úřady varováno, aby o celé uálosti neinformovali zahraničí. Skupina “Jen Ježíš” sama sebe označuje za nedenominační křesťanské společenství “svobodných evangelikálů.” Iránské evangelikální skupiny zastávají některé neortodoxní doktríny, například odmítají učení o Trojici. (Compass Direct News)|
|Islámský soud v Malajsii zamítl požadavek islámského úřadu na tělo zemřelého křesťana|
|Islámské úřady v Malajsii vzdaly devítidenní tahanici o tělo muže, který konvertoval od islámu ke křesťanství. Úřady původně plánovaly muslimský pohřeb 71letého Rayappana Anthony, přestože šlo o křesťanského konvertitu. Rayappan zemřel ve středu 29. listopadu. Když jeho rodina druhý den přišla pro tělo kvůli pohřbu, vstoupil do záležitosti nejbližší Úřad pro islámské záležitosti s tím, že šlo u muslima, který je hoden muslimského pohřbu. Úředníci předložili dokumentaci z června 2005, která měla dokazovat, že zemřelý byl muslim. Ale rodina trvala na tom, že zemřelý se před smrtí vrátil ke křesťanství. Rozhodnutí islámského soudu potvrdilo názor rodiny, že soud nemá jurisdikci v křesťanských záležitostech. Devítidenní soudní tahanice o tělo ukázala problémy malajského dvojího soudnictví, kde fungují jednak státní, jednak muslimské soudy. V posledních letech tento stav vedl k řadě sporů.|
|Letáky hrozí křesťanským ženám na univerzitě v Iráku|
|Letáky v současné době se šířící na Mosul Univerity v Iráku varují asyrské křesťanky, že nepokrývání hlavy jako neuposlechnutí muslimského zákona bude mít za následek “použití tohoto zákona.” Druh trestu nebyl na letácích, které ochranná hlídka univerzity viděla rozšiřovat aniž by zasáhla, specifikován. Není jasné, které islámské skupiny mají šíření takových letáků na svědomí. Asyrští duchovní jsou v ohrožení po několika únosech a vraždě nejméně jednoho presbyteriánského staršího, jehož únosci uvedli, “Podřízneme mu hrdlo. Pomstíme se za slova papeže. Zabijeme všechny křesťany a začneme jím.” Asyrští úředníci vyjádřili obavy, že “útoky na studenty jsou novým stupněm pronásledování a zastrašování asyrské komunity Islamisty.” (BosNewsLife/Compass Direct)|
|Studie: Náboženství je nejsilnější mezi tureckou a israelskou mládeží|
|Vědecká studie evropských výzkumníků pod vedením německého profesora Hans-Georga Ziebertze odhaluje stupeň náboženské angažobvanosti mladých muslimů, židů, katolíků a protestantů. Studie zahrnuje 10 000 mladých lidí v 10 zemích a jejich stanovisko k náboženství. Mladí turečtí muslimové měli, jak bylo zjištěno, nejsilnější víru. Bezprostředně po nich jsou mladí židé v Izraeli. Třetí nejvíce nábožensky zaměření byli katolíci v Polsku, Chorvatsku a Irsku. Mladí lidé v zemích s protestantskou tradicí, jako Německo, Finsko, Velká Británie, Švédsko a Nizozemí, se pouze slabě identifikují s jejich vírou. Náboženská výchova v Turecku a Polsku má největší stupeň udržitelnosti – 8 mladých lidí z 10 řekli, že budou pokračovat v náboženství svých rodičů. Pro srovnání, pouze 1 z 5 mladých Němců pokračuje v náboženských stopách svých rodičů. Islám a judaismus mají stále velký vliv na mladé lidi, zatímco křesťanství ztrácí na síle, říká Ziebertz. (Assist News Service)|
|Eritrea požaduje desátek pro sebe, uvěznila 9 řidičů kamionů s humanitární pomocí.|
| V ultimátu doručeném Pravoslavné církvi ve východoafrické Eritreji v úterý 5. prosince stát žádá, aby všechny dary a desátky církve byly vkládány na vládní konto.
V jednostranném rozhodnutí platném ihned se uvádí, že platy kněží budou vypláceny pouze z vládou kontrolovaných fondů. Navíc vláda vyhlásila omezení počtu kněží, kteří smějí sloužit v každé farnosti. Všichni „nadpočetní“ kněží musejí vykonat základní vojenskou službu.
Zdroje v Eritreji také potvrdily uvěznění devíti řidičů kamionů pracujících pro humanitární agenturu Samaritánův Měšec, kterým bylo minulý měsíc přikázáno opustit zemi. Úřady je zastavily v pondělí 4.prosince, když jeli s kamióny k eritrejsko-súdánské hranici, kde Samaritánův Měšec rozvíjí pomoc kočovníkům kmene Beja.
Zadržení řidiči, z nichž většina jsou evangelijní křesťané, zůstávají ve vazbě ve městě Asmara. Samaritánův Měšec je letos již jedenáctou humanitární agenturou vypovězenou z Etritrey. (Compass Direct News)
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| GERMAN TOURIST SENTENCED FOR WITNESSING IN MOROCCO
Sadek Noshi Yassa, a German tourist to Morocco, was sentenced to six months in prison and fined the equivalent of US$60 Tuesday, Nov. 28, for allegedly attempting to “shake the faith of a Muslim.” The 64-year-old German of Egyptian heritage was accused of distributing Christian books and CDs to young Muslims on the streets of Agadir, Morocco’s main tourist destination. The court sentenced the man, pointedly reminding him of Moroccan laws which allow prison sentences of up to six months for “anyone who uses incitements to shake the faith of a Muslim or to convert him to another religion.” The German man was able to leave the country before his sentence was handed down, and his whereabouts are currently unknown. Morocco’s constitution technically allows freedom of religion but Islam’s classification of the “state religion” makes it difficult for Christians to express their beliefs. State-controlled local media have accused Christians of launching a secret “clandestine campaign” to convert Moroccan Muslims to Christianity. Christians comprise roughly 1 percent of Morocco’s 33 million people. (Evangelical News/BosNewsLife)
BIBLE SOCIETY PRESS TO MOVE TO NEW LOCATION IN CHINA
The Bible Society’s Amity Printing Press is moving to a new, larger site in China. Daniel Willis, chief executive officer of the Bible Society of New South Wales, recently visited Nanjing, China to inspect the site. “At the moment the site is just a vacant block of land with a few cattle grazing on it, but when the site is developed, it will mean millions more Bibles for China,” he said. The current site dates back to 1986 with the first Bibles being printed at the end of 1987. Since that time the press has printed 50 million Bibles and New Testaments. In the last 20 years the land around the current press has grown up from countryside to a point where factories and showrooms crowd the facility. “There is nowhere for the current site to grow, so in conjunction with the joint venture partners, a new site was found and purchased,” said Willis. The new 93,000-square-foot site sits in a new industrial development in Nanjing, a city of more than 6 million people. (Bible Society)
BRITISH AID WORKER STONED TO DEATH IN NORTHERN INDIA
The body of 23-year-old British aid worker Michael Blakey was discovered on Sunday, Nov. 26, three days after his disappearance. The man was apparently stoned to death and thrown in a gully near St. John’s Church where he worshiped during his time in northern India’s Himachal Pradesh state. Blakey was slated to return to his native England just days after his death in order to spend Christmas with his family. The university graduate was taking a year off his studies to work with the Tong Len charity which he helped establish to aid Tibetan refugees. The region is home to the exiled Tibetan religious leader, the Dalai Lama, and is generally considered safe. Police continue to investigate, but believe the stoning may have been committed by more than one person. (Assist News Service)
BUSH SELECTS CHRISTIAN MINISTRY FOR AIDS BATTLE IN HAITI
U.S. President George W. Bush has selected the Christian organization World Hope International (WHI) to lead a $7.7-million HIV/AIDS initiative in Haiti. WHI Chief Executive Officer David Erickson said, “The president announced that WHI has been selected to lead a consortium of seven indigenous Haitian organizations to provide a comprehensive response to the problems of HIV/AIDS in Haiti in the next three years.” In order to take advantage of the government funding, WHI must match 10 percent, or $750,000. “We can’t use government funding to proclaim the gospel,” Erickson. “But we are present, we are building relationships with people, and we’re bringing other resources to the table and we’re free to use those resources to share the hope and promise of the gospel.” Their outreach will focus on AIDS orphans and adults suffering from the disease. Government funding will allow them to present biblically based morals education which will help prevent HIV infection and preserve families. Haiti has the highest prevalence of HIV in the Western Hemisphere. (Mission Network News)
* Staff members from the HCJB World Radio Engineering Center in Elkhart, Ind., are working with OMS International to establish a satellite radio network based at 4VEH outside the city of Cap-Haitien that will deliver programs to FM stations nationwide. Downlinks have been installed in Tortue Island, Pignon and Beaumont, and at least two more are planned. HCJB World Radio also helped partner World Gospel Mission with a small station in Port-au-Prince.
ORGANIZATIONS ENCOURAGE CHRISTMAS NATIVITY DISPLAYS
A public witness to keep Christ in Christmas, dubbed “The Nativity Project,” was launched at a news conference on Thursday, Nov. 7, at the U.S. Capitol. The Christian Defense Coalition (CDC), Faith and Action, Generation Life and some members of Congress are calling on the faith community across America to apply for permits to set up nativity scenes in front of city halls, government centers and state capitol buildings.. “The Nativity Project is a positive way to share the message of the season which is one of peace and good will toward man,” said CDC Director Rev. Patrick Mahoney. “It is also a strong reminder that the First Amendment provides freedom ‘of’ religion and not freedom ‘from’ religion and the role of government is to protect expressions of faith and not crush them.” The project believes displaying nativity scenes nationwide is important in order to “not allow the trampling of religious freedom and liberty.” (Christian Newswire)
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| CHRISTIANS FAST AFTER THREATS TO RADIO STATION IN KENYA
Christians at the Nairobi Pentecostal Church in Kenya began a three-day fast on Sunday, Dec. 10, after their bishop received a letter threatening an attack on its affiliated radio station, Hope FM. Bishop Boniface Adoyo read the letter to church members at last Sunday’s worship services, and then called for the fast, saying other churches were also threatened for various reasons. Hope FM was attacked just seven months ago after airing a program called “Jesus is the Way” which compared the Bible with the Koran. In that attack on May 12, one person was killed and two others injured from gunshots and burns. The attackers started a fire in an attempt to destroy the station and adjacent buildings. On Friday, Dec. 8, the church’s senior pastor, David Oginde, met government officials in Nairobi who promised him that an investigation would be launched to find the source of the letter. Although the government was quick to condemn the attack, officials deny any religious connections and urge tolerance among religious groups. (Compass Direct News)
* HCJB World Radio has worked with local partners to install eight radio outlets in seven cities of Kenya.
CHINESE HOUSE CHURCH PRESSURED TO JOIN ‘OFFICIAL’ CHURCH
Local government officials in Tongling, in China’s Anhui province are pressuring independent house church members to join the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church. On Sunday, Nov. 26, a house church assembly was shut down by the local Religious Affairs Bureau as leaders were told to worship at the TSPM church. Renowned Christian house church leader Wang Xingquan spent time in prison for his faith during the Cultural Revolution and is now being pressured to end his ministry through extortion of his family members. Xingquan’s daughter’s employer has ceased paying her a salary, and her employer has threatened to fire her if she refuses to set an example and join the TSPM church. Under threat of losing his job, another church member was forced to resign from the church. Congregants are now meeting in their homes and preparing further legal action to re-establish their religious freedom. Dr. Bob Fu, president of the China Aid Association, said of the incident, “It is obvious that the entire course of action was formulated by the upper-level government.” (China Aid Association)
MUSLIMS IN SOMALI TOWN VOW TO BEHEAD THOSE WHO DON’T PRAY
Residents in the Somali town of Bulo Burto have been threatened with beheadings if they fail to pray five times per day. Sheik Hussein Barre Rage, chairman of the town’s Islamic court, has declared that all shops, tea houses and public places be closed during prayer times and that no one should be on the streets in the town which lies about 125 miles northeast of Mogadishu. In recent months a network of armed militiamen and fundamentalist Islamics has taken control of large portions of southern Somalia. The strict religious laws are foreign to many residents. Rage told the Associated Press that those who do not begin following the prayer edict in the next three days “will definitely be beheaded according to Islamic law.” He continued, “As Muslims we should practice Islam fully, not in part, and that is what our religion enjoins us to do.” Courts have also recently introduced public executions, floggings of convicts, and bans on women swimming at Mogadishu’s public beaches and on the sale and chewing of khat, a leafy stimulant consumed across the Horn of Africa and in the Middle East. (Assist News Service/ Associated Press)
LONDON CATHEDRALS SWAMPED WITH CHRISTMAS WORSHIPERS
Christmas services at cathedrals across London, England, are becoming so popular with worshipers that they are holding extra services to keep up with demand. Since the year 2000, cathedrals have seen congregations growing in significant numbers, especially at Christmas and Easter. In contrast to falling attendance in many churches, official statistics indicate that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day attendance is up 25 percent since 2000 with more than 120,000 attendees expected during the two-day period this year. Canon Lucy Winkett of St Paul’s Cathedral said, “We were overwhelmed on Christmas Eve last year, and must have turned away a crowd of at least 800 who couldn’t get in.” Rev. Colin Slee, dean of Southwark Cathedral, said the church will host 35 special services during the Christmas season -- a record number. “My hunch is that many have reached the point when they realize how dangerous rampant secularism really is, and they want to preserve their Christian heritage,” Slee said. (WorldWide Religious News)
CHRISTIAN SCHOOL IN NEPAL ACHIEVES HIGH HONORS
A school in Nepal affiliated with Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) recently received an award from the (Hindu) Ministry of Education for its educational progress and development. Called the Solidarity International Academy, the school has been running for 10 years, funded almost entirely by CSW and its supporters. The school has expanded to 1,300 students from ages 4 to 19 with an equal number of girls and boys (uncommon in Nepal). Many of these students would not receive an education if it weren’t for the school. Recent exam results were outstanding with six distinctions (above 85 percent) and 43 first places among the 53 entries for graduation. One male student received the highest score in the district and second overall at the national level. One student was the highest female scorer nationwide. The district’s chief judge and chief education officer attended the graduation celebration to honor the students’ achievements. (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)
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| CANAAN HYMNS OF CHINA
This week on “World Radio” hear the amazing story behind the “Canaan Hymns of China.” More than 1,000 such hymns are sweeping China and touching people’s lives. The remarkable thing is that they were all composed by one peasant girl with no formal musical training.
To listen visit the following webpage: www.hcjb.org/worldwide/australia/world_radio_programme.html.
IRANIAN POLICE RAID, ARREST 8 HOUSE CHURCH LEADERS IN 4 CITIES
Iranian secret police began raiding and arresting leaders of the country’s indigenous “Jesus Only” movement on Sunday, Dec. 10. In the early-morning hours, police arrived unannounced at homes of religious leaders in Tehran, Karaj, Rasht and Bandar-I Anzali. Since that time, several members of the house church movement have been called in for interrogations and later released. However, eight remain under arrest including one woman. The captives face 10 charges, including evangelization activities and actions against the national security of Iran. The more than 600 followers of the sect have been warned by authorities not to send word of the arrests outside of Iran. The “Jesus Only” group describes itself as a nondenominational, Christian community of “free evangelicals.” However, Iran’s evangelical community questions some of the group’s unorthodox doctrines, including the rejection of the Trinity. (Compass Direct News)
IDAHO CHURCHES PUMP FREE GASOLINE FOR MILITARY FAMILIES
An interdenominational group of pastors from Idaho’s Treasure Valley pumped free gasoline for the families of deployed military service members across the region for three hours Saturday, Dec. 9. After military families were served, the general public was invited to have their tanks filled as well. In three hours, 120 volunteers pumped $12,277 in gasoline, cooked and distributed food and handed out bags and services to 388 families. The Christian Churches of the Treasure Valley, an association of approximately 75 churches from the five-county region, joined together for the third year in a row to take part in what they call “a modern-day parable.” This year’s event, titled “Grace Gift Parable III,” was designed to be a living representation of the nature of God’s grace. The original event allowed people to have parking fines paid in full just by asking. Last year’s event reached out to single parents with free gasoline, washing of cars and other gifts. Idaho’s governor, several congressmen, mayors and county officials took part in the event. (Christian Newswire)
NEW CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL FOR DISABLED LAUNCHED IN ZAMBIA
CURE International launched a children’s hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, this week. The Beit Trust CURE International Children’s Hospital is set up to care for disabled children who need surgeries for conditions such as clubfoot, hydrocephalus, cleft lip and palate, and other deformities. “Throughout the developing world there are disabled children who are neglected, ignored and unable to access treatment for their easily treatable conditions,” said CURE International Chief Executive Officer Dr. Scott Harrison. “At Beit Trust CURE Zambia and our other hospitals we offer these children the chance for a brighter future and more productive life. We expect to surgically treat between 2,000 and 3,000 children annually and care for an additional 5,000.” CURE’s operation is more than just medical, added co-founder Sally Harrison. “If we only heal their physical bodies, we’re only doing half the healing that needs to be done,” she explained. “We introduce them to the love of Christ. If we have Muslim patients in the hospital we pray for them.” The 50-bed teaching facility will begin taking patients in January. It is CURE’s eighth hospital in the developing world. (Mission Network News)
* HCJB World Radio, in cooperation with In Touch Ministries and a local partner, added weekly Bemba programs in 2000. The programs air on Zambia’s Radio One Network, covering the country and much of Malawi, going out via shortwave, AM and FM. In 2003, weekly half-hour programs were added in the Nyanja language.
STUDY: RELIGION STRONGEST AMONG TURKISH AND ISRAELI YOUTH
A scientific study by European researchers under the leadership of German professor Hans-Georg Ziebertz reveals degrees of religious involvement between young Muslims, Jews, Catholics and Protestants. The study included interviews with 10,000 young people in 10 countries regarding their attitude toward religion. Young Turkish Muslims were found to have the strongest faith followed by Jewish youth in Israel. Third-most religious were Catholics in Poland, Croatia and Ireland. Young people in countries with a Protestant tradition such as Germany, Finland, Great Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands were found to have only a weak identification with their faith. Religious education in Turkey and Poland has the highest degree of sustainability as eight out of 10 young people said they would continue to follow the faith of their parents. By comparison, only one in five young Germans follow in the religious footsteps of their parents. “Islam and the Jewish faith still have a great influence on young people while Christianity is losing out,” Ziebertz said. (Assist News Service)
* HCJB-UK TAKES OVER LONDON RADIO SHOW FOR CHRISTMAS
Whistling Frog Productions, the radio department of HCJB-UK, is producing a two-hour Christmas special about angels as part of “The Psychic Show,” a live call-in program on popular London talk radio station LBC 97.3.
Following discussions with LBC’s program controller, the broadcasters were asked to air “The Psychic Show” Christmas special which airs from 10 p.m. to midnight Friday, Dec. 22.
“This is a program that you’d expect Christians to steer well clear of,” said HCJB-UK Director Colin Lowther. “But we have been given a free hand to discuss and debate the existence of angels to an audience of 92,000 people right across London.”
The show will include readings from the Christmas story, an interview with Jane Williams (wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s wife who recently published a book about angels), interviews with people who claim to have had angelic experiences, a competition to give away books about angels, and live calls answered by Christians in the studio.
“Please pray with us that these listeners who are already open to the existence of the supernatural will hear something life-changing,” said Lowther. (HCJB World Radio)
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| ISLAMIC COURTS IN MALAYSIA DROP CLAIM TO CHRISTIAN MAN’S BODY
Islamic authorities in Malaysia ended a nine-day dispute by giving up their claim to the body of a deceased man who had converted from Islam to Christianity. Authorities had planned a Muslim burial for 71-year-old Rayappan Anthony despite his conversion to Christianity. Rayappan died Wednesday, Nov. 29, and when his family came to claim the body for burial the next day, the Islamic Affairs Department stepped in with claims the man was Muslim and deserved a Muslim burial. Officials produced documentation dated June 2005 to prove their claim, but the family maintained he had returned to Christianity before his death. The Islamic court’s decisions were met with the family’s claims that an Islamic court has no jurisdiction in a Christian’s affairs. The ensuing nine-day legal struggle for the body highlighted problems with Malaysia’s dual legal system which includes both secular and Islamic courts and has resulted in several controversial cases in recent years. (Compass Direct News)
ONLINE NETWORK AIMS TO BREAK DOWN DENOMINATIONAL BARRIER
A new online social network called Oaktreeidea.com is attempting to unify Christians to make a difference in the world across denominational barriers. Statistics show that about 2.1 billion Christians in the world are fragmented by more than 33,000 denominations. The idea behind Oaktreeidea.com’s social networks, called “impact groups,” is to break down these denominational barriers to connect Christians who want to get involved in ministry opportunities that best fit their God-given passions. Already the site is home to Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, Messianic Jews and many other “types” of Christians who are interacting and collaborating despite their diversity. While website is not an alternative to church, it does have as a goal to draw inactive Christians into involvement in outreach and to create a synergy among segmented Christians. “We want to be a launching pad for charities, non- profits, ministries and churches in the world,” said founder Brady Stump. (Evangelical News/Christian Newswire)
FLYERS THREATEN CHRISTIAN WOMEN ON UNIVERSITY CAMPUS IN IRAQ
Flyers recently posted at Iraq’s Mosul University warned Assyrian Christian women that failure to conform to wearing the Muslim head covering will result in having Islamic law “applied to them.” The kind of punishment was not specified on the flyers which University security personnel observed being placed without intervening. It is not clear which Islamic group placed the flyers. Assyrian clergy are already on edge following several kidnappings and the murder of at least one Presbyterian elder whose kidnappers reportedly said, “We will cut his throat. We will take revenge for the pope’s words. We will kill all the Christians, and we will start with him.” Assyrian officials have expressed concern that “targeting students is a new phase of harassment and intimidation of the Assyrian community by Islamists.” (BosNewsLife/Compass Direct)
INDIGENOUS VIETNAMESE CHILDREN’S BIBLE ARRIVES FOR CHRISTMAS
Just in time for Christmas, children in Vietnam are slated to receive a new illustrated children’s New Testament in their own language. The illustrated Bible uses a distinctly Vietnamese way of storytelling and was spearheaded by a Vietnamese team made up of a storyteller and an illustrator along with pastors and Sunday school teachers. The team faced many challenges during the four-year project, but when a completed draft was sent to a well-respected pastor responsible for government registration of all Bibles and books for the Evangelical Church of Vietnam, it immediately captivated him. He remarked that the material was highly indigenous and that only a Vietnamese could have written it. His editing took him only 10 days, and he helped secure all permits for its printing. The 10,000 copies are ready to be distributed to various denominations and house churches. An ongoing distribution strategy is in place, and Open Doors is already hoping to follow up with an Old Testament version as well. (Open Doors)
SURVEY: YOUNG ADULTS INTERESTED IN COMMUNITY, SOCIAL ACTION
Studies of young adults are finding that the church is having a fading influence among people between the ages of 18 and 34. A new LifeWay survey indicates this is likely a result of the church’s inability to minister to these young people during the transitional stage between high school and when they start families. One respondent to the survey wrote “After graduation, they (churches) give you a pat on the back and say, ‘When you start a family, we’ll be here for you.’” The same survey showed this group’s greatest need is community. Of young adult churchgoers who were surveyed, 71 percent indicated they wanted to participate in small-group meetings to discuss applying Scriptures to life. This generation of young people also indicated that social action was an important element to them with 66 percent of churchgoers and 47 percent of non-churchgoers agreeing. (Religion Today)
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| ERITREA SEIZES TITHES, ARRESTS 9 CHRISTIAN AID TRUCKERS
In an ultimatum delivered to the Orthodox Church in the East African nation of Eritrea on Tuesday, Dec. 5, the state demanded all offerings and tithes collected by the church be deposited directly into a government account.
The unilateral order, effective immediately, called for the monthly salaries of all Orthodox priests to be paid out from the same government-controlled fund. In addition, the government also announced new limits for the number of priests to be allowed to serve in each parish. Any “extra” priests will be required to perform required military service.
Sources within Eritrea also confirmed the arrests of nine truck drivers working with the aid agency Samaritan’s Purse who were ordered to leave the country last month. Authorities intercepted the men on Monday, Dec. 4, as they were driving toward the Eritrean-Sudanese border where Samaritan’s Purse had projects assisting the nomadic Beja tribe.
The detained drivers, most of whom are known to be evangelical Christians, remain in custody in Asmara. Samaritan’s Purse is the 11th aid agency to be expelled from Eritrea this year. (Compass Direct News)
FAITH-BASED GROUPS JOIN NEW NETWORK TO BATTLE MALARIA
A White House summit on malaria hosted by President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, launched a nonprofit network of organizations, corporations and faith-based groups called “Malaria No More” (MNM). The new cooperative entity announced commitments for funding as well as 150,000 volunteers to reach 12.5 million people in Africa with training on the prevention and treatment of malaria. “This is a grassroots movement to engage individuals and private institutions in supporting a comprehensive approach to controlling malaria,” said MNM Chief Executive Officer John Bridgeland. The network aims to get more Americans involved. As part of this, Scholastic Books will help distribute materials to nearly every U.S. elementary school, demonstrating how children can help with the fight against malaria. A $10 contribution covers the cost of a bed net along with delivery and training about the disease. More than 1 million durable, insecticide-treated bed nets will be provided to protect approximately 2.5 million lives in Africa. Despite the fact that malaria is said to kill one African child every 30 seconds, polling data shows that Americans rate the disease last among serious diseases worldwide. MNM aims to make Americans more aware of this problem. (Christian Newswire)
MOROCCAN CHRISTIANS RELY ON DISCRETION, TECHNOLOGY
Under the suspicious eye of the police and Muslim clergy, Moroccan converts to Christianity discreetly hold church gatherings. “There are about 1,000 of us in around 50 independent churches across the big cities of the kingdom,” said the 30-year-old Christian who coordinates these evangelical Protestant groups. The state tolerates them, but they continue to “conduct ourselves as a clandestine organization.” In Morocco Islam is the state religion, and the few recognized Christian churches are only for foreigners. Technology has broken down some of Islam’s monopoly on Moroccan religion. “Television and the Internet are very efficient methods,” said the coordinator. “In our church a soldier became a Christian through the Al Hayat channel.” Jack Wald, 55, an American pastor at Rabat International Church (one of the “official” Christian churches), also cites the role of technology. “It means that a country or religion cannot isolate itself from the rest of the world,” he said. “Radio, television and the Internet have opened up doors for people to hear a different message than the one the imam preaches on Fridays.” (WorldWide Religious News)
* HCJB World Radio reaches across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe with Christian Arabic programming aired via shortwave, satellite and local stations. The mission’s Arabic satellite network airs programs direct-to-home 24 hours a day. This region has the world’s highest concentration of personal satellite dishes.
DARFUR CONFLICT WORSENS, MORE AID AGENCIES LEAVE SUDAN
Despite the already-bad situation in western Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, the situation has worsened, forcing many relief groups and individuals to flee the country. “It’s unbelievable for any human being to imagine that [all of] Darfur right now is unsafe, even in the cities,” said Motasim Adam, a Darfurian refugee and president of the Darfur People’s Association of New York. With the exodus of relief workers, security in the refugee camps has also deteriorated. “Forget about the camps. One week ago they were safe because the human rights organizations and humanitarian organizations. Now everything is screwed up,” said Adam. Mission Aviation Fellowship has reported helping evacuate some Christian workers in southern Sudan due to the escalating violence despite the fact the ministry doesn’t have a base in Sudan. An estimated 70,000 people have died from starvation alone in Darfur during nearly four years of conflict and genocide. (Religion Today)
‘THE WORDLESS BOOK’ GOES ROUND WITH ‘EVANGEBALL’
An evangelistic technique more than a century old has been given a new kick by an invention that E3 Partners calls the “EvangeBall.” Charles Spurgeon first preached about “The Wordless Book” in a sermon in 1866. He told of an unnamed minister who used three colored pages to remind him of his sinfulness (black), of Christ’s blood poured out for him (red) and the cleansing provided (white). As the idea gained popularity among Christians, a green page signifying growth and a gold page representing heaven were later added. D.L. Moody began regularly using the book in his meetings in 1900. Now, expanding the use of the Wordless Book’s rich history, the EvangeBall places the same colors on different panels of a soccer ball. Teams can gather a group, play a soccer match and then use the colors on the ball to share a message about Jesus. After the demonstration, the idea is to leave the colorful ball in the community along with an air pump and gospel tracts. (Mission Network News)
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