|Zprávy HCJB 1.9.2003 - 6.9.2003|
|V TURKMENISTÁNU A V BĚLORUSKU ČELÍ PROTESTANTÉ KRUTÝM NÁSLEDKŮM VE ZMĚNÁCH V ZÁKONĚ|
|Ve dvou republikách bývalého Sovětského svazu, kde vládne krutá tyranie, čelily v pondělí 1. září skupiny baptistů a protestantů pokutám a možné likvidaci v případě, že se nepřestanou shromažďovat. V Turkmenistánu zabránila policie členům baptistické kongregace ve shromáždění a zákon o shromažďování v Bělorusku, který vstoupil v platnost 29. srpna, může zrušit náboženské skupiny, pokud budou „škodit veřejnému zájmu“. Místní baptisté ve městě Balkanabad řekli pro Forum 18 News Service, že za každé shromáždění budou pokutováni poté, co 24. srpna během nedělní bohoslužby došlo k policejní razii. Jak hlásí zpravodajové, všichni přítomní byli odvezeni na 6. okrsek místní policie, který se zabývá vyšetřováním terorismu a náboženského extremismu. Baptistická kongregace v Balkanabadu patří k neregistrované Radě církví, která už má na 3,700 kongregací po celém Svazu nezávislých států. Tvrdší přístup v Turkmenistánu přišel potom, co v pondělí křesťané v Bělorusku začali mít potíže, když o víkendu byl uveden do praxe protináboženský zákon, který navrhl prezident Lukašenko. Ten podle zpravodajství odstranil z textu nového zákona návrhy, které vyčleňovaly z represí náboženské akce. Tyto návrhy byly v červnu schváleny dolní i horní komorou parlamentu. (Assist News Service/Forum 18 News Service)|
|PROTIKŘESŤANSKÁ SKUPINA NAPADLA TURECKÉ WEBOVÉ STRÁNKY|
|Podle International Needs Network napadla v nedávné době protikřesťanská skupina webové stránky jednoho tureckého věřícího. V rámci reklamní kampaně na webových stránkách byly nabízeny křesťanské knihy k zaslání asi na 6 milionů e-mailových adres. „Výsledkem této strategie byly stížnosti a výhružky,“ uvádí zpráva na webových stránkách. „Ale dostali jsme i děkovné zprávy od lidí, kteří námi poslané knihy dostali. Žádali o zaslání dalších materiálů….Jen za poslední měsíc jsme rozeslali 103 Biblí, film „Ježíš“ na CD a kalendáře. Pracujeme i na výrobě animovaných filmů – biblických příběhů pro děti. V důsledku toho jsme obdrželi 23 e-mailů a 10 telefonických dotazů od lidí, kteří mají o křesťanství zájem.“ (Inter-National Needs Network)|
|MISIE OČNÍCH LÉKAŘŮ PŘISPÍVÁ KE SVĚDECTVÍ V AFGHÁNISTÁNU.|
(Mission Network News – zpráva z 28.8.2003) - Tom Little z misie Interserve popisuje kritický nedostatek lékařské péče v Afghánistánu usilujícím o obnovu. Bez opravené infrastruktury leží břemeno na skupinách jako je Interserve, která spolupracuje s oční klinikou Noor v Kábulu. Tato dvě zařízení zajišťují celkem 90% oční péče v Aghánistánu a potřebuje další prostředky k provozu. Málo pomáhá, že s péčí je spojena možnost evangelizace, přestože vláda obracení muslimů na křesťanství omezuje. „Nebrání nám v odpovídání na otázky a tak mnoho času trávíme jen odpovídáním na otázky,“ řekl Tom Little. „Smíme odpovídat a naše životy svědčí o tom, co říkáme.“
*Tato a další zprávy jsou (pouze v aktuální den) v originální anglické verzi zde.
|50 VIETNAMSKÝCH HORALŮ UVÍZLO NA KAMBODŽSKO-VIETNAMSKÉ HRANICI.|
|(Assist News Service – zpráva z 29.8.2003)) - Padesát horalů (z franc. Montagnards) zvaných též Degarové pocházejících z vietnamské Centrální vysočiny se skrývá za hrozných podmínek v utajené oblasti u kambodžské hranice, aby se vyhnuli uvěznění a mučení. The Montagnard Foundation s ústředím ve Spartanburgu v Jižní Karolíně obdrželo zprávu, že tito muži, ženy a děti trpí hladem, žízní a vyčerpáním. Žádají o pomoc Vysokého komisaře pro uprchlíky OSN a mezinárodní společenství. Aby věc byla ještě horší, kambodžské úřady po uprchlících slídí a prodávají je zpátky do Vietnamu za 66 dolarů za kus. Prchající křesťané – horalé riskují zastřelení nebo zadržení vietnamskými vojáky s následným vězněním a bitím. Kambodžský poslanec Son Chhay vyzval kambodžského prince Norodoma Ranariddha, aby se zasadil o vyšetření záležitosti a o skoncování s tímto porušováním lidských práv uprchlíků – horalů. Žádal, aby kambodžská vláda „jasně odpověděla a okamžitě ukončila činnost směřující k porušování lidských práv kambodžskými úřady. Jde nelidskou praxi ze strany kambodžských úřadů, přičemž Kambodža v roce 1951 podepsala mezinárodní úmluvu o uprchlících.“|
|LIBANONSKÝ SOUD ROZHODL, ŽE KANADSKÝ KŘESŤAN NENÍ VINEN ŠPIONÁŽÍ.|
|(Assist News Service) - Libanonský vojenský soud rozhodl, že 52letý kanadský křesťan Bruce Balfour není vinen špionáží pro Izrael. Soud tak rozhodl jednomyslně v pondělí 1.září s tím, že Balfour není vinen ani kolaborací s Izraelem. V opačném případě by mu hrozil trest vězení na 15 let. Balfour byl dále obviněn z podněcování sektářských nálad a byl by odsouzen k menšímu trestu, podle soudního tribunálu byl ale již dost vytrestán vazbou od 10.července, kdy jej zadrželi na bejrútském letišti. Očekává se, že bude dnes dopoledne propuštěn a okamžitě deportován. Balfour byl oblastním ředitelem sdružení Libanonské Cedry, jehož cílem je i obnovit libanonské cedrové lesy známé z biblických dob. Před soudním tribunálem minulý týden Balfour řekl, že není špiónem, a že slouží Pánu. Balfourův obhájce Ibrahim Hariri uváděl, že Balfour Izrael navštívil v rámci misie. Grant Livingston, jiný Kanaďan souzený v nepřítomnosti za stejné obvinění ze spolupráce s nepřátelskou zemí (Izraelem) byl rovněž shledán nevinným.|
|PASTOR Z KENI ZVOLEN PŘEDSEDOU SVĚTOVÉ RADY CÍRKVÍ|
|Světová rada církví (WCC) zvolila ve čtvrtek 28. srpna metodistického pastora z Keni generálním sekretářem ekumenického výboru se sídlem v Ženevě. Rev. Samuel Kobia, člen metodistické církve v Keni, byl zvolen 134 hlasujícími členy výboru Světové rady církví. Kobia porazil jediného protikandidáta rev. Tronda Bakkeviga z lutheránské církve v Norsku. Kobia se ujme své funkce v lednu, kdy nahradí rev. Konrada Raisera, německého pastora, který tuto funkci zastával 11 let. WCC je společenstvím 342 církví ze 100 zemí. Zahrnuje především ortodoxní a protestantské sbory z USA, jejími členy však nejsou římskokatolické nebo evangelikální sbory. (Religion News Service)|
|MISIJNÍ ŠKOLA NA POBŘEŽÍ SLONOVINY ZŮSTÁVÁ I PO BOJÍCH NEPORUŠENÁ.|
| Křesťanská škola ohrožovaná povstalci v západoafrické zemí Pobřeží Slonoviny zůstává neporušena, i když před rokem zde probíhaly boje. Studenti i učitelé Mezinárodní Křesťanské Akademie v Bouake provozované Evangelijní Baptistickou Misií (EBM) byli ze školy evakuování po krvavém pokusu o převrat v roce 2002. „Celé prostranství vypadá dobře, budovy zůstaly zachovány,“ řekl mluvčí EBM Paul Jackson. „Život v Bouake … se vrací téměř k normálu.“ Vyzývá k modlitbám za rodiče misionářů, kteří nyní stojí před těžkým rozhodnutím, kam své děti letos na podzim poslat do školy. Jackson také uvedl, že učitelé misie kázali francouzským vojákům střežícím budovu. Znovuotevření školy se plánuje na podzim 2004.
* Fréquence Vie (Vlna Života), partnerská FM stanice provozovaná v Abidjanu misií SIM a místními sbory, pokračuje ve vysílání slov naděje a povzbuzení. Stanice vysílá 17 hodin denně francouzsky a některými místními jazyky.
*Nejnovější zprávy v originální anglické verzi jsou vždy ZDE (klikněte).
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|10 VIETNAMSKÝCH PASTORŮ ZATČENO A ZBITO PŘED PROPUŠTĚNÍM|
|V pondělí 18. srpna bylo deset pastorů odvedeno ze shromáždění u rev. Bui Ba v Ho Chi Minhově městě ve Vietnamu. Po stížnostech ze strany sboru United Gospel Outreach Church bylo sedm z nich propuštěno. Ba a druzí dva pastorové byli připoutání ke stolům a mučeni. Tito tři pak byli propuštěni následující den potom, co zástupci Spojených národů pro lidská práva přiletěli do Ho Chi Minhova města, aby za ně intervenovali. Ba zústává v domácím vězení. (Voice of the Martyrs)|
|LATINSKÁ AMERIKA CHCE OSLOVIT ISLÁMSKÝ SVĚT|
|Křesťané z Latinské Ameriky říkají, že oslovit islámský svět evangeliem je pro ně priorita číslo jedna. Proto se CAM International snaží pomoci, jak je to možné. Keegan Williamson z CAM říká, že střední Amerika se stala na misijním poli misijní silou pro muslimský svět. „Mohou tam jít a držet se stranou, hodně z nich ví, jaké to je vyrůstat v zemi, kde je jedno dominantní náboženství a kde jsou náboženské svobody velice omezeny. Kromě toho jsou jim lidé z Latinské Ameriky podobni i fyzicky.“ CAM se zvlášť snaží oslovit i muslimy v Albánii. (Mission Network News)|
|ZÁVĚREČNÉ SLYŠENÍ V PROCESU SE STAINESOVÝMI VRAHY V INDII.|
| (Missions Insider – zpráva ze 4.9.) - Závěrečné slyšení ve věci australského misionáře Grahama Stainese, který byl v lednu roku 1999 zavražděn i se svými malými syny se bude konat v indickém státě Orissa v pondělí 8.září. Hlavní podezřelý je Dara Singh, oblíbený indický zápasník a herec. Je obviněn z toho, že vedl skupinu zfanatizovaných Indů, kteří nalili benzín na karavan, kde oběti ve vesnici Manoharpur spaly. Očití svědkové řekli, že útočníci pak vozidlo zapálili a bránili osobám uvnitř, aby mohly ven dokonce i poté, co se seběhli vesničané, aby obětem pomohli. Zatímco většina křesťanů Singha odsuzuje, mnoho hinduistů jej považuje za národního hrdinu a obránce indické kultury. Ve státě Orissa pokračuje ovzduší zastrašování a pronásledování křesťanů.Úřady prosazují přísné dodržování zákona o svobodě náboženství přijatého v roce 1967, kterým omezují šíření křesťanství. Věřící tvrdí, že zákon je v rozporu s indickou ústavou a podali v tomto smyslu žalobu u Nejvyššího soudu státu Orissa, ale soud žalobu zamítl. Křesťané nyní usilují o nápravu u Nejvyššího soudu v Dillí.
*Nejnovější zprávy v originální anglické verzi jsou vždy zde (klikněte).
|VŠECHNY ZPRÁVY V ANGLIČTINĚ.|
| PROTESTANTS FACE HARSH NEW MEASURES IN TURKMENISTAN, BELARUS
Baptists and other Protestant groups in two of the most oppressive republics of the former Soviet Union faced fines and possible liquidation Monday, Sept. 1, unless they stop church meetings. In Turkmenistan, police banned members of a Baptist congregation in the town of Balkanabad from gathering for services, and a law on demonstrations in Belarus, which came into force Aug. 29, could liquidate religious groups if they "harm the public interest." Local Baptists in Balkanabad told Forum 18 News Service that they will be fined for each meeting following a raid during a service on Sunday, Aug. 24. All those present were reportedly taken to the 6th division of the regional police department, which combats terrorism and religious extremism. Balkanabad's Baptist congregation belongs to the unregistered Council of Churches which has grown to more than 3,700 congregations throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States. Turkmenistan's harsh policy came as Christians in Belarus faced potential difficulties Monday after harsh anti-religious measures proposed by President Aleksandr Lukashenko came into force on the weekend. He reportedly removed proposed exemptions for religious events from the text of the new law that was approved by the lower and upper houses of parliament in June. (Assist News Service/ Forum 18 News Service)
* HCJB World Radio works in partnership with Back to the Bible to air Christian Turkmen programs. Twice-weekly broadcasts began airing from an undisclosed site outside of Turkmenistan in 2001 and moved to daily programming earlier this year.
LEBANESE COURT FINDS CANADIAN CHRISTIAN INNOCENT OF SPYING CHARGE
Bruce Balfour, the 52-year-old Canadian Christian charged with spying for Israel, has been found innocent by a Lebanese military court. The court ruled unanimously Monday, Sept. 1, that he was not guilty of the spying charge of collaborating with Israel. The charge carried a 15-year prison term if he had been found guilty. Balfour had also been accused of inciting sectarian sentiments and was convicted of the lesser charge, but the tribunal said the time he had already spent in prison since his July 10 arrest at Beirut Airport was sufficient punishment. He is expected to be released today and then deported immediately. During a court appearance last week, Balfour, who had been in Lebanon as the field director of Cedars of Lebanon, a project to help replenish the biblical cedar trees of the country, said that he was not a spy and that he served the Lord. Ibrahim Hariri, Balfour's lawyer, argued that his client had visited Israel on a religious mission. Grant Livingston, another Canadian citizen who stood trial in absentia on the same charge of collaborating with the enemy (Israel) was also found innocent. (Assist News Service)
ANTI-CHRISTIAN GROUP HACKS INTO TURKISH WEBSITE
An anti-Christian group recently hacked into a website of a Turkish believer, reported the Inter-National Needs Network. An advertising campaign via the website offered to send Christian books to some 6 million e-mail addresses. "There have been complaints and attacks as a result of this strategy," said a website report. "But there have also been thankful messages from people who have received the book which we have sent. They ask if we can send any other books. . . . Last month we sent out 103 Scriptures, 'Jesus' films on CD and calendars. We are also working on cartoon films for children using Bible stories. As a result, we have received 23 e-mails and 10 telephone calls from people asking about Christianity." (Inter-National Needs Network)
BAPTIST WORKERS REMAIN IN IRAQ DESPITE INCREASING THREATS
Threats against non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Iraq are forcing groups to reduce work there, says Mark Kelly of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB). "The United Nations NGO coordinating council passed along some information that the remnant of Saddam Hussein loyalists were apparently planning attacks that would intentionally target NGO personnel," he said. "Our workers in Iraq contacted us saying that they felt we needed to delay for at least two weeks sending any volunteers into the country." However, IMB staffers aren't leaving Iraq. Kelly says this will be a great testimony to the Iraqi people. "Our folks are planning to stay and keeping a lower profile. It will mean a lot to the locals when they see our workers are staying put while other foreigners are packing and leaving the country." Meanwhile, safety concerns have delayed the delivery of 46,000 IMB food boxes to Iraq. (Mission Network News/Baptist Press)
FEBC NAMES 4TH PRESIDENT IN RADIO MINISTRY'S HISTORY The international radio ministry Far East Broadcasting Co. (FEBC) has a new leader. Outgoing President Jim Bowman announced that Gregg Harris became FEBC's fourth president on Monday, Sept. 1. Bowman says Harris, who has 10 years of international radio ministry, is a great person to succeed him. Bowman, meanwhile, will work full-time with field leaders and assist in developing FEBC's international office in Asia. (Mission Network News)
CHURCH IN OHIO ADDS 'NEW LIFE' VIA FAIR OUTREACH
An Assemblies of God church in Ohio has added new life to its congregation by using an innovative outreach at a local fair. Instead of evening services at New Life Assembly of God in Circleville, members ministered the last two Sundays in June at the Pickaway County Fair, serving as greeters and gate attendants at the fair's three main entrances. Planted in 2000 with nine people, New Life uses the fair -- attended by more than 10,000 people annually -- as a way to exhibit Christlike friendliness, while creating community awareness about the church, senior pastor Tim McGinnis said. Members wear neon-green T-shirts as they hand out leaflets with information about the church. More than 30 people have joined New Life's now 175-member congregation as a result of the outreach from the past three summers. McGinnis said 85 percent of New Life's adherents are new converts. "The church is a spiritual hospital," he added, "where people should feel that they can come dressed as they are, with habits as they are, income as it is, and not be looked at in shame." The church recently completed a $50,000 addition to its facility, which sits on the 70-acre fairgrounds. (Charisma News Service/Religion Today)
© Copyright 2003 - HCJB World Radio - Colorado Springs, CO USA - email@example.com
|VŠECHNY ZPRÁVY V ANGLIČTINĚ.|
| RUSSIAN OFFICIALS THREATEN TO FINE PRIEST FOR TEACHING CHILDREN
Russian authorities have threatened a Catholic priest in Siberia with high fines for teaching religion to children without written permission of their parents. Fr. Sergi Golovanov from the Siberian city of Omsk learned about the penalties in a July letter from the local department of justice at a time when human rights workers report an increase of religious discrimination in Russia. In the letter, Justice officials accused the parish of breaking Russia's 1997 law on religion. The law prohibits "attraction of minors" to a religious association as well as religious instruction to children "without the agreement of their parents or guardians." If the infractions continue, the parish faces fines of up to US$66 -- 20 times the country's minimum wage. Vasili Tkach, an official dealing with religious organizations in the Omsk region, defended the fines, saying the state authorities were "acting in accordance with the law." Golovanov said he would continue holding Sunday school classes since he had already received the "verbal agreement of the parents of the five children who receive religious instruction at the parish." (Forum 18 News Service/Assist News Service)
* HCJB World Radio reaches across Russia with a variety of radio ministries. The mission has been sending gospel broadcasts across the country via shortwave since 1941, first from Quito, Ecuador, and now from the U.K. In the early 1990s the ministry began "planting" local radio ministries in Russia and now works with partners in more than a dozen cities. In 2000 HCJB World Radio helped launch the first Christian Russian radio satellite network (operated by Christian Radio for Russia), reaching across Euro-Asia. Downlinks have been installed with more than 26 partners in Russia alone.
MISSIONARY SCHOOL IN CÔTE D'IVOIRE REMAINS INTACT DESPITE FIGHTING
A Christian school once threatened by rebels in the West African country of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) remains intact despite fighting in the area last fall. Students and staff at the International Christian Academy in Bouake, run by Evangelical Baptist Missions (EBM), were evacuated from the facility following a bloody attempted coup in 2002. "The campus looks good, the buildings are being maintained," said EBM spokesman Paul Jackson. "Life in Bouake . . . is returning somewhat to normal." He urges prayer for missionary parents who are making difficult decisions about where to school their children this fall. Jackson says staff members at the school have witnessed to French forces that are guarding the facility. Plans are to reopen the school in the fall of 2004. (Mission Network News)
* Fréquence Vie (Frequency Life), an HCJB World Radio partner FM station operated by SIM and local churches in the coastal city of Abidjan, continues to air programs of hope and encouragement in Côte d'Ivoire. The station broadcasts 17 hours daily in French and a number of local languages.
KENYAN PASTOR ELECTED TO LEAD WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
The World Council of Churches (WCC) elected a Methodist pastor from Kenya as the next general secretary of the Geneva-based ecumenical agency on Thursday, Aug. 28. Rev. Samuel Kobia, a member of the Methodist Church of Kenya, was elected by the 134 voting members of WCC's central committee. Kobia beat out the only other candidate, Rev. Trond Bakkevig of the (Lutheran) Church of Norway. Kobia will assume the WCC's top post in January, succeeding Rev. Konrad Raiser, a German pastor, who has held the post for 11 years. The WCC is a global fellowship of 342 churches from 100 countries. It includes most Orthodox and mainline Protestant churches from the U.S., but does not include Roman Catholics or evangelical groups. (Religion News Service)
ATTORNEY CALLS CHILE'S RELIGION LAW AN 'EXAMPLE FOR LATIN AMERICA'
"The Religious Liberty Law in Chile is an example for the other countries of Latin America," said Spanish attorney and University of Madrid professor Rosa María Martínez de Codes. She is a former associate director of the religious rights section of Spain's Ministry of Justice. Martínez made the comment in a presentation on the opening day of the National Religious Liberty Congress in Santiago, Chile, Aug. 26-27. The meeting brought together about 300 delegates from across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. The congress, an initiative of the Chilean branch of the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), hosted representatives of Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Jewish and Islamic faiths as well as delegates from the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. IRLA Secretary General John Graz said that inter-religious dialogue is the "feasible route for peaceful coexistence in the world." He affirmed that dialogue opposes a path leading to religious exclusivism and totalitarianism in which churches lose their independence. "Man was created by God as a free being. Man has to have liberty to choose the religion that he wants to follow." Other speakers at the event -- a first for Chile -- included former Ambassador Robert Seiple, now a consultant to World Vision; Senator Mario Ríos Santander who authored Chile's Religious Liberty Law; and professor Camilo Cardoso, registrar of religious organizations for the foreign ministry of Argentina. (Adventist News Network)
CHRISTIAN RADIO PIONEER WILBUR NELSON DIES AT AGE 92
Wilbur Nelson, prominent pastor and pioneer religious broadcaster, died Aug. 22 in Laguna Woods, Calif., at the age of 92. Nelson, who founded the nationally syndicated daily radio ministry, "The Morning Chapel Hour," in March 1944 was known for his many-faceted ministries. In the 1940s he sang for Charles E. Fuller's "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" broadcasts and was a frequent guest speaker for "The Haven of Rest" radio program. He founded and pastored two California churches and for several years pastored the historic Country Church of Hollywood where he and his wife of 67 years, Ethyl, were married. Nelson was born in Brighton, Colo., on Sept. 25, 1910. He attended Pilgrim Bible College in Colorado Springs and pursued studies at Pasadena Nazarene College in Pasadena. He was responsible for the building of Evangel Children's Home in Hong Kong that his radio ministry still supports. He also built a 2,000-seat chapel/auditorium for Isabelle Christian School for Girls in Pusan, South Korea. His son, Norm Nelson, continues to direct the ministry now known as Compassion Radio. (Assist News Service)
AVIATION MINISTRY FACES $240,000 BUDGET SHORTFALL
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is facing a $240,000 budget shortfall as it heads into its new fiscal year Oct. 1. MAF provides aviation and technology services to more than 300 Christian and humanitarian organizations worldwide. The ministry supports missionaries, teachers and medical teams living and working in remote regions of the world. (Mission Network News/MAF)
© Copyright 2003 - HCJB World Radio - Colorado Springs, CO USA - firstname.lastname@example.org
|VŠECHNY ZPRÁVY V ANGLIČTINĚ.|
| AZERBAIJAN POLICE USE 'KGB METHODS' TO RAID SUNDAY SCHOOL
Protestant Christians in Azerbaijan are fearing for the future of their children after police raided a Sunday school using old Soviet-style "KGB methods," reported Forum 18 News Service. Pastor Fuad Tariverdi of Greater Grace Protestant Church in the capital city of Baku said that Police Chief Mukhtar Mukhtarov broke up the class of about 50 children on Sunday, Aug. 31, saying that the church "has no right to teach kids." Mukhtarov rejected any criticism and blamed the church. "They're acting illegally," he said. "There was nothing bad [going on], but this must be done with the permission of the Committee for Work with Religious Organizations." Tariverdi said authorities have threatened to imprison him if he continues to hold Sunday school classes. He added that Mukhtarov has been "persecuting our church for years. He always sends people to invite our leadership to talk to him and tries to prove to us that we are wrong, bad, illegal and tries to intimidate us using Soviet/KGB ways and mentality." This latest incident comes amid concern among human rights workers about an apparent crackdown in the former Soviet Union against Christian groups. Forum 18 News, which is linked to a human rights organization investigating religious persecution, said Azerbaijani officials "at all levels have obstructed the work of many minority religious communities, especially Protestant churches which have many ethnic Azeris as members."(Assist News Service)
SRI LANKA EVANGELICALS CONCERNED ABOUT POSSIBLE EXCLUSION
The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (EASL) is asking for assistance to ensure that the government of Sri Lanka officially recognizes evangelical churches. The Christian Affairs Ministry of Sri Lanka has recently announced that it will be compiling a list of "recognized" churches, but it appears that only the Roman Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations will be included on the list. Evangelicals make up less than 1 percent of the population, numbering around 120,000. There has been consistent pressure, particularly from Buddhist groups, against the evangelicals. The EASL is concerned that, if evangelical churches are left off the official list, it may amount to being outlawed. (Voice of the Martyrs)
CHINESE POLICE RELEASE LAST OF 6 JAILED HOUSE CHURCH LEADERS
Three Chinese house church leaders who had been incarcerated since July 13 were released after international pressure mounted due to publicity of their case. The three others were released earlier in August. Qi Xian-Fa was released from the Kai Yuan Cheng Shi Hotel on Aug. 18 and Gao Chong-Dao on Aug. 25. Shen Shao-Cheng, 80, one of the church's founders, was the last of the leaders released on Aug. 27. They were handed to village officials from their home area and returned to their families. The three were part of a group of six house Christians arrested in Xiao Shan City in Zhejiang province during an early-morning house church service on Sunday, July 13. For five days they were subjected to repeated interrogation and so-called "political study." On the sixth day they were put into separate hotel rooms, and each was assigned two officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau and Public Security Bureau who were with them 24 hours a day. Each day there was more interrogation as authorities pressured the men to bring their church under state control. Officers told the men they would be rearrested if their congregations did not register with the Religious Affairs Bureau. (Voice of the Martyrs)
PRO-FAMILY GROUPS IN U.S. UNITE TO DEFEND SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE
As indications grow that same-sex marriage will soon be legal in one or more states in the U.S., pro-family groups are uniting in a drive to defend the sanctity of marriage. The Massachusetts State Supreme Court is soon expected to legalize homosexual marriage, and the resulting legal struggle across the nation may doom traditional marriage. A coalition of almost 20 organizations -- including such groups as Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, Prison Fellowship, INSP Broadcasting and the Home School Legal Defense Association -- is preparing to kick off a new campaign with "Marriage Protection Week" Oct. 12-18. Don Wildmon, president and founder of the American Family Association, says the observance is an "opportunity to defend and promote traditional marriage between a man and a woman as the God-ordained building block of the family and bedrock of a civil society." The purpose of the effort is to encourage churches to become involved in the battle to preserve traditional marriage. For details visit marriageprotectionweek.com. (Agape Press/Religion Today)
LATIN AMERICA BECOMING MISSION FORCE TO ISLAMIC WORLD
Latin American Christians say reaching the Islamic world with the gospel is a top priority for them. Because of that CAM International is doing all it can to help facilitate that urgency. CAM's Keegan Williamson says Central America, once a mission field, has become a mission force to the Muslim world. "They can go in with a very, very low profile, and most of them know what it's like to be raised in a country that has a single dominant religion and to have a very limited religious liberties. Culturally, Latin Americans are also very similar in physical appearance." CAM is specifically looking into expanding Muslim outreach into Albania. (Mission Network News)
* CRISIS IN LIBERIA OPENS UP WITNESSING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ELWA
With up to 2,200 refuges crowded onto the campus of Radio Station ELWA in Monrovia, Liberia, to escape fighting with rebels in recent weeks, opportunities to share the gospel abound, said Rick Sacra, SIM Liberia's associate director. He made the comments after a recent two-week visit to the station. Leaders at ELWA, a station operated by Liberian Christians in partnership with SIM and HCJB World Radio, have been holding nightly devotions and evangelism in the public areas for the displaced people. They also formed a health committee to deal with issues of sanitation and hygiene.
"As conditions improve, people are beginning to return home," Sacra said. "The number of people on the campus is dropping daily. We thank God for the opportunity ELWA had to give these folks a safe place to stay, and share with them a little of God's Word. General Manager James Kesselly also organized daily morning chapel times attended by all the staff, and noontime prayer meetings for the institution heads."
Throughout the crisis, ELWA has remained on the air with FM broadcasts going out nearly daily, but on a limited schedule, depending on the availability of diesel fuel to operate the generators. "Due to the high price of diesel fuel [costing up to US$18 per gallon at the peak of the crisis], the hours were reduced. But only one day passed without a morning or evening broadcast," Sacra said.
"The weekend of Aug. 9, ELWA was the only station on the air in Monrovia and carried all the official announcements concerning the turning-over ceremony held on Aug. 11," he said. "The radio's critical ministry gives people something positive to listen to, encouraging believers to stand firm in their faith, and giving non-Christians the message of hope in Jesus."
SIM founded the station in 1954 to air the gospel across the country and West Africa. ELWA was destroyed twice by civil war, first in 1990 and again in 1996. The station went back on the air in 1997 with a small FM transmitter. Then in 2000 HCJB World Radio provided a low-power shortwave transmitter, again enabling the station to cover the region.
"Unfortunately, the shortwave transmitter is temporarily off the air," Sacra said. Spare parts from the HCJB World Radio Engineering Center in Elkhart, Ind., were expected to arrive on Tuesday, Sept. 2.
The ELWA Hospital has also remained open, even during the worst fighting, providing care to the injured and needy, especially those with AIDS, Sacra said. "At the height of the crisis, few patients were coming to the hospital for care, but as things improved, the number of patients increased," he said. "Pediatrics was full much of the time. . . . Obstetrics was also moderately busy. Thank God for our two faithful local doctors along with two interns. The staff has also been faithful and flexible through the crisis time."
In response to a pledge of funds from a U.S.-based charity, ELWA and SIM-related churches have launched a short-term children's feeding programs. But with rice costing up to US$2 per cup, food has been scarce. A local Liberian group is working with 350 children ages 1-8 at the Sports Complex. Staff members are holding a three-hour program of preschool activities, games and evangelism followed by a meal for the kids every weekday.
SIM-related churches also started a children's feeding program at the Kendeja Culture Center for up to 100 children. Similar programs will be set up at refugee camps in Brewerville as funds become available.
Future projects include a "resettlement package" for each family head. Churches are also working together to begin work on a training project aimed at equipping the members to teach Sunday school and lead Bible studies. "We also hope to also raise funds for the school start-up project, renovations for staff housing, and a second shortwave transmitter for ELWA," Sacra says.
All churches in the country have been affected by the fighting, he adds. "The Monrovia district was severely affected with many of the churches damaged and entire congregations. . . . Many of these people have now moved three to five times during the last four years of fighting. This chronic moving with very few possessions is terribly disruptive to the development of the kids and to the lives of the families."
In recent developments, additional West African peacekeeping forces are expected to arrive in Liberia this weekend, Associated Press reported. Troops will go to north-central Liberia as early as Saturday, moving into the countryside for the first time to quell unrest that has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee. Col. Theophilus Tawiah, the force's chief of staff, urged those displaced by the war to return to refugee camps and their homes in the north, saying troops would be there soon to protect them. "We are reassuring them that we are deploying by the weekend, so they should go back to their camps," Tawiah said. He added there would be "big trouble" if the refugees headed for Monrovia.
The arrival of the peace force on Aug. 4, followed by a peace accord Aug. 18, largely has brought calm to Liberia's capital. It has helped end more than two months of rebel sieges of Monrovia, lifted after ex-president Charles Taylor resigned and flew into exile in Nigeria on Aug. 11. The West African peacekeeping force has reached 3,050 and is expected to expand to nearly 3,500 by Wednesday, Sept. 10. About 200 troops from Ghana were to arrive by this weekend while Benin will send 250 soldiers next week. Some 2,300 U.S. troops are stationed on warships off Monrovia. Their mission is to support the West African peacekeeping force. (SIM/HCJB World Radio/AP/Reuters)
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| INDONESIAN CLERIC ACQUITTED OF LEADING CHURCH ATTACKS
On Monday, Sept. 1, an Indonesian court convicted Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir of treason and immigration charges and sentenced him to four years in jail. He was, however, acquitted of more serious charges when the judges ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to convict him of leading the militant Islamic group Jemaah Islamiah. This group has been responsible for several attacks on churches, including attacks in December 2000, which left nineteen people dead. Prosecutors alleged that Ba'asyir had approved the church attacks. The group has links to al-Qaida and has been blamed for last year's bombing of a nightclub in Bali and a failed assassination attempt on Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Christians are on alert, concerned that the ruling could stir up further militancy by Islamic groups in Indonesia. (Voice of the Martyrs)
FINAL HEARING SET FOR STAINES MURDER CASE IN INDIA
The final court hearing regarding the case of Australian missionary Graham Staines, who was murdered in January 1999 along with his two young sons, will be held in India's Orissa state Monday, Sept. 8. Chief murder suspect is Dara Singh, a well-liked Indian wrestler and actor who is accused of leading a band of crazed Hindus that poured gasoline on the Jeep station wagon in which the three were sleeping in Manoharpur village. Eyewitness said the attackers then set the vehicle ablaze and kept the occupants from escaping even as other villagers came to the rescue. While most Christians have denounced Singh, many Hindus consider him a national hero and defender of their culture. Orissa state continues to provide a climate for the harassment and persecution of Christians. Authorities are strictly enforcing the state's Freedom of Religion Act, passed in 1967, to restrict evangelism. Believers say the law is in conflict with India's national constitution and brought suit before the Orissa High Court, but the court dismissed the case without hearing it. Christians are now taking the matter to the Supreme Court in New Delhi. (Missions Insider)
* HCJB World Radio-Australia's new shortwave site Kununurra airs 61/2 hours of daily English programming across South Asia, including India. Two half-hour programs in Urdu, airing Monday through Saturday, were added in July, and plans are being made to start Hindi programs. In partnership with FEBA Radio, HCJB World Radio also airs weekly Christian programs to eastern India via shortwave in three languages: Bhojpuri, Chattisgarhi and Mundari.
10 VIETNAMESE PASTORS ARRESTED, BEATEN BEFORE BEING RELEASED
Ten pastors were taken from a meeting at the home of Rev. Bůi Ba in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Monday, Aug. 18. After protests from the United Gospel Outreach Church, seven of the pastors were released. Ba and two other pastors were handcuffed to tables and tortured. The three were released the following day after representatives of the United Nations Human Rights Committee flew to Ho Chi Minh City to intervene. Ba remains under house arrest, charged with resisting arrest. (Voice of the Martyrs)
BAPTIST FINED AFTER POLICE BREAK UP OPEN-AIR SERVICE IN MOSCOW
After police broke up an open-air Baptist evangelistic service in southern Moscow, a court ruled Aug. 11 that the singing and praying "disturbed public order and the peace of those relaxing nearby." One Baptist was fined the equivalent of US$16 after police said he swore at them, a charge denied by local Baptists. A statement from the Baptist Council of Churches said the group met in Moscow July 26 for an evangelistic service. Asked to disperse by police soon after beginning worship, they refused, citing the "biblical command to go out and preach about God's salvation." Baptist spokesman Veniamin Khorev said that Russia's law on religion gives even an unregistered religious group the right to gather in any public place. However, state officials maintain that mass meetings, street processions, demonstrations and pickets may only take place if the relevant local authority has been given advance warning. The Baptists have refused to register with the authorities, so they have no legal status and in practice cannot rent buildings for worship. The group's evangelistic events have been disrupted across Russia this summer with books confiscated, tents taken down, six church members detained for five days and four fined. Khorev said this is "all part of the normal life of our church." (Forum 18 News Service)
GUTTED CHRISTIAN TV PRODUCTION STUDIO IN EGYPT 'FULLY REPAIRED'
SAT-7'S Christian TV production studio in Cairo, Egypt, literally came through the fires of tribulation to emerge as more refined gold this week. The broadcast center was destroyed one year ago, taking with it $400,000 worth of equipment, but thankfully no one was injured. The blaze set back the ministry for a time, but thanks to believers in Egypt and around the globe, the studio is now fully repaired and operational again. "Please join us in thanking God that the fire gutted Cairo studio is now completely restored," said SAT-7 spokesman Terence Ascott. "Internal walls have been rebuilt, a replacement TV lighting system has been installed, some damaged equipment has been repaired and new fire fighting and security systems have been added. Please pray that the Lord will protect all of SAT-7's studios from any future accident or assault." (Mission Network 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 Radio Al Mahabba (Radio Love) Arabic satellite network airs programs direct-to-home 24 hours a day. This region has the world's highest concentration of personal satellite dishes.
30,000 GATHER AT ONE OF U.K.'S LARGEST-EVER CHRISTIAN EVENTS
More than 30,000 people gathered in Manchester Sunday, Aug. 31, for the final day of one of the largest Christian events ever staged in the U.K. The Luis Palau Evangelistic Association and Manchester's Message Trust worked with more than 500 churches, the Manchester and Salford city councils, local police and dozens of corporate and private supporters to produce the outdoor event. "Festival: Manchester" combined community service and social action projects with a music festival. In conjunction with the festival, nearly 5,000 volunteer/delegates from across the U.K. and Western Europe worked on some 300 service projects in some of the city's most deprived areas. More than 1,500 attendees made first-time decisions for Christ as a result of Palau's gospel message. "We've dreamed of a church community that gets involved with broken communities that desperately need Jesus," said Message Trust Director Andy Hawthorne. "At the festival in Manchester that dream started to become a reality." (Assist News Service)
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