Zprávy HCJB 8.6.2004

   EGYPTIAN AUTHORITIES UNEXPECTEDLY SHUT DOWN BAPTIST CHURCH Wahba Gayeed Beshara, president of the Egyptian Baptist Union, is urging believers everywhere to pray after Egyptian authorities shut down one of the denomination's churches with no warning and for "no apparent reason." The El Antara Gharb church is one of 12 churches in the small union that has approximately 1,800 members. Church leaders are asking prayer for wisdom to handle this sensitive situation and for the doors of the church to open freely once again. (Mission Network News) CHRISTIANS PROTEST SRI LANKA'S PROPOSED ANTI-CONVERSION LAWS Two new laws threaten to put further pressure on Christians in Sri Lanka who have already suffered dozens of violent attacks this year. Jathika Hela Urumaya, the Buddhist nationalist party in Sri Lanka, plans to present an anti-conversion bill to parliament that could be passed within two weeks. In addition, Sri Lanka's new Minister of Buddhism announced last week that he will introduce legislation to ban the "deceitful" spreading of the Christian message. The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka vowed to challenge the bill before the Supreme Court in a bid to stop it from becoming law. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, who was recently appointed Minister of Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka's new government, also confirmed that he would enact the recommendations of the Buddha Sasana Commission, including legislation to create courts presided over by Buddhist monks to settle disputes affecting monks and villagers without involving the police or a court of law. There is concern that if this method is used to resolve disputes, Christians would be denied justice and further marginalized and persecuted. (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) UZBEKISTAN AUTHORITIES DETAIN 100 MUSLIMS AFTER BOMBINGS Mass arrests of religious believers of all faiths in Uzbekistan followed terrorist bombings there in March and April. The arrests have now virtually ceased, but in the crackdown more than 100 Muslims were arrested by the National Security Service (secret police) in the Kashkadarya region. Tulkin Karayev, spokesman for the Human Rights Organization in Uzbekistan, accused police of planting on the arrested men drugs and leaflets from a radical Islamic organization called Jamaat. "No one in Kashkadarya region has heard of the existence of this Jamaat organization before, and I strongly suspect that this organization has simply been dreamed up by the National Security Service," Karayev said. He added that the only crime the detainees are guilty of is being "faithful Muslims." They remain in custody in southern Uzbekistan. (Forum 18 News Service) * HCJB World Radio airs weekly Uzbek programs to Uzbekistan via shortwave from the U.K. An estimated 15 million Uzbek-speaking people are within range of the broadcasts. Uzbek is also one of three languages that HCJB World Radio airs to Afghanistan from an AM station outside the country. GERMAN CHURCH LEADER PROPOSES FUNERALS FOR ABORTED CHILDREN A German Protestant church leader has called for funerals for stillborn and aborted children. "If we argue in the debate about genetic engineering that an embryo is a rudimentary human being, then the weight in ounces cannot determine whether a person may have a burial or not," said Margot Kaessmann, Lutheran bishop of Hanover. She made the comments during her report to the synod of her church that met June 2-4. Women who have undergone an abortion and are mourning their lost child would welcome a place of remembrance, she said. "Where do they find room to express their grief? Often it's in the face of condemnation and their own guilty feelings." Kaessmann, 46, the mother of four daughters, wants Christians to express more love and less contempt for women who have had abortions. She encouraged believers to talk more openly and clearly about death and resurrection of Christ, and to oppose tendencies to legalize abortion on demand. Kaessmann also expressed concern about the growing number of secular funerals in Germany. Only 88 percent of all deceased Protestants have a church funeral. Funerals are "unique evangelistic opportunities," she said. "If we speak authentically and credibly about our resurrection hope, then this message cannot only provide comfort but also bring forth the power of faith in the lives of the listeners." (IDEA) BIBLE SOCIETIES DISTRIBUTE 432 MILLION BIBLES, SCRIPTURE PORTIONS IN 2003 The United Bible Societies (UBS) in Reading, England, reported that nearly 432 million Bibles, New Testaments, Scripture portions and selections were distributed worldwide in 2003. This is down 25 percent from 2002, although most of the drop can be attributed to the transition to a new bookkeeping system with 14 months in the 2002 accounting year compared to 12 in 2003. UBS has 137 Bible societies or offices in more than 200 countries and territories. Bible societies in the Americas led the distribution statistics, handing out 300 million Bibles, New Testaments and Scripture portions. The fastest growth in Bible distribution was in China and Nigeria. The Amity printing press in Nanjing, China, produced 2.8 million Bibles for Christians in China, Laos and Vietnam in 2003 -- approximately 1 million more than in 2002. In Nigeria 830,000 Bibles and 44,000 New Testaments were distributed last year. (IDEA) BILLY GRAHAM RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL 3 WEEKS AFTER FALL Evangelist Billy Graham, 85, was released from Mission Hospitals in Asheville, N.C., Monday, June 7, little more than three weeks after suffering a pelvic fracture caused by a fall in his home. Graham's physicians said they are "greatly encouraged" by his progress, and he will continue intensive physical therapy at home for at least three months. "He has made tremendous progress for a man of his age," said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Eglinton who performed the stabilization surgery. "He has had no complications. The pelvis is stable, and it appears as if the surgery has done what was intended." Graham spent the weekend watching President George W. Bush's trip to commemorate the World War II D-Day invasion at Normandy, and viewing commentary of the death of his longtime friend, President Ronald Reagan. Graham said he would use the weeks of rehabilitation to prepare for preaching opportunities at his next two crusades rescheduled for Kansas City, Oct. 7-10, and Pasadena, Calif., Nov. 18-21. (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)

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