Zprávy HCJB 16.2.2005

   Vietnamský premiér Phan Van Khai řekl, že jeho země povolí činnost protestantských domácích sborů v oblasti Centrální Vysočiny, pokud se podvolí určitým podmínkám. Oznámila to státem kontrolovaná média. Domácí sbory, které vláda zakázala, budou povoleny, pokud nebudou nijak propojeny s protestantskou církví Dega ( ta je mezi místními obyvateli populární a je podezírána z podpory místního separatismu – pozn. překlad.) a distancují se od všech, i minulých styků s Národní frontou za osvobození utlačovaných ras, která bojovala po boku Američanů během Vietnamské války. Premiér vyzval místní vlády, aby „vážně a efektivně tyto specifické úkoly provedly,“ ale není jisté, jak účinný tento dekret bude. Vietnam v posledních letech čelí rostoucímu mezinárodnímu tlaku pro údajné omezování svobody vyznání a pro potlačování lidských práv. (Assist News Service/Associated Press)

*Tato a další zprávy jsou v originální anglické verzi zde.


Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai says the country will allow Protestant house churches in the central highlands if they operate under certain conditions, reported the state-controlled media. House churches, which had been banned by the government, will be allowed to operate if they have no connection to Dega Protestantism and revoke all ties to the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races, a guerrilla group that fought alongside the Americans during the Vietnam War. The prime minister called on local governments to "seriously and effectively implement these specific tasks," but it was unclear when the decree would take effect. Vietnam has faced increased international pressure in the past year regarding alleged religious repression and human rights abuses. (Assist News Service/Associated Press)


Several people have been injured and a police post torched in riots in eastern Indonesia's West Timor province. Police say the riots in Atambua town were sparked by anger over an incident during mass. A district police spokesman said the riots occurred after police rescued a man who was being assaulted at the Immaculate Cathedral for allegedly crushing the communion wafer during morning mass. Police took the 27-year-old man, who could be charged with "contempt of religion," to the district police headquarters for questioning. Atambua Bishop Anton Pain Ratu said the man's action is regarded as an "abomination" in the Catholic religion. (WorldWide Religious News/ABC News)


Aid organization Open Doors reported in its February newsletter that Iranians are coming to faith in Christ by the thousands. An Iranian pastor commented, "In the 1980s we rejoiced over two or three new believers each month. In the 1990s we were impressed when we heard about a group of new believers. Today we're somewhat surprised to discover an entire new underground church." After 25 years of the Islamic Revolution, Iranians seem disappointed in Islam and its broken promises. Sixty percent of Iranians have heard the gospel, and the nation seems to be on a quest for alternative answers to Islam. An Iranian immigrant who found Christ told his relatives in Iran of his new faith. Within a month, 50 of his relatives came to Christ. One year later they had a church of more than 250 believers. Every day 50 Iranian youths secretly join a Christian church, said Shiite leader Hassan Mohammadi of the Iranian Ministry of Education. There are now an estimated 250,000 believers in Iran. (Friday Fax/Open Doors)

* HCJB World Radio, in cooperation with FEBA Radio, broadcasts weekly Christian programs to Iran via shortwave in the Luri language. There are less than 100 known believers among the 4 million Luri speakers in Iran and Iraq.


The World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed concern about the "constitutional crisis" in the tiny West African country of Togo where security forces killed up to three people Saturday, Feb. 12, during a protest against the military's installation of a new president. WCC General Secretary Samuel Kobia said "in solidarity with the churches of Togo" the organization is urging a return to "constitutional sobriety" following the death of longtime President Gnassingbe Eyadema who died Saturday, Feb. 5, and the appointment of his son, Faure Gnassingbe, as the new leader this week. There are fears within and outside Togo's Christian minority of a prolonged military-backed dictatorship that would violate religious and other human rights. Analysts say the assembly speaker was supposed to call elections within 60 days of Eyadema's death, but the parliament quickly changed the rules, allowing 39-year-old Gnassingbe to remain president until 2008. "It is a gospel imperative for the churches in Togo to stand for what is just, noble, true and honorable to safeguard the people's right to be governed according to the constitution without manipulation," Kobia said. Christians comprise about 29 percent of Togo's 5.5 million people. (BosNewsLife)

* International Media Ministries, HCJB World Radio's partner in Lomé, Togo, broadcasts 17 hours of daily programming on an FM station in 10 local languages. The SIM studio in Parakou, Benin, also records Christian Kotokoli programs that air on local stations in Togo.


Christian ministries are digging in for the long haul after the Dec. 26 earthquake/tsunami in the Indian Ocean left more than 158,000 people confirmed dead. International Aid, for example, is moving from the rescue phase to relief and restoration. It'll be a long-term physical and spiritual effort, working together with local indigenous churches, said IA spokesman Dean Agee. "We believe that by showing God's love through our work, that we will create relationships, and people will ask questions. They'll want to know why we're there. By being faithful to the calling of caring for the least of these, we'll also have an opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission." Operation Mobilization (OM), meanwhile, is focusing on providing psychological and spiritual counseling for survivors. OM spokesman Dr. Patrick Railey says while people's medical needs are being met, a recent visit to the southern tip of India showed that psychological trauma is coming to the surface. "The greatest ongoing need there is for counseling. People in many places are paralyzed with grief." OM staff members who visited a number of fishing villages found that fear takes many forms, Railey said. "We've got a lot of folks suffering with survivor grief [saying things like], 'My family got taken from me, and I didn't. Why? Why am I still here?' I feel guilt because of that.' There area a lot of sleep issues. People are scared of the tsunami coming back again." (Mission Network News/BBC)


Appealing for calm and understanding after the murder of an Egyptian Christian family last month, Muslim and Christian leaders rejected religious hatred and called for unity. Although the gathering Sunday, Feb. 13, had been planned months in advance, the murders of Hossam Armanious, his wife and two young children became the focus of many participants at the American Muslim Union's annual community brunch. Prosecutors are investigating whether Armanious, a Coptic Christian from Egypt, might have angered Muslims with his postings under the name, "I Love Jesus," in an Internet chat room, leading to the killings. But they also caution that robbery was a possible motive because the home was ransacked and money was taken from the victims, and no solid evidence tying the crimes to religious hatred has been established. The bodies of Armanious, 47, his 37-year-old wife, Amal Garas, and their daughters Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, were discovered Jan. 14 in the family's home. They had been bound and gagged, and each was stabbed repeatedly in the neck and head. The murders spread fear throughout the region's Coptic Christian community and spurred tensions that erupted in scuffles and anti-Islam slogans being shouted during the family's funeral. (WorldWide Religious News/Associated Press)

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