Zprávy HCJB 18.2.2005

   Teheránský vojenský soud ve středu 16. února odsoudil íránského křesťanského kazatele Hamida Pourmanda ke třem letům vězení a nařídil jeho okamžité přemístění do společné cely v teheránském neblaze proslulém vězení Evin. Tento plukovník armády byl shledán vinným z klamání ozbrojených sil tím, že neoznámil, že přešel od islámu ke křesťanství. V Íránu je služba nemuslimů v ozbrojených silách nezákonná. 47letý Pourmand, který je křesťanem skoro 25 let, předložil soudu originály dokumentů svědčících o tom, že jeho nadřízení po léta věděli, že je křesťan. „Soud je ale nepřijal,“ sdělil iránský zdroj. „Řekli, že dokumenty jsou falešné.“ Trest je nejvyšší možný. který Pourmand za svůj údajný trestný čin mohl dostat. V jeho důsledku hrozí tomuto laickému kazateli malého sboru Assemblies of God automatické propuštění z armády, ztráta platu, důchodu a služebního bytu jeho rodiny. Obhájce působící jménem jeho rodiny řekl, že se obrátí k nejvyššímu soudu. Doufá, že zabrání pokusům postavit Pourmanda před islámský náboženský soud, kde by mohl být za odpadlictví a za obracení druhých ke křesťanství odsouzen k smrti. (Compass)

*Nejnovější zprávy v originální anglické verzi jsou vždy zde (klikněte).


A Tehran military court sentenced Iranian Christian pastor Hamid Pourmand to three years in jail Wednesday, Feb. 16, ordering his immediate transfer to a group prison cell in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. The former army colonel was found guilty of deceiving the armed forces by not declaring that he was a convert from Islam to Christianity. It is illegal for a non-Muslim to serve as a military officer in Iran. Pourmand, 47, a Christian for nearly 25 years, produced original documents showing that his military superiors had acknowledged years ago that he was a Christian. “But the court didn’t accept them,” an Iranian source said. “They said these were false documents.” The verdict represented the maximum penalty for Pourmand’s alleged offense. As a result, the lay pastor of a small Assemblies of God congregation faces automatic discharge from the army and forfeits his entire income, pension and housing for his family. A lawyer acting on behalf of Pourmand’s family said he will appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court. Simultaneously, he hopes to block efforts to put Pourmand on trial before a sharia court of Islamic law where, under charges of apostasy and proselytizing, he could be sentenced to death. (Compass)


Malaysian religious and human rights groups are urging the government to set up a national commission to investigate religious grievances and improve policies on sensitive matters of faith. Representatives of dozens of private groups will hold a conference Feb. 24-25 to prepare a proposal for a National Interfaith Commission that they say would reflect the predominantly Muslim country’s commitment to safeguard other religions. “We cannot run from the reality that our society comprises people of various faiths,” said lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who heads a committee spearheading the proposal. “The fact is that conflicts exist and will cause resentment to fester if we leave them entrenched.” Religion is a sensitive issue in Malaysia. Nearly 60 percent of the country’s 25 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims, but freedom of worship is guaranteed in the constitution for the large Buddhist, Christian and Hindu minorities. Religious controversies occasionally surface, but open friction between Muslims and non-Muslims is rare. Nevertheless, activists believe the creation of a state-backed panel is necessary to probe complaints of religious rights violations and advise the government on laws to curb such abuses. (WorldWide Religious News/Associated Press)


The Lutheran World Federation announced member churches have 65.9 million members as of 2004, a one-year increase of 5.8 percent, thanks largely to a 1.1-million gain in Africa and a merger between a Lutheran church in the Netherlands and two large Reformed churches. With a total of 500,000 new members, the Malagasy Lutheran Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania each reported having 3 million members. Africa’s largest Lutheran denomination is Ethiopia’s Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus with 4.2 million members, an increase of 131,000. Meanwhile, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sub-Saharan Africa lost nearly 180,000 members, a 23-percent drop. Counting churches outside the federation, world Lutheran membership increased 3.6 million, to 69.5 million. Germany remains the nation with the largest number of Lutherans, 13.1 million, representing a one-year decline of 160,000. Membership in North America dropped 2.2 percent to 8.3 million. (WorldWide Religious News/Associated Press)


An alarming number of Christians in the U.S. are staying home on Sunday mornings, and the trend is affecting churches. Believers who have become “stay-away saints” are alternately worrying and exciting church leaders, pointing to what is being seen as either a threat to the spread of the gospel or the cusp of a revolution that could usher in a revival. A recent study by the Barna Group, a California-based Christian research organization, found that about 13 million Americans whom the researchers identified as being born again were “unchurched . . . not having attended a Christian church service, other than for a holiday . . . at any time in the past six months.” David Barrett, author of the World Christian Encyclopedia, estimates there are 112 million “churchless Christians” worldwide. He projects that number will double by 2025 -- though it includes both nominal believers and those connected with underground churches in nations where they face persecution for their faith. (Religion Today/Charisma News Service)


In eastern Sudan refugees and nomadic Muslims are largely unreached by the gospel. The Beja and Rashaida are two of the world’s least-reached people groups, and Strategic World Impact (SWI) President Kevin Turner says staff members are building relationships with these people to reach them with the gospel. “The last five years we’ve been actively working in the eastern part of Sudan, which is really a forgotten area. Very few aid organizations get into this area.” As SWI distributes humanitarian aid, people are asking for God’s Word, opening opportunities to share the gospel on a one-on-one basis. “Then we literally train them, equip them and encourage them so they can actually go out and be the individuals who show a changed life.” (Mission Network News)


In a small production studio north of Quito, Ecuador, the first Christian radio programs in the unique Cofán language are being recorded. Unlike any other language in the world, it is spoken by the 1,000 or so members of the indigenous Cofán tribe scattered throughout the Amazon rain forest in northeastern Ecuador and southeastern Colombia.

In partnership with Christian Missions in Many Lands, missionaries Ron and Esther Borman, HCJB World Radio’s indigenous language department recorded 36 songs in the Cofán language last year. To date, more than 103 programs have been produced at the studio located in the Bormans’ home. They feature Cofán music as well as testimonies of local believers whose lives were changed by the healing touch of Jesus Christ. The programs also teach the Bible, evangelism and discipleship.

A group of eight Cofán believers participated in HCJB World Radio’s annual sharathon in Quito last December with music and personal testimony in order to make listeners aware of the upcoming broadcasts. The first known transmission from HCJB World Radio in the Cofán language went out on Dec. 17, 2004.

Cofán programs will begin airing daily Monday through Friday as soon as fix-tuned radios are distributed to the people. The radios, manufactured by Galcom International, a Canadian technical ministry, are preset to the shortwave frequency of 6,050 kHz -- the same frequency used for Spanish broadcasts throughout the Andean region. This will allow members of the tribe to listen to Christian Spanish programming during times when Cofán programs are not on the air.

The Cofán programs are an outgrowth of HCJB World Radio’s radio planting and development ministry in Latin America. Staff members also provided basic training in radio production for members of the Cofán tribe. (HCJB World Radio)

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