Prayer News | Where Christians Pray Through the News

Prayer List: Mass Starvation Killing Hundreds of Venezuelan Children

Venezuelan selling food in 2012, before the oil prices dropped and the economy failed.

In a heartbreaking news article, The New York Times reports that in 2018 almost 400 Venezuelan children died from starvation at nine public hospitals following emergency room visits.

Dr. Livia Machado told The Times, “Never in my life had I seen so many hungry children.” Dr. Milagros Hernández describes the tragic conditions of her patients, “Children arrive with the same weight and height of a newborn.

Prayer List

* Pray for Venezuela’s starving citizens to receive the food and nutrients they need for physical health.
* Pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort the parents and siblings of children grieving the loss of family members.
* Pray for the physical, emotional and spiritual health of parents, doctors, nurses and other care givers struggling at this time.
* Pray for Venezuela’s political leaders to change their destructive economic policies or be replaced by politicians that will pursue policies that would rebuild the economy.

Unreached People of the Day

Thursday: Magh in Myanmar
Friday: Arab, Jordanian in Canada

Operation World Prayer Focus

Thursday: Global Hot Spots
Friday: The Church Worldwide

Birthday Prayer Lists

Have you prayed for the salvation of all your friends? Why not turn your Facebook friend list into a prayer list? It shouldn't take long to pray for each friend on their birthday.

Some Christians also pray for entertainers, politicians and media personalities on their birthday.

Religious News Websites

Baptist Press

  • newBible Study: March 24, 2019
    This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
    - 5 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 7:31pm -
  • newMidwest flood response 'to take a long time'
    Several hundred Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are preparing to "put themselves in the offering plate" by responding over the next two months to Midwest floods that have killed four people and displaced thousands from their homes, SBDR national director Sam Porter said.
    - 5 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 7:30pm -
  • newChina pastors, laymembers still jailed since Dec.
    The pastor and 10 members of a prominent church in China remain jailed three months after the government invaded their worship and arrested 100 of them because of their Christianity, the church said March 20 on Facebook.
    - 5 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 7:28pm -
  • newSturgis: Dakota gives outreach to F.A.I.T.H. Riders
    The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August will be the final time the Dakota Baptist Convention will host its annual evangelism thrust that began at the iconic biker gathering in 2006. In 2020 and beyond, it will be led by the national Christian motorcycle ministry F.A.I.T.H. Riders.
    - 5 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 7:10pm -
  • new8-year-old refugee credits God for chess win
    A Christian Nigerian family seeking religious asylum in the U.S. credits God for their son's New York statewide chess victory and their new apartment after two years of homelessness.
    - 5 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 7:06pm -

Berean Research

  • Lou Engel ends “The Call” to usher in Billy Graham’s “mantle”
    Millions of young people around the world are being told that they can soon supernaturally receive the hovering mantle of evangelism from the late Billy Graham, and that this opportunity will be theirs on February 23. Please hear me, Christian, there is no “mantle” from any person dead or alive that we are to activate […]The post Lou Engel ends “The Call” to usher in Billy Graham’s “mantle” appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 52 days ago 28 Jan 19, 9:28pm -
  • Holding on.
    Discernment Ministry. What do you think of when you hear or read that term? Does your nose wrinkle a little? Does your upper lip curl in disgust? A lot of good, solid, caring, sheep-loving discerning writers are being told not to quit their day jobs due to the actions of a few. Whether those actions […]The post Holding on. appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 9 Oct 18, 2:21am -
  • Why we “Mark and Avoid”
    There is a growing trend to dismiss the Bible in a world that says, “you can’t believe a book that’s a couple thousand years old,” as Rob Bell has done. Bell recently made these statements and said that the Church is very close to embracing gay marriage. If you haven’t boldly marked false teachers, people […]The post Why we “Mark and Avoid” appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 5 Oct 18, 7:37pm -
  • Liberation-Not For Everybody
    Youth Testify, a new program launched by Advocates for Youth and the National Network of Abortion Funds is “helping young people advocate for their reproductive rights and reframe the narrative around abortion.” Reframe the narrative? According to Peter Jones, re-framing means that “not a word of warning will be given to young women about the death knell that will forever […]The post Liberation-Not For Everybody appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 2 Oct 18, 4:11pm -
  • Andy Stanley: “Most Former Christians Still Have a Crush on Jesus”
    Megachurch leader Andy Stanley has made some interesting statements over the past few years. Most notably are his statements distancing himself from the authority of Scripture. Easy to mark and avoid a teacher like this, right? Actually, not so easy. Stanley’s many marketable brands include curricula for children, teens, adults, couples…and many well-meaning church staff […]The post Andy Stanley: “Most Former Christians Still Have a Crush on Jesus” appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 26 Sep 18, 10:36am -

Christian Headlines

Christian Post

Christianity Today

  • The Three Horizons of Old Testament Prophecy
    The prophets launch their words into the future. Where do they land?A frequently challenging part of Scripture for many Christians is the Old Testament prophets. Sometimes, understanding their message can be a little confusing. Especially, when that message might apply (or is applied) to the New Testament. When the prophets do look into the future that God revealed to them, what do their words refer to?I find it helpful to think of three major possible horizons of their vision. That is to say, as the prophets launch their words into the future, we can see three places where their words land, three places where their words are relevant and fulfilled—or still will be.Horizon one: The Old Testament eraThis is the horizon of the prophets’ own time or the wider Old Testament era as a whole. Most of what they predict happens either in their own lifetimes or at some point within the history of Old Testament Israel.For example, many prophets warn that God will send Israel, and then Judah, into exile because they persistently break the covenant and rebel against him. That is fulfilled, as we have seen, within the Old Testament period itself, in 721 BC for the northern kingdom of Israel, and in 587 BC for the southern kingdom of Judah. Those prophecies are fulfilled at horizon one.Some of the prophets also predict that God will bring the exiles of Judah back to their land. He will bring their exile to an end. The covenant will be renewed, and they will rebuild the temple. Those prophecies are also fulfilled within the Old Testament period. After the edict of Cyrus, king of Persia, in 538 BC, several waves of exiles return to Jerusalem, and the temple is rebuilt by 515 BC. Fulfillment at horizon one.However, sometimes we will find that an Old Testament prediction that is made and fulfilled ...Continue reading...
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  • Britain Uses Violent Bible Verses to Deny Iranian Convert Asylum
    It's not the first time immigration officials have deployed Scripture to keep former Muslims out.The British government has been using the Bible against Christians seeking asylum after converting from Islam—most recently, citing verses from Leviticus, Exodus, and Revelation as evidence that the faith was not more peaceful, as one Iranian convert claimed in his application.Anglican leaders and other advocates for refugees condemned the immigration department’s decision to deny the Iranian’s 2016 petition for asylum this week.The letter sent Tuesday from the Home Office declared that Christianity was not a peaceful religion, bringing up “imagery of revenge, destruction, death, and violence” in Revelation and the line “You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you” from Leviticus 26:7.“These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage and revenge,” the government official stated.The denied applicant’s caseworker, Nathan Stevens, tweeted, “I’ve seen a lot over the years, but even I was genuinely shocked to read this unbelievably offensive diatribe being used to justify a refusal of asylum.” Stevens said he plans to appeal the decision.Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, who leads bishops in the House of Lords on immigration matters, issued a response on behalf of the Church of England.“I am extremely concerned that a government department could determine the future of another human being based on such a profound misunderstanding of the texts and practices of faith communities,” said Butler.“To use extracts from the Book of Revelation to argue that Christianity is a ...Continue reading...
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  • Evangelicals Show No Decline, Despite Trump and Nones
    The 2018 General Social Survey reports American evangelicals holding steady amid growth of the unaffiliated—and a surprising uptick for mainline Protestants.Evangelicals in the United States are holding steady at just under a quarter of the population, according to the latest biennial figures from the General Social Survey (GSS), one of the longest-running measures of religion in America.Despite the quick pace of news and week-to-week political polling, it’s longitudinal tools like the GSS that give social scientists the best big-picture views of how America’s religious landscape is shifting. The survey has asked about religious affiliation in the same way for more than 46 years, offering authorative, reliable measures of trends in belief and behavior over time.As Tobin Grant, editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, pointed out: “Changes in religion are slow. No group gains or loses quickly.” (The “nones,” a popular term for the religiously unaffiliated, being an exception—gaining faster than other affiliations tend to because they pull from multiple faith groups.)That’s mostly what the 2018 GSS results show us. Evangelicals—grouped in this survey by church affiliation—continue to make up around 22.5 percent of the population as they have for much of the past decade, while the nones, now up to 23.1 percent themselves, keep growing. (For comparison, the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Survey put evangelicals at 25.4 percent and the religious nones at 22.8 percent.)Other than one outlier—a slight peak of 24.7 percent in 2012—evangelicals have ranged from 22.5 percent to 24 percent of the US population over the past 10 years. Still, this steadiness doesn’t mean “no change” among the evangelical population. There is always a “churn” occurring ...Continue reading...
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  • Learning to Love Modern Day Lepers
    As Christian doctors and development workers take on tuberculosis, trust is key to the cure.“It would be better to die than to suffer this way,” Fathia says, wiping her hands together with finality. She sits across from me at the Caritas medical center in Djibouti, crying. I’m trying not to cry. I’m also trying not to back away as she coughs without covering her mouth. She is a single mother, a refugee from Somalia, and all five of her children have tuberculosis, commonly called TB.According to the World Health Organization, close to 50 people are infected every week in Djibouti—a massive percentage for a small country with a population of less than 1 million. The disease is transmittable by air, a fact that I’m well aware of while we talk. A person of my healthy constitution and plentiful diet is unlikely to develop an active case of tuberculosis. And yet I know American lawyers who have had active TB. Diplomats. Teachers. Students. People just like me. The disease is in New York City, in Minneapolis, in Paris.Like other infectious diseases that plague the modern world, the cure to TB is complicated. But because of the social stigma and isolation associated with it, medical professionals are increasingly convinced that part of the solution will come from one simple source: trust born of relationships.“A trusting relationship is critical,” says Annie Mikobi, a Congolese doctor working in Djibouti. “Without it, there is no observance of treatment.”“Stigma is a huge barrier, and breaking down stigma requires trust,” says Bob Carter, a family practice doctor with SIM (Serving in Mission) who has worked with TB patients in Kenya and Zambia for over 20 years. “TB patients must trust that I care about them, that I won’t disclose their ...Continue reading...
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  • Preoccupied with Love: One-on-One with CJ Rhodes
    “Unbelievers needs to see that we care for them, not just their postmortem souls but all of who they are as fallen image-bearers of God.”Ed: It’s hard to deny that we are living in challenging times culturally. The church’s influence is fading and we are struggling to find answers to some hard questions. What’s your take on the health of the church today, especially as it relates to our witness?CJ: Eddie Glaude, a Princeton University professor, wrote a Huffington Post article in which he declared that the black church as we know it is dead! This controversial statement elicited much consternation as it was interpreted as a pronouncement of death of the church.Actually, Glaude’s statement was a reality check on our romantic ideas about the heroic black church that was engaged in evangelism and activism during the Civil Rights Movement. Glaude called us to rethink our revisionist history and our unrealistic expectations, while also encouraging us to be the change we want to see in the church and the world.I believe this sobering word is one not just for the black church, but for all churches of which Christ is the head. There has been much lamentation about the decline of Christianity in America; fears that we are soon becoming like god-less Europe abound.Some of these concerns are warranted, but I believe that what we are seeing is the death of Christendom, not the way of Jesus Christ. Cultural Christianity is giving way to an authentic faith worth living and dying for, a faith expressed through good works.Indeed, there are many local congregations that are dying or ready to die. Like the church at Sardis in Revelation 3, those churches needn’t die if only they hear and obey what the Spirit says. My hope is that we will certainly see the death of racialized, tribalized, and commercialized religion and the resurrection of a supernatural ...Continue reading...
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Forum 18 News Service

  • TAJIKISTAN: Jailed, awaiting trial on "incitement" charges
    Despite recent surgery, retired widower, Jehovah's Witness Shamil Khakimov, is in pre-trial detention in Khujand under criminal investigation for "inciting religious hatred". If tried and convicted he faces five to ten years' imprisonment. His arrest followed widespread raids, interrogations and torture of local Jehovah's Witnesses.
    - -
  • DONBAS: Luhansk: Baptist Union Churches forced to halt public worship
    Officials of the unrecognised Luhansk People's Republic threatened Baptist Union pastors not to meet for worship, sending "a clear message that they will not tolerate such meetings for worship any more". Officials regard all Protestant churches as "illegal". 82-year-old independent Baptist pastor Anatoly Tolstenko faces court on 21 March.
    - -
  • BELARUS: Officials bar priest's return, church's registration
    Senior state religious affairs official Leonid Gulyako without explanation rejected pleas from parishioners and the bishop for Polish Catholic priest Pawel Knurek to be allowed to return to work in Belarus. Also, a Minsk Pentecostal Church has been denied registration for the sixth time.
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  • KYRGYZSTAN: Fighting against violent extremism?
    Violent attacks continue against Christians and Muslims friendly with Christians after an attack on a Protestant left him needing immediate surgery. His lawyer was violently attacked in a police station and herself needed hospitalisation. "The state does nothing", a local person told Forum 18.
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  • TURKEY: Minority foundations still cannot hold elections
    Since 2013 Turkey's government has blocked community foundations relating to the non-Muslim communities protected under the Lausanne Treaty from holding board member elections. This causes foundations many problems, including that "new ideas or new dynamism are not allowed". Some fear that progress achieved since 2008 is being reversed.
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Get Religion

  • Catholic beat memo: Ongoing questions linger on who knew what and when regarding McCarrick
    In a world where technology has forced the news cycle to speed up, the constantly-changing developments that have engulfed the Catholic church since last summer have required readers (and those on the religion beat) to wade through large amounts of information filtering through social media feeds.Lost in all the news barrage sometimes are pieces that make you sit up and ponder the ramifications of all these sordid revelations regarding the clerical sex abuse crisis. More importantly, what are the ramifications are for the church’s hierarchy.The big story remains who knew what and when. Who’s implicated in potentially covering up the misdeeds of now-former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick over the years? The implication here is that the cover-up — if that’s the word you want to use — goes beyond Pope Francis, but back in time years to when Saint Pope John Paul II was the head of the Roman Catholic church.Last August, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano released an 11-page letter describing a series of events in which the Vatican — and specifically Francis — had been made aware of McCarrick’s immoral behavior years ago. Vigano claimed Pope Benedict XVI had placed restrictions on McCarrick, including not allowing him to say Mass in public. Vigano alleged that Francis reversed those sanctions. In the letter, Vigano, a former papal ambassador to the United States, said Francis “knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator who attacked young men. He knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end.”Over the past seven months, the allegations have yielded few answers. McCarrick was recently defrocked — the church’s version of the death penalty — but little else has been made public about the timeline. A news analysis piece by veteran Vatican journalist John Allen, writing in Crux, makes some wonderful points. His piece, under the headline “Vigano may have made it harder to get to the truth on McCarrick,” has a series of wonderful strands worth the time to read. It also gives a roadmap for reporters on the beat and editors to look at and track down.Here’s a breakdown of the piece, chopping off the various strands worthy of a deeper investigation. Right from the start, Allen gives us this thesis:
    - 1 day ago 20 Mar 19, 8:45pm -
  • What's wrong in Baltimore? You can't tell that story without listening to pastors and their people
    If you lived in or near Baltimore during the spring and early summer of 2015 then you were affected, one way or another, by the waves of urban violence that shook the city.This tragedy was impossible to ignore. It was more than images on the evening news. You could stand in your yard and see the smoke over the neighborhoods east and west of downtown. One night, the fires were so large that I could see the reddish-gold glow in the sky — fires that included a community center and senior-housing unit that was being built by Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore.What happened to Baltimore in those months, and the stunning violence that has gripped the city ever since, is a massive, complex story. It’s a police story. It’s a story about drugs, young men on the loose and shattered families. It’s an education story. It’s a political story. It’s a tragic story about government officials trying to find someone to blame.But if you followed the local news during those months (and some of the national television coverage) you also knew that what happened in Baltimore was a religion story.This is no surprise, since black churches — old and new, past and present — have always played a major role in urban life when people try to cope with danger and tragedy. No one worked harder than Baltimore pastors when it came time to respond to the violence and the bitter realities that provided fuel for the fires.That’s why I was disappointed when I read a massive story on this subject that ran the other day, co-produced by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine. Here’s the dramatic double-decker headline: The Tragedy of Baltimore Since Freddie Gray’s death in 2015, violent crime has spiked to levels unseen for a quarter century. How order collapsed in an American city.Let me be clear. This is a must-read story for anyone who cares about urban life and issues facing the poor. I am also not arguing that it was wrong for the story to devote so much ink to police and government issues.I am simply saying that this story needed to include some content from pastors and other church leaders — if one of the goals was to show how Baltimore people responded to the riots, or uprisings, of 2015. The story needed the voices of religious believers, if the goal was to listen to Baltimore.
    - 1 day ago 20 Mar 19, 4:22pm -
  • Ubiquitous Shen Yun ads spin off Twitter memes and profiles on Falun Gong
    If it’s spring it must be time to see Shen Yun, the mysterious Chinese dance troupe that charges a small fortune for its performances in top culture venues around the country.Their ads are so widespread, there’s a Twitter discussion about how their billboards can be found even on Mars.Few people know that Shen Yun represents a quasi-Buddhist group known as Falun Gong and that the Chinese government seems to persecute its followers even more than they hate Christians and Muslims. Which, considering the Nazi-style internment camps for Muslims in western China and the government’s crusade to destroy Christian churches, is saying a lot.Fortunately, there’s been a few articles out about the group, including one by the Seattle-based The Stranger that calls the dance spectacles “dissident art.” There’s also one that came out last month in the San Francisco Chronicle that begins thus: Unless you live under a rock, you've probably seen a billboard or heard dozens of ads for Shen Yun Performing Arts. In the Bay Area, people are so used to seeing the ads on TV and on the sides of buses come December, people even joke winter should be renamed "Shen Yun season." Since I started writing this article about two minutes ago, I've already seen a Shen Yun spot run on KTVU… Shen Yun bills itself as "the world's premier classical Chinese dance and music company." They have performances in 93 cities around the country, from Billings, Mont., to Little Rock, Ark., to three Bay Area locations. The dress code suggests you might want to wear a tuxedo or evening gown since you're "in for a special treat." If you buy a ticket to a show (which run from $80 to $400 in San Francisco), you can expect two hours of traditional Chinese dance accompanied by a live orchestra.And yes, it’s here in Seattle from April 2-7. And if you're to believe Shen Yun's own advertisements, you'll get so much more. The hyperbolic 2018 ad promises the performance will "move you to tears" and change how you see the world… Some people who go to the show complain they didn't know what they were in for. Because nowhere in the effusive advertisements is it mentioned that Shen Yun has a political bent. Shen Yun translates to "divine rhythm," and according to the show's website, the artists who put on Shen Yun practice Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a belief system that encompasses meditation, tai chi-type exercises, and "strict morality" (smoking, alcohol, and extramarital or same-sex sexual relations go against the teachings).
    - 1 day ago 20 Mar 19, 1:00pm -
  • Secretary of State Pompeo's invitation-only briefing with 'faith-based media' causes a stir
    On Monday, I got an email inviting me to join an “on-the-record conference call” with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.The message, sent to my Christian Chronicle address, indicated that Pompeo would discuss international religious freedom ahead of his trip to Jerusalem and the Middle East and take questions from call participants.Ordinarily, I might have RSVP’d and listened to what Pompeo had to say.But I’m still recovering (read: exhausted and taking a few days off) after my own recent travel to Israel. So I decided I’d rely on other journalists’ news coverage of the call and perhaps check out the transcript later.Little did I know that the exclusivity of the invitation itself would make headlines.Then today, I noticed on Twitter that the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press had issued a statement expressing concern about the State Department barring some journalists from the call: On Monday, the State Department held a briefing call for only faith-based media to discuss international press freedom with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In response to inquiries from journalists who were not permitted to join the briefing, the Department declined to provide a transcript of the call, a list of media outlets who were allowed to participate or the criteria used to determine which media outlets were invited. “The decision to bar reporters from attending a press briefing held only for ‘faith-based’ media on international religious freedom and to withhold the transcript of the discussion raises serious questions about the State Department’s understanding of — and commitment to — a free press,” said Jenn Topper, spokesperson for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
    - 2 days ago 19 Mar 19, 9:30pm -
  • Accused Christchurch shooter: Young man defined by life on the computer and Medieval 'myths'
    It’s the kind of news story that has turned into a cliche, in the age of mass shootings. Yes, we are talking about Brenton Harrison Tarrant and the massacres in New Zealand.In the days after the hellish images on the Internet and then television, people close to the accused shooter — it’s almost always a young man — are interviewed and express shock. They usually talk about a boy who grew up to be a somewhat quiet, loner figure in their lives. Yes, the family had its challenges, but everything seemed kind of normal.The question, of course, is what “normal” means, these days. In particular, is it safe to say that a key part of the new-male “normal” is best defined in terms of private activities online — hour after hour, day after day — behind a closed door? If that is the case, then no one really knows anything about these gunners until authorities piece together the contents of their secret digital lives.This would be a good time to remind GetReligion readers of that set of lifestyle questions I asked future ministers to ponder back in the early 1990s, when I was teaching at Denver Seminary. Seeking a kind of sociological definition of “discipleship,” I urged them to ask three questions about the lives of the people in their pews and the people they hoped to reach in the community. The questions: How do they spend their time? How do they spend their money? How do they make their decisions?As it turns out, these are good questions for reporters to ask when seeking the contents of the hearts, minds and souls of newsmakers. (That second question could be stated like this: Follow the money.)With that in mind, consider two passages in a short — but very interesting — Washington Post sidebar that ran with this headline: “In Brenton Harrison Tarrant’s Australian hometown, his relatives remember violent video games, trouble with women.” Like I said, we’re talking about the new “normal.” Here is the overture: GRAFTON, Australia — On the road into this small city, a sign is evidence of a community in shock: “He does not represent us,” it says, referring to the alleged killer few here will even name. But nowhere was the shock more evident than among the relatives of 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who has been accused of a hate-fueled massacre that left 50 people dead in two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday.
    - 2 days ago 19 Mar 19, 4:22pm -

Mission Network News

  • Somalia sees bloodiest terror attack in country’s history (MNN) -- Over 300 people were killed in Somalia's bloodiest attackThe post Somalia sees bloodiest terror attack in country’s history appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 17 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • Emergency medical flight gets conjoined twin infants to life-saving surgery (MNN/MAF) -- Conjoined twins saved through ministry’s medical flightThe post Emergency medical flight gets conjoined twin infants to life-saving surgery appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 17 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • Christmas short-term mission opportunities!'l (MNN) -- Short-term mission trip opportunities this ChristmasThe post Christmas short-term mission opportunities! appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 17 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • The faces and stories behind World Food Day (MNN) -- On World Food Day, ministry spotlighting long-term solutionsThe post The faces and stories behind World Food Day appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 16 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • State elections draw near in India, spark anti-Christian sentiment (MNN) -- Christians are being watched closely The post State elections draw near in India, spark anti-Christian sentiment appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 16 Oct 17, 4:00am -

PE News

  • newPastor Batman
    Alan Wolfard’s impromptu snow sculpture attracts interest in New Mexico church.
    - 9 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 3:00pm -
  • newThis Week in AG History -- March 24, 1968
    During an era when America was in chaos, AG leader Charles Scott recommended Christians choose a spiritual solution in order for the nation to experience lasting change.
    - 12 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 12:00pm -
  • Let's See What God Can Do
    God is doing remarkable things through Royal Rangers Master's Toolbox projects.
    - 1 day ago 20 Mar 19, 4:39pm -
  • Fueling Up with God
    Churches partner to renovate gas station for ministry
    - 2 days ago 20 Mar 19, 6:00am -
  • Convoy of Hope Responds to Two Disasters
    Convoy of Hope domestic and international responses are currently underway.
    - 3 days ago 19 Mar 19, 10:00am -

Persecution Blog

  • Missionary Pilot Shares The Rest of the Auca Martyrs' Story
    Growing up the home of missionary parents in Ecuador, Gene Jordan has always known the story of five men—Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian—who gave their lives in the jungle to reach an isolated Indian...      Related StoriesVOM Radio: "When We Say Yes to God"Nate Saint Memorial School: End of an Era"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese Prison 
    - 24 Jul 17, 4:06pm -
  • After Arrest, "I Was Terrified"
    “Dr. Andrew” is working to share the gospel in the Middle East, but he hasn’t always had a heart to share Christ’s love with Muslims. Growing up in a nominal Christian family, Andrew was harassed by Muslims his whole life....      Related Stories"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese PrisonPetr Jasek: God Opened the Prison DoorMiddle East Christians "Standing in the Fire" 
    - 27 Jun 17, 10:07pm -
  • Being a True Vessel for God's Use
    “Brother Matthew” is a pastor and church planter in South Asia, working among Muslims to share the gospel. After threats against his life and an attack on his brother, he was encouraged by family members to leave his country. He...      Related StoriesVOM Radio in Central Asia"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese PrisonAfter Arrest, "I Was Terrified" 
    - 7 Jun 17, 4:56pm -
  • VOM Radio in Central Asia
    "Tanya" is a Christian worker in Central Asia, living and ministering in a country where she must always be cautious about what she says openly and who she says it around. Listen to hear how Christians in the former Soviet...      Related StoriesBeing a True Vessel for God's Use"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese PrisonPetr Jasek: God Opened the Prison Door 
    - 9 May 17, 7:17pm -
  • Nate Saint Memorial School: End of an Era
    The end of an era comes next month. In August 1985, I clutched my mom’s hand and squeaked my rubber flip-flopped way down the gravel path from the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) “base” to the cinderblock Nate Saint Memorial school....      Related StoriesMissionary Pilot Shares The Rest of the Auca Martyrs' StoryVOM Radio: "When We Say Yes to God" 
    - 27 Apr 17, 8:14pm -

Religion News Service

  • newUnification Church succession case threatens protections for minority religions
    (RNS) — If an obscure D.C. court decision about the movement known as 'the Moonies' goes unchallenged, it could weaken religious freedom protections for all Americans.The post Unification Church succession case threatens protections for minority religions appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 2 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 9:42pm -
  • new‘Nones’ now as big as evangelicals, Catholics in the US
    (RNS) — "Nones have been on the march for a long time now," Ryan Burge said.The post ‘Nones’ now as big as evangelicals, Catholics in the US appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 5 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 6:42pm -
  • newMaking ourselves a ‘pontifex’ in the mode of Pope Francis
    (RNS) — After meeting with the pope, an evangelical pastor dedicated to multifaith understanding reflected on their shared lessons about peacemaking.The post Making ourselves a ‘pontifex’ in the mode of Pope Francis appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 6 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 6:16pm -
  • newTaking stock of the clergy sexual abuse crisis: Protecting children
    (RNS) — Reading the constant barrage of news stories about abuse in the Catholic Church makes one wonder if any of the reforms is doing any good.The post Taking stock of the clergy sexual abuse crisis: Protecting children appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 8 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 4:33pm -
  • newChristian financial planner praised by Robert Jeffress facing Ponzi scheme charges
    DALLAS (RNS) — Neil 'Doc' Gallagher, a Christian radio house and financial planner, claimed he cared for his clients' spiritual well-being and their finances. But federal officials say Gallagher, who was arrested in March, ran a Ponzi scheme.The post Christian financial planner praised by Robert Jeffress facing Ponzi scheme charges appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 11 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 1:36pm -

Today's Creation Moment

    United Methodist News Service

    World Magazine

    • newTrump making his mark on federal courts
      WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump campaigned on selecting conservative judges for federal courts—and he’s delivered. Now Democrats want to hit copy and paste on his playbook for 2020.Trump’s promise to fill court vacancies with judges who would rule conservatively on cultural questions about life, marriage, family, and religious liberty played an important role in getting him elected. In a CNN exit poll during the 2016 presidential election, about 48 percent of all voters said the Supreme Court was an important factor in their decision, and 56 percent of those who voted for Trump listed it as the “most important factor.”As president, Trump followed through with not one but two conservative Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. While the high court has garnered the most public attention, Trump also is having a sizable influence on the lower courts, where hundreds of thousands of cases are decided each year.As of Tuesday, the Senate had confirmed 91 of Trump’s appointees, compared to 75 of Obama’s appointees at this same point in his term, according to data from The Heritage Foundation.“People don’t think about how around 99 percent of the cases in the federal court system never reach the Supreme Court,” Tom Jipping, deputy director of the Edwin Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, told me. “Lower federal court judges … have the last word on virtually every case.”Trump’s picks might not dilute the power of liberal activist judges as much as conservatives hope. A Brookings Institute study by Russell Wheeler noted that Trump’s nominees have mostly strengthened already conservative majorities on the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, where they have replaced judges appointed by previous Republican presidents. Out of 29 of Trump’s circuit-level appointments, only 10 were to replace judges selected by a Democratic president.Trump’s ultimate judicial legacy may be to “preserve and extend, rather than alter” the ideological leanings of the courts, wrote Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center for National Review. Still, if Trump managed to fill all current federal court vacancies, Republican-appointees would make up 54 percent of all circuit judges, up from 44 percent when he took office, Wheeler noted.Meanwhile, liberals are pushing for court-packing to counter Trump’s influence. Activist groups such as Demand Justice and Indivisible have floated ideas like adding seats to the Supreme Court and imposing term limits on judges. Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have already lined up in support of those proposals.Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., suggested expanding the high court from nine justices to 15—with Republicans picking five, Democrats picking five, and the justices themselves deciding the remaining five. Four other Democratic candidates, Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, said they would be willing to expand the Supreme Court.Aaron Belkin, executive director of the advocacy group Pack the Courts, told Politico that the expansion of the Supreme Court by a Democratic president is necessary because major liberal proposals like Medicare for All would not survive conservative legal challenges “because the court has been stolen.”Other Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, have expressed caution about drastic changes to the current judicial system, but such a moderate position may leave them behind as their colleagues move farther to the left.The contention over the courts points to political dysfunction among the three branches of government, Jipping said, noting that judges are not supposed to fall into neat political camps. Instead, he said, they should hew close to the law and defer to the people’s elected representatives on questions outside of the Constitution, a “more modest design than a lot of political forces want today. And you can see why a lot of liberals don’t want impartial judges. Because that won’t get them what they want.”Trump made a similar remark at a news conferences this week with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, where a reporter asked about proposals to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court.“If they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to to try doing that in a different way,” Trump said. “We would have no interest in that whatsoever. That will never happen. It won’t happen. I guarantee you it won’t happen for six years.” Associated Press/Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta President Donald Trump speaks to reporters outside the White House on Wednesday. Public recordsPresident Donald Trump endorsed the eventual public release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative report into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election even as he continued to cast doubts on its potential findings.Asked by a reporter Wednesday if the public had a “right” to see the report, the president replied, “I don’t mind. I mean, frankly, I told the House, ‘If you want, let them see it.’” Later Wednesday, he reposted commentary from Fox News, tweeting, “‘The reason we have the Special Counsel investigation is that James Comey (a dirty cop) leaked his memos to a friend, who leaked them to the press, on purpose.’ @KennedyNation Totally illegal!”A majority of U.S. voters want the Mueller report to see the light of day, with 82 percent of respondents in a USA Today/Suffolk University poll this week agreeing it was very or somewhat important the findings of the investigation be released. Attorney General William Barr has said he will release to the public any aspect of the report that the law allowsThe USA Today/Suffolk University poll also indicated Trump’s frequent dismissal of the probe as a “witch hunt” might be working, with the percentage of voters having “a lot of trust” in the investigation declining to 28 percent from 37 percent in October 2018. Support for impeachment proceedings against the president have also fallen to 28 percent from 39 percent. Still, 55 percent of respondents said they have at least some trust in the fairness and accuracy of the investigation, and 52 percent said they have little or no trust in Trump’s denials of collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign. —Anne K. Walters Associated Press/Photo by Charles Krupa Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke at a campaign event Wednesday in Conway, N.H. 2020 forecastAfter announcing his presidential candidacy last week, former U.S. Rep Beto O’Rourke of Texas, out-fundraised all other Democrats during his first day in the race, raking in a record $6.1 million.Previously, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had the largest first-day fundraising of any of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates with $5.9 million.Meanwhile, speculators on PredictIt, a futures market for upcoming political events, have staked the most on former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic nomination. Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and O’Rourke follow him, in that order. Biden has not said whether he will run, though he is expected to announce his decision in the coming weeks.Meanwhile, news outlets are already working hard to unearth scandals in the backgrounds of the potential and announced candidates. On Friday, Reuters came under fire for waiting to release a potentially damaging news article about O’Rourke’s computer hacking activities as a teenager until after his Senate campaign had finished. O’Rourke narrowly lost to incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in last year’s midterm elections. —H.P.Welcoming committeeIn a naturalization ceremony Monday, former President George W. Bush welcomed new U.S. citizens and highlighted the importance of comprehensive immigration reform.Forty-nine immigrants from more than 20 countries around the world were sworn in at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. In a speech afterward, Bush talked about the need for immigration reform and the contributions of immigrants to society. “Remember that America’s immigrant history made us who we are,” he said. “Amid all the complications of policy, may we never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength.”Bush also said the United States needs to protect its borders while pushing to “modernize our immigration laws soon.”Former first lady Laura Bush also spoke, noting that the state of Texas “thrives due to the prosperity, ingenuity, transformation, and generosity of immigrants.” —H.P. Image: Deck: Democrats campaign on undoing the president’s effect on the judiciaryCategory: PoliticsKeywords: PoliticsWhite HouseCourtsSupreme CourtElectionElectionsCampaign 2020ImmigrationSlug: PoliticsArticle Title: Trump making his mark on federal courtsAuthor: Harvest PrudeDigital Branding: The StewHide from Archive?: 0
      - 3 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 9:08pm -
    • newMississippi governor signs heartbeat bill
      Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, on Thursday signed a law that will protect babies from abortion once they have a detectable heartbeat, usually at about six weeks of gestation. The law says an abortionist who ends a pregnancy after a baby’s heartbeat is detected could face revocation of his or her medical license. It includes exceptions if a pregnancy endangers a woman’s life or one of her major bodily functions.The Center for Reproductive Rights called the law “blatantly unconstitutional” and said it would sue to block it from taking effect July 1. Bryant responded on Twitter, saying, “We will all answer to the good Lord one day. I will say in this instance, ‘I fought for the lives of innocent babies, even under threat of legal action.’”Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky, also a Republican, signed a heartbeat bill on March 14, but a federal judge has temporarily blocked it. Last year, a judge in Iowa halted a heartbeat bill from taking effect in that state, saying the law violated the Iowa Constitution.Image: Category: Pro-LifeArticle Title: Mississippi governor signs heartbeat billKeywords: AbortionState GovernmentLegislationAuthor: Lynde Langdon
      - 6 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 5:43pm -
    • newScientists call for moratorium on germline editing
      A group of prominent scientists and bioethicists from seven countries published an editorial in the journal Nature last week calling for a worldwide moratorium on heritable genome editing. They want to prevent any more of their peers from engineering gene-edited babies like Chinese scientist He Jiankui did last year, but Christian ethicists say the proposal falls short.Heritable genome editing, or germline editing, refers to modifying the genes in sperm, eggs, or embryos, resulting in genetic changes that future generations can inherit. The authors of the Nature editorial say science needs to establish the safety of gene-editing procedures before allowing them because of the high risk of introducing unintended, off-target mutations. Modifying a gene to reduce the risk of a certain disease can often increase the risk of other diseases. Changing a common gene mutation to decrease the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, for instance, also increases the risk of schizophrenia, Crohn’s disease, and obesity.The scientists want nations to agree voluntarily to outlaw any germline editing until scientific, medical, ethical, and moral issues are considered and international guidelines developed. The proposed moratorium does not include gene editing in nonreproductive cells because such procedures do not involve changes that would affect future generations. It also would not ban germline editing for research purposes that do not include implantation of modified embryos.While a moratorium may represent a step in the right direction, it does nothing to protect human embryos from destruction in research labs or address the problems of tampering with God’s design for the human race. David Prentice, vice president and research director for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, called the proposal disappointingly shortsighted.“Scientifically unsound and ethically problematic experiments on human embryos, including creating gene-edited embryos in the lab and then destroying them, would still be allowed and even encouraged,” he told me. “We call instead for the full prohibition of gene-editing experiments on embryos or germ cells—not just a speed bump.”Other scientists, such as Helen O’Neill, a molecular geneticist at University College London, also spoke out against the moratorium for different reasons. She said a worldwide ban is unnecessary because many countries forbid human germline editing, and she worries a formal moratorium could restrict research funding, according to Science Media Centre.But Jing-Bao Nie, one of the editorial’s signatories, noted that the Chinese scientist He produced the gene-edited babies despite regulations. The inadequacy of the Chinese and international responses to the unethical experiment concerns him the most, Nie said in a statement: “By putting blame completely on the rogue scientist individually, the institutional failings are overlooked.”The editorial’s authors further note the dangers of genetic editing meant only for enhancement, such as modifications to improve memory or muscle strength or even to introduce new biological functions like the ability to see infrared light. Gene editing for enhancement could make parents feel pressured to use the technology to give their children a competitive edge, could put poorer parents who can’t afford the procedure at a disadvantage, and could cause both physical and psychological harm to children. “Genetic enhancement could even divide humans into subspecies,” they wrote. iStock/katrinaelena Similar but differentA set of twins, one boy and one girl, born in Australia are only the second documented case of semi-identical twins ever recorded. They were born in 2014, but their case study just appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine on Feb. 28.Semi-identical twins result when two of the father’s sperm fertilize one of the mother’s eggs before it splits, resulting in three sets of chromosomes, one from the mother and two from the father.In this case, the mother’s ultrasound at six weeks of gestation showed a single placenta, and positioning of the amniotic sacs indicated identical twins. But at 14 weeks a second ultrasound showed one male and one female baby, an impossibility for identical twins. Doctors determined that the fertilized egg equally divided the three sets of chromosomes into groups of cells that then split, creating two babies. “Some of the cells contain the chromosomes from the first sperm while the remaining cells contain chromosomes from the second sperm, resulting in the twins sharing only a proportion, rather [than] 100 percent, of the same paternal DNA,” Michael Gabbett, a physician on the medical team, said in a statement.Physicians first reported a case of semi-identical twins in 2007, when doctors discovered the babies had ambiguous genitalia. DNA analysis showed that the twins, a boy and a girl, shared identical DNA from their mother but only about half of their father’s DNA. —J.B. DigVentures/Aerial_Cam The archaeological dig site for Aebbe’s monastery A princess evangelistArchaeologists have unearthed what might be the monastery of Princess Aebbe, a pagan who converted to Christianity and spread the faith along the northeastern coast of Britain in the seventh century.The archaeological group DigVentures found evidence of a vast circular ditch, likely representing the boundary that surrounded Aebbe’s religious settlement. Just outside the boundary, the scientists discovered a huge pile of butchered animal bones dating to A.D. 660–680, coinciding with the time Aebbe’s monastery existed.According to historical records, Aebbe’s father, a Northumbrian warlord king in northeastern England, was killed, and she and her siblings escaped to a Gaelic kingdom that was a hub of ancient Christianity. Aebbe soon converted and became a nun. When her brother Oswald returned to Northumbria to reclaim the family throne, she went with him on a shared mission to spread Christianity to the largely pagan population and established the monastery at Coldingham in southeast Scotland. She died in 668, and Viking raiders burned the monastery two years later. It was rebuilt and thrived for another 200 years until Vikings destroyed it again.Aebbe could have been a very eligible bride, but she wanted none of it. Tradition says she once prayed fervently that she would not be forced to marry a certain prince who was pursuing her. Her prayers were answered when floodwaters rose up and prevented him from coming to her for three days, after which he gave up. —J.B. iStock/asxsoonxas A Bryde’s whale Whale of a taleRainer Schimpf was not trying to avoid going to Nineveh like the Bible’s Jonah, but the dive tour operator did recently find himself trapped inside the mouth of a whale.Schimpf was in the water photographing a mass of sardines off the coast of South Africa when suddenly everything went dark and he felt unusual pressure on his hip. He quickly realized the upper half of his body was trapped inside the mouth of a giant whale.“There is no time for fear in a situation like that, you have to use your instincts,” he said in a YouTube video. Schimpf held his breath, expecting the whale would dive down much deeper in the ocean before releasing him. But then he felt the whale turn and the pressure release, and he was washed out of the animal’s mouth.The whale was a Bryde’s whale, common throughout tropical and subtropical waters. They average 43 to 45 feet in length and can weigh up to 45 tons. Schimpf was never in danger of being ingested because the throat of a Bryde’s whale is too small to swallow a human, Uko Gorter, president of the American Cetacean Society, told Live Science. Bryde’s whales sift small fish, plankton, and squid out of the water using baleen and have no teeth. Schimpf said he was not seriously injured and went back in the water the same day to keep taking photos. —J.B. Image: Deck: Christian bioethicists say the proposal doesn’t go far enoughCategory: Science & TechKeywords: ScienceBioethicsTechnologyGeneticsDNADiscoveriesHistoryAnimalsSlug: ScienceArticle Title: Scientists call for moratorium on germline editingAuthor: Julie BorgDigital Branding: BeginningsHide from Archive?: 0
      - 7 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 5:10pm -
    • newInvestigators: Pilots battled bad sensors on Boeing jets
      The Indonesian transportation safety agency on Thursday released more details from the October 2018 Lion Air plane crash, revealing disturbing similarities between it and the Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month. The day before Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea off Indonesia on Oct. 29, an off-duty pilot averted a nosedive during a flight from Bali to Jakarta. When the jet began to drop abnormally, the pilot directed the crew to disable a malfunctioning flight control system, getting the plane under control, Bloomberg reported. A day later, with a different crew, that same jet crashed shortly after takeoff, resulting in the deaths of all 189 passengers and crew members on board. Soerjanto Tjahjono, chairman of the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, disputed accounts of the pilots scrambling to find a solution in the manual right before the Lion Air crash occurred.Both the Lion Air jet and the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed and killed all 157 people on board on March 10 were Boeing 737 Max models. The jet’s new flight control software automatically lowers the plane’s nose if one or both sensors detects it is pointed too high. Authorities suspect malfunctioning sensors contributed to both crashes.Additionally, both of the crashed Boeing jets lacked safety features that were part of an optional upgrade for additional charges, The New York Times reported Thursday. One safety feature displayed the readings of the two sensors, and another, called a disagree light, would activate if the sensors contradicted each other. The Federal Aviation Administration didn’t require either feature. Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., are investigating the FAA’s role in approving the jets. The agency allowed Boeing to handle some of the safety assessments for the plane in 2015. FAA technical experts said managers pushed them to accelerate the certification process to keep up with the rival Airbus A320neo, The Seattle Times reported.Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the company is working to ensure the safety of its 737 Max jets, including updating the software and adding new pilot training. An official with the company told The New York Times that Boeing plans to update its MCAS system to take readings from both sensors instead of just one and to disable them if the two disagree.Image: Category: DisastersArticle Title: Investigators: Pilots battled bad sensors on Boeing jetsKeywords: InternationalTransportationDisasterTragedyIndonesiaEthiopiaAuthor: Harvest Prude
      - 7 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 4:43pm -
    • newRescue efforts continue following Cyclone Idai
      Rescue workers on Thursday intensified efforts to assist stranded victims of Cyclone Idai, which struck southern Africa last week killing hundreds of people. The storm hit Mozambique late Thursday before moving into Zimbabwe and Malawi. In Mozambique’s worst-hit area, the port city of Beira, floodwaters covered a 31-mile expanse of farms and villages. Teams rescued 910 stranded people on Wednesday, said Caroline Haga with the International Federation of the Red Cross. “We are hoping to rescue as many as we can today, as it is not raining,” she said Thursday.Celso Correia, the Mozambican land and environment minister, said working teams on Wednesday counted 15,000 people who still needed rescue. “They’re alive, we’re communicating with them, delivering food, but we need to rescue them and take them out,” he said.Damaged roads and infrastructure continue to hinder access to some affected villages. In Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani district, about 200,000 people will urgently need food in the coming months, the World Food Program said.Image: Category: DisastersArticle Title: Rescue efforts continue following Cyclone Idai Keywords: InternationalDisasterDisaster reliefMozambiqueAfricaZimbabweMalawiAuthor: Onize Ohikere
      - 9 hours ago 21 Mar 19, 3:34pm -

    World Watch Monitor

    • Sunni Arabs ‘helped drive out’ Mid-East Christians
      Amid the push by Iraqi government forces to retake Mosul from Islamic State (IS), some former inhabitants of Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains and northern Syria are refusing to go back because they believe their former Sunni Muslim neighbours were complicit in driving them out, says Middle East analyst and former journalist, Patrick Cockburn, in News Deeply. Christians returning to Nineveh believe Sunni Arab villagers were complicit in “taking their houses, killing and raping people,” he says.Cockburn adds that, in Syrian towns occupied by IS, Christians believe their Sunni Arab neighbours were similarly cooperating with IS and that returning Christians might drive Sunnis out in turn. There’s a “real, very high level of friction and hostility on the ground, which I think is going to be extraordinarily difficult to reverse”, he says.“A longer-term and very dangerous shift in both Iraq and Syria is that communities in general can’t live together any longer.”In November Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, a priest in the Assyrian Church of the East and head of CAPNI (Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq), said that defeating IS won’t guarantee Christians’ return. “What are the guarantees that it will not happen again?” he asked, noting that Iraqi Christians had been targeted not only since IS’s sudden appearance in 2014 but since the US-led invasion in 2003, after which he said the fabric of Iraq “was broken”.In the decades before IS, more than a million Christians left Iraq, which had turned increasingly hostile towards them, the minority population felt.
      - 13 Mar 17, 1:01pm -
    • ‘Freedom of religion or belief must be protected’
      Countries around the world are urged to act now to promote and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief by a UN expert.The Special Rapporteur, Ahmed Shaheed, made his appeal at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, as he set out his priorities for the mandate of freedom of religion or belief, which he took up last November.Mr. Shaheed expressed concern about a rise in the number of incidents of violence - for religiousreasons - by extremist groups, vigilante mobs and others.“State and non-State actors, alike, continue to impose restrictions, or limitations, and engage in targeted harassment, intimidation of, or discrimination against religious minorities, unrecognised religious communities and dissidents, who are often confronted with threats to their freedom, safety and security,” he said.“I am particularly alarmed by continuing reports of mass atrocities and violence that threaten the very existence of religious minority communities, including some groups that have existed for over two millennia.”Mr. Shaheed pointed to a number of mechanisms for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief that have already been developed, and for which consensus among states already exists. He said his agenda for the next three years would be focused on the implementation of these state obligations.The Special Rapporteur stressed that policies adopted to enhance the capacity of security forces to combat terrorism by limiting fundamental rights (such as freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly) often have dire consequences for the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief.He welcomed efforts to promote that right at national and international levels by governments, parliamentarians, national human rights institutions, human rights and faith-based organisations, and educational institutions.
      - 10 Mar 17, 6:39pm -
    • Iraq urged to allow UN investigation into genocide
      International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has called upon the Iraqi government to allow a UN investigation into the treatment of Yazidis by the so-called Islamic State (IS), reports Reuters.A year ago, the UK Parliament joined US Secretary of State John Kerry, the US House of Representatives, the EU Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in describing the actions of IS (or Da’esh) as genocide. In June last year, UN experts reported that IS militants seek to destroy the Yazidi group, whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions, through murder, sexual slavery, gang rape, torture and humiliation that amounts to genocide.Some religious leaders and other sources, including Vienna-based legal counsel Ewelina Ochab, believe that the campaign of genocide also extends to Christians. Prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were 1.4 million Christians in the country. Today there are thought to be fewer than 200,000. World Watch Monitor reported in May last year that Christianity “could disappear” from Iraq and Syria withinfive years, according to Catholic sources. Britain is drafting a UN Security Council resolution to establish an investigation, but Clooney said the Iraqi government needs to send a letter formally requesting the inquiry before the council can vote.Clooney, who represents Yazidi victims of IS, told reporters, “We do want to see an investigation take place with the cooperation of the Iraqi authorities, but ultimately if that support is not forthcoming in terms of real action, then the UN has to think of other ways in which to achieve accountability.”Since 2014, when IS took control of parts of Iraq, Yazidis and Christians have been under severe, and often violent, pressure with many Christians being given four options: to leave, convert to Islam, pay the jiyza (tax), or be killed. A report last October highlighted this accelerated targeting of “disproportionately suffering” Middle East Christians.
      - 10 Mar 17, 1:08pm -
    • Iranian mother and son Christian converts arrested
      An Iranian mother and son who converted to Christianity have been arrested in the north-western province of West Azerbaijan. Anousheh Reza-Bakhsh (known as Veronika) and her son Soheil (known as Augustine) were arrested on 20 February at their home in Urmia, the provincial capital. Mohabat News reports that it is the first known arrest of Christians in the city since 2008. Urmia, with nearly 700,000 inhabitants, is famous for housing the Cathedral of St. Mary the Mother of God, whose origin dates back to the 16th Century. Middle East Concern (MEC) reports that the mother and son, who had become Catholics, were baptised in Istanbul in August last year, after which they returned home and “continued to read and learn about the Christian faith”. Christian material was reportedly found at their home, as Augustine, reported to be a psychology student, had been “a keen follower of online Christian theological training programmes and Christian satellite TV channels”, according to MEC. There has been no further update on their whereabouts or safety, though they are believed to have been taken to an intelligence office of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. They are both reported to have health issues. Iran, which is no. 8 on the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian, continues to monitor and persecute Christians across the country. Often, detainees are subject to psychological and physical harm by the authorities. Iranian and European human rights and religious rights organisations have urged the international community to use new opportunities for trade with Iran since the nuclear agreement to hold the government there to account over its treatment of Christian converts.
      - 9 Mar 17, 3:23pm -
    • Pope: ‘Persecutors don’t care about denominations’
      Pope Francis has urged all Christians to pray for fellow believers who are persecuted for their faith, saying that “those who persecute them make no distinction between the religious communities to which they belong”.“How many people are being persecuted because of their faith, forced to abandon their homes, their places of worship, their lands, their loved ones!” Francis says in the video that shows three representatives of different denominations: Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox – standing as if in a police line-up accused of a crime. “They are persecuted and killed because they are Christians,” the Pope continues, adding, “I ask you, how many of you pray for persecuted Christians?”The one-minute video, which also includes images of broken religious statues and a burnt-out church, is the latest to be produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and contains his prayer intention for March: the support of persecuted Christians through prayers and material aid from all the Churches.Francis has spoken frequently about an “ecumenism of the blood” to emphasise that persecution is affecting many parts of the Church and should be met with ecumenical solidarity.
      - 8 Mar 17, 2:31pm -