Pope Francis and religious freedom
World Watch Monitor, March 19, 2018
Pope Francis has met some of those who have suffered persecution because of their Christian faith, including Rebecca Bitrus, a Nigerian woman terribly abused by Boko Haram, and the family of Asia Bibi, on death row for blasphemy since 2010 in Pakistan.
“Religions … have a specific and unique role to play in building peace. They cannot be neutral, much less ambiguous, where peace is concerned,” he said.
In Egypt in May 2017, he said “violence is the denial of every true religion” and his visit seemed to inspire a more vigilant approach to religious hate speech against Christians and a new church was built with Muslim support.
He has raised the plight of persecuted Christians with many heads of state in over 30 countries and was the first Pope to have ever visited Myanmar, a staunchly Buddhist country.
He seeks to repair relations with fellow religious leaders to address persecution of Iraqi and Syrian Christians.
In 2017, he met leaders of the World Evangelical Alliance to discuss collaborating in promoting religious freedom in a world where persecution of Christians is on the rise.
Growing up in North Korea
World Watch Monitor, March 20, 2018
Until he was 9, John was cared for by his parents, but they then abandoned him. Sleeping rough, he survived the 4-year famine that started in 1994.
He finally left all that he had known and journeyed to the UK, where he attended university.
Told from childhood that Christianity was evil, he now wears a cross and talks about his past with a gentle smile.
“History in primary school was about the Kim family – a propaganda of loyalty. When Kim Il-sung died, I cried.
We had an anti-Christian education throughout. Foreign missionaries were wolves, Christianity an American religion and becoming a Christian a crime. If anyone became a Christian, they would disappear overnight.
As a child, I had to watch a public execution of a man who smuggled what we thought was a Bible from China.
When I reached China myself, I was shocked to find that wise words attributed to Kim Il-sung were from the Bible and that North Korea had started the Korean War in 1950.”
Pastor Sentencing Adds to Persecution in Algeria
Morning Star News, March 12, 2018
In the latest of a rash of persecution incidents in Algeria, a judge on March 8 Pastor Nordine B. was fined US$868 and given a 3-month suspended prison sentence for causing Muslims to doubt their religion. The pastor of the church was convicted of proselytism, but will appeal.
Christian leaders said the charge against Pastor Nordine was ridiculous – simply for carrying Christian books – and unconstitutional, as Algeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of belief, opinion and worship.
The case follows several instances of harassment of churches and Christians in the past 3 months raising concerns of a government campaign against Christianity.
A Christian-owned bookshop in Oran city has been forcibly closed, the activities of a church training centre stopped and there has been an increase in arrests of Christians.
A house has become available on Samuel campus which should provide an opportunity to get involved in the lives of students living there. May we clearly see the implications of such a move before deciding.
Hugenote College could well have fibre optic internet connection by the time you read this. Pray that the installation will go smoothly.
Pray for people who can contribute to the God-glorifying ethos of Hugenote College to be found to fill vacant posts.
A retired English teacher is happy to help Dawn with Afrikaans. Dawn and Pastor Christopher visited a local high school about the Homework Club and asked if they could help with anything else. The headmaster said poverty and drugs.
Pray that drug lords who walk the streets of Wellington will go out of business, smothered in Christ’s love. Dawn is also thinking of a parenting course which needs groundwork and relationship building before it can start.
A movement of prayer for repentance, renewal and rain is growing in the Western Cape. Thousands are expected at a prayer meeting in Cape Town on March 24th.
Pray for our children James and Ruth studying in the UK and for good health, security and safety on the roads.
Every God-given ministry requires faithfulness, integrity and perseverance. Pray for those called to work among the children of Talita Kum, that their example will inspire the children with whom they work and that their example will live on in the memory of these children throughout their adult years.
Pray that God will bring to Talita Kum the children of His purpose and that the influence of Talita Kum and the adults who run it will spread not only to the children but also to their families and the wider Romanian community.
Relationships formed in our late teens can last with us for many years. Pray that the relationships that the young men of the Daniel Centre form with each other will continue to strengthen and encourage them far beyond the years that they spend there.
Pray that the staff of the Centre will be encouraged to see fruit from their labours and have the strength and faith to go on loving and inspiring the young men even when the inevitable problems arise and when the spiritual enemy endeavours to undermine their labours.
Barnabas Fund, 14 March 2018
Three members of a Christian family were stabbed to death in Baghdad, on the evening of 8th March 2018.
Dr Hisham al-Maskuni (61), his wife Shaza and his mother Khairiya were attacked and killed by armed men.
A local Christian leader said, “This crime has only one message. Frightening our people and forcing them to leave the country. This means that there is no place for Christians. We are seen as a lamb to be killed at any time.”
A Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, tweeted that it showed that “minorities are persecuted in their homeland.”
Christians in Baghdad have been kidnapped, and Christian shopkeepers forced to pay “protection money” to militias.
The United Nations have called on Iraq to protect the Christian minority stating, “We urge Iraq to protect minorities, including Yezidis, Christians … and others.”
Christians in Malaysia – Rights on Conversion
Morning Star News, February 28, 2018
The highest court in Malaysia has refused to hear an appeal by four Christians wanting to officially convert out of Islam.
On Feb. 27, the five-member panel of the Federal Court unanimously ruled that civil courts had no jurisdiction to decide on apostasy cases. The four converts held that the Shariah Courts had no power to decide apostasy cases under state laws because they are no longer Muslims.
Bewilderment remains as Shariah Courts are state courts and the Federal Court ruled in January that the federal civil court has the final say on legal matters even as they pertain to Muslims.
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Kuching, Simon Peter Seng, issued a statement asserting that Christians should not give up. “I was at the court hearing yesterday, and I testify that the judges were very neutral and fair. Pray, continue to pray. With God, nothing is impossible.’”
Gracious words amid the emotions that ran high on all sides; the Malaysian Insight noted that the archbishop was indeed present at the hearing, and then was heckled by demonstrators trying to jostle him as he exited the court.
Indonesia Christians whipped
World Watch Monitor, March 2, 2018
Two Indonesian Christians were whipped in public earlier this week in the capital of the Sumatran province of Aceh, as a crowd took photos and jeered.
They were being punished for breaking Islamic law by playing a game at a children’s entertainment centre and were whipped six and seven times respectively on 27 February.
Sharia courts impose hundreds of whippings every year. Previously, the laws only applied to Muslims, but this changed in December 2013, when they became effective for members of all religious groups.
Aceh’s authorities do not allow new churches to be established, whereas in other Indonesian provinces that is still possible.
In politics, targeting Christians is a classic manoeuvre to garner votes and support from Muslims.
Non-Muslims in Aceh are allowed to choose between being punished under Sharia or civil code. Some prefer whipping over potential imprisonment.
Hindu Extremists in India Attack Christians
Morning Star News, March 7, 2018
Christians on their way to a recent Christian camp in eastern India shared the purpose of their trip with fellow bus passengers, not realizing one of them was a Hindu extremist.
He began cursing and accusing the Christians of “always converting innocent and poor villagers.”
When they arrived at the bus station, 60 to 70 angry Hindu extremists were waiting for them. The hard-line Hindu had made phone calls to Hindu nationalist groups.
The mob separated out the native missionary, D. Joseph, as well as another Christian, Baldev Singh, and assaulted them.
- Joseph sustained several internal injuries and was hospitalized in a state of deep shock. Singh also was hospitalized with multiple injuries, including internal damage to his ear.
There was a media person present to record and publish the entire episode in the media, along with the Hindu extremist mob.
Jacksons – March Update 1
Give thanks that people are coming forward to help with the homework club.
Fraser’s still waiting to hear from Stellenbosch IT Dept if they will host the library internet portal. If they say no, pray we’ll identify an alternative which is both workable and within NetACT’s budget.
Pray for Sihle and Xosile, two of the regulars at Dawn’s Monday afternoon student group. Both are Xhosa-speakers who have an enthusiastic desire to spread the knowledge of God’s kingdom in love, obedience and awesomeness.
Pray that Dawn’s efforts to learn Afrikaans will be successful and conversations will go beyond buying a cup of coffee.