Churches in Sri Lanka experiencing intimidation and violence

Source : Christianity Today

A campaign of violence and intimidation is being waged by Buddhists against Christians in Sri Lanka, Release International has warned.

The organisation says religious intolerance has been increasing for a decade and that in the past year, churches have been forced to close down and Christians prevented from holding prayer meetings or Bible studies in their homes.

There has been a wave of anti-Christian violence, with murder and arson among the 450-plus documented acts of violence against believers in recent years.

Release warns of a marked increase in the number of churches being demolished or set on fire, as well as attacks on individuals, death threats and forced displacement since 2012.

In many cases, Buddhist monks are leading the protests against churches, which are being increasingly cornered by attempts to restrict where worship can be held and the construction of new places of worship.

Kim Jong-un Orders 33 Christians to be Executed

North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered 33 Christians to be executed for contact with a missionary.

The Christians were believed to be working alongside South Korean missionary Kim Jung-wook, who was arrested last year. He and his ministry workers in North Korea have reportedly started 500 or so underground churches, the Washington Times reports.

The Daily Mail reports that Kim Jong-un has charged the 33 with attempting to overthrow the government—the same accusation that lead to the execution of the North Korean leader’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, and all Mr. Jang’s relatives.

The missionary aides will be put to death in the cell of the State Security Department.

According to the Christian Post, North Korea aired interviews with five of their countrymen at a press conference on Feb. 27 who claimed they met with Jung-wook and accepted money from him and other South Korean agents.

North Korea is known for forcing prisoners to issue statements confessing to crimes, and some have challenged these interviews as an attempt to find out locations of underground churches.

North Korea is widely known for its human rights abuses and zero tolerance for religion. For the 12th consecutive year, World Watch List has ranked it as the number one country for Christian persecution.

Christians’ Utilities Shut Off for Refusing to Participate in Religious Ceremony

Twenty-five Protestant families have had their water and electricity supplies disconnected and have effectively been put under house arrest in Mexico because of their refusal to participate in Traditionalist Catholic religious ceremonies.

On Feb. 11, village authorities cut off the Protestant families’ water supply. Two days later, their electricity supply was also disconnected, and chains, ropes and civilian guards were placed around the families’ homes in order to further isolate them.

On the same day, one member of the group was arbitrarily detained by village authorities and imprisoned for more than 24 hours after he attempted to reconnect his water while under the supervision of state officials and police. Village authorities in Unión Juárez, located in La Trinitaria municipality in the state of Chiapas also detained the police officers for 10 hours.

Traditionalist Catholic village authorities are demanding that the families, who belong to the local Mount Tabor Evangelical Church, contribute financially to religious festivals and have said they will not permit the families to reconnect their services or receive visitors until they pay 500 pesos (approximately $38) each.

The village authorities are justifying their actions as in line with the Law of Uses and Customs, which gives indigenous populations autonomy to exercise traditional forms of justice and to protect their culture.

The situation follows an escalation of discriminatory behavior toward the group of Protestant Christians in the municipality beginning in 2010, when the local village assembly blocked their access to firewood and refused them permission to attend or participate in village assembly meetings.

Bus driver’s BIBLE stops bullets…

A bus driver in Trotwood, Ohio, is recovering in hospital after remarkably surviving being shot at point blank range in an unprovoked random attack seemingly linked to a gang initiation ceremony. Rickey Wagoner, 49, was assaulted by three men while he stood beside his bus in the early hours of Monday morning. Three shots were fired at Wagoner – one struck him in the right leg and two were fired at his chest.

The two bullets aimed at his chest were stopped by The Message, New Testament Bible that he kept in his chest pocket, reports the Dayton Daily News. ‘There was obviously some kind of intervention involved in this incident, because he probably should not be here,’ said Sgt. Michael Pauley of the Dayton Police Department.

Australian Christian worker detained in North Korea

Australian missionary John Short, 75, was reportedly arrested by police in North Korea on Feb. 16. Short, who has lived in Hong Kong with his wife for the past 50 years, was questioned and detained after police found gospel tracts in his possession.

Short traveled to Pyongyang on Feb. 15 with a tour group, and police questioned him at his hotel the next day about the Korean-language gospel tracts that he was carrying. Officials reportedly asked him who translated the material into Korean, who sent him and to what organization he belongs.

Short’s wife was informed of his arrest by a member of the tour group who was allowed to leave on Feb. 18. The tour company has made repeated calls to North Korea, but officials have refused to provide any information.

North Korea is considered the worst persecutor of Christians in the world. Although its constitution provides for freedom of religion, the practice of any non-state-sanctioned religious activity is prohibited. Possessing a Bible, saying the words “God” or “Jesus,” and meeting with other Christians all are punishable by death.

The Australian government is working on Short’s behalf through its embassy in South Korea and has also requested help from Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang.

Brian Miller – Heaven and Back – YouTube

Cuba: “Our Sufferings Are the School of God”

Source :  The Voice of the Martyrs

This week I spoke with a Cuban church leader about the challenges and persecution being faced by our brothers and sisters in that island nation so close to our own border. Here are some highlights of our conversation:

Every block in every city in Cuba has a secret policeman whose job is to watch 24 hours a day and report anything unusual, illegal or questionable to the government.

After the revolution in 1959, 90% of the church buildings on the island were either destroyed or confiscated by the government. “But the church is not a building,” our pastor friend reminds us. The government of Fidel Castro promised to eliminate the church within 5-6 years after the revolution.

Cuba_Map

The government has literally printed a book which contains their plan for infiltrating and co-opting the church to bring it under the control of the communist government. Their plans include bribing pastors, sending women to seduce pastors, taking away the pastor’s children and other ways to compromise church leaders and control or discredit the church.

And yet our brothers and sisters say this: “We have no hate inside against the Cuban government. God has allowed us to love them.”

“The only arms we have are prayer and the knowledge that God will fight for us,” said this church leader.

According to this leader, from about 1995 to 2005, the government was more worried about large church gatherings and building churches, so they paid less attention to house churches. Their strategy failed, and house churches spread to every part of Cuba as thousands of Cubans came to Christ. One official recently told a pastor, “You guys [Christians] are moving to every town in Cuba!”

Because their tolerant approach to house churches backfired, the government has changed tactics to aggressively strike back against house churches. Christians have seen a marked increase in persecution during the past two years. Now government officials are threatening to enforce a law that allows the government to confiscate any house used for religious activities. In spite of the threat, house churches continue to meet for worship.

Other thoughts that he shared:

“The communist government has not been able to control or contain the church of Jesus Christ.”

“In the suffering—that is the best moment, the most fertile soil for God to work in us, to produce the best fruit. The sweetest honey is there.”

“I am convinced that there is nothing better for the church than to enter into suffering. That is where God creates anew.”

“Our sufferings are the school of God. That’s where Jesus graduated, where He set the standard.”

Please pray for the church in Cuba. Pray Christian leaders will stand strong in their faith, even as they face attacks and temptations. Pray Cuban government leaders will come to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. Jesus promised to build His church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. His words are coming true in Cuba today.

4 Pentecostal Churches Still Shuttered After Muslim Attacks

The Indonesian government responded to Muslim protests by closing four Pentecostal churches, reports Charisma News. Two months after protests held at the Indonesian Full Gospel Church, Pentecostal Movement Church, Indonesian Bethel Church and Christian New Covenant Church, the churches remain closed. A petition to re-open the churches (or settle on an alternate venue) is being spearheaded by Pastor Oferlin Hia of Christian New Covenant. According to Pastor Hia, at the time of the protests the churches had been applying for permits to hold their gatherings, but were awaiting response from the local government for approval.

Are True Christians Persecuted in America?

Source : Charisma News

You better believe it!

Sure, if you only equate persecution with those who are burned alive inside churches, like Islamists do to Christians in Nigeria, then we are not.

If you mean persecution only applies to those who are beheaded with a dull-edged sword, as Islamists do to Christians in Syria, then again, no.

If you mean it is only about crucifying people alive, as Islamists do to Christians in Pakistan and elsewhere, then that doesn’t apply either.

The subtler persecution of Christians in America, which began mildly, with the media mocking Jimmy Carter’s “born again” claim, has escalated rapidly in the last five years.

If Christians in a social gathering or on the Piers Morgan show say they believe Jesus is the only Savior and Lord, they will incite the most venomous verbal attack. If Christians speak out against Islamism or the celebration of homosexuality, they will be attacked with labels such as “Islamophobe” or “homophobe”—words manufactured by two groups that would normally hate each other but join forces for the purpose of eliminating the true Christian point of view.

Our nation once rejoiced to send loving Christian missionaries to alleviate suffering and bring the Good News of the gospel to a world filled with darkness and unbelief. Now our leaders refuse to condemn the genocide taking place against Christians around the world while condemning nations for enacting moral laws against the act of homosexuality.

A nation once admired for the peaceful missions of its Peace Corps now exports the most violent and immoral movies—so much so that America is now synonymous with violence, pornography and immorality in general.

America once stood up for the suffering and persecuted. Today, however, if you ask any non-Islamist Egyptian (most of the country), they will tell you that the Obama administration would rather side with terrorists than true freedom-loving citizens.

How could this have happened to a great nation in such a short period of time?

I have communicated with thousands of Twitter and Facebook followers about this, as well as with others in face-to-face settings. It is safe to say that committed and nominal Christians alike are bewildered.

People who have not been involved in politics are becoming more politically minded, wanting to ensure through future elections that we choose leaders who share America’s founding values.

And many who are spiritually inclined are beginning to focus their prayers on America—that God may save her from a path that leads to an inevitable abyss.

Either way, we know something is drastically wrong. And, as some believe, it may take a major crisis to return us from the consequences of such political and social arrogance. In that way, we may be humbled enough to repent and return to God.

Michael Youssef, Ph.D

Jesus Christ is most significant person in history.

Jesus Christ is the most significant historical figure according to new analysis of online encyclopedia Wikipedia’s three million pages. Computer scientists Steven Skiena and Charles B Ward have studied the Wiki pages of more than 800,000 people to come up with a list of the world’s most important figures.

Using a ‘ranking algorithm’, the pair looked at the length of a person’s Wikipedia page, how many times it was read and the number of links from the pages of other major figures.

Jesus Christ came in number one in the listing, beating out Frenchman Napoleon Bonaparte into second, with Englishman William Shakespeare coming in third.The ranking listed Islamic Prophet Muhammad as number four, ahead of U.S. presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, who came in at fifth and sixth respectively.

German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler came in at number seven in the list, where as empire leader, Alexander the Great, also made the Top 10 at number nine.Aristotle, who is credited as being Alexander’s teacher, and the founder of much of Western philosophy, came in at number eight on the listing. A third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, also made the Top 10.

Here is the Top 10 Most Significant Figures in Human History:

1. Jesus Christ
2. Napoleon Bonaparte
3. William Shakespeare
4. Prophet Muhammad
5. Abraham Lincoln
6. George Washington
7. Adolf Hitler
8. Aristotle
9. Alexander the Great
10. Thomas Jefferson