|Zprávy HCJB 24.9.2006 - 30.9.2006|
|JORDÁNSKO PROPAGUJE KŘESŤANSKÉ PAMÁTKY PRO BIBLICKOU TURISTIKU|
|Jordánský ministr pro turistiku a historické památky Munir Y. Nassar nabízí místní křesťanské historické památky jako turistický cíl. „Jordánsko je kolébkou křesťanství a křesťané by měli přicházet a navštěvovat biblická místa,“ řekl Nassar. Za místo „zrození křesťanství“ považuje Betanii za Jordánem, kde byl Pán Ježíš pokřtěn Janem Křtitelem a kde potom na něj sestoupil Duch Svatý. Navíc v oblasti Gadara nechal Ježíš vejít démony do stáda prasat a také je zde hora Nebo, odkud bylo Mojžíšovi dopřáno spatřit Zaslíbenou zemi – obě tato místa jsou v Jordánsku. Nassar zmínil i význam Jordánska v období raného křesťanství. „V Jordánsku je – přepočteno na rozlohu – víc starých byzantských chrámu, než kdekoliv jinde na světě. Nejstarší kostel vůbec byl před šesti nebo sedmi lety odkryt v Aqabě. Kam kopneme, tam narazíme na památky po byzantské církvi, na památná místa pro křesťanské poutníky,“ řekl Nassar. (Religion Today/Assist News Service)|
|Operace Požehnání Indii má nový rekord v počtu ošetřených pacientů.|
| Operace Požehnání Indii (OBI) zaznamenala nový měsíční rekord v počtu ošetřených pacientů. V červenci provozovala OBI 76 pohyblivých lékařských základen a ošetřila v nich 43 000 lidí. Lékařské výkony zahrnují m.j. oční vyšetření, distribuci různých léků a podávání přípravků proti parazitickým červům všem místním dětem. OBI využívá stále větší síť pastorů, lékařů a místních dobrovolníků k působení v nových oblastech a pomáhá hlavně indickému venkovskému obyvatelstvu. „Přes 70% indického obyvatelstva žije na venkově,“ řekl ředitel OBI Kumar Periasamy. „Z odhadovaných 700 milionů těchto venkovanů jich asi 300 milionů žije v chudobě s denním příjmem pod 50 rupií (25 korun) denně.“ Lékařské pohyblivé základny OBI, které působí na jenom místě vždy jeden den, jsou určeny právě pro chudé indické venkovany. (Religion Today)
*Rozhlasové vysílání do Indie v 17 jazycích je zajišťováno krátkovlnnou stanicí HCJB Radio-Australia v Kununurra v severní Austrálii. Programy jsou vyráběny v misijních studiích v Dillí v Indii.
|Radikální muslimové se pokoušejí uzavřít kostel v západní Jávě|
|Zhruba 50 členů radikální indonéské islámské skupiny Forum of Islamic Ulema (FUUI) se pokusilo o uzavření protestantského kostela v obydlené části blízko Bandungu v západní Jávě. Skupina se sešla v místní mešitě v neděli 23.září ještě předtím, než se vydala k budově využívané protestanty blízko Arjasari. Skupina muslimů požadovala, aby kostel, spravovaný organizací Missionary Foundation of the Bread of Life, byl uzavřen. Poté, co byl jejich požadavek odmítnut, dav začal na budovu házet kameny. Toto násilí zastavila až policie, když pohrozila zatčením členů FUUI. V uplynulém roce západní Jáva zažila sérii již více než 30 útoků na kostely. Indonésie je největší muslimskou zemí na světě, v níž přes 90 procent občanů z 220 milionů vyznává islám. HCJB World Radio pracuje s místními partnery se snahou založit více než 14 místních křesťanských rozhlasových stanic napříč Indonesií. Již od roku 2004 povzbuzuje vysílání z HCJB World Radio z australské rozhlasové stanice v Kununurra také posluchače v celé zemi. HCJB World Radio navíc pomohlo podpořit zemi po 26.prosinci 2004, kdy po zemětřeseních / vlnách tsunami byly zdevastovány části Indonésie.|
|Somálský křesťanský student zastřelen, když odmítl skandovat korán.|
|Student křesťanského semináře a obchodník s textilem Ali Mustaf Maka’il byl ve čtvrtek 7. září zastřelen ve čtvrti Manabolyo ve městě Mogadišo. Tento 22letý konvertita přestoupil od islámu ke křesťanství před 11 měsíci. Zprávy ze somálských křesťanských zdrojů přisuzují útok ozbrojenci věrnému Svazu islámských soudů (ICU) - islámské organizace, která v červnu převzala moc v Mogadišo a nyní ovládá větší část jižního Somálska. Podle zpráv z Barnabášova fondu (Barnabas Fund) byl Ali střelen zezadu, když se odmítl připojit k prozpěvování veršů z Koránu na počest zatmění měsíce. ICU držela tělo oběti 24 hodin, než je předala truchlící rodině. „Historie konfliktu mezi muslimskými Somálci a křesťanskými Etiopy je dlouhá a protikřesťanské smýšlení je hluboké,“ uvádí nejmenovaný zdroj. „Většina Somálců má za to, že pravý Somálec je muslim a konvertité ke křesťanství jsou určitě vlastizrádci. Tento široce rozšířený předsudek muslimských Somálců podle všeho ospravedlňuje násilí proti křesťanům. (Assist News Service)|
|Rozmach evangelikálů začíná ovlivňovat brazilskou politiku.|
|Evangelijní křesťané s v Brazílii stávají mocným hybatelem tohoto 187 milionového národa. Podle sčítání lidu v roce 2006 se proti 90. letům minulého století počet evangelikálů zdvojnásobil a dosáhl 26.2 milionu – 15% obyvatelstva. Evangelikály jsou podle brazilských měřítek všichni nekatoličtí křesťané. V tradičně katolické Brazílii tak evangelikálové mají 60 křesel v národním kongresu neboli asi 10% v zákonodárném sboru. Jsou nejefektivnějším klubem poslanců. Poslední tři guvernéři státu Rio de Janeiro používali během kampaně evangelikální kravaty k přilákání voličů a kandidáti na tuto funkci pravidelně chodí do kostela sbírat hlasy. Sociolog Maria das Dores Campos Machado, odborník na evangelikální politické hnutí, řekl.“Evangelikálové si tvoří politický prostor pro svůj rozmach. Cílem je jejich další růst.“ (WorldWide Religious News)|
|‘Mobilní studio’ urychluje distribuci audionahrávek Písma v Indii|
|The World Cassette Outreach-India, misie jejímž posláním je poskytovat audionahrávky Písma – celé Bible, nebo jejích úseků ve všech jazycích Indie, se dostala do problémů s nahráváním. “Když domorodí předčítači s nahráváním začali, kulturní šok spojený s jejich přestěhováním z vesnic, kde se narodili, do vzkvétajícího města Bangalore (má asi 6.1 milionu obyvatel), kde jsou nahrávací studia, byl pro ně příliš silný. Byli to velmi mladí muži,” vysvětluje Tom Dudenhoffer z Audio Scripture Ministries (ASM). „Za půldruhého týdne byli oba tak sklíčení, že museli odejít od rozdělané práce.“ Aby se to vyřešilo, ASM vytvořila první „mobilní studio“ vybavené laptopem, analogově digitálním převodníkem, malým mixážním pultem a mikrofonem. Cílem je „získat přinejmenším tyto dva nahrávače a mít tak více nahrávek v jejich jazyce,“ říká Dudenhoffer. (Mission Network News)|
|VŠECHNY ZPRÁVY V ANGLIČTINĚ|
| JORDAN PROMOTES CHRISTIAN BIBLICAL SITES FOR RELIGIOUS TOURISM
Jordanian Tourism and Antiquities Minister Munir Y. Nassar is touting the country’s historical sites of Christian importance. "Jordan is the birthplace of Christianity, and Christians should come and visit its biblical sites," Nassar said. He considers the "birthplace of Christianity" to be Jesus’ baptismal site at Bethany beyond the Jordan where the Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus after John the Baptist baptized Him. In addition, the northern area of Gadara where Jesus cast the demons into the swine, and Mount Nebo from where Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land, both reside within Jordan’s borders. Nassar also noted the importance of the country during the early Christian church. "We have more churches per square meter in Jordan -- old Byzantine churches -- than you have anywhere else in the world. In fact, the oldest church in the world was uncovered in Aqaba about six or seven years ago. Wherever we dig, we come up with a Byzantine church. Whenever we dig we come up with some kind of a Christian pilgrimage site," Nassar said. (Religion Today/Assist News Service)
SPIRITUAL SCREENPLAY CONTEST OFFERS $50,000 IN PRIZES ANNUALLY
The John Templeton Foundation and partners with Movieguide and the Christian Film and Television Commission have announced $50,000 in prize money for their Kairos Prize for spiritually uplifting Screenplays. The first such contest was such a success that many asked for it to become a yearly event. Dr. Jack Templeton, son of the foundation’s founder, said that "Hollywood can reap the benefit of a continual stream of creative, inspiring scripts." Screenplays submitted to the contest must be uplifting, inspirational and result in either an increase in man’s love for or understanding of the "one true creator God." Dr. Ted Baehr, founder of Movieguide and the Christian Film & Television Commission, added, "Through our involvement with the film and television industry, we hope to encourage support of and approbation for those who desire to use their talents to give us a deeper awareness of the spiritual dimension of life. We want people of faith to work alongside the Hollywood studios to help them produce entertainment choices that appeal to the largest possible audience." The prize values awarded are $25,000 for first, $15,000 for second and $10,000 for third. (Evangelical News)
MUSLIM MOB IN NIGERIA INJURES 6, DESTROYS 10 CHRISTIAN CHURCHES
A mob of Muslim youths in Nigeria’s Jigawa state capital of Dutse injured six Christians and burned 10 churches Sept. 19-20. The attacks were sparked by allegations that a Christian woman, identified only as a tailor named Jummai, blasphemed the prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim man. The controversial comments of Pope Benedict XVI fueled the already-high religious tensions. Demanding the woman be stoned, the mob also destroyed 20 Christian homes and 40 shops, leaving more than 1,000 Christians displaced. Police have detained the accused woman along with more than 20 who were involved in the mob attacks. Witnesses to the original verbal dispute stated that Jummai was reacting to a blasphemous remark against Jesus Christ made by the Muslim man. An estimated 80 percent of Dutse’s population is Muslim. (Compass Direct)
* HCJB World Radio, together with partners In Touch Ministries, SIM and the Evangelical Church of West Africa, began airing weekly half-hour programs to Nigeria in the Igbo language in 2000. In 2003 weekly broadcasts were added in two additional languages, Yoruba and Hausa. HCJB World Radio also has helped with radio ministries in six cities with more in the planning stages.
30 CHOIR ROBES: UNUSUAL DONATION FINDS PERFECT HOME IN ETHIOPIA
After receiving the unusual donation of 30 choir robes, Christian Resources International (CRI) heard of an Ethiopian church that needed new robes. The choir at the 2,000-member Nazareth Misrak (East) Meserete Kristos Church, 62 miles from Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, had used the same choir robes for years. But because of the donation, choir members are now proudly serving their congregation with handsome, much-improved robes. One leader at the Ethiopian church wrote that choir members had used their robes for many years, and they were nearly worn out. "At this time," he said, "you sent us quality choir dressing." CRI shares its resources to promote evangelism worldwide. (Mission Network News)
* Staff members at HCJB World Radio-Australia’s studios record Oromo language programs that air to 28 million speakers in Ethiopia and Kenya via FEBA Radio’s shortwave facilities.
TED HAGGARD AND EVANGELICALS CONFIRM, ‘BUSH IS NOT THE DEVIL’
Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), issued a formal statement on Friday, Sept. 21, following comments made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez during a controversial speech to the U.N. in which Chávez called George W. Bush "the devil." Haggard said, "NAE theologians and scholars have conducted a thorough exegetical study of the biblical texts concerning the person, disposition and earthy manifestations of Satan (Beelzebub, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness). They have incontrovertibly concluded that, contrary to the assertion of Hugo Chávez, President Bush is not the devil."(Christian Newswire)
© Copyright 2006 - HCJB World Radio - Colorado Springs, CO USA
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| CHINESE CHRISTIAN WINS APPEAL, COURT REVOKES PREVIOUS CHARGES
Chinese courts in China’s Henan province revoked an earlier sentence requiring Christian Li Huimin to spend one year in a re-education through labor camp for holding an "illegal gathering" last March. This is the first such a lawsuit that has been won by Christians in China. A group of local Christians who were meeting in a private home for Easter were raided by local police in Pu Yang on March 13, and many of the Christians were arrested, including Li. He had been held since that time on charges of holding an "illegal gathering." Police attempted to coerce him to admit to being a cult member and cruelly beat him. Li filed an initial appeal to the charges with the Puyang People’s Government which upheld the original charges. A second appeal to the District Court revoked his charges due to an inappropriate citation of the legal articles, but fell short of ruling that the Easter celebration was actually legal. Bob Fu, President of the China Aid Association (CAA) said, "Though this is the first example in China of a Christian winning such a lawsuit, it is still too early to believe it is a sign that the Chinese government is changing its policy on religious freedom because the proper Christian gathering in this case is still considered illegal." (China Aid Association)
INDIA’S DALITS FACE FLOOD RELIEF DISCRIMINATION AFTER MONSOONS
In some of the worst monsoon flooding India has faced in years, hundreds of Dalit villages were ravaged by flooding rivers and water released from overflowing dams. The Dalits (known as India’s "untouchables") are often among the worst-hit victims and also among the last to receive emergency assistance due to discrimination during aid and relief distribution. In the arid Barmer district of Rajasthan state, for example, residents were marooned on sand dunes after the area received two years’ worth of rainfall in just three days, covering the desert with 16 feet of water. However, when camps were set up for the displaced, members of higher castes chased Dalit families away, denying them food and water and restricting them from the use of common kitchens, toilets and sleeping areas. Aid workers with Gospel for Asia are doing their best to meet the needs of Dalit flood victims while spreading the message of God’s love in areas where it hasn’t been heard before. (Assist News Service)
OPERATION BLESSING INDIA SETS NEW MONTHLY MEDICAL PATIENT RECORD
Operation Blessing India (OBI) has set a new record for the number of patients served medically in a single month. In July OBI held 76 one-day "medical camps" during which more than 43,000 people were treated. Medical procedures including eye exams, distribution of prescription glasses, dental procedures, distribution of medicine, and administration of anti-parasite pills to every child in attendance. OBI uses an ever-expanding network of pastors, doctors and local volunteers to spread out geographically and reach out to India’s rural population. "More than 70 percent of our population lives in rural India," said OBI Director Kumar Periasamy. "But of an estimated 700 million rural Indians, about 300 million live in poverty with an income of less than 50 rupees (US$1.08) a day." The camps are designed to provide medical care to India’s rural poor. (Religion Today)
* Radio programs in 17 languages air to India from HCJB World Radio-Australia’s shortwave station in Kununurra. The programs are produced at the ministry’s studios in New Delhi, India.
ERITREAN GOVERNMENT SEIZES PROTESTANT CHURCH ASSETS, PROPERTY
The government of the East African nation of Eritrea has demanded that the Kale Hiwot Church surrender all property and assets to the government this month. The Protestant church’s assets include relief operations including buildings, schools, office equipment and vehicles. Kale Hiwot central offices were initially raided in October 2005, closing down the church operations as well as humanitarian projects overseen by the church including an orphanage, and schools. One source claimed, "This is a direct attack upon the church. It is the final act of banning this church." Local Christians believe the confiscation is the final stage of a three-step process designed to crack down on Protestant churches. The first step was to arrest pastors and key church leaders, leaving more than 30 of them jailed indefinitely, without any legal charges filed against them. Then authorities raided and sealed church buildings, with the leaderless congregations forbidden to occupy or use them for worship or other religious activities. Finally, the government is permanently confiscating all property and assets of these outlawed churches. Since May 2002 the Eritrean government has banned all independent religious groups not under the umbrella of the Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran or Muslim faiths. Dozens of independent Protestant churches have been denied legal registration and outlawed. (Compass Direct)
HARD-LINE MUSLIMS ATTEMPT TO SHUT DOWN CHURCH IN WEST JAVA
About 50 members of the hard-line Indonesian Islamic group Forum of Islamic Ulema (FUUI) tried to close down a Protestant church in a residential area near Bandung, West Java. The group gathered at a local mosque on Saturday, Sept. 23, before marching to a house used by the Protestants near Arjasari. The group requested the church, operated by the Missionary Foundation of the Bread of Life, close down. When their request was refused, the mob began pelting the house with rocks. Police stopped the violence by threatening to arrest FUUI members. West Java has seen a series of more than 30 church attacks in the last year. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country with more than 90 percent of its 220 million people following Islam. (WorldWide Religious News)
* HCJB World Radio has worked with local partners to establish more than 14 local Christian radio stations across Indonesia since 2004. Broadcasts from HCJB World Radio-Australia’s shortwave station in Kununurra also encourage listeners nationwide. In addition, HCJB World Radio has helped with relief efforts since the Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake/tsunami and subsequent quakes that have devastated parts of Indonesia.
© Copyright 2006 - HCJB World Radio - Colorado Springs, CO USA
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| SOMALI CHRISTIAN STUDENT SHOT TO DEATH FOR REFUSING TO CHANT KORAN
Somali Christian college student and cloth merchant Ali Mustaf Maka’il was shot and killed in the Manabolyo quarter of Mogadishu on Thursday, Sept. 7. The 22-year-old had converted to Christianity from Islam 11 months ago. Reports quoting a Christian source inside Somalia attribute the attack to a gunman loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts (ICU), the Islamic organization that took power in Mogadishu in June and now controls much of southern Somalia. A report by the Barnabas Fund says that Ali was shot in the back after refusing to join chants of Koran verses in honor of the lunar eclipse. The ICU confiscated his body for 24 hours before delivering it to the grieving family. "There is a long history of conflict between Muslim Somalis and Christian Ethiopians, so anti-Christian sentiment runs deep," the source said. "Most Somalis take it for granted that a true Somali is a Muslim and converts to Christianity must be traitors. These prejudices, widely held by Muslim Somalis, seem to be used to justify violence against Christians." (Assist News Service)
AUTHORITIES ARREST PAKISTANI TEENAGER FOR ‘BLASPHEMY’
Young Pakistani Christian Shahid Masih, 17, was arrested and charged with "blasphemy" last week on suspicion of ripping out pages of a book that contained verses from the Koran. His lawyer has filed an appeal to dismiss the case for lack of evidence due to the lawyer’s assertion that the sole evidence against Masih is the testimony of a Muslim man already accused of the same crime. If convicted, Masih could face a life sentence for blasphemy. His family is appealing to Joel Amir Sahot. More than 200 Islamic fanatics attended the first hearing against Masih on Thursday, Sept. 14, in Faisalabad. At least 23 people involved in blasphemy cases have been murdered in Pakistan since the laws were instituted in the 1980s. (Religion Today/Compass Direct)
EXTREME PERSECUTION CONTINUES IN INDIA’S MADHYA PRADESH STATE
The string of persecution against Christians in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state continued this month with Hindu extremists severely beating two pastors on Sunday, Sept. 24, accusing them of "forcing" conversions. Two days before, two evangelists were attacked and injured with accusations of them "hurting Hindu sentiments." More than 20 members from two Hindu extremist groups barged into a church in Nana Badvani Sunday, Sept. 24, and attacked the two pastors, identified only as Sukhlal and Jorsingh. The mob spit on a Bible and tore it up, threatening the pastors’ lives if they did not abandon Christ. Later the mob dragged the two men to the police, accusing them of eating beef -- an offense to Hindus. The two evangelists were attacked between two villages after someone called to request prayer. Evangelists Lakhan Pawar and Shailendra Pawar were attacked as they traveled to the prayer appointment together. Lakhan was severely injured and was temporarily hospitalized. Both men remain in custody, afraid to request bond due to fears of further attacks. In the past two months at least 14 other Christians have been accused of attempted forced conversions or hurting Hindu religious sentiments in Madhya Pradesh. (WorldWide Religious News/Compass Direct)
MAF DEDICATES NEW HEADQUARTERS FACILITY IN NAMPA, IDAHO
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) dedicated a new training and mobilization headquarters in Nampa, Idaho, Saturday Sept. 23. Events included tours, airplane rides, music, seminars and a book signing by author and speaker Dr. Rich Buhler. MAF made the move from its Redlands, Calif., headquarters this summer due to the high costs of living and operating in California. "This relocation has been the single largest project in our 60-year history, and we are already experiencing the benefits of the move," said MAF President Kevin Swanson. "The expanded training and support facility has given us room to grow, as we prepare to send new missionaries and as we support our families already serving worldwide." MAF is already planning to use the larger facility when key decision-makers from the world’s international missions organizations will meet at the new MAF headquarters Oct. 18-19 to determine how to work together to effectively use the results of the ministry’s recent landmark study for global missions called "Operation ACCESS!" (Mission Aviation Fellowship)
4,000 CHRISTIANS MEET FREELY AT RALLY IN KAZAKHSTAN
Despite the fact that the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan remains predominantly Muslim and continues to restrict religious freedom, 4,000 believers recently gathered in Almaty for worship and teaching. "I remember visiting Kazakhstan in the early 1990s and there were very few believers among the Kazakh people themselves," said Geoff Tunnicliffe of the World Evangelical Alliance. "But God has done a marvelous work in these last 10 or 15 years, and I was able to speak at the largest gathering of Kazakh believers in its history." He says most believers in Kazakhstan are under age 40 and come from Muslim backgrounds. He says most have "been under tremendous pressure since they became believers and have had to make great sacrifices for being followers of Jesus." Tunnicliffe is optimistic about changes in religious restrictions. "I had some very encouraging meetings with political leaders, urging them to promote pluralism and protection for the religious minorities," he said. "And every indication is that they’re willing to commit to that." (Mission Network News)
* HCJB World Radio is bringing words of hope and encouragement to people across Central Asia via radio. Together with partners, Christian broadcasts go out in languages such as Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek, Southern Uzbek and Urdu.
© Copyright 2006 - HCJB World Radio - Colorado Springs, CO USA
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| EVANGELICAL GROWTH BECOMING POLITICAL FORCE IN BRAZIL
Evangelical Christians in Brazil are becoming a powerful political force for change within the nation of 187 million. According to the 2000 census, evangelicals, defined in Brazil as any non-Catholic Christian, nearly doubled their population in the 1990s to about 26.2 million -- 15 percent of the population. Traditionally a Roman Catholic country, evangelicals have risen from the ranks to hold more than 60 seats in the nation’s congress, or about 10 percent of the legislature. They are the country’s most effective legislative caucus. The past three governors of the state of Rio de Janeiro have used their evangelical ties as selling points in their campaign, and national candidates regularly visit churches to garner votes. Sociologist Maria das Dores Campos Machado, an expert on the evangelical political movement, said, "The evangelicals are opening political space for themselves and making room for what they see as their enormous potential. Growth is the objective here." (WorldWide Religious News)
* HCJB World Radio broadcasts the gospel in Portuguese to Brazil via shortwave from Quito, Ecuador, and maintains a world office and radio studios in Curitiba. Portuguese programs, which have been on the air continuously since 1947, generate more listener letters than any language service at Radio Station HCJB in Ecuador. The ministry’s Portuguese programs also air on local radio stations across Brazil.
PASTOR IN KYRGYZSTAN STILL FEARS FOR HIS LIFE AFTER JULY ATTACK
Protestant pastor Zulumbek Sarygulov says he remains fearful for his life and the lives of his family two months after a mob attacked his home in the village of Karakulja in the Central Asia nation of Kyrgyzstan on July 28. About 80 Muslims entered Sarygulov’s home on Friday, July 28, beating him until he lost consciousness. Two of his fingers were broken, and he was thrown from the house. The mob then opened a shed containing dozens of Bibles and religious literature, burning them in the courtyard. The attackers then scrawled "House for Sale" on the pastor’s house. Three police officers observing the incident took no action. The Muslims were apparently angry at the pastor’s attempts to start a church in the village, prompting the attack. "People from the mosque have already come back to my house since the beating and told me they will kill me if I do not leave the village," Sarygulov said. Police officials admit the mob burned Christian literature but are disputing that he was beaten. The police chief in Karakulja reported his forces had the situation "under complete control." (Forum 18 News Service)
BABY IN AZERBAIJAN DENIED RECOGNITION BECAUSE OF CHRISTIAN NAME
A 3-month-old baby born to a Christian family in the city of Aliabad, Azerbaijan, has been denied official recognition of his name due to the family’s choice of a Christian name. When officials saw the name of Ilya Eyvazov, they refused to issue a birth certificate to the baby’s father because it is a Russian form of the name Elijah. The father of five said he had similar difficulties with the last two of his children, Moisei (Moses) and Luka (Luke). After visiting city administration offices weekly for the next month, he eventually succeeded in securing a birth certificate that left his newest son’s name blank. In Azerbaijan, where 96 percent of the population is Muslim, Christianity is perceived by many as a "foreign religion," and conversion from Islam is often viewed as betrayal of the nation. Without a birth certificate it is impossible for an Azeri to receive medical care, attend school or travel abroad. It’s not yet clear what practical problems Ilya Eyvazov will face if his official identification carries no name. (Compass Direct)
* HCJB World Radio, in partnership with Hosanna and local partners in Baku, Azerbaijan, has recorded the dramatized Azeri New Testament as part of the Faith Comes by Hearing project. The recordings, completed in 1998, have been made into a series of radio programs.
RISK RISES FOR AID WORKERS IN SRI LANKA AS FIGHTING ESCALATES
Fighting in the already war-torn island nation of Sri Lanka is again causing challenges for missionaries and ministries within the country. About 65,000 people died in the 20-year civil war, and recently sporadic fighting between the ethnic minority Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government has escalated. Suicide bombings have taken place, and air strikes are a near-daily occurrence. More than 20 people were killed in a recent church bombing. The violence has also increased the risk for aid workers trying to address the humanitarian crisis created by the conflict. In addition, aid workers are still dealing with needs related to the December 2004 tsunami that killed 40,000 and displaced 325,000 people in Sri Lanka. Both Gospel for Asia and the Bible League are requesting special prayers for a peaceful resolution. (Assist News Service/Mission Network News)
WEEKEND OF PRAYER, FASTING SET FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS
The Salvation Army will hold its first annual International Weekend of Prayer and Fasting for the Victims of Human Trafficking Friday-Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1. The weekend is designed to build awareness and solicit prayer for the estimated 27 million people worldwide who are suffering in slavery. Human trafficking is now the second-largest criminal enterprise in the world, just behind the drug trade. Lisa Thompson with the Salvation Army believes the problem is too large to depend solely on a human solution. "We’re asking people to organize themselves and to pray and to fast," she said. The Salvation Army’s website challenges believers to "petition God to change things, to free the captives, to end these evils, and to guide and empower Christians to serve, to prevent, to rescue and to restore." Prayer guides and other resources are available at www.salvationarmyusa.org/trafficking. (Religion Today/Salvation Army)
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| ‘MOBILE STUDIO’ SPEEDS UP DISTRIBUTION OF AUDIO SCRIPTURES IN INDIA
The World Cassette Outreach-India, a ministry that aims to provide audio Scripture -- either the entire Bible or portions -- in every language spoken in India, ran into a problem recording the Bible in new languages. "As the people began to do the reading, the culture shock of moving the readers from their country villages to the thriving city of Bangalore [estimated population of 6.1 million] where the central studios are located was too much for them. They were very young men," explains Tom Dudenhofer of Audio Scripture Ministries (ASM). "Within about a week-and-a-half both of them were so despondent that they had to leave and never finished the recording." To solve the dilemma, ASM developed its first-ever "mobile studio" consisting of a laptop, an analog digital interface, a small mixing board and a microphone. The goal is to train at least two more national recordists so "we can get more of these languages into audio," Dudenhofer says. (Mission Network News)
BIBLE SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA DISTRIBUTES BIBLE VIA MOBILE PHONES
The Bible Society of South Africa has partnered with ChristianMobile to develop a proliferation of wireless networks to distribute the Scriptures via cell phone users worldwide. The partnership agreement concluded in August, and distribution of the Scriptures has already begun under the VirtualBible brand name. Some initial versions offered include the Afrikaans-language Bible, the King James Version, the English Good News and the Contemporary English Version. A press release stated, "We are honored to be involved in the distribution of the Bible, the most popular book in human history, across the globe through mobile carriers and mobile portals and see ourselves merely as an instrument in God’s hands to spread His Word." Gerrit Kritzinger, chief executive officer of the Bible Society of South Africa, said he believes the potential of the technology is "boundless. We are particularly excited about the possibilities this technology poses for the youth." Evangelical News)
* HCJB World Radio has worked with local partners to plant local radio ministries in six South African cities: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Pinetown, Roodepoort and Badplaas. HCJB World Radio also helps with projects such as the Living Hope Community Center (a ministry of partner Fish Hoek Baptist Church) near Cape Town.
28-CITY EXHIBIT TOUR OPENS IN ATLANTA TO ‘BRING ISRAEL TO THE U.S’
An exhibit designed to "bring Israel to the U.S." opened its 28-city national tour in Atlanta, Ga., Friday, Sept. 15. The exhibit includes more than 340 sacred texts and artifacts from the Holy Land along with photomurals, thematic sets, digital surround sound, the first 3D video shot in Israel, state-of-the-art lighting and narration, a musical score produced by national recording artist Don Moen and never-before-seen paintings by artist Thomas Kinkade. All are designed to help visitors see, hear and feel 2,500 years of biblical history. The exhibit, called "From Abraham to Jesus," has been more than three years in the making. It is being presented by the Way Makers and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archeology. Some 5,000 people a day are expected to visit the exhibit which will have a limited engagement of about three weeks in each city. It takes between 90 minutes to two hours to view the exhibit. (WorldWide Religious News)
100,000 DALITS EXPECTED AT ‘FREEDOM OF RELIGION DAY’ RALLY IN INDIA
A massive demonstration planned for Saturday, Oct. 14, by the Dalit Freedom Network in the central Indian city of Nagpur by is designed as a call for freedom of religious choice for all Indian citizens, especially for India’s lowest castes. The rally, called "World Freedom of Conscience and Freedom of Religion Day," coincides with the 50-year anniversary of the conversion from Hinduism to Buddhism of Dalit hero and framer of India’s constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. More than 100,000 Dalits are expected to attend along with Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu religious leaders from India and around the world. Much of the rally targets India’s anti-conversion legislation, now passed in seven Indian states that requires converts to notify the government prior to changing religion. Udit Raj, a renowned Dalit activist and politician stated in a recent opinion column of a popular weekly magazine, "India is a secular country. Secularism simply means that the state shall not interfere in the personal and religious affairs of a person and religion would not be used as a political tool." He believes the motive of the laws is to intimidate lower castes from converting. (Assist News Service)
* QUITO ENTHUSIASTICALLY EMBRACES FRANKLIN GRAHAM FESTIVAL
It hardly seemed possible to rival the jubilance that accompanied Ecuador’s qualification last spring for soccer’s World Cup 2006.
But it happened when tens of thousands gathered at a major soccer stadium in Quito for the Festival de Esperanza (Festival of Hope) Friday-Saturday, Sept. 22-23. The champion was Jesus Christ in an event that featured Franklin Graham as evangelist who invited people to trust Jesus as the one who offers hope.
Ecuadorians showed their devotion to Christ through song, applause, cheers and more. On Friday night the crowd’s energy mounted during performances by musical groups with styles as diverse as folkloric, rap and choral to Spanish flamenco, country, metal and Christian contemporary.
Among the extensive talent lineup was Tony Tamayo, a singer and radio program host in Quito. Upon taking the stage amid a driving musical theme he immediately began clapping his hands in exaggerated motion, with people soon on their feet and moving with the music.
With live coverage of the event aired on 23 stations affiliated with ALAS, HCJB World Radio’s Latin American radio network, musician Marcos Vidal of Spain continued adding electricity by encouraging "the wave" by crowds in the stands. Next Marcos Witt, the son of missionaries to Mexico, charged ahead with a song that had many joining in on the chorus.
When Witt slowed the tempo in "Dios Ha Sido Bueno" (God Has Been Good), the crowd reciprocated, becoming more contemplative before Graham’s message. Women voiced the lyrics as tears ran down their cheeks, with men singing with as much gusto, vibrancy and conviction as Witt did onstage.
The music led to Graham’s delivery of a message about the New Testament account of Jesus’ invitation to Zacchaeus to make his way through crowds of people and become His disciple.
Graham began with brief remarks revealing his delight at being warmly welcomed to Quito. Earlier that evening, the mayor’s representative had presented him with the "Illustrious Guest" honor and an evangelical indigenous woman had draped a colorful poncho on him as he’d stooped to greet her.
Not long into his sermon Graham was onto his favorite themes—heaven and hell, grace overcoming the penalty of sin, and the enduring love of a gracious and compassionate God for those who need Him but may not recognize that need.
"This is what the Bible tells us—that God sent His son to this earth to save your soul," Graham said, his message translated phrase by phrase into Spanish.
Several times he spelled out the need to turn away from sin and turn to God. He invited his listeners to a designated area on the soccer field where volunteers were to join them in prayer and instruction about following Christ. "Tonight you can leave this stadium forgiven, cleansed of your sins!" he said.
As the song, "Mi Esperanza" (My Hope), was played, an orderly procession of thousands of seekers, friends, and then festival volunteers filed out of the stands and onto the field. Other songs followed for about 15 minutes as people streamed forward to pray a prayer of salvation led by Graham. An estimated 13,600 people filled out response cards that were distributed to volunteers for purposes of follow-up by local evangelical churches.
"I’m going to start attending (church)" said Yomara, a mother of three who had attended her first festival and had prayed to receive Christ. She’d been invited by a neighbor in La Colmena, a tough neighborhood near historic, central Quito.
Saturday’s events even surpassed that, beginning in the morning as an estimated 48,000 young people filling Atahualpa Olympic Stadium for the Festinińos (KidzFest) after being bused in from different areas. They enjoyed an upbeat program while learning principles of faith and forgiveness. Following the presentation, more than 6,600 children responded to the invitation to commit their lives to Christ.
People again filled the stadium for the closing program that began Saturday afternoon, an event broadcast live by HCJB-FM and emceed by Quito Pastor José "Chema" Reinoso. He signaled for "the wave" to begin to his right behind the stage. This was followed by eight consecutive waves sweeping the stadium, leading to an eruption of laughter from the crowds.
Graham then delivered another simple, straightforward message from the Bible in a style reminiscent of his father, Rev. Billy Graham, who preached in Quito in early 1962 as part of evangelistic campaigns in five South American countries. By later that year he had preached in nine countries on the continent.
The elder Graham had been interviewed by the mission’s television ministry, and Franklin was presented with a black-and-white photograph of the occasion. In a lighter moment at Radio Station HCJB, he smiled upon receiving the picture. "Look at Cliff [Barrows]," he quipped. "He’s thinking, ‘I just wish Billy would keep his answers short!’"
The evangelist, who heads both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, spoke briefly on the live radio program, "Hola Familia" (Hello Family), which also airs on the ALAS network. Near the building where the Grahams’ "Hour of Decision" and "Decision Minute" are produced in Spanish ("Momentos de Decisión" and "Minuto Decisivo"), he posed with people for photos.
Then he visited the mission’s nearby Hospital Vozandes-Quito, touring the facility. At a nurses’ station, missionary physician Dick Douce greeted him with, "I received the Lord with your dad. So welcome!" (HCJB World Radio/Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)
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