Archive for December, 2007

Baby Marco

Posted in England with tags , , , , , , , on December 28, 2007 by Mike

Baby Marco and his parentsThe Daily Mail , a paper in the UK, has this heartwarming story of a couple who, after being told by doctors they should abort their baby at week 20 due to serious conditions, decided that even one hour with their baby would be better than not giving him a chance to live.

His parents Julie Crampin, 36, and Antony Lara rejected advice to have the pregnancy terminated, and Marco was born with a range of serious conditions, including water on the brain, a hole in the heart and pyloric stenosis – a narrowing of the outlet of the stomach.

But the couple from Gloucester are delighted with their son and say he is making good progress.

Mr Lara, a 40-year-old hairdresser, said: “There was never a moment when we were in any doubt that we wanted him, even if he only lived for a day.

“Just to have had him alive for a few hours would have been better than not giving him the chance of life.”

Marco’s problems were revealed when his mother had a scan at 20 weeks.

Mr Lara said: “He was diagnosed as severely disabled. The chances of having him were minimal.

“We were told he could either be seriously disabled or die at birth, so we had big decisions to make.

“We were given the option of a termination, but we both became determined to have him.”

The couple managed to find hope in daily updates from doctors which, although still desperate, showed Marco to be a fighter.

Read the entire story. It will cheer you up for the entire day. And click on the photo to see it full-size.

Christian News Agency Back Up After Attack

Posted in Europe with tags , , , on December 27, 2007 by Mike

The head of BosNewsLife, the first Christian news agency in central and eastern Europe, says that their website is back up after an apparent Christmas Day attack by unknown hackers.

“This is really an answer to prayers of BosNewsLife supporters who we informed about the crisis within hours after it became clear that this was more than a technical problem,” said Stefan J. Bos, who founded the Budapest-based BosNewsLife News Agency with his wife, Agnes R. Bos, in 2004.

“Yesterday there was a real crisis here, as we had no idea what happened. But God is still in control,” he said.

The site went down early Tuesday, December 25, just hours after BosNewsLife reported that a Hindu mob attacked a Christmas service in India. The apparent Internet attack came also about three years after suspected Russian hackers ruined the Website.

Bos said that BosNewsLife has raised eyebrows among authorities and militants opposing its mission to be “a voice for the voiceless” including Christians and Jewish people living in difficult circumstances because of persecution or other reasons.

North Koreans Set Up Fake Churches

Posted in North Korea with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2007 by Mike

BosNewsLife is reporting that the North Korean National Security Agency is stepping up its efforts to hunt down underground Christian churches by setting up fake churches.

The North Korean Democracy Network, which includes North Korean pro-democracy activists and exiles, said in its Internet newspaper ‘The Daily NK’, that the NSA set up at least one fake church in the border area with China consisting “of its security agents”

It quoted an unidentified source, involved in underground church work, as saying that “Some security agents disguise themselves as defectors and deliberately approach those Korean churches operating in China.”

With money and Bibles received from these churches for missionary work in North Korea, “the agents establish a fake church” in North Korea to find Christians and “hunt down domestic underground churches connected to the churches in China,” the source added.

Pray that God will give the true Christians wisdom and discernment, and that they will be a light to the agents who are hunting them.

Hindu Mob Attacks Christmas Celebration

Posted in India with tags , , , , , , on December 24, 2007 by Mike

The Indian Catholic News Service is reporting that a mob of Hindu fundamentalists attacked a Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve in Bamunigam, India.

An onlooker Praful Nayak on looker told ICNS, “Today around 10.00 am
mob (Hindus) around 500 came and attacked the Christians and destroyed crib, pandal and light and sound. It may cost 2 lakhs. They have also made gun injuries and attacked with sword, lathi and other instruments.”

The parish had obtained the permission from District authority Police Superintendent of Kandhamal and had prepared crib, pandal and illuminated the small town with various kinds of lights. The Authority had promised to send the police force but police but
police force were not present. But the parish was told that many Hindu people are going to the spot, and police presence may cause more damage.

Sr Prasan Sualsingh Superior Prabhatitara Convent Bamunigam said, “The Christian community (Catholic, Baptist, Pentecost etc.) of Bamunigam area decided to
celebrate Christmas in grand way. They had obtained the permission from District authority Police Superintendent of Kandhamal and had prepared crib, pandal and illuminated the small town with various kinds of lights.”

Fr Prodosh Nayak, said “Two people have received gun injuries and many were sustain physical injuries, still people are being brought to the hospital by local vans.”

“The Christians are scared that they (mob) may do more damage. They remain under threat and fear,” Fr Nayak said.

Prisoner Alert–Zaur Balaev

Posted in Azerbaijan with tags , , , , , on December 24, 2007 by Mike

photo by Prisoner AlertPrisonerAlert.com has posted information about a pastor in Azerbaijan who was imprisoned in May 2007.

On May 20, 2007, Pastor Zaur Balaev was arrested for “conducting an illegal religious meeting” in his home village in Aliabad, Azerbaijan. In August, he was sentenced to two years in prison under Article 315, Part 1, for allegedly violently resisting the police during a raid. The authorities first claimed that Pastor Balaev released a dog on police, but have since claimed he attacked five policemen and damaged a car door. During the trial, some witnesses reported that police had pressured them into testifying against Pastor Balaev.

Take some time today to send Zaur an encouraging letter through Prisoner Alert’s website. Be sure to follow their guidelines on what not to say.

A Nigerian Shepherd Fighting For His Sheep

Posted in Nigeria with tags , , , , on December 23, 2007 by Mike

Pastor Pam (photo by Shola Oshunkeye)The Rev. Yakubu Pam, an Assemblies of God minister in Nigeria, once met with the (now former) president of Nigeria after a series of attacks by Muslims and Christians against each other in 2004. At the meeting, at which Pam was accompanied by other fellow Christian leaders, President Obasanjo called Pam an idiot and mocked the Christians.

Shola Oshunkeye and Ndidi Kenedy-Ukaga from The Sun News recently interviewed Pastor Pam about the religious violence still occuring in Nigeria and the challenges he faces as a minister and a Christian in northern Nigeria. This is a great interview which gives insight into the fight that one Christian is fighting on the front lines of a war, both spiritual and physical, in a war-torn country.

Do you take your positions on national issues due to a deep conviction or are you just doing what you are doing to win the people’s heart and cheers?
It is pure conviction. If you look at the scripture in Luke 10, Jesus Christ sent his disciples to diverse cities to preach the gospel. I believe, as a pastor, we are called to serve the nation as well. I never bribed God for me to be born in Nigeria. If I had an option or a choice as to where I wanted to be born, I wouldn’t have chosen to be born here but since I am a Nigerian and a pastor, I will speak the truth and the word of God. The bible says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” So, when we speak the truth to the nation, we are offering drugs that cure all forms of diseases attacking the nation. It is only God that can heal Nigeria.

Are you saying that only the truth can heal Nigeria?
Yes, only the truth can heal Nigeria.

Talking about speaking the truth, you, as a northerner based in the North, which is a volatile place in terms of religious disharmony, how much of the truth can you speak boldly in an environment like that?
If by speaking the truth, I have been brought to the limelight, if I had the courage to speak the truth to former President Olusegun Obasanjo the way I did during my altercation with him, then what volatility are we talking about here? Wherever you are, you should be bold enough to defend the truth. Boldness is an attribute from God. We must be bold when we have and know the truth. It does not matter where you are speaking. Christians in the North are rated as second-class citizens, with a lot of discrimination. Yet all these factors can’t stop me from speaking out from the North. I have seen the result of speaking the truth.

China playing the role of Scrooge

Posted in China with tags , , , , on December 22, 2007 by Mike

Robert Duncan has a great article in the Canada Free Press about the various incidents that have occurred lately in China, in which the Chinese authorities have been cracking down on Christians leading up to Christmas. He prefaces these incidents with an historical context of Christianity in China and the size of the Church in China as compared with populations of nations.

“To arbitrarily arrest peaceful Christians for celebrating Christmas, shows how much religious freedom Chinese people have,” said Bob Fu, President of China Aid Association. “The international community should be concerned for the increasing religious persecution in China in recent months especially in light of the Beijing Olympics just a few months away.”

According to Asia News, “the economic opening of China has led to Christmas becoming an accepted and loved holiday. Christmas trees are on sale in the major cuties and countryside, as will as nativity scenes and greeting cards.”

But economics does not make Christmas. “For many underground Catholics there will be no Christmas mass: there bishops are under house arrest, as are many priests. As a result the only way they have of celebrating the Jesus’ birth is to gather together and listen to the mass transmitted by Vatican Radio. The lack of priests, (and of freedom) in many areas in China, forces many to travel up to 50 km to attend midnight mass,” that same Asia News article noted.

According to China Aid, “In spite of increasing persecution, house church members remain adamant and vocal about celebrating the Christmas season. Services continue to be held celebrating the birth of Christ, as members gather to sing songs and worship despite fears of arrest and imprisonment.”