Kosovars in Serbia are remembering the four-year anniversary of their liberation, and many are thanking the U.S. Marie Waldschmidt, who works in the region with Greater Europe Mission, says Kosovars are empathetic to the Iraqi people. “The Kosovars experienced the bombing as being a liberation, and they’re thankful that they have peace right now. They believe the Iraqi people will better understand a few years from now. Many of them don’t understand now, but they’ll be very thankful later. I would say more than 90% of the population here is very supportive of the Americans.” That support has opened many doors to share the gospel as reconstruction efforts continue. “We’re able to help them practically with relief and communicate God’s love to them. There’s a presence and an openness and an opportunity like there has never been in this nation for at least 100 years.”
Mission Network News via HCJB World Radio
Thousands of people knowingly infect themselves with the HIV virus each year, according to Rolling Stone magazine—a practice commonly known as “bug chasing” and cited by those who participate in it as the ultimate form of erotic fulfillment.
Of the 40,000 new HIV infections each year, as many as 10,000 may be due to bug chasing— a figure that represents a full 25% of all HIV cases, Bob Cabaj, a San Francisco official, said in the Feb. 6 edition of Rolling Stone.
Why would anyone knowingly infect himself with a fatal disease? One homosexual told Rolling Stone it’s all about the freedom associated with having HIV. Once you have the most deadly disease on the market, he said, you can participate in any sexual activity without worrying about the consequences.
Yet the consequences of such behavior may actually go beyond anything bug chasers ever imagined, warns Ben Mitchell, bioethics consultant for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Bug chasing is a painfully obvious expression of the downward spiral of sin,” Mitchell said. “In Romans 1, Paul teaches that when God gives someone over to his own sinful desires, behaviors as depraved as bug chasing first become thinkable, then practiced, and finally accepted with perverse glee.”
In the heart of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, and a few miles from a training camp of the Muslim extremist fighting force, Laskar Jihad, Open Doors held its third seminar this year on “Preparing for Persecution” in Madiun, East Java, March 18-20. More than 150 pastors attended the gathering. “In Indonesia we feel that more and more pressure will come in the future,” said Pastor Nathan Sandjaja.” Thirty percent of Sandjaja’s 1,500-member church in Madiun is comprised of Christians from a Muslim background.
“Before the seminar, we were a bit afraid, but afterwards we were more bold and more prepared to see God work no matter what may come,” he said. Staff members share the lessons of the persecuted church worldwide, giving a biblical perspective on persecution, practical advice on how to avoid unnecessary persecution and instruction on how to fight persecution when it happens. The material contains examples of how churches grow even in the midst of severe persecution.
Open Doors via HCJB World Radio
One of Russia’s top Muslim leaders has called for a jihad (holy war) against the U.S. for its attack on Iraq but was quickly threatened by government officials to keep quiet or risk prosecution. Islamic leader Talgat Tadjuddin was quoted March 29 by the Interfax news agency as urging “believers not satisfied with prayer” among the nation’s 20 million Muslims to go quickly to Baghdad to fight the Americans. The next day the local prosecutor’s office issued an official warning to Tadjuddin not to break the Russian law that forbids inciting ethnic or religious hatred. Officials in Russia, with its Orthodox Christian majority and sizable Muslim and Buddhist minorities, are wary of religious conflict, especially given the ongoing violence in mostly-Muslim Chechnya.
Religion Today via HCJB World Radio
Two North Koreans who had once served in the regime’s horrible prisons told the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva late in March that the ugly conditions and brutal treatment drove some prisoners to cannibalism and suicide.
“Kang Chul Hwan was arrested at age nine along with several members of his family because of his grandfather’s alleged political crimes,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported. “He spent 10 years in a prison camp in North Korea where he witnessed children being kicked to death, worked to death, or publicly executed.” Kang told the UN: “A third of the children died of malnourishment. In order to survive, I ate rats, cockroaches, and snakes. Children simply disappeared from the camp.”
Lee Min Bok is a former North Korean plant genetic engineer who was sent to prison camp after being caught attempting to flee to China. He survived terrible brutality at the hands of guards in both China and North Korea before being sent to the State Security Police Detention Center in Hyesan City.
He said: “The food situation was so bad that cannibalism was quite widespread. A woman who had just given birth was so hungry that she ate her own newborn baby. Brothers ate their own brothers in order to survive. “There were no sanitation facilities and no showers and your body became full of insects. There were tens of thousands of lice all over my body. The concentration camps in North Korea today are like Hitler’s concentration camps.”
Kim Sang Hun, a South Korean who has worked for 20 years as a UN official and has devoted the last six years to aiding North Koreans, said: “Even using the most conservative estimates, the number of victims of extra-judicial killing in North Korea over the past 50 years of the regime’s entire history stands close to one million, or 5% of the entire prisoner population of 300,000 each year.
HCJB World Radio
Reports are filtering out of Saudi Arabia that the number of Christians is growing. Saudi Arabia is one of the most anti-Christian nations in the world, but Lee DeYoung of Words of Hope says this isn’t slowing church growth. “We have been noting an increased response from listeners who seem to be, if not seekers, actually profess faith in Christ who are writing from within Saudi Arabia—especially women. There are even some fellowships in Mecca itself which is a place where Christians aren’t even supposed to enter.” DeYoung can only guess why. “God’s spirit is at work there. Even though it’s a place that’s outwardly very hostile to anything that is not consistent with Islam. Radio is obviously one of the only ways we know of that there could be any ongoing contact.”
Mission Network News via HCJB World Radio
The nation’s Jesuit priests said the fight over legalized abortion must become a human rights issue, not clouded by medical, privacy, or civil rights concerns. A statement issued March 25 said the abortion debate has been shaped around the rights of women to have abortions, and said “all too often...`liberty’ and `choice’ devolve into code words for utter freedom to terminate a pregnancy without limits or conditions.” Catholics who oppose abortion must respectfully engage abortion supporters but never yield the moral high ground claimed by the church, the Jesuits said. “Our long-term goal remains full legal recognition of and protection for the unborn child—from the moment of conception.”
Religion Today Summaries