News

Sharia May Be Enforced for Canada's Muslims

Judges in Canada may soon be enforcing sharia (Islamic law) for the country's Muslim population. A 30-member council was established last fall to decide disputes, but the move could pave the way to criminal punishments. Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is watching the events, bearing in mind a similar situation in Nigeria.

"In a country like Canada, where you've always had the rule of law and the courts make a final decision, now you're bringing in a new court. Is its decision final or not final?" questioned VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton. "It really undermines the judicial system and the court system that has been established."

Nettleton says it's still too early to predict the effect this would have on evangelistic outreach. "We need to pray for our brothers and sisters who are there, regardless of what happens with the legal system. There is a need for witnesses for Christ, and we can pray that Canadians will stand up and be counted for Him."

Mission Network News

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President Seeks to Clear Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Roadblocks

The Bush administration offered in November a 120-day delay in implementing the partial-birth abortion ban which became law Nov. 5. The delay was offered as an incentive to courts to speed up the legal process to get the law past challenges which were promptly made, after the act became law with the president's signature. Should the U.S. District Court judge grant the government's request, it would result in a trial in four months-much faster than the year or more that would otherwise be expected, explained National Right to Life's Douglas Johnson.

Life in Oregon

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Revival Among Pygmies

"Deep in Congo's jungle, over 100,000 Pygmies have come to Christ in the past 14 years," reports Dutch pastor and church growth researcher Bram Krol, who regularly visits Congo to train pastors and perform research. "Whole villages are turning to Christ, and the Holy Spirit is moving in the jungle as never before." Interestingly enough, few missionaries have visited the Pygmies. With a third of the tribe converted in an area 4 times the size of Holland, these jungle inhabitants have themselves taken on the missionary challenge of bringing the gospel to other jungle villages through music, song, and dance.

Friday Fax via MissionNet

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Teens Lead Adults in Decrying Abortion

American teenagers lead adults by 10 percentage points in favoring government restrictions on abortions, according to a recent Gallup poll reported by Fox News. The survey found that 44% of teens support limitations on abortion, compared with only 34% of adults queried.

Teens were also more likely to favor allowing prayer in school (69% to 59%). However, adults are more conservative than teens on issues like same-sex marriage and the environment, according to the poll.

Based on a Fox News report.

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Conservative Episcopalians Urged Not to Bolt Yet

Conservative Episcopalians are being urged to "please stand firm a little while longer" and not leave the denomination until officials can develop an alternative network for dissidents. David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, a Washington-based conservative group that led opposition to the election and consecration of an openly-gay bishop in New Hampshire, said "any decision to leave now would be premature." Anderson said Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh has been named the moderator of a new conservative network that would provide oversight for parishes or clergy who oppose the denomination's positions on homosexuality. The network, which would exist alongside the Episcopal Church, has the blessing of 13 bishops and, Anderson said, the leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. "I can personally assure you that there is an unwavering commitment on the part of the Anglican primates to ensure that you and I have an Anglican home now that the Episcopal Church has left the Anglican family," Anderson wrote.

Religion News Service via Religion Today Summaries

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150,000 Habitat Homes "Significant Beginning"

Habitat for Humanity International founder Millard Fuller, recently named "executive of the year" by the Nonprofit Times, said the ministry has provided homes for more than 150,000 families in nearly 3,000 communities worldwide. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1976, constructs affordable homes for low-income families. Fuller said "I think its working because we are doing business with some fundamental biblical ideas." He said that while reaching the 150,000-home milestone is a "significant beginning," much more work remains. "More than 100 million people in the world are absolutely homeless, so our work is really just beginning."

Religion Today/Agape Press via MissionNet

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Wave of Violence Batters Sri Lanka Christians 

The first weekend of December saw Christians in Sri Lanka targeted in at least 12 incidents of violence, according to Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) sources. The attacks on churches continued the wave of violence begun the last weekend of November. The fresh assaults included:

A pastor leading a prayer meeting in Ampegama and some of the members were beaten by the assailants.

On Dec. 7, three churches in Bulathkohupitiya in the Kegalle District were attacked by religiously motivated militants. One church was burned, and church members were beaten.

On the same day, the Assembly of God Church in Deraniyagala (Kegalle District) was also besieged as a mob smashed the church building's windows and doors, burned the belongings and threatened the lives of some church workers who lived in the building.

On Dec. 9, militant Buddhists attacked a Catholic church and World Vision office in Embilipitiya (Ratnapura District).

In nearby Udawalawe, police warned the Assembly of God church of a potential attack. After they left, the church was besieged by about thirty people, who smashed windows and doors and burned furnishings.

VOM via MissionNet

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Fund-Raiser Theft Becomes Blessing in Disguise

A theft that occurred at a Florida church's fund-raiser became a blessing in disguise for the nondenominational congregation. After accepting a free meal the week before Thanksgiving at Community Deliverance Church in Palm Beach, two unidentified teenagers snatched a cash box containing $200, taking advantage of pastor William James Bouie's generosity, the Palm Beach Post reported.

However, thanks to publicity from local media, the church has received more than $2,500 in donations, with many of the gifts coming from anonymous donors who wanted to replace the stolen money collected at the church's weekly benefit cookout. "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can," wrote a couple from West Palm Beach, who attached a short poem to a check for $300. Bouie said the 130-member congregation has been "blessed because of the incident. Some of the donated money was used to deliver Thanksgiving dinner baskets to about a dozen families in the community.

The church is raising funds for a planned $230,000 building expansion.

Charisma News Service via MissionNet

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Situation Tense in Haiti

Apprehension in Haiti is increasing, causing untrained government security forces to take severe if not confusing action, according to reports received by Christian Aid. One source said many people are angry and opposed to Haiti's President Jean Bertrand Aristide. "The people are so angry at the president, they will not stop fighting until he is out of the country. Many people have died. There is a potential for civil war, but I hardly see how this country can be long in a war; people are so impoverished already," one source said.

"President Aristide has his gangs all over," one missionary couple wrote from Port-au-Prince. "We cannot even go downtown to buy supplies or food for the Bible school." They described an attempted outing: "We were just beyond the half-way mark and came to a roadblock. The gang had forced a driver to put his semi truck across the road to block it. When the rest of us as arrived they forced us to park our vehicles bumper to bumper so no one could move. They held everyone for 12 hours. No water, no food. the trees for a bathroom.

"They made lots of threats, but basically talked. God controlled the situation in that everyone did as they were told and I believe this is the one thing that kept things from getting violent." Finally at 3:00 a.m. they released everyone."

Christian Aid via MissionNet

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Church Triples in Size by Speaking Different Languages

An Assemblies of God congregation in California has tripled in size during the last eight years, partly by learning to speak different languages. Rich Guerra, pastor of Visalia First Assembly in Visalia which attracts 3,000 people for Sunday-morning services, said the growth is the result of a willingness to reach out to the community, Assemblies of God News reported.

The 75-year-old church, which built its first permanent building in 1931, has services in Spanish, Lahu, and Korean. It also has a weekly radio program that reaches a 150-mile radius. "We've been willing to get out of our comfort zone," Guerra said. This includes a number of community-outreach programs, including using its 40 acres for citywide high school band and choral concerts as well as musical competitions that typically draw 2,000 people. Last year about 850 people signed salvation cards.

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Christians Face New Discrimination in Papua

Indonesia's House of Representatives has endorsed a move to divide the territory now known as Papua into three separate provinces, despite strong opposition. Sources in Indonesia say the move has the potential of crowding Papua's indigenous people-most of them Christian-into the smallest and poorest of the three provinces. A prayer alert issued by the World Evangelical Alliance said the ratio of Christians to Muslims in Papua has declined rapidly in the past few years with a concentration of Muslims in western Papua. With tensions soaring in the province, the Indonesian government has proposed a ban on foreign tourism in the area. This could cause serious difficulties for Christian churches that have partners overseas.

Compass via MissionNet

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Bishop Jailed in China Located After 6 Years

In 1997 Su Zhimin, the bishop of an underground Catholic church in Baoding, Hebei, China, was arrested and was not heard from until he was taken to a hospital for an eye operation and treatment of a heart condition in mid-November. The report from Voice of the Martyrs said his name was never officially registered at the hospital, and he was closely guarded by about 20 security personnel. Zhimin has been arrested at least five times and spent a total of 27 years in prison. The Cardinal Kung Foundation reported that every bishop of the underground Roman Catholic Church is either in jail, under house arrest, under strict surveillance, or in hiding.

Voice of the Martyrs via MissionNet

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Online Church for Persecuted Christians

The Hungary-based International Christian Internet Church (ICIC) operates a Website aimed at reaching persecuted Christians worldwide with church services. Founder Lazlo Banfi, 42, who suffered for his faith under communism, said the ICIC's new Internet address (www.churchmeeting.net) would make it easier for people to find his ministry. The Internet is often the only way for persecuted Christians to participate in a church service, he said.

Earlier this year a 33-year-old man from Iran wrote a short email saying that their Christian church was closed six years ago, said Banfi. However, the six or eight believers in the group now gather in a private home to join the online worship service, listen to the preaching, read the daily Bible verse and pray together. "This is the only way to practice their faith," Banfi commented.

Assist via MissionNet

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