Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher

April 30, 2012 by  
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He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that
for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician,
there is a dedicated leader…
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,

Steer him away from envy,
if you can,
teach him the secret of
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick…
Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books…
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far honourable to fail
than to cheat…
Teach him to have faith
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him
they are wrong…
Teach him to be gentle
with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon…
Teach him to listen to all men…
but teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad…
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness…
Teach him to sell his brawn
and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight
if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient…
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do…
He is such a fine little fellow,
my son!

– abraham lincoln

Unite to oppose gay marriage: Pope’s envoy asks Muslims, Jews

April 30, 2012 by  
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UK, April 28, 2012: The pope’s representative in Britain has urged Roman Catholics to form a “united front” with Muslims and Jews to oppose gay marriage, a media report said Saturday.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini has called for closer co-operation with other faiths to put pressure on the British government over its plans to allow same-sex couples to marry, the Telegraph reported.

In an address to Catholic bishops, he reiterated recent comments by Pope Benedict who said the church faced “powerful political and cultural currents” in favour of redefining marriage.

Muslim and Jewish leaders reportedly intervened after Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone launched a national consultation on how same-sex marriage might be introduced.

The Muslim Council of Britain has voiced opposition to the plans. It described the plan as “unnecessary and unhelpful”, the report said.

In Scotland, the Council of Glasgow Imams have reportedly agreed on a resolution describing same-sex marriage as an “attack” on their faith and fundamental beliefs.

In the Jewish community, the Liberal and Reform synagogues have given their support to same-sex marriage but rabbis within the main United Synagogues have expressed opposition, the daily said.

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill United Synagogue in London recently accused the government of launching an “assault” on religious values.

Lord Indarjit Singh, head of the Network of Sikh Organisations, has said the proposed reforms represented “a sideways assault on religion”.

– ians

Iran: Monuments destroyed in bid to wipe out Christian heritage *Indonesia: Islamists block persecuted church from holding service

April 30, 2012 by  
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Iran, April 24, 2012: Historical Christian monuments in Iran are being destroyed or allowed to fall into a state of decay in what appears to be an attempt by the authorities to wipe out the country’s Christian heritage.

Churches and Christian cemeteries are particularly vulnerable, as experts warn that pre-Islamic historical monuments are at greater risk than ever before.

Earlier this month, Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News reported that a Christian cemetery, which was over 200 years old, in the Ghal’e Dokhtar area of Kerman province had been completely demolished without the permission of its owners.

Mohammad Mehdi Afzali of the Cultural Heritage organisation of Kerman was quoted as saying:

Destruction of this cemetery was conducted as part of a project by the municipality and Cultural Heritage organisation to release lands around Ghal’e Dokhtar and Ghal’e Ardeshir.

This followed the flattening of the Church of St Andrew, also in Kerman, last year. It was pulled down by bulldozers overnight despite having been registered as a national monument in March 2009, a status that required the 60-year-old building to be protected and restored. The church had previously been converted into an office for a taxi service.
The Church of Haftvan, in Salmas county, has been repeatedly attacked and is in danger of collapse. It was registered as a national monument in 2002 but has been left to decay; plants have grown into the building, causing the walls to crack. Trespassers have vandalised the building, and the yard in front of it has been dug up in search of jewels and antiques; this has caused soil erosion, weakening the walls of the church.
A Christian from Salmas said:
The Islamic Republic is practically destroying monuments of Christians. It is not Haftvan alone; the church of Ashnak village has become the same or even worse because of some trespassers who are actually officials of the regime… The laws of the Islamic country do nothing to prevent the destruction of these monuments.

Large crosses on gravestones at a Christian cemetery in Bushehr that dates back to the mid-nineteenth century have been removed, and what remains of the site is overgrown and neglected.

Mohabat News said:
It seems that Islamic Republic officials, unsuccessful in stopping the growth of Christianity among the people by pressuring them, arresting them and banning Christian converts from attending church services, want to destroy historical Christian monuments to totally wipe the Christian heritage from the face of Iran.

– barnabas team

Indonesia: Islamists block persecuted church from holding service


Indonesia, April 24, 2012: Another Indonesian church whose building has been unlawfully sealed off by the authorities was met with violent opposition from Islamists as it attempted to stage an outdoor service.

The Filadelfia congregation of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in Bekasi has been unable to use the building on the land it bought in 2007. The Christians worshipped in a semi-permanent building while waiting for a permit from the Bekasi government. Despite their meeting all the requirements for one, a permit was not issued, and on 31 December 2009, the church was banned from using the site; the building was sealed off the following month.

HKBP took the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in their favour. Its decision is however, yet to be implemented.

Last Sunday (15 April), the congregation was met with violent opposition as they tried to hold a service on the street in front of their sealed-off church building. Muslim residents blocked them from the site, and the local authorities had to intervene.

Overwhelmed by the mob, officials told the Christians to hold their service at the local sub-district office – around five kilometres away – but they refused. As they persisted with the service, it was disrupted by the Muslim opponents, who played loud music and rode a motorcycle through the congregation.

Church leader, the Rev. Palti Panjaitan, insisted it was the church’s right to use the building. He was threatened by one of the mob, who shouted, “Palti Panjaitan, you’re dead if you try coming back!”

HKBP’s battle with the authorities and local Muslims has many parallels with the plight of GKI Yasmin Church, whose building in Bogor, West Java, has been illegally sealed off by the authorities, in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling that it should re-open.

More than 200 Christians from the two churches, along with human rights activists and political representatives, staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on 15 April. They decried the expropriation of places of worship and called for religious freedom to be upheld, denouncing violations by Islamist groups and the failure of the authorities, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to implement the law.

Activists said that the president was afraid of “alienating” the Islamic fringe in case he lost support and votes.

GKI, which has been holding services on the street in front of its church building since 2008, has now been forced to meet in secret for the safety of the congregation.

Church spokesman Bona Sigalingging said:

We are constantly having to change our location because our existence appears to be unwanted, and we have to hide so that we are not intimidated by intolerant groups… We had hoped for help from the police, but after many attacks on members of the congregation, we see that the police are also involved in this.

In a visit to Indonesia earlier this month, British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the country as an example of religious tolerance. He said:

What Indonesia shows is that in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, it is possible to reject this extremist threat and prove that democracy and Islam can flourish alongside each other.

While it is true that there is greater religious freedom in Indonesia than some Muslim-majority countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan, the ongoing persecution of HKBP and GKI demonstrate that Indonesia still has a long way to go in the treatment of its Christian minorities.

– barnabas team

TN: Meaning of spirits lands pastor in police lock-up *Pastor forced to vacate house church *Hindutvas attack evangelists in Home Minister’s town?

April 30, 2012 by  
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Tamil Nadu, April 30, 2012: Pastor Enoch Sathyanagar has been doing the church ministry in Kondapan Nayakanpatti of Salem District in Tamil Nadu during the last past 5 years. On 07-03-2012, a Hindu acquaintance of the his one Murugan, along with five of his friends, came to Pastor Enoch and asked him to conduct a prayer service for the repose of the soul of his father, 60 year old Kuppan, who had died a few days earlier. The pastor explained to Murugan that he could hold such a prayer meeting only a month after his father’s death and that once such a ceremony was conducted all the evil spirits would clear away from his house. But then Murugan, one usually given to believing in all sorts of evil spirits and black magic etc. misunderstood the whole thing and began quarrelling with the pastor which finally ended up with a physical attack on the pastor. Murugan and his friends severely beat up the pastor and then went to the nearby police station and lodged a complaint against the pastor alleging that the pastor had killed his father through black magic. The police arrested the pastor and locked him up.

Inside the lock-up the pastor explained the whole story to the police in great detail. When they realized what exactly had happened, they released the pastor. The pastor in turn lodged a complaint against Murugan and his friends. The police then arrested Murugan and his friends for their attack against the innocent pastor. However, finally, the police advised both the parties to compromise and end the fight, which they subsequently did and ended their futile quarrel.

TN: Pastor forced to vacate house church


Tamil Nadu, April 30, 2012: Pastor Caleb has been doing church ministry in Emapur village of Kallakuruchi in Villupuram District of Tamil Nadu. On 11-04-2012, as usual, he went to preach the gospel in the village. But a group of Hindu fanatics, led by one Balaji, objected to his preaching the gospel in the village and attacked him and beat him up quite severely.

They also told his house owner to get him vacated from the house and close down the church as they have been conducting the worship service in the same rented house. Their pressure upon their house owner to send away the pastor from his house has been mounting by the day and the pastor finds himself in a helpless position. Please pray for him.

TN: BJP workers attack evangelists in Home Minister’s town?


Tamil Nadu, April 30, 2012: On 21.03.2012, a team of 15 believers led by Evangelist Jesudoss from Kandanur along with believers went in a van fitted with a megaphone to preach the gospel in Paganeri in Shivagangai District of Tamil Nadu. A group of about 100 BJP workers led by A. Raja and his friend Chidambaram objected to their preaching and attacked them and burnt the Bibles and the tracts and also forcibly snatched the van key from them. They then also destroyed their megaphone. Immediately after this incident the pastor along with some of the believers went to the Paganeri Police Station and lodged a complaint against the BJP workers. But the police did not take any action. Then they went to the DSP and complained to him about the incident. The DSP immediately sent a couple of policemen who brought both the parties together and arrived at a compromise with the help of the local Panchayat President and returned the key to the pastor. Since they arrived at a compromise, the police did not take any action against the BJP workers.

But later when they went back to the village, the BJP workers once again came to fight with them and physically attacked Evangelist Jessudoss .The perpetrators told them that though they had burnt their Bibles they could do nothing to them and that they would not hesitate to do anything to them in the future.


Chhattisgarh: Hindutvas attack mourners *Pastor and believers attacked

April 30, 2012 by  
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Chhattisgarh, April 27, 2012: Hindu extremists trying to stop the burial of a convert to Christianity last week in Chhattisgarh state beat a pastor and other Christians, including children and two 60-year-old women who fell unconscious, sources told Compass.

Jaikant Pawar, 31, of Balgal village, Kanker district, died on April 20 en route to a hospital; an asthma sufferer, he had complained of chest pains. When more than 40 Christians at the family’s house were taking his body out for burial, Hindu villagers who had surrounded the house stopped them.
“About 300 extremists led by the village head, Satnatram Pawar, suddenly surrounded the house shouting anti-Christian slogans, mocked and verbally abused us,” one Christian leader told Compass. “They slapped, kicked and beat us with their fists and slippers. The extremists threatened to kill us and challenged us to bring life back to the dead body of Pawar.”

At least 10 Christians sustained injuries and received medical treatment, sources said, adding that the attack went on for more than six hours. The assailants accused the Christians of having poisoned Pawar.

“The extremists were mocking us and said that Jesus, who calmed the storm, sent rain and who also raised up the dead, must also raise up Jaikant Pawar, and they forced us to pray,” the Christian leader said. “They threatened to pull off my skin if Jesus did not make Pawar alive again.”

The villagers beat Ganga Bhai and Suki Bhai, both 60 years old, he said.

“The Christians fled and scattered and some hid in their homes,” he said. “However, the extremists chased them and forcefully dragged them out from their houses. Two Christian children who were about 10 years old were pushed and thrown like a volleyball. They fell unconscious after some time.”

The leader, who suffered internal injuries in the attack, said he was beaten nearly unconscious, with the extremists pouring water on him to revive him when he was about to pass out. He and others eventually lost consciousness but were revived when a girl poured water on them; but one Christian, Pyaru Bihari, remained unconscious for 24 hours, he said.

At about 2 a.m. that night, the Hindu extremists told the Christians to remove the body from the village or be killed, sources said. The Christians carried the body to the Bande police station about 10 kilometers (six miles) away, but police were unwilling to register a First Information Report, they said.

After pressure from area Christian leaders and the Evangelical Fellowship of India, the district collector and police investigated, source said.

The officials summoned the attackers, who then falsely accused the Christians of beating them. Police warned the villagers not to disturb the Christians again and worked out an agreement in which the body was allowed to be buried in Balgal.

On Wednesday (April 25), however, area Christians began to receive threats, according to Christian support organization Open Doors.

“Withdraw your complaint or face dire consequences, to the point of losing your lives,” they were warned, according to an Open Doors press statement.

Pawar and his wife converted to Christianity three years ago, remaining firm in their faith in spite of being ostracized by their family and community, a Christian leader told Compass.

“Pawar firmly believed in Christ, and he once said, ‘Jesus gives me peace, so I cannot leave Him,’ when his relatives and the villagers warned him to leave Christ,” said another church leader.

Since they were the only Christians in their village, the couple gathered with Christians in nearby Bande and Pakhanjur, according to Open Doors. Pawar had suffered from a sickle-cell disease as well as asthma, the organization stated, forcing him to be hospitalized earlier this month.

– cdn

Chhattisgarh: Pastor and believers attacked


Chhattisgarh, April 25, 2012: Pastor Dhaniram Nag and his church believers has been attacked by some people during a prayer meeting.

On 20th night, pastor was conducting a prayer meeting in a place called, Bande, 15 km from his place Pakhanjur, Chhatisgarh state. They were worshipping and praying in a believer’s house when the village head (‘Sarpanch’) along with 250-300 other villagers came and locked the door from outside. They then started to bring out people one by one and started beating all of them (there were about 50 believers including Pastor & his wife), very badly until they become unconscious. The brutal act didn’t stop there as they poured water on Pastor & his wife and beat them up again and again. They did not even spare little children & ladies.

Meanwhile, there was a believer who was sick and was taken to a doctor in Pakhanjur. Though he was given some medication but he died upon reaching his village. Now, the Sarpanch and others started to accuse the Pastor & the church that he died because of them. They are not allowing the dead body to be buried. Then, Pastor & believers, took the dead body to the police station to seek the help from police. The Police In-charge has called the accused Sarpanch and others, but they have not reached & responded yet. Hence, all of them are waiting and nothing has been done yet.


AP: Pastor is arrested for a cemetery row

April 30, 2012 by  
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Andhra Pradesh, April 19, 2012: Pastor Samuel was arrested in Yellamma Banda, Hyderabad district for trespassing on a cemetery.

The pastors of Yellamma Banda deciding to upgrade the public graveyard submitted a memorandum to the Corporator and approached the Municipal Commissioner through an MLA on the 5th of April. The necessary upgrades that were to be made were the construction of a fence, along with the installation of some lights and a small cabin in the Yellamma Banda graveyard.
After a word of mouth approval by the MLA Mr. Bhiksa Yadav, Pastor Samuel and his co-workers went and began levelling the surface of the cemetery. On seeing this peculiar activity some passerby made a compliant believing that the pastor was illegally encroaching on public land.

On 16th morning at around 1:30 am, Pastor Samuel was arrested for illegally trespassing on the cemetery. Later in the morning at around 7 am about 50 pastors met with MLA Bhiksa Yadav, who promised to intervene with the SI of police and other concerned authorities.

Pastor Samuel still remains under trial in police custody even though no formal evidence could be linked to be the underlying cause of the complaint and his arrest.

– aicc

Change of Guard in National Council of Churches in India

April 30, 2012 by  
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Karnataka, April 28, 2012: The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) XXVII Quadrennial Assembly selected its new office bearers for the next Quadrennium today in the City. The NCCI is the apex body of the 30 Indian Protestant and Orthodox Traditions and 42 National organizations. Its 27th Quadrennial Assembly held in Bengaluru from 25th to 28th April. The Methodist Church in India hosted the Assembly at the St. John’s Medical College Campus on the theme “Gospel in a Groaning World”.

There were over 500 delegates from all over India from various Christian Denominations assembled at the Assembly to revisit their mission agenda and to prioritize its programmes for the next quadrennium.

There were several resolutions passed unanimously including the demand to the Government of India to listen to groans of the people of Kudankulam in Tamilnadu, Jagatsinghpur in Odisha and Kashmir Valley and North East India in reference to the public security acts like AFSPA.

This quadrennium has come to an end with selecting of its new office bearers for the next quadrennium. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Taranath S. Sagar, Bishop in Methodist Church (Bangalore) is selected as new President of NCCI again for the next quadrennium too. Rev. Dr. Mar Atsongchanger from the Nagaland Baptist Church, Mrs. Pearly Jos of Chaldean Syrian Church of the East and Mr. Suman Biswas of the Church of North India were selected as vice presidents respectively under General, Women and Youth category. The Rev. Dr. Agustine Jeyakumar of Lutheran Church is selected to assume the office of the Treasurer.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad the General Secretary of the NCCI presented the newly elected officers to the Assembly delegates during the closing worship. The NCCI has resolved to hear the groanings of the World and become the gospel to the groaning communities on the earth. In 2014 the NCCI enters into its centenary year. It is an Icon of Unity in India.

In the Photo: (R to L) Rev. Dr. Mar Atsongchanger (Vice President), Mrs. Pearly Jos ( Vice President) Rev. Dr. Augustine Jeyakumar (Treasurer), Rt. Rev. Dr. Taranath S Sagar (President), Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad (General Secretary) and Mr. Suman Biswas (Vice President).

– ncci

She in her poverty put two mites… What do we do?

April 25, 2012 by  
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“She out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood. —Mark 12:44”

Jesus sat in the temple near the treasury and watched as people walked by and deposited their gifts for the temple (Mark 12).

Some made a show of it, perhaps so others could see how much they had given.

Just then a poor woman came by and threw in two “mites.”

A mite was the least valuable coin in circulation.

Thus the widow’s gift was very small, amounting to nothing in most folk’s eyes.

But our Lord saw what others did not see. She had given “all that she had” (Mark 12:44).

The widow wasn’t trying to draw attention to herself.

“…She was simply doing what she was able to do. And Jesus noticed…! ”

“….We mustn’t forget that our Lord sees all that we do, though it may seem very small…..”

It may be nothing more than showing a cheerful countenance in difficult times or an unnoticed act of love and kindness to someone who happens to pass by.

It may be a brief, silent prayer for a neighbor in need.

Jesus said, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.

Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. . . .

But when you do a charitable deed, . . . may [it] be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matt. 6:1-4).

May our gifts be sacrificial, From our hearts, and full of love Secretive and never showy, Pleasing our great God above.

“God looks at the heart, not the hand of the giver and nor the gift ”

– fwd: vc mathews

Turkish Catholic Church calls for a return of 200 properties. Better to ask for legal recognition *Sudan: Muslim mob burns Catholic church in capital

April 25, 2012 by  
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Turkey, April 23, 2012: The bishops’ request is based on a 1913 list, signed by the Ottoman Empire and France, once the protector of Catholics. The request, difficult to resolve, has stirred controversy and embarrassment among other Christian communities. Archbishop Lucibello, Nuncio in Turkey. It is urgent that Ankara recognize the Catholic Church, after 60 years of diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

The Turkish Catholic Church is trying to regain possession of 200 properties confiscated by the government in Ankara in the 1930s. But several elements of the community think the church should focus its efforts on the legal recognition of the community.

A few days ago, some Catholic bishops, including Msgr. Ruggero Franceschini, president of the Episcopal Conference, met with the Commission for Reconciliation of the Turkish parliament. The Commission has been working to study the return of properties confiscated by the government of Ataturk to non-Muslim communities (see: 29/08/2011 Historic decision: Erdogan returns seized property to religious minorities). But Catholics are not in the list of “non-Muslim communities” because at the time they were recognized as a “foreign” community.

The Turkish Church has submitted a list of over 200 properties (churches, schools, orphanages, hospitals, cemeteries, …) based on a list drawn up in 1913 between the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and France, erstwhile protector of the Church Catholic.

The problem of return of these properties is very complex: first, these assets have passed from hand to hand and it is not certain that they can be returned. But the most important issue is the lack of legal status of the Catholic Church in the current Turkish law. To date, the Catholic Church in Turkey can not own property and these can only be made payable to Turkish private citizens (often secular or church-related nominee), with ambiguous consequences.

Several political parties and newspapers have taken on the requests of the bishops, judging them “greedy”. The request has embarrassed other Christian communities.

Some Church Turkish figures have stressed to AsiaNews that the real problem that needs to be addressed it is obtaining legal recognition by the State. Sources close to the episcopate state that this topic was not even addressed at the meeting with the Commission for Reconciliation,.

“On this recognition – said the apostolic nuncio in Turkey, Mgr. Antonio Lucibello – there are pour parler dating for decades. Even the pope, in meeting the new Turkish ambassador to the Vatican [January 7, 2010], once again asked for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church. This recognition should have already been granted because a country like Turkey has relations with the Holy See for 60 years and really should give this recognition : it would be a logical consequence because the Church in Turkey is in a sense as a derivation of the Holy See. ” According to experts, the forthcoming Turkish constitutional reform could lead to openings for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church.

– asianews

Muslim mob burns Catholic church in Sudan capital


Sudan, April 23, 2012: A Muslim mob set ablaze a Catholic church frequented by Southern Sudanese in the capital Khartoum, witnesses and media reports said on Sunday.

The church in Khartoum’s Al-Jiraif district was built on a disputed plot of land, but the Saturday night incident appeared to be part of the fallout from ongoing hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan over control of an oil town on their ill-defined border.

Sudan and South Sudan have been drawing closer to a full-scale war in recent months over the unresolved issues of sharing oil revenues and the disputed border.

Last week, South Sudanese troops seized Heglig, which the southerners call Panthou, sending Sudanese troops fleeing. The Khartoum government later claimed to have regained control of the town.

The witnesses and several newspapers said a mob of several hundred shouting insults at southerners torched the church. Fire engines could not put out the fire, they said.

One newspaper, Al-Sahafah, said the church was part of a complex that included a school and dormitories. Ethiopian refugees living in the Sudanese capital also used the church.

The mostly Christian and animist South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, some six years after a peace deal ended more than two decades of war between the two sides. Tens of thousands of southerners remain in Sudan, a legacy of the civil war that drove hundreds of thousands to seek relative safety in the north of what was then a single Sudanese nation.

Vice President Ali Osman Taha rejected suggestions by South Sudan for the deployment of international forces in Heglig, saying in a television interview that the area was internationally recognized as Sudanese territory.

He also said that Khartoum would shortly announce the monetary value of what he said was the destruction caused by Southern Sudanese troops in Heglig and that his government would demand compensation.

Sudanese army spokesman Col. Sawarmy Khaled said that government forces have repulsed an attack by Southern Sudanese forces in the area around the town of Talode in South Kordofan, the same region where Heglig is located. He said the southerners suffered unspecified casualties but did not say when the fighting took place.

In neighboring Blue Nile state, a Sudan military official said his forces have killed 50 rebels linked to the south.

Maj. Gen. Murtada Warraq said his forces will continue to “liberate” territories from rebels linked to the northern wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. His comments were carried by Sudan’s official news agency SUNA.

Clashes in Blue Nile state broke out in September, driving many of the area’s residents to seek refuge in the south.

– ap

Mali: Christians driven out of northern Mali by Islamist rebels *Turkey: No justice 5 years after brutal murder of 3 Christians

April 25, 2012 by  
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Mali, April 23, 2012: Christians in Mali are in desperate need of aid after being forced to flee their homes when Islamists rampaged through the north as part of a violent rebel takeover.

Ethnic Tuareg rebels, including Islamist movement Ansar Dine and a separatist group, seized control of northern Mali following a military coup that overthrew the government on 22 March. Boko Haram, the Islamist group that is waging war against Christians in Nigeria, have also been involved in the fighting.

A Barnabas Fund contact in Mali said:

Horrible crimes have been made against the population: massacres, rape of women, obligation to wear the veil, chasing Christians. All the churches were destroyed in Gao and Timbuktu. All the believers had to flee towards the south, leaving their homes and giving up all their goods.

The heavily armed rebels ransacked and looted homes, vandalised churches and occupied a Bible school in Gao. Ansar Dine, which has links to al-Qaeda and wants to turn Mali into an Islamic state, is imposing sharia law on the region.

More than 215,000 people have been displaced from their homes, many of them crossing into Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Many Christians went to the capital, Bamako; an association of missions and churches has set up a crisis committee to help the refugees who are in urgent need of food, clothes and other essential supplies.

Their plight is compounded by severe food shortages in the Sahel, of which Mali is a part, that have caused prices of basic foodstuffs to double, and even treble in some areas. UN agencies and NGOs have expressed deep concern that the rebel takeover of northern Mali could further exacerbate the food crisis.

Barnabas Fund is providing corn and rice for hundreds of Christian refugees. We are also supplying medicines for children and traumatised women, and covering housing costs for some families.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

Our brothers and sisters in Mali are in a desperate plight. Forced to flee their homes to save their lives amid a violent Islamist takeover that includes the specific targeting of Christians, they are distressed and in great need. The Church in Mali is rallying to help, but in the midst of a grave food crisis, resources are limited and expensive. They therefore need practical support from Christians overseas. Please help us to meet this urgent call today.

Please pray

– That the interim president, Dioncounda Traore, sworn in on 12 April, will be able to restore order in Mali and end the rebellion in the north.

– For all those who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the rebel takeover; pray that they will find refuge, and receive the food and other essentials that they need.

– For churches in the south as they seek to help their brothers and sisters from the north; pray that the Lord will strengthen them and give them all the resources they need.

– barnabas team

Turkey: No justice 5 years after brutal murder of 3 Christians

Turkey, April 20, 2012: As the fifth anniversary of the murders of three Christians at a publishing house in Turkey is marked this week, those responsible for their deaths are yet to be brought to justice.

Memorial services were held at the grave sites of Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and German national Tilman Geske on Wednesday 18 April, five years to the day that they were brutally murdered at the Zirve Christian publishing house in Malatya, eastern Turkey. 
The three men were discovered bound to chairs by their hands and feet; each of them had been brutally stabbed and had their throats cut. Ugur was still alive when they were found but died later in hospital from his many wounds.

Five men, aged 19 and 20 at the time, were arrested at the scene and charged with murder. They each carried a note that read, “The five of us are brothers, we are going to death, we may not return. Give up any legitimate claim against us.”

Their trial opened in November 2007, and there have been 38 hearings since then but no verdict in the case. It has been complicated by attempts to identify those who instigated the murders.   

At a hearing in February, the judges announced that an indictment was being prepared against those suspected of masterminding the killings and would be ready for the next hearing, scheduled to begin on 9 April. But the indictment is not yet ready, so the case was postponed until 18 June. Former local military police commanders and other officials, who are already in custody, are expected to be named.

There were concerns that the perpetrators could be released because, under Turkish law, accused parties who are not formally convicted and sentenced within five years are exonerated. But this law does not apply in terrorism cases, and the Malatya murders have been designated as such. 

In its 2012 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) named Turkey as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. Among the concerns raised about the country were “the delay of trials through lengthy procedures and the lack of convictions on some high profile cases”; the Malatya case was named as one of them.  

The shocking crime attracted high media coverage, and Tilman’s widow, Suzanne Geske, was interviewed on Turkish television shortly afterwards, where she expressed her forgiveness of her husband’s murderers. The couple had three children.

Necati was also married and had two children. Ugar was engaged; his fiancée has since married another Christian man.

– barnabas team

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