Her final journey was on a tattered cot as she belonged to a ‘Low caste’

October 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kalahandi, October 27, 2016: Sabitri died on Tuesday night. And the humiliation she suffered during her lifetime paled in comparison to what her lifeless body was subjected to hours after death.

Far from decent last rites, the old woman’s body was tied to a cot and dragged by three of her relatives to the cremation ground. No neighbour, no friend came forward to help them in Tentulipada village of Mahima Panchayat in Odisha.

The reason: Sabitri belonged to a ‘low caste’ and had been ‘exiled’ along with her husband by the villagers.

Sabitri was the second wife of Baidyanath Zued, who had married her while working as a labourer in Bhawanipatna district of the state after the death of his first wife. Sabitri’s hopes of a happy married life were dashed when the locals ‘exiled’ the couple as Sabitri was from a ‘low caste’.

Her husband died six months ago and Sabitri had been living in pitiable conditions since then.

When Sabitri breathed her last on Tuesday night, Raghunath informed the villagers and asked them for help in completing the last rites. But no one came forward. They again asked him to pay a fine so Sabitri could be ‘taken back’ for her cremation. But Raghunath was unable to meet their demands.

He ultimately had to tie the body to a tattered cot and, with the help of his wife and son-in-law, drag it to the cremation ground. Villagers followed them, some with mobile phones, recording Sabitri’s ‘last journey’. Others offered suggestions: “Tie the body to a pole. It will be easier to carry it to the cremation ground”. But, no one lifted a hand to actually help the trio.

Some locals informed District Collector Brinda D about this incident, who in turn informed Kokasara BDO Raghunath Mundari.

Mundari visited the area later. “Those who cannot afford to undertake cremation of relatives themselves can avail of the Harishchandra Jojana in which the family is given `2,000 financial aid for the last rites. This family will also be given this amount. But, it is high time that people empathise with others and show some humanity,” said Raghunath Mundari.

The incident comes weeks after a tribal man in the state’s Bhawanipatna district was forced to carry his wife’s body on his shoulder for 10km after his repeated requests for an ambulance fell on deaf ears.

– news 18

Do books of the bible contradict themselves? Christian apologist Lee Strobel answers

October 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

U.S., October 28, 2016: Slightly differing accounts of the discovery of Christ’s empty tomb in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke are easy targets for skeptics who are looking to discredit the Bible, but one Christian apologist seeks to clear up those misconceptions.

In his newly revised New York Times best-selling book, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus, Christian apologist Lee Strobel speaks to the skepticism that “seems to penetrate to the heart of the reliability of the empty tomb narratives,” he writes in his book.

Strobel mentions one critic in particular, deceased agnostic Charles Templeton, who notes that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke offer different descriptions of what occurred during the discovery of the empty tomb and each, as Strobel quotes Templeton in the book, “‘ … differ so markedly at so many points that with all the good will in the world, they cannot be reconciled.'”

Many of the perceived discrepancies between passages found in Matthew, Mark and Luke are summarized by retired Boston University professor Michael Martin who taught the philosophy of atheism and is cited in Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ. Two examples are included below:

Matthew 28:2:

(Layman’s terms)

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary arrive at the tomb near dawn and find a rock in front of it. They experience a violent earthquake, and an angel descends and rolls back the stone and sits on it:

(Bible)

“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from Heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.” (KJV)

Mark 16:1-5

(Layman’s terms)

The Gospel of Mark adds Salome to the mix, a woman not mentioned in Matthew. Here the women arrive at the tomb at sunrise and find the stone already rolled back, unlike in Matthew:

(Bible)

“And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.” (KJV)

Here, there is no mention of an earthquake or an angel who descends from Heaven and rolls back the stone as in the book of Matthew.

Another point where the details don’t necessarily jive is in the Gospels of Luke and Mark.

Luke 24:1-4

(Layman’s terms)

Luke coincides with Matthew 28:2 above in that they both agree that an angel sits on the rock outside the tomb. In Mark 16:1-5, however, one “young man” is reported to be inside the tomb, while Luke reports that two men are inside.

(Bible)

“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.” (KJV)

Apologist and Bible expert analysis

In an effort to reconcile these differences, and perhaps calm the chatter among those who question the Bible on this issue, Strobel consults Bible expert William Lane Craig, PhD, asking, “In light of all this, how in the world can you possibly consider the empty tomb story to be credible?”

Craig says that historians examine the overall narrative and say, “I see some inconsistencies, but I notice something about them: they’re all in the secondary details.”

“The core of the story is the same: Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus, puts it in a tomb, the tomb is visited by a small group of women followers of Jesus early on the Sunday morning following His crucifixion, and they find that the tomb is empty. They see a vision of angels saying that Jesus is risen.”

He continues, “The careful historian, unlike the philosopher, doesn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. He says, ‘This suggests that there is a historical core to this story that is reliable and can be depended upon, however conflicting the secondary details might be.'”

“So we can have great confidence in the core that’s common to the narratives and that would be agreed upon by the majority of New Testament scholars today, even if there are some differences concerning the names of the women, the exact time of the morning, the number of the angels, and so forth. Those kinds of secondary discrepancies wouldn’t bother a historian.”

– christian post

Asia Bibi’s supreme court judge suddenly quits over apparent fear of Pakistani mob attack

October 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pakistan, October 28, 2016: The future of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who was sentenced to death in 2010 on accusations of blasphemy, appears to be uncertain after a senior judge who was to preside over her appeal suddenly resigned, says a Pakistani Christian group, highlighting the rise in hatred against Christians.

Weeks after Pakistan’s Supreme Court adjourned the hearing of Bibi’s final appeal against her execution due to Justice Iqbal Hameed recusing himself from the case earlier this month, the judge has now resigned giving no specific reason, according to local media.

“Mr Hameed did not want to face the outright condemnation that people in the West would have for his sentencing of Asia Bibi to death by hanging,” Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, writes on the group’s website.

The judge’s resignation “illustrates the power of extremists who are the real authority in Pakistan,” Chowdhry adds, alluding to demands by Islamist groups for Bibi’s execution.

To abstain from Bibi’s hearing earlier this month, Justice Hameed told the court, “I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that.”

Taseer was a Pakistani businessman and politician who served as the governor of the province of Punjab until his assassination by his own bodyguard after he publicly criticized the country’s blasphemy laws referring to Bibi’s case.

“Every day that passes I fear that she will either be killed in custody and that her death will be masked as a natural death, or that she will finally fail her Supreme Court hearing – as this would be the most popular decision in a country riven with hate,” Chowdhry writes. “Sadly that position is even held by much of the Judiciary (officials) who have also been blinded by the hate agenda promulgated through media and the education system in Pakistan.”

Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 on allegations of blasphemy after two co-workers accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. In July, Pakistan’s Supreme Court set a date in October for the 51-year-old Asia Bibi’s final appeal hearing to determine whether she will be executed or not.

One day in June 2009, she was picking berries with a group of Muslim women in the town of Sheikhupura in the Punjab province. The women got upset that she drank from the same water bowl as them. An argument ensued, and the women went to police and accused her of saying something along the lines of “My Christ died for me, what did Muhammad do for you?” She was promptly arrested.

There are daily protests across the country by group after group seeking implementation of Bibi’s death sentence, Chowdhry writes.

“I believe Asia Bibi’s only real hope for freedom lies with a presidential pardon. Never before has this constitutional power been utilized and it will take great bravery for President Mamnoon Hussain to make the right decision. That said the more international pressure that can be placed on the Government of Pakistan the more likely Asia will be set free,” he concludes.

– christian post

ISIS’ new propaganda video shows killings of Christians, crucifixions, cubs of the caliphate executing captives

October 30, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Iraq, October 30, 2016: A new propaganda video released by Islamic State shows Christians being killed, children being beaten up, women being executed, men being crucified and cubs of the “caliphate” executing captives under its brand of Sharia law.

Released on terrorist channels affiliated with the Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, the nearly 40-minute video comes as the Sunni group’s militants are fighting a losing battle to protect their Iraqi stronghold Mosul.

The video was apparently released from “Wilayat Raqqah,” the IS base in Syria, and shows Sharia law enforcement with clips of beheadings, floggings and executions, including those of Christians and women.

Titled “Enduring Glory” and re-posted by Heavy, the extremely graphic video seemingly seeks to portray the terror group’s endurance amid loss of territory. It shows its militants engaged in battles across the Middle East region.

About 30,000 troops from a broad coalition including the Kurdish peshmerga, the Iraqi army and special forces, Shia militias allied with Iran, U.S. warplanes and military advisers and Turkish forces positioned to the north of the city are involved in the battle against 6,000 ISIS fighters in and around Mosul.

The terror group uses brutal methods to torture and punish those who it considers to be its enemies, including Muslims who do not believe in its version of Islam. Christians and other minorities are among its main targets.

Earlier this month, a Syrian woman recounted horrifying details of how IS jihadis killed hundreds of children in her village and executed her son after he refused to deny his faith in Jesus Christ.

During an interview with the Southern California-based human rights group Roads of Success, Syrian mother Alice Assaf, who hails from the Damascus suburb of Adra al-Ummaliya, described how militants aligned with IS came into her town over two years ago and went on a ruthless and barbaric killing spree.

“Members of 200 different families were killed right before our eyes,” Assaf said, according to an English translation provided by Roads of Success in a YouTube video. “They shot them. We witnessed the shooting of so many. So I told my children [and thought] it was better for us to die in our own home so that our other family members would know our fate. When we got home, one person said to me, … ‘ISIS is killing Christians.'”

She said the militants first massacred Christians and then went after Syrian army personnel.

In its English propaganda publication, IS last year sought to justify its barbarity, saying it is “Islamic” to capture and forcibly make “infidel” women sexual slaves.

“Before Shaytan [Satan] reveals his doubts to the weak-minded and weak hearted, one should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shari’ah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Qur’an and the narration of the prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam,” stated the IS’ propaganda magazine “Dabiq.”

– christian post

Christian churches in India rapidly growing despite surge in persecution, says report

October 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

India, October 27, 2016: India, a predominantly Hindu nation, sees a rise and growth of megachurches with members “from all walks of life,” according to a report.

From farmers to urban dwellers and almost everywhere in between, Christians in India are packing churches to the thousands. According to a report from Christianity Today, there are approximately 25 to 60 million Christians in the country, most of whom are Catholics, while about 1 billion Indians are Hindus.

The growth has been surprising. In a farming community in Rajasthan, for example, a congregation of 2,000 attends the service every Sunday. In some cases, family members have to take turns going to the service so that someone is left behind to take care of the farm animals.

The church is pastored by Bhagwana Lal, who hails from the tribal group considered to be below the Dalits, India’s lowest caste and society’s outcasts.

Another church in the city of Hyderabad, which can fit 35,000 people, gets packed during each one of its five services every Sunday. Calvary Temple is dubbed as the “largest church in India.” It is pastored by Satish Kumar.

“Many Americans think nothing is happening among Christians in India,” said Kumar, referring to Christians outside of his country. “We have to change that opinion.”

In August, the Evangelical Fellowship of India released a report documenting an increase in cases of persecution among Christians for the first half of 2016. The report identifies “134 separate incidents of violence” within the first six months of the year.

The number was quite high compared to those of 2014 (147 cases) and 2015 (177 cases) considering it was only for the first half of the year.

The report associated the surge in violence among Christians to the “ominous and all-permeating impunity” of the authorities under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, particularly in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the three states with the most incidents of hate crimes.

India is listed as number 17 on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians are most persecuted. Open Doors describes the persecution level in the country as “severe” and, like the Evangelical Fellowship of India, said the level of impunity for Hindu extremists has increased.

However, while the world may be viewing religious persecution as the top challenge among Christian churches in India, their church leaders identified a challenge bigger than that: training more pastors in order to accommodate church growth.

– gospel herald

‘Purification’ ceremony conducted in Udupi after Dalit meeting: Report

October 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Karnataka, October 27, 2016: Days after Jignesh Mevani, the lawyer who commandeered Dalit protests in Gujarat’s Una, held a public meeting attended by thousands of Dalits in the temple town of Udupi in Karnataka, a Sangh parivar outfit carried out a ‘shudhikalasham’ (purification) ceremony. According to a report in Dool News, Yuva Brigade, an outfit of the Sangh Parivar, conducted the purification ceremony in the surroundings of the Sree Krishna temple alleging that the area was rendered ‘impure’ by the attendance of Dalits.

The farcical ceremony was purportedly led by Vishweshwa Theertha, 86-year-old seer of the Pejewara Mutt. Photographs accompanying the Dool News report showed Theertha cleaning the street with a broom and leading a protest march along with members of the Yuva Brigade. It is reported that the march was held despite orders by the district administration not to do so. IndianExpress.com could not independently verify the event.

The rally titled ‘Chalo Udupi’ on October 9 was attended by thousands of Dalits from Bengaluru to Udupi. Mevani, who spoke at the concluding meeting in Udupi, demanded a ban on cow slaughter groups in the state and the custom of ‘pankti bheda’ (caste-based seating arrangement for food) at the Udupi temple. “We are willing to go to jail for this,” said Mevani. The Gujarat-based lawyer also alleged caste-based discrimination in the allocation of land by the government.

The Pejewara mutt, of which Theertha is the current head, is one of eight mutts managing the activities of the temple. Each mutt is given a term of two years. Theertha, who was a participant of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the 90s, is seen to be close to the RSS and its outfits especially in southern Karnataka, its stronghold. The aged seer had also inaugurated a march for Hindu unification led by SNDP leader Vellapally Natesan in Kerala months ago before the state elections there. BDJS, a party floated by Natesan, is currently an ally of the BJP in Kerala. The seer’s inauguration of the march was heavily criticised then by the CPM.

– indian express

No one has right to snatch tribals’ land: Modi

October 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, October 26, 2016: Praising the country’s tribal communities for conserving the forests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that “no one has right to snatch away tribals’ land”.

Modi was speaking while inaugurating the first National Tribal Carnival here, which will continue from October 26-28 at Pragati Maidan.

“It’s the priority of our government to ensure that tribals get their right. No one has right to snatch away their lands,” Modi said.

India is home to about 300 main tribal groups, which differs from one another in customs, practices, traditions, faith, and languages.

According to the 2011 Census, there are a total of 10.43 crore tribals in country constituting 8.6 per cent of total population.

There have been reports, however, of the forced relocation of tribes from core forest areas to buffer zones, mostly in Madhya Pradesh, which has maximum number of tribals.

Welcoming over 1,600 tribal artists and about 8,000 tribal delegates from across the country, Modi said he himself has worked in tribal-dominated areas.

“The capital is delighted to welcome people from tribal communities from all over India, that too during the festival season,” the Prime Minister said.

He said through Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana — a central government scheme for holistic development of tribal belt — his government is reaching out to the tribals to address their concerns.

“Our tribal communities have faced difficulties but they have also been blessed with the ability to overcome those difficulties,” he said.

Speaking of the rich contribution of the tribal communities to the nation, the Prime Minister said: “If there is someone who saved the forests, it is our tribal communities. Saving forests is part of tribal culture.”

The three-day tribal carnival is being held to showcase the works and interaction with the eminent tribal personalities who have excelled in various fields like sports, arts and culture, literature, academic and medicine.

Special trains were booked to bring tribals to attend the carnival.

The events during the carnival will be a mix of live musical and dance performances, exhibitions, display of craft, fashion show, panel discussion and book fair.

– matters india

Press on!

October 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Of all the Israelites, perhaps no one strove harder to please God than Saul of Tarsus. Every area of his life conformed strictly to the Law. No one could accuse this respected Pharisee of lacking zeal. He was a man with a mission-a mission to please and serve God.

But on the road to Damascus, Saul’s life changed entirely. From now on, he would no longer try to please God himself. Instead, he would press on with the goal of knowing Christ. “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:8 (NIV emphasis added). Saul (now called Paul) had a new mission-a mission that remained constant amid ever-changing circumstances. It didn’t matter whether he was preaching to a crowd or sitting in a damp prison. Paul now had one goal before which everything in his life bowed. Paul wanted to know his Lord.

How about you? Is knowing Christ–fellowshipping, trusting, and depending on Him-the goal toward which you’re striving? Ask God to help you press on to know Him today.

– christian perspective

Bangladesh, first ever Catholic elected to lead opposition

October 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Bangladesh, October 28, 2016: For the first time ever in Bangladesh a Catholic was elected to fill one of the highest offices of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the largest opposition party. Albert P Costa is a member of the Bhadun Gazipur parish, near the capital. He was elected yesterday as president of Jubo Dal, the youth wing of the party that plays a decisive role in political activism. His appointment represents quite an exceptional circumstance in Bangladesh, where Catholics represent just 0.4% of the population out of a total of about 160 million inhabitants.

Immediately after his election, Albert P Costa told AsiaNews: “I got this job at a time of extreme difficulty for the BNP. Thousands of our activists are subjected to legal proceedings by the Bangladeshi ruling party Awami League. I will take this responsibility seriously. I will reorganize the party from the groud up”.

The Catholic has replaced Moazzem Hossain Alal, who was elected Deputy Secretary-General for political education. Albert has been the president of the Metropolitan Christian Co-operative Housing Society Ltd for some time. It is the leading organization for cooperation in Bangladesh, managed by Christians.Bangladesh

– asianews

‘Sniper of Mosul’ shoots ISIS jihadi to save Iraqi teen from beheading

October 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Iraq, October 26, 2016: An Iraqi marksman known by the name “Sniper of Mosul” killed an Islamic State terrorist moments before the militant was going to publicly behead an Iraqi teenager, British news sites are reporting.

According to the Daily Star, the Arabic language media outlet Al Sumaria first reported that a man dubbed the Sniper of Mosul, who has reportedly been hunting IS jihadis in Iraq’s largest stronghold, helped save the life of an Iraqi teenager accused of supporting the coalition offensive to push IS out of the city.

As jihadis and IS supporters gathered to watch the aforementioned teen’s execution for supporting the Iraqi-led coalition forces, the mysterious sniper opened fire at the right time, reportedly killing the executioner just as he was taking aim to ruthlessly decapitate his victim.

After realizing what had transpired, fellow IS militants opened fire in response.

This news comes after Al Sumaria reported last week that the Sniper of Mosul was active in four of the city’s neighborhoods, which might indicate that there is actually more than one sniper.

“The emergence of the Sniper of Mosul, as the residents call him, increased the pace of the popular resistance against ISIS,” the Al Sumaria article states, according to Iraqi News. “The presence of the sniper in four neighborhoods emphasizes that there are many snipers and not only one.”

In addition to the independent snipers, other forms of uprising from Mosul residents have taken place.

According to Iraqi News, rebellious youths with previous military experience have been forming combat units to fight IS. Additionally, it reports that they recently carried out an attack on IS’ headquarters.

It was also reported that an anonymous veiled woman took it upon herself to kill the jihadis. According to Iraqi News, the veiled woman killed at least two jihadis in Mosul in late September, which marked the third time within a month that such an incident occurred.

As the Iraqi-led coalition forces continue to close in on Mosul and have liberated a number of villages outside of the city in the Nineveh Plains, the Kurdish news site Rudaw reports that IS is using citizens as human shields, sending foreign fighters into the city as reinforcements, using various tactics to intimidate the remaining citizens and is preventing them from leaving the city.

A blogger and historian who runs the online blog Mosul Eye, told Rudaw that the militants have set up checkpoints throughout the city and closed off streets to make it more difficult for citizens to flee the city.

“If the people will try to leave, there will be no chance for them,” the blogger said.

As coalition forces are encroaching from the East, North and South, the terrorists are shifting to old neighborhoods on the western side of the city.

Additionally, Rudaw reports that as many as 2,000 prisoners remain in the city and IS has begun executing many of them.

On Tuesday, IS beheaded 23 prisoners near the Ibn Sina Hospital in Mosul. In just a three-day timespan, the militant group reportedly executed more than 50 prisoners.

– christian post

« Previous PageNext Page »