Woman says money transfer company denied her cash over her religion

March 18, 2018 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, March 18, 2018: A woman has alleged that one of the Gurgaon branches of financial services company Western Union refused to hand over money in cash, transferred to her by a friend abroad, on the grounds that their religions are different. The woman said she is Christian, while her friend who transferred the money is Hindu. The alleged incident took place at one of the bank’s agents, The Muthoot Group, in Gurgaon’s Sector 10A on Friday afternoon. The woman, Melanie D Martin, who lives in Sector 90 and is an All India Professionals’ Congress (AIPC) member, had gone to the branch to access money transferred to her by a friend in Dubai.

“I found the branch on the Western Union website and went there since it was closest to my home. As per procedure, I filled out the forms and handed over my identification and documents… while going through the documents, the bank employee stopped to confirm my name and my religion,” alleged Martin.

“When he discovered I am Christian, he said I was not eligible to get the money in cash since the transfer was between people from two different religions. When the branch manager was called, she confirmed this and said I could only be given a cheque,” alleged Martin, who left the branch without the money. In videos recorded by Martin, an employee is purportedly seen sitting behind a counter, nodding his head as she asks: “Toh ye hamesha hi Hindu-Muslim waala karte hain?… Hindu hai, Muslim hai, you can’t take… Hindu Hindu ko milega, Muslim Muslim ko milega… toh Hindu Christian ko nahi milega?” It is only when she makes the last statement that he purportedly says that “alag koi sa bhi ho gaya toh nahi”.

In the videos, Martin can also be heard telling the employee across the counter that the rule is the handiwork of the branch manager, and not the Western Union. The branch head, Minakshi Pahwa, denied the allegations: “We never denied the money. We told her it could only be given via cheque, not cash, since the person who transferred the funds was not related to her. But she became aggressive and started abusing us…” Martin, however, claimed that a few weeks ago, she had successfully withdrawn money sent by the same friend.

Western Union officials did not respond to repeated attempts to contact them. In a response to Martin’s video, which she posted on Twitter, the company said: “We are deeply sorry for this incident and want to make sure you know that our business decisions are never made on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, age, or disability. Our specialised team is already investigating this matter to ensure Western Union policies are fully adhered to by our independent agents.” The Muthoot Group refused to comment. According to its website, Western Union completed over 800 million transactions for consumer and business clients in 2017. It claims to have over 5,50,000 agent locations, and 1,50,000 ATMs and kiosks in over 200 countries around the globe.

– indian express

7 of the worst things parents tell their kids

March 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous, newsletter-miscellaneous

Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

What we look for, what we believe, what we expect, what we seek, we will find. If we expect that our children will be trouble, if we verbalize it, not only do we find it even in places where it doesn’t exist, but we also put that thought into the minds of our children. Here are seven foolish things parents say that create poor expectations for both parent and child and cause the very things we are trying to avoid.

1. Belittling

“Johnny, how many times have I told you not to do these stupid things?”

“Johnny’s always messing up his schoolwork.”

This one isn’t a specific word or phrase but a series of things parent say, either in front of or to their children, that tend to humiliate or focus on what the child doesn’t do well. This embarrasses the child, who then concentrates more energy on the problem instead of the solution.

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Parenting isn’t for wimps. It’s an eighteen-year (or longer) tireless commitment that tests your patience and brings you to the edge of your sanity in sleep deprivation. This is why God, in his infinite wisdom, gives us nine months to prepare for babyhood and eighteen years to prepare our children for their adulthood. It’s understandable that parents sometimes get overwhelmed, but it’s important not to speak out of our frustration or anger. It’s imperative that we take care not to damage our children’s self-esteem by constantly pointing out their flaws, especially in front of others.

2. “Not now. I’m busy.”

Saying this frequently will give our children the impression that we either don’t have the time or won’t take the time for them when they need us. Moms are some of the busiest people on the planet, but we should always remember our most precious charge: our children. They should come first, and they should know that they come first. Not only should we moms not say this, but it’s equally important not to give this impression with our body language.

If children feel that we are too busy to talk to them, they will feel as if they don’t matter and will be less likely to come to us when they have a problem or a concern. This can be devastating when their concern is with us.

3. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

This is just a silly saying in my humble opinion. Yes, there are things adults can and should do that are not appropriate for children, but this saying goes far beyond that. What this often communicates to our children is that we have the freedom to make bad choices, but they do not. I’ve heard many parents use this saying as an excuse to make bad decisions they don’t want their children to make.

We are to set the example for our children. Fourteen-year-old Johnny gets in trouble for smoking and reminds Mom that she smokes. “Do as I say, not as I do!” just doesn’t cut it here. Instead of giving an order, explain why you started, why you wish you could quit, and why you don’t want the same for your son. That will make your case for you much more effectively than a mandate not to smoke.

4. “Those dreaded teen years!”

This is one of the most foolish things I hear parents say, especially recently. Did you know that until relatively recently the word teenager didn’t exist? People were children until they were adults; during their childhood, they were prepared to accept and successfully carry out the responsibilities of adulthood. While transition from childhood to adulthood can be difficult, it doesn’t have to be dreaded, and I wouldn’t speak it into existence by uttering this out loud!

“Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile” (Psalm 34:13).

5. “Because I said so!”

Okay, this one is actually the most foolish thing any parent ever said. I remember hearing this as a kid, and I remember thinking, that’s no answer! Just telling someone what to do or what not to do doesn’t teach him why he should/shouldn’t do it. Once he understands your reasoning, he may adopt your position, and then you’ll never have to say no to that again—because he will make the wise choice himself.

– cross walk

Discovery of 3,600-Y-O burial chamber in biblical book of Revelation city ‘Stuns’ archaeologists

March 15, 2018 by  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

Israel, March 15, 2018: Archaeologists say they are stunned by the discovery of a “magnificent and untouched” 3,600-year-old burial chamber in the ancient Canaanite city-state of Megiddo, which is mentioned in the book of Revelation in the Bible.

National Geographic reported Wednesday that the “extraordinary” find could offer potential clues into the royal dynasty that ruled the area south of Haifa, today part of Israel, before its conquest by Egypt in the 15th century B.C.

For nearly five millennia, from 3000 B.C. to 1918, Megiddo served as an important strategic pass for international military and trade routes, offering the stage for numerous historic battles.

It is described in Revelation 16:16 as a place called “Armageddon,” which derives from Har-Megiddo, or “Hill of Megiddo.”

Archaeologists now say they have discovered a tomb there from the 15th century B.C., when Megiddo was besieged for seven months by the forces of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III, eventually surrendering. Thutmose III then moved to incorporate Canaan as a province in his empire.

Israel Finkelstein and Mario Martin of Tel Aviv University and Matthew Adams of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeology, who have been conducting excavations in Megiddo since 1994, first found a subterranean corridor near the Bronze Age palaces in the area leading to a burial chamber back in 2016.

The chamber contained the remains of three people, a man, a woman, and a child, who were adorned with elaborate gold and silver jewelry. The man had been crowned with a gold diadem, which suggested a high level of skill and artistry.

“We are speaking of an elite family burial because of the monumentality of the structure, the rich finds and because of the fact that the burial is located in close proximity to the royal palace,” Finkelstein said.

What is more, archaeologists have found that other human remains had also been interred in the tomb at an earlier stage, following the practice of ancient funerary rites in the region.

Beside the jewelry, the undisturbed nature of the three bodies after their burial, in comparison to the others that were moved, gives credence to the theory that they were of high importance, according to excavation team member Melissa Cradic.

A DNA study of the bodies found buried in Megiddo is seeking to determine whether the common inhabitants of the Canaanite city-state are of the same background as the elite rulers.

The results could change perceptions on the populations of Canaan, as scholars have long believed that the Hurrians, a roving mountain people who emerged in the region in the fourth and third millennium B.C., could have played a big part in building the first cities in the Near East.

“These studies have the potential to revolutionize what we know about the population of Canaan, before the rise of the world of the Bible,” said Finkelstein.

Human remains discovered at other ancient Canaanite sites have intrigued researchers as well.

Archaeologists revealed in July 2017 that the remains of an adult and a child were uncovered at the biblical site of Gezer in Israel. The victims apparently died some 3,200 years ago when a blazing building collapsed, and were buried under ash and mud-brick debris.

The discovery led researchers to confirm accounts by Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah about how he laid siege upon and conquered Gezer, burning down many of its buildings in his campaign for control.

– christian post

Turkey seeks life sentence for imprisoned American Pastor Andrew Brunson

March 15, 2018 by  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Turkey, March 14, 2018: The Turkish government is reportedly seeking a life sentence for American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who rights advocates say has been unjustly imprisoned since December 2016 on false charges of espionage and terrorism.

According to the Turkish Dogan news agency, on Tuesday a prosecutor formally indicted Brunson on charges of being an “executive” of a group that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan holds responsible for the failed coup against state institutions in July 2016.

Brunson, a North Carolina native who has led a small congregation in Izmir for the past two decades, had been falsely accused having links to the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of organizing the 2016 coup attempt.

Based off testimony from a secret witness who has not been revealed, Brunson was accused of obtaining secret documents related to the goal of espionage and overthrowing the government. Brunson has denied the allegations.

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the prosecutor charged Brunson with “leadership in a terrorist organization.”

“USCIRF is appalled that Turkish officials are seeking a possible life sentence for Pastor Brunson and are accusing him of leadership in a terrorist organization,” USCIRF Vice Chairs Kristina Arriaga and Sandra Jolley said in a joint statement.

“The government of Turkey has detained Pastor Brunson largely based on a purported ‘secret witness’ and secret evidence which they refuse to make public. The Turkish government should reverse course immediately and we urge the international community to condemn this indictment.”

Rights advocates believe that Brunson was arrested in an attempt to force the U.S. government to extradite Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for Brunson’s release during a meeting in Ankara last month. President Donald Trump also pushed for Brunson’s release during a meeting with Erdoğan last May.

But last September, Erdoğan indicated that the fate of Brunson relied on U.S. government’s willingness to hand over Gulen.

The news of Brunson’s indictment comes as his daughter, Jacqueline, told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday that the allegations against her father are absurd and asked the U.N. to do all it can to secure her father’s release.

“Turkey should not get away with holding my father one more day,” she said. “Having grown up in Turkey, it has been hard for me to understand the situation. My family loves and respects the Turkish people, and my father has been dedicated to serving them for over two decades.”

USCIRF is calling on the U.S. government and Congress to utilize all their options to pressure Turkey, a NATO member, to release Brunson — even if it means imposing sanctions.

“USCIRF urges President Trump and others in the administration to redouble their ongoing efforts to secure Pastor Brunson’s release,” the joint statement added. “No stone should be left unturned in our efforts on behalf of this unjustly imprisoned American. We call again for his immediate release and, if this is not forthcoming, for the administration and Congress to impose targeted sanctions against those involved in this miscarriage of justice.”

– christian post

Christian parents praying for son on death row in Pakistan for ‘Blasphemy’

March 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Pakistan, March 15, 2018: The Christian parents of a 30-year-old Pakistani man who has been sentenced to death on the charge of blasphemy are continuing to pray for his release.

Billo Bibi, Masih’s mother, said in a ucanews.com report Wednesday that her son, who’s a father of three, is in Central Jail Faisalabad awaiting an appeal against the death sentence he received in 2014.

Masih was convicted of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad while arguing with a Muslim friend of his in 2013, in an incident which also led to a 1,000-strong mob to burn down his home in Lahore’s Joseph Colony neighborhood.

The mob attack also led to 116 houses and two churches being destroyed.

“I used to call him Buri. We still pray for his release. My elderly husband has developed breathing complications since his arrest. He does not speak anymore. My daughter-in-law [now lives with] her parents,” Bibi said.

“The prison authorities are planning to relocate Masih to Sahiwal [over 105 miles from Lahore]. Travelling to another city was already tough. Now they are sending him farther away,” she added.

The mother also said she attends a candlelight vigil every year on March 9 on the anniversary of the mob attack at the gates of Joseph Colony, with believers offering prayers for the churches in the area.

Christian leaders, such Church of Pakistan Bishop Azad Marshall of Raiwind, have also marked the anniversary of the attack by attending gatherings, while Rawadari Tehreek, a movement promoting pluralism, held a hunger strike in front of the Punjab Assembly.

Persecution watchdog groups, such as International Christian Concern and the British Pakistani Christian Association, have warned that for many years now Christians have been targeted by blasphemy laws as a way to settle personal scores and falsely accuse them of insulting Islam.

Those accused of blasphemy have been imprisoned and even placed on death row by authorities, while radical mobs have burned down homes, and on occasion killed followers of Christ

One of the most famous cases that continues drawing international attention concerns Christian mother of five Asia Bibi, who since November 2010 has been on death row, after being accused by Muslim co-workers of insulting their faith.

Despite several appeals and hearings, Asia Bibi’s fate in prison remains uncertain.

Major international bodies, such as the European Union, have spoken out on Asia Bibi’s case, and have threatened to impose heavy economic consequences for Pakistan unless it agrees to release the Christian mother.

Jan Figel, the special envoy of EU for the promotion of religious freedom worldwide, told the Pakistani government during a recent visit to the country that the fate of Asia Bibi is going to directly affect trade favors the EU bestows upon Pakistan, with hopes that the warning could persuade the government to free the mother.

– christian post

Hindu-on-Christian Persecution

March 15, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, March 15, 2018: During this Lenten season when Christians are preparing themselves for Easter Sunday, those of us who are living in relative peace and affluence should remember and pray for those brothers and sisters in the faith whose circumstances are not as friendly.

To put it more accurately, Christians the world over should be mindful that at this time in our history there remain legions of Christ’s disciples who are made to endure persecution for their faith the likes of which rival that suffered by the earliest Christians.

While most of the worst environments for Christians are Islamic lands, there are non-Islamic bastions of intense Christian persecution that receive little to no coverage by the world’s media. One particularly notable example is that of India.

Of a population of 1.3 billion people, there are 64 million Christians who reside in India. Open Doors, an organization “dedicated to serving persecuted Christians worldwide,” relays the story of “Reena,” a 19 year-old girl who experienced this anti-Christian persecution directly.

“When I was a young child,” she says, “Hindu children did not want to play with me.” Eventually, “my parents were banned from using the local water supply. They had to walk many kilometers to draw water from the river.”

Things got even worse for this young woman.

When Reena went to work as a school teacher, she was initially promised a salary of 1,500 rupees ($23.13) a month. Her employers wound up welching: They paid her only 500 rupees ($7.71) for the first two months. Within six months, they stopped paying her entirely. So Reena sought work elsewhere.

Her new headmaster invited Reena to a teachers’ meeting. There he offered her and her colleagues an assortment of Indian pastries.

And it was at this time that Reena was drugged and kidnapped.

Reena doesn’t want to discuss the events that unfolded over the ten days of her captivity. She claims to have no recollection, but those in the know at Open Doors insist that it is more “likely…that what happened to her was so terrible [that] she doesn’t want to share” her experiences. After all, literally “millions of girls in India”—many of them Christians and other religious minorities—“are kidnapped and trafficked each year.”

Reena called her parents at one point and informed them that she was being retained in “a terrible place.” She also admits that when she first awoke, she was in a train car with many other teenage girls who followed her as she made her escape.

Yet Reena expresses suspicions that at least some of the girls were involved in her abduction.

Reena had been taken 14 hours away from her village.

Although she experienced depression and hopelessness for a time following her return to her home, upon attending an inspiring church service, Reena renewed her Christian faith. While her brother informs us that the headmaster in whose company Reena was drugged desires vengeance for the troubles that he now apparently endures, Reena sounds hopeful:

“My future is very bright. I will share the gospel with non-believers. I don’t expect more problems.”

But there are many problems for India’s Christians.

Over the last three years, the anti-Christian persecution in India has continued to increase. Open Doors’ World Watch List ranked India as the planet’s 25th worst persecutor of Christians in 2015. Yet in 2017 it was found to be the 15th biggest persecutor and, this year, it climbed to 11th place.

An Open Doors spokesperson informs us that before Christians face overt physical violence—in 2016, 15 Christians were murdered in India and many more beaten and threatened—“there [is] often…a long process of ‘re-converting’ them to Hinduism, during which they faced discrimination, social exclusion and other types of pressure.”

A chief cause of the oppression, according to Open Doors, is the resurrection of Hindu nationalism. The Hindu nationalist holds that only Hinduism should be observed in India. Some political leaders have even gone so far as to call for the expulsion from India of all Christians and Muslims by 2021.

In any event, although “everyone” is aware that “the churches are being attacked and demolished on almost an everyday basis in India,” as an Open Doors representative puts it, the Prime Minister of the country denies that any such persecution is occurring.

He should speak to people like Chandan Devi.

Chandan and her husband, Aadarsh, an Indian man who converted to Christianity and became a pastor who led a couple of dozen animists to Christ, have four children. The oldest, a daughter, is married, while the other three were away at boarding school when the unthinkable occurred.

Chandan and Aadarsh were home alone when they were attacked by thirty men, Maoist (communist) Naxalites all of them. As they grabbed him and proceeded to drag him outside, they were promising to murder Aadarsh. Chandan clung to her husband, begging the thugs to kill her along with her husband. Instead, though, they delivered to her a hard blow to the shoulder, dropping her to the ground.

The last thing Chandan recalls having heard is the loud sound of the door slamming shut as her husband was led off into the jungle to be killed.

Shortly afterwards, Aadarsh’s corpse was found.

None of the Christians who Aadarsh had converted attended his funeral for fear of losing their lives, and Chandan, fearing future attacks, fled her home and village with nothing but “the clothes on her back,” as Open Doors reports.

As if it wasn’t terrible enough that the Naxalites murdered Aadarsh. They subsequently threatened his brother Ajay. In fact, prior to Aadarsh’s murder, the Naxalites abducted Ajay’s son.

Of course, none of this should come as any surprise when it is considered that over the last decade, this same treacherous group, “with the help of local authorities,” has “attacked, beaten, kidnapped, raped and killed thousands of Christians in India” (italics added).

It’s worth noting that when Chandan was asked by Open Doors whether the trauma to which she and her loved ones have been subjected has provoked her to reconsider her faith and denounce Christ, she promptly responded:

“I’d rather die.”

Hindu-on-Christian persecution—not something that we hear, or are likely to hear, talked about by the Western media that has labored tirelessly to depict Christians as the planet’s only purveyors of oppression.

– front page mag

Efforts to rewrite Indian history worry Christians, Muslims

March 15, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, March 14, 2018: Christian and Muslim leaders in India are appalled by federal government moves to “revise” the country’s history in a bid to push a pro-Hindu narrative.

Reuters revealed last week that a committee appointed by the Narendra Modi government has been working for six months to prove Hindus are direct descendants of India’s first inhabitants. The reports also said that the committee is seeking to demonstrate that ancient Hindu scriptures are fact, not myth.

The aim of Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and affiliated Hindu groups is “ultimately to shape the national identity to match their religious views, that India is a nation of and for Hindus,” reported Reuters, which broke the story on March 6.

Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told the news agency that the committee was part of larger plans to revise India’s history.

Christian and Muslim leaders say the move is a systematic attempt to sideline non-Hindus as second-class citizens in their own land.

The measure “cannot be appreciated” and especially as it comes amid accusations of the government ignoring “burning issues” of the country, said Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Indian bishops’ conference.

“There is large-scale poverty in the country, coupled with marginalization and alienation of the farmers and village poor,” Bishop Mascarenhas told ucanews. “Instead of trying to rewrite history, the government should first deal with the issues troubling the common masses.”

Catholic lay leader A.C. Michael said the effort to revise or rewrite history was part of an agenda to bury Christian contributions to India’s development and to demonize Muslims as invaders who inflicted violence upon Hindus.

“They have already issued an education policy which is silent on Christian contributions to education. Although Christian missionaries brought modern education to India, the document is silent on it,” Michael said. India’s Christians make significant contributions in education and health care through their thousands of schools and medical facilities.

Michael agreed with Zafarul-Islam Khan, chairman of the Delhi Minority Commission, that the committee aims to extend the Hindu-nation agenda beyond politics.

Khan said the government wants to educate young generations with a world view of Hindu hegemony. “This will further entrench the Hindu-nation narrative in the Indian polity and marginalize non-Hindus,” he asserted.

BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been claiming that the ancestors of all Indians — Christians and Muslim included — were Hindu and that they must accept the common Hindu ancestry and all cultural aspects of Hinduism.

Prominent RSS member Dinanath Batra has argued that the world’s first airplane was invented in India because Indian epic Ramayana speaks of Hindu lord Ram flying in a mythical vehicle to Sri Lanka.

Some Hindu educationists have likewise been advocating the removal of Urdu and Persian worlds from school textbooks. They also want to avoid eulogizing Muslim rulers including the Mughal Empire who ruled most of northern India from 1526-1857.

Kausar Rza, a Muslim leader, said the move also aims at attracting votes. “The BJP came to power four years ago promising development and employment. No promises were fulfilled. Next year we face another election, so the BJP is raising these emotive issues for votes,” she said.

The history of Muslim rule in India started in the 12th century and continued until the 19th century with ups and downs until the British siege of Mughal Delhi in 1857. Most Muslim rulers came from what is now Afghanistan and were responsible for building some of India’s most notable structures such as New Delhi’s Red Fort, Agra’s Taj Mahal and thousands of mosques across the subcontinent.

India’s population of 1.2 billion people includes 172 million Muslims and 29 million Christians.

– ucan

Dalit Christians to intensify struggle for quota

March 15, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, March 15, 2018: The National Council Dalit Christians (NCDC) plans to hold rallies in various parts of India to demand inclusion of their community in the list of Scheduled Caste.

The leaders of the council from all over India met in the past few days in New Delhi to discuss various issues affecting the community, especially reservation. They first met at the headquarters of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) on March 12.

To press their demands, the group met political leader such as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, federal Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale and parliamentarians Kanimozhi from Tamil Nadu and Vijaysai Reddy from Andhra Pradesh.

The Joint Consultative Committee of CBCI, National Council of Christian Church India and NCDC met March 13. It decided to conduct massive state rallies in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.

The council leaders also met CBCI secretary general Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas. A press release from the council on March 14 said Bishop Mascarenhas offered unstinted support to the Dalit Christian Movement and its demand.

The Catholic Church official urged the council to take the CBCI Dalit Empowerment Policy to the grassroots for its implementation. He also promised to write all bishops to press them to implement the policy seriously. Bishop Mascarenhas urged the council leaders to become more active in social and print media to educate the intelligentsia.

– matters india

Hope when you’ve lost a child

March 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous, newsletter-miscellaneous

If delivering a baby is the sort of universal marker for extreme pain, surely losing a child is the definition for the most extreme emotional pain we can experience.

I’ve shared tears with bereaved mommas suffering fresh loss and ones where the years had worn on. I’ve mourned my own loss (through miscarriage).

For most grieving parents, I think hope feels as far removed as a distant galaxy. Our emotional receptors are so full of pain, there’s just not room to feel much more than the grief we are processing. And yet, as children of God, there is always the presence of hope, even in those darkest moments when we cannot perceive it.

Here are three hope-centering truths to hold on to in the midst of grief over losing a child:

1. God is sovereign. God is good. God is love.

In any tragedy, our human perspective tempts us to dethrone our Lord. When we can’t feel His love (goodness, faithfulness, kindness, etc), we are prone to declare its absence or nonexistence.

That was Satan’s entire plan with all the loss he hurled down on Job. He planned to overwhelm Job with so much grief that even the memory of God’s goodness would be so removed from Job, that he would in turn renounce faith.

The truth we must hold on to is God’s character. When we aren’t actively experiencing the traits of His character, we are living in faith. This kind of grief is so intense it will require faith as we inhale and exhale. And the enemy will most likely make the most of this time – tempting our souls to retreat into unbelief.

Before God, before your family and friends, before all heaven watching, like Job, cover yourself in sackcloth, weep, mourn, but holdfast to your belief. It is the only real gold that will be with you when you have reached life’s finish line.

2. You are not defined by this loss.

The loss of a child comes in as many different scenarios as individuals. From the mom who lost her adult child from addiction to the mom who has suffered miscarriages, the threat for the loss to define you is enormous.

According to U.S. national statistics, the leading cause of child death between ages one and 14 is unintended injury. And it is simply human to require copious amounts of reminding yourself, and having others remind you of this, so that you don’t permit this grief to become who you think you are.

Mothering is so deep, so intimate, so personal. Even if it’s solely the profundity of the grief and there’s no way to connect yourself to any sense of fault, the grief all by itself is big enough to swallow you whole. While you grieve, blame and guilt are normal emotions. But when it is your child, it is so easy to blame yourself.

After the loss of our baby, I was consumed with guilt. I knew 100 percent it wasn’t what the Lord wanted me to feel or believe, but there it was. Bigger than me. Bigger than my ability to pray it away or “truth talk” it away. Me and this monster guilt lived together for some time, until eventually, the Lord who is bigger than any guilt we can experience, removed it. But there was an agonizing time where I waited on Him to rescue me from it.

I also had long term health effects from the miscarriage. They were (and as some remain, are still) the most unwelcome reminders of our loss. They impacted my ability to do the things I wanted to do, carry the responsibilities I wanted to carry, and changed parts of me against all effort to the contrary. So when I say you are not defined by this grief, don’t think I say it flippantly. I know the loss of a child can and often does change us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

It is a fact that you can die of a broken heart. After extreme stress, the heart muscle can suddenly be weakened with no other explanation for it beyond intense stress.

The loss of a child has been ranked as the most stressful event of the human experience. Studies have found that mothers in particular are prone to physical and physiological changes after the death of a child. Doctors refer to “Maternal Bereavement Effect” to explain the 329 percent increase in the “hazard of mortality” that follows a mother’s loss.

In every sense, the loss of a child deeply threatens to change and thus define us. Marriages and family dynamics often struggle as grief overshadows the relationships until the family itself is defined by the loss. There is so much to grief we can’t control but we can, at the very minimum, ask for prayer for protection for us and our relationships from being defined by the grief process.

It is a point of pondering that could be debated, but after the loss of David and Bathsheba’s son, we don’t see him lead his family as one would hope. While it is true that his sin brought certain consequences to him and his family, I’ve heard some Bible scholars mention that it was a sad turning point in his spiritual leadership. As if he sort of deflated and never fully stood back up all the way again.

I’m not dogmatically saying David’s grief caused him to half-heartedly lead his family. Perhaps his grief over his sin caused that more than grief over the death. Perhaps that’s not what happened at all. Maybe he was indeed fully restored within himself and his leadership, and it’s just not entirely spelled out in Scripture. But it is a reality that child loss, because it is so deep and so potentially defining, can derail the way we care for or connect with the rest of our family. And maybe David’s experience can serve as a warning for us.

You are defined by your God. It is part of His Lordship in your soul. It’s His place as your Creator. Your circumstances, no matter how big they are, cannot define you. Don’t make your grief your god by giving it that place. While losing your precious child is lasting and deep, it is not the whole of you.

3. You are not alone.

U.S records show that every year, in the US alone, more than 50,000 children die. That doesn’t include the parents who bury grown children from car crashes, addiction, suicide, cancer, and more. Statistics estimate young adult death to bring that total up to 220,000 plus people each year.

Those numbers don’t include miscarriage through infant death. Records show that more than one third of pregnancies miscarry before 20 weeks, stillbirths attribute another 26,000 losses, and infant mortality adds another 23,000 to that toll. This is just for the U.S. That’s a lot of people grieving the loss of their precious child.

Each circumstance brings its unique grief; whether you never knew your little one or loved them for decades, the loss remains the most profound kind our hearts carry. Some estimate that at least 20 percent of parents will bury their child before they pass away themselves.

While the numbers tell part of the story, they are of little comfort. I dearly hope there are people loving you through this valley. I hope others who have suffered deep loss before you can pray and walk you through this time. In grief, we are perhaps the least able to reach out for people, and yet we need them the most. Whether or not you feel supported by others at the moment, God sees you and deeply shares your pain.

The very first parents suffered the loss of two children, one who murdered his brother and one whose punishment sent him away. Job lost all of his children. All of them! David lost a little son and more than one adult son. These are just a few of the individuals in Scripture who lost children. And while God’s children writhe with the loss of their own dear children, He is not far off or unmoved.

In the New Testament, we see Jesus at two funerals. Both times He grieved and His grief moved Him to reach in with miraculous resurrection (Luke 7 and John 11). I think death disturbs our Lord so much that it always moves Him to action. Whether we can perceive it at the moment or not.

God the Father gave His one and only Son for our sin – sin that causes physical and spiritual death. You think He would have done all that if death didn’t move Him? He gave His Beloved Son for the very purpose of conquering death. So, if you can, lean into Your Lord who understands. Share the grief with Him and in it, share His sufferings (Romans 8:17). Let it teach you something about who God is, who willingly endured such pain on your behalf.

The last facet of not being alone for us to consider comes from Deuteronomy. In the last pages of the book, the Lord tells Moses he is nearing his final days. Moses has glimpsed the Promise Land, but won’t get to taste it. He has served faithfully and fervently, but not without flaw. That flaw would keep him from the Promised Land. So he and the Lord go up on top of the mountain to see the Promised Land from afar, and then God takes Moses to the True Promised Land in Heaven.

This sets hard on my heart. It feels unfair to Moses. He served through such hardship and to not get the Promised Land… oh, I don’t like that. And in the past, each time I read through that part of Scripture, I took up his offense before God.

In my personal grief, there have been moments that felt unfair and have been bigger than I could wrap my arms around. While I sought God during a time when a number of losses cascaded into our family, I found a key in this story that unlocked precious peace for me. God buried Moses. God Himself did it. When we face grief that feels insurmountably unfair or just simply too big for us, God understands, and He will bury it for us.

You are not alone. And you won’t finish this grieving alone either. God will finish it for you.

“I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me.” (Psalm 57:2)

In the midst of your grief, I am praying the Lord’s comfort to surround you and His grace and truth to anchor your soul.

– cross walk

College student banned from religious studies class after saying there are only 2 genders

March 13, 2018 by  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

U.S., March 12, 2018: A student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania claims that he has been barred from a religious studies class he needs to graduate this May and asked to apologize after voicing his belief that there are only two biological genders.

Last week, IUP student Lake Ingle took to his Facebook page to let his disbelief be known. He is being punished, he wrote, by the university for his response after the professor of his class on “self, sin and salvation” showed a TED Talks video featuring transgender woman Paula Stone Williams.

Ingle detailed his “best and fairest” account of the incident that transpired after Dr. Alison Downie showed the video to the class on Feb. 28, in a now-deleted Facebook post.

“On Wednesday, February 28th, in one of my major-required courses, the instructor played a ‘Ted-Talk’ during which a transgender woman discussed her previous experiences of manhood as well as her current experiences of womanhood,” Ingle wrote. “During her speech, she gave accounts of things such as ‘mansplaining’, ‘male-privilege’, and ‘sexism’ and deemed them systemic. She also alluded to the REALITY of the gender wage gap, stating women ‘…work twice as hard for half as much.'”

After the video ended, Downie opened the floor for a discussion on “mansplaining,” male privilege, sexism and the gender wage gap and allowed only women to voice their thoughts first.

Ingle stated that after about 30 seconds of silence, he voiced his objection to the “use of one person’s anecdotal accounts of the previously mentioned experiences as fact.”

“I also took this opportunity to point out the official view of biologists who claim there are only two biological genders, as well as data from entities such as The Economist on the gender wage gap and how the claims made in the video were far from the empirically supported evidence,” Ingle wrote. “I then objected to the instructor’s, as well as the Religious Studies Dept.’s misuse of intellectual power, of which I have become familiar over the past few semesters.”

“It was at this point others in the class entered the discussion,” he added. “Class proceeded normally, thereon.”

According to Ingle, he met with the instructor the next morning to discuss class project he is working on. During that meeting, Ingle wrote that he was presented with an “Academic Integrity Referral Form and Documented Agreement.”

The form alleges that Ingle had a “disrespectful objection to the professor’s class discussion structure.” It also accused the student of talking out of turn and of having “angry outbursts in response to being required to listen to a trans speaker discuss the reality of white male privilege and sexism.”

Additionally, Ingle was accused of making “disrespectful references to the validity of trans identity and experience.”

The form also called for him to issue an apology in front of the class on March 8 for each of the “disrespectful behaviors” described by the professor. The form states that after giving his apology, Ingle would have had to “listen in silence” as students in the class share how they felt during Lake’s “disruptive outbursts.”

Ingle denied the professor’s claims in his Facebook post.

“Though the documents attached present a narrative of disrespect, disruption, anger, and intolerance — I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth,” Ingle said.

The Christian Post reached out to IUP for clarification about Ingle’s alleged “angry outbursts.” However, a university spokesperson told CP that no comment could be provided because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as it pertains to student education records.

Ingle wrote in his post that he received a second document that lists further details of the violation.

“After these documents were handed to me, I read them carefully several times. I asked for one line to be revised and was answered with ‘no’ and was told it was the instructor’s job to recount what took place, not mine,” he wrote. “I then commented on the total misuse of intellectual power in a university setting, at which point I was asked to leave.”

The next morning on March 2, Ingle received a letter from Provost Timothy Moreland telling him that he is barred from attending the class and barred from speaking with Downie until the charges against him have been adjudicated.

“[T]he wording in the documents below is not only exaggerated, but more than one line is entirely untruthful and is done so purposefully to discredit my views and paint me as intolerant and ignorant,” Ingle said. “THE FACTS ARE: I did not object to the views of the speaker (Paula Stone). Rather, I objected to its misuse as hard evidence to support the ‘reality’ of phenomena that are not only a matter of opinion, but also empirically unsupported (wage gap statistics).”

“It is my belief that the instructor’s decision to file these sanctions is an attempt to bully me into redacting my views, making it a matter of free speech,” he continued. “I will be battling the university, as well as my instructor, to ensure I am not permanently removed from the class, which would mean my inability to graduate as scheduled this May.”

Ingle is subject to a hearing before the school’s Academic Integrity Board. The ruling from the hearing will be announced on March 19.

In another Facebook post, Ingle explained that he was advised to remove the initial Facebook post detailing the situation with the school after he received legal counsel.

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