A Bible translator in war-torn Central African Republic (CAR) was shot and killed this week while attempting to flee escalating violence in the nation’s capital, Bangui.
Elisée Zama, who served as a translator with ACATBA, Wycliffe’s partner organization in CAR, was shot while attempting to get his family to safety at a hospital compound.
Violence began escalating in CAR following a coup this past March. Government health clinics have been largely abandoned by workers and many humanitarian organizations have withdrawn from the country or cut back services, according to globalpost.com.
The regional director of Wycliffe’s main partner organization, SIL, reported today via email that the situation in Bangui is still very tense.
“Reprisals against Christians in particular in Bangui are of great concern,” said Larry Robbins.
“There have been . . . reprisals in certain neighbourhoods of Bangui, resulting in thousands seeking refuge on the airstrip of the international airport.
“Our SIL colleagues report a quieter night. They remain within the security of the School of Theology compound until further notice. There are French patrols now in evidence. We are grateful for the unanimous passing of a UN resolution which gives the French troops a mandate to take appropriate force to protect the civilian population and it appears that this has had an immediate effect.”
Robbins requests prayer for Zama’s widow and three young children, and for ACATBA leaders as they prepare for his burial under very difficult circumstances.
“Please continue to pray for safety,” added Robbins, “and an end to the violence which has shaken so many communities over the last days.”
For some time now, feminist theologians and a host of others have suggested that Christians should adopt new names for God. One denomination went so far as to affirm names like “Giver, Gift and Giving” in place of the “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” to be used in worship. Feminist theologians have demanded that masculine pronouns and names for God be replaced with female or gender-neutral terms. But to change the name of God is to redefine the God we reference. Changing the name of God is no small matter.
As a matter of fact, God takes His name very seriously, and the Ten Commandments include the command that we must not take the name of the Lord in vain. We are to use the names God has given for Himself, and we are to recognize that God takes His name seriously because He desires to be rightly known by His human creatures. We cannot truly know Him if we do not even know His name.
Moses understood this. When he encountered the call of God that came from the burning bush, Moses asked God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13). God answered Moses, “I Am who I Am” (Exodus 3:14). God told Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Exodus 3:15).
As these verses make clear, we are not to tamper with God’s name. We are to use the names whereby God has named Himself, and we are to recognize that any confusion about the name of God will lead to confusion about the nature of God, if not to idolatry.
Christians must keep this central principle from the Bible constantly in mind as we consider some of the most urgent questions we face in the world today. We must certainly have this principle in mind when we think about Islam.
Full Article –> Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?.
American pastor Saeed Abedini not only faces deadly conditions in Iran’s Rajai Shahr Prison, but we can now confirm that he faces direct threats on his life from other prisoners.
Abedinis Iranian family was able to visit him yesterday—the second visitation allowed since he was transferred to the deadly new prison last month.
Abedini is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives. Abedinis “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, allowing dangerous prisoners—murderers and rapists—unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.
He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene.
As a result of the robberies, the utterly deplorable conditions of the prison and the lack of doctor-prescribed medication being withheld by prison authorities, Abedinis health has quickly deteriorated.
From Charisma News…
The Obama administration betrayed American pastor Saeed Abedini by reaching a deal with Iran that includes easing sanctions and providing humanitarian relief—a deal that leaves a U.S. citizen behind, imprisoned because of his faith, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is working to secure his release.
“President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry turned their backs on a U.S. citizen by refusing to secure his freedom before reaching an agreement with Iran,” says Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “It is outrageous and a betrayal of American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has spent more than a year in an Iranian prison simply because of his Christian faith. The Obama administration has left Pastor Saeed behind. And by failing to secure his release as a precondition to any negotiations, the Obama administration sends a troubling message to the Iranian government that Americans are expendable.”
“What was agreed last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place, because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.”
For the first time, he said, the leading powers of the world agreed to uranium enrichment in Iran, while removing sanctions that it has taken years to build up in exchange for “cosmetic Iranian concessions that are possible to do away with in a matter of weeks.”
Netanyahu said the consequences of this deal threaten many countries including Israel. He reiterated what he has said in the past, that Israel is not obligated by the agreement.
“Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction, and Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself by itself against any threat,” he said.
“I want to make clear as the prime minister of Israel, Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.”
Frontlines Note: We are following the developments in the Mid-East concerning the nuclear deal with Iran very closely. It is interesting that Saudi Arabia and Israel both have expressed their concerns over the deal and been very public about that disagreement.
A senior advisor to the Saudi royal family has accused its Western allies of deceiving the oil rich kingdom in striking the nuclear accord with Iran and said Riyadh would follow an independent foreign policy.
Nawaf Obaid told a think tank meeting in London that Saudi Arabia was determined to pursue its own foreign and policy goals. Having in the past been reactive to events, the leading Sunni Muslim nation was determined to be pro-active in future.
Mr Obaid said that while Saudi Arabia knew that the US was talking directly to Iran through a channel in the Gulf state of Oman, Washington had not directly briefed its ally.
“We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” he said. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done.”
Ohio’s highest court says a school district was legally justified in firing a science teacher who refused orders to remove classroom displays of religious materials.
With three justices dissenting, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Mount Vernon district had grounds to fire John Freshwater for insubordination for keeping religious books and a poster of a president praying.
The court says the district infringed on Freshwater’s First Amendment rights by ordering the removal of his personal Bible but found he was insubordinate for keeping other items.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan villagers discovered the beheaded bodies of six government contractors Sunday in the country’s restive south, the apparent victims of insurgents who regularly target state projects, officials said.
Meanwhile, the death toll from a suicide car bombing at the site of a key national council in the capital, Kabul, rose to 12, officials said, as NATO said an international service member was killed by a roadside bomb.
An evangelistic event, “Count it Right,” began last night in Egypt where thousands of Christians are expected to attend over the course of three-days despite the very real possibility of facing persecution.
The event is being held 70 miles north of Cairo, and although 26,000 people are anticipated to appear, event organizers fear that Islamic extremists may have also purchased tickets for the conference to carry out acts of violence.
“Because the organizers do not know how many Muslims may have purchased tickets for the rally, please pray for them that their lives may be changed to know Jesus as their Savior by the love they will feel from the staff and by the life changing-messages,” wrote Open Doors, a California-based ministry that aids Christians in the world’s most oppressive and restrictive countries, on its website.
During the event, over 1,000 workers, preachers, volunteers and Christian artists will be on hand to give participants the opportunity to experience morning and evening worship services… more at 26,000 Christians Expected to Gather in Egypt for Evangelical Event Amid Risk of Violent Persecution.
Minya, a provincial capital with a high Christian population, could also be called Egypt’s capital of kidnappings. More people have been snatched in this city and Province than in any other place in southern Egypt. Christians, particularly doctors and pharmacists, who make up most of the kidnap victims, live in fear of disappearing on a dark rural road like Sedhom – or that their children will be snatched on the way to school. Some rural communities are suffering from decreased access to healthcare because Christian doctors are afraid to travel to their clinics outside the city, where many of the kidnappings occur.
Christians are targeted because they do not have tribes or families who retaliate, unlike many Muslims in southern Egypt. As a tight-knit minority community, they are also perceived as able to raise large sums of money from friends and relatives for ransoms. And in Egypt, crimes against Christians have long gone routinely unpunished, fueling an environment of impunity.
The kidnappings are mostly crimes of opportunity, not hate. But some suspect that the spike of the last three months has been driven by Islamists’ blame toward Christians, who they accuse of supporting the protests and military coup against Morsi.
When the number of people kidnapped since August rose to about 20, Bishop Makarios asked church officials to tally the number of people taken since 2011 so he could have a firm number to publicize. Officials have been calling each known victim, gathering information about when and where they were kidnapped, and how much the family paid in ransom.
So far, the count has reached 80 in and around the city of Minya, and the bishop estimates that it will surpass 100 in the province. There have also been around 30 kidnappings in another hotspot, the lawless village of Naga Hammadi further south. An unknown number of people have paid protection money after being threatened with kidnapping.
Sometimes the victims are treated well until their families pay up, but not Sedhom. He was left blindfolded with his hands bound behind his back for the length of his captivity. “I spent 48 hours without food, water, sleep, or light,” he says. “Every time I asked a question, they beat me. The water they gave me was so repulsive, I couldn’t bear to drink it – I don’t know if it was from the sewer or what.”
He said his kidnappers appeared to take delight in terrorizing him – at one point, they threatened to cut off his finger and send it to his wife as encouragement to raise the ransom. Later, they discussed killing Sedhom in front of him. Before he was released, they took him to a pit and pushed him inside. Lying there, Sedhom said he could smell the stench of death from something else in the pit as they pressed a gun barrel to his ear, his forehead, his mouth.
“I was sure I was going to die,” says Sedhom. The husky, middle-aged doctor says his faith sustained him throughout the ordeal.
“I never thought I could take one millionth of what I endured,” he says. “But every step of the way, every moment of pain, I could feel God there with me, telling me, ‘I’m going to save you.’”Egypt’s Christians close ranks as kidnappings spike – CSMonitor.com.