Sunday People Update

April 11, 2012

 

Israel Update

JERUSALEM-ON-THE-LINE
April 11, 2012

“Devote yourselves to prayer…and pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” Col 4: 2, 3

EASTER BOMB ATTACK NEAR NIGERIA CHURCH MURDERS AT LEAST 38: A car bomb blast outside a church in northern Nigeria on Easter Sunday killed a reported 38 people and put the country on alert over fears of further attacks, rescue officials and residents said. The explosion, a stark reminder of Christmas Day attacks that left dozens of people dead in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, hit the city of Kaduna, a major cultural and economic center in the north. At least one car said to be driven by a suicide bomber was involved in the Kaduna attack, but a rescue official speaking on condition of anonymity said two vehicles packed with explosives detonated. At least 38 people were killed in the blast, said Abubakar Zakari Adamu, a spokesman for the Kaduna state Emergency Management Agency in published remarks. (AFP/Worthy News)

CHRISTIANS IN SUDAN TOLD TO SUBMIT TO ISLAM OR BE DEPORTED: Christians from South Sudan had until Easter Sunday to become new citizens or be deported. It is feared that authorities will use the decree to rid the country of Christianity, church leaders said. More than 500,000 citizens of southern ethnic origin who have been living in Sudan for decades - some of them born there - are now considered foreigners as of April 8. Christian leaders said local media have been stoking hatred against predominantly Christian southern Sudanese, describing them as “cancer cells in the body of Sudan, the land of the Arab and Islam,” and calling on the government to deport them. Gov. Ahmad Abbass of Sennar state in central Sudan has vowed to deport southern Sudanese from his state “without regret.” Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has pledged to base the new Sudan more deeply on sharia (strict Islamic law). As of April 8, Sudanese Armed Forces have destroyed 10 churches, 73 villages and 48 schools, resulting in an estimated 185,000 refugees fleeing from South Kordofan and the Blue Nile states into South Sudan and Ethiopia. The UN estimates the conflict has created nearly 400,000 refugees, most of them in danger of starvation. At the same time, police have been mistreating some of the more than 113,000 southern Sudanese who are living in open spaces in Khartoum after having fled conflict in South Sudan. (CDN) “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice, because great is your reward in heaven....” Matt 5: 11, 12

IRAN CONTINUES TO THREATENS CHURCHES WITH BOMBING: In a March 30 report it was revealed another church in Tehran was ordered to cease holding services in Farsi, the Iranian national language, otherwise it could be "bombed. " According to the alert, ministers from an Iranian interior department dealing with interfaith matters served notice to the Armenian Anglican Church, unofficially threatening that if the order is ignored, the church will be bombed “as happens in Iraq every day.” This latest threat comes after both Emmanuel Protestant and St. Peter Evangelical churches were ordered to stop holding services in Farsi on Fridays, which falls on the weekend in Iran where Sunday is just another work day. "It now seems likely that the Islamic authorities have imagined that with this new restriction they will somehow hold back the rapid, and evidently extremely worrying, spread of Christianity amongst the people under their yoke," according to a report by the Farsi Christian News Network. Iranian security agents have been arresting Christians in a country-wide crackdown since Christmas. On Easter Sunday, 12 Christians were expected to stand trial on charges including "crimes against the order,” although they were tried for the same 'crimes' last year in the Caspian Sea city of Bandar Anzali. (Worthy News)

WATCH GROUP SAYS GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY IN IRAN IS EXPLOSIVE: Iran is ranked 5th on the Open Doors 2012 World Watch List of the top 50 worst persecutors of Christians. Despite the Iranian government's ongoing crackdown of Christians living in the primarily Islamic country, the number of Muslims converting to become Christians is growing at an explosive rate, according to the persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA. There is even talk of witnessing a Christian revival, especially among young people living in the country. A house church movement within Iran is part of that revival and has triggered "many secret meetings." The growth in the number of Christians is happening in all regions but mostly in larger cities, say Open Doors workers in the region. An estimated 200 Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) were living in Iran 40 years ago. The number is now estimated to be 370,000. Iran also has the presence of the traditional Armenian and Assyrian church with about 80,000 members. In a further update on the Iranian front, Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who faces execution for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and embrace Islam was still alive as of April 2, "through the power of Jesus Christ and prayers," according to an official assisting him. (Open Door) Continue to pray fervently for the release of Youcef Nadarkhani, also for the protection of, and provision for, his wife and family. Intercede for an ongoing revival in Iran. The Lord has promised: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt 16:18

SAUDI ARABIA’S GRAND MUFTI CALLS FOR DESTRUCTION OF CHURCHES IN REGION: The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the country’s top Islamic cleric, has declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” placing Christian places of worship throughout the Arabian Peninsula in potential jeopardy. Since Christianity is already forbidden in Saudi Arabia and no churches exist there, the implications of the cleric’s words were that the church ban should extend to other countries in the region, including Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. In making the pronouncement, the mufti cited an Islamic tradition the prophet Mohammed decreed on his deathbed: “There are not to be two religions in the Arabian Peninsula” - which some observant Muslims have seen as an order to cleanse the area of Christian influence. Although Christian worship is officially forbidden in Saudi Arabia, a small minority of Christians is known to worship there, unofficially. According to one 2008 estimate, there were 800,000 Catholics living in Saudi Arabia at the time. Saudi Arabia bans all non-Muslim houses of prayer, forcing Christians there to risk arrest by praying in private homes. Several house churches have been raided. (New American/INN)

BISHOPS CONDEMN FATWA TO DESTROY MIDDLE EAST CHURCHES: Christian bishops in Austria, Germany and Russia have condemned Saudi Arabia's top religious official after reports that he issued a decree, saying all churches on the Arabian Peninsula should be destroyed. In separate statements on Friday, March 23, the Roman Catholic bishops in Germany and Austria slammed the ruling by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Shaikh as an unacceptable denial of human rights to millions of foreign workers in the Gulf region. Islamic watchdog groups also reacted to the declaration, noting the Western media was strangely unresponsive to the Islamic leader’s words. “Considering the hysteria that besets the West whenever non-authoritative individuals offend Islam, imagine what would happen if a Christian counterpart to the Grand Mufti were to declare that all mosques in Italy must be destroyed,” said Raymond Ibrahim of Jihad Watch. “Imagine the nonstop Western media frenzy that would erupt, all the shrill screams of ‘intolerance’ and ‘bigot,’ demands for apologies if not resignation, nonstop hand-wringing by sensitive politicians, and worse.” (BosNews/Jihad Watch)

ETHNIC CLEANSING OF CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA - THOUSANDS FLEE: Terrorists with ties to al-Qaida have launched the "ethnic cleansing of minority Christians" in Syria, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee the embattled Syrian city of Homs and other areas, aid workers confirmed Tuesday, March 27. At least 90% of Christians living in Homs have fled after "fanatics" forced them to leave their homes, said Dutch aid group, Church in Need. It added that the exodus of 50,000 people mainly took place in the last six weeks. "They have fled to villages and in the mountains. We have reports that Islamists 'cleansed' the Homs areas of Christians without giving them the opportunity to take anything with them," according to spokespersons for the aid group. (BosNews) “You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” Heb 10:34

TERRORISTS KILL AMERICAN TEACHER IN YEMEN: Reuters, reported on March 18 that gunmen fatally shot an American teacher in Yemeni. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the killing. The group said the victim was spreading Christianity, calling him one of the biggest missionaries in the country. Co-workers denied reports the victim was a missionary. Islamic terrorists often accuse Western aid groups of covert missionary work. The US and Saudi Arabia, Yemen's neighbor and the world's biggest oil exporter, are concerned about al Qaeda's expansion in Yemen. (Reuters)

EGYPT’S COPTIC POPE DIES LEAVING BEHIND TROUBLED CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY: Egypt's Coptic Pope Shenouda III, who led Copts for over four decades through often heightened tensions, passed away last month at the of age of 88. Shenouda was the spiritual leader of the Middle East's largest Christian community. The grief throughout Egyptian society at his loss was said to be deeply moving. Minutes after the news of his death was announced, every Egyptian TV channel reportedly began talking about this remarkable spiritual leader who left his imprint on all Egyptians. All were effusive in their expressions of admiration for this gifted preacher, poet, thinker and “teacher of generations,” as he was called. In the aftermath of Shenouda’s passing, there is great concern among Christians that whoever succeeds him now faces the task of reassuring the Coptic community, as the Islamists look on the verge of sharing power in Egypt for the first time. There are deep concerns about the rise of the hard-line Salafist Muslims of the Nour Party, who have become the second largest political force in the country. Anticipating a powerful presence in the new Egyptian parliament, they have outlined plans for a strict brand of religious law, that critics say could limit personal freedoms and steer a key US ally toward an Islamic state. The Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist entity, is another party striving for power that has been feared for its Islamic bent. In the midst of the political turmoil, anti-Christian attacks have continued. (BosNews/Bible Society of Egypt)

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.” Eph 6: 19, 20

Blessings from Israel 

Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff 

 

As international speakers and messengers of the Good News through music, Barry and Batya Segal are at the forefront of what God is doing in the present day nation of Israel. With strong ties in both the nations and Jerusalem, the Segals are weaving the deepest roots of our biblical heritage together with the fresh Spirit-filled worship of today to create their rich harmony of Scripture and song.

 

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.