Nigerian Christian teen escapes captors weeks after abduction, forced conversion to Islam

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter – TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 2020

A Nigerian Christian girl who was abducted in January and forced to convert to Islam has finally been reunited with her family in the country’s northcentral Kaduna state.

The Hausa Christians Foundation told the independent daily newspaper Vanguard that Sadiya Amos has escaped from her captors and returned to her family in the Kubau Council Area after being held hostage for more than a month.

Last month, the Anglican Church and Hausa Christian community in Kubau raised concern over Amos’ abduction and alleged forced marriage to one of her captors.

According to an earlier report from The Guardian, Amos went missing on the night of Jan. 5.

Amos’ father, Amos Chindo, was forced to go to Sharia court on Jan. 7, where he was threatened by a lawyer claiming to be an advocate for Sadiya and a Sharia court judge. Both accused Chindo of preventing his daughter from converting to Islam.

The judge and lawyer were accused of forging a birth certificate in which Sadiya’s age was raised from under 17 to 19. Additionally, the lawyer and judge refused to give Chindo access to his daughter or tell him about her whereabouts.

The trial was adjourned until Jan. 14.

According to a statement from the HCF, Amos and her parents attend the church where the Anglican Bishop of Ikara Diocese, Yusuf Ishaya Janfalan, presides.

According to Vanguard, Janfalan delegated priests to attend Amos’ court hearing on Jan. 14 and call for the Sharia court to acknowledge that both parents are Christians and not subject to Sharia law.

“[T]he judge didn’t listen to them or even give them the chance to speak and never even listen to Sadiya’s parents,” the HCF statement reads. “Instead, the Sharia judge went ahead to read his predetermined judgment and closed the case without the Sadiya in court.”

HCF said that the organization did its best to try to secure Amos’ release after the court’s decision but had no luck. At a protest in January, Janfalan and leaders from the Hausa Christians Foundation called on the government for an immediate intervention to secure Amos’ release.

“While doing our best to rescue her, we reached a point where we could not do anything due to financial constraint,” the HCF statement explains. “While praying to God for open doors to speed up her freedom, the Power of our God went ahead and completed the work all to His glory.”

Sadiya Amos told HCF that she was kept in a room for more than a month and forced to convert to Islam. She said that guards were posted outside her door so that she would not escape.

But one day, the guards fell asleep and left the door open. Amos said that allowed her to escape and return to her parents.

“The case of abducting Christian girls and their forceful conversion to Islam as well as forcing them into marriage has become a watershed issue in Northern Nigeria,” the HCF statement reads. “The Hausa Christians Foundation in less than three years has rescued 12 of these girls out of the over 30 cases that were reported to us from across Northern Nigeria, especially the Hausa Land.”

It is unclear as to who Amos’ captors are. However, kidnappings of hundreds of young girls in Nigeria have been carried out by different actors in recent years. Those actors include the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, its splinter group the Islamic State West Africa Province and radical Fulani herdsmen.

Last October, six Christian schoolgirls and two staff members were abducted from a Christian-run high school in Kaduna city by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

In 2014, over 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in the town of Chibok in Borno state. Over 112 remain missing.

In 2018, 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped from a government school in Dapchi. Although nearly all were released, Christian teen Leah Sharibu was not because she reportedly refused to deny her faith in Christ. After two years, family members and advocates are still calling for her freedom.

“The moment these girls are abducted, they are subjected to all manners of evil just to take control of their minds,” HCF warns. “Once they took hold of their minds, these girls will only do everything they are asked to do.

“While the parents fight for the release of their daughters, these abductors continue to sexually abuse these girls, hypnotized their food, drinks, clothes, where they sleep, perpetually evoke evil spirit upon them to the point that these girls completely lost their minds and never think of going back to their home.”

HCF warned that it only takes about one or two weeks for a Christian girl to be abducted and married off.

“She will be sexually abused even before the marriage to make the parents give up on her when she becomes pregnant,” HCF stresses.

Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List ranks Nigeria as the 12th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution.  (Click to Source)

 

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Al-Shabaab warns all Christians to leave northeastern Kenya

By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor

MONDAY, MARCH 02, 2020

The Somalia-based al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab has “ordered” Christians to leave three counties in northeastern Kenya to allow local Muslims to get all local jobs, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.

“Muslim teachers, doctors, engineers, and young graduates from the northeastern province are unemployed. Isn’t it better to give them a chance? There is no need for the presence of disbelievers,” al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Ali Dhere, said in an audio clip posted online, referring to the counties of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.

In the 20-minute clip, the spokesman urged Somali-Kenyans to drive all non-Muslims out if they do not leave on their own.

The majority of the people living in the three counties are Somalis, who fled to Kenya due to war and violence in Somalia.

“This is not news at all because the conduct of the local people here has always suggested that they want us to leave,” the Rev. Cosmas Mwinzi of the Assemblies of God in Garissa was quoted as saying. “This region has been unstable for years due to war in Somalia and hatred against non-locals who are mostly Christians. The levels of education and infrastructure in the three counties are low and it is only through the expertise and hard work of the non-locals that the living standard of the Somali people in Kenya can improve. We have non-locals in all sectors, from health to education.”

In January, three Christian teachers were murdered in the town of Kamuthe in Garissa County during an attack on a primary school believed to have been carried out by al-Shabaab. As a result, many non-local teachers were already being transferred to other schools outside northeastern Kenya, or teachers themselves were requesting transfers.

“This release is terrible news for Christians living and working in eastern Kenya,” Nathan Johnson, ICC’s regional manager for Africa, said. “They already live with increased fear and anxiety, as many have had to travel to find work. Now with this threat, it is clear that al-Shabaab will be increasing attacks on Christians who are simply trying to provide for their families.”

Last Wednesday, two Christians were reported to be among three people killed after suspected al-Shabaab militants attacked a bus carrying passengers to the capital of Nairobi from a market town near the Ethiopian and Somalian borders.

Haji Abass, the owner of the Kenya-based Moyale Raha bus company, told The Associated Press that the militants were in police uniform and tried to flag down the bus. However, the bus driver kept on going because he knew there were no police stops along the route. At that point, the militants shot at the bus, flattened the back tires and injured the driver.

After the bus went into a ditch, militants allegedly pulled the passengers out and killed two non-Muslims and one Muslim. Two others were injured.

Kenya ranks as the 44th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.

Al-Shabaab has fought for years to overthrow the Somali government. The group has been responsible for attacks on both sides of the Somalia and Kenya border as it has long vowed to retaliate against Kenya for sending in troops to Somalia to fight the group.

In April 2015, al-Shabaab carried out one of its deadliest attacks when it stormed the campus of Garissa University. On that occasion, militants were said to have separated Muslims from non-Muslims and proceeded to execute all non-Muslim students. At least 148 people were killed in the attack. (Click to Source)

 

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Is Finland About to Make Christianity Illegal? Christian Lawmaker Facing Fines and Prison

02-18-2020 – Dale Hurd

 

Rohingya Christian refugees abducted, attacked in Bangladesh

By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2020

At least 22 Rohingya Christian families were attacked, a Christian pastor and his 14-year-old daughter were abducted, and a Christian church and school were vandalized in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area, which is home to thousands of refugees who fled ethnic and religious persecution in neighboring Myanmar, according to Human Rights Watch.

A large group of men beat up residents, vandalized homes and looted personal property soon after abducting Taher, a Rohingya Christian pastor, and his daughter, in the Kutupalong Camp 2, the group said in a statement urging authorities in Bangladesh to provide protection.

The attack took place on Jan. 27 by machete-wielding Muslim Rohingya men on a Christian community, Radio Free Asia reported.

At least 12 Rohingya Christians were injured and hospitalized and the affected families were relocated to a United Nations transit center.

A police case has been filed against 59 alleged assailants. A group of Muslims also filed a separate complaint later, alleging that the violence was the result of Christians assaulting a Rohingya Muslim man.

Taher’s wife, Roshida, said her husband may have been killed and her daughter converted to Islam. “No one can give me any clear information, but my relatives told me that my daughter has been forced to convert to Islam and marry,” she said, according to HRW.

Some camp residents suspect that the attackers are linked to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an armed group whose representative denied and condemned the attacks on Christians, according to Benar News.

“The ARSA … attacked us, the Christians. They looted our houses, and beat up many Christian members. At least 12 Christians have been undergoing treatment at different hospitals and clinics,” a Christian identified only as Saiful was quoted as saying.

Saiful said most of the believers in the camp converted to Christianity in Myanmar and that he and his family crossed into Bangladesh from Baulibazar in Myanmar’s Maungdaw district in 2007.

About 1,500 Rohingya Christians have been living in refugee camps with more than 700,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh after the Myanmar military began its campaign of ethnic cleansing in 2017.

A Christian Rohingya told HRW that camp officials “try to avoid our queries.” Another said a police officer told him that if they wanted to be safe they should “go to the moon.”

In a report on his visit to Bangladesh as the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee said in January that Rohingya Christians were “in a most difficult position.”

“They told me they were persecuted due to their religion by the Myanmar Government while they lived in Rakhine, and now they face hostility and violence from a small number of other camp residents. This worries me.”

HRW has urged the Bangladesh authorities to “urgently locate Taher and his daughter and bring those responsible to justice.”

“The government should also act immediately to protect all vulnerable groups in the country’s refugee camps, including religious minorities like Rohingya Christians.” (Click to Source)

 

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Iranian Christian convert fears execution if deported for giving wrong answers on Bible quiz

By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2020

A 38-year-old Christian convert, who says he would face imprisonment, execution and separation from his British wife and daughter if deported to Iran, has once again applied for asylum to the U.K.’s Home Office, as his appeal was earlier rejected because he wasn’t able to name Judas as the betrayer of Jesus at an immigration hearing.

Reza Karkah from Bradford, who fled Iran for the U.K. in 2003, said if he’s deported, Iranian authorities would punish him for his conversion to Christianity, said the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting his case.

At an earlier immigration hearing, Karkah found it difficult to understand the 150 questions he was asked, including his favorite passage from the Bible, and identifying the betrayer of Jesus and the denomination into which he was baptized, according to The Times (of London). Unable to answer some of the questions correctly, his application was rejected as the judge was not convinced he was a real Christian.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, stressed, “Reza Karkah is the real deal. A courageous man transformed by the gospel and the hope of the Lord Jesus Christ. At stake here is not just the life of Reza, but also his equally brave yet vulnerable wife, and their beautiful daughter.”

If he is deported, his wife, Leigh Riley, would find it difficult to look after their 4-year-old daughter, Rosie, Karkah said. “I am afraid that my daughter will think I have abandoned her if I was deported.”

“I feel weighed down and that my life is on hold. Knowing that I could be snatched off the street makes me nervous about leaving the house. We pray each time we go out that Jesus will have mercy on us. I now have a new life and a new hope. To think that this could be taken from me in a moment is horrible.”

Leigh, who was born in Yorkshire, said, “When I was down and out on the streets, meeting Reza changed my life. He was the first person who was kind to me. Now we are a family and I am a mother to a beautiful four-year-old daughter. I don’t even want to think about what they might do to my husband if he was returned to Iran. You hear such terrible stories.”

In its judgment in 2018, the Home Office said that he would not be exposed to “a real act of persecution” if he was deported.

Williams argued that the Home Office often fails to properly understand “the nature of Christian faith or the scale of the challenges faced by Christians in Iran.” Converting from Islam is illegal in Iran and punishable by death.

Karkah’s initial bid for asylum was rejected in 2004, making him homeless, addicted to drugs and a petty criminal. That’s when he met Leigh. A year later, they converted to Christianity as a result of a local church’s outreach program.

After being baptized, Karkah quit drugs and is now an active member of a church. He has not committed any crime over the last five years.

“The people at the soup kitchen spoke to me about Jesus Christ, the Bible and the need for salvation,” Karkah recalled. “They were kind and compassionate giving us access to a doctor, sleeping bags and clothing. I found hope, we both became Christians. Since then our lives have completely changed. My wife is unrecognizable from the disheveled, broken and abused woman I met in 2012.”

Last year, the Home Office said it would take a second look at another Iranian Christian’s asylum claim after the department first denied the application, arguing that Christianity is not a peaceful religion.

The department faced international criticism for attacking Christianity as a violent religion in a letter stating their reasons for denying the Christian convert’s asylum application. (Click to Source)

 

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Elderly pastor brutally beaten, mocked by Hindu extremists: ‘I am ready to die for Christ’

By Leah MarieAnn Klett, Christian Post Reporter – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2020

Hindu extremists in Andhra Pradesh, India, brutally beat an elderly pastor and verbally abused his wife amid escalating tension over the presence of a Christian church in their community.

Morning Star News reports that Pastor Eswara Rao Appalabattula was attacked by a group of Hindu extremists after he pleaded with them to stop building a wall meant to block people from attending worship services at his home in L.B. Patnam village, Andhra Pradesh.

“They wanted to build a wall right in front of the church and ban us from using the path,” Appalabattula told Morning Star News. “I pleaded with them to not do so. But the group of at least six neighbors, both male and female, punched me in my stomach several times and pushed me to the floor.”

They picked up a wooden pole and started beating his hands repeatedly with it, he said. Doctors later told him his hand had been fractured.

“I was lying there on the floor screaming for help,” he said. “My wife came running and begged them to stop beating me — it was traumatic.”

That same month, a Hindu priest led a group of extremists to the pastor’s home, where they threatened to kill his wife, Karuna Appalabattula, as she was doing chores outside.

“I did not go to fight with them but I was panicked,” Karuna Appalabattula told Morning Star News. “I did not know what to do. I asked them, ‘What is this you are doing? Why are you after us?’”

The Hindu priest picked up a large log of wood and came running toward her, she said.

“He kept screaming that he would kill me,” she said. “I was crying for help. But their priest abused me in extremely foul language. They called me names they would never use for a mother, wife, sister or any female member of their families. He called me a Christian prostitute and warned me that he would kill my husband.”

When the pastor informed a police official of the abuse his family had endured, he was told to resolve the matter himself.

“They told me that, ‘Your God has to protect you — when your God is not protecting you from your attackers, what can we do staying here?’” the pastor said. “I told them that it was my God who had been protecting me, if not I would not have been alive in front of you.”

The Hindu extremists were reportedly angered by the presence of a church in their village and intimidated worshipers to discourage them from gathering. Pastor Appalabattula said the Hindu villagers had stopped worshipers from coming to services throughout January.

“They would threaten and abuse them in foul language and not let them even park their motorbikes in the area,” he said. “Even before they stop at the church, they are chased and sent away.”

“My wife and I witnessed drug and alcohol addicts, and the sick, come to Christ, and then they had refused to be a part of Hindu rituals in the village.”

Because of the ongoing persecution, youths and Christians from neighboring villages who used to come to their home daily for worship and hours of fellowship are too fearful to come now, the pastor said.

“They were like our own children,” she said. “I would prepare meals and feed them. We sang and worshiped together … We both are very old and weak and are in need of prayers and support.”

Pastor Appalabattula said they are going through a very difficult time.

“I am ready to die for Christ. But the ministry we had started here has come to a sudden halt,” he said. “Not even four members are gathering for Sunday worship. The believers have been very scared, and nobody dares to come and see us.”

India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Over 1,400 incidents of persecution against Christians in India have been reported since the year Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party rose to power, according to an initiative of ADF India.

Recently, it was reported that Hindu extremists in southern India beat Christian children during a worship service before filing a false police complaint against the congregation.

International Christian Concern, an advocacy organization based outside of Washington, D.C., said it often receives reports of rapes, communal violence, forced conversion charges and other abuses committed against Christians in the Hindu-majority country.

“Cases such as these are becoming commonplace in India and are largely fueled by rhetoric of BJP and other [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] officials,” ICC Advocacy Director Matias Perttula said. “They show a clear indication of the decline of religious freedom and an increase in the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.” (Click To Source)

 

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Pregnant woman and baby among 30 killed, burned to death by Boko Haram

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2020

Boko Haram militants are suspected to have burned and killed no less than 30 people and abducted others Sunday night as the extremist faction continues to terrorize northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.

A spokesperson for Borno Gov. Babagana Umara Zulum told CNN that at least 30 people, including a pregnant woman and her baby, are now dead after suspected Boko Haram militants set sleeping travelers on fire in the Auno village of the Borno state.

The travelers were camping out in the village for the night as they missed a 5 p.m. curfew in the state capital of Maiduguri, about 10 miles away.

Sources reported to Vanguard that while most counts say that at least 30 have died, the death toll could be as high as 40. That would include the death of six militants.

According to the state government, militants burned 18 vehicles. Some of the destroyed vehicles included trucks loaded up with food to be taken to the markets the following day.

State government spokesman Ahmad Abdurrahman Bundi told AFP that militants stormed Auno village with trucks and mounted weapons. The militants killed, looted and burned.

Village resident Shehu Tanko told CNN that the bodies of the pregnant woman and her baby were among the corpses recovered.

“They burn everywhere. The fire was still on till this morning,” Tanko explained. “We are still looking for many people around here.”

A source told Vanguard that the pregnant woman was likely raped before she was burned to death and that the baby’s head was crushed.

Boko Haram is an Islamic militant insurgency responsible for killing tens of thousands and displacing millions in the last decade-plus.

The terrorist group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2016 but soon splintered after Islamic State leadership tried to replace Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau.

Although the Nigerian government claims to have defeated Boko Haram militarily, Boko Haram and its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province continue to carry out attacks in Borno.

“We have to be brutal in telling the truth. I am pushed to the wall to say the truth. Since I was inaugurated as governor of Borno State, Boko Haram has attacked Auno six times,” Zulum said in a statement, according to Vanguard. “Another thing is that the military has been withdrawn from Auno town. I am not undermining the capacity of the military but we have made repeated appeals for the military to establish their unit in Auno.”

Gov. Zulum recently gave a guest lecture at the National Defence College in Abuja in which he detailed the challenges of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Borno state. Zulum alleged that the insurgency is responsible for making 59,311 orphans and 59,213 widows.

Boko Haram over the years has abducted hundreds of school girls. The group has also abducted pastors and others in attempts to raise funds through ransom payments.

Last month, Boko Haram executed Rev. Lawan Andimi, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria’s chapter in the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

Andimi was kidnapped in early January and was seen in a ransom video praising God before his death.

Also in January, the Islamic State released a propaganda video purporting to show the killing of a Nigerian Christian university student by a child soldier. In December, the Islamic State faction claimed to have killed 11 Christian aid workers in Nigeria in retaliation for the killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In a statement Monday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared that the Nigerian government is “combating frontally the dreadful activities of terrorist groups like Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State.”

Buhari and his administration have faced international scrutiny over their inability to thwart extremist attacks by Boko Haram, ISWAP and radical Fulani herdsmen in the country’s Middle Belt.

Last December, the U.S. State Department listed Nigeria for the first time on its special watch list for countries that engage or tolerate severe religious freedom violations. Nigeria was placed on the list because of the “lack of effective government response” to increasing violence. (Click to Source)

 

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Navy chaplain accused of violating Constitution for encouraging soldiers to ‘lead like Jesus’

By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter –  CURRENT PAGE:U.S. | SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2020

A U.S. Navy chaplain has been accused of violating the U.S. Constitution for teaching an optional 12-week seminar called “Lead Like Jesus” at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island.

According to the religious liberty legal organization First Liberty Institute, Cmdr. Richard Smothers is being antagonized by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation — a group that argues for a strictly secularist interpretation of the Constitution — for promoting the seminar at the base.

MRFF sent an email demanding that Capt. Ian Johnson, commander of the Naval base, investigate Smothers and anyone else who promoted the seminar through emails or fliers. The organization argues that service members were being “voluntold” to attend the Christian-oriented event.

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, founder of MRFF, accused Smothers of having “weaponized Christianity” in an interview with the Navy Times published in January. He added that those behind the discussions should be “visibly and aggressively investigated and punished.”

“Nothing could be more disruptive to good order and discipline and unit cohesion than a message like this,” he said.

Commenting on the matter, First Liberty noted that encouraging troops through faith is in the job description of a chaplain.

“Most chaplains are endorsed by a particular church or religious organization, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or a host of other religions. They agree to uphold that organization’s beliefs and to carry out their duties as a representative of their faith. If they don’t, they lose their endorsement,” the organization said Friday.

“That’s why it’s so absurd when chaplains are attacked for sharing certain aspects of their faith — like a Christian chaplain giving a seminar about Jesus. It goes against their very job description.”

Cmdr. Elizabeth Baker, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman, said in response to the complaint that no one was being coerced to attend the seminar.

“It’s not any kind of directive from the chaplain to lead like Jesus … it’s a discussion series after services only for those who volunteer to attend,” she said in a response to Navy Times.

An advisory board member of MRFF countered that discussions called “Lead like Mohammed” or “Atheist Leadership” would likewise not be “tolerated” on the base.

Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty Institute, said in an interview with Fox News earlier this month that Jesus was a leader and it’s perfectly legal to study His leadership.

“It’s perfectly legal to study his leadership. In fact, some of our military leaders would do well to study Jesus’ leadership a bit more. None other than our first commander in chief, George Washington, looked to Jesus as a model of leadership.”

First Liberty Institute is the law firm that won a 7-2 victory at the United States Supreme Court last year in a case concerning the Bladensburg World War I “Peace Cross” in the case of American Legion et. al. v. American Humanist Association. The high court ruled that the monument, which has stood on public land in Maryland for approximately 50 years, does not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. (Click to Source)

 

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Christians Boldly Share the Love of Christ on the Streets of China’s Coronavirus Hot Zone

Contributor – By Lorie Johnson – February 6, 2020

Roughly 350 Americans are arriving home from China after leaving the coronavirus hot zone, touching down in California where they’ll be quarantined. The evacuations come as the virus is still spreading, infecting more than 24,000 people. China admits nearly 500 people are dead from the virus, but the actual numbers are unverifiable.

At the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, surgical masks are being used in two ways to further the spread of the Gospel.

First, Christians wear the mask themselves as they talk about Jesus to people on the streets. This not only helps prevent disease, but can also prevent prosecution by the Chinese government since the masks help conceal a person’s identity.

There are an estimated 100 million Christians in China, who often face persecution in the Communist nation. For that reason, most operate underground.

Second, Chinese Christians are handing out masks to people on the street. Along with the masks, they’re also handing out Gospel tracts.

CBN News Asia Correspondent Lucille Talusan said since the people of Wuhan are facing fearful uncertainty in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, some have become more receptive to Christ at this time.

“There are Christians, a ministry in Wuhan, they go out to the streets. They’re very courageous,” she said. “They give out masks and they say that they are Christians and they share the love of Christ and point to Jesus to bring hope to them and their families and the whole of China… This is really a break-through.”

As the infection rate soars, Americans and other foreigners are evacuating. The 350 Americans who left Wuhan on two US State Department chartered airplanes landed at Travis Air Force base near San Francisco. The passengers from one of the planes will remain quarantined there for two weeks.   The other plane refueled and flew to Miramar Air Station in San Diego where they will remain quarantined for two weeks as well.

The evacuees will be housed in hotels on the military bases and will not have any contact with base personnel, according to the US Department of Defense.

Although the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, the World Health Organization meeting Tuesday stopped short of declaring the epidemic a global pandemic. While the number of cases has spread to dozens of other countries, the outbreak is still largely confined to China, where the government there is taking extreme measures to contain the virus.

A hospital built in a mere 10 days cares for 1,000 patients and that’s not enough. A gymnasium and exhibition center have been converted into a temporary field hospital.

Chinese officials use drones to spray disinfectant and to speak to citizens through microphones on the drones, telling them to put on masks, go inside, or disperse from gatherings where the disease can spread.

Casinos in the Chinese territory of Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, are closed for at least two weeks.

Off the coast of Japan, 3,700 people aboard a cruise ship are quarantined on board after 10 tested positive for the virus.

The US and other countries have enacted stringent travel restrictions to and from China.

Health experts say the coronavirus appears milder than previously thought. The death rate hovers around 2% with the vast majority over age 60 with pre-existing health problems. And 700 people are confirmed to have fully recovered from the illness, approximately 200 more than the number of confirmed deaths.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk of contracting the virus is low.  The first American to have been diagnosed with the virus, a man in his thirties in the Seattle area, was discharged from the hospital Monday. There are 10 other confirmed cases in the US and zero deaths. Nine of the US cases contracted the virus in Wuhan, the other two are their spouses.  (Click to Source)

 

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Chinese Authorities Seize ‘Illegal Bibles’ in Fresh Crackdown on Christianity

Author – February 14, 2020
As part of their campaign to “eradicate pornography and illegal publications,” Chinese government officials have begun seizing unlicensed religious material, including Bibles.

In December of last year, the police raided a house church meeting venue in Lichuan county, confiscating anything they deemed “pirated.” The agents stole several boxes of Bibles, hymn books, and other religious literature found in the church, according to persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. The officials also logged the personal information of all the congregation members who were present during the operation.

The raid is just one of many that have been taking place across the country in recent months, as the persecution of Chinese Christians continues to ramp up.

In 2019, a document released by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau of a county in Hebei Province ordered daily church inspections to seek out un-approved religious publications and confiscate them immediately.

As Bitter Winter revealed, not even state-sanctioned churches are exempt from being investigated:

“On December 20, about ten officials from the Lichuan county’s United Front Work Department and police officers raided a Three-Self church to look for “pirated Bibles.” A preacher there told them that all the Bibles had been printed by the Amity Printing Company in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province, which is approved by the Two National Christian Councils. Regardless, the officials confiscated 30 Bibles they found in the church.”

A preacher from another Three-Self church in the county also reported that government employees warned him that any Bibles that are not approved by the Two National Christian Councils would be confiscated as “pirated publication.”

“If our Bibles are taken away, we have no more. We are thinking of asking our congregation members to hide them in the mountains,” the preacher told Bitter Winter.

China is currently ranked at number 23 on the Open Doors World Watchlist, with the level of persecution experienced by native Christians listed as “very high.” Despite the horrific situation for believers, China’s underground protestant church is exploding in numbers — there are currently around 100 million followers of Jesus living in the country.

Indeed, experts believe that the communist nation could hit 250 million by 2030, making it the most Christian country on earth. Tremendous growth, considering that the levels of persecution are unlikely to subside.

“The situation for Christians has deteriorated all over China,” the charity notes in its factsheet. “The Chinese government wants to “sinicize” every religious ideology in the country—meaning, to make beliefs, including Christianity, fall in line with their interpretation of Communism. This means a steady drip of pressure, where the government increases surveillance, control and restrictions of believers.” (Click to Source)

 

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