LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network #537 with Daniella Whyte

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1. According to DailyMail, A new video from Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram extremists shows gunmen mowing down civilians lying face down in a dormitory, and a leader saying they are being killed because they are ‘infidels’ or non-believers. There are so many corpses the gunmen have difficulty stepping to reach bodies still twitching with life. Most appear to be adult men. The group leader says in a message, ‘We have made sure the floor of this hall is turned red with blood, and this is how it is going to be in all future attacks and arrests of infidels. From now, killing, slaughtering, destruction and bombing will be our religious duty anywhere we invade.’ The video released to journalists late Saturday comes two days after fleeing villagers reported that the extremists are rounding up elderly people and killing them in two schools in Gwoza, in northeast Nigeria. The setting of the latest video appears to be a school, a long dormitory furnished with bunk beds which the leader says is in Bama, a town 40 miles north of Gwoza.

2. According to Baptist News Global, Baylor University has announced a $2 million gift from Jerry and Susie Wilson of Dallas that will establish an endowed chair in religious freedom to support the university’s educational mission and its Institute for Studies of Religion. The future holder of the endowed chair will lead Baylor’s efforts to affirm congressional support for the defense of religious freedom on Capitol Hill. In addition, the chair will collaborate on projects involving international religious freedom through diplomatic engagement and integrating religious freedom into broader foreign policy. Fostering the understanding of Christianity as a liberator of pressing social issues, such as human trafficking, women’s rights, refugees and other human suffering both domestically and internationally, will be another objective of the Wilson Chair.

3. According to the Guardian, an official website belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard has quoted a senior cleric as saying that Iran has attained the knowledge to build a nuclear bomb but doesn’t want to use it. The site Ay-a-toll-ah Ah-mad Kha-ta-mi has told a group of IRGC commanders that Iran had the expertise to enrich uranium not just to the 5% and 20% levels required for civilian uses but to higher levels required for a bomb. He said, “[We] can enrich uranium at 5% or 20%, as well as 40% to 50%, and even 90%.” Kha-ta-mi’s speech was widely covered by the Iranian press, but the remarks about Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capabilities were not reported.

4. According to USA Today, They’ve already collected more than 20,000 coats, loads of hygiene products, clothing and cash donations to help Iraqi Christians who have been displaced from their homes and communities by Islamic State. Now, a group of mostly Chaldean educators in metro Detroit is turning its attention to needs even closer to the members’ hearts and professions: collecting supplies and raising money to boost literacy efforts for the children. “Most have been without schooling for months,” said teacher Melody Arabo of West Bloomfield, Mich., an instructional coach for Walled Lake Consolidated Schools and the current Michigan Teacher of the Year. Arabo is one of the founding members of Teachers Educating and Creating Hope (TEACH), created in September through the Chaldean Catholic Diocese. It’s part of heightened efforts in recent months by the diocese to provide aid to Iraqi Christians. Now, TEACH is partnering with the Michigan Reading Association, which has selected their effort as its international project for the school year. Together, they want to collect paper, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, coloring books, puzzles, non-battery-operated toys and books — preferably books in Arabic.

5. According to Reuters, China said on Monday it opposed all forms of cyberattacks but there was no proof that North Korea was responsible for the hacking of Sony Pictures, as the United States has said. North Korea has denied it was to blame and has vowed to hit back against any U.S. retaliation, threatening the White House and the Pentagon. The hackers said they were incensed by a Sony comedy about a fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which the studio has pulled. China made no reference to calls by the United States for joint action with it and other countries to counter any similar cyberattacks.

6. According to the Times of Israel, the United States delivered 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt in recent weeks after lifting part of a freeze on aid to the Arab nation. US Secretary of State John Kerry had been promising Cairo’s new leadership that the aircraft — aimed to join counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai peninsula — would be delivered soon. The United States annually allocates some $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, including $1.3 billion in military assistance. Egypt’s military has been battling an insurgency on the peninsula since it overthrew Islamist president Morsi last year and cracked down on his supporters.

7. According to the Associated Press, Many young immigrants who are protected from deportation under new Obama administration policies are expected to begin pursuing Arizona driver’s licenses. The Arizona Department of Transportation said it is anticipating a rush of immigrant applicants in the weeks ahead at Motor Vehicle Division offices statewide. A preliminary injunction issued Dec. 18 by U.S. District Judge David Campbell bars the state from enforcing Gov. Jan Brewer’s policy of denying the licenses to about 20,000 immigrants. Despite her belief that issuing licenses is a state matter, Brewer’s office confirmed she would comply.

8. According to the Times of Israel, the Hamas terror group has been redoubling its efforts to restore the cross-border offensive tunnels that were destroyed by Israel during last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip. According to the reports, some of the cement and other materials being delivered to the coastal Palestinian territory, as part of an international rebuilding effort, has been diverted to the tunnels. An Israel Radio report said Hamas has realized that the tunnels, which were used to stage attacks on Israeli military targets during the war, provide it with a psychological edge over residents of Israeli border towns in the area.

9. According to Religion News Service, Pope Francis launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, outlining a “catalog of illnesses” that plague the church’s central administration, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and gossipy cliques. The pope’s traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was less an exchange of warm wishes than a laundry list of what the pontiff called the “ailments of the Curia” that he wants to cure. In a critique that left many of the assembled clerics clearly uncomfortable, the 15 ailments in Francis’ “catalog of illnesses” reflected the take-no-prisoners approach he promised when he was elected nearly two years ago as an outsider with little direct experience in Rome. In a separate address to Vatican staff later, Francis begged pardon for the “shortcomings” of senior church leaders, as well as the “several scandals” that had “caused so much harm,” without specifying which scandals he had in mind.

10. According to Reuters, the World Health Organization said on Saturday that the death toll from Ebola in the three worst-affected countries in West Africa has risen to 7,373 among 19,031 cases known to date. The latest data reflected nearly 500 new deaths from the worst ever outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This week, Sierra Leone’s government launched a major operation to contain the epidemic in West Africa’s worst-hit country.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: Luke 2:11-14 says, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.””

God loves you. He always has and He always will. He loves you so much that the Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, why don’t you get to know Him today. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose by the power of God for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening. May God bless your day.

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