LISTEN: Jindal speaks at controversial prayer rally; Airstrikes make little impact on territory seized by ISIS (UCNN Weekend Report #102)

1. According to the Washington Post, skipping an Iowa event that drew a number of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls in favor of a controversial Louisiana prayer rally, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called for a national spiritual revival and urged event attendees to proselytize on behalf of their Christian beliefs. Jindal had insisted the day-long evangelical event hosted by the American Family Association on the campus of Louisiana State University was a religious and not political gathering. And, indeed, his 15-minute long remarks to the group consisted entirely of a personal testimony about how he had come to his Catholic beliefs. Jindal was raised by Hindu parents but converted to Catholicism in high school. Jindal’s keynote address at the event came as he has been courting Christian conservatives in advance of a possible run for president, meeting with pastors in the early battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire. The event drew protests outside the basketball arena where several hundred were gathered because of accusations that the American Family Association promotes discrimination against gays and is hostile to non-Christians. Jindal briefly referred to the protests in his appearance, asking the rally’s attendees to pray for the demonstrators.

2. According to AFP, the Pentagon has said that ISIS jihadists have lost only a tiny fraction of captured territory in Iraq after five months of U.S.-led air strikes. Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Iraqi government troops have retaken 700 square kilometers of ground mostly in northern Iraq, but the ISIS group still holds 55,000 square kilometers. That amounts to roughly one percent of ISIS-held territory changing hands since the U.S. launched air raids in Iraq on August 8.

3. According to the Baptist Press, Christian workers in the Arab world want people to know that neither newfound democracy nor violence and bloodshed are the only stories worth sharing about what is happening in the Middle East. An International Mission Board (IMB) strategy leader for work in Northern Africa and the Middle East says, “There is another story that is not being told.” He recounts examples of Muslim men and women coming to faith in Christ. He also tells of how God has met Arab Christians in their moments of need, providing grace and love and even the ability to forgive those who killed their families. He added, “The worst humanitarian catastrophe of our day is opening doors among people we have never had access to before. And we are finding not just broken lives but open hearts.”

4. According to Morning Star News, Christians in Niger are joyfully meeting in homes under police protection as they plan to rebuild church buildings and houses after attacks last weekend that were unprecedented in scale. A missionary couple in the capital, Niamey, said, “Nothing of this magnitude has ever happened in this nation. Nearly every church in the capital city was burned or looted, along with some schools and orphanages and several other churches and Christian homes throughout the nation.” Muslims protesting the depiction of the prophet of Islam in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo destroyed 72 church buildings and killed at least 10 people in attacks that began in Zinder on Jan. 16 and hit Niamey the next day. A church leader today put the total of ruined church structures at 68, and a final count remained uncertain.

5. According to the Baptist Press, Southern Baptists’ ethics entity and a leading pro-family organization took a public, first step on Thursday in mobilizing extensive evangelical Christian involvement in the annual March for Life. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Focus on the Family introduced Evangelicals for Life — a major evangelical, pro-life conference in conjunction with the 2016 March for Life — at an event by the same name that preceded this year’s march. At the morning session, the ERLC and Focus on the Family announced they will sponsor with other organizations the first-of-its-kind event next Jan. 21-22 in Washington, D.C. ERLC President Russell Moore told those gathered in a Washington hotel meeting room that his organization and Focus on the Family are planning “to really initiate a massive movement of evangelicals present at the March for Life” in 2016.

6. According to Bloomberg, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan promised to restore peace to the country’s northeast on his re-election campaign trail, a day after suspected Boko Haram militants raided a village, killing 15 people. Speaking in the Borno state capital of Maiduguri, he said, “I am promising the whole of you that we shall surely end this insurgency. We will surely stop Boko Haram and return Borno to the path of peace.” About three miles from Maiduguri, suspected Boko Haram militants raided the village of Kambari on Friday, killing the village leader, at least two children and 12 others. Jonathan, who is seeking re-election next month, didn’t mention the attack.

7. According to the Daily Mail, Kurdish forces have fired rockets into Mosul for the first time since Islamic State militants overran the northern Iraqi city last summer. A Kurdish officer said 20 Grad missiles had been launched into Mosul on Friday after receiving information that Islamic State militants were gathering to meet near the city’s Zuhour neighborhood. Kurdish officials said the strikes had hit their intended target, but two residents of Mosul contacted by Reuters said three civilians were killed in the attack.

8. According to the New York Daily News, police in Spain arrested four suspected jihadis, who bear eerie similarities to the terrorists responsible for the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France. Authorities said the would-be killers had stockpiled weapons and military paraphernalia in preparation for a lethal suicide mission. Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said, “These are two pairs of very radicalized brothers who are highly trained militarily, physically and mentally and are prepared to carry out an attack, and ready, according to the police, to blow themselves up in the act.” The suspects were all Spanish nationals of Moroccan origin.

9. According to Reuters, Suspected Boko Haram militants began attacking Nigeria’s major northeastern city of Maiduguri just after midnight on Sunday. At around 9 am on Sunday, a Reuters witness said shelling could be heard and that military helicopters were circling the city. The militants began the attack at the edge of the city in the Njimtilo area. The city is the capital of Borno state and would be a major prize for the insurgents who are trying to carve out an Islamic state.

10. According to USA Today, President Obama offered condolences to the Japanese prime minister Sunday after an online video purportedly showed that a Japanese hostage was murdered by the Islamic State group. The president offered his sympathy and support in a phone call to Shinzo Abe from India, where he arrived for a three-day visit. A video released by the extremist group on Saturday shows Japanese freelance journalist Kenji Goto holding a photo that apparently shows the dead body of the second hostage, Haruna Yukawa. Abe said on Sunday that he was “speechless” over the killing and demanded Goto’s release. He told Japanese broadcaster NHK that the video was likely authentic, though he said the government is still reviewing it. Abe offered condolences to Yukawa’s family and friends.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind. 1 Corinthians 12:12 says, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”

As always, we want you to know that God loves you. 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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