LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network Weekend Report #127

1. According to the AP, a powerful earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday, killing over 1,400 people across a swath of four countries as the violently shaking earth collapsed houses, leveled centuries-old temples and triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest. It was the worst tremor to hit the poor South Asian nation in over 80 years. At least 1,130 people were confirmed dead in Nepal. Another 34 were killed in India, 12 in Tibet and two in Bangladesh. Two Chinese citizens died in the Nepal-China border. Officials said the death toll is almost certain to rise.

2. According to Baptist Press, Likely Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference have “mutually agreed” that Carson will not address the Pastors’ Conference in Columbus, Ohio, as previously scheduled. Pastors’ Conference President William Rice said, “We didn’t want this to become a distraction for our convention. A number of people began to write about it and express their views on it, and it threatened to become a distraction we never wanted it to be. We felt like for the health of the convention, the health of the Pastors’ Conference… the better thing to do was to mutually agree it’s not the right time to do it.”

3. According to Religion News Service, As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on Tuesday that could wind up legalizing gay marriage nationwide, dozens of Christian leaders have issued a call to civil authorities to preserve “the unique meaning of marriage in the law” — but also to “protect the rights of those with differing views of marriage.” This week’s statement, “The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming a Shared Witness,” was signed by 35 religious leaders representing Catholic, evangelical, Pentecostal, Orthodox and Mormon churches. The only non-Christian signatory was Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of Washington Area. The leaders forcefully reiterate their shared belief that marriage is “the union of one man and one woman” and argue that apart from religious doctrines, the state “has a compelling interest in maintaining marriage” for the good of society and the “well-being of children.”

4. According to The Associated Press, Protesters who’ve been holding near-daily demonstrations this week over the death of Freddie Gray are promising their biggest march yet a day after the Baltimore Police Department acknowledged that it failed to get him the medical attention he needed after his arrest. Protesters vowed to “shut down” the city by marching through the streets and snarling traffic. The president of a black lawyers’ group predicted thousands of people would turn out for the demonstration, when good weather is forecast and the Baltimore Orioles host the Boston Red Sox. Late Friday, Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis said Gray, 25, should have received medical attention at the spot where he was arrested — before he was put inside a police transport van handcuffed and without a seat belt, a violation of the Police Department’s policy.

5. According to The Associated Press, A day after revealing an intelligence failure that cost the lives of two al-Qaida hostages, President Barack Obama on Friday praised the nation’s spying operations as the most capable in the world while promising a review aimed at preventing future mistakes. In a speech at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to mark its 10th anniversary, Obama said, “We all bleed when we lose an American life. We all grieve when any innocent life is taken. We don’t take this work lightly. And I know that each and every one of you understand the magnitude of what we do and the stakes involved and these aren’t abstractions and we’re not cavalier about what we do.” Obama said he knows the U.S. intelligence community has faced criticism but it can take great pride that its work has made America more secure.

6. According to AFP, Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have forced hundreds of soldiers to flee the Marte, a border town in Nigeria. Imamu Habeeb, a local community leader said, “The terrorists, numbering over 2,000, appeared from various directions on Thursday and engaged the soldiers in Kirenowa town and adjoining communities in Marte.” He said, “They fought with soldiers over the night and the fight continued on Friday, forcing hundreds of soldiers to flee.” This is the third time Boko Haram has seized control of Marte in restive Borno state, a key battleground of their six-year insurgency, which has killed more than 13,000 and left 1.5 million homeless.

7. According to Reuters, Ash from the Chilean volcano Calbuco, which erupted without warning this week, reached as far as southern Brazil today and prompted some airlines to cancel flights to the capitals of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Calbuco, considered one of the most dangerous along Chile’s chain of around 2,000 volcanoes, erupted twice in 24 hours on Wednesday and Thursday, sending up a spectacular 11-mile high cloud and coating nearby towns in a thick layer of gray ash. Authorities have set up a 12-mile cordon around Calbuco, evacuating more than 6,500 locals.

8. According to the Associated Press, after years of Israeli objections, armed Palestinian police in dark blue uniforms have taken up positions in Abu Dis — a lawless West Bank suburb of Jerusalem — highlighting the shared interests of Israel and the Palestinian self-rule government on day-to-day issues even when political tensions run high. The officers hope to catch scores of fugitive criminals and break up a rampant trade in drugs and stolen cars in three Arab areas on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The criminal activity, some in Arab-Jewish partnerships, routinely spills over into Israel, with most cars stolen there and some drugs sold in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Adnan Damiri, a spokesman of the Palestinian security forces, “Crime has no color. It can harm us and them.”

9. According to Baptist News Global, a Baptist in Uzbekistan was jailed 15 days in March and fined three years’ worth of the national minimum wage for giving a Christian leaflet to a passer-by he met while traveling by bicycle. The Forum 18 News Service in Norway reports that Doniyor Akhmedov — a Baptist the Tashkent Region of northeast Uzbekistan — set out early on the morning of March 16 for a 110-mile journey by bicycle to the Namangan Region farther east. Police stopped him after he gave a Christian leaflet to a passer-by, and arrested him for illegal missionary activity. Uzbekistan, ranked by the U.S. State Department as a country of “particular concern” for violation of religious freedom, frequently fines Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses and sometimes gives them short-term prison sentences.

10. According to the Associated Press, Turkey’s president has lashed out at country leaders who have recognized the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide on the centenary of the massacres. Recep Erdogan on Saturday accused France, Germany, Russia and Austria — whose leaders or parliaments recently described the killings as genocide — of supporting “claims constructed on Armenian lies.” He accused the United States of siding with Armenia although President Barack Obama stopped short of using the term in his annual message. Erdogan said: “They should first, one-by-one, clean the stains on their own histories.” Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in what is widely viewed as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: Colossians 1:27-28 says, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”

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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