This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to the Christian Post, A pastor in India shared how his faith sustained him as Hindu extremists beat him almost to the point of death because of his evangelistic efforts. International Christian Concern reports that on Aug. 21, Pastor Prasanna Kumar, 32, was attacked and brutally beaten by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists as he returned home from a prayer meeting in Bikampur village, located in the Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh. The radicals accused the pastor of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity. “The attack seemed well planned,” Pastor Kumar told ICC. “I thought they were going to kill me.” According to the pastor, a mob surrounded him and pulled him from his motorbike before beating him with wooden clubs. “They yelled at me and accused me of converting people to the Christian faith,” Kumar told ICC. “They said that I give money to people to make them convert to Christianity.” “I tried to talk to them, but they would not allow me to say anything,” Kumar continued. “I was bleeding from my head and was kicked around like a football.” The attack lasted for two hours, leading the pastor to believe he was going to die. “God gave me the grace to accept even death,” Kumar told ICC. “Scriptures were running through my mind as I was being attacked. However, when I thought about my 4-year-old daughter and my wife, I was shattered, and it was excruciating.” When the radicals finally stopped beating Kumar, they told him they would kill him if they saw him in the village again.
According to the Christian Post, A Uighur woman has called on the Christian community to condemn the atrocities her community continues to face at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, warning that the “tragedy of the Uighur people will be the future of the entire world if this threat is not addressed.” Rushan Abbas, founder and executive director of Campaign for Uighurs and a former Uighur service journalist with Radio Free Asia, participated in an Aug. 21 webinar hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission that focused on China’s persecution of the Uighur Muslim community in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China. Abbas shared how her own sister and aunt disappeared — and were likely taken to internment camps — as a result of her activism. “My story is just one of the millions,” she said. “I, like all Uighurs, must remind myself of the truth: that my actions did not cause this, but the political actions of the Chinese Communist regime did this.” China, she said, is not just treating Uighurs as a “problem to be exterminated,” but is also seeking to control the world order and those outside its borders. “They are literally declaring the need to rewrite the Bible and the Quran to be compatible with communist atheistic ideology,” she said. “While China is openly conducting genocide, the world is muted as China buys basically the compliance of the business world. … The tragedy of the Uighur people will be the future of the entire world if this threat is not addressed and if we don’t take action.”
According to the Daily Mail, A Biblical village where Jesus is said to have performed some of his most famous miracles really existed, and today lies in ruins only a mile from the Sea of Galilee, archaeologists believe. In the Bible, Bethsaida was home to disciples Peter, Andrew and Philip, and was where Jesus purportedly fed the 5,000, walked on water and helped a blind man to see. Archaeologists have been working for 32 years to find the lost city, which was eventually cursed to destruction by Jesus because residents failed to repent in spite of his miracles. Now professor Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska says he is in no doubt that Et-Tell, in the Golan Heights near the Jordan River estuary, is the location of the biblical village. ‘Ancient sources place several requirements for the identification of Bethsaida,’ Aray said,’ adding that ‘finds in Et-Tell convinced not only me but a group of experts.’ To argue his case, Dr Arav refers to the Roman historian, Titus Flavius Josephus, who describes the location of Bethsaida in his writings. ‘Josephus says that the town was in the ‘lower Golan’ near the estuary of the Jordan River,’ said Dr Arav – the same location as the El-Tell dig site.
According to Religion News Service, On the morning of July 31, Samuel Chu, a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and community organizer, woke to discover the Hong Kong police had issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of “inciting secession” and “colluding with foreign powers.” Instead of a loud knock on the door, however, news of the warrant arrived in a hail of texts, emails and social media messages that Chu, 42, a naturalized American citizen, fielded from his apartment in Los Angeles’ Echo Park. With Beijing’s clampdown even on foreign supporters of Hong Kong’s freedoms, Chu said the warrant was just the latest step in China’s increasingly tighter control over the former British colony, which had enjoyed special freedoms after being returned to China two decades ago. “What we have lived through as a family, the kind of politically motivated prosecution that my dad went through last year,” Chu said. His father, the Rev. Chu Yiu-ming, a former Hong Kong pastor and co-founder of Occupy Central, a civil disobedience campaign demanding the people elect Hong Kong’s officials, was arrested in April 2019 for championing democracy in Hong Kong. He was later released, while two of his fellow organizers remain in jail. Before Chu Yiu-ming was convicted by a Hong Kong court last year of “conspiracy to commit public nuisance” for his role in the Occupy Central and Umbrella Movement protests, he delivered a sermon of sorts in his defense. “Political freedom is more than loyalty to the state. It professes human dignity,” he said from the defendant’s dock. “Every single person living in a community possesses unique potentials and powers, capable of making a contribution to society. Human right is a God-given gift, never to be arbitrarily taken away by any political regime.” Samuel Chu remembers joining his father on the streets of Hong Kong during the early days of the Occupy Central movement in fall 2014, navigating a critical flashpoint that led to the escalation of one civil disobedience campaign into a mass movement.
According to Religion News Service, A Catholic priest was found dead near his car Aug. 7 in El Salvador, the most recent in a pattern of clergy killings in the country over the past half century. Friends and parishioners of the slain priest called for justice and urged the Vatican “to protect our priests.” The Rev. Ricardo Antonio Cortez, 44, was killed while driving on a road in the southeastern part of El Salvador in early August. He was found with gunshot wounds but still had all his personal belongings, leading local police to rule out a robbery, but the reasons behind his death remain unknown. “News of his death hit me right at the heart,” said the Rev. Raphael Sánchez, a Salvadoran parish priest at the Church of San Nicola di Bari in Rome and a good friend of Cortez. Sánchez said he was shocked by his friend’s death, especially since Cortez “never mentioned that he feared for his life or was in danger.” Cortez is the third priest to be killed in El Salvador in less than three years. The Rev. Walter Osmir Vásquez Jiménez was found fatally shot in March 2018, and the Rev. Cecilio Pérez was slain in May 2019. All three deaths are unsolved. Cortez was the rector at the major seminary of St. Óscar Arnulfo Romero in the Diocese of Zacatecoluca in El Salvador. His death occurred some 40 years after the martyrdom of Romero, after whom the seminary is named.
Family members of a teenage Bosnian girl will face abuse charges after they were accused of beating the child and shaving her head when she admitted to having a relationship with a Christian man. Prosecutors are charging the parents, uncle and aunt of the teenage girl after they were accused of assaulting her last Monday in their apartment in the eastern city of Besancon, according to Agence France-Presse. The act was condemned on Twitter by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who wrote on Twitter that he was “deeply shocked by the act of torture” and claimed the child was beaten and shaved because she “loved a Christian.” “This barbarism calls for the most severe sanctions,” Darmanin wrote, according to an English translation of the tweet. As first reported by the French newspaper, the 17-year-old girl had fallen in love with a 20-year-old man of Serbian origin. While she is of Muslim faith, he is a Christian. “The two families knew each other and [their relationship] was not a problem,” Deputy Prosecutor Margaret Parietti told AFP. “But when they started talking about marriage, the girl’s parents told her: ‘We are Muslims, you cannot marry a Christian.’” The family arrived in France over two years ago from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The parents initially took away the daughter’s phone and stopped her from speaking with her boyfriend. This led the young couple to flee for four days before returning to the apartment where the girl lived with her family.
According to Mission Network News, Concern surrounds Christian radio workers in Mali following weekend developments. On Sunday, the military junta agreed to surrender Mali’s president and other leaders held captive after last week’s coup. In exchange, they want three years of military rule. As national leaders negotiate, TWR awaits word from in-country partners. “Frankly, we don’t have word about what’s going on in there right now,” TWR’s Lauren Libby says. “We do know that programming is still going into those local FM stations [through] the internet. But, you never know when that’s going to stop.” Right now, it looks like military control could be the next step in Mali’s rocky transition to civilian rule. “Mali is a real hotbed and has been for the last eight or nine years,” Libby notes. Instability struck Malian believers close to home in 2015. “We work with several FM stations in the country. [In 2015], some of the staff came out one evening, and [there] was a drive-by shooting. [Some] of the staff went home to be with the Lord,” Libby recalls.
In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. 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 Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart 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 and may God bless your day!