PODCAST: China Restricts Distribution of Religious Materials (International Christian Herald 10.18.20)

This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to the Christian Post, China has been tightening restrictions on the distribution of religious materials in recent months by threatening fines, the closure of printing shops, or even imprisonment for selling Christian books or allowing customers to photocopy hymns. Bitter Winter, a publication that monitors religious liberty violations in China, reports that this month, Chinese Communist Party officials in Luoyang, a prefecture-level city in the central province of Henan, searched a local printing house for banned religious materials. “Any religious content makes the issue political, not religious. Although banners on the streets say people are allowed religious beliefs, the only faith they can practice freely is that in the Communist Party,” a store manager told Bitter Winter. Because inspections are “too rigorous,” the manager said he refuses to print religious materials. “They checked my storehouse, scrutinized all records, and even looked at paper sheets on the floor, to see if they have prohibited content,” the manager told Bitter Winter. “If any such content is found, I’ll be fined, or worse, my business will be closed.”

According to Religion News Service, First the tents went up in Cremona, Italy. Then New York City. And now in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. It’s been a busy year for Samaritan’s Purse, the humanitarian relief organization led by Franklin Graham. On Thursday (Oct. 15), the group announced it was deploying a field hospital to Nassau after an increase in COVID-19 cases had overwhelmed the local health care system. Plans call for a 28-bed field hospital and a team of doctors and nurses trained in infectious diseases to partner with Nassau’s Princess Margaret Hospital and the Bahamian Ministry of Health. Samaritan’s Purse said the request for the field hospital came from the Bahamian prime minister in response to medical facilities that are filled to capacity. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to the Bahamas. The nation, made up of hundreds of small islands, has had 5,100 cases of COVID-19, with about 480 new cases in the last week. It has reported 109 deaths as of Thursday. Samaritan’s Purse has been in the Bahamas before. After Hurricane Dorian hit last year, the organization opened a 40-bed field hospital on Grand Bahama. It also opened a country office in the Bahamas to meet ongoing needs for clean water and the rebuilding of homes damaged by the hurricane.

According to Church Leaders, Permanent resettlement is an elusive dream for many of the world’s 79.5 million forcibly displaced people. For some refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people, resettlement is as close as a lamp in the window of a neighboring house. For others, it is a light glimmering on the horizon. For most, the light of permanent resettlement is like chasing the setting sun. Last year, 107,800 refugees were resettled. Millions are still waiting, and the average time it takes refugees to be resettled is between 17 and 18 years. However, the reality is that 99% of refugees will remain permanently displaced. IMB missionaries share that when refugees in South Africa are never permanently resettled, it means they will live the rest of their lives in inadequate housing or renting a single room for an entire family. It means receiving prompt and proper medical care is not guaranteed, access to education is uncertain and the opportunity to work is denied. Permanent resettlement is defined by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as the “selection and transfer of refugees from a State in which they have sought protection to a third State that has agreed to admit them ‐ as refugees ‐ with permanent residence status.” Globally, the UNHCR prioritizes relocating the most vulnerable—widows, widows with children and refugees coming from highly volatile countries.

According to the Daily Mail, A missile strike has levelled a row of homes in Azerbaijan’s second city of Ganja on Saturday, killing 12 and injuring more than 40 people in their sleep in a sharp escalation of the conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The early hours attack, which saw a second missile strike another part of Ganja and a third reach the nearby strategic city of Mingecevir, came hours after Azeri forces shelled the ethnic Armenian separatist region’s capital Stepanakert. The seeming tit-fot-tat attacks further undermines international efforts to calm a resurgence of fighting between Armenians and Azeris before it further draws in regional powers Russia and Turkey. Pictures from Ganja show bombed out houses with debris littered across the street and rescue workers searching through the rubble left by the strike. Rows of houses were turned to rubble by the strike, which shattered the walls and ripped the roofs off buildings in the surrounding streets, a team from AFP news agency on the ground in Ganja reported. People ran outside in shock and tears, stumbling through dark muddy alleys in their slippers, some wearing bathroom robes and pyjamas. The attack came only six days after a missile struck another residential part of the city of more than 300,000 people, killing 10 civilians and leaving many on edge.

According to the Daily Mail, Eleven members of the Swiss Guard, which protects the pope, have contracted coronavirus, adding to fears over the pontiff’s health. On Monday, four men became the first members of the Guard to test positive and a further seven cases were announced today. The Vatican is reportedly now trying to find out who the infected guards might have had contact with. The guards stand watch outside the Vatican and tend to accompany the pope to official events. Pope Francis, 83, is particularly vulnerable to Covid-93 because of his age, weight and having lost part of one lung during a childhood illness. He is frequently monitored for the virus. Francis has been criticised in recent weeks for appearing to ignore social distancing rules and not wearing a mask when addressing large crowds at St. Peter’s Square. He has also been photographed kissing the hands of several people he has met in his duties.

According to the Daily Mail, The French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an ‘Islamist terrorist attack’ after a teenager shouting Allahu Akbar allegedly beheaded a school teacher with a knife in Paris. The victim was said to have been a middle school history teacher who had enraged parents by displaying cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to pupils. The attacker, whose identity has not been officially established, was shot by French officers as they tried to arrest him and later died of his injuries, police said. Today the French leader visited the school where the teacher worked in the town of Conflans-Saint-Honorine and met with staff. He said: ‘One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught… the freedom to believe or not believe. ‘He said the attack should not divide France because that is what the extremists want. We must stand all together as citizens.’ A source told Le Parisien: ‘The victim had recently given a lesson to his students on freedom of expression and had shown the caricatures of Muhammad’. The murdered teacher was later identified as Samuel P. His lesson led to an enraged man confronting him with a knife, and then cutting his head off, said the source.

According to the Christian Post, The remains of a Ghanaian Christian beheaded by the Islamic State terrorist group on a Libyan beach in an execution video in 2015 has finally been laid to rest in Egypt. Cairo-based journalist Farid Y. Farid reported on Sept. 29 that the body of Matthew Ayariga was finally laid to rest alongside the 20 Coptic Christians who were beheaded beside him on a beach in Sirte, Libya, in a video released by the jihadi death cult in February 2015. “His remains finally arrived today to #Egypt to be laid to rest, w/his Coptic brothers, after 5+yrs of his body not being claimed,” Farid, who has had articles published in The New York Times and other outlets, tweeted. Farid provided a link to an article by Watani Newspaper, an Egyptian weekly newspaper widely read by Coptic Christians. The article reports that the families of the Coptic Christians celebrated the remains of the martyr. “We collapsed with great joy because the martyr Matthew is dear to us, and he is one of our children because he was martyred with our children and adhered to his Christ,” a mother of two of the martyred Coptic Christians told Watani News. “We thank our master because He succeeded in returning the remains of the martyr so that he would be next to his [brothers] in the church.” The 21 men were abducted while they were living in Sirte as migrants working there to support their families back home. Before the execution, the men were filmed kneeling in front of 21 knife-wielding black-masked jihadis on the shore of a beach in Sirte, Libya. Several of the men were seen praying silently.

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!