PODCAST: Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. Dies at 66 (UCNN 11.10.20)

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According to Religion News Service, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., a prominent conservative pastor and evangelical adviser to President Donald Trump, has died, according to his church. Jackson, 66, died Monday, according to a statement posted on the website of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, where he was senior pastor. “It is with a heavy heart that we notify you that our beloved Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. has transitioned to be with the Lord on November 9, 2020,” the statement read. “Please pray for the Jackson family’s comfort and respect their right to privacy at this time.” The Rev. Rickardo Bodden, chief of staff of Hope Christian Church, told Religion News Service he did not know the cause of Jackson’s death.

According to the Christian Post, A Pakistani court ordered that a Christian girl abducted and forced to wed a Muslim man be removed from her captor’s home and sent to a government-run shelter until a medical examination determines whether she’s of legal age to marry. On Monday, a court ordered police to arrest Ali Azhar, 44, and remove Arzoo Raja, 13, from his home until she’s examined to determine if he violated Pakistan’s laws against child marriage. Raja was abducted from her home by Azhar on Oct. 13, International Christian Concern reported. She later signed a paper saying she had converted to Islam and married Azhar of her own free will. International Christian Concern’s South Asia Regional Manager, Will Stark, said young girls in similar circumstances as Raja face threats of violence and rape to force their cooperation with captors. Stark said Monday’s court order was “a victory along the road to the main victory.” “Based on the statements the governor and the federal minister made, things indicate she might be returned to her family,” he added. The court’s decision to free Raja from her captor reversed its previous decision to validate the abduction and illegal marriage.

According to the Associated Press, A record-breaking wave of coronavirus cases continued across the United States on Sunday, and unsettled public health officials and politicians warned of a holiday season filled with increased hospitalizations and deaths. A surge of cases revealed a snowball effect: It took only 10 days for the country to move from 9 million cases to what is expected to be its 10th million case Monday. By comparison, it took more than three months for the country to go from no cases to 1 million in late April. Public health officials reacted with dire warnings. “Down this current path lies [a] continued rapid rise in cases,” Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, wrote in an extended thread on Twitter. “More people on ventilators. Higher numbers of people dying. More survivors with long term consequences. Hospitals under pressure until they can’t provide care for everyone anymore.”

According to the Christian Post, Edward Graham, the grandson of the late evangelist Billy Graham, says shoeboxes filled with gifts are reaching more children and unreached people with the Gospel than the massive global evangelistic events his grandfather held over decades. “More kids have heard about Christ through these shoebox distributions than ever heard about Christ in stadiums with my grandfather,” said Graham, vice president of programs and government relations at Operation Christmas Child, regarding the evangelistic opportunity shoebox gifts are creating around the world for the Gospel to spread like wildfire. Some might underestimate the impact of packing gift boxes during the holidays, but Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, has provided an open door for people to be a part of evangelism efforts around the world. Operation Christmas Child participants fill shoe sized gift boxes that are sent to over 160 nations, including 50 hard to reach areas. In the spring of 2016, Samaritan’s Purse held an outreach event for the Himba people, an unreached people group in the village of Opuwo which sits on the border of Angola and Namibia in Africa. Later that fall, a ministry partner, Pastor Rizera, traveled the long distance across cow paths and over six dry river beds to bring Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts and the Gospel message to the Himba children. The Himba tribe consists of 50,000 semi-nomadic people who live in a region across Southern Angola to Northern Namibia. Before the shoebox distribution, the people of Ombaka mostly practiced ancestral worship and were resistant to the Gospel message, with less than 3% of people professing to be Christian. Following an Operation Christmas Child outreach event that hosted 130 children in the village, 46 children and six young adults wanted to continue to learn more about Jesus. The gift boxes collected and distributed to children are often filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and always contain booklets with the Gospel message. Samaritan’s Purse, along with ministry partners, delivers the boxes to children in need around the world, opening the door for the next generation to hear the message of God.

According to Baptist Press, A surge in new COVID-19 cases has at least a few churches returning to online-only worship as many churches continue meeting onsite. “This Sunday we will be online. We’ll be totally online,” Terry Turner, senior pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in Mesquite, said Thursday. “We’ve actually had a few weeks of indoor service, where we actually come together and we social distance. … Now that we’re back in the red zone (of COVID-19 case numbers) here in Texas, we have suspended our services and we’re doing strictly online.” A one-day rise of 121,890 new COVID-19 cases nationwide Friday is the highest to date in the U.S. since the pandemic began, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported. At 969,605 cases, Texas has surpassed California as the state with the highest number of cumulative cases. Texas’ cumulative COVID-19 death toll of 18,909 is second only to New York’s 33,657, Johns Hopkins reported. In the COVID-19 hotspot of El Paso, Immanuel Church has closed its school for a couple of weeks but continues onsite worship, pastor J.C. Rico said. El Paso reported 1,049 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Friday, with 311 in Intensive Care units and 177 on ventilators, the City of El Paso reported. Cielo Vista Baptist Church in El Paso returned to online-only worship Oct. 25, Lead Pastor Larry Lamb said in a video posted to Facebook.

According to Black Enterprise, Martin Folsom, an 18-year old high school senior student from Florida, is graduating as valedictorian of his class despite the challenges of being homeless over the years. “It’s been a rocky road, a lot of hardships. But seeing myself now about to graduate, about to go to college — it feels good knowing all the stuff I’ve done was worth it,” Folsom said in a video featuring the 2020 graduates of Duval County Public Schools. Folsom, who is graduating from A. Philip Randolph Career Academies in Jacksonville, says that he wants a better future for him and his family and it is what inspired him to strive harder to finish as valedictorian. Aside from excelling academically, Folsom also served as the president of the class from his freshman to senior year. His classmates turn to him if they need help and trust his advice. Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, graduations for the class of 2020 has been canceled. But Folsom didn’t let it put his spirit down. “Take advantage of any opportunity you can because you never know where it’s going to take you,” he said during an interview with CBS 47. Moreover, Folsom is planning to attend Valdosta State University in Georgia to study accounting and finance.

According to the Christian Post, Pastor Tim Keller shared a positive update as he continues to battle pancreatic cancer, revealing doctors are both “surprised and delighted” at his body’s response to chemotherapy. “Thank you all so much for continuing to pray for me during my treatment for pancreatic cancer,” the 70-year-old pastor wrote on social media Friday. “God has been very gracious in answering those prayers, and my most recent CT scans on Monday showed more improvement. My doctor is both surprised and delighted that I am able to tolerate the continued high level of chemotherapy with relatively few side effects (they are there, but not as debilitating as they could be) as well as having such a strong therapeutic response.” Keller first revealed his cancer diagnosis in June. At the time, he asked supporters to pray for God “to use medical means or his direct intervention to make the cancer regress to the point of vanishing.” In his update Friday, the pastor revealed God had answered those prayers. “All praise belongs to God, who has been merciful and generous in caring for us both physically and spiritually,” he wrote. The now-retired pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and co-founder of The Gospel Coalition is also a survivor of thyroid cancer, which he had in 2002.

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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!