This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to the Christian Post, A U.K.-based charity has called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to grant asylum to a 14-year-old Christian girl who was abducted at gunpoint during the COVID-19 lockdown and forcibly married and converted to Islam by a Muslim married man. The Catholic charity Aid to Church in Need, which supports persecuted Christians around the world, is urging concerned Christians to add their names to an online petition that will be sent to the prime minister on behalf of Catholic teenager Maira Shahbaz in Pakistan, who was abducted in April. In August, Maira fled the home of her alleged husband, Mohamad Nakash, weeks after the Lahore High Court ordered her to return to her abductor and ruled that she was legally married to the Muslim man. The charity said, “Regardless of what the court eventually decides, Maira’s life will forever be in danger. There is the threat of honour killing. Extremists in Pakistan consider her an apostate and will kill her at the first chance. Her lawyer said men have been looking for her, knocking on doors and asking for her whereabouts.” The charity’s spokesman, John Pontifex, said the “shocking case is a chance for Britain to show its commitment to Christian welfare who so often feel abandoned by the West.”
According to the Hill, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is pleading with Americans to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines over the Thanksgiving holiday as the country is experiencing an alarming surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. During an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Adams implored Americans to avoid holding large holiday gatherings as the U.S. is at a “dire point” in the COVID-19 pandemic. Adams said, “I want the American people to know that we are at a dire point in our fight with this virus by any measure: cases, positivity, hospitalizations, deaths. We’re seeing more Americans negatively impacted than ever before. I’m asking Americans, I’m begging you, hold just a little bit longer. Keep Thanksgiving and the celebration small and smart this year.” Public health experts worry Thanksgiving will accelerate the pandemic as people gather with friends and family across the country.
According to the Christian Post, Ahead of Thanksgiving Day, which will be celebrated amid the COVID-19 pandemic and following a divisive election, a new survey shows that the majority of Americans still have a reason to be thankful. The poll from Nashville-based LifeWay Research shows that more than 84% of American adults say they are thankful for their family, 69% are thankful for health, 63% for their friends and 63% of Americans are thankful for memories. The executive director of LifeWay Research, Scott McConnell, said, “In a year that has been difficult for most, Americans still express a lot of thanks. This year of loss and division does not mean people have an absence of good things for which to be grateful.” The LifeWay survey, conducted Sept. 9-23 with 1,200 Americans, says only 33% of Americans are grateful for their achievements on Thanksgiving and 21% express gratitude for their wealth. This year, a majority of Americans are giving thanks to God, with 67% saying they typically give thanks to God, up from 63% in 2016. Sixty-eight percent, meanwhile, say they typically give thanks to family.
According to the New York Times, The police in San Jose, Calif., said they had arrested a suspect in connection with a stabbing attack at a Baptist church on Sunday night in which two people died and three others were wounded. No services were being held at the time of the attack, which was reported at 7:54 p.m. local time, the authorities said. The police said that “unhoused individuals” had been taken to the church to get them out of the cold. The Rev. David Robinson, the pastor of Grace Baptist Church, where the attack took place, said on Monday that the victims and the suspect were among a group of homeless people who had been sheltering there. Each victim had at least one stab wound, the police said. A man was pronounced dead at the scene, they said, and a woman later died at a hospital. Three other victims, all men, were hospitalized in serious condition. According to its website, the church, which is near the campus of San Jose State University, runs a winter shelter program to house homeless people when the temperature drops, and accommodates up to 50 men and women at a time.
According to NBC News, A 15-year-old boy has been arrested in a shooting that left eight people injured last week at a Wisconsin mall. Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber said in a news conference that the teenager was arrested Saturday night with a gun alleged to have been used in the shooting. Weber did not identify the teen or say what charges he may face. Abby Pavlik, a spokeswoman for the police department, said several other people were arrested in connection with the shooting, but she did not provide details. Authorities said the shooting followed an altercation between two groups at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, outside Milwaukee, on Friday afternoon. Among the wounded was a teenager. Pavlik could not say whether the injured teenager was the suspected shooter, adding that several people in the two groups were wounded. Four bystanders were also injured, Weber said.
According to PEOPLE magazine, Tyler Perry is kicking off Thanksgiving week with a major act of kindness. On Sunday, the star opened up his Atlanta movie studio, Tyler Perry Studios, for four hours to feed 5,000 families with a combination of food boxes and gift cards for local supermarket chain Kroger. Perry personally funded the event, called TPS Giving, and studio employees donated their time to volunteer and hand out all of the goods. A source close to Perry said, “Tyler was heartbroken seeing people all over the country stand in line for food so he decided he wanted to give back to his community in Atlanta. Hopefully this encourages others who are able to, to give back during the holiday season in a year that has been difficult for many.” Cars lined up over 12 hours before the official start of the event. To maintain proper COVID-19 safety protocols, the event was drive-thru only, and all employees working the event were tested ahead of time.
According to the Christian Post, Actress Candace Cameron Bure has teamed up with The Salvation Army to showcase the ways people can help millions of families in need this holiday season. Bure said, “Christmas is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. The biggest reason is that we celebrate Jesus Christ. It can be a hard season for so many people and that’s why the work that I help do with The Salvation Army is so important — because there are so many people in need, especially during the holidays. While it’s a time of giving and should be a time of cheer, it can be very, very heartbreaking, especially for people who are struggling. Whether that’s financial, whether it’s just circumstances that they’re in — homelessness, needing food, just needing help and day care, and now with the pandemic, of course, that need has gone up.” This holiday season, Bure revealed that she’s witnessed firsthand the increased services provided by The Salvation Army, resulting in a critical need for donations. The organization expects to see a 50% decrease in donations to red kettles this year as a result of social distancing and other restrictions in response to COVID-19. Twenty-three million people are helped annually by the nonprofit, which is expecting to serve 155% more people this year due to the increase in need. Bure said, “A lot of retail stores aren’t open and there are safety protocols to go through, so they are expecting a decrease in the amount of donations but we’re so hoping that doesn’t happen. So if you know that you would go by the grocery store and drop a couple dollars in the bucket, we’re asking, please still do that, or please go to rescuechristmas.org and that goes directly to the red kettle campaign. Christmas isn’t canceled. We still want to be there to help. So we’re asking you to help us rescue Christmas to serve those in need.”
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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!