PODCAST: Church destroyed in 9/11 attacks reopens as shrine (International Christian Herald 09.11.21)

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According to the Daily Mail, A Greek Orthodox church in the shadow of the Twin Towers that was destroyed during the September 11, 2001 terror attacks will be revived as national shrine at a new location near One World Trade Center and was lit up for the first time on the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center was lit from within for the first time on Friday night at 8pm and will continue to shine every night going forward. The original 155 Cedar Street location of St. Nicholas Church was steps away from the Twin Towers and completely devastated on September 11, 2001. It was the only house of worship destroyed on that tragic day. The 80-year-old location was first purchased by Greek immigrants in 1892 as a community home and converted to a church in 1916. It became a staple of the community and was often among one of the first stops immigrants made when they came to the country. Very few relics of the historic site survived the devastation. Vicar General Father Alexander Karloutsos said in an interview with CBS that he hopes this new building will become another pillar of the community. He wants the church to offer reflection and meditation to those of all faiths. ‘The darkness of that day meant that they extinguished 3,000 lives that no longer shine. That no longer bring love and warmth to those around them and so we believe that this shrine will be their light. Will be able to carry their lives forward. ‘We are honoring them on sacred ground because 9/11, for those of us who are Americans, for those of us who believe in freedom and democracy, they are heros. They’re victims of the hard way of life. The American way of life. New York Strong.’

According to Christian Headlines, Muslims in an area of Lahore, Pakistan on Monday (Sept. 6) fired high-powered weapons at the homes of Christians, wounding a pregnant woman and at least three other people, sources said. A wounded Christian resident in the Shamsabad locality of Lahore’s Sherakot area, Asif Masih, said he heard shouts followed by bursts of gunfire from fully automatic assault rifles after he returned home from work that afternoon. “When I was telling my kids to get inside, I saw a group of heavily armed men firing indiscriminately at a church located on the street,” Masih told Morning Star News. “They then trained their weapons on the homes of neighboring Christians and fired volleys of bullets at them.” Gunmen eyeing him opened fire on him, wounding him in both thighs, he said. “I barely managed to drag myself into my house and locked the gate, but they did not stop firing,” Masih said. “I could hear them shouting that they would not spare Christians living in the area and would also burn down our church.”

According to ChinaAid, At 8:30 am on September 4, more than 30 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, including SWAT officers, police officers, religious affairs bureau officials, and local school district administrators, raided Maizi Christian Music High School, and arrested all staff members and students present. Earlier at approximately 7:00 am, police officers stopped Principal Xu on the way to take his child to school. Officers transported Principal Xu to their police station and drove his child home to his mother. Maizi Christian Music High School, dedicated to cultivating Christian musicians, with the purpose of training students to serve in Church worship teams, excels in teaching piano. One day prior to his arrest, Principal Xu told several teachers at school that police officers had called his landlord. Principal Xu advised them to get ready for “the test,” however, they did not appear to expect the test to take place the next morning. During their raid of the music school, CCP authorities confiscated numerous school possessions, including pianos, computers, and documents. Police released all the students after detaining them for 24 hours. Officers have planned to interrogate staff one by one in the following days. To date, no one at school has seen Principal Xu since the day before police raided the music school. As the students are all minors (under 18-years-old), some Christians worry if authorities will charge Mr. Xu with “Proselytizing minors in school.” The school has not yet retained a lawyer in the case.

According to CBN, As President Biden plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year, some religious freedom watchdogs are sounding a warning about how Christians will face severe persecution once the U.S. military leaves the country, especially if the withdrawal is anything like the fiasco in Afghanistan. Rev. Johnnie Moore, the president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and a former commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, along with conservative host Glenn Beck are sending a warning to Christians in the Middle East. Beck shared part of Moore’s interview on Twitter where he asked Moore, “Should we be trying to convince those people…get out right now. Is this a time for a clarion call for all Christians in the Middle East?” “I’m always hesitant to say ‘Get out right now,” Moore explained. “But these are decisions for these people to make. But I’m telling you, if I were sitting there in northern Iraq, watching the exact same people in Washington, D.C. do the exact same thing with another country…” “And Glenn, everyone seems to have forgotten that Joe Biden said on July 27… just a few weeks ago,” he explained. “That he wants all of the U.S. soldiers out of Iraq too, by the end of the year. So if I’m a Christian or Yazidi or another threatened community sitting in Iraq, yeah I would be getting out of there as quickly as I could.”

According to CBN, Two Christian families in Hidalgo, Mexico, have been threatened by their neighbors after holding worship services in a home of a relative. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, (CSW) reports the two families, who are members of the First Baptist Church in a nearby city, were threatened with their essential services being cut off. The families could also face being expelled from the community if they do not pay the rest of the fine that was levied as part of an extra-legal agreement in January 2020. The threat to the families came during a meeting with local community leaders, who refused to let them speak in their defense. Protestant families in this part of Mexico have had to live with constant stress for over two and a half years, after many were forced to sign an agreement renouncing their faith in January 2019. Eight families signed the agreement, but Cruz Hernández, Santiago Hernández and their wives, Maria Francisca Martínez Hernández and Angelina Martínez Hernández, refused to do so. As a result of their refusal, their access to essential services, including water, sewer services, government benefit programs was blocked for more than a year until they were forced to sign an extra-legal agreement in which they renounced their right to hold religious services, according to CSW.

According to Christianity Today, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that it is unconstitutional to punish abortion, unanimously annulling several provisions of a law from Coahuila—a state on the Texas border—that had made abortion a criminal act. The decision will immediately affect only the northern border state, but it establishes a historic precedent and “obligatory criteria for all of the country’s judges,” compelling them to act the same way in similar cases, said court President Arturo Zaldívar. “From now on you will not be able to, without violating the court’s criteria and the constitution, charge any woman who aborts under the circumstances this court has ruled as valid.” Those circumstances will be clarified when the decision is published, but everything points to that referring to abortions carried out within the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, the period allowed in the four states where abortion is already legal. The decision comes one week after a Texas law took effect prohibiting abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity in the fetus. It allows any private citizen to sue Texas abortion providers who violate the law, as well as anyone who “aids or abets” a woman getting the procedure. Only four Mexican states—Mexico City, Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Hidalgo—now allow abortion in most circumstances. The other 28 states penalize abortion with some exceptions.

According to Religion News Service, Pope Francis appointed a Franciscan priest, the Rev. Francesco Cui Qingqi, as the new Catholic bishop of Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, under a controversial power sharing agreement governing the appointment of church leaders in China. “This is the sixth Chinese bishop to be appointed and ordained within the legal framework of the provisional agreement on bishops’ appointment in China,” Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni told Vatican reporters on Wednesday (Sept. 8). Francis selected Cui on June 23, and he was ordained as bishop of Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei, on Sept. 1, according to Bruni. The Vatican signed the provisional agreement with Beijing in 2018 after decades of diplomatic efforts to come to an understanding with Communist Party leaders. Until then, the Catholic hierarchy in in China was split between those under the supervision of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and those who had risen from an underground church loyal to the pope in Rome. The agreement, which was renewed in 2020, has drawn criticism from Catholics who believe the Vatican is bowing to Beijing and turning a blind eye to the government’s religious freedom violations. Supporters of the deal believe that it paves the way for dialogue and diplomacy while ensuring the survival of local Catholics.

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!