Christian World News: March 23, 2012 -

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Today on Christian World News ñ
Religious freedom at risk. From Asia to Africa and the Middle East, calling out the countries
that persecute religious minorities.
And in the Philippines ñ
A pastor with a vibrant ministry to Muslims pays with his life.
Plus ñ
The new film is giving the unborn a voice. We talk with the stars of ìOctober Babyî
about abortion and forgiveness.
The United States names the worldís worst violators of religious freedom. Hello, everyone,
Iím Wendy Griffith.
And Iím Efram Graham.
The new report calls out 16 nations for infringing on religious rights. China, Saudi Arabia,
Iran and North Korea are repeat offenders on the annual report from the U.S. Commission
on International Religious Freedom.
Egypt, Nigeria, Iraq and Pakistan are also named for failing to stop attacks on religious
minorities. And this year Turkey joins the list of the worst offenders.
The commission advises the State Department on religious freedom issues. The countries
on the list can be subject to sanction.
And joining us now from Washington is Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious
Freedom at the Hudson Institute. She also served as a commissioner on the USCIRF for
13 years and just completed her final term a few days ago.
Nina, Turkey is a U.S. ally and a member of NATO. Why was it added to the list this time?
Well, itís a new form of persecution that weíre seeing. This is a government that is
very self-conscious of its human rights record. Itís a modern government. It doesnít use
the more bloody versions of persecution that we see in a place like Saudi Arabia or Sudan.
But it uses a whole web, a dense web of restrictive laws and regulations to suppress Christian
worship and to prevent people from even worshiping in some cases and from being able to replicate
themselves. Thereís not a single Christian seminary or higher education facility in the
entire country allowed.
These minorities, these Christian minorities, all of them are dwindling down to statistical
insignificance. Their numbers are very, very low. They comprise zero-point-one-five (0.15)
percent of the entire population of Turkey.
So, they are very frail. And weíre going to see them vanish in our lifetime if Turkey
doesnít lift its dense web of regulations and give them religious freedom.
Now Saudi Arabia is also on the list. Last week the top Muslim cleric said all churches
should be wiped off the Arabian peninsula. Why are they so hostile? I mean, they come
here and build mosques and schools in neighborhoods. Why are they so hostile to us, to Christians?
Well, Wendy, itís the belief system of the Salafis or the Wahabis as theyíre called
in Saudi Arabia. These people have zero tolerance of other religions. And this mufti, the grand
mufti who said this to destroy all churches, he is basically a cabinet minister in the
Saudi government. He is appointed by King Abdullah and his salary is paid for by the
state of Saudi Arabia.
They pray on Friday afternoons for the annihilation of infidels: Christians and Jews, the muftis
in Mecca and Medina So they have a real serious problem of religious intolerance and our government
is very loathe to bring this up. They consider it too sensitive, they are a strategic ally,
we buy a lot of oil from them, so we donít speak about it.
And one of the only professed Christians who are native to Saudi Arabia, who lives in Saudi
Arabia, was arrested this past week. And Iíve met him.
Wow, itís such a double standard. Well, in Iran we know pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is facing
a death sentence. What should the U.S. government be doing to help him right now?
Well, I think that President Obama should be using his bully pulpit much more to speak
out about religious freedom. Even countries like Iran who are hostile to the United States,
not an ally, tend to hide their worst human rights offenses. You think about the time
when Ahmadinejad came to New York and was asked about why they put homosexuals to death
and he denied that they even had any gays in Iran.
So they want to hide this and they donít want to be known as persecutors. So it helps
to raise these cases.
Yeah, now Egypt has seen a lot of upheaval in the past year. How will that affect the
church there, because there is a significant Christian church there?
Yeah, the Arab Spring is turning into a very bitter, cold winter for Christians. And we
saw this first happen in Iraq when the secular dictatorship came down, it unleashed a lot
of forces to really drive out the Christians. Weíre very, very worried the same thing is
happening in Egypt.
Weíve heard reports that 100,000 Coptic Christians have been driven out so far by terrible violence,
and the failure of the government and the police and the security to protect them and
their churches.
In fact, theyíve turned their guns on the Christians. We saw that in the demonstration
for religious freedom by the Coptic Christians last October when about two dozen Christians
were killed in cold blood by the police while they were demonstrating against the burning
of their churches.
Itís unbelievable. Nina, youíve just completed your work on the commission. Tell us why this
work is so important and where you hope it will go from here.
Well, itís tremendously important that the United States speak out about it. The United
States weels [not in the dictionary] a lot of influence in the world with its trade,
with its defense. We make a difference. And right now the bully pulpit has gone silent.
Weíre not hearing about it. When Copts were killed in Egypt last October President Obama
came out and made a statement saying both sides must use restraint, drawing an equivalency
between the persecutors and the persecuted.
The Christians throughout the Middle East right now are really in a perilous situation.
No doubt about it. Nina Shea, we so appreciate your work and we hope youíll come back and
join us again soon. Thank you.
Great. Thank you. Look forward to it.
Protestors in Yemen are demanding justice for Joel Shrum, an American English teacher
murdered in the city of Taiz. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the killing and said Shrum
was trying to convert Muslims.
Meanwhile, the people Shrum devoted his life to teaching are demanding the killers be caught
and tried.
These young Yemenis say Shrum was gunned down in his car for no good reason.
He worked in the Islamic nation for the past two years, teaching poor people English and
vocational skills.
Hundreds of protesters marched in honor of their teacher, holding posters that said:
ìWe Love you, Joel.î
Mr. Joel came all the way from the United States of America, having nothing but good
intentions to help and teach the people of Taiz. And I believe that he did nothing to
be killed for.
But terrorists in the country claim Shrum was proselytizing, and had to be killed. Sunday,
two gunmen rode alongside his car and opened fire, shooting the 29-year-old dead.
Shrum leaves behind his wife and two young boys, who moved with him to Yemen in 2009.
I just have one question for those terrorists: What did you achieve now? What is your goal
now? Are you satisfied? Are you happy? Congratulations.
The United States has condemned the attack, calling it a terrorist act. The gunmen fled
the scene and have not been caught.
He was there when we needed their help, and the payoff for that guy was to kill him in
that heinous way.
If youíd like to share your prayers and support for the Shrum family, go to our CBN News Facebook
Well, the Philippines is a mostly Christian nation, but in the south Muslim fundamentalists
are trying to build an Islamic state.
Asia correspondent Lucille Talusan brings us the story of one pastor who made the ultimate
sacrifice for spreading the gospel.
The island of Mindanao on the southernmost part of the Philippines is predominantly Muslim,
its remotest parts a haven to terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda, who carry out terror attacks
and kidnappings in the region.
Because of the constant threat to security and the Muslimsí goal to establish an independent
Islamic state, Christians here face intense opposition.
Persecution against Christians is strong in this Muslim city. This year at least four
house churches closed down after their pastors and lay leaders were killed by Muslim extremists.
Pastor Mario Acidre was one of those killed. His wife, Mayang, is distraught over her husbandís
murder. She recalls awakening to the sound of the gunshots that killed pastor Mario right
inside her home.
My husband staggered into our bedroom and I was shocked because he was full of blood.
I brought him to the hospital right away. He was operated on for eight bullet wounds
but did not survive.
Pastor Mario Acidre was a former Muslim who converted to Christianity. He boldly shared
the gospel to his Muslim relatives and neighbors. Despite threats to his life, he was not afraid
to hold Bible studies in his home, which he converted into a house church.
Witnesses say that just a few hours before he was killed, pastor Mario agitated some
Muslim vendors when he told them he did not believe in the amulets they were trying to
sell him.
Pastor Edilberto Beira is the coordinator of the Christian and Missionary Alliance churches
of the Philippines in this Muslim region.
I admire pastor Marioís commitment to the Lord. He tried to share the gospel to the
Muslim vendors. This incident triggered threats to other Muslims who converted to Christianity
and that is why the house churches closed down.
But this did not stop Mayang and some believers from going to church. They now worship at
the only surviving Christian church in this city.
(Voice of Interpreter). My neighbors warn me that I should not go out but I am not afraid
because I know Issa, Jesus, is powerful and he will not forsake me. When my husband was
still alive, he always told me that we should always be ready to face death for the work
of the Lord.
Pastor Beira says his heart is grieved to see pastors come and go in this critical area.
Thatís why he remains, serving faithfully for more than 30 years despite several threats
to his own life.
Even though church attendance has decreased by seventy percent, he still believes that
the church will still prevail even if the churches are driven underground.
What we can only do is to make these people grow in the Lord. We have our prayer and fasting,
Bible studies, training. If ever we are out, we are still confident that the work of the
Lord will go on, because that is the promise of the Lord. He said: ìI will build my church
and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.î It includes the ministry among the Muslims.
Lucille Talusan, CBN News, Mindanao, Philippines.
Coming up ñ
The safe haven thatís helping Haitiís shattered children.
Itís hard to believe itís been two years after Haitiís devastating earthquake. Hundreds
of thousands of people though are still living in tent cities.
The many amputees and other victims are finding new life in a new place. Stan Jeter reports
on whatís known as the ìMiracle Village.î
He lost his right leg during Haitiís powerful 2010 earthquake. But Fritz is now rebuilding
his life in ìMiracle Village,î a self-sustaining settlement for amputees and other earthquake
Onions, prowl (?), beans. Heís got everything! Heís got it!
The village is the latest project by Florida pastors Bobby and Sherry Burnette, who moved
to Haiti twenty years ago. They founded the ìLove a Childî center and began taking in
orphans and running a school.
But when the earthquake shook Haitiís capital, they couldnít ignore the dead and wounded
filling the streets of Port-au-Prince.
The very next morning Sherry and I was going down into Port-au-Prince with our trucks,
with our staff, picking people off the streets.
The Burnettes quickly converted their orphanage into a clinic. Hundreds of foreign doctors
and medical personnel arrived to treat the wounded who had flooded the grounds.
Öbecause theyíve heard that this is the place where theyíre going to get care. We
know that people who suffer horrible tragedies need peace and quiet and love, okay? And support.
And itís not just medicines, okay, itís for the soul as well. If we look around, somebody
last night came when they brought 50 patients last night. They said this looks like an oasis
in the desert.
One patient was two-year-old Marie Ange. Her older sister was cooking when the quake hit.
She grabbed the child and began to run.
My heart was beating so fast. I heard a lot of noise.
Sherry Burnette remembers what happened next.
With the earthquake shaking violently under her feet and everything growing dark, the
baby Marie Ange flew out of her arms and landed right in that pot of boiling water.
After I saw her burnt face I was scared. I was really, really scared.
For Francimene, her mother, tragedy followed tragedy. Her husband, a construction worker,
died in the quake. Her house was destroyed, and now her daughter might not survive.
A friend took Francimene to the Love a Child hospital. They sent Marie Ange to a shipboard
operating room for skin grafts. Then they gave Francimene and her children a place to
stay, along with hundreds more, on orphanage property.
But tents might not be protect them during hurricane season. So just months after the
quake, Love a Child staff and volunteers began clearing 62 acres to build an entire village
of permanent homes.
Weíre building 50 houses here. Three pads have been put in today and yesterday. Building
it to a Florida hurricane code so that it doesnít blow away. Groundís termite pre-treated.
The lumber thatís going in has a different chemical for pre-treatment so weíre really
happy and confident that these are going to last a long time.
The first houses went to amputees, and over the next two years, 400 more have been built.
Today 3,000 refugees live in their own houses in Miracle Village.
Francimene and her family now live in a safe home and a loving community. They have playgrounds,
basketball courts, a 24-hour medical clinic, and schools, along with the orphanage. Every
family cultivates a garden plot to grow food for their families and extra food to sell
at market.
Future projects include a church and a public marketplace where residents can sell their
crafts and produce, turning Miracle Village into just that: a miracle for hundreds of
families that survived Haitiís killer earthquake.
Stan Jeter, CBN News.
Still to come ñ
ìOctober Babyî hits the big screen this weekend. Weíll look at the new film and why
the Christian community is embracing
its message.
For every 250,000 to one million people in Africa, there is one surgeon. One! And so
from a young age Dr. David Thompson made a vow to be a surgeon ìon callî in Africa,
even if he were the only one.
Dr. David Thompson is the founder of the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons and
runs a hospital in Gabon, Africa.
He grew up in Cambodia where his parents were missionaries. He was just 14 years old when
he felt Godís call to become a doctor.
I saw a man die. And he died for lack of basic medical care. My father tried to talk to him
about the Lord and he said to my father, ìDonít tell me about your God, just help me.î
And from that moment on I determined that I wanted to help people so that I could talk
to them about God.
Over the years, Dr. Thompson worked to put that determination into action. And today
his organization trains surgeons to fill the incredible need in Africa.
At the hospital, the doctors, along with the staff and volunteers, are meeting their patientsí
physical and spiritual needs.
And Dr. David Thompson joins us now. Thank you so much for being here.
Your parents were actually killed on the mission field, but that didnít stop you from wanting
to become a missionary as well. Why was that?
I was in college studying to become a doctor when I heard the news that theyíd been killed
in Vietnam, and I was very angry at God. And I wanted to know why. And during that whole
time of crying out to God, God spoke to me, first time in my life.
I was really kind of shocked and God just challenged me to trust him and I didnít want
to trust him. I felt that he owed me an explanation. But God took me through that in the next few
hours and I really did depend and trust myself to God without understanding why. That really
was for me the beginning of the tremendous adventure of walking with God.
You obviously heard the voice of God call you into this ministry. What is the challenge
when it comes to recruiting surgeons to do what you do?
Well, itís a big challenge because it means kind of throwing yourself on Godís grace
for your profession, walking away from all kinds of money and resources and recognition
of your colleagues and say, ìIím just going to trust God for this.î
And taking your family to a strange part of the world where, you know, there are all kinds
of assumed dangers and diseases and so forth, and education becomes an issue for your children.
So it is a big moment ofÖit really is a crisis of faith for anybody who decides to do it.
Well, I told the story about this young woman and there are many similar ones too. People
who are coming out of all kinds of spiritual problems whereÖbecause as children their
parents invite spirits to come into them. Itís just really, there are serious problems
that come as a result of that. And how God delivers them from that.
People who are at their witís end for something as simple as a hernia or gall bladder disease,
they canít get anybody to operate. Children with hydrocephalus, we can put shunts in for
them. And we treat the poor and those are the people that are kind of marginalized in
all of these countries.
Absolutely, absolutely. Dr. David Thompson, thank you so much for your time. And our prayers
and blessings to you for the work you do.
Thank you.
And to see more great stories about the work of the church around the globe, visit our
Christian World News web page. You can find it
Weíll be right back.
A new movie is making a buzz in the Christian community. Itís called ìOctober Baby.î
Itís inspired by the true story of a young girl who survives an abortion and later goes
on a search for her birth mother.
October Baby is the story of Hannah, a 19-year-old girl, and she learns that she is adopted and
was never told because she is the survivor of an abortion.
Jon and his brother Andrew have their background in music videos, but felt compelled to make
October Baby, their first feature film.
October Baby is inspired by a true story, which is the story of Gianna Jessen, who is
an abortion survivor. When I heard her speak for the first timeósheís since become a
very dear friendóI was shattered. I didnít know that there was such a thing as abortion
survivors and I so was captivated by the issue, I felt like we had to do something about it.
October Baby is definitely a movie where you do laugh and you do cry. We wanted you to
laugh as hard as you cry to catch your breath in those moments because itís such a heavy
issue that it needed to be a charming coming-of-age love story.
The movie stars newcomer Rachel Hendrix as Hannah and John Schneider as Hannahís father.
Shari Rigby plays Hannahís birth mother, a role that hits very close to home for the
actress who herself had an abortion.
I read the script and was really reading something that paralleled my life. And at that very
moment I realized that God was weaving this tapestry of my life over these last 20 years
and how beautiful that looked and the promise of that.
One of the more emotional moments is when Hannah finally finds her birth mother.
Rigby says God used the role to bring emotional healing from her own abortion.
And he gave me that complete forgiveness. He met me, so to speak, at the well and he
gave me the love and grace and to really understand forgiveness and to say, ìItís okay.î
The Erwin brothers say their biggest hope is that the movie will make people really
think about the issue of life.
And I hope that people going to see this movie willÖthat it will change the way people think
about life.
The movie debuts in select theaters this weekend.
It is great! I saw it. Have you seen it yet?
Not yet. Looks very powerful.
Well, itís in theaters this weekend.
Weíll be watching. That is going to do it for our show this week. Thanks so much for
joining us.
Until next week, from all of us here at Christian World News, good-bye and God bless you.