Nepal Christians Return to Worship after Earthquake Turns Churches into Tombs

Nepal Christians Return to Worship after Earthquake Turns Churches into Tombs

Image: Anto Akkara – Catholic leader Paul Simick surveys wreckage of Pentecostal church in Kathmandu.

Maili Tamang clapped and sang along as the remnants of her husband’s Kathmandu church gathered for a noon prayer one week after a massive earthquake collapsed the “roof of the world.”
Injured pastor Jacob Tamang prays with survivors at Vision of Salvation church.

Image: Anto Akkara Injured pastor – Jacob Tamang prays with survivors at Vision of Salvation church.

“In God’s time, anything can happen,” the 55-year-old mother told CT. Tamang lost her husband Maila, her sister, and three other family members when Vision of Salvation church, which rented rooms in a four-story commerical building in the Swayambu area of Nepal’s capital, collapsed with 62 worshipers present. Seventeen members of the Pentecostal church, where Tamang’s husband served as an elder, died, including senior pastor Elia Ghale and his son.

“We cannot decide our future or what happens to us,” she said, surrounded by cracked walls. “Even after the world, we will be with God.”

Family of Maila Tamang mourns Saturday.

Image: Anto Akkara – Family of Maila Tamang mourns Saturday.

Tamang was worshiping at a nearby Pentecostal church when the quake struck.

“I was standing in a row near to the wall and praying when the trembling started. The pastor continued the prayer and suddenly, everything collapsed,” she told CT. “I was half conscious and could heard people screaming. After one hour I was pulled out. While lying there, I knew God would save me.”

Meanwhile, pledging to spread God’s love “even though earthquakes come,” a small evangelical church in Nepal completed on Saturday its worship song interrupted by last week’s natural disaster in the Himalayan Mountains.

Maili Tamang lost her husband Maila, her sister, and three other family members when Vision of Salvation church collapsed.

Image: Anto Akkara – Maili Tamang lost her husband Maila, her sister, and three other family members when Vision of Salvation church collapsed.

The first-hand account from the International Mission Board is one of many reports surfacing of how Nepal’s Christian minority is regrouping after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake collapsed many churches during their main weekly worship services.

Reporting by CT in Kathmandu reveals that an accurate tally of churches destroyed and Christians killed remains hard to come by, since anecdotal reports can be duplicated or exaggerated. But it is clear that many Christians died in their churches during weekly prayers. (The Baptist World Alliance reports about 150 Christian deaths have been confirmed.)

“I am getting reports of entire Christian families being wiped out in Kathmandu and outside,” Simon Pandey, chairman of the National Christian Fellowship of Nepal, told CT in an interview from his home in a Lalitpur suburb.

If the quake had occurred half an hour earlier, he noted, the casualties in churches would have been much higher. (Many Hindus died during worship services also.)

The wreckage of Elssadai church in Kathmandu.

Image: Global Mission Nepal – The wreckage of Elssadai church in Kathmandu.

“The evangelical churches have suffered terrible tragedies,” Kala Bahadur Rokaya, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Nepal, told CT. “It will take time to count the deaths among Christians across Nepal. Many areas are still cut off.” He feared more bad news was yet to come from mountainous and remote districts such as Gorkha, Sindhupalchok, and Nuwakot, which have many evangelical churches.

Of Nepal’s Christians—which comprise between one and three percent of the country’s 30-million population—Protestants were disproportionately affected by the disaster, a Catholic leader told CT.

A destroyed Nepalese church.

Image: Thir K.C. – A destroyed Nepalese church.

The earthquake, which killed more than 6,000 people, damaged dozens of churches in and around Kathmandu, Nepal’s largest city. A partner of Wycliffe Associates filmed the aftermath.“The Catholics were lucky as we don’t have church prayers at noon,” Bishop Paul Simick told CT as he observed the wreckage of Vision of Salvation church. (CBN News also reports on the tragedy.)

(Article from Christianity Today by Morgan Lee at http://www.christianitytoday.com/)

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Zhejiang Authorities Remove Cross, Continue Persecution Campaign

lishui cross(Lishui, Zhejiang–May 4, 2015) Zhejiang authorities continued the province-wide persecution campaign against registered and unregistered Protestant and Catholic churches on April 23 when they removed the cross topping a Protestant church in Longquan neighborhood in the city of Lishui.

Local reports state that more than 100 police officers and demolition specialists were dispatched to the church, whose registration status is unknown, at 3 a.m. on April 23. A local Christian told China Aid that many church members stood outside the church after learning of the ongoing demolition and prayed. By 5 a.m., the cross had been removed.

When a China Aid reporter contacted the church, the church member who answered the phone declined to answer questions, saying it was “not appropriate” and that he couldn’t “answer … questions directly.”

This cross removal comes after three other cross demolitions in Zhejiang in the month of April.

“One thing I’m sure of is that the authorities in Zhejiang are taking down crosses again, and they are doing it everywhere,” Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, said. “From Ningbo to Lishui, they have begun to remove crosses. I believe the statement made by the central government that they will stop demolishing churches in Zhejiang is a lie. Local officials taking down Christian crosses is persecution of Christianity.”

China Aid reports on cases such as these cross demolitions in order to expose the abuse encountered by religious practitioners in China.

 

(Article from China Aid by Rachel Ritchie at http://www.chinaaid.org)

Wake Up Church! Christians Dying for their Faith

From the Middle East to sub-Saharan Africa Christians are enduring attacks for their faith like never before. According to the Pew Research Center, no religious group is persecuted in more countries around the world than Christians.

This week the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Islamic countries are the worst offenders of religious freedom. In their annual report, the commission found that 12 of the 17 nations with the worst record of religious freedom are Islamic or Muslim-majority countries.

For the first, USCIRF is also calling on the International Criminal Court to bring charges against the Islamic State for attacks on religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria.

“The non-state actors choose to be more brutal and more unrestrained in the actions that they take against targeted groups,” Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the commission, told Deseret News. “When you are dealing in a world where uncontrolled, uncontainable and extremely violent non-state actors are ranging so freely that has created an even more frightening situation for religious freedom.”

Meanwhile, author Johnnie Moore says a Christian Holocaust is unfolding across the Middle East and the world, especially the Body of Christ, cannot afford to remain silent.

In his book, Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard, Moore details the ISIS threat and what Christians can do defeat the terror group’s perverted theology.

(Article taken from CBN News by George Thomas at http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/)

‘Son of God’ Producers Signed for Ben-Hur Remake

More than 50 years after actor Charlton Heston brought the classic novel “Ben-Hur” to life on the silver screen, Paramount and MGM have signed Mark Burnett and Roma Downey to produce a remake.

The couple has struck a chord among Christian consumers with their productions of “The Bible” miniseries and the subsequent “Son of God” movie.

“We are thrilled to have Mark and Roma join the production team to bring such an indelible classic story to the big screen,” MGM CEO Gary Barber said in a statement.

“Their unrivaled passion, creativity and success in the faith-based content space will be a huge asset to the film, and we look forward to working together,” he said.

Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer, the group behind the movement that played a role in Phil Robertson’s return to “Duck Dynasty,” applauded the move.

He said the decision was a sign that Hollywood had learned its lesson from the film “Noah,” which got a chilly reception from Christian audiences.

“If Faith Driven Consumers were a core target for ‘Noah,’ Darren Aronofsky (an atheist) was the wrong choice,” he said in a statement.

“Having left untold millions on the table with that film,” he continued, “Paramount appears to have learned from its mistakes and to be taking a completely new approach with the upcoming remake of ‘Ben-Hur’ by signing producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.”

(Source: CBN News at http://www.cbn.com)

Cuban Churches Thriving Despite Incredible Poverty

As relations between the United States and Cuba begin to thaw a surprising spiritual reality is emerging, the Cuban Church is thriving.

In the midst of opposition and incredible poverty, Cuban Baptists, Assemblies of God, and other denominations are reporting amazing growth in their churches throughout the country.

In the past 20 years, Baptist churches have grown from several hundred to more than 7,000. Assemblies of God churches that once numbered less than 100 members now have more than 10,000 church comers proclaiming the Gospel.

“The Church not only survived, but in the midst of those pressures and difficulties it grew. It grew solid,” Cuban Pastor Moises De Prado said.

At the core of Cuba’s church growth are house churches springing up across the island.

Back in the 1990s, the Cuban government told churches they could not build any new buildings. Consequently, church growth became very, very easy, as Christians simply began meeting in homes.

Surprisingly, many also believe that Cuba’s poverty has fueled its church growth.  With many Cubans existing on less than $30 a month, there’s simply not the money to pursue entertainment, hobbies or other pursuits that would pull them from the Gospel.

“One church leader told me, ‘That is one of the reasons that church members spend so much time in church activities.  They can spend more time evangelizing their neighbors because they’re not distracted by a lot of material goods,” CBN News Producer Stan Jeter said.

Church leaders say one fruit of all this growth is an emerging missions movement in Cuba.

Hundreds of believers are considering or planning to head overseas as missionaries. Given their single-minded focus and long-term experience with hardship, they may be uniquely qualified to travel to new lands to spread the Gospel.

(Article from CBN by Heather Sells at http://www.cbn.com)

Christians In Pakistan On Death Row Need Our Help

Pakistan Petition

Urge the Pakistan Government

The Christians on Death Row 3

Left to right: Christian mother of five, Asia Bibi, sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy; Shafqat and Shagufta Masih, Christian husband and wife sentenced to death for “sending blasphemous text messages” in 2014; Sawan Masih, 26-year-old Christian father of three sentenced to death in 2014 for blasphemy.

Death by hanging. That’s what four Christians sitting on Pakistan’s death row today are facing, simply for their faith in Jesus.

In Pakistan, the “crime” of blasphemy against Islam or the Prophet Muhammed can be leveled at almost anyone without any evidence. The result of such an accusation is often anarchy and destruction. In 2013, an enraged mob of thousands of Muslims attacked a Christian neighborhood in Lahore after one Christian man was accused of blasphemy. Over 100 Christian homes were torched in the rioting and thousands fled for their lives. The Christian accused of blasphemy, Sawan Masih, was sentenced to death in 2014.

Last month, Pakistan established a new “fast-track” court to deal with victims who had been unjustly accused of committing blasphemy. Sunni Muslim cases where the only cases moved over to the fast-track program. Today, we’re calling on Pakistan to move ALL blasphemy cases, and especially those of religious minorities, into this new fast-track system. Christians and others often spend years languishing in prison, facing abuse and death threats, waiting for the court system to process their cases. 21 Christians, and dozens from other faiths, have been murdered since 1981 after being accused of blasphemy before they could even get to trial. Fast-tracking these cases could see them set free in a matter of weeks.

Take just a moment now and let your voice be heard on behalf of those who have lost their freedom for their faith. Sign our petition, and urge the government of Pakistan to fast-track the cases of blasphemy victims.

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Amplify your voice by sharing our petition on Facebook, Twitter, and any other form of social media you use!

For Twitter, re-tweet #LetThemGo in every tweet on this petition!

“Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.”– Isaiah 58:6 (NLT)

(Source International Christian Concern at http://www.persecution.org)