Down below, there is a list of various stories circulating around the internet regarding Christianity and some of the trials they face and some of the successes. As I present these stories I will try and report based off what I saw through different sources and give a quick snippet of the story as unbiased as I can and then I would like to give a few things that I noticed while researching these stories. These are the stories that I have chosen to cover this week.
- On April 10, 2021, 8 Nigerian missionaries who were kidnapped at gunpoint by a terrorist group on March 26 were released. The terrorists put out a ransom valuing 122,000 USD. The details of their release are still sparse and it is not known whether the ransom was paid, due to the Nigerian government’s strict laws regarding citizen negotiation with bandits. These kidnappings have become a common occurrence due to the presence of Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram. Their pattern resembles the procedures taken against the 8 missionaries.
- On April 11, 2021, an estimated 1,000 protesters arrived at GraceLife Church to protest the closing of the church by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Two weeks prior, police arrested pastor James Coates for organizing worship services during the pandemic. His trial is set to take place on May 3. Following this, the police placed fencing around the church the week prior to the protest and the Alberta Health Services stated that access is prohibited until the congregation complies with restrictions. Protesters gathered around the church on April 11 and prayed for the government and the church. Some protesters began to tear down the fence erected around the church while counter protesters assisted police in putting it back up. GraceLife leadership issued a statement claiming that no GraceLife congregants were at this protest; however, they thanked the public for their support.
- On April 18, 2021, an Egyptian Coptic Christian businessman was executed by ISIS affiliates in Egypt. Nabil Habashi Salama was kidnapped from his home nearly 5 months ago and shot in the back of head while kneeling on April 18, 2021. He was executed on video along with two other military cooperatives. Nabil owned numerous businesses within his town and was targeted for investment in building the only Christian church within his hometown of Bir Al Abd. The name of this church is St. Mary’s Church. Nabil’s son had this to say about the killing, “In their efforts to have him abandon the Faith they humiliated my father…Yet through all this, he held on. We are so joyful for him”
- On April 14, 2021, Planned Parenthood announced 10 new members of the Planned Parenthood Clergy Advocacy Board. This is composed of a group of religious leaders that Planned Parenthood promotes to advocate for abortion rights. This new list of clergy includes: Emily Harden (WV), Tim Kutzmark (CA), Sarah Smiley (KS), Katey Zeh (NC), Rebecca Peters (NC), Elle Dowd (IL), Elise Saulsberry (TN), Latishia James-Portis (GA), Stephen Griffith (NE).
- Seattle Pacific University, a university affiliated with the Free Methodist Church of North America votes to retain a prior rule within the employee handbook requiring staff to refrain from sexually immoral behavior including extramarital sex, cohabitation, and homosexual relationships. On April 19, 2021, the university upheld and defended its position after ongoing legal battles with an adjunct nursing professor who was denied a full-time position because of his homosexual lifestyle. With 90% of staff voting, 72% of the staff voted in favor of defending the position and 22% of the voting staff against. 6% abstained from voting all together.
- Indiana governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill on April 22, 2021 that was previously passed by an overwhelming majority in the Indiana state house and senate. This bill officially enacts churches and religious organizations as essential services during a time of crisis. The bill specifies that “Religious organizations provide essential services that are necessary for the health and welfare of the public during a disaster emergency”. This protects individuals attending religious organizations such as churches from government restrictions during a declared emergency. The signing of this bill also addresses that local and state restrictions can not be tighter on religious organizations versus other essential services.
- Montana governor Greg Gianforte signed the “Montana Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) into law on April 22, 2021 which defends an individual’s right to practice their faith and defends their right to sue the government if they believe that their religious freedoms are being infringed upon. This bill also requires a government to submit a reason for violating a person’s religious freedom and to plan a way that achieves their goal in a less restrictive manner. The law offers legal relief for damages and attorney fees as well. There have been 21 other states have implemented RFRA acts as well and they have been utilized to defend various other situations that a person of faith may encounter.
First of all, being a citizen of the U.S. I am excited to see some of the bills that are being passed in the midst of this national pandemic that protect the right to assemble, freedom of speech, and religious freedoms. It is encouraging to see direction in the midst of these crazy times and seemingly how God is working through the government that has been ordained (Romans 13:1). When reading about the situation going on at Seattle Pacific University, I had a similar opinion to a teacher that I had read about that is within the Southern Baptist Convention. She begged the question on whether or not they upheld their policy in the first place by hiring a part-time professor who is homosexual. Regardless, if that is the position taking by the university, which I completely affirm as a great Biblical standard, they have the right to do so and they should uphold this standard higher if that is their intention. As a Christian leader, I was also disappointed to discover that there is an advocacy board set in place by the Planned Parenthood organization with the sole intention of indoctrinating people through the utilization of so-called clergy. Abortion is instituted murder and contrary to Godly spirituality. It reminds me of the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 5:20 which states, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” This Scripture depicts the nature of God as being against the perverse and double minded person. I hope the list that is posted is encouragement to avoid the teachings of these people and to cling to the things that are Holy and pure deriving from Scripture.
Internationally, I wanted the efforts of our Christian brethren to be noted. Starting with the 8 missionaries who were beaten and kidnapped. This kidnapping occurred on the way to tell others about the love of Jesus and to share the only Gospel that saves. This case, the story of Nabil Habashi Salama, and the struggles within the Canadian church should signify to the American Church that as Christians we are not impervious to the attacks of the Devil. This is even when we are fulfilling our Christian purpose and witnessing the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ above all. Paul tells Timothy in regards to prayer that, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). This is a primary purpose of the Christian and the will of God. On that same note, God does not promise to protect our physical interests as these things are all vanity. God does promise that His peace which passes all understanding shall keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The hearts and minds are much more of a concern and important in nourishing the soul.
Feel free leave input in the comments! Have a blessed one!
christianheadlines.com, WDRB.com, seattletimes.com, thehill.com, persecution.org, plannedparenthood.org, christianitytoday.com