Whilst holidays like Christmas and New Years are a time of celebration, for some Christians it’s a period of intense persecution. As the church gathers, attacks tend to increase, and the recent holidays were no exception for believers in Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt. On Sunday 17 December, as believers gathered for an early Christmas celebration, two Islamic State suicide bombers arrived with explosive vests. At least nine people were killed when the bombs were detonated, and more than 50 people were injured. The number of casualties could’ve been higher if the attackers were able to reach the 400 Christians worshipping inside. The bombing was intended to scare people away from church over the Christmas period.

One eye-witness said “A woman wept on my shoulder repeating ‘Lord, have mercy,’ and then said, ‘Lord enable us to lift our voices and cry out Jesus is Lord! so that we may stand and not be stopped from being in church!'” New Year’s Eve in Nigeria was riddled with numerous attacks across the country and many Christians lost their lives. At a midnight church service in Omuku, a gunman opened fire and killed at least 16 believers. Then in Benue, on New Year’s Day, Fulani herdsmen made their way through communities killing Christians and destroying property. At least 50 people were killed. Many women were also sexually assaulted during the attacks. Homes were destroyed and children were left traumatised.

As Christians in Egypt came to celebrate the new year, two brothers were shot dead in Giza. The incident took place only days after eight Christians were killed at a morning service in the Mar Mina church. Members of the Islamic State opened fire as worshippers left the service. “This attack confirms the attempts of those terrorists to disrupt our celebrations of New Year and Christmas,” said Faith Boula of Mar Mina church. “They wanted to spoil our joy of Christmas and New Year, they want to intimidate us and prevent us from going to church to pray. But such incidents just increase our determination to go to church, and fight terrorism and uproot it.”

We have seen the way Christians are at high risk of attacks during the Christmas holidays. And now, the focus turns towards the lead up to Easter. We don’t know what this time of year will look like for persecuted Christians around the world, but we want to be ready to respond.

Source: Open Doors

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People who mutilate the genitals of young girls in the name of religion or culture in the U.S. may soon face tough new penalties. The House of Representatives has voted unanimously for the “Stopping Abusive Female Exploitation Act” or SAFE. The legislation triples the federal penalty for female genital mutilation from five to 15 years in prison and calls on states to implement reporting requirements for this heinous crime. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Michigan, sponsored the bill. Earlier this year three people, including two doctors, were arrested in his state for mutilating the genitals of seven-year-old girls as part of their brand of Islam.

In some Muslim nations genital mutilation of girls is a common religious and cultural practice. The World Health Organization estimates more than 200 million women and girls are subjected to this horrendous practice around the world. Here in the U.S., the Centre for Disease Control estimates 513,000 women and girls are at risk. “This appalling and brutal practice has no place in Southeast Michigan, or the United States, and today we make it clear to Americans and the rest of the world that these heinous acts will not be tolerated,” Rep. Trott posted on Facebook after the bill passed the House.

It’s quite a feat to have any legislation pass the House unanimously. “Evident in the bipartisan effort is the fact that protecting little girls from the horrors of female genital mutilation is a universal issue,” says Elizabeth Yore, an attorney who worked to get the bill passed, “The House has recognized that female genital mutilation is an exponentially growing threat in the U.S.” Yore is calling on states that don’t currently have their own laws against the procedure to pass them quickly. The bill now goes to the Senate where advocates have urged a swift passage.

Source: CBN News

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British Girl Guides are being urged not to say grace before meals to avoid offending Muslims or atheists. New guidance aimed at boosting ‘inclusivity’ asks Girl-guiding groups to “think of a statement that doesn’t make reference to any particular god or faith.” It is the latest in a series of “inclusive” measures from an organization that has become increasingly secular in recent years. The guidance suggests that girls use the phrase, “Let’s all take a moment to show gratitude for this food and to remember how fortunate we are to have this meal.” A member of the Church of England’s Synod described the move as “absolute nonsense.”  Alison Ruoff said: “The Guides are being foolish in trying to whitewash Christianity, and they must not.”

In 2013, the group stated that Guides would no longer promise to serve God but pledge to be “true to myself and develop my beliefs.” This week, the Guides faced widespread criticism when it emerged that boys who “identify” as girls are allowed to use the toilets and changing rooms of their choice under official guidance. Leaders are also advised not to tell parents if their daughters will be required to share shower and sleeping facilities with boys. Feminist campaigner Julie Bindel expressed her alarm, saying: “This signifies the end to girl-only space, and the safety of girls in single-sex organizations.”

Source: Christian Institute

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Following protests by over a million Peruvians, the Peruvian government has withdrawn a national school curriculum denounced by parents for its inclusion of gender ideology. Peru’s Department of Education has announced that the 2009 version of the National Curriculum which does not include gender ideology would be reinstated in the nation’s schools. The parents’ group organized under the heading “Don’t mess with my children” called the move a “new victory for parents.” Population Research Institute’s Latin American researcher Sergio Burga agreed saying the Department of Education’s decision to revert to the previous curriculum was “a great victory for the parents represented by “Don’t mess with my children.”

Peru’s Department of Education had approved the new National Curriculum for Basic Education amidst criticism from parents, teachers, the Catholic Church and a number of Christian groups in the country. The parent group assembled more than 1.5 million Peruvians to march in protest against gender ideology. The Peruvian bishops’ conference critised the Education Department’s new curriculum for its inclusion of “concepts which do not proceed from the Constitution, but rather are taken from so-called gender ideology.” In August, Peru’s Superior Court of Justice ruled in favour of another parents group which had sued the Department of Education, for indoctrinating schoolchildren with gender ideology.

Source: LifeSiteNews

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A Norwegian court has sided with Katarzyna Jachimowicz, the physician from Poland who lost her job for objecting to inserting intrauterine devices (IUDs) into patients. In 2016, she became the first medical professional in Norway sacked for exercising her conscience rights. The appellate court has ruled that her firing had been a violation of human rights. Jachimowicz sued because she felt her rights were violated and that her dismissal by the state-run health care system was illegal. The court of appeals agreed with her and reversed the previous decision by the court in Notodden. The appellate court ruled her employer, had to pay her 600,000 Norwegian Krone (about $73,000) in legal fees.

“God won,” Jachimowicz told the Polish Catholic magazine She quoted famous Polish king John Sobieski III, who said “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit!” (“I came, I saw, God conquered”) after his victory in the Battle of Vienna against the Ottoman Turks. Just as Sobieski’s battle was a turning point in history, Jachimowicz’s case is a landmark in Norway, marking the country’s first legal victory for freedom of conscience. Jachimowicz said that she attributes her victory to the prayers of numerous people. Specifically, she mentioned several Catholic contemplative orders in Poland as well as an Orthodox one. A Trappist monk living in Telemark in Norway also offered spiritual support.


Source: LifeSiteNews

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Some Christians in France will no longer use the traditional Lord’s Prayer.  A new version has been created so it does not seem like God leads people to commit sins. For decades the French have prayed “Lead us not into temptation” found in Matthew 6:9-13. Instead, Catholic priests will ask worshippers to pray “Do not let us enter into temptation”. This way, the responsibility of a person sinning is placed on the person, not God. The French Conference of Bishops has approved the change.

However, Monsignor Guy de Kerimel, the French Catholic Church’s chief liturgist said “In itself the translation wasn’t wrong, but the interpretation was ambiguous.” Whether or not a new version was needed was a controversial debate between theologians for almost two decades. But the national council of evangelicals of France, CNEF, doesn’t agree with the change. The group acknowledges that the new version does not implicate God in a person sinning, but said “it waters down God’s sovereignty”. French-language Protestant churches have also approved the change.


Source: Premier News Service

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