INTERNATIONAL NEWS 8th APRIL 2013

GUARD PUTS BIBLE IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT CELL – MURDERER BECOMES MISSIONARY

After killing a man during an armed robbery, Edward Mauricio knew he might face the electric chair in Texas. By God’s grace he received a life sentence, but hated and even viciously attacked Christians who attempted to witness to him in his prison cell. Eventually, however, the power of God’s Word penetrated his heart and brought changes he could never have imagined. As an 11-year old, Mauricio began to sniff glue, lighter fluid, car gasoline, and ingest, alcohol and marijuana. He then joined the Austin Street Gang, and began injecting heroin. Looking for a way out, he lied about his age and joined the Texas National Guard at 16. 

Two years later he enlisted in the U.S. Army, completed his service, and received an honourable discharge. A couple of years later he got involved in a robbery that resulted in murder. The prosecutor in his case called for the death penalty to be applied.” He was convicted but. “By the grace and mercy of God I was sentenced to life imprisonment,” he said. A few days later he was on a bus headed for prison, handcuffed and impaired by heavy chains on his feet. Prison life was harsh. Physical beatings were not infrequent. Mauricio was required to do manual agricultural labour. 

“Guards kicked and lashed out at us with bullwhips as we picked cotton, corn, beans, potatoes and other vegetables in the hot sun,” he said. “I began to identify with the Brown Power movement and to subscribe to militant and communist publications,” he recalled. These influences only inflamed his violent tendencies. “We began to persuade prisoners to our cause and when Christians would try to witness to me I would threaten them or beat them up. I remember beating up one Christian until blood was flowing from his head and he was calling for the guards to rescue him simply for speaking to me about Christ.” 

Despite his animosity toward God, during one of his periods in solitary confinement the guards left a Bible in his cell. “I started reading the Bible to pass the time,” he noted. Slowly God planted His Word in Mauricio’s heart. Years later he attended a prison evangelistic meeting. “A black minister preached on Saul of Tarsus persecuting Christians and about his subsequent conversion,” he recalled. “That word went straight into my heart. I went back to my prison cell, got on my knees, and said ‘God, I know I am a sinner and that I have destroyed my life through sin, but if you can use me in any way I surrender my life to You right now.'” 

Mauricio had suffered from an infection in his throat for over a year. The infection produced a sore full of hardened white pus, which had lodged itself in his throat. Only surgery could remove it, an ear, nose, and throat specialist had informed him. “As I invited Jesus into my life all of a sudden I felt an urge to vomit and when I did I vomited a white ball of hardened pus the size of an egg out of my mouth.” Startled, Mauricio looked in a mirror and saw an open wound in his throat. Forty minutes later he looked in the mirror again and the wound had disappeared. “I was completely healed by the resurrected and glorified Christ,” he realized. 

Mauricio was baptized in the prison, filled with the Spirit, and began to serve the Lord among the inmates. Four years later, by God’s grace, he received a reprieve. “I was paroled but later permitted to return to the Prison system as a minister of the Gospel. I was led to plant a Church on the Texas-Mexico border and another a few years later in Mexico City” he said. He was given the opportunity to travel to places like Guatemala and Romania, and to tribal groups in India. “I know from personal experience that God can take a murderer and turn him into a missionary. My question to you would be, ‘What does God want to turn you into?'”

Source: God Reports

 

VATICAN OFFICIAL THANKS MEDIA FOR UNCOVERING CHURCH ABUSE

The Vatican’s new sexual crimes prosecutor has acknowledged that the media “did a service” to the Catholic Church through its aggressive reporting on child abuse that helped the Church “confront the truth.” The acknowledgement came from Father Robert Oliver, a canon lawyer from the U.S. diocese of Boston, speaking at his first public appearance since becoming the Vatican’s “Promoter of Justice”. “Certainly those who continued to put before us that we needed to confront this problem did a service,” he said in response to a question on whether the role of an aggressive American media was, in hindsight, a blessing for the Church. 

“The media helped to maintain the energy to keep the movement going so that we would, honestly and with transparency, confront what is true,” he told a news conference. Since the abuse scandal erupted in 2002 and spread around the world, some Church and Vatican officials have accused the media of irresponsible journalism and exaggeration. Oliver was speaking at the presentation of a report on a conference called “Towards Healing and Renewal”, held last year, on the Church’s attempts to become more aware of the problem and to make a universal commitment to listen to victims and prevent future cases of abuse. 

Asked whether some in the Church were still in denial about the extent of the problem, Oliver said: “Every single one of us begins with denial. I think it is one of the great things about the work that is being done here, that we all come to know that, in order to prevent this from happening, we all need to come to a better understanding.” “I think the leaders of the Church, the members of the Church, we are no different from anyone else. In the beginning our reaction was ‘no this is not possible, people don’t do this to children,'” he said, adding that the Church had now found a proper way to respond to the crisis. 

Officials said about 600 cases of abuse–most of which took place from 1965 to 1985–are being reported each year. The Church’s crisis began when media began reporting how cases of abuse were covered up systematically and abusive priests shuttled from parish to parish instead of being defrocked and handed over to civil authorities. Since then, the Catholic Church in many countries has set up new guidelines to deal with cases of past abuse, prevent new cases, report abuse to police, and stop potential abusers from entering the priesthood in the first place. 

Victims groups say there is much still to be discovered about how the Church behaved in the past and want more bishops who were aware of abuse to be held responsible. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, after years of legal battles, has now released files of priests accused of molesting children. The city’s former archbishop has been banned by his successor from carrying out his priestly duties in public. The files were made public after Church records relating to 14 priests were unsealed as part of a separate civil suit, showing that Church officials plotted to conceal the molestation from law enforcement as late as 1987.

Source: Charisma News

 

URGENT CALL TO PRAY FOR PAKISTAN GENERAL ELECTIONS IN 2013

The people of Pakistan have shown great resilience to sustain their democracy during the last 65 years. During 30 of those years  they have been ruled by at least four governments in uniform.  In 2013, they again go to the polls to elect a new Government after five years of democratically elected government. Against a backdrop of a continuing war against terrorism, extremism and radicalization, the nation will be seeking the kind of  good governance that will bring them out of the quagmire of these problems. Election-2013 will therefore be of significant importance and have long-term consequences for democracy in Pakistan. 

The Pakistan Prayer Network has started a “Prayer for The General Election 2013” campaign.  This campaign seeks to motivate Christians across the nation to understand the importance of these elections. The campaign also focuses on a spiritual and moral awakening of the church which is tied to the healing of the nation. The issues facing the nation will not be resolved in the Parliament nor the Courts. Pakistan desperately needs a spiritual awakening in the Church. The Church must be awakened to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Such an awakening has the power to bring about true cultural transformation in the nation. 

Tens of thousands of printed information flyers, prayer points, posters and other materials are being sent by post and e-mail to churches, ministries, prayer groups and individuals across the nation; special prayer events, seminars, prayer chains, prayer walks and other activities are being held to pray for the upcoming elections. Please pray for these events and material that the Holy Spirit touches the heart of the Church and the People of God understand the importance and impact of this prayer campaign for the future and for the political situation in the country. 

The prayer campaign will continue until the election results are declared. Organisers believe that every Christian has the potential to transform Pakistan through the power of the Holy Spirit released in every prayer based on the scripture “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Tim 2:1-2. Organisers are inviting Christians everywhere to lift Pakistan in prayer continuously so that free, fair, credible and peaceful elections can take place. 

Editors note:  Let us pray for this national prayer effort to be successful in uniting the Pakistanis in intercession for their nation and also for the right leaders to be raised up during the election next month. This is an extremely crucial prayer issue not only for their nation but also for the security of the rest of the world. Pray that radical Islam is exposed and discredited and that none of these radicals get into power. They would then have access to the full arsenal of nuclear weapons Pakistan has, and they would not hesitate to use them against other nations.

Source: National Prayer Network of Pakistan

 

MORE ARRESTS IN LIBYA OF FOREIGH CHRISTIANS ALLEGEDLY DISTRIBUTING CHRISTIAN BOOKS

Arrests of Christians accused of proselytizing in Libya are continuing, with a total of seven now in custody. Four expatriate Christians in Benghazi were arrested and accused of proselytizing. Libya’s Preventative Security Unit arrested the Egyptian, South African, Korean and dual Swedish-American Christians, who have yet to be officially charged. Preventative Security spokesman Hussein Bin Hmeid said that the four Christians originally arrested were printing books calling for conversion to Christianity. Security officers have also picked up three more Egyptian Christians but it is unclear what led to their arrests. 

Bin Hmeid said Libya is 100% Muslim and that proselytizing “affects our national security.” Only one of the original four arrested, Sherif Ramses of Egypt, has been publicly identified. When Ramses was arrested, he allegedly had 30,000 Bibles in storage. Ramses ran a small printing service and bookstore in Benghazi. Sources close to the arrests said that Ramses has been tortured, saying he was severely bruised. Several other sources have also reported that Preventative Security was able to get the names of other Christians in Libya from Ramses, possibly by accessing information on his cell phone. 

A second wave of arrests is said to have taken place in Tripoli. Sources in Libya report that no one has been able to contact these detainees, learn their location or even get an estimate of the number arrested. A source in Cairo receiving updates from Libya said. “They were supposed to be released, but there has been no word.” There has been no information about the possibility of Libyan nationals being picked up in any of the expatriate sweeps. Those monitoring the situation said that they thought all the detainees would be released except for Ramses, who will likely stand trial. 

It is unclear what penalty a guilty verdict would bring for Ramses. The proselytizing law was passed under the previous regime and Libya has yet to approve a new constitution. The arrests are the latest in a series of incidents in Libya against Christians or Christian symbols. In December, two Egyptian Christians were killed and two wounded when suspected Islamic extremists threw a homemade bomb into a Coptic Orthodox Church. Several communities of Catholic nuns left Libya after receiving credible death threats. In addition, suspected Islamic militants have desecrated graves with crosses on them of Britain’s war dead.”

Source: ASSIST News Service

 

MAJOR U.S. COMPANIES BACKING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN U.S. SUPREME COURT CASES

Some U.S. business interests have signalled support for same-sex marriage by signing on to two briefs filed with the Supreme Court, according to lawyers involved in the process. Various companies have joined separate friend-of-the-court briefs, one in a case challenging the federal Defence of Marriage Act and another in a case that questions a California law banning homosexual marriage. Major companies are to urge the court to invalidate Proposition 8, the California law in question, and strike down Section 3 of the federal Defence of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. 

The brief to be filed in the Proposition 8 case, has been joined by such companies as Apple, Nike, Facebook, Morgan Stanley, Intel Corporation, Xerox Corporation, AIG and Cisco Systems. The two cases are currently being argued in the court. In briefs filed in support of marriage being restricted to heterosexual unions, business interests have not been represented. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has not taken a position on the issue. In the DOMA case, a source close to the case said a similar brief with more than 250 signatories was also filed with the Supreme Court. 

Attorney Joshua Rosenkranz wrote that companies believe that laws banning same-sex marriage “inflict real and unnecessary injury on business.  By stopping homosexual men and lesbians from forming ‘married’ families, these bans stigmatize homosexual men and lesbians and deprive them of the benefits intrinsic to marriage,” he added. Even if a corporation welcomes homosexual and lesbian unions, “it cannot overcome the societal stigma institutionalized by Proposition 8 and similar laws,” Rosenkranz wrote. Same-sex marriage bans “can impede business efforts to recruit, hire and retain the best workers,” he added. 

Source: Charisma News

 

RESEARCH SHOWS STUDENTS FEEL CLOSER TO GOD TWO OR THREE YEARS AFTER HIGH SCHOOL

Fuller Youth Institute has released the findings of a study that shows that 2 to 3 years after finishing most high school students say they feel “closer to God.” They see God as more active, involved, and important in their day to day reality the report noted. Students cited spiritual disciplines and involvement in Christian communities as sources of or support for their faith integration.” I view God on a much more individual level and feel as though he is much more a part of my life,” said one student. Students who once thought God existed to serve them, now see that He is not subject to our will but we are subject to his the report stated.

Source: Christian Post