executed humanitarian workers

Eight aid workers were taken from a health facility run by a local NGO in Somalia and executed.  According to the government of Somalia, they were “very young.”  Different sources give different numbers of the slain – we are using what Zamzam Foundation reported.

The facility was operated by the Zamzam Foundation.   In a statement the foundation said the eight were taken by armed gunman on Wednesday and their bodies were found on Thursday dumped along a highway. This happened near the capital city of Mogadishu.

Thus far, no one has claimed responsibility.

 

 

 

here’s a switch

In Mexican border cities people are concerned about folks from the United States bringing the novel corona virus to them. San Diego has three times the number of COVID-19 cases as Tijuana. The state of California has about 10 times more people than Baja to its south but 20 times the number of cases.

The  US extended its border restrictions for a month this week and Mexico has imposed similar restrictions on nonessential traffic from the United States.  But the border is still open to commercial traffic and people from the US are likely taking the virus to Mexico.

 

 

 

getting arrested for doing good

A group was gathered to put together relief supplies for a local nomadic community  They had gotten permission for the project for the head of Kakrahia village. Arrested were three sons of the homeowner where the packaging was underway and their cousin who are not members of a church. They were arrested along with four members of a local church.

The police accused the group of violating social distancing and beat the local pastor who organized the project.  The group, some of whom were beaten, were arrested for crimes of “negligent acts likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life” and “disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant.”

The officers interrogating the pastor wanted him to confess where the funds had come from for the project. Police asked him questions like “Where does the money come from to lure people to convert?” and “From which country do you get foreign funds?” The police persisted with the allegations that the church received funds from abroad that were used to convert people away from Hinduism by paying them  huge monetary sums.  The funds came from a special collection taken up by the local church to help during the corona virus lockup.

The local news outlet reported the event as a group of a dozen people gathered in a room to pray.

Militant Hindu nationalism tends to ignore freedom of religion making India one of the worst places on earth for some faiths.  Many Christians and other non-Hindus in India are being denied government-issued food rations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Templeton prize goes to Dr. Collins

It seems appropriate that the man who lead the effort to read the blueprint of the human genome should be honored in this way.  Sir John Templeton set up this prize to honor those who demonstrate “the insights that science brings to the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s purpose and place within it.”

Collins was an atheist in his medical school days. It was watching how some men and women faced death that caused him to doubt his materialism.   Ecclesiastes 3:11 say God planted eternity in the human heart.

Reminds me of what CL Lewis said, ” There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -…”

For many years after its discover, materialistic scientists thought the DNA was full of junk code left over from evolution.  This of course was because they didn’t understand what that extra DNA was for, the code that didn’t seem to be genes.  Turns out, it is the switches responsible for epigenesis.

Fearfully and wonderfully made – yep.

Dalai Lama?

Buddhism is under tight control and surveillance in China, no surprise.  The second-highest ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism, recognized as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, disappeared 25 years ago when he was a six year old boy.

The boy was identified by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who lives in exile in India.  Beijing rejected the Dalai Lama’s choice and put forward its own candidate for whom it claims is the real Panchen Lama.  Panchen Lama is a title for a religious and political leader of Tibet.

On Tuesday, China announced he was a college graduate with a job living a normal life. This was likely China’s response to the US Secretary of State asking about the individual’s whereabouts.

The government of Tibet in exile had this to say on the 25th anniversary of the disappearance: “China’s abduction of the Panchen Lama and forcible denial of his religious identity and the right to practice in his monastery is not only a violation of religious freedom but also a gross violation of human rights.”

The most important job that the Panchen Lama has is to identify the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, who is revered as a living god by by Tibetan Buddhists.  The current Dalai Lama is 84.  China wants to control his successor.

The atheistic Chinese government said “”Reincarnation of living Buddhas, including the Dalai Lama, must comply with Chinese laws and regulations and follow religious rituals and historical conventions” last year. A 2007 law says the reincarnation of a living Buddha is “subject to an application for approval.”

The Catholic Church in China now ordains bishops with the joint blessings of Beijing and the Vatican.  Seems that Beijing wants control over all types of belief.

Eventually the leaders in Beijing will meet the Living God, meanwhile pray for the folks living under tyranny.

 

Ravi Zacharias has departed

Ravi Zacharias was a Christian apologist you might have heard on the radio.  He passed away Tuesday at the age of 74, not from COVID-19 but from bone cancer. Zacharias was born in India and considered himself a religious skeptic till age  17 although he was raised in what was considered a Christian home.

He launched an apologetic’s center in 2017 and had a weekly radio program that was carried by 2000 outlets.  He spoke at universities around the world and authored several books, including Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message (2000).

He also wrote Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality (2012)  to caution Americans about new age spiritual ideas promoted by famous folks like Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra.

His perspective was insightful.

 

 

 

Patience, Revelation and Rejoice

These were the names of children, ages 13, 6 and 4 killed by Fulani herdsman in Nigeria this week.  At least 17 people were killed and six others injured when the village was attacked about 11:30 PM Monday evening.  One of those killed was a six month old infant.

After breaking into the family home, the attackers killed the 40 year old father Jonathan Yakubu, his wife and the three children – all hacked to death.

More than 38 Southern Kaduna people have been killed by Fulani herdsman since the COVID-19 lockdown on March 25, more than have been killed by the virus.

Fulani radicals have been attacking Christian villages in Nigeria for the past five years. The attacks have displaced thousands – and that is the point.  The Fulani want the land inhabited by the Christians.

How is it not genocide when children and infants are hacked to death with machetes? Genocide is deliberate killing of an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group—in whole or in part.  It is a crime against humanity.

The ancestors of the Fulani people were pushed from the Sahara southward around the third millennium B.C.  They were among the first people in African to convert to Islam around 500 AD.  The Fulani are among the last nomadic people on the planet. Recent climate changes have not been kind to their way of life – but killing children is surely no solution.  

 

pilot dies delivering corona virus tests

Joyce Lin was a remarkable soul, an MIT graduate who gave up a lucrative career in computing in the United States to be a bush pilot.  After her Master’s from MIT, she studied theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. 

She was flying COVID-19 tests to a village in the mountains called p.  She was the only person on board the single engine aircraft when she encountered technical difficulties and asked to turn back to the airport in Papua. She sent out a distress call, but the control tower lost track of her.

The 40 year old woman’s body was retrieved from Lake Sentani about two hours after the crash.  Joyce worked for Mission Aviation Fellowship taking humanitarian aid to some of the remotest places on earth, the jungle covered mountains of Papua.  She was carrying food, books and school kits along with the COVID-19 tests when her plane went down.

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is a Christian organization that provides aviation,  communications, and learning technology services to more than 1,000 Christian and humanitarian agencies, as well as thousands of isolated missionaries and indigenous villagers in the world’s most remote areas.   Joyce had been with MAF for about three years.

Joyce Lin gave her life for something more important than herself.  Please remember her family and friends in your prayers.

a crime against all values

If you are monitoring the situation here on planet earth and wondering if Evil has been loosed to walk the earth, consider what happened to day in Kabul as a data point.

Gunman stormed a maternity ward killing newborn babes in their mothers’ arms.  The A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior s called the attack a “crime against all values” and added “Any groups that are involved in such attacks are against all human and Islamic values.”

There are images of the victims circulating on social media.  ISIS has not yet claimed responsibility for the atrocity, but the attack is similar to attacks in March targeting civilians, one on a Sikh temple and another  an ethnic Hazara and Shiite gathering.

Who targets nurses, mothers and babies?  No one is more innocent that a new born babe.  This attack has all the hallmarks of the prince of this world.

 

 

happy ending

A kidnapped Italian aid worker has been returned home and has arrived in Rome. Silvia Constanza Romano was freed outside of Mogadishu on Saturday.

According to a recent source, there are still three Iranian sailors, two Cuban doctors, two Kenyans and a German nurse working who worked for the International Red Cross still being held in al-Shabab controlled areas of Somalia.

Silvia was abducted in November 2018 while working in Kenya where she was working for Africa Milele in southeastern Kenya.   She converted to Islam midway through her captivity.  She was quoted as saying her conversion was not forced on her and that she was treated with respect by her captors. Her release came about as the result of a joint operation between Italian, Turkish and Somalia intelligence and negotiations.

This should be a happy ending for the young woman, but the Italian government has been criticized for funding terrorists for paying ransom for her – some say to her “friends.”

Just a thought, but maybe if we want people to be free to choose their own faith we should extend that freedom to others?  This 23 year old worked for a humanitarian organization helping children.  Maybe during her captivity she came to believe and hadn’t before.

Is she suffering from Stockholm syndrome as some allege she is?  No doubt she had a difficult 18 months.  What we should take away from her story is asking ourselves if we are prepared to spend months or even years as captives.