|FIRST, THE NEWS:||
(Note: the "prayers" link in the heading will take you to this issue's "Prayer and Praise" list.)
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH SAYS IT WON'T CLAIM REBEL GEORGIA REGIONS
(26 Jul) The Russian Orthodox Church will not claim clerical authority over Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian and Georgian church leaders said on Tuesday. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia met in Ukraine, another predominantly Orthodox former Soviet republic, for the first time since the five-day war in 2008 over the Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia.
Tensions between Georgia and Russia have remained high since the war, which strengthened Russia's influence over the two rebel regions. The Georgian church's pro-Russia stance has created tensions between it and President Mikheil Saakashvili's pro-Western government. Adding to Georgia's frustrations, Russia has recognized both regions as independent countries. Moscow and Tbilisi have since traded multiple accusations of "provocations" and sabotage. [read more...]
AZERBAIJAN: WARNED FOR MEETING WITHOUT STATE PERMISSION, LEGAL STATUS APPLICATIONS STILL DELAYED
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
(27 Jul) After a police raid in Azerbaijan's port city of Sumgait in mid-June, a judge gave the leader of a Baptist church, Pavel Byakov, a verbal warning not to meet for worship without state permission. The judge also warned that for a second "offence" Byakov will be fined, church members who asked not to be named for fear of state reprisals told Forum 18 News Service. A large quantity of literature confiscated in the raid has been given to the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, to decide whether the material is legal.
Prolonged delays in dealing with applications for legal status still continue, over one and half years after the deadline for processing applications. In defiance of Azerbaijan's international human rights commitments unregistered religious activity is illegal. Another religious community, the Cathedral of Praise Protestant Church, has challenged the State Committee's failure to re-register it through the courts, and Cathedral of Praise today (27 July) gained a court ruling that it should be re-registered. But it still remains unclear when or if this will happen. [read more...]
NORWAY ATTACKS CONFIRM DANGER OF RACIAL HATRED, XENOPHOBIA, ISLAMOPHOBIA
(27 Jul) According to Russian Foreign Ministry Envoy for Human Rights, Democracy and the Supremacy of Law Konstantin Dolgov, the recent terror attacks in Norway prove the need to strengthen international cooperation in resisting racial hatred and xenophobia. "Firstly, I would want to join the sincere condolences expressed to the Norwegian people," he told Interfax. Asked how Moscow regards the tragedy from the viewpoint of human rights, he said that the current investigation has shown that "in addition to political extremism, this atrocity had such motives as racial hatred, xenophobia and Islamophobia."
"If all this is proved, and Breivik is not leaving any doubts about being guided by these very motives, we believe that international cooperation must be intensified to neutralize these extremely dangerous challenges, which the international community and many European countries, in particular, are facing," Dolgov said. Oslo and Utoya island near the Norwegian capital were shaken by a double terror attack last Friday in which 76 people died. Anders Breivik, 32, suspected of both crimes, says he acted to save Norway and Europe from immigrants, primarily Muslims. [read more...]
RUSSIA: CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST "UNKNOWN PERSONS" LODGED "TO PREVENT LAWYERS 'MEDDLING'"
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
(25 Jul) The day after Russia's Supreme Court in Moscow overturned a lower court ban on the activity of the Grace Pentecostal Church in Khabarovsk, local prosecutors again began summoning church members as they investigate two criminal cases against unnamed church members. The Church's lawyer, Inna Zagrebina, told Forum 18 News Service of concerns about criminal cases being lodged against "unknown persons". Church leaders are then questioned without being able to defend themselves.
"This is often done to prevent lawyers 'meddling' in the cases," she said. "Then when the investigation is complete they unveil the accusation. So from the start it's clear who they're going to accuse, but that person can't do anything. It's a trick." The FSB security service has taken a close interest in the church, but denied to Forum 18 it is running a campaign against the church. Elsewhere, a Baptist conscientious objector to military service has been threatened in his military unit with prosecution, but the Military Prosecutor's Office has insisted that no case is planned. [read more...]
HEAD OF KYIVAN PATRIARCHATE CALLS UOC-MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE TO ESTABLISH ONE NATIONAL UKRAINIAN CHURCH
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(28 Jul) On behalf of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate, Patriarch Filaret addressed Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), the clergy and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) with a call to continue a constructive dialogue in order to establish one national Orthodox Ukrainian Church, www.tyzhden.ua reported with reference to the website of UOC-KP.
"We are invariably ready to renew the dialogue and we wait for constructive efforts of UOC-MP in this regard," stated the head of the Kyivan Patriarchate. "At the same time, we are convinced that the only correct way to renew the unity of the church is a dialogue that is ultimately aimed at the establishment of one national Orthodox Ukrainian church centered round the Kyivan throne," reads the address. The document also notes that the recent events in the Ukrainian religious life "allow one to see once again that as far as the 'Ukrainian question' is concerned, the Moscow Patriarchate acts not according to the canons and not for the good of Orthodoxy but from the viewpoint of the political interests of retaining of power in the 'Russian world.' " [read more...]
RUSSIA CELEBRATES ITS 1023RD ANNIVERSARY OF ITS CHRISTIANIZATION
from The Voice of Russia
TAJIKISTAN: "RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY IS ONLY BANNED UP TO THE AGE OF 18"
from Forum 18 News Service
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT INFORMALLY MEETS WITH PATRIARCH KIRILL IN CRIMEA
STUDENTS TAKE OVER THE WORLD ASSEMBLY OF IFES IN POLAND
from Mission Network News
TRIBUTE PAID TO CARDINAL WHO SURVIVED THE GULAGS
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
RUSSIAN SUPREME COURT TRIES TO LIMIT USE OF "EXTREMISM" CASES AGAINST BELIEVERS
from Webservice 24
PRIMATES OF THE RUSSIAN AND GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES MEET AT THE LAURA OF THE CAVES IN KIEV
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
SUMMER OF HOPE: CAMPS BRING HOPE TO RUSSIAN ORPHANS
from Russian Ministries
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS IT GUARANTEES EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES TO ALL RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS
from Ukrainain Radio
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
It is wonderful that Russia and Ukraine are celebrating the 1023rd anniversary of the Christianization of ancient "Rus." In 1988 Cheryl and I participated in the celebration of 1000 years of the official Christianization of ancient "Rus," but it's also important to note that Christians have existed there since the first century when the Apostle Andrew preached in the far north regions. Also, Princess Olga became a Christian years before her son, Prince Vladimir, was converted and proclaimed Christianity the official religion.
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What does it mean to overcome the world? In 1 John 4:4-5 we read: "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" Here we see that overcoming the world consists of being born of God, which consists of having faith - that is, believing - that Jesus is the Son of God. Earlier in his epistle, St. John gives some specific instructions on overcoming the world:
"Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father's love is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God's will remains forever. Little children, these are the end times, and as you heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen. By this we know that it is the end times. They went out from us, but they didn't belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us. ...Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:15-19 & 22).
Many false christs and false teachers have gone out from the Church, teaching it's OK to follow fleshly lusts, or teaching it's good to live just to accumulate lots of money and "stuff," or teaching it's most important to build up one's own self-esteem. All of these self-centered teachings are of the antichrist, who denies the self-giving love of the Father Who sent His Son into the world. Further, St. John instructs us to test the spirits, because many false prophets have gone out into the world: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn't confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already. You are of God, little children, and you have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:2-4).
The self-giving love of the Father instructs and impels us to love one another: "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who doesn't love doesn't know God, for God is love. By this was God's love revealed in us, that God has sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another. ...If a man says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn't love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1 John 4:7-11 & 20).
So we have here the formula for overcoming the world:
Some so-called "Christians" over-emphasize the last point, love, to the extent that they deny the first three items. They will use ridicule, scorn and social pressure to attempt to discourage Christians from confessing Christ and living according to the Gospel. They insist that we should "go with the flow," just get along with all people, and not say anything that is controversial: we shouldn't say that certain religions which deny Jesus is the Son of God are of the antichrist, or we shouldn't say that certain ideologies that teach sensuality, materialism, or God-denying socialist humanism are are of the antichrist. But this is a superficial, phony, hypocritical "love." We should recognize their legal right to exist and practice their religion or ideology if it isn't harmful to society. However, we shouldn't help it out by endorsing it. as St. Paul writes: Let love be without hypocrisy. Hate that which is evil. Cling to that which is good (Romans 12:9).
As I've written in the last few issues of Hosken-News, loving God and following Christ involves the discipline of discipleship, the need to exercise self-discipline and to discipline those we love. We see this kind of pastoral discipline in the above Scriptures, sometimes calling a spade a spade. So let us love not with hypocrisy, but in spirit and in truth. Let us love our brothers and sisters in Christ, even when it involves "tough love," speaking the truth in love.
Prayer and Praise:
Sun. - Praise the Lord that the Moscow Patriarchate has promised not to claim authority over churches in breakaway Georgian territories.
Mon. - Pray that the Baptist church and the Cathedral of Praise church in Azerbaijan will be able to exercise religious freedom.
Tue. - Thank God that Russia's Supreme Court overturned a lower court ban on the Grace Pentecostal Church in Khabarovsk, and pray against local authorities' meddling.
Wed. - Pray that the extremist attack in Norway will not affect religious freedom in western Europe or the former USSR.
Thu. - Ask the Lord that unity and harmony among all Orthodox Christians in Ukraine will be established soon.
Fri. - Praise God for the 1023rd anniversary of the Christianization of ancient "Rus" and for two millenia of Christians there.
Sat. - Pray that Christians in both East and West will do what is necessary to overcome the world: confess Christ, lead holy lives, and love one another.
Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. Due to budget cuts, the light at the end of the tunnel is being turned off.
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