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CAR EXPLODES AS LIGHTNING HITS IT DURING POLICE CHASE AFTER CHURCH ROBBERY
from Daily Mail

Church robbers struck by lightning (19 Dec) A hair-raising video has emerged showing a car full of masked robbers exploding moments after they raided a church in St Petersburg, Russia - and witnesses insist they were hit by lightning. The dash cam footage uploaded by YouTube user World News TV, shows a vehicle speeding along with a police siren sounding in the background. All of a sudden the car bursts into flames and explodes, sending debris all over the road.

The vehicle filming the incident immediately slows down and pulls over. According to a caption accompanying the video, everyone in the getaway car died as a result of the electrical bolt. It is not known how many passengers were traveling at the time. Another car was also damaged in the explosion which took place on December 9. The thieves had reportedly robbed a church in the city of St Petersburg. To date the video has been watched more than 90,000 times. Many viewers have deemed it an example of 'divine intervention.' According to experts, the chances of getting killed by lightning are around 300,000 to one. [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN: NO FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF "UNLESS THEY HAVE REGISTRATION", ANTI-TERRORISM POLICE CLAIM
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

(19 Dec) In defiance of its binding international legal obligations Kazakhstan demands that groups of people can exist as a religious community and exercise freedom of religion or belief only if they have state permission. Permission to exist is gained via state registration, yet even this does not stop officials trying to stop people exercise this fundamental human right, Forum 18 News Service notes. A recent example of communities facing such official obstruction is the Full Gospel Church in Atyrau where the Anti-Terrorism Police with the Justice Department are bullying the people identifying themselves as founders on registration applications, and trying to stop the Church meeting for worship without state permission

Kazakhstan's Religion Law imposes a complex and restrictive state registration system, including state checks on a community's beliefs and demands for at least 50 people willing to identify themselves in writing to the authorities as founders. Many people are afraid to do this, for fear of state reprisals. Vladimir Ivanov, Head of the Culture Ministry's Religious Affairs Committee's Division of relations with Christian and other non-Muslim organisations claimed - in defiance of the facts - that the demand for compulsory state registration of religious communities is not in violation of Kazakhstans's international obligations. [read more...]


KREMLIN OFFICIAL SLAMS VIOLENCE AGAINST MEMBERS OF MOSCOW-RULED ORTHODOX CHURCH IN UKRAINE
from Interfax-Religion

(11 Dec) President Vladimir Putin's chief of staff, Sergey Ivanov, has slammed violence in Ukraine against the Orthodox Christian community governed by the Moscow Patriarchate. "With complete connivance from the authorities, more than 60 attacks have taken place in Ukraine since the start of the year - physical attacks on church buildings and priests of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. All this, by the way, is happening in the center of enlightened and civilized Europe - I'd like to emphasize this," Ivanov said at a meeting in the Kremlin on Thursday of the presidential council for liaison with religious associations.

"The illegal change of government in Ukraine in February this year led to a very serious outbreak of radicalism in general and, as a result, gave rise to mass-scale violations of law, religious intolerance and violence against believers," he said. This "would have been impossible if, right from the outset, public and political processes had been dealt with through dialogue, without external interference," Ivanov said. "Russia has always advocated such an approach and will continue to advocate it." [read more...]


RUSSIA: STRUGGLES IN KHABAROVSK AND MOSCOW FOR PLACES OF WORSHIP
by Victoria Arnold, Forum 18 News Service

(16 Dec) The acquisition and retention of places of worship has long been difficult for many religious communities. For example, a Moscow Patriarchate parish was forced out of a pre-1917 hospital church in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk. A recent trend is localised public opposition to the state-financed construction of new Moscow Patriarchate churches. If communities, including Orthodox churches of different jurisdictions, seek to reclaim historical religious property, the process is rarely simple and has long been controversial. The 2010 Law on the Transfer of Religious Property to Religious Organisations has proved to be no guarantee that the restitution process will be easy or unchallenged, or indeed that religious property confiscated during the Soviet period will be returned at all.

In Moscow city officials have with no warning demolished a completed place of worship, Holy Trinity Pentecostal Church, which was destroyed with mechanical diggers soon after midnight on 6 September 2012. Officials were helped by police and men in plain clothes, who called themselves druzhinniki (civil volunteers). The application to the ECtHR was lodged on 29 November and has been registered as application number 75301/14, a court spokesperson confirmed to Forum 18 from Strasbourg on 12 December. It is not yet known when the court will decide on the admissibility of the case. [read more...]


UOC(KP) SYNOD CRITICIZES UOC(MP) SILENCE ON RUSSIAN AGGRESSION AGAINST UKRAINE
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(15 Dec) On December 13, 2014, a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by the Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine Filaret was held at the Synodal Hall of the Kyiv Patriarchate. Members of the Synod heard the message of Patriarch Filaret of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine on the state of relations with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). The Holy Synod of the UOC(KP) states that the dialogue with the Kyiv Patriarchate on overcoming the church dissent and the establishment of a unified national church in Ukraine has not yet started because of categorical unwillingness of the new leadership of the UOC(MP).

The UOC(KP) also notes that the Kyiv Patriarchate is open and ready for dialogue and expects reciprocal steps by the UOC(MP). The Synod noted as a positive event the signing by Orthodox hierarchs of the Memorandum of Rivne on a unified Ukraine and the one unified Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The UOC(KP) regrets that through the pressure of the UOC(MP) leaders Metropolitans Varfolomiy and Anatoly withdrew their signatures to the Memorandum. The Kyiv Patriarchate emphasizes that it has consistently opposed the use of violence or seizure of churches, and the change of jurisdiction by the UOC(MP) parishes is being carried out in accordance with the laws of Ukraine and parish statutes, so the accusations against the Kyiv Patriarchate of the alleged seizure of churches are groundless. [read more...]


BELARUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH WANTS MORE AUTONOMY FROM MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE
from The Moscow Times

(19 Dec) The Orthodox Church in Belarus has announced plans to seek greater autonomy from Moscow, as the Belarussian government this week expressed suspicion of Russia's political actions and concern over its currency. A meeting of Orthodox leaders in capital Minsk this week ruled to petition the Moscow-based Patriarchate to grant the Belarussian church "self-governed" status - similar to fellow churches in Moldova, Estonia and Latvia, according to a document published on the Belarussian Orthodox Church website. At the start of December, President Alexander Lukashenko denounced Russia for its "indecent" ban of meat imports from his country. Moscow had argued that the restriction was prompted by the supposed smuggling of European food through Belarus in a breach of anti-Western sanctions imposed by Russia.

Lukashenko took the rhetoric up a notch this week, saying Russia's "behavior" was a threat to Belarussian security and a cause for "suspicion," according to remarks published Tuesday on his administration's website. As the Russian ruble slumped, Lukashenko also demanded that Belarus' transactions with Russia be settled in dollars or euros, adding that Belarus would not let its own ruble take the fall along with the Russian one. The Belarussian Orthodox Church enjoys freedom of belief under Lukashenko's authoritarian rule, but demonstrates loyalty to the administration. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

UZBEKISTAN: STATE-SPONSORED MEDIA ATTACKS ON BELIEVERS CONTINUE
from
Forum 18 News Service

RUSSIAN CHURCH BUILDS A CULTURAL CENTER IN HAMBURG FOR 5 MILLION EUROS
from
Interfax-Religion

UKRAINIAN PASTOR KILLED, FAMILY NEEDS SUPPORT
from
Mission Network News

COUNTRY'S MAIN CHRISTMAS TREE WITH A WHITE DOVES APPEARED ON ST SOPHIA SQUARE
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

UOC(MP) ARCHBISHOP OPPOSES CHURCH FURNISHING UKRAINIAN ARMY WITH WEAPONS AND PROTECTIVE DEVICES
from
Russia Religion News

"CRIMEA'S CATHOLICS BEING DRIVEN UNDERGROUND," SAY CHURCH LEADERS
from
Catholic Herald

See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

Our first news article CAR EXPLODES AS LIGHTNING HITS IT DURING POLICE CHASE AFTER CHURCH ROBBERY underlines the danger of trying to steal from God. Many people today do not believe in divine intervention into the material world, but it is difficult otherwise to explain many phenomena as merely "natural events." At least five or six times our lives have been saved by divine intervention. God is "transcendent" - above and far greater than the material universe, but He is also "immanent" - everywhere present and fills all things. The supernatural is ultimate reality, and intersects with material reality in ways that are beyond our knowing.

Sergey Ivanov, Putin's chief of staff, inadvertently stated that Kyiv, not Moscow, is"the center of of enlightened and civilized Europe," as we read in our third news article KREMLIN OFFICIAL SLAMS VIOLENCE AGAINST MEMBERS OF MOSCOW-RULED ORTHODOX CHURCH IN UKRAINE. At the entrance to the Kremlin in Moscow is a marker embedded in the pavement indicating that Moscow is the center of the world, and Russian mythological "history" claims that Moscow is the "Third Rome" - the center of Christianity and the third and final version of the Roman Empire. The German word for "empire" is "Reich" and Hitler's Germany also claimed that title, calling itself the "Third Reich." But Russia's claim to that title is fading as events appear to be slipping out of the Kremlin's control and world oil prices and the Russian ruble sink to new lows almost daily. Russians, however, are a sturdy people and have endured worse economic hardship in the last 25 years.

As our fifth news article UOC(KP) SYNOD CRITICIZES UOC(MP) SILENCE ON RUSSIAN AGGRESSION AGAINST UKRAINE tells how the Kyiv Patriarchate is pressing the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine to come to terms with the fact that Ukraine as an independent country needs to have its own independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. What the Kyiv Patriarchate omits is the fact that virtually no other Orthodox jurisdictions in the world recognize its legitimacy: it broke off from the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which is recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, although it is a very small entity compared to the UOC(KP) and the UOC(MP). But it still exists and may in the new year become a factor in bringing the two larger bodies together.


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For a daily reminder to pray for the items below, go to My Daily Prayer Guide and click on the "H-N pr." link!


Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Just as lightning struck the church robbers, pray that people will resume believing in divine intervention.
Mon. - Intercede in prayer for Christians in Kazakhstan whose human right to worship freely is being violated.
Tue. - Ask the Lord for an end to the violence taking place between the two main Ukrainian Orthodox Church bodies.
Wed. - Pray that various Christian confessions in Russia will be able to recover and maintain their buildings.
Thu. - Ask God that dialog to establish one unified Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church will commence by both sides.
Fri. - Pray that the Orthodox Church in Belarus might proceed with plans to seek greater autonomy from Moscow.
Sat. - Thank the Lord for the examples of John of Kronstadt and Elizabeth the New Martyr, two great Russian saints.

Select to see full-size!   Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...

  Your fellow-servants,

  Bob & Cheryl

p.s. The Church is not a welfare program, it's more like an NFL team - No Free Lunch.