||FIRST, THE NEWS:
FOR THIS CRIPPLED OLD MAN, 'NO REASON TO LIVE ON THIS EARTH' — UNTIL HE FINDS JESUS
from: Christian Today
(13 Apr) An old man hobbling on crutches, looking for food to sustain him even for a day, with no one left in his family to care for him, finally met Jesus on the road — and his life was transformed. Vasile is from Moldova, an Eastern European country and former Soviet republic. It is one of the remote places in the world where missionaries from Operation Mobilization (OM) are busy helping the poor and spreading the Word of God.
In Moldova, OM is helping churches operate an elderly care project, along with many other undertakings all aimed at bringing Christ to the doorstep of the needy. Vasile is just one of the many beneficiaries of OM's elderly care project. "I was often thinking that there is no reason to live on this earth," he told an OM worker. "My wife died a few years ago, and I had an accident with an axe and lost a leg. I have remained alone and powerless." However, his bleak outlook in life faded when he met a woman from the local evangelical church while limping down the road on his crutches, the Mission Network News reports.
The woman, who worked in the elderly care centre run by OM Moldova, offered to take in Vasile to ease his plight. The church now provides him hot meals at least five days a week, easing his hunger as well as his loneliness. "I have spoken with him about the love of God; he listens with pleasure, asks many questions, and we are happy that we included him in the project," the woman shared. Vasile wondered why he is being treated with so much care by strangers, saying the love and care he is being given is beyond his imagination. "I like this church; the people there care for others whom nobody else cares about," he said. [read more...]
UZBEKISTAN: POOR JAIL CONDITIONS, TORTURE AND LARGE FINES FOR PROTESTANTS
by Mushfig Bayram: Forum 18 News Service
(13 Apr) Latipzhon Mamazhanov, a Protestant who was arrested and jailed on 12 March for 15 days in Fergana in eastern Uzbekistan, was released from jail on 28 March. This is one day after he should have been released under the law, Forum 18 News Service has learned. on 31 March. Police illegally raided Mamazhanov's home and those of other Christians in Fergana on 12 March searching for religious literature.
Mamazhanov was imprisoned in the Region's Kuva District Police Detention Centre where up to seven inmates were put in a cell designed for two people, no sanitary and hygiene rules are followed, and food is only given once a day. He and other prisoners who inststed they were innocent of crime were also tortured several times. "They can keep one Bible in their homes," Rustam Yegamberdiyev, Head of Fergana City Criminal Police, insisted to Forum 18. "But if they keep more than one then this means that they are intending to gather others in their homes for illegal prayers and meetings. It is exactly the same for Christians, Muslims and others." [read more...]
PASTOR FROM DONETSK TORTURED BY MILITANTS GAVE EVIDENCE IN INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
from: Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(10 Apr) Pastor Olexandr Khomchenko, who was brutally beaten and tortured by militants for praying for his country in the center of Donetsk, gave evidence as a witness in Brussels this week. Previous to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, a preliminary hearing on crimes of Russian military in Ukraine was held. On the day of departure to Belgium, Olexandr Khomchenko was noticeably nervous. He repeated several times, “Now I am flying to Brussels and thinking: is it necessary? Will they hear our voices?”
Three citizens of Ukraine who survived abuse, torture and humiliation in captivity are flying to Belgium for a preliminary hearing on crimes of Russian troops in Ukraine. Among them is Iryna Dovgan from the town of Yasynuvata, Donetsk region, who was arrested for assistance to the Ukrainian army. The woman was wrapped in a Ukrainian flag, tied to a pillar in Donetsk and they made her hold a sign saying "She kills our children. She is an agent of the hit squad.” Passers-by spit in her face and beat her.
Lviv student Yuri Yatsenko stayed in a Russian prison for a year. He was tried on trumped-up charges of possession of 41 grams of gunpowder. After the men left for the safe area, they gave evidence to Polish police. MEP Malgorzata Hosevska set out to gather information and prove at the Hague Tribunal that Russia is a sponsor of terrorists who are operating in Ukraine. [read more...]
THE KREMLIN CRACKS DOWN ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
from: The Trumpet
(07 Apr) During the Soviet era, thousands of churches were destroyed and millions of Christians were persecuted. Communist textbooks called religion “the opium of the people” and Christianity “a perverse reflection on the world.” In the 24 years since the fall of the Soviet Union, however, Orthodox Christianity has made an astonishing recovery. While only a third of Russians identified as Orthodox in 1991, over two thirds now identify as Russian Orthodox Christians. Yet the rise of the Orthodox Church hasn’t brought religious liberty to Russia. It has simply replaced the Communist Party as the ideological state apparatus used to forcibly unite Russians.
In a court case under way in southern Russia, Viktor Krasnov is facing up to a year in prison for writing “There is no God” on vKontakte (a Russian social media network similar to Facebook). The authorities became aware of this comment when an online user contacted them, claiming that Krasnov was offending Orthodox believers. Police raided Krasnov’s apartment and forced him to undergo a monthlong examination at a psychiatric ward. Once he was deemed fit for trial, he was charged under a Russian law that makes it illegal to insult the feelings of religious believers.
It isn’t just atheists who are no longer granted religious freedom in Russia. Alexey Koptev was arrested in 2011 after undercover police officers established that he belonged to the Jehovah’s Witnesses [pseudo-]Christian denomination. In 2009, the city of Taganrog banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses denomination for propagating the exclusivity and supremacy of its religion. This denomination now shares the same legal status as the Islamic State and the National Socialist Society. [read more...]
A FINE IDEA: CHURCH OFFICIAL SUGGESTS FINING CLIENTS OF PROSTITUTES
(14 Apr) The head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations Vladimir Legoyda suggests following the example of France in struggle against prostitution where they decided to fine buyers of 'love for a night.' "As long as there exists unlimited demand for services of prostitutes, the sexual exploitation of women - often deceived, deprived of documents, forced to sell their bodies - will remain the sad reality. It is impossible both to persecute those who sell women and protect those who buy them for a night," Legoyda writes in his article published in the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
He reminds that the French parliament has recently approved of a law envisaging fines for those who use services of prostitutes. First of all, the law aims at preventing and reducing sexual exploitation of women. "Certain American channels showed reports about displeased prostitutes who would probably have less work. What costs more for the society: the loss of clients for women of easy virtue or loss of female human dignity who willingly or by force become live goods, whose buyers, until recently, did not run any risks? The question is rhetorical," Legoyda says. [read more...]
MUSLIMS HELP CHRISTIANS REBUILD CHURCH IN BULGARIA
from: Christian Times
(12 Apr) Muslims helped both in raising funds and in restoring a Christian church in the small Bulgarian village of Kozlets, and the mayor expressed that this an example of tolerance among those of different faiths. According to Haskovo.net, the bell tower of the hundred-year old Church of the Archangel Michael was in brink of collapse. Village mayor Kadir Beynur explained that the Christians in the village were worried that the roof would fall down on top of them and crush them. With this, they decided to raise funds, and Christian Today says the Muslims in the community were able to come up with around Ј800, or more than US$1,100, to help restore it.
With the money raised along with the materials donated and labor offered to them, they were able to not only fix the bell tower but also to renovate the interior of the church, change the windows, and fix the fence. The church sexton said that everything was donated, from the tables to the floor mats. "This is an absolute sign that not only people becoming more strong in faith, but in a village where there are Muslims and Christians, all have played their part, rolled up their sleeves and taken care of their houses of prayer," Beynur said. "Kozlets is a true example of tolerance, especially in these times when it is so important and necessary." [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
ARMENIAN CHURCH LEADERS APPEAL FOR NATIONAL UNITY ON LANDMARK KARABAKH TRIP
from Armenia Now
INDIGENOUS UKRAINIAN MISSIONARIES KILLED, CHRISTIAN AID MISSION GRIEVES
from Mission Network News
CONTROVERSIAL SECT-FIGHTER GETS ESTABLISHMENT PRESS ATTENTION
18 FIELD CHAPELS ARE OPEN IN UKRAINE'S ATO ZONE
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
UKRAINIANS TURN THEIR BACK ON CHRIST, CANONICAL CHURCH AND MOVE TO PERISH - HEGUMEN OF MT. ATHOS MONASTERY
SERGEY RYAKHOVSKY: THE FELLOW WITH HIS FINGER IN THE DIKE
from Russian Evangelical Alliance
METROPOLITAN HILARION OF VOLOKOLAMSK MEETS WITH U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
WHERE DO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES WORK IN RUSSIA?
from Russia Beyond the Headlines
OBSERVATIONS OF U.S. SOLDIERS HELPING PEOPLE FOR A HIGHER PURPOSE
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
We thank the Lord for Operation Mobilization mentioned in our first news article, a youth-oriented mission that in recent years has directed more of its efforts toward social ministry, expressing the Gospel in practical actions. People are drawn to Christ when they see Him in action through His followers!
It is disheartening to read about three Christians being tortured in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine: see PASTOR FROM DONETSK TORTURED BY MILITANTS GAVE EVIDENCE IN INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE. Keep this country and its people in your prayers! It is not enough to simply feel sorry for them: prayer releases spiritual powers to do good in a given situation. Several of our "Other News Headlines" also deal with Ukraine.
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TRUE FREEDOM OR "LIBERATION"?
Do you sometimes feel like the proverbial Frog in the Kettle? Are you constantly trying to grab just one more bit of pleasure, thinking everything is OK, life will keep on being just fine, like this frog trying to zap one more fly with its tongue, while the fire under the kettle is making the water hotter and hotter? This is called "the normalcy bias" - we tend to think that the way our life has always been is the way life will always be in the future: we're getting along OK now even though we're "a bit overweight" (actually obese), or "drinking a little too much" (actually an alcoholic), so we don't really face up to the fact that we're far down the path to having diabetes, knee failure, cirrhosis of the liver, or heart disease. The sweet slavery to our passions has blinded us to the reality of its consequences.
For centuries, the people of Israel in ancient times were held in slavery, first in Egypt, next under the Philistines, and then under the Babylonians and Persians. They were trapped in the mindset of captivity. But the prophet Jeremiah brought words of comfort and hope from the Lord: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope for your future. You shall call on Me, and you shall go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart. I will be found of you, says the Lord, and I will return you from captivity" (Jeremiah 29:11-14). The theme of ancient Israel's struggle for liberation from slavery has been taken up by slaves not only from times of the U.S. Civil War, but even as far back as during the Greco-Roman Empire, where approximately one-third of the entire population were slaves - simple property of their masters. Today the phrase "liberation struggle" has taken on a different meaning, but more about that later.
First, let's consider what Jeremiah the prophet actually said: Yes, he told the Israelites that the Lord had high hopes and big plans for them - He isn't a big ogre like Zeus up on a cloud who wants to zap us with a thunderbolt, or an angry pagan god like Molech who needs to be appeased by human sacrifice. God - the real God - is love! But God requires something from us: He says - "You must call on Me, and you must go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart." We must call out to God - "Save me from this slavery! I'm sorry I did some really stupid stuff and messed up my life! Forgive me, and I'll change my ways!" It's not merely wishful thinking that God will somehow wave a magic wand and sprinkle some fairy dust on us. The real God isn't a fairy tale magician, He's a Person Who wants a personal relationship with us. But we must "search for Him with all our heart" in order to find Him and be released from captivity of the slavery to sin.
The promises that Isaiah, Jeremiah and the other prophets foretold finally came true: "The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him [Jesus]. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, Because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim release to the captives, Recovering of sight to the blind, To deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.' He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on Him. He began to tell them, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'" (Luke 4:17-21). Christ has come - He wants to release and deliver us from our captivity!
Continue reading in our Hosken-News Blog.
Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. The Church is not a welfare program, it's more like an NFL team - No Free Lunch.