||FIRST, THE NEWS:
A CHRISTIAN FROM KYRGYZSTAN SETS OUT TO FIND FREEDOM AMONG 'REAL AMERICANS'
(18 Jan.) I am the youngest of eight girls. Yes, eight girls. We all became Christians in a Muslim country. My second-oldest sister, when she was in college in Kyrgyzstan’s capital city of Bishkek, met an American woman who was Christian. My sister learned about her faith and about her, and she really loved that. She was the first one in our family who became Christian.
Of course, when she came home from college, my mom freaked out. She didn’t understand. My parents called themselves Muslims, but they didn’t fast or pray or go to the mosque. My dad worked in government. He believed in God but didn’t practice any religion. I turned to God in middle school. One boy was bullying me, saying I was a bad kid because I didn’t have a dad – he died when I was 3. I ran to the bathroom, sat on the floor and cried. That’s when my heart opened up, and I asked God into my life to protect me.
As a believer in my country, you have to gather in secret. Kyrgyzstan’s constitution claims to provide religious freedom, but the 2008 Religion Law criminalizes unregistered religious activity. Organizations applying for registration must have at least 200 adult citizen members. Before the law passed, you only needed 10. The church I went to had about 40 members. Every week we met in the basement of an office building, we ran the risk of being caught and punished. We had to hide. We knew we didn’t have enough people to register, but at the same time, we could not stop worshipping. So our church operated underground – always scared to welcome in strangers: they could be government spies. [read more...]
AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE AND KYIV PATRIARCHATE IN SEARCH FOR SOLUTIONS TO UKRAINIAN ORTHODOXY ISSUE
from: Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(16 Jan.) On January 12, 2017, with the blessing of Patriarch Filaret of the Kyiv Patriarchate, members of the commission for dialogue with the Ecumenical Patriarchate met with representative members of the Holy Synod and the Holy Patriarchate of Constantinople at the official residence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Phanar (Istanbul, Turkey).
According to the press-center of the Kyiv Patriarchate, “views on the current state of Orthodoxy in Ukraine were exchanged at great length.” On behalf of Patriarch Filaret, the UOC KP delegation communicated to the Ecumenical Patriarchate representatives the position of the Kyiv Patriarchate regarding the solutions to the problems that are faced by Ukrainian Orthodox believers due to the destructive non-canonical actions of the Moscow Patriarchate.
It has been emphasized that the Kyiv Patriarchate, unlike the ROC, officially supported the decisions of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, held in Crete in June last year. Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have been provided with the copies of the UOC-KP Church calendar for 2017, which presents the translation of the Pan-Orthodox Council’s documents undertaken by the Kyiv Patriarchate. [read more...]
KYRGYZSTAN: NO EFFECTIVE PUNISHMENT FOR BODY SNATCHING
by Mushfig Bayram: Forum 18 News Service
(20 Jan.) In October 2016 officials co-operated with mobs who twice dug up the body of deceased Protestant Kanygul Satybaldiyeva in Kyrgyzstan's south-western Jalal-Abad Region. After prolonged delays, the authorities put on trial three men out of the more than 70 people - including state officials and two imams - who either dug up the body twice, buried it in an unknown location without the family's knowledge or consent, or did nothing to prevent the crime.
On 12 January 2017 the three men brought to trial - none of whom are officials or imams - were convicted and given suspended jail sentences. However, the Criminal Code requires jail sentences with deprivation of liberty, not suspended sentences, for this type of crime. A human rights defender, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals, commented: "The authorities will not prosecute their own people. But of course they will prosecute simple citizens. Obviously those who were prosecuted could not have done it on their own; they carried out the orders of the imams and officials."
In early November 2016 a police officer showed Zhyldyz Azayeva, Satybaldiyeva's daughter, a patch of open grassland 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the nearest settlement in Jalal-Abad Region. He insisted the authorities had buried her mother there. The land was not a cemetery. He did not explain why police officers allegedly buried her there, nor gave any proof that he is telling the truth. As of 20 January 2017, officials have still not told Azayeva or other family members what exactly they did with her mother's body. [read more...]
CHURCHES BELONGING TO MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE IN UKRAINE ATTACKED 13 TIMES OVER PAST YEAR
(19 Jan.) Churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the Moscow Patriarchate have been attacked 13 times over the past year, UOC Information and Education Department head Bishop Kliment of Irpin said. "Only the UOC has been attacked, and the [Ukrainian] Interior Ministry hasn't solved a single crime in this time. Even following a blatant attack on the church in Babi Yar over the summer, when some thugs pelted it with Molotov cocktails, the law enforcement closed the case citing the absence of component elements of a crime, although there is even a video online in which unidentified people attack the church and shout nationalistic slogans," the website of the Ukrainian newspaper Vesti quoted Bishop Kliment as saying.
Some of the attacks took place in Kyiv, including those in which unidentified people set fire to the churches in the Pushkin Park and near the tuberculosis clinic. Moreover, attackers threw Molotov cocktails at the St. Peter Mogila church and tried to set fire to a church on the grounds of a children's infection clinic, he said.
Since the start of hostilities in Ukraine, members of other Orthodox denominations have occupied dozens of UOC churches, including with support from radical nationalists and local authorities. The UOC attributes the incidents to the Ukrainian leadership's desire to set up a local Orthodox Church in Ukraine by separating the UOC from the Moscow Patriarchate. [read more...]
2016: OUR UKRAINIAN CHURCHES AT A TIME OF WAR IN UKRAINE
from: The Ukrainian Weekly
(212 Jan.) The year 2016 for Ukrainian Churches was a busy one, and complicated by the ongoing war being waged by Russia. But there were notable accomplishments and attempts at healing spiritual disunity – not only between the Catholics and the Orthodox – but also between the meddling of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) via the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) and the divisions that have fractured the other Orthodox Churches in Ukraine: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC).
The ROC and its affiliated UOC-MP announced in January the establishment of a new staff in the synod department of external church affairs to blacken the reputation of the UOC-KP, to block the Ecumenical Patriarchate from recognizing the Kyiv Church as canonical and to destabilize religious conditions across Ukraine. This move was seen by many experts as part of the hybrid war that Russia is waging against Ukraine and the West. This was the latest attempt using religious groups in Ukraine in filing complaints with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe of religious intolerance in Ukraine and giving Moscow a degree of deniability. Many of these “religious groups” are fronts for Russian Security Services (FSB) operations.
Pope Francis, in his annual New Year’s meeting with heads of diplomatic missions of foreign states and international organizations accredited to the Holy See, met with Ambassador Tetiana Izhevska of Ukraine. In his address on that day, January 11, the pope commented on the situation in Ukraine, urging an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and encouraged increased support from the international community, individual countries and humanitarian organizations. Pope Francis assured the ambassador that he would “never forsake Ukraine.” [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
AZERBAIJAN: TWO BAPTISTS FINED 3-4 MONTHS' WAGES, POLICE CLAIM "EVERYTHING WAS DONE WELL"
from Forum 18 News Service
UKRAINE: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
IN MOLDOVA: INTEREST FREE, A BIBLICAL APPROACH TO LENDING
from Mission Network News
OVER 1.8 MILLION PEOPLE TOOK PART IN EPIPHANY ICE-WATER BATHING IN RUSSIA
WILL RUSSIA RESPECT THE BIBLE? VYBORG COURT DECIDES NOT TO EXAMINE NEW TESTAMENT FOR EXTREMISM
from Religiia i pravo
PRESENTATION: ‘THE VIOLATION OF RELIGIOUS RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS: INTOLERANCE, DISCRIMINATION AND PERSECUTION’
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
SONA’S TESTIMONY: FROM EMPTINESS TO HOPE AND MEANING
from Mission Eurasia
A WORD ON THE EVE OF THE LORD’S BAPTISM, BY HIEROMARTYR THADDEUS (USPENSKY)
HUNDREDS PROTEST TRANSFER OF ST. PETERSBURG LANDMARK BACK TO THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
from Fox News
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*** Unfortunately, our Hosken-News.info website was down because of a DDoS attack for two weeks.
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But this did not stop me from publishing my daily news articles: you can still follow me and SHARE my posts on:
As you can see from the above articles, we try to present differing points of view regarding the situation with Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries. Some articles portray the Russian viewpoint, others portray the Ukrainian or Western viewpoints. This disturbs some people: recently a bearded Russian fellow on Facebook posted a comment below one of my news posts, saying what I posted was false, that I didn't know anything about Russia and I was not even Orthodox. I replied that I've lived in Russia 17 years, I was indeed Orthodox and I was simply expressing a point of view. He retorted that "points of view" are worthless. It seems that to some people, freedom of thought and expressing various opinions must be stamped out if they don't agree with the "Party line." Shortly after this incident and immediately after I posted this link with my comment - "This young man, just married, would not stop speaking out against Putin's dictatorship. For this he's undergoing gruesome torture in Siberian prison. Will you SHARE his story?" - my five websites were knocked down by a DDoS attack.
I am publishing this issue of Hosken-News on my Blogspot blog - I hope this is only a temporary arrangement. After a little digging, I found out that 95% of the attack requests on my main Agape-Biblia website were coming from the Russian Federation. As the article Weakness not strength behind Putin’s new doctrine for broader information war abroad and at home explains, information attacks and shutting down opposing points of view are becoming a central feature of Russian foreign policy. This has become evident in the recent campaign for U.S. President, and now is evident with my websites.
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Freedom of Religion and Speech
Freedom of belief, thought and its expression is a basic human right, but also a direct threat to any totalitarian regime, regardless of whether that regime is Socialist or Islamic. In fact, there are many similarities between the two. David Horowitz, once an acclaimed author and hero of the Left, lost his faith in Leftism when his bookkeeper was murdered by the Black Panthers. That led him to eventually become a leading Conservative writer. He has written the New York Times best-seller book Unholy Alliance - Radical Islam and the American Left that details how American Leftists, once enamored with various communist totalitarian regimes that now are fading from the scene, have switched their attention and affection to radical Islamic terrorist regimes.
Why would Leftists be attracted to and supportive of radical Islam? First, because hard-line Socialism demands total devotion and unquestioning blind obedience to the dogmas of Socialism, just as radical Islam demands of its followers similar total commitment unto death. The above book goes into great detail on this point. But there's another important reason: both Socialism and radical Islam attempt to offer an earthly utopia, a paradise right here on earth that would supplant the Kingdom of Heaven: both Socialism and radical Islam thus offer a "decapitated Christianity," a Christless version of Christian community, a pseudo-gospel that is sanitized of Christ. Both attempt to build an all-encompassing regime in which the state owns or controls every aspect of life. Hard-line Socialism describes Jesus as just a man, a radical revolutionary who gave his life for the cause of primitive communism. Radical Islam also describes Jesus as just a man, a prophet, but definitely not the Son of God. So both Socialism and radical Islam are anti-Christ: "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.... We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world" (1 John 4:3a & 14).
Unfortunately, there are some distortions of Christianity that also demand total devotion and unquestioning blind obedience, thus cancelling out human freedom. Christ said to His followers - "If you remain in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free"(John 8:31-32). The Good News of Christ brings freedom! Freedom comes from knowing the truth, and this comes from becoming a disciple of Christ. So how did those above-mentioned distortions come about that negate human freedom?
You may recall what I wrote in the 12 Nov. 2016 issue of Hosken-news about Romans 5:12 - "Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, in that all sinned." When St. Jerome translated the original Greek New Testament into the Latin Vulgate, this verse became: "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world and by sin death: and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned" (1899 Douay-Rhiems Catholic Bible). Note "in whom" (masculine pronoun) vs. the original Greek - "in that" (neuter pronoun). Based mainly on this verse in the Latin Vulgate, St. Augustine developed his doctrine of original sin and guilt passing on from Adam to all men. And even though most modern Bible translations including the modern Catholic Bible have corrected this translation error, the Western doctrine of original sin has remained.
St. John Chrysostom wrote in the fourth century: "Paul inquires as to how death came into the world and why it prevailed. It came in and prevailed through the sin of one man and continued because all have sinned. Thus once Adam fell, even those who had not eaten of the tree became mortal because of him." But St. Augustine wrote in the fifth century: "Everyone, even little children, have broken God's covenant, not indeed in virtue of any personal action but in virtue of mankind's common origin in that single ancestor in whom all have sinned." Augustine further wrote that without God's grace we are "posse pecare et non posse non pecare" (able to sin and not able not to sin). Only after receiving God's grace to we become in this life "posse pecare et posse non pecare" (able to sin and able to not sin), and in heaven "non posse pecare" (not able to sin).
What does this have to do with human freedom? Precisely this: if each and every human being is inherently guilty at birth of Adam's sin and totally depraved and unable to not sin, then we have no freedom. We are predestined either to eternal damnation or to eternal salvation, and we have no free choice in the matter - it's totally up to God's sovereign will. But if we have no freedom to believe in Christ or not to believe in Him, to choose either to sin or not to sin, then there's no moral responsibility. And if there's no moral responsibility, there is no such thing as sin - no right and wrong, no good and evil, we're just robots programmed to do what the Master Programmer coded into our genes. So the whole doctrine of total depravity and predestination collapses into a heap of contradictions.
But this distorted form of Christianity has led directly to the rise of atheism and communism in the West: how could there be such a god that would willy-nilly damn the vast majority of humankind to eternal hellfire? This is why Socialism rejects God and Christ, and believes in radical determinism of humanity and history... a secularized form of predestination, but without God.
Human nature was weakened by the Fall and is subject to death, but we still have freedom to choose doing right or wrong. We have a tendency toward sin, but not a fatalistic destiny. We are free to seek the truth about life, death and eternity, but we are also morally responsible to make the right choices in this area. Having this freedom also implies allowing others to have the same freedom of belief, thought and expression, freedom of the press, and to peaceably assemble. Totalitarian idologies and theologies deny these rights. Although they may claim to advocate "toleration," it means the other side must tolerate them and their cohorts, but they do not tolerate outsiders. They will riot, scream and destroy property in a show of their "toleration" of others' viewpoints.
This means that genuine Christians must admit that we don't know all the truth: we know Him Who said - "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me" (John 14:6). But even our knowledge of Him is incomplete, and so we admit that we could be mistaken on some points. Thus we need to practice genuine toleration of others who extend the same toleration to us. To those, however, who are intolerant, who possess a totalitarian mindset, we must be very careful not to give up our positions, but to try to find some common ground on which we can peaceably agree.
YOU CAN ALSO READ THIS at my Hosken-News Blog, and write your COMMENTS there!
Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. This life is preparation for eternity. When we fully grasp this fact, we will live only for eternal values.