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||FIRST, THE NEWS:
MORE THAN 100,000 MARCH FOR LIFE IN ROMANIA, MOLDOVA
from: Lifesite News
(29 Mar.) More than 8,000 pro-lifers marched for the sanctity of life in the nation's capital and hundreds of thousands more marched in cities across Romania and Moldova on Saturday. The marches, organized locally, coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. Bucharest participants held signs saying, "Every child is an angel coming into the world," and "Women deserve more than abortion."
Orthodox priests and leaders of all six major Christian bodies in Romania united to stand for life, including the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church in Romania, the Greek-Catholic Church of Romania, the Christian Baptists, the Evangelical Church of Romania, and the Pentecostals.
Pro-life marches were held in Pitesti, Cluj-Napoca, Iasi, Arad, Timisoara, Alba Iulia, and 280 other cities. Events were streamed live on Facebook. The number of participants in Romania was approximately 110,000. The cities with the biggest turnout were Bacau (10,000), Oradea (11,000) and Bucharest.
The focus was to bring attention to helping support women in crisis pregnancies. This year's theme was "Help the Mother and the Child! They Depend on You." "Our message (is) focused on the need to support women ...who want to give birth but they are in difficult situations," Alexandra Nadane of Students for Life (Association Studenti Pentru Viata) explained. [read more...]
KYRGYZSTAN: IMPUNITY FOR BODY SNATCHING OFFICIALS
by Mushfig Bayram: Forum 18 News Service
(22 Mar.) The criminal cases brought after two mobs incited by officials in October 2016 twice exhumed the body of Kanygul Satybaldiyeva have ended, with just four suspended sentences and one acquittal. No officials have been tried or convicted and no further criminal cases or investigations are underway.
Satybaldiyeva was a deceased member of the Isa Mashiyakh (Jesus Christ) Protestant Church, in the south-western Jalal-Abad Region's Ala-Buka District. Her family still do not know for certain where she is buried, officials having claimed that she has been buried secretly in open countryside.
On 27 February 2017 Judge Gulmira Kodjobekova of Ala-Buka District Court gave three-year suspended prison sentences to two Ala-Buka residents - not the jail sentences of between three and five years the law requires. Judge Kodjobekova also presided over the first trial in January, which ended with one acquittal and two suspended sentences. Judge Kodjobekova has now been promoted to a new judicial post in the capital Bishkek. [read more...]
(29 Mar.) Christian Churches of Zaporizhia region announced common initiatives to mark Easter and the celebration of 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Members of the Spiritual Council of Christian Churches of Zaporizhia were reported as saying this during a press conference held on March 28, at the "Journalist" press center of Zaporizhia Regional National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.
During the press conference, the spiritual leaders announced the activities and invited to take part as believers and all Zaporizhia residents. Now, as part of the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the perpetual unceasing prayer of Protestant Christian Churches continues.
Zaporizhia region took the baton on March 26 from Volyn region. The solemn prayer with passing further the baton – to believers of Khmelnytskyy region – will be held in Kyiv on the street of Heroes of the Revolution of Dignity on April 2 at 18:00 within a traditional weekly prayer against aggression, for peace and for Ukraine, which continues in the city for over three years, and involves parishioners and representatives of various churches.
On April 8, from 10:00 a.m. in Pushkin Park, as part of the solemnities of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the charity activity for cleaning and landscaping this green land plot starts. The church leaders also confirmed their intention to arrange in that green zone a family "Park of the Biblical Period," with areas for children, cafes, places of rest. All citizens are invited to participate in cleaning of the park. [read more...]
RUSSIAN CHURCH SAYS PROPOSED REFERENDUM ON CATHEDRAL IS 'NONSENSE'
from Radio Free Europe
(29 Mar.) The Russian Orthodox Church has sharply criticized a proposed referendum on the fate of St. Isaac's Cathedral, a St. Petersburg landmark that is at the center of a bitter dispute. Russian media quoted church spokesman Vladimir Legoida as saying late on March 28 that the proposal for a citywide vote was "nonsense" from a legal point of view. He also said it would be strange and counterproductive.
Legoida spoke after the St. Petersburg electoral commission approved a proposal to hold a citywide referendum on the iconic cathedral's status following a January decision by the city officials to return it to the control of the Russian Orthodox Church. The decision has sparked protests and increased concerns among secular Russians and people of other faiths that the dominant church is gaining too much influence.
St. Isaac's, founded in 1818, is one of the top tourist sites in St. Petersburg and has been a museum since 1917, the year of the Bolshevik Revolution. The proposal for a referendum is subject to approval by the city legislature. [read more...]
PATRIARCH KIRILL PRAYS FOR THOSE KILLED IN ST. PETERSBURG, CALLS FOR VIOLENCE TO BE FOUGHT
(03 Apr.) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has extended condolences in regard of people's deaths in the explosion in the St. Petersburg metro. "The impudent crime that has been committed cannot have any justification. The Russian Orthodox Church strongly condemns aggressive actions against civilians and calls on society to counter any manifestations of violence," the patriarch said in his condolence to St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko and Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, which was cited by the patriarch's press service on Monday.
The patriarch called on the St. Petersburg clergy to provide all necessary spiritual assistance and support to those affected by the tragedy. "May the Almighty One send His abundant assistance to rescuers, medical workers, law enforcement officials and everyone who is working to deal with the aftermath of the disaster," the text said. The patriarch said he is praying for prompt healing of the wounded and the repose of the victims' souls. [read more...]
(29 Mar.) Even though the war in Ukraine often fails to make the nightly news, the conflict eating away at the country is far from over. Slavic Gospel Association’s Bret Laird was recently in Eastern Ukraine, where the fighting is heavy, and shares: "Last week I was traveling with a team of five Ukrainian pastors and ministers to some of the frontline towns of Eastern Ukraine; these are really being hit hard by artillery strikes and a lot of fighting. We were there and we were visiting Evangelical churches that are in those towns and ministering the Gospel and to the daily needs of the people, despite great risk to themselves."
One day, a bomb hit the street that Laird had been surveying just an hour after Laird had left. The bomb left at least one elderly woman injured. In fact, Laird was so close to the fighting during his time in Ukraine that he could regularly feel the shock waves from bombs and could even hear the machine guns in the distance. Now, fighting has become so bad that many frontline towns are planning for or are currently evacuating their areas.
Yet, despite the physical destruction taking place, there seems to be an almost spiritual revival happening in Ukraine. "God is doing amazing work, as the scriptures say, what man intends for evil God uses for good," Laird explains. "And so we’re highly encouraged by the incredible spiritual harvest that is coming as a result of our crisis evangelism efforts." [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
RUSSIA: JEHOVAH'S WITNESS ACTIVITY LARGELY HALTED
from Forum 18 News Service
HEALTHY DEBATE IS NEEDED IN GEORGIA DISPUTE
from Russian Evangelical Alliance
DRAFT LAW SUBMITTED TO UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TO PROHIBIT ABORTION AT WOMAN'S WILL
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
UKRAINE NAMED THIRD WORST IN SUFFERING
from Mission Network News
NEW RUSSIA IS QUARTER-CENTURY LATE ON BURYING LENIN - METROPOLITAN HILARION
EUROPEAN COURT TO EXAMINE CASE OF RUSSIAN FINED FOR COLLECTIVE READING OF BIBLE
IMPACTING UZBEKISTAN FOR CHRIST
from Mission Eurasia
97% OF MOLODVANS RESPONDING IDENTIFY AS ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS
ARMENIAN PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM SPEAKS AT JESUS TOMB REOPENING CEREMONY
from Public Radio of Armenia
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This issue was delayed because Cheryl and I, together with our son Rob and my sister Vicki, were travelling from Friday through Sunday to Massachussetts, where we attended the memorial service for my brother-in-law Jon Masso who passed away following open heart surgery in February. He and my sister Phyllis had just retired last summer after serving 18 years as missionaries in Kenya. They returned there for a few months to wrap things up, when Jon had a heart attack.
Our next issue will also very likely be delayed because we will be celebrating Good Friday and Pascha (Easter) on 14, 15 and 16 of April. This year Christians in East and West celebrate Christ's resurrection on the same date!
The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary is celebrated on 25 March, which is why MORE THAN 100,000 MARCHED FOR LIFE IN ROMANIA, MOLDOVA on that date, as our first news article shows. If Mary had aborted Jesus, our salvation would not have happened, because: "Without the Incarnation there is no Salvation."
It is sickening to learn that no Kyrgyz officials have been been tried or convicted in the case KYRGYZSTAN: IMPUNITY FOR BODY SNATCHING OFFICIALS - the incident has been swept under the carpet. But it is encouraging that Christians in Ukraine can agree to celebrate Easter in spite of doctrinal differences: CHRISTIANS OF ZAPORIZHIA TO CELEBRATE EASTER WITH JOINT INITIATIVES.
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The "You Will Not Die" Lie, Part 2
How many people have you known who, when disaster was imminent, simply stuck their heads in the sand and ignored the impending catastrophe? Hurricanes and floods can have days of warning ahead of the events, and yet some people will decide to "stick it out" because they're convinced it won't be so bad. It's is just like when the old serpent whispered in Eve's ear - "You will not surely die!"
This is called "linear thinking" or "the normalcy bias" - the frame of mind that people enter when facing a disaster. People with a normalcy bias have difficulty reacting to something they haven't experienced before. Perhaps they've lived through a category 2 hurricane, so they convince themselves that a category 5 hurricane won't be much worse. They also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.
You might have heard the joke about the man who jumped off the top of the Empire State Building: as he was passing the 34th floor, another man stuck his head out the window and said, "How's it going?" And the first guy replied, "So far, so good!" You can't outsmart gravity. That's "linear thinking" or "the normalcy bias" - the idea that the way things have been is the way they will continue to be. If I'm not dead yet, this means that whatever I do, I'll just continue on living.
The Psalmist wrote, "A senseless man doesn't know, neither does a fool understand this: Though the wicked spring up as the grass, and all the evil-doers flourish, they will be destroyed forever" (Psalm 92:6-7). The senseless or foolish person thinks, "I can keep on overeating, or smoking, or stealing, or lying, etc. because I'm not dead yet or haven't been caught yet." But then the laws of God, nature or society catch up with them.
As Christians, we can become discouraged when we see the rich and powerful of this world getting away with cheating or committing crimes and not being caught and punished. This has been going on for centuries:
"O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs, o God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth. Rise up, you judge of the earth. Pay back the proud what they deserve. O Lord, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph? They pour out arrogant words. All the evil-doers boast. They break your people in pieces, O Lord, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the alien, and murder the fatherless. They say, 'The Lord will not see, neither will Jacob's God consider'" (Psalm 94:1-7).
And then the Psalmist answers this dilemma: "Consider, you senseless among the people; you fools, when will you be wise? He who implanted the ear, won't He hear? He who formed the eye, won't He see? He who disciplines the nations, won't He punish? He who teaches man knows. The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile" (Psalm 94:8-11).
Social pressure has a huge influence on us adults as well, not just on teenagers feeling their hormones. When you're driving along at the 55 m.p.h. speed limit, literally all the other cars are passing you and there's a big SUV tailgating you, flashing its headlights, don't you feel pressured to speed up and just "go with the flow"? One little car against a whole stream of bigger cars doesn't stand a chance.
But let's say you're in the Army Reserves, and you're driving an APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) with 12 reservists in it, along with a convoy of other APCs and Army trucks along the same highway, going the 55 m.p.h. speed limit. Nobody - but NOBODY - honks their horns at you! This is why we need to form "thick" bonds in genuine Christian communities, as described in The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher's new bestseller book.
The motives of our heart are not hidden from God. He knows when we're not even trying to appear righteous, and especially when we're trying to appear righteous but actually we're deceiving people. We can't deceive God. Sooner or later He catches us in our self-deceit. It's time to "face the music," to sincerely repent and change our ways.
YOU CAN ALSO READ THIS at my Hosken-News Blog, and write your COMMENTS there!
Please remember to pray for Christians in Socialist countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.