DJ A’Cube Presents The Urban Gospel Mixtape – “SWITCH: Vol. 1″

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DJ A’Cube, one of Nigeria’s most prolific and talented DJs is finally out with his mixtape series branded SWITCH. Here is Volume One, a groovy mix containing up tempo, urban gospel hits from top award winning inspirational artistes from across the globe including Michelle Williams, Nikki Laoye, Sammie Okposo, Frank Edwards, Sabina and many more.

According to the multi-talented DJ who is also an On Air Personality at Praiseworld Radio (Africa’s #1 Online Gospel Radio Station), the name SWITCH was inspired by Psalms 30:11 which talks about God turning mourning into dancing.

DJ A’Cube explains that the project is all about Christian Entertainment and lifestyle; providing a SWITCH – an alternative for people who want to have a good time and require quality music entertainment with all its fun and perks and yet remains positive with non-derogatory lyrics.

He adds that “Young Christians are on a daily basis getting hooked to an unconventional lifestyle because they feel other options don’t exist. Hence the need to let them know that it exists by creating this platform for a SWITCH to occur”.

The SWITCH project is a huge one that would be unveiled in different phases with a mixtape release every month till the end of the year.

Volume 1 is simply a foretaste of more to come from the stables of VerticalMixx Productions.

Are you ready for the SWITCH? Press play and let the #SWITCHMIXX begin!!! It’s available for FREE DOWNLOAD.

DOWNLOAD

 

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New Music: GS – “Like That Tho” feat. Bizzle

I’M DOIN’ JESUS artist GS releases his FIRST SINGLE “Like That Tho” featuring God Over Money’s Bizzle. This collab has been long awaited since their first time on a track together in 2011. The wait was definitely worth it. GS also announces he is working on a NEW ALBUM due Nov 2014.  #LikeThatTho Show some love, Purchase “Like That Tho” on iTunes today!

Video: 6th Way St. – #BARS

 

June 2014, we released our first EP under the name 6 Way St. The project was entitled “TGFKAL” (The Group Formerly Known As Level 3:16). From that project came the song, #BARS, that has now turned into our first official music video as 6 Way St.!

In August of this year we spent some time with our very dear friend and brother, director, genius, Adam Tillman-Young out in Los Angeles, CA at Magic Gate Studios (@themagicgate). We had such an incredible time out there. Check out what we came up with…..

Video: Mike REAL – “So High Up / The Immortals”

 

Mike Real Releases Evangelism Themed Video

St. Louis, MO—October 15, 2014—Newest Clear Sight Music recording artist, Mike REAL, releases music video to songs “So High Up” and “The Immortals.” The video begins with a scenic background from his hometown of St. Louis, MO. “We were able to capture a great vantage point of downtown,” said FLAME, the label’s owner.

Mike REAL said, “I wrote the song ‘The Immortals’ as a reflection of my experience and the experience of many others that I know. It contains a bold, un-adulterated, and explicit call to place your faith in Jesus. It was messages like these that God used to draw me to Himself. My prayer is that He does the same for others who hear the song and who might not have been challenged in this way.”

“So High Up” is available for free download at NoiseTrade.com/mikereal. “The Immortals” is from the album Jesus or Nothing, and is available anywhere music is sold.

 

A Letter to the Family – DJ Maj (TobyMac’s DJ)

 

Colossians 3:16

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

As one who has labored in the in various aspects of the Christian music field for close to 2 decades, I’ve been blessed to see the genre grow on many levels.  I sit watching one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the genre as hip hop begins to finally take root and flourish as never before.  Running parallel to this Kingdom advancement is an outright assault from our enemy (Satan) who desires to divide and conquer.

I’ve seen the ongoing conversations online from those who are trying to wrestle through the “Christian Rapper” title along with those who believe that shunning the title is outright blasphemous.  In an attempt to bring perspective on the matter I’d like to point us to the account of our Lord’s arrest in Gethsemane:

Matthew 26:47-52 (NLT) 47 And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss. 50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”  Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear. 52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.

John 18:10 will reveal that it was Simon Peter who drew the sword.

I can imagine what prompted Simon Peter to respond in this way.  It’s as if Peter felt that he was part of the rejected and oppressed group on the school campus who were finally part of something cool, unique and powerful.  In Peter’s mind, here’s an opportunity to assert the same treatment on those who once oppressed him.  For lack of a better term, let’s call this “gangism.”  The Lord was quick to respond to Peter’s ignorance as if to lovingly say, “That’s not what this is about Peter.  Your actions will only push people further away.  Besides, there’s a difference between being condemned and being misunderstood. Let’s reason with them.”   

 

 

I believe we’re in a similar hour (since nothing is new under the sun).  We can all feel it as doors are being opened to take gospel to the ears of those who have an affinity to urban art and culture.  Specifically through the form of hip hop.  In the spirit of Colossians 3:16 it is my sincerest desire to warn us against our fallen tendency as humans to, like Peter, desire revenge on those who once rejected us (specifically the mainstream urban music community).  Is it possible that the desire to insist on the “Christian Rapper” label is another way of asserting vengeance on what’s known as “Secular Rap?”  Like, “yeah, that’s right, THE CHRISTIANS ARE HERE FOOL…WHAT?!?!?”  Has this become another way of drawing a sword and abruptly making our presence known to those who once rejected us?  Furthermore, is this the enemy’s way of once again causing division in what could be the greatest hour of establishing righteousness?

I’m not one to declare a mandate that all Christians who rap should choose the label “Christian Rapper.”  That’s entirely up to that individual and God who reveals all true motives in time (1 Corinthians 4:5).  I do, however, challenge us to be discerners of the times (Luke 12:56) and pray earnestly for this the artists and their music to continue to advance in this season when hip hop music as a whole is having such an impact on all cultures. Side note, I wonder what ever happened to the soldier whose ear was cut off and then instantly healed by Jesus.  I wonder if any labels mattered in that moment. Just a thought.

I’m honored to continue to serve in any manner the Lord allows and I pray that this can be a moment when the world can truly know us by our love for them and for eachother.  May we all check our hearts in this hour and understand that so much favor has come through love, dialog and sincere hearts who desire to transform lives.  May this also be an hour which unifies us and not divide us.  For a Kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.

Peace & Blessings Family,

Dj Maj (TobyMac’s DJ)

 

 

Indian Christian man forced to separate from Hindu wife by right-wing activists

Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat state, at a BJP rally in 2009.
Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat state, at a BJP rally in 2009.Flickr / Al Jazeera English / Creative Commons

An Indian couple who married Sept. 26 had their marriage annulled five days later by police under pressure from Hindu nationalists.

The couple, Joseph Pawar and Ayushi Wani, were arrested in Gujarat after complaints that Pawar, a Christian, had lured his Hindu bride into marriage.

The forced dissolution of the marriage quickly drew protets from India’s Christian groups, who have attempted to put pressure on Narendra Modi, the new prime minister of India, for what they say is his persistent silence in the face of increased violence towards Christians and other religious minorities.

In a report issued in New Delhi on Sept. 27, a group of Indian religious leaders accused Modi of remaining mute during 600 incidents targeting religious minorities since his landslide election victory in May.

At the same time on the other side of the world, during Modi’s five-day visit to the United States in late September, neither he nor his hosts said a word about evidence indicating growing sectarian hostility at the hands of nationalist Hindus, whose political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, swept Modi into national power.

The Sept. 30 meeting between Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama — the first summit involving the leader of one of the world’s oldest democracies, and the leader of the largest — did not produce any public mention of religious freedom of any sort.

Diplomatic silence on the subject perhaps was to be expected. The U.S. had denied Modi a visa in 2005 when he was chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, where, in 2002, Hindu riots killed more than 1,200 people, mostly Muslims but also Christians. As Modi has led the BJP to control of the national government this year, Hindu violence against minorities, including Christians, has spiked.

Now prime minister of a country that claims one-sixth of the world’s population, Modi was not subjected to any official public reminder of the sectarian violence to which he was connected, or the rebuff America had dealt him nearly 10 years ago.  The words religion, religious, and Christian did not appear among the nearly 6,900 words that made up the leaders’ joint statement, their public individual remarks, the US-India joint strategic vision statement, or Modi’s  speech three days earlier to the United Nations General Assembly.

Others were not concerned with diplomacy. Outside New York’s Madison Square Garden on Sept. 28, protesters made a point of connecting Modi to the Gujarat violence, and accused him of supporting the murder of Christians, Muslims and even Hindus in India. Inside the arena, more than 18,000 people, mostly Indian expats living in America, gave Modi a rock-star reception to a speech he made in Hindi.

On the day of Modi’s arrival in the U.S., Sept. 26, a group called the Coalition Against Genocidereleased a letter, signed by 11 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, that urged Obama to “discuss religious inclusion and the protection of religious minorities in India.” Referencing Modi’s connection to the 2002 violence, the letter said Modi “can play a constructive role by criticizing extremists and opening a dialogue in the country about violence aimed at religious minorities.”

None of the 11 House members released any public statement about the letter or their support of it. One of the 11, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, is content to let the letter speak for itself, his press spokesman said.

The letter recalls Modi’s post-election address to India, in which he said “a government has only one religion – India first.”

“This statement is promising,” the joint letter said. “However, given the reported increase in violence against Christians and Muslims, the reality on the ground in India’s communities indicates that this promise must be followed by action.”

If the subject of religious freedom was raised during the private sessions between Obama and Modi, neither mentioned it in the subsequent public statements.

“During a private dinner we spent most of our time talking about the economy,” Obama said. The closest the two came to publicly referencing religious freedom was a mention in the joint statement about the “shared values, people-to-people ties, and pluralistic traditions” of India and the United States. And, in the strategic partnership vision statement was the acknowledgement that “our strategic partnership rests on our shared mission to provide equal opportunity for our people through democracy and freedom.”

“The first 100 days of the new regime have, however, seen the rising pitch of a crescendo of hate speech against Muslims and Christians. Their identity derided, their patriotism scoffed at, their citizenship questioned, their faith mocked.”

–Press statement summuarizing report by Indian religious leaders

While the talk in Washington was of shared values and economic opportunity, back home, fears and anguish were growing over Modi’s “silence” in the face of increasing verbal and physical attacks on Christians and Muslims alike.

More than 500 people took part in the four-hour protest Sept. 27 in New Delhi, at which a report titled “100 days under the New Regime – the state of Minorities” was released by bishops of different denominations along with Christian, Muslim and secular activists.

“The first 100 days of the new regime have, however, seen the rising pitch of a crescendo of hate speech against Muslims and Christians. Their identity derided, their patriotism scoffed at, their citizenship questioned, their faith mocked,” said a press statement about the protest, providing a summary of the 92-page report compiled by Christian and other activists.

“The environment has degenerated into one of coercion, divisiveness, and suspicion. This has percolated to the small towns and villages of rural India, severing bonds forged in a dialogue of life over the centuries,” the statement read. “The attacks have assumed alarming proportions.”

It said more than 600 incidents targeting religious minorities occurred between May to September, especially in areas that have held, or soon will hold, legislative elections.

“Both democracy and secularism are in grave danger under the government led by Modi,” said Sheba Farooqui, of the All India Democratic Women’s Association. “The condition of minority communities is dilapidating day by day due to indifference meted out and apathy shown by the government.”

A C Michael, one of the protest organizers, told World Watch Monitor that “the common refrain was the silence of Prime Minister Modi.”

Almost all the speakers “expressed shock over the silence of the Prime Minister on the increasing violence against minorities,” said Michael, a former member of the Minority Commission of Delhi.

“The sad part is that the Prime Minister does not speak either in public or in (his) party against those indulging in hatred,” said John Dayal, an outspoken Christian activist and secretary general of the All India Christian Council.

The 92-page report was endorsed by 33 groups, representing different faiths and secular groups.

“If solution to this menace is not meted out now, then in the coming times minorities will even lose their power of speech and expression,” said Muslim activist Zafur-ul-Islam. “We have contributed a lot in nation building and we are also citizens of this country, as other communities are.”

Said Bishop John Simon of Believers Church: “The Christians have done much admirable work in almost every social sphere, including health and education. Our contribution needs no elaboration. We have to get united in order to fight for our rights.”

The protesters rejected Modi’s call, made during his Aug. 15 Independence Day message, for a “10-year moratorium on religion-based violence.”

“India has no place for hate and needs not a ten-year moratorium, but an end to the communal and targeted violence against religious minorities,” the report said.

The report makes several demands:

  • Zero tolerance for communal and targeted violence
  • A stop to profiling and attacks on religious freedom
  • Swift action against those who create religious tension
  • A directive to police to apply the law equally
  • A mechanism to defend of minority rights

“The blatant support from central (federal) and local political leaders to antisocial groups has triggered violence in many places,” the press statement concerning the report said.

Unfazed by the criticism, the BJP in a brazen step has decided to praise 63 party workers who were jailed after the July 4 street violence in Moradabad in northern Uttar Pradesh state, in which the district magistrate was seriously injured, the Indian Express reported on October 2.  The BJP supporters had clashed with police after a meeting called to protest the removal of a loudspeaker from a temple in the town was disallowed.

Of the 600 incidents listed in the report, Muslims were the most frequent target, while Christians accounted for about three dozen. But it was an incident involving Christians that prompted the protest.

Christian leaders had met in New Delhi in late August following widespread reports that 72 Christians had “voluntarily” abandoned their faith, and that the Seventh-Day Adventist church had been “purified” and converted into a Hindu temple in a village about 160 kilometres southeast of New Delhi.

An ecumenical team visiting the village discovered the supposed mass conversion was a sham, and that a dozen pastors had been detained and beaten by police at the urging of a local BJP leader.

“The Christian community, its pastors, congregations and churches, were targets of mob violence and impunity in dozens of cases in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (states),” said the report, put together by several committees comprising of lawyers, activists and others.

The press statement summarizing the report claimed that anti-minority forces have set dates, including Christmas 2014, to “cleanse” various areas of Muslims and Christians, with the assistance of police. And it said there have been “attempts at religious profiling of Christian academic institutions, and their students” in New Delhi.

Looking beyond India to the U.S., the statement criticized the decision of Southern University, in Louisiana, for its offer of an honorary doctorate to Modi “for his work in inclusive growth and in recognition of his contribution towards social transformation, ‘especially for empowering women and minorities in Gujarat.’ ”

“The facts on the ground,” the statement said, “are very different.”

On eve of the New Delhi protest, a church was torched at Pakritola Ghutas village in Mandla district of central Madhya Pradesh state. The police dismissed it as the act of “inebriated” hooligans who broke into the church and set on fire religious books, furniture, musical instruments and the altar.

Angered at the forced breakup of the Sept. 26 marriage of Joseph Pawar and Ayushi Wani, the Global Council of Indian Christians attempted to stage an Oct. 1 rally near the couple’s hometown of Jorbat, in Madhya Pradesh state. On Sept. 30, government authorities issued an order forbidding the gathering, citing vows by nationalist groups to hold demonstrations of their own until Wani, who had taken refuge with a women’s-support group, was returned to her family. Council President Sajan George called the edict “a travesty of justice.”

The BJP is the majority party in Madhya Pradesh’s state government.

Separately, the Religious Liberty Commission of India petitioned Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan directly, with an Oct. 7 letter that cited the police arrest of Pawar the “most outrageous” of several incidents documented in the letter. Commission National Director Rev. Vijayesh Lal cited the Sept. 27 burning of a church, and a Sept. 12 arrest of seven Christian church workers on what he said were false accusations of attempting to gain converts with money, among other affronts.

“It seems strange that the district administration is succumbing to the pressure of lawless elements,” Lal wrote to the chief minister, a member of the BJP. “It is also transgressing on the Constitutional Right of Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Expression. This will undoubtedly make the lawless elements stronger while coercing those who are peaceable and abide by the law.”

 Lal asked for the chief minister’s “personal intervention to restore the confidence of the minority Christan community.”

 

SOURCE

 

Pakistan court upholds death penalty for Asia Bibi despite serious legal loophole in trial

The first Christian woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws had her appeal rejected by the High Court in Lahore on Thursday.

Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, received the death penalty in 2010 after she allegedly made derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman.

While the two women were working together, the Muslim woman had refused water from Noreen on the grounds that it was unclean because it had been handled by a Christian.

The Muslim woman, together with her sister, were the only two witnesses in the case, but the defence failed to convince the appeals judges that their evidence lacked credibility.

Noreen, first arrested in the summer of 2009, has already spent five years in prison. Her defence team has one more opportunity to appeal her case by taking it to Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

Noreen was accused of blasphemy against the Prophet of Islam and the Qur’an in June 2009, when she was working in the fields as a laborer in Sheikhupura. A religious argument broke out between her and her co-workers after she brought water for one of them. One of her co-workers objected that the mere touch of a Christian had made the water haram, or religiously forbidden for Muslims. Noreen was told to convert to Islam in order to become purified of her ritual impurity. Her rejoinder was perceived as an insult of Islam and hence she was accused of committing blasphemy.

Muhammad Amin Bukhari, the Superintendent of Police who investigated Noreen’s case, testified in the trial court that the religious argument broke out over the drinking water, and not about the Prophet or the Koran. The trial court judge nonetheless convicted her and gave her the death penalty.

The case attracted international attention, and Noreen has had some high-profile supporters.

 

                                 Ashiq Masih, husband of Asia Noreen, and their two daughters
in a 2010 photo
Ashiq Masih, husband of Asia Noreen, and their two daughters in a 2010 photoCLAAS photo

Pope Benedict XVI appealed to the Pakistani government for clemency. The then-Governor of the Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, went to meet Noreen in prison and prepared a petition for mercy, which he had intended to submit to the President of Pakistan.

Before Taseer could convey the petition to the president, his own police guard killed him Jan. 4, 2011 on account of his support Noreen and his characterization of the blasphemy laws as “black laws.” Two months later, the only Christian member of the cabinet, Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed. Bhatti had supported Noreen and sought to reform Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which often are used to settle personal scores and pressure religious minorities.

The Lahore High Court began hearing the appeal in March this year, but the case kept circulating among several judges who postponed its hearing. Legal sources told World Watch Monitor that judges were unwilling to decide the case because of fear of reprisal from extremist elements.

Most of Thursday’s four-hour hearing was given over to arguments made by Noreen’s counsel, Naeem Shakir. The judges, Muhammad Anwar-ul-Haq and Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, postponed all other cases scheduled for the day. The complainant in the case, Muslim cleric Muhammad Saalam, was presented along with a few other men in the court. Saalam was represented by a group of lawyers headed by Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, a Supreme Court lawyer and president of the Khatme Nabuwat (Finality of Prophethood) Lawyers’ Forum.

Shakir argued that Noreen’s trial-court conviction had been based on hearsay, as Salaam himself did not witness the exchange between Noreen and her co-workers. He said it was at a local village council, or panchayat, where Noreen was forced to confess the alleged instance of blasphemy. The judges categorically stated that Pakistani law would not take into account any such confession made to a random group, and they set aside evidence of all the witnesses related to the village council.

The court, however, said that there were two sisters — Mafia Bibi and Asma Bibi — who had appeared in the trial court and testified they had witnessed the incident of alleged blasphemy. Shakir told the court that on the day it happened, Noreen had brought some water for other fieldworkers, and that the sisters refused to take it, saying they could not take water from the hands of a Christian woman.

Shakir said a quarrel arose between Noreen and the two women, which later was made to appear as a religious conflict. He said the nature of the quarrel had its source in the Hindu caste system (in which most Pakistani Christians are considered “untouchable”) than a conflict between the Christian and Islamic faiths.

Shakir said the evidence from the two sisters should have been corroborated by some independent evidence in the trial court, as these two sisters would have been prejudiced towards her. The appeals judges, however, observed that sisters’ testimony should have been challenged at the trial court, rather than taken up at the appellate court.

Attorney S. K. Chaudhry, who represented Noreen at her trial, told the appeals judges Thursday that as a Muslim he could not repeat the blasphemous words, so he did not cross-examine the two sisters because it involved discussing those blasphemous statements. One of the appeals judges responded that “in the process of administration of justice we need to be ‘secular.’”

Shakir was more successful when he argued the trial court had a religious bias against Noreen. Referring to the argument that took place between Noreen and two sisters, the trial court had noted the following:

“So, the question arises, what type or nature of hot words would be there in between Christian and Muslim ladies when the quarrel started from the refusal of drinking water by the Muslim ladies from the hands of a Christian lady. So, the phenomenon was ultimately switched into a religious matter and ‘hot words’ could not have been anything other than the blasphemy.”

Judge Anwar-ul-Haq brushed aside the trial judge’s observation, saying no judge in the world could infer whether “hot words” could be construed as blasphemy, or not.

Shakir also informed the court that the original complaint, known as a first information report (FIR), had been lodged by the cleric Salaam five days after the quarrel. He argued that, during the trial, the only reason given for the delay was “deliberation and consultation,” and said Salaam had acknowledged this in the trial court.

He said other appeals courts have ruled that if a delay in lodging an FIR is due to consultation and deliberation, the complaint should be dismissed. On Thursday, the appeals judges overruled Shakir’s argument, saying Noreen’s trial counsel hadn’t challenged this delay in the trial court, and therefore could not be taken up on appeal.

Shakir attempted to argue that the trial court did not have jurisdiction over Noreen’s case, citing a 1991 decision by Pakistan’s Federal Shariat Court that blasphemy cases, covered by Section 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code, came under Islamic shariah law. Referring to the landmark judgement he quoted the following words from the judgement:

“The contention raised is that any disrespect or use of derogatory remarks etc. in respect of the Holy Prophet comes within the purview of hadd (losely translated as ‘Islamic law’) and the punishment of death provided in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah cannot be altered.”

He said witnesses in Noreen’s case should have had been tried under the special Islamic law of evidence, known as Tazkiya-tul-Shahood and the witnesses must meet the Islamic criterion of piety and religious observance.

If that were true, responded appeals judge Anwal-ul-Haq, the entire trial of Noreen should be declared unlawful. The judges then studied the Shariat Court’s ruling, but did not declare any finding.

Following the hours of argument, and without further deliberation, the judges announced “the appeal is hereby rejected,” which prompted jubilation among the lawyers representing the prosecution and Salaam, the original complainant.

After the hearing, Shakir told World Watch Monitor the court should have given weight to the serious flaws in the judgment and what he called the “biased mindset” of the trial court. He said with the passing of time it had become difficult for higher court judges to dispense justice, which, he said, “is increasingly in the hands of the extremists.”

Though Noreen has been held in prison for the past five years, safety has been a serious issue for her. Her husband, Ashiq Masih, and their three children live in hiding in another city. In December 2010, a prominent Islamic cleric in Pakistan offered half a million Pakistani rupees (roughly US $5,000) for anyone who could kill Noreen. Since then, security around her has been increased in prison.

Masih told World Watch Monitor he’s hopeful the Supreme Court will provide justice to Noreen and that she will be released soon.

Pakistan’s judges have occasionally faced the wrath of countrymen upset with their decisions concerning blasphemy. Judge Pervez Ali Shah, who gave the death penalty to the guard who killed Salmaan Taseer, fled Pakistan after issuing his decision. Justice Arif Bhatti, who had acquitted two Christians in a 1995 blasphemy case, was killed in his office in 1997.

In its most recent annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and advisory body to Congress, urged the government of Pakistan to “place a moratorium on the use of the blasphemy law until it is reformed or repealed” and to unconditionally pardon and release those accused under that law. The law is widely popular, however, putting pressure on the government, including the courts, to preserve it.

 

SOURCE

How Christians Treating Ebola Patients is History Repeating Itself – Eric Metaxas

 

Between 250 and 270 A.D. a terrible plague, believed to be measles or smallpox, devastated the Roman Empire. At the height of what came to be known as the Plague of Cyprian, after the bishop St. Cyprian who chronicled what was happening, 5,000 people died every day in Rome alone.
The plague coincided with the first empire-wide persecution of Christians under the emperor Decius. Not surprisingly, Decius and other enemies of the Church blamed Christians for the plague. That claim was, however, undermined by two inconvenient facts: Christians died from the plague like everybody else and, unlike everybody else, they cared for the victims of the plague, including their pagan neighbors.
This wasn’t new—Christians had done the same thing during the Antonine Plague a century earlier. As Rodney Stark wrote in “The Rise of Christianity,” Christians stayed in the afflicted cities when pagan leaders, including physicians, fled.
Candida Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame, notes that an “epidemic that seemed like the end of the world actually promoted the spread of Christianity.” By their actions in the face of possible death, Christians showed their neighbors that “Christianity is worth dying for.”
This witness came to mind after listening to a recent story on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Host Robert Siegel interviewed Stephen Rowden, who volunteered for Doctors Without Borders in Monrovia, Liberia.
Rowden’s grim task was to manage the teams that collected the bodies of Ebola victims. Rowden and his team retrieved 10-to-25 bodies a day. Since close contact with the victims is the chief means by which the usually-deadly virus is spread, Rowden and his team members lived with the risk of becoming victims themselves.
What’s more, living in the midst of this death and suffering took its toll. Rowden recalled entering a house and finding the body of a four-year-old victim who had been abandoned by her family. With the typical English understatement, he told Siegal, “I found that a very sad case.”
Rowden’s experience prompted Siegel to ask him if he was a religious man, to which Rowden replied, “I am. Yes, I’m a practicing Christian.” When Siegel then asked whether what he saw tested his faith, Rowden said that “No, I got great strength from my faith and the support of my family.”
Nearly eighteen centuries after the Plague of Cyprian, Christianity still prompts people to run towards the plague when virtually everyone else is running away.
Now as then, this power confounds and confuses Christianity’s critics. A recent article in Slate acknowledged that many of the people fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa were missionaries. The writer, Brian Palmer, admitted that he “[didn’t] feel good about missionary medicine, even though [he couldn’t] fully articulate why.” He knew that he shouldn’t feel this way but he did.
Ross Douthat of the New York Times suspects that Palmer’s misgivings have something to do with the fact that the selflessness of the missionaries “unsettles” his “secular and scientistic worldview.” In that worldview, “helping people is what governments and secular groups are supposed to do.”
But that’s not how it works. Palmer, like the emperor Julian the Apostate in the late fourth century, is seeing that “the impious Galilaeans support not only their own poor but ours as well.”
It’s enough to unsettle anyone’s worldview.

WHO Reports Nigeria Cleared of Ebola as Dozens of Americans Released from Isolation

The World Health Organization announced today (Oct. 20) that Ebola is no longer a threat in Nigeria.
According to the AP, health officials were able to monitor every person that came in contact with infected individuals. Isolation wards were constructed quickly and it has now been 42 days (twice the Ebola incubation period) since anyone in Nigeria has tested positive for the deadly virus.
At the same time, almost all of the people who have been quarantined after coming in contacted with Dallas Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan have been released from isolation. The 43 people who were released completed the 21-day incubation watch period and did not show any symptoms during that time.
The AP reports that one more person will be released later today, bringing the total of people declared in the clear of the virus to 44. Four more health care workers who cared for Duncan while he was a patient at the Dallas hospital will be released in few days.
Duncan’s family and fiancee Louise Troh were among those cleared of the disease.
Dallas City Administrator Clay Jenkins confirmed, “After 21 days of being on this watch list, there is zero chance that any of those young men or Louise carry the Ebola virus.”