Praise and Prayer

Praise: Indian Supreme Court Orders Protection of Christians - Religion News Service reports that India's Supreme Court has told the state government of Orissa that it will not "tolerate persecution of religious minorities" and if the state government cannot protect Christians, "then quit office."

A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court issued the warning on January 5 following a petition filed by Roman Catholic Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, who requested protection for his flock in Orissa and compensation for church properties that have been damaged in the ongoing violence. Such rulings by judges of Indian courts may not always have the force of law, but they carry considerable weight and often influence the future actions of lawmakers and government officials. Approximately 500 people, mostly Christians, have been killed in the violence since August, with tens of thousands more displaced.

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Pray: Bangladeshi Muslims Force Christian Grandparents from Home - Compass Direct News reports that Muslims in a village in western Bangladesh have forced two brothers to expel their parents from their home for converting to Christianity.

Ishmael Sheikh, 70, and his wife Rahima Khatun, 55, were baptized on Nov. 9. By the end of the month, Sheikh told Compass, Muslim neighbors in Kathuly village, near Gangni town in Meherpur district, had compelled their two sons to expel them from their house. The Muslims threatened that the children of Sheikh's sons would not be allowed to marry anyone from the village if the brothers allowed their parents to remain in their home.

"We are the first converted Christians in this village," Sheikh said. "Neighbors told my sons, ‘Why should your parents live in this village? They do not have a right to live here because they are no longer Muslims.'"

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Pray: Myanmar Clamps Down on Christians - Compass Direct News has reported that their sources have confirmed that Burmese authorities have increased restrictions on Christian activity in the capital city of Yangon and surrounding areas, including the closure of several churches.

Orders issued on January 5 had already forced many Christians meeting in residential homes or apartments to cease gathering for worship. Officials last week ordered several major Yangon churches, including Water Hope Church, Emmanuel Church and the Assemblies of God Church, to cease holding services and continued enforcing the Jan. 5 ban on meetings held in unauthorized facilities.

"In the late 1990s authorities stopped issuing permits for land purchase or the construction of new churches, leading many Burmese Christians to conduct services in rented apartments or office buildings, according to the Burmese news agency Mizzima.

"The documents threatened punishment, including potential jail terms and the sealing of church facilities, for pastors who refused to obey the closure orders."

Mizzima quoted an unnamed Burmese Christian who claimed that 80 percent of churches in Yangon were affected by the order.

Institute on Religion and Public Policy

 

Praise: Pace of Bible Translation Reaches New Highs, Translators Say - Mission News Network reports that Bible translation projects are at an all time high. "We are participating in the greatest acceleration of the pace of Bible translation the church has ever witnessed. We're actually seeing, in reality, more translation programs being started today than we've ever seen in the history of the church," says President of Wycliffe Bible Translators Bob Creson.

He said that Wycliffe is on target to have Bible translation projects underway in every known language that does not yet have the Bible in their native tongue by the year 2025. That means approximately 2,250 projects to go. Yet Creson is optimistic despite the global economic upheaval. "I think the work of Bible translation is one of those things that just transcend all these things that are going on around us," he said.

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