International News in Brief Dec 2014 - Jan 2015
News from Syria, Laos, Tanzania, CAR, Cameroon, the Philippines, the USA and Australia
SYRIAN HOSTAGES FREED BY MILITANTS
FOUR CHRISTIAN WOMEN and a church leader kidnapped in early October have been released by Islamist militants in north-west Syria.
The group were among 21 believers abducted after Islamic State fighters stormed the village of Knayeh. It is not clear if other Christians including children have also been released by the al-Qaeda linked group called al-Nusra front. Church leader Hanna Jallouf remains under house arrest in the village.
Many Christians have been kidnapped in Syria since conflict began in April 2013. Two archbishops, Yohanna Ibrahim and Boutros Yazigi, were abducted in April 2013 and their whereabouts is not known.
LAOS CRACKDOWN LEAVES PASTOR IN STOCKS
A CHURCH PASTOR remains handcuffed in jail with his legs locked in stocks following a crackdown against believers in Laos, a country located near Vietnam.
Sompong Supatto hosted a lunch at his home for believers in Boukham village after a morning worship service on September 28. Village officials raided the home and took the group into custody – including a three-year-old girl.
Six Christians were released on October 3 but Sompong remains in jail. The crackdown happened after village officials banned worship meetings for Christians.
TEACHER KILLED IN MACHETE ATTACK: TANZANIA
A SCHOOL TEACHER was killed with a machete by a group of men after an early morning church prayer meeting in Bukoba, northwest Tanzania.
Dioniz Ng’wandu, aged 31, had just finished praying with another Christian, 25-year-old Temistores. Pastor Faustine Joseph and another man joined them at the Busimbe Parish Church of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God on October 9.
Half an hour after Pastor Joseph and the fourth man left the meeting, a group of unknown attackers entered the building. Dioniz was killed and Temistores suffered injuries to his left foot needing hospital treatment.
CLERGY TARGETS FOR CAR MILITANTS
CHRISTIAN CLERGY have become targets for attacks by militant groups in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Father Mateusz Dziedzic, a Polish priest in the diocese of Tarnow, Baboua, was kidnapped by armed rebels calling themselves the ‘Democratic Front of the Central African People’ (FDPC) on October 12.
The rebels demanded the release of their group leader in prison in neighbouring Cameroon. Fr Dziedzic has lived in CAR since 2009 and runs nursery schools in his parish alongside other social activities.
Another priest, Fr Aubert, was attacked and robbed by anti-Balaka militiamen at a check point whilst delivering goods to the Parish of Dekoua on October 13.
MASS KILLINGS IN CAMEROON
MASS KILLINGS LEFT 17 Christians dead and many others injured in northern Cameroon.
Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group, has been blamed for the attack against two villages, Tourou and Ladamang in the Mayoa Tsanaga area. It happened in late September.
The militants have left thousands homeless in the region. Some 15,000 people share just two water supply points in Minawao and more than 100 people died from lack of food in one month. Most of the dead were children.
TWO DEAD IN PHILIPPINES CHURCH GRENADE ATTACK
TWO MEN ON A MOTORCYCLE fired a grenade launcher at the door of a church during a mid week service – leaving two believers dead and three injured in the southern Philippines.
Teacher Gina Cabilona, aged 39, and a 54-year-old nurse, Felomina Ferolin, died following the attack at 7.40pm against the United Church of Christ in Pikit, North Cotabato province on the island of Mindanao on October 8. Some 40 Christians were gathered together for worship.
The Philippines is a mainly Christian nation but Muslims have been seeking greater autonomy, especially in Mindanao. Police defused a bomb in the island’s Zamboana City heavily populated by Christians on October 11. A church in the city was also targeted for an attack by Islamist militants earlier this year, February 2014.
SERMONS FIRED AT HOUSTON MAYOR
THOUSANDS OF SERMONS were sent to the Mayor of Houston after subpoenas were issued in the USA city demanding that five local pastors hand in their sermons, speeches and other communications so officials could inspect any comments on homosexuality or gender identity.
Mike Huckabee, former Presidential candidate, led the call for pastors across the nation to voluntarily send Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney Feldman their sermons and Bibles too – as a protest response to the official directive. Senator Ted Cruz also opposed the directives.
Mayor Parker later withdrew the subpoenas following a meeting with pastors and national clergy.
She said: “I didn’t do this to satisfy them [the pastors] – I did it because it was not serving Houston.”
HILLSONG LEADER BACKS TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE
THE LEADER of the international Hillsong Church network has denied previous media reports that he supports same-sex marriage.
Founding Pastor Brian Houston from Sydney, Australia, was reported to have said his church’s position on same-sex marriage was an ‘ongoing conversation’ with leaders and they were ‘on a journey with it’ during a press conference in New York.
Later, Pastor Houston said: “I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”
STEVE HILL’S SON DIES YOUNG
THE SON OF evangelist, the late Steve Hill has died in circumstances still being investigated at the time of going to press.
Ryan Hill died at the age of 27 in Orlando, Florida, on October 19. He was a media production student and had previously contributed to film work for various Christian ministries. He was also a graduate of the Teen Challenge programme.
Steve Hill, his adopted father, died from skin cancer in March earlier this year. He famously led the Brownsville Revival from 1995 to 2000.
SAME SEX MARRIAGE IN 30 US STATES
A LEGAL RULING means same-sex marriage will be legal in 30 states in the USA.
The Supreme Court has denied appeals from five states – Wisconsin, Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma and Indiana – to prohibit gay marriage.
Fox News said: “With no other state cases currently pending before the court, the decision to reject the appeals means the justices – for now – will not be considering the question of same-sex marriage nationwide.”