LISTEN: Pakistani Christian Killed Under Suspicious Circumstances (09.15.19)

This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to Christian Headlines, The appointment of a Christian woman to the council overseeing the transition to civilian rule in Sudan is a hopeful sign, but some persecution-weary Christians are less than optimistic about prospects for improved religious rights. Raja Nicola Eissa Abdel-Masih, a Coptic Christian who long served as a judge in Sudan’s Ministry of Justice, was one of six civilians appointed to the 11-member Sovereignty Council on Aug. 21. But Christians who have seen increased persecution from former President Omar al-Bashir’s Islamist campaign of the last seven years question whether Abdel-Masih and the new government can counter an entrenched Islamist mindset. But the Rev. Kwa Shamaal (also transliterated Kuwa Shamaal) of the Sudanese Church of Christ, jailed for nearly two years between 2015 and 2017, is among those who believe her appointment does not necessarily mean discrimination, false charges and confiscation of church properties will end in Sudan. “Although there is a new government formed, that does not mean Christians will be free from persecution in Sudan,” Pastor Kwa said.

According to Mission Network News, Open Doors USA confirms the unsettling circumstances surrounding the torture and death of a 28-year old gardener in Pakistan. Police took Amir Masih into custody on August 28. Three days later, says Isaac Six of Open Doors USA, he was dead. “What’s shocking and brutal about this is that it was carried out by the authorities and that it was done so blatantly. The family was able to pick up Mr. Masih after he’d been tortured for days. He was alive for a few hours to tell his story to the family before he passed away. “Mr. Masih’s employer accused him of theft, which led to the arrest. As for due process? Christians in Pakistan face widespread discrimination and religious intolerance. They often face false accusations with little to no recourse or protection. In this situation, Six says, “The evidence is blatant that there was terrible torture done here, and it looks like the authorities are investigating, which is good. But often in these cases, there’s no accountability for those who are responsible. That’s the thing we’re following closely.”

According to Associated Press, A home’s multilevel deck collapsed Saturday evening at the Jersey Shore during an event weekend, trapping people and injuring at least 22, including some children, officials said. No deaths were reported. The collapse happened around 6 p.m. Saturday in Wildwood during the annual New Jersey Firemen’s Convention. It was unclear how many people were on or under the decks at the time, or how many were firefighters, but authorities said those who were trapped were quickly removed. The annual convention attracts thousands of current and former firefighters to the resort town. Firefighters were likely among those hurt or trapped. Cape May Regional Health System said 21 people were taken there, at least three of them children. Eleven patients had been released by 10 p.m., including all the children who were admitted, hospital spokeswoman Susan Staeger said. AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City said at least one additional person was taken there. The conditions of the remaining hospitalized people wasn’t known.

According to Vox, Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced on Friday to 14 days in federal prison for her role in a college admissions conspiracy. In that conspiracy, 34 wealthy and mostly white parents of college-age children are alleged to have paid thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars, to inflate their children’s credentials during the college application season. Huffman was the first parent to receive a judgment. The case shed light on the advantages that those with great financial resources have during the college admissions process, and on the fine line between acceptable upper-hands available to some — such as the ability to hire private tutors, access to internships, and legacy admissions — and outright fraud. It has also brought renewed attention to cases in which disadvantaged people, primarily poor parents of color, have faced strong punishment for educational fraud, placing a harsh spotlight on racial and economic discrepancies within American education.

According to Reuters, Hamza bin Laden, a son of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and himself a notable figure in the militant group, was killed in a U.S. counter-terrorism operation, the White House said on Saturday. A White House statement said the operation took place in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. “The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qa’ida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” the statement said. A U.S. official told Reuters Hamza had been killed months ago near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trump was briefed at the time on the operation. The U.S. government assessed that Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, had succeeded his father as the head of what remains of Al Qaeda, the official said.

According to Globalnews.ca, Two people are confirmed dead and several more are injured following a bus crash on Vancouver Island, most of them university students. Port Alberni RCMP said the crash happened 40 kilometres south of the city down a remote industrial logging road just before 9:30 p.m Friday. Police were alerted to the crash after a call from a satellite phone registered to the University of Victoria. Const. Doug Pennington with Central Vancouver Island Traffic Services said the bus had 48 people on board including the driver when it went down an embankment and rolled over east of Bamfield. “They were southbound, went off-road right. Two are deceased,” Pennington said. “The rest have been transported back to Port Alberni with various degrees of injuries.” BC Emergency Health Services (EHS) said paramedics responded around 9:45 p.m. and transported 17 patients to hospital, including two in critical condition and one in serious condition. The rest are said to be in stable condition.

According to Christian Post, Reality star Kim Kardashian West was a guest on “The View” Thursday where she spoke about her husband’s religious beliefs and revealed that he sometimes hosts pop-up churches around the country through his music ministry, Sunday Service. “Kanye started this to really heal himself and it was a really personal thing, and it was just friends and family,” Kardashian West told host Sunny Hostin who asked about the Sunday Service events. “He has had an amazing evolution of being born again and being saved by Christ. People always ask, ‘What are you worshiping?’ It is a Christian service, like a musical ministry. They talk about Jesus and God,” she said. When asked if preachers are included, the new prison reform activist said “sometimes.” She also emphasized that her husband does not have a nonprofit status to make his Sunday Service an official church but said what he’s doing, “is for God and it’s a Christian church.”

You can read these stories and more at Urbanchristiannews.com

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks for listening and may God bless your day!