LISTEN: Algerian Government Shuts Down Churches (UCNN 10.20.19)

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According to Christianity Today, The Algerian government shut down three churches this week, including the two biggest congregations in the North African country. Authorities forced Christians from their buildings and arrested some who continued to protest the crackdown. Members of the largest Protestant congregation in Algeria—the 700-member Church of the Full Gospel in Tizi-Ouzou—were warned their church would be sealed by the government this Wednesday. When they met for prayer and worship on Tuesday, the gathering was raided by the national guard. The crowd at the Church of the Full Gospel panicked as they were ordered to leave. Some refused and were forcibly dragged out. When leaders—including pastor Salah Chalah, head the Protestant churches in Algeria), and pastor Tarek Berki—tried to intervene, they were beaten, Morning Star News reported. The second-largest congregation, the 500-member Source of Life Church in Makouda, was shut down the same day, followed by 100-member Light Church in Tizi Ouzou. At least 15 Protestant churches—out of only about 46 in the country—have been shuttered since January 2018, according to the Christian advocacy group Middle East Concern. The country, home to just 125,000 Christians, fewer than 1 percent of the population, ranks 22nd on Open Doors’ World Watch List.

According to Religion News Service, Leaders of the Pittsburgh synagogue where worshippers were fatally shot last year want to rebuild and renovate the building, turning it into what they hope will be a “center for Jewish life in the United States” and a symbol against hatred. On Friday (Oct. 18), they outlined their vision for the Tree of Life building, where three congregations — Tree of Life, Dor Hadash and New Light — had gathered on Oct. 27, 2018. A gunman opened fire, killing 11 people and wounding seven. The building in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood has not reopened since the shooting, considered the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Tree of Life leaders now envision a rebuilt space that includes places for worship; memorial, education and social events; classrooms and exhibitions. The mission is to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination. “There was never any doubt that we would go back to the site,” Tree of Life Executive Director Barb Feige said. “The congregation is a community. It survives without its building, but is committed to going back to that location.” Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the shooter Robert Bowers.

According to USA Today; Indianapolis Star, Nearly a year after Alyssa Shepherd drove past a stopped school bus, killing three siblings as they crossed a two-lane highway to board the bus, a Fulton County jury convicted her of reckless homicide in the children’s deaths. Shepherd, prosecutors say, was driving a pickup truck that struck and killed twins Xzavier and Mason Ingle, both 6, and their sister Alivia Stahl, 9, and also critically injured Maverik Lowe, 11, as they crossed the highway north of Rochester on Oct. 30. Lowe, who’s still recovering from his injuries, has had more than 20 surgeries since the crash. Shepherd was found guilty Friday of three felony counts of reckless homicide. The jury also found her guilty of a felony count of criminal recklessness and a misdemeanor count of passing a school bus causing injury when the arm is extended. She faces up to 21 years if given the maximum amount on each count.

According to Associated Press, Witnesses have gathered in a small city in upstate New York over the past three weeks to testify in the trial of a man accused of strangling a young nursing student. But there is no jury, no American judge and the man accused is seated next to his defense attorney 2,200 miles away — in Nicaragua. In an exceedingly rare legal proceeding, the trial of former Binghamton University student Orlando Tercero in the 2018 killing of 22-year-old Haley Anderson is being held at a court in Managua, Nicaragua, with a Nicaraguan prosecutor and a Nicaraguan judge applying Nicaraguan law. American prosecutors have no authority over the trial, but the Broome County District Attorney’s office in New York is deeply involved as a facilitator for witness testimony. The witnesses have testified, with the help of a translator, via a video link from a room in the district attorney’s office in downtown Binghamton. “We have a duty and a responsibility to see this through whatever court process we can,” Cornwell said.

According to BBC News, Five people have died after a garment factory was set ablaze by looters near Chile’s capital Santiago amid a wave of protests. The military and police used tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators, and a night-time curfew was imposed in major cities. The unrest, sparked by a now suspended metro fare hike, has widened to reflect anger over living costs and inequality. President Sebastián Piñera has defended the government’s response. “I’m convinced that democracy not only has the right, it has the obligation to defend itself using all the instruments that democracy itself provides, and the rule of law to combat those who want to destroy it,” he said after an emergency meeting with officials. Protests continued across the country despite a state of emergency in five regions declared by Mr Piñera on Friday, allowing authorities to restrict people’s freedom of movement and their right to assembly.

According to Daily Mail, Sports legend Michael Jordan gave an emotional speech and shed a tear as he opened a $7 million clinic that would guarantee health care for the uninsured in his hometown of Charlotte. The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic held its ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, which was attended by the athlete turned business mogul. ‘This is a very emotional thing for me to be able to give back to a community that has supported me over the years,’ Jordan said during the ceremony. ‘I stand here before you as a proud parent, son, obviously a member of this community,’ Jordan, 56, said, adding his extended family deserves as much credit as he does for the clinic. .’..You see my name, but yet you see a lot of people behind me and the commitment, especially from my mom, about caring for other people and being a part of a community that matters.’ The center has been in operation about three weeks, and more than 300 people have already been seen by staff doctors, social workers and other health-care professionals. The center will be open Mondays through Fridays from 8am to 5pm. Walk-ins are accepted along with same day appointment scheduling.

According to NBC News, Newly released surveillance video shows the moment an Oregon school coach disarmed and hugged a shotgun-wielding student, averting a potential tragedy. Angel Granados-Diaz, 19, is seen on the video walking into the fine arts building of Parkrose High School in Portland with a shotgun hidden under his jacket on May 17, 2019. Officials said Granados-Diaz was experiencing a mental health crisis when he brought the gun containing one round to school. Keanon Lowe, a former star wide receiver for the University of Oregon Ducks who works at Parkrose High as a security guard and football and track-and-field coach, said he saw something in Granados-Diaz’ face, “the look in his eyes. I looked at the gun and I realized it was a real gun and them my instincts just took over.” Students are seen in the video running away as Lowe takes the gun from Granados-Diaz. After handing the gun off to another teacher, Lowe grabs Granados-Diaz into a hug. “I just wanted to let him know that I was there for him. I told him I was there to save him. I was there for a reason and that this is a life worth living.” Lowe said afterward. I’m lucky and I’m happy that I was in that classroom for all those kids and I was able to prevent that tragedy,” he said.

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “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 so much for listening and may God bless your day!