PODCAST: Man Suspected of Killing African UMC Bishop in Car Crash Arrested (International Christian Herald 9.21.20)

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

According to the Christian Post, A man suspected of having killed an African United Methodist Church bishop in a car accident has been arrested by Sierra Leone police and charged with multiple counts. Last month, Sierra Leone Area Bishop John K. Yambasu was on his way to preach at a funeral for a former district superintendent when the driver of an SUV struck him. Mohamed Allie Saw was arrested after fleeing the scene and was charged with seven counts earlier this month, including speeding and driving without due care and attention. Saw was driving a vehicle owned by another individual to a garage when he lost control of the vehicle and fatally injured Yambasu, according to UM News. “By the time we cleared the traffic and safely packed the vehicles from off the road, the driver had disappeared,” said Mbalu Kabbah, traffic commander for the Calaba Town Police, as quoted by UM News. “We first detained the owner of the vehicle when the driver could not be located. We released him after his blood pressure shot up.” From there, family members of the owner of the SUV searched for and located Saw, who had been uninjured in the crash, and was handed over to police.

According to Mission Network News, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) announced a new partnership with the Arabic Nazarene Bible College that will introduce new perspectives and continue a pattern of cross-denominational collaboration. Arabic Nazarene Bible College operates a semi-formal training program in Lebanon and Jordan training church members. Already, ABTS has a faculty member who belongs to Arabic Nazarene’s faculty. Elie Haddad of ABTS explains that when pursuing partnerships, through faculty or others, the seminary is careful to consider their partner organizations too. “We do not want to grow ABTS at the expense of others. We didn’t want to draw faculty from [Arabic Nazarene Bible College] to ABTS. We [are looking for] a win-win situation,” he says. “We approached them, and we’ve had multiple conversations. There was excitement on both sides [for] some kind of collaboration where we can leverage the strengths of each school.” The key to this partnership is a willingness for those involved to collaborate with people who have slightly different beliefs. Haddad believes this cooperation is coming at a good time.“This seems to be the right time for our church communities to be thinking beyond denominational lines. I think this is a very good story of success for the church community in Lebanon and Jordan,” he says.

According to the Christian Post, A Cuban journalist who was imprisoned for nearly a year for reporting on the arrest, jailing and trial of Christian pastors and homeschool parents has been released and reunited with his family. Roberto Quiñones Haces, a journalist for CubaNet, confirmed his Sept. 4 release in Guantánamo by phone to the news outlet. The 63 year old had been imprisoned since Sept. 11, 2019. He was convicted of crimes related to disobedience and resistance as he covered the trial of Ramon Rigal and his wife, Adya Expósito, members of the Church of God. They were arrested in April 2019 for homeschooling their children due to concerns about the Cuban public school system’s promotion of socialism and atheism. Quiñones was sentenced to one year in a labor camp, according to the U.S. State Department. Throughout their imprisonment, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as other international human rights watchdogs, called for the release of the couple and Quiñones. The married couple were released at separate times earlier this year.

According to the Daily Mail, The Church of Iceland’s new blasphemous ad welcoming people to Sunday School has sparked outrage after it featured a bearded Jesus Christ with breasts, makeup and a dress. The advert, which shows Jesus dancing under a rainbow, appeared on the National Church’s Facebook page on September 11. The advert has since been deleted from the Church’s page, but will be depicted on buses in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik for at least another two weeks. The Church said in a statement: ‘The 2020 Assembly of the National Church regrets that the picture of Jesus in a Sunday school advertisement has hurt people. The goal was to emphasise diversity, not to hurt people or shock them.’ After its launch, many slammed the advert on social media. One Facebook user said: ‘There was a reason I left the National Church and found another Christian congregation.’ Another person wrote: ‘Shame on the bishop!’ Other comments included ‘tasteless’ and ‘particularly stupid’. ‘The church should be ashamed for humiliating Jesus like this,’ one person said.

According to the Christian Post, A watchdog group has shed more light on the widespread abduction, trafficking and exploitation of Coptic Christian women and girls in Egypt, highlighting the cases of 13 women and girls who were kidnapped or abducted in the last three years. Coptic Solidarity, a Virginia-based nonprofit founded in 2010 that is dedicated to achieving equal citizenship rights for the Copts in Egypt and whose leader has testified before U.S. Congress, released the report “Jihad of the Womb: Trafficking of Coptic Women & Girls in Egypt” last Thursday. The new document is a continuation of the organization’s work to address a troubling trend of kidnappings and disappearances that it says violate international trafficking and child abuse laws. The organization is critical of “the Egyptian government’s lack of action.” “The capture and disappearance of Coptic women and minor girls is a bane of the Coptic community in Egypt, yet little has been done to address this scourge by the Egyptian or foreign governments, NGOs, or international bodies,” the report argues. “[T]he Egyptian government and international entities must address these heinous crimes that have been conducted with near impunity.” The report, compiled from information gathered through the Coptic community, family members, religious leaders and Egyptian media reports, is to be submitted to United Nations entities as well as the U.S. Office for Trafficking in Persons. One priest from the Minya Governate told Coptic Solidarity that at least 15 girls go missing in his area every year and added that his daughter was almost kidnapped.

According to the American Center for Law and Justice, A Christian pastor and his wife are running for their lives after being arrested and sentenced to prison for celebrating Christmas, among other traditions. Iranian-Assyrian Christian pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz, 66, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and his wife Shamiram Issavi, 65, was sentenced to five years. Bet-Tamraz and other Christians were arrested on Dec. 26, 2014. What was the heinous crime that earned them a stay in Iran’s infamous Evin Prison—the Iranian penitentiary labeled “a torture factory”? Holding a gathering to celebrate the Christmas holiday. The arresting officers reportedly told them they were being arrested for participating in an “unlawful and unauthorized gathering”: After years of failed appeals hearings, which were repeatedly delayed or canceled, Pastor Bet-Tamraz and his wife Shamiram were notified that their appeal was unceremoniously denied. Shortly after, Shamiram received a notice to report to Evin Prison to begin her 5-year sentence. Iran’s brutal Evin Prison has been described as a “house of horrors” where “beatings, torture, mock executions and brutal interrogations are the norm.” What chance did two innocent Christians in their late 60s have of surviving such a hellish environment? Pastor Victor and his wife chose the only option for survival they saw possible. They have reportedly fled Iran for their lives. Now they seek shelter and safety while they vow to continue appealing their unjust sentencing.

According to the Christian Post, Many evangelical leaders have praised the signing of the historic “Abraham Accords” between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House on Tuesday, marking the third and fourth Arab nations stating intentions to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. The signing ceremony on the South Lawn formalized announcements made previously indicating intent by the two country’s to normalize relations with Israel. The agreement signed between Israel and UAE, first announced last month, is described by the White House as “a treaty of peace, diplomatic relations, and full normalization.” Meanwhile, the agreement between Israel and Bahrain to establish full diplomatic relations is only described as a declaration of intent to make peace since the agreement between the countries was announced last week and not enough time has elapsed to create a formal agreement. A third document signed by leaders of the U.S., Israel, Bahrain and UAE is titled the “Abraham Accords,” a reference to Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The agreements mark the first time in two decades that Israel has entered into a peace agreement with another Middle Eastern country, with the last being Jordan in 1994.
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!