This is Whyte House Report podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to the Christian Post, All the world knows now about deacon Jang Moon Seok is that he was abducted by North Korean agents in China six years ago and has been languishing in a forced labor camp ever since. His “crime?” Jang gave food, clothes, a warm bed, and the love of God to the hungry, naked, cold, and desperate refugees who fled across the border, Voice of the Martyrs spokesman Todd Nettleson told The Christian Post. In old pictures, Jang is seen looking at the camera with a wide, neutral expression and neatly brushed black hair. Now, no one knows for certain whether he’s still alive. “Kidnapped people are captured, gagged, blindfolded and handcuffed, and put on transportation to North Korea,” said executive director of the Committee for Human rights in North Korea, Greg Scarlatoiu, in an interview with CP. From a court which accused him of “defaming the regime, attempting to incite subversion of state power and providing aid and Gospel to North Koreans,” Jang, a deacon, received a sentence of 15 years. He is not old, but he will likely die a prisoner. “The life expectancy in a prison camp in North Korea is less than 15 years,” Nettleson said. “He would be subjected to forced labor, working, farming, planting apple trees or other kinds of tasks,” Scarlatoiu said. Jang is likely lonely and separated from other prisoners, he said. He has probably been tortured, Nettleson stressed. Both believe Jang might be dead.
According to Mission Network News, Many Wycliffe Associates’ Bible translators in Nigeria have been forced to halt or delay their work due to terrorist activity, COVID-19, and a lack of resources. Wycliffe partners with the Nigerian Bible Translation Trust in the city of Jos, which helps equip many translators with the tools and training they need. “We had a Wycliffe Associates staff member training key individuals in the software that we use on tablets, in the actual methodology for translation, so that they could take that back into the bush,” Tabitha Price of Wycliffe Associates says. “It’s a risk for anybody that travels that road [to Jos]. It’s known around Africa and even the world as a very dangerous route because of the terrorism and the kidnappings that take place. Even coming to the campus to do training is a challenge. It’s something that we really trust the Lord for [and] pray for His guidance.” In addition to the terrorist threats, the pandemic has meant many translation projects have been slowed by travel restrictions. “Many of the translators don’t live in the same village, same city, and because of the pandemic, they’ve not been able to get together. We’re talking villages without internet access, so they can’t be in touch with other translators,” Price says. Other projects that were in training stages have been halted completely. Price says Wycliffe wants to reschedule training sessions once travel and gathering restrictions make it possible to do so. Many translators also find themselves facing unemployment and other challenges because of the economic crisis the pandemic has caused. “The economic impact means that crime goes up and day laborers don’t actually have day jobs anymore, so they can’t feed their families,” Price says. “In some instances, we’ve been amazed to see that translators have been able to spend more time on the translation, but let’s not ignore the fact that they’re out of a job. They don’t have the necessary food or the money to pay for their electricity in the places where that’s available.”
According to Mission Network News, While mental health is already a worldwide concern during the pandemic, Tajikistan is the poorest country in the former Soviet Union, making its citizens especially vulnerable. Without a national mental health program, people who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts have few places to go for help. That’s why SAT-7, a satellite broadcast ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, is launching a new program in Tajikistan called Mental and Spiritual Health. The program will be featured on their Farsi-speaking channel SAT-7 PARS. SAT-7 USA’s marketing and communications manager Joe Willey explains, “The program was developed for women in Tajikistan where the suicide rate, sadly, has been increasing in recent years. The majority [of suicides] are young women between the ages of 18 and 40. So this program was created to help women thrive both mentally and spiritually.” Tajikistan is 98 percent Muslim and family structure is everything in the culture. When a young woman in Tajikistan gets married, she often moves in with her husband and in-laws and is expected to serve the family. In this context, abuse and bullying can take place, and seeking outside help is frowned upon. “There’s a lack of understanding and also a stigma around the issue of mental health,” Willey says. “Many try to hide their symptoms because they worry what people will think of them.” SAT-7’s Mental and Spiritual Health program is presented by Christians and medical professionals who can offer mental health support and hope in Christ.
According to Assist News Service, The wife and family of a Pakistani Christian have had to go into hiding after her husband was sentenced to death for blasphemy, according to Release International. The charity reports Marilyn Asif and her four young children have had to flee for their lives after her husband Asif was falsely accused of sending blasphemous text messages. Asif, who’s 37, has already spent seven years in jail after a blasphemy case was filed against him in 2013. He was given the death penalty on September 8. The case against Asif was brought after the Christian refused to take part in Muslim prayers at his factory or convert to Islam. Asif lost his phone, which was used to send a so-called blasphemous text message to his supervisor at work. Asif believes the text was actually sent by his accuser to incriminate him. Asif’s wife is now fearful for the safety of her children. A partner of Release International, which supports persecuted Christians, says: ‘She is in hiding because she feels threatened. She is trying to keep her three sons and daughter safe.’
According to Mission Network News, Netherlands’ government will allow terminally-ill children between the ages of 1 and 12 years old to be euthanized, CNA reports. Officials expect this legislation will affect 5 to 10 children per year. Under current laws, Dutch doctors can euthanize children older than 12 and younger than 1 with parental consent. “This is just closing the gap that was left,” Michel Shoun of Life Matters Worldwide says. Lawmakers in the Netherlands aren’t the only European leaders loosening euthanasia norms. “Belgium, their next-door neighbor, has very liberal euthanasia laws,” Shoun notes. Great Britain could see legislation by 2025 – a move discouraged by a former euthanasia advocate Dr. Bert Keizer. “Thankfully, I don’t believe there’s any movement here [in the U.S.] to do similar things with minors and young people because we have pretty strong informed consent laws,” Shoun says. “Whether it’s sexual activity and minors, or a kid being able to get an aspirin at school, they have to have a note from home. It’s assumed that young people can’t give consent for certain things.” Christians serve a Lord that has risen from the dead, and this high regard for life has often led them to oppose euthanasia legislation. Pray many would see the love of Christians and seek the living hope of Jesus.
According to Mission Network News, Many people feel stuck right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stuck at home, stuck in a routine, and stuck not knowing how to best move forward in their walk with Christ. That’s why e3 Partners and I Am Second have created a quiz to help people figure out the next step on their walk with Christ. Executive Director Mike Jorgensen says, “Because to us, to live second is to obey Christ, to do what He says, to follow Him, to be His disciples. And so, as people answer the questions, they’ll figure out where they are in their journey. And then we have helpful tips for them, no matter where they are in their journey.” You can take the quiz by joining the I Am Second community, or by visiting iamsecond.com. After someone takes the quiz, Jorgensen says they will have the opportunity to talk to Live Second coaches about their results and get some guidance. “We’ve had people from all over the United States and from other countries that have asked for Live Second coaches. All the coaches have already been on this journey. So they’re very knowledgeable about what to do next.”
According to Mission Network News, It can be hard for anyone to understand why fathers are marrying their young daughters to elderly men in 2020. Although historically even in many Western countries, it wasnʼt unusual for young girls to be married off to elderly men, these countries have now largely ended child marriage. However, strict Islamic countries have struggled to abolish the practice due to legalistic interpretations of Islam that forbid any deviation from cultural norms practiced by Arab tribes a thousand years ago. Such was the case in 1999 when Yemenʼs parliament cited religious grounds as it abolished article 15 of Yemenʼs Personal Status Law, which set the minimum age for marriage for boys and girls at 15. Since then, Yemen has had no minimum age for marriage. Human Rights Watch (HRW) points out that while now “boys or girls can be married at any age, in practice it is girls who are most often married young, often to much older men.” Today, international organizations such as UNICEF, regard marriage by a person below the age of 18 to be a child marriage and a violation of human rights. According to UNICEF, Yemen remains one of only a handful of nations in the region without a legal minimum age for marriage. Yet even without a legal basis, in rare cases, Yemeni officials have been known to intervene on behalf of very young girls whose cases come to their attention.
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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 on the cross for your sins, 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 you.