This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Religion News Service, In a funeral service that offered as much military pomp as it did spiritual comfort, the life of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was remembered Saturday (April 17) at Windsor Castle, the British royal family’s home outside of London. The Right Rev. David Conner, the dean of the chapel, honored Philip’s life of service to the British Commonwealth, greeting the approximately 30 attendees at St. George’s Chapel steps by remembering the prince consort’s life as “an inspiration to us,” and praising his devotion to the queen. “We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our queen, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith,” said Conner. “Our lives have been enriched through the challenges that he has set us, the encouragement that he has given us, his kindness, humor and humanity.” Hewing closely to the traditional Anglican funeral liturgy, the service’s hymns and readings reflected Philip’s service in the Royal Navy and his environmental work, with only a nod to his Greek Orthodox Christian beginnings. But the funeral was marked too by its brevity and spareness, in part due to the risk of spreading COVID-19. Conner celebrated the barely hour-long service, which did not include the Eucharist, with the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Anglican communion.
According to the Christian Post, Thirteen Eritrean Christians remain imprisoned after authorities raided two separate prayer meetings last month where 35 people were taken into custody, including several women. Twenty-two of the 23 Christians who were arrested at a prayer meeting in the capital of Asmara last month, most of whom were women, were released from the Mai Sarawa prison last Sunday, while of all the 12 Christians who were arrested in the city of Assab, 660 miles southeast from Asmara, remain in Assab prison, where conditions are known to be harsh, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported. The ICC, which released its report based on information received from Release International and Barnabas Fund, said the arrests were carried out by members of the Eritrean Army late last month.
According to Christianity Today, On Monday night, the French Senate passed an anti-terrorism law that has greatly concerned church leaders. Now called the Law to Uphold Republican Principles and the Fight Against Separatism, the bill—approved by a 208–109 vote, with 27 abstentions—intends to combat the Islamist radicalism that has incited numerous attacks on French soil in recent years. However, the Macron administration’s desire to make France safer has put the nation’s deeply rooted freedom of religion in the crosshairs. “The wind has changed in France,” said Clément Diedrichs, general director of the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF), which according to new research represents half of French Protestants. The government has “clearly indicated that we’re no longer in a Christian society.” “Religion has become expendable,” he observed, saying that the country’s leadership no longer has any desire to protect space for any faith.
According to the Christian Post, Allies of the Indian government are working to pressure the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to reverse its recommendation that the State Department label India as a “country of particular concern” for religious freedom violations, an activist warns. John Prabhudoss, the chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations, spoke at a panel event Wednesday to discuss “India’s Designation as CPC” hosted by International Christian Concern. The panel discussed the state of religious freedom in India and the need for the State Department to designate the world’s second-largest nation as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations.
According to Premier Christian News, The eight members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) who were abducted while on a church trip to evangelise have been freed. The General Overseer of RCCG announced the news on Twitter. He said: “Today I got the exciting news that our brethren who were in captivity of kidnappers have all been released and taken to the Hospital for checkup and tests.” “Glory be to Jesus. We pray for lasting peace in all troubled regions of the country in Jesus name.” Last month, the group was travelling towards the town of Kafachan in the Kaduna state as part of an Easter evangelistic programme when attackers intercepted the bus and kidnapped them leaving the bus behind. An eyewitness, Eje Kenny Faraday, then posted a picture of the empty bus and said “All passengers in the bus are just kidnapped along Kachia Road, Km 63 from Kaduna.” At the time of the abduction, it was reported a ransom for the equivalent of £88,000 was demanded but it is unknown if it has been paid, according to International Christian Concern.
According to the Christian Post, Lebanon, known as a haven for Christianity in the Middle East, is on the brink of financial collapse and teeters on the edge of failed-state status if its path is not quickly reversed, an expert roundtable hosted by a leading Middle Eastern Christians advocacy group warned. “Lebanon is moving rapidly towards total state failure. Full collapse would take weeks to unfold but decades to repair,” former U.S. Ambassador Ed Gabriel, the president of the American Task Force on Lebanon, said during a media roundtable hosted by In Defense of Christians last Friday. Richard Ghazal, a senior advisor for IDC, a nonpartisan Washington-based grassroots human rights organization, said Lebanon will not remain “the final remaining bastion of Christianity in the Middle East” if immediate action does not take place to reverse the country’s downfall.
According to the Christian Post, Over 7 million people across six East African countries are at the cusp of starvation as communities have faced existential threats from violence, flooding, the pandemic and locust infestation, the evangelical humanitarian organization World Vision has warned. According to the charity, which operates in nearly 100 countries, thousands of children could face death or long-term health consequences if the international community does not respond quickly to East Africa’s worsening crisis. Debebe Dawit, program manager for World Vision’s humanitarian emergency affairs team, recently visited Ethiopia and saw firsthand the effects of poverty in the East African country. He said the situation is “severe.”
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!