News: Authorities In Sudan Demolish Church Building In Khartoum

Authorities in Sudan yesterday demolished a church building in North Khartoum, sources said.

The 64 members of the Evangelical Church in Al Haj Yousif in the Sudanese capital will have no place to worship next Sunday after land officials sent a bulldozer accompanied by police to tear down their building without prior notice, according to one of the church’s leaders.

Police on three trucks arrived at the church compound accompanied by a bulldozer just a few hours after the end of Sunday worship, the leader said.

“They took everything from the church,” she said.

Officials told church leaders that the church was demolished because worship created public disturbances, but Christian leaders said the church sat on land that the government is helping a Muslim business interest to seize.

Leaders of the Evangelical Church in Al Haj Yousif said the Muslim who claims ownership of the church property has forged documents showing ownership.

They said the church has owned the property since 1989, and that a judge last year verbally confirmed its ownership.
With police at the ready in case of potential confrontations, the bulldozer began demolishing the structure by noon.

Eyewitnesses said police confiscated chairs, tables and Bibles before the demolition.

One Christian called for rights organizations to pressure the Sudanese government to return the confiscated items.

“We urge all activists and human rights supporters around the world to denounce this move and demand for the return of the confiscated property of the church,” Christian activist Samaan Mahajoub wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday (Feb. 11).

A court dispute about ownership of the church site is still pending in court.
The Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) confirmed the demolition.

“These crazy actions will not stop us from praying and praising God!” he told Morning Star News. “God is Almighty.”
The incident has attracted widespread outrage among Christians in Sudan, with many saying it directly shows hatred of Christians.

In its campaign to rid the country of Christianity, Sudan has designated at least 25 church buildings for destruction , claiming they were built on government lands, Christian leaders said.

On Feb. 5 a court fined seven Christians for defending church properties.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2017 report.

Sudan ranked fourth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

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Report: Christian Persecution Is Worse Today Than Ever Before?

This is not a debate but so far we believe in our faith and religion. The early church suffered a lot more because they were all over spreading the Gospel manually, compared to our digital world and age. If not for their bold and courageous movement, we won’t be here.

The early Christian persecution started with Those who have believed in the one God of heaven and earth have continually been persecuted by rulers and kings since time began. However, when we speak of early Christian persecution, we are referring to the time following Jesus Christ’s suffering and persecution for His Church – His death on the cross. He paid the price for all of our sins, He was spat upon, beaten beyond recognition, humiliated, and finally nailed to a cross like a hardened criminal until He died. After three days, He rose again and even now, He lives and is the right hand of God the Father where He rules and reigns with Him.

How was it that the church underwent such sacrifices? The Roman religion was not intolerant; Rome had accepted into its pantheon deities from the Italian tribes and from Asia Minor. In the provinces, the great territorial gods—such as Saturn in North Africa and Jehovah among the Jews—were accepted as “legal religion” on the grounds that their rites, even if barbarous, were sanctified by ancient tradition.

Countless local gods and goddesses, worshiped by the ordinary inhabitants of the Greco-Roman world, were often provided with a classical equivalent name and worshiped as “Roman” deities.

Despite this toleration, by the early second century the Roman governor of Bithynia (on the Black Sea) had no hesitation in sending to immediate execution those who had been denounced as being Christians. The name alone was a sufficient death warrant.

Reasons for the persecution emerge from the record of Christianity’s first three centuries.

So back to the topic of the day according to Christian Headlines, When you think of the worst time in history for Christian persecution, perhaps you think of the Roman Coliseum or the Middle Ages and Reformation when Christians were burned at the stake for translating the Bible into the common language.

There are countless time periods in history when Christians have faced persecution for their faith. Jesus warned that persecution would come (John 15:20). We know this as Christians.

What may surprise you, however, (especially if you are a Christian living in the West), is that a new report has shown that Christian persecution is actually worse today than ever before in history.
According to Relevant Magazine, this report comes from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic persecution charity that “provides pastoral and humanitarian assistance to the persecuted Church around the world.”

This increase in Christian persecution is in large part due to terrorist groups like ISIS in the Middle East and Boko Haram in Nigeria. These groups particularly target Christians.

Of the 13 countries where Christian persecution has been most severe, none of them have shown improvement in the past year except Saudi Arabia, where, the report says, “the situation was already so bad, it could scarcely get worse.”

Persecuted Christians from Iran to Indonesia to North Korea often feel forgotten by those in the West, especially because Western governments are not doing enough to provide them with aid.

David Curry, the CEO of Open Doors, another Christian persecution charity that releases an annual World Watch List of countries where Christian persecution is most severe, offered some hope in this situation: “One of the reasons we call ourselves Open Doors is we fundamentally think there are no doors closed to Jesus, and we know that the Church is everywhere. The body of Christ is everywhere. So we’re going to tackle them. There are no off-limits places to us.”

Photo credit: Google

9 Good Reasons To Get A Tattoo

Before we get too excited (or downright furious) about good reasons to get a tattoo, let’s not ignore the fact there are plenty of bad reasons. I’m not talking so much about the related health risks and pricey fees, which alone should make someone think before they ink, rather a person’s motive behind getting a tattoo.

What is his or her heart behind it?

Is it to purposefully intimidate, scare, or offend others? Is it to impress a certain someone or to come across as edgy and hardcore? And what about getting a tattoo while intoxicated, while heartbroken, while bored, or while on Spring break? Under such circumstances, it’s probably best that a person waits until they’re able to better process the pros and cons.

And then there’s Leviticus 19:28, where it says to not “mark your skin with tattoos.” But a contextual reading reveals that God didn’t want His people practicing the same things as the pagan nations, which included getting tattoos. But God also didn’t want them piercing their bodies and, in verse 27, trimming their beards.

So where does that leave us today? Is it possible to honor God and get a tattoo? Knowing that “people look at the outside appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 17:7), let’s see if we can find nine good reasons to get a tattoo.

1. TO SHARE YOUR FAITH
The longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I’ve seen God’s Word go out in ways beyond my understanding. When my kids were little, they’d ask the craziest questions: “Can a person come to Jesus after reading John 3:16 on some dude’s muscly arm?” Why, absolutely!

Isaiah 55:11 says this about God’s Word: “I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” —if that means onto the well-defined arm of a weightlifter, then so be it.

2. TO HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

There’s no rule that says in order for a Christian to get a tattoo, it must be faith-based. But when it does represent the love of God, whether with Scripture or an image, it can be effective at holding the tattooed person accountable. At least that’s the idea.

So in the same way it doesn’t seem right when a car plastered with Jesus bumper stickers cuts you off, it also doesn’t seem right when a person with a visible cross tattoo gives you the finger.

I know my husband loves me. I can tell because he likes to eat with me and call me on his way to work. And I’m pretty sure I’m his favorite person to watch TV with. But the day he said, “I’m thinking about getting a tattoo. And I want it to have your name: Molly ,” it somehow reinforced his commitment to me… and I liked it.

Well, did he get one? No. But the sentiment brought reassurance just the same, as I imagine sweethearts, daughters, and sons around the world might feel likewise—not to mention all the mothers who’ve inspired the ever popular “Mom”-inside-a-heart tattoo.

3. TO DECLARE YOUR COMMITMENT TO SWEETHEARTS AND FAMILY

I know my husband loves me. I can tell because he likes to eat with me and call me on his way to work. And I’m pretty sure I’m his favorite person to watch TV with. But the day he said, “I’m thinking about getting a tattoo. And I want it to have your name: Molly ,” it somehow reinforced his commitment to me… and I liked it.

Well, did he get one? No. But the sentiment brought reassurance just the same, as I imagine sweethearts, daughters, and sons around the world might feel likewise—not to mention all the mothers who’ve inspired the ever popular “Mom”-inside-a-heart tattoo.

4. TO ELIMINATE JUDGMENT

There’s no getting around the stigma associated with tattoos. Even though we’ve come a long way, our imaginations run wild when we assume tattoos only happen in smoky tattoo parlors located down dark alleys—and for bad reasons. But for all we know, a guy or gal could have gotten their tattoos next door to a preschool… on a Tuesday afternoon… after getting their teeth cleaned.

On the flipside, anti-tattoo types aren’t the only ones prone to forming negative opinions, for they are often judged by pro-tattoo types as being hoity toity. Judgment can definitely go both ways.

But for those who do have a juicy, “dark alley” story behind their tattoo—one filled with regret, one they’d like to move past—what better way to have their dignity restored than to have a tattooed neighbor, pastor, or co-worker reach out in friendship? Does that mean we should all get tattoos to better relate to others? No. But if you’ve got one, God can use it to put people at ease and build solidarity.

5. TO SERVE AS A MEMORIAL

There’s no getting around the stigma associated with tattoos. Even though we’ve come a long way, our imaginations run wild when we assume tattoos only happen in smoky tattoo parlors located down dark alleys—and for bad reasons. But for all we know, a guy or gal could have gotten their tattoos next door to a preschool… on a Tuesday afternoon… after getting their teeth cleaned.

On the flipside, anti-tattoo types aren’t the only ones prone to forming negative opinions, for they are often judged by pro-tattoo types as being hoity toity. Judgment can definitely go both ways.

But for those who do have a juicy, “dark alley” story behind their tattoo—one filled with regret, one they’d like to move past—what better way to have their dignity restored than to have a tattooed neighbor, pastor, or co-worker reach out in friendship? Does that mean we should all get tattoos to better relate to others? No. But if you’ve got one, God can use it to put people at ease and build solidarity.

Much like grief, tattoos are highly personal. But unlike grief, tattoos are oftentimes out in the open for all to see. Memorial tattoos can help people confront their grief when the significance of their loss is displayed. Also, tattoos in remembrance of service to one’s country can create a healthy sister and brotherhood among fellow veterans.

And when people get tattoos that carry such depth of emotion, they often act as a balm to the soul; they become great conversation-starters, in turn helping people process their grief.

6. TO REMIND YOU OF YOUR ROOTS

Every summer, my family and I head to a Christian family camp in the redwoods on California’s central coast. I’ve been going since I was four; that’s 40 years of sweet memories, timeless traditions, meaningful connections, and tender God-moments. It’s heavenly.

And I’ve always thought that if I ever get a tattoo, it’d be a small redwood tree as a reminder of my roots at camp, the place that grounds me every summer. Then as life runs its course throughout the year, with its highs and lows, I’d have a small tattoo to daily renew my perspective. Much in the same way I’ll stick Bible verses on my mirror or on my fridge to remind me of God’s presence, my little redwood tree would act like a Post-it note for the body.

7. TO USE FOR MEDICAL REASONS

Just the other week, a friend shared about her niece who was born with Situs Inversus, a congenital condition in which the major visceral organs are reversed. She said doctors are suggesting she get a tattoo on her chest, notifying emergency personnel of her condition, should she ever require immediate care. Now that’s a good reason to get a tattoo!

There are also radiation tattoos that determine the exact area for treatment, applied to the skin for precise targeting. Sometimes tattoos are needed to replace medical bracelets—and so much more.

8. TO MAKE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

Many people get beautiful tattoos to cover their “imperfections,” such as scars and burns. They can act as a confidence-booster, especially at the beach when sporting a bathing suit. But one thing to consider: large scars and burns require even larger tattoos, taking up a sizable portion of skin real estate—so it’s definitely worth thinking through.

And although most people are comfortable with their birthmarks and freckles, folks with ink -linations often get creative with their body’s more natural markings, turning them into works of art—enhancing what God has already given them.

9. TO REMIND YOU TO MAKE BETTER CHOICES

Many people get beautiful tattoos to cover their “imperfections,” such as scars and burns. They can act as a confidence-booster, especially at the beach when sporting a bathing suit. But one thing to consider: large scars and burns require even larger tattoos, taking up a sizable portion of skin real estate—so it’s definitely worth thinking through.

And although most people are comfortable with their birthmarks and freckles, folks with ink -linations often get creative with their body’s more natural markings, turning them into works of art—enhancing what God has already given them.

Because tattoos and regret often go hand-in-hand, tattoos can also serve as great reminders to make better choices. If a person is obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles at age 21, they may not be at age 75. And while tattoo removals are becoming more effective, they’re still a little iffy.

So before you get tatted with “sleeves” on both arms in honor of someone or something you love or respect, take time to pray it through. And if the thought of a loved one tattooing your name onto their bodies gives you the heebie jeebies… it’s too late, for someone already has. Isaiah 48:16 says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands,” revealing that God is all-out committed to you.