Coptic boy who saw father killed wants to join police ‘to protect Christians’

Marco (l) and Mina (r) standing next to the car that their father drove when he was killed. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

A young Christian boy from a small village in Egypt’s Minya region, who saw his father killed by Islamic militants, dreams of becoming a police officer so he can prevent similar attacks.

Mina was only ten years old when he and his brother Marco, aged 14, saw their father murdered, as a group of armed men ambushed their car on a desert road in rural southern Egyptin May last year.

They were following a bus full of pilgrims that was attacked first. All the Coptic men who would not accept Islam were shot. Then the gunmen heard Ayad’s pick-up truck approach.

Marco recalls how the attackers shot the men in the head, while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest).

“After killing my father and all the workers, one of the terrorists wanted to kill us but another one of them said to him: ‘Leave them alive to tell people what we did’,” he told World Watch Monitor last year. Their father died in Marco’s arms.

Shortly after the incident, Mina was interviewed by Reuters, recounting the horror of the experience.

Now, only in big pictures in the house is their father still with the boys and their two sisters, though the street where they live has also been named after him: Ayed Habib Tawadros Street.

Earlier this year, their mother, Hanaa, expressed concerned about the boys, Mina in particular, but now she says he is “doing better”.

However, in the absence of their father, she says they now feel very responsible. During his school holidays, Marco has continued his father’s work, making church bells, but Mina no longer joins him. “They always want to make sure that at least one man is in the house with me and their sisters,” Hanaa explained.

The emotional impact of what they went through has affected the boys’ lives in other ways too. In school they struggle to focus and have started to lag behind. But their mother says that, 15 months on, they have at least begun to dream again. Marco wants to become an engineer, while Mina says he hopes to become a police officer so “I can protect the Christians, and prevent attacks like what happened to my father”.

Encounter with Jesus on the moon left astronaut changed

James Irwin on the moon

In the rounded gray Apennine mountains of the moon, Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin had an encounter with God he would never forget. Irwin was the eighth man to walk on the moon and the first to ride in the Lunar Rover. Apollo 15 was a ‘J-Mission,’ which meant he and fellow astronaut David Scott spent an extended period on the lunar surface – almost three days, where they collected 170 pounds of geologic material including the famous “Genesis Rock.”

Scientists believe the rock dates back to the time the original lunar crust was formed, which they estimate at 4.5 billion years. “It was remarkable,” Irwin commented later. “It was sitting on a pedestal rock almost free from dust. It seemed to be saying, ‘Here I am, take me.’”

Irwin and Scott worked for an extended period with little rest prior to their liftoff. “Apparently, when Jim was suiting up his water tube kinked so he wasn’t able to get any water,” recalls Mary Irwin, his wife.

Outside their spacesuits, the temperature on the lunar surface was 150 degrees. “He perspired like crazy,” Mary says. “He was losing his electrolyte balance. An imbalance of sodium and potassium can trigger a heart attack,” she notes.

While Irwin did not suffer a heart attack, flight surgeons on earth who monitored the men were alarmed when they saw both astronauts develop irregular heart rhythms.

Irwin’s situation was more severe, with abnormal heartbeats every other beat. Neither man was told about their condition by Mission Control. Flight surgeons reasoned they were already getting 100 percent oxygen, they had continuous monitoring of their vital signs, and they were at zero gravity – conditions that partially replicated or even exceeded an ICU unit back on earth.

NASA also had concerns about wider dissemination of this sensitive health information. “If doctors said something and it was on the loop, who knows who would have leaked that to the press,” Mary notes. “They didn’t need that kind of situation terrifying people.”

As Irwin moved about the lunar surface, apparently unaware of his precarious health situation, he was struck by the size of the earth – about the size of his thumbnail.

“I was just amazed to see the earth,” he said. “It reminded me of a Christmas tree ornament – a very fragile one, hanging majestically in space. It was very touching to see earth from that perspective.”

At one point, Irwin had trouble with a planned experiment. “He was erecting an experiment that wouldn’t erect, due to a cotter pin or something of that nature,” Mary recalls.

Frustrated in his attempts to get the experiment to work, Irwin decided he would pray.

While raised in a Christian home – and a believer and churchgoer since age 10, he was a nominal Christian at this stage of his life. “Maybe he walked away from his walk with the Lord a little,” Mary suggests. “He described himself as a ‘bump on a log Christian.’”

But he really needed wisdom due to this problem and he said, “God I need your help right now.”

Suddenly Irwin experienced the presence of Jesus Christ in a remarkable way, unlike anything he ever felt on earth. “The Lord showed him the solution to the problem and the experiment erected before him like a little altar,” Mary says.

“He was so overwhelmed at seeing and feeling God’s presence so close,” she says. “At one point he turned around and looked over his shoulder as if He was standing there.”

This unusual encounter with Jesus – some 238,000 miles from earth, changed Irwin’s life forever.

After his return from the moon, Irwin rode in a ticker tape parade through the streets of New York. “There were thousands of people lining the street and he was trying to see all their faces,” Mary recalls. “God dropped it in his heart that he had a responsibility to mankind to share Jesus with everyone after that.”

Like other men in church history who have experienced dramatic encounters with God, the result was an increased power to witness for Jesus Christ, a confidence and boldness that fueled his passion to become an emissary for Jesus Christ to the nations.

Within a year of Irwin’s return from space, he resigned from NASA and formed High Flight Foundation, which is on a quest to reach the world as “goodwill ambassadors for the Prince of Peace.”

“God decided that He would send His Son Jesus Christ to the blue planet,” Irwin said, “and it’s through faith in Jesus Christ that we can relate to God. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes unto the Father except through me.’

“As I travel around I tell people the answer is Jesus Christ, that Jesus walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.”

For two decades, Irwin traveled the world and presented small flags he carried from the moon to the leaders of various countries. “These flags were so powerful,” says Bill Dodder, a close friend to Irwin. “He took flags to each country as a means to witness for Jesus Christ.”

Dodder traveled with Irwin on several expeditions to Mt. Ararat in search of Noah’s Ark. “We ran the Great Wall of China together,” Dodder recalls.

Irwin continued to suffer heart problems after he left the space program. On the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission, he spoke in Aspen, Colorado. The next day he took a long bicycle ride to the Maroon Bells near Aspen. After the ride, he collapsed due to a massive heart attack and went to live forever with the God he loved – the same one he encountered on the surface of the moon.

It is ironic, perhaps, that his heavenly homecoming was within hours of the 20th anniversary of his earthly homecoming from the moon.

Dodder was with Irwin on the day he passed away. “The day before he died he said, ‘All I want to do is be faithful.’”

Russia Deploys Fleet Off Syria While Claiming U.S. Preparing for Possible Strike

breaking world news russia syria

(Worthy News) – The Russian Ministry of Defence said on Monday it had noticed Washington was building up its military forces in the Middle East in preparation for what Moscow feared was a possible strike on Syrian government forces, Russian news agencies reported.

Major-General Igor Konashenkov was quoted by agencies as saying that the USS Ross, a guided-missile destroyer, had entered the Mediterranean on Aug. 25 armed with 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of hitting any target in Syria.

Up to 13 Russian warships have crossed the Bosphorus toward Syria so far this week as tensions between the U.S. and Syria continue to rise, according to ship spotters based in the Bosphorus Strait. [ Source: Ha’aretz (Read More…) ]

 

UK Councillor slams ‘extremist’ Christian flyers that speak of God’s love

A local councillor has described gospel tracts posted through letterboxes in Essex as “extreme”, but The Christian Institute says they speak of God’s love.

“What comes after Pride” explains how God opposes people who build up themselves – in contrast to Jesus who humbled himself by dying on the cross.

But David Burton-Sampson, a Basildon councillor, said the content was “appalling” and excludes people.

Very sad

Appearing on BBC Radio Essex, The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director Ciarán Kelly rejected Burton-Sampson’s assessment of the flyers.

“I think it’s very sad that this has been used to attack Christianity. I think it’s very sad that what is essentially a Bible tract is being called extremist literature.

“This seems to be the norm these days – whenever there is a view that is expressed that people don’t like, rather than engaging with that in any kind of way, they call out “bigot”, they call out “extremist”.

God’s rainbow

Mr Kelly also said the assumption the leaflet was speaking about LGBT issues was flawed since it does not mention homosexuality, “LGBT” or gay people.

Challenged over the use of the rainbow on the front cover he pointed out that all seven colours of the rainbow were used, not just the six used by LGBT activists.

He also noted that the row exposed a sad ignorance of Christianity, and that the rainbow is an example of God’s patience and love.

“God had first dibs on the rainbow”.

Astounded

However, Mr Burton-Sampson complained to Essex Police, who are now investigating the tract as a “hate incident”.

A spokesman said: “We received a report on Sunday, August 19 that leaflets with offensive messages on had been delivered to addresses.”

Mr Kelly said it would be “extraordinary” if officers took the matter further.

                           

‘Let’s Kill These Cops’: Convicted Rapper’s Video Not Protected Speech, Says Pennsylvania Supreme Court

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a rapper who had been found guilty of terrorist threats and intimidation after releasing a music video with lyrics that named particular Pittsburgh police officers and called for their death.

Jamal Knox, 24, had been facing drug charges after being found with 15 bags of heroin, $1,500 in cash and a stolen gun in April 2012. While awaiting trial, Knox, also known as “Mayhem Mal,” co-wrote a song entitled “[Expletive] the Police,” which included the names of the two arresting officers.

“This first verse is for Officer [name withheld] and all you fed force [expletive],” the rap tune stated. “And Mr. [name withheld], you can [expletive] my [expletive].”

“Let’s kill these cops, cause they don’t do us no good,” it declared, also suggesting that he knows the officers’ shifts and where they sleep.

A police officer found the music video for the song, which was soon taken down, and Knox was charged with witness intimidation and making terroristic threats. Knox appealed his conviction, arguing that he didn’t post the song online and that it wasn’t meant to be public. He also asserted that the song was simply artistic and protected by the First Amendment.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Defender Association of Philadelphia backed Knox in amicus briefs

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the lower court rulings, stating that the lyrics crossed the boundaries of free speech because they were “highly personalized” and were perceived to be real threats.

“They do not merely address grievances about police-community relations or generalized animosity toward the police. … Rather, they primarily portray violence toward the police, ostensibly due to the officers’ interference with [criminal] activities,” wrote Chief Justice Thomas Saylor on behalf of the unanimous panel.

“The calling out by name of two officers involved in [Knox’s] criminal cases who were scheduled to testify against him, and the clear expression repeated in various ways that these officers are being selectively targeted in response to prior interactions with [Knox], stand in conflict with the contention that the song was meant to be understood as fiction,” he said, according to Penn Live.

The court disagreed with Knox that his words constituted free speech protected by the First Amendment because they had the potential to incite violence.

“[S]peech which threatens unlawful violence can subject the speaker to criminal sanction,” Saylor concluded. “Threats of violence fall outside the First Amendment’s protective scope.”

Proverbs 10:11 reads, “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life, but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”

Jesus also taught in Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil, for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

                    

No longer a slave to lies, 400 years of history

Sharecroppers (B&W pic)

Many blacks in America are not making economic gains because they are convinced injustice is holding them back, says a black conservative.

“How is it,” asks writer and activist Mychal Massie, “that we are to believe [blacks] are no better off than they were during slavery, that blacks are at the bottom of injustice and always attacked at the color of their skin ad nauseam, when we have people coming here from other countries that can barely speak English and have progressed further than we are led to believe that blacks have.”

Rosa ParksMassie wrote in a recent commentary that much of the blames rests on government for setting up an environment – “generational zeitgeist of government dependency,” he writes – that can be traced to the breakdown of the black family and the rise of the single black mother and an absent father.

Massie

“I believe this mentality was born out of the nanny government providing everything for blacks under the guise of, You’ve been mistreated so we’re going to provide special dispensation for you,” says Massie. “And they’ve inculcated a mindset of government dependency from the womb to the grave.”

In the commentary, Massie credits late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a liberal Democrat, for warning in the 1960s that the breakdown of the black family would lead to single mothers and poverty.

Massie goes on to tell OneNewsNow that black conservatives pose a threat to progressives – “skin-color profiteers” – and he urges more blacks to embrace truth and intellectual freedom.

Can Christians Trust Muslim Hospitality?

Arab theologians counsel Americans fearful of “taqiyya,” Islam’s alleged permission to lie, around Eid al-Adha and Ramadan holidays.

Can Christians Trust Muslim Hospitality?

The holiest of Islam’s two yearly holidays is Eid al-Adha; in Arabic, “the feast of the sacrifice.” was on August 21, Muslims worldwide slaughtered sheep, remembering how God saved Abraham from sacrificing his son Ishmael.

Wait, Ishmael? Not Isaac?

Though the Qur‘an doesn’t name the son, Muslims believe it was the ancestor of the Arabs that God used to test Abraham’s faith. Should Christians understand this as a theological error? Or an outright lie?

The identification matters, because Isaac is a prefiguration of Jesus, whose sacrifice saved man from his sins. Religions often have differing traditions; and for Christians, Muhammad’s conscience in founding Islam is unknown. But some Christians today are comfortable delving into the conscience of everyday, ordinary Muslims, finding deception at every turn.

The idea is called taqiyya: that Muslims are permitted by their faith to lie if it will advance the cause of their religion.

Tharwat Wahba, professor of mission at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, cited a tradition of Muhammad that allows Muslims three exceptions to lie for a greater cause: War, reconciliation, and to keep a wife happy.

Might some Muslims extrapolate two of these for their experience in the West? Does the first exception imply there is a secret jihad? In the second exception, a religion of peace?

“Accept kindness and friendship, but be alert and awake,” Wahba said. “Don’t be naïve. Some have agendas.”

So what if a Muslim invites you to a celebration? The lamb might be tasty, but should Christians be wary?

Statistics show they already are.

The 2018 American Muslim Poll from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) found only 36 percent of white evangelicals believe Muslims are committed to the well-being of America.

And according to the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of self-identified white evangelicals believe there is a “great deal” or “fair amount” of support for extremism among Muslims living in America. This is often connected to a fear of Shari’ah law.

Yet according to the 2017l ISPU poll, only 10 percent said Shari’ah should play a legal role in their community.

Are the rest lying? Or are evangelicals predisposed to assume they are?

Taqiyya is an Arabic word that has come to mean “dissimulation,” said Martin Accad, chief academic officer of Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon and associate professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. It is a contested allowance in Islam to conceal your true faith if under personal duress.

But in much anti-Muslim discourse, taqiyya has been redefined into a religious obligation for Muslims to lie to non-Muslims not simply for survival, Accad said, but to serve the expansionist agenda of their religious community.

Without knowing the term, the concept is creeping into Christian consciousness. (For example, Ben Carson brought it up during his presidential campaign.) And Accad wants to nip it in the bud.

“My intention is to guard us against bearing false witness,” he wrote for Ramadan last year. “Would it not represent taqiyya on our part to use a Muslim belief against Islam, by promoting a partial understanding of it?”

Like the name of Abraham’s son, taqiyya is not mentioned in the Qur‘an. But an anti-Muslim website draws attention to several references which seem to imply a license to lie.

The central story in Islamic tradition involves a family converted to Islam by Muhammad. Persecuted, the mother and father refused to give up their faith and were killed.

Their son wavered, maligned the prophet, and praised the pagan gods. Returning later to Muhammad, he received comfort, asked only about what was in his heart.

But a far more prominent theme in the Qur‘an, Accad said, is hypocrisy. Considered a grave sin among Muslims, it is almost always followed with promises of hellfire. An expanded taqiyya definition does not mesh well.

Shia Muslims adhere to taqiyya more than Sunni Muslims, but the reason is historical, he said. They have been persecuted more often by their Sunni rulers.

Amr Salah, a lecturer at the prestigious al-Azhar University in Cairo, hardly heard of taqiyya growing up, save in slander against Shia Muslims. But he was disturbed to hear how some American Christians were being informed.

“The discourse of taqiyya reminds me of how Nazi Germany spoke of the Jews,” he said. “If you say people are not trustworthy, it is dangerous.”

Muslims are taught not to look into the hearts of others to judge their motivations. And they are called to be a witness among the people. (Sumaya, the mother in the above story, was the first martyr in Islam.)

“As humans, we want to survive,” Salah said, noting the story of Peter’s denial at the cross. “The religious ideal is to not deny your faith. But the human response is to have mercy.”

There is a parallel in Christianity’s Novatian and Donatist heresies in the third and fourth centuries, over believers who denied Christ under persecution. Islamic terrorism has revived the issue.

One day last year, Salah sat down to watch the news with his Muslim colleague. Thirty Christians had just been ambushed on the way to a church retreat at a local monastery in Upper Egypt.

One mother had lost her whole family. Spared herself, she had looked into the eyes of the attackers and told the reporter they were just kids. In sympathy, she forgave them.

Unlike many, Salah’s colleague was not impressed.

“It’s all propaganda,” Salah recalled him saying. “Don’t believe her.”

Fuming, the colleague scoured the internet until he found a video of a Coptic bishop cursing and slapping his parishioner in the face.

“This is the ‘forgiveness’ she is speaking about,” he said. “Better start spreading it inside their churches, and teach that bishop about it.”

Salah was not pleased. He explained there are some who do not trust any friendly gesture Christians make toward Muslims.

“If you search for something, you will always find it. But you are giving yourself an excuse to hate others,” he said.

“It is ironic, but understandable. They don’t trust others because they don’t have pure intentions themselves.”

But beyond extremists, certainly some Muslims have an agenda. How can the American Christian discern? And should some Christians examine themselves?

“The Bible calls us to love our neighbors and our enemies. It is impossible to know someone’s intentions with certainty, and anyone is capable of having negative intentions,” said Salim Munayer, executive director of the Jerusalem-based Musalaha reconciliation ministry.

“People should be held accountable for their actions, but this is not something that the church should be preoccupied with. It is a job for the state.”

And in America, the state is keen to stop crime.

“Quite frankly, I have not seen that taqiyya is in any way related to this issue,” Accad said. Needless controversy has been provoked by anti-Muslim groups towards mainstream organizations which do not hide their desire to spread Islam.

Specifically mentioning the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America, Accad said they view this as what God expects of them.

“This is not unlike evangelical sentiments, which do not hide their desire for the entire world to come to faith in Christ,” he said. “And in some circles, they aim also for greater impact in the political and public sphere.

“We may dislike when Muslims do it,” said Accad. “But that does not make it illegitimate.”

Legitimacy comes from the non-forceful spread of religion, including the non-persecution of those who choose a different faith.

Religion does not have a good record on this point historically, Accad said, including mainstream interpretations of Islamic law that still do not allow for full freedom of religion.

Munayer agreed with Accad’s perspective on taqiyya, and described positive interfaith initiatives in the Holy Land. But he had a message to share from one minority to another.

“We should encourage Muslims in America to speak up for religious freedom for Christians in the Middle East, where Christians are a minority,” he said.

Wahba said that those who have militant purposes can usually be easily identified. And he counseled that one should be well-trained before engaging in theological dialogue, in case the agenda is to beautify Islam and draw people in.

But rather than assuming deception, there is also a cultural factor at play, he said. While Western societies value truth-telling, Eastern societies prioritize honor and saving face. Note again the third reason Muslims are permitted to lie (“happy wife, happy life”).

Rather than trying to judge whether or not a Muslim is practicing taqiyya, Wahba recommended 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love believes all things,” he said. “If you fear a Muslim is not honest, it will build walls. But love will go to him and build bridges, and be a means of witness to the gospel.”

Practically speaking, do not be afraid to join Muslims if invited to holiday celebrations, whether the recent Eid or Ramadan’s iftar fast-breaking. Trust God is at work no matter their heart, said Wahba.

“Love is stronger than lying. It is not about them, it is about me.”

Two New Lawsuits Seek to Stop Discrimination Against Religious Schools

An educational choice advocacy group is supporting two lawsuits in Washington and Maine, arguing that laws in the states unconstitutionally discriminate against religious school and other faith-based organizations regarding public funding.

The Institute for Justice’s lawsuits comes after the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2017 that decided a Missouri church should not be barred from secular aid programs.

In Maine, the organization is advocating for three families that filed a legal challenge against a policy of prohibiting religious schools from the state’s school choice program.

In many parts of Maine, the cities aren’t large enough to be zoned for public high schools, so the state offers families money to be spent on their schools of choice, including both private and public schools.

Under the law, however, families cannot use the money to send their children to religious schools.

“By prohibiting tuition payments for children whose parents choose to send them to sectarian schools, it forces parents to either forgo the benefit of tuition funds for their child or forgo their right to send their child to the school of their choice,” the lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court of Maine states. “Defendant has no compelling, substantial, or even legitimate interest in denying tuition-eligible students and their parents sectarian options while allowing private secular options.”

In Washington, the Institute for Justice is supporting a case where a Christian school in Spokane and Whitworth University students jointly filed a complaint against the state’s policy of excluding religious groups from a work-study program.

The program pays for part of a college student’s earnings while they work at part-time jobs. Under the program, students can work for public, private, for-profit and non-profit employers. However, employers that are sectarian are excluded.

The attorney representing the Spokane Christian school, Summit Christian Academy, say the school needs the federal help to pay college students.

“Washington’s exclusion of sectarian options from the Work-Study Program is a clear-cut case of religious discrimination,” Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, said in a statement.

“The U. S. Constitution requires government to be neutral toward religion, not hostile. By denying work-study opportunities to students simply because they desire to work for a religious employer, Washington is running afoul of the First Amendment.”

‘Violating Freedom’: CA Lawmakers Vote Again to Stop Churches from Helping Gays

breaking us news

(Worthy News) – The California Senate has passed a bill that would inhibit the church’s ability to teach on sexuality and anyone seeking counseling to change their same-sex attraction. It does that by outlawing sexual orientation change efforts.

The bill (AB2943) now heads back to the California Assembly for a “concurrence” vote where it’s expected to pass. The assembly previously passed the bill in the spring.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Evan Low, says the bill will stop what he considers to be fraudulent counseling. “We as legislators have a responsibility to protect Californians from harmful and deceptive practices,” he said Thursday. “All Californians should be celebrated, cherished and loved for who they are.” [ Source: CBN News (Read More…) ]