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24 February 2003 Update From H C J B World Radio

A ministry of HCJB World Radio

Today’s News Headlines:


Today’s News Stories:

KURDISH BELIEVER IN IRAQ KILLED BY MAN WITH MACHINE GUN Kurdish convert Ziwar Mohamad Ismaeel was shot dead Monday, Feb. 17, in the city of Zakho in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Local sources say that Ismaeel, a taxi driver, was killed by a man about 40 years old wielding a machine gun. The suspect was apprehended by other taxi drivers. The motive for the killing is unknown, but friends of the victim said that following Ismaeel’s conversion several years ago, his openness about his Christian faith created tension with local Muslims. At press time, Ismaeel’s relatives were unwilling to give him a burial due to their strong opposition to his conversion. When he first became a Christian seven years ago, family members consulted a mullah who recommended killing him for being an “apostate.” Ismaeel was arrested for the first time in 2001 when policemen found three Bibles in his car. At the police station they told him that he would be killed if he did not return to Islam. He refused, and two weeks later he was released. Ismaeel refused offers to remain in hiding after subsequent attempts on his life. “With Jesus on my side, I have nothing to fear,” he told friends. “Even when they kill me, I will never deny Christ.” Ismaeel leaves a wife and five children. (Open Doors/Assist News Service)

NEW LAW COULD THREATEN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN HONG KONG Since Hong Kong was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997, China has consistently violated the agreement signed by the Chinese and British governments regarding the governance and autonomy of the island. In the agreement, Hong Kong was to retain its economic and social systems as a democratic society for 50 years. However, China has since assumed more control of the government than what was agreed upon. For example, an article that could become law by July states that any group in Hong Kong which receives funds, direction or leadership from a group already outlawed by Beijing would also be banned in Hong Kong. Also, appeals by organizations banned under the new law would potentially be heard only by closed tribunals, barring group members and their legal representatives from the proceedings. Catholic Bishop Joseph Zen says this law could effectively remove freedom to worship for Hong Kong’s 347,000 Catholics. The Roman Catholic Church, banned in China, was replaced by the Chinese government with a Catholic organization loyal to the state rather than the Vatican. While the new law specifically targets groups in Hong Kong that are controlled by illegal organizations based in China, the Chinese government has frequently shown its resolve to remove any religious organization that is not subservient to the state. (Voice of the Martyrs)

COLOMBIAN GUERRILLAS RELEASE PASTOR 6 MONTHS AFTER KIDNAPPING Colombian Seventh-day Adventist pastor Gonzalo Cardona was released Feb. 6 after being kidnapped by guerrillas nearly six months ago. Cardona, who pastored an 800-member church in Uraba in northwestern Colombia, was abducted Aug. 19 while traveling in his car with his family. “I have been reborn, thank the Lord,” Cardona declared after his release. Church members, pastors, leaders and friends welcomed Cardona with signs and cheers as he and his family arrived in the city of Medellín Feb. 9. “He has undergone some stress tests, and has a mild case of malaria due to the unhealthy conditions while being exposed to the elements of the jungle in captivity,” said José Rojano, communication director for the church in Colombia. In the last year, six Adventist members were kidnapped. All were later were released with the exception of church auditor Dionisio Galindo who disappeared earlier this year. (Adventist News Network)

* Together with local partners, HCJB World Radio broadcasts the gospel on FM stations in four Colombian cities. The ministry also continues to air Spanish programs across the country and all of Latin America via shortwave from Quito.

CHRISTIAN RUSSIAN RADIO PROGRAMS AIR TO 1,000 INMATES IN WOMEN’S JAIL More than 1,000 inmates of a women’s jail in St. Petersburg, Russia, heard Christian radio programs broadcast for the first time Tuesday, Feb. 18, while in their cells. “From now on we are going to be broadcasting Christian programs in this jail for up to five hours a day,” said Yan Volkov, head of the prison ministry of the Association of Christian Churches of Russia. “We installed a pre-tuned radio in each cell of the jail. During the installation, many women told us that they’ve been waiting for these programs. We’ve been praying for the possibility of Christian radio broadcasts in this jail for a year. Today we praise God for He hears our prayers and equips us with all that we need for the ministry. We believe that many inmates will receive salvation and grow spiritual spiritually through this ministry.” Plans are being made to install similar radio systems in 16 more prisons in the region. Meanwhile, the warden of the women’s jail has offered the prison ministry a position on the jail’s council. “The task of this council is to help those who are misbehaving and those about to be released,” Volkov said. “The warden said something that was a pleasant surprise for us: ‘Please, come to us and teach us God’s Word. Give us lectures in the form which will be understandable for us and our workers.'” (Assist News Service)

* HCJB World Radio has been sending gospel broadcasts across Russia via shortwave since 1941. In the early 1990s the ministry began working to “plant” local radio ministries in Russia and now works with partners in a dozen cities. In 2000 HCJB World Radio helped launch the first Christian Russian radio satellite network (operated by Christian Radio for Russia) which reaches from Eastern Europe to Siberia. Downlinks have been installed with more than 25 partners across Russia, and many more are planned.

MINISTRY EXPANDS OUTREACH IN PERSIAN GULF AS U.S AMASSES FORCES While the U.S. amasses forces in the Persian Gulf in preparation for a possible war with Iraq, Bible Pathway Ministries is taking advantage of the uncertainty by spreading the gospel in the conflict zone. “I do not think it will setback the ministry,” said a mission spokesman. “I believe the door may be more open inside of Iraq. The Iraqi people are tired, hungry in darkness, and they are searching to find the switch to turn the light on.” He says response to Bible Pathway’s outreach in the area has been encouraging with more and more Iraqis realizing that true freedom is only found in Christ. (Mission Network News)

CAMPUS CRUSADE FOR CHRIST FOUNDER RE-ENTERS HOSPITAL Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, 81, re-entered the hospital on Feb. 16 as his health continues to deteriorate. He was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung disease, in the fall of 2000. “It appears that what God has prepared for Bill in heaven is about ready for him,” said his wife, Vonette, in a website report. Doctors recommended that he enter hospice care. “Bill has surprised all of us with an additional two years of productivity. During this time he has [continued writing] books . . . and launched the Global Pastors Network and the Discover God Movement which is currently unfolding.” Meanwhile, friends and family are praying for God to intervene. “We have known from the beginning of diagnosis that without a miracle Bill’s time on earth is limited,” Vonette said. “We have been and are surrounded by the most wonderful doctors who have given their very best to provide healing care, and godly people, including you, who are praying.” Campus Crusade for Christ, founded by Bright in 1951, has grown from a tiny outreach to a major worldwide ministry with more than 25,000 full-time staff and 553,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries. (Campus Crusade for Christ)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * James A. Ferrier HCJB World Radio U.S. Ministries Communications Director E-mail: Phone: 1-719-590-9800 Fax: 1-719-590-9801 Web: http://www.hcjb.org http://www.beyondthecall.org * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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