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24 June 2003 Update From H C J B World Radio

A ministry of HCJB World Radio

Today’s News Headlines:


Today’s News Stories:

CHRISTIANS REPORTEDLY SUFFERING IN NORTH KOREAN PRISON CAMPS Tens of thousands of people accused of political crimes are reportedly being tortured, starved, humiliated and murdered in modern-day prison camps in North Korea, where some of the worst brutality is reserved for Christians. Conditions in the prisons are so horrifying that they are almost beyond description, escaped prisoners say. Cannibalism is not uncommon among the starving prisoners. Officers use women as sexual slaves and guards kill newborn babies. Inmates are used as guinea pigs for testing biological and chemical agents, according to former inmates and U.S. officials. The North Korean government, ruled by dictator Kim Jong Il, does not acknowledge the existence of the camps. However, international human-rights organizations estimate that there are 200,000 prisoners in 12 political prison camps in the country, plus about 30 forced-labor and education camps. Defectors who are Christians say they have been imprisoned because they were reading pages of the Bible, preaching the gospel or talking about God, according to Michael Horowitz of the Hudson Institute. “Several thousand Christians are being held in labor camps where they reportedly faced torture, starvation and death,” according to Amnesty International. Christians are considered “less than human” and are treated “worse than animals” by their captors, unless they are willing to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ and declare that Kim Jong Il is God, said Soon Ok Lee, a Christian who was a prisoner of the camps for 13 years. (Maranatha)

POPE ASKS SERBS TO FORGIVE CATHOLIC CHURCH FOR WORLD WAR II CRIMES Pope John Paul II has asked Serbs to forgive the Catholic Church for crimes against humanity during World War II. The pontiff made his appeal Sunday, June 22, in the Serb part of Bosnia Herzegovina, which was devastated by the more recent Balkan conflict of the 1990s. The ailing 83-year old pontiff made his appeal for forgiveness at a mass attended by some 50,000 pilgrims held at the site of a Franciscan monastery near Banja Luka. The monastery was destroyed by Serb forces during the 1992-95 Bosnian war because of its role as a World War II base for Nazi-allied Croat Ustashe forces. It was also the home of Franciscan leader Vjekoslav Filipovic, who earned the title “Brother Satan” because of his involvement in the nearby Jasenovac concentration camp where at least 40,000 people, including many Jews, were massacred. Relatives of those who died had protested against the ceremony, while Bosnian Serb hardliners in the region put up “Pope Go Home” posters, but they were removed before the pope arrived. Speaking in Bosnian, Pope John Paul suggested he understood the wounds of history which were painfully re-opened during the Bosnian war of the last decade. About 200,000 people died during that conflict and 2 million were made homeless. (Assist News Service)

SEVERE PERSECUTION OF AFRICAN CHRISTIANS RAISED IN U.K. DEBATE The severe persecution of Christians in parts of Africa was highlighted in a House of Commons debate in the U.K. last week. Conservative Member of Parliament Alistair Burt introduced the debate. He said: “By standing up for the rights of persecuted religious groups, we are also helping to tackle other human rights abuses and to promote a more healthy respect for human rights throughout the world.” Burt went on to give an overview of the situation in Africa, focusing in particular on Nigeria. Noting that the current bouts of violence began in 1999, when some northern Muslim states began to impose sharia law, he pointed out that this was part of an overall strategy to impose full sharia law in a majority of Nigeria’s 36 states. Once they have that majority they can challenge the country’s constitution and, eventually, declare Nigeria a fully Islamic state, rather than the secular one that it is now. That should be of deep concern to anyone who is interested in Nigeria’s future welfare.” (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

* HCJB World Radio, together with partners In Touch Ministries, SIM and the Evangelical Church of West Africa, began airing weekly half-hour programs in the Igbo language in 2000. The programs air via shortwave to Nigeria’s 15 million Igbo speakers.

CANADIAN GOVERNMENT ASSURES CHURCHES ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LAW The Canadian government moved quickly last week to assure churches and religious groups that planned laws allowing for same-sex marriages will not be imposed on them. “We’ll be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it,” Prime Minister Jean Chretien said, after announcing his government will not appeal three recent court rulings that said banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Chretien said Ottawa would rewrite the traditional definition of marriage to allow for same-sex matrimony. If successful, Canada would be the third country in the world to recognize gay marriages. Chretien acknowledged some religious groups and individual Canadians will not agree with the decision. But he said it would balance the need for equality with religious freedoms guaranteed in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And he stressed that Ottawa would not impose the new law on religious groups, who can still refuse to perform same-sex weddings. (Religion News Service)

FORMER MOSQUE TEACHER LAUNCHES CHRISTIAN RADIO MINISTRY A man who was once in training to be a teacher at a Muslim mosque started an indigenous ministry in North Africa that is being helped by Christian Aid. Watching his former teachers practice sorcery scared him and led to a desire to know the true God. Through the witness of an American woman he came to know Christ and, after many years of growth, started a radio ministry that reaches throughout North Africa. Despite the persecution that comes with becoming a Christian and the serious danger associated with sharing the gospel in North Africa, this brother’s ministry is growing, and he is seeing numerous people come to Christ. “We had never before heard of anyone speak of Jesus and love as this man did,” one listener wrote. “After listening for three years, his inspired messages helped us to know the Lord Jesus Christ. My wife, children, and, my brother, who was also once a teacher at a Muslim mosque, are now all Christians.” (Christian Aid Mission)

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