Archive for the ‘FREEDOM’ Category
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
WASHINGTON – In an interview with CBS on Sunday, while repeating his assertion that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not represent the Islamic religion, Barack Obama acknowledged that the group seeks to kill those who “worship a different God” than Allah.
Obama was interviewed by correspondent Steve Croft for the “60 Minutes” broadcast in a discussion that largely centered on American efforts to combat terrorism abroad. During the discussion, Croft cited that Obama had spoken of Al Qaeda being “decimated” two years ago, but that affiliates of the terror organization continue their insurgency in Iraq and Syria, and others have taken control of Libya.
“If you’ll recall, Steve, you had an international network in al Qaeda between Afghanistan and Pakistan, headed by Bin Laden. And that structure we have rendered ineffective,” Obama replied. “But what I also said, and this was two years ago and a year ago, is that you have regional groups with regional ambitions and territorial ambitions. And what also has not changed is the kind of violent, ideologically driven extremism that has taken root in too much of the Muslim world.” Click here to continue reading and for video.
The Gospel in Bonds by Georgi Vins is a riveting book that you won’t be able to put down. This astounding story tells how persecuted U.S.S.R Baptist pastor Georgi Vins survived eight years in Russian gulags. Now, if you’re supposing this to be a depressing tale, be ready to be uplifted and blessed by Vin’s vibrant faith which he demonstrated day after day.
Vins’ prison saga begins with a little chapter simply titled “The Birds” telling of some small Siberian sparrows to whom Vins fed a few crumbs. These “dear little birds” reminded Vins that even at a remote Siberian prison he was not forgotten for as the words of the Lord Jesus say, “… ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31)
Of all the wonderful stories in this awesome book those about the treasured mini-Gospels touched me the most. For some “mini descriptions” of these episodes please read below.
Vins Meets Victor
In the course of his imprisonment Vins met Victor. Victor had a mini-Gospel. Victor hid it beneath his pillow, but not before Vins saw the mini-Gospel. How Vins rejoiced that a Gospel had made it into one of the darkest places in Russia. (c.4) . . .
What an amazing testimony! How Vins loved his Bible. How Vins loved his Gospel. How Vins loved his Lord. May we too, learn to treasure the precious holy word of God for as Psalm 19:10 says its words are, “More to be desired … than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Click here to continue reading this review.
By Georgi Vins
(Author of The Gospel in Bonds – a pastor who spent 8 years in the Soviet prisons for his faith in Christ)
Anvar and I were the only prisoners in the “raven,” a black police van used to transport prisoners. He sat alone in a compartment meant to hold fifteen prisoners while I was handcuffed and locked behind the metal door of a tiny cell reserved for the most dangerous criminals. Two soldiers armed with machine guns guarded us. A heavy metal grille separated them from us.
The harsh Siberian climate had left its mark on the narrow asphalt road. The lurching, swaying raven slowed to a crawl as the driver tried to maneuver around massive potholes. Though it was mid-May, snow still covered much of the ground in this vast territory known as Yakutia, thousands of miles northeast of Moscow. Our destination: Bolshaya Markha, a strict regime labor camp in a remote region in the far north of Siberia.
Anvar shook his head in amazement. “Georgi, why do they treat you like this?” he shouted over the thunderous roar of the engine. A heavy accent thickened his Russian.
I’d met Anvar two weeks earlier in the prison at Irkutsk where we shared a cell. Then we spent ten days at a camp near the city of Yakutsk. Anvar was a stocky man of medium height. The gray stubble on his huge, shaved head seemed premature for a man in his mid-forties. A sharp eagle-like nose protruded over a coal-black mustache. Muslim by background, Anvar was fascinated that I was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. We had spent many hours discussing the Bible and Jesus Christ.
Anvar openly admitted that he had killed the district attorney in the city of Baku, for which he was sentenced to fifteen years. He quickly earned a reputation among camp authorities for being a dangerous criminal. He had already stabbed one prisoner with a knife and struck another on the head with an iron bar. Anvar was usually handcuffed during transport and was surprised at being denied that “privilege.” He turned to me again.
“Ha! It looks as though you are even more dangerous than I!” He shouted something else, but the words were lost under the engine’s clamor. The isolation of my tiny cage made it useless for me to reply. Through the window in the door of my cell, I could see Anvar talking with the two soldiers. He kept pointing in my direction. The soldiers were very young. I knew they made no decisions about where or how to move me. Those orders came from the KGB. And to the KGB, I really was more dangerous than Anvar.
One prison camp director had told me, “You’d be better off if you were a thief or a murderer rather than a Christian!”
What will the next camp be like?, I wondered as I thought about the past week.
I had just spent ten days at camp Mokhsogollokh, near Yakutsk. Although the camp was as secure as a fortress, guards often fired random warning shots at night to discourage dreams of escape.
About a mile from the camp was a factory, which manufactured panels, flooring, and other components for the pre-fabricated buildings of the North. Like the camp, the factory was surrounded by massive wood fences topped with rolls of barbed wire. Armed soldiers from the Ministry of the Interior, MVD, patrolled the area with specially trained German shepherd guard dogs.
About 2000 prisoners and 500 civilians worked in two shifts at the factory, which operated day and night. Each prisoner worked at least a ten-hour shift. Twice a day, morning and evening, the soldiers led out columns of 1000 prisoners, marching slowly the mile from the living zone of the camp to the factory.
When I got my assignment at the factory, the supervisor was glad to see me. He was a civilian, about twenty-five years old, with no technical training to qualify him as supervisor of the electrical division. He already knew I was an electrical engineer. “You can help us draw up blueprints for the factory and develop technical documentation. How we worked without blueprints and instructions—I have no idea!”
Prisoners have no choice about where they work or what they do. During my first sentence in the northern Ural Mountains (1966-1969), I had worked in the forest in a lumber camp. In the snowy winters, the temperature often dropped to -79 degrees F. The column of prisoners sank into the snow as we stomped a path to our work place. In the summer, the forest was a kingdom of mosquitoes and midges. There was no way to protect ourselves from the hordes of insects—not in the forest, not in the barracks. Our faces, necks, and arms were swollen from their merciless bites. In the spring and fall, our clothes and boots were always soaked, and our bodies were covered with painful boils from general weakness and colds brought on by the miserable conditions and frequent downpours. Day after day we worked under the open sky, guarded by armed soldiers.
But Mokhsogollokh was much different. I was assigned to a bright, spacious room with a desk, drawing table, and a cabinet. How I rejoiced to have a few hours alone in this room! In the barracks the shouts, curses, quarrels, and fights of the other prisoners were a constant distraction, but at work I could set aside my blueprints for a while and pray in solitude.
I was also able to move freely about the plant to become familiar with the electrical equipment and the workers. Besides asking technical questions, I looked for other believers. Each time a man asked why I’d been arrested, I had another opportunity to share my faith in Jesus Christ.
A few days after I arrived at Mokhsogollokh, a KGB official summoned me to his office. He was thin, almost fragile in appearance, with a squeaky voice. His narrow eyes glittered with hostility.
“We know,” he said testily, “that you want to build a secret printing press here at the camp to print religious brochures! We will not allow this! We’ll rot you! We’ll put you in the punishment block. You’ll get solitary confinement!”
I was surprised. “I don’t understand. What kind of print shop? What brochures?”
“Cut the act!” the officer barked, slamming the desk with his bony fist. “We know you’re dangerous. Hundreds of eyes will scrutinize your every move no matter where you are in the camp, the barracks, or the factory. Don’t you dare pray or talk to anyone about God!”
He struggled to sound ominous and produce a deep bass voice. The result was comical.
“It never occurred to me to set up a print shop here,” I answered quietly. “Besides, it’s impossible. But I do have the right to pray. I am a believer and will continue praying to God. I’ll pray for the whole camp, and I’ll pray for you, that the Lord would grant you repentance and the salvation of your soul.”
“Don’t you ever pray for my soul!” the officer shrieked. “You’ll regret this conversation! Now get out of here!”
That’s how I found myself in handcuffs and on my way to another camp. But I knew that my banishment from Mokhsogollokh was actually a victory for Christ. The KGB fears open prayers and open testimony about Jesus Christ more than the vilest crimes! As we rumbled along in the raven, I knew my future was secure in the Lord’s trustworthy hands.
(This is an excerpt of the new release, The Gospel in Bonds by former soviet pastor Georgi Vins.)
A Glimpse of the Future (or Present?): Penn State University Pulling Gideon Bibles From Guest Rooms Following Complaint
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Pennsylvania State University is pulling Gideon Bibles from its guest rooms and moving them to its libraries and other public spaces following a complaint from a prominent atheist activist organization.
University spokesperson Lisa Powers told the Centre Daily Times that officials made the move “in the spirit of recognizing other religions and beliefs among our guests” after Penn State received a letter from the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). The organization had asserted that presence of the Bibles, located at the Nittany Lion Inn and the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, presented a constitutional violation.
“State-run colleges have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion,” the letter, written in June by FFRF attorney Elizabeth Cavell, contended. “When a government entity like PSU distributes religious material to visitors, it has unconstitutionally entangled itself with a religious message, in this case a Christian message.” Click here to continue reading.
Provided by Christian News Network
The Obama administration on Friday announced new measures meant to accommodate religious nonprofits and some private employers who don’t want to pay for birth control under ObamaCare, on the heels of Supreme Court rulings that weakened the law’s so-called contraceptive mandate.
The changes had been expected, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the government can’t force companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to pay for birth control, as originally required under the Affordable Care Act. Days later, the high court also sided with religious nonprofits such as Wheaton College, an evangelical school, which argued that an existing accommodation required them to sign a form that violated their beliefs.
In response, the administration is making two changes. Click here to continue reading.
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
ALBANY, NY – A New York farm has been fined $13,000 by the state Division of Human Rights for declining to host a same-sex ‘wedding’ on their property two years ago, and has been ordered to train their employees to accommodate homosexual ceremonies despite their Christian beliefs.
Administrative Law Judge Migdalia Peres fined Liberty Ridge Farms in Schaghticoke $10,000 and ordered that $1,500 each be paid to two lesbians who were turned down by the facility, which also serves as the owners’ home. Liberty Ridge Farms’ owners were also ordered to provide proof that they have trained their employees not to refuse requests from homosexuals. A poster noting that the business is subject to human rights law must also be displayed prominently at the business.
As previously reported, Jennie McCarthy and Melisa Erwin of Albany contacted the 50-acre Liberty Ridge Farms in 2012 to schedule their “wedding” ceremony, as the venue regularly hosts weddings and other outings. However, when the owners, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, realized that the two were lesbians, they informed the women that they could not be of assistance. Click here to continue reading.
By Garrett Haley
Christian News Network
NEW YORK – The largest bank in the United States now allegedly requires its employees to state whether or not they are supporters of the homosexual lifestyle.
JPMorgan Chase, headquartered in New York City, is the United States’ largest bank, with total assets of over $2.5 trillion. The bank has overtly supported homosexuality for several years, appearing in several “gay pride” events and even offering a number of special benefits to bank employees who identify as “LGBT.”
Now, JPMorgan Chase has taken their LGBT support even further, reportedly requiring all their employees to voice whether or not they support the homosexual community. According to Princeton University Professor Robert George, the bank recently surveyed their workers, asking them to state which of the following descriptions applied to them:
- A person with disabilities;
- A person with children with disabilities;
- A person with a spouse/domestic partner with disabilities;
- A member of the LGBT community;
- An ally of the LGBT community, but not personally identifying as LGBT.
Click here to continue reading.