Wednesday, October 30, 2019

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India: American Pastor from Tennessee Arrested and Detained

Hindu extremism has been on the rise in India since 2014, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power. The BJP embraces an anti-Westernization idea logy which sees Christianity as a political and cultural threat. 

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC) regarding the latest incident. Please check out their website at www.persecution.org for more on the persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.


Pastor Targeted After Telling Customs Officials He Is a Christian

10/29/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that Pastor Bryan Nerren, a Christian pastor from Tennessee, has been arrested and detained in India after being accused of violating the country’s Foreign Exchange Management Act. 

According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Pastor Nerren and two other pastors from Tennessee arrived in India on October 5 to attend two conferences in India and Nepal. The ACLJ reported that Pastor Nerren was then targeted and arrested by Indian customs agents after he told them he was a Christian.

After the three pastors arrived in New Delhi, Pastor Nerren was detained by customs agents while proceeding through the domestic security check for a flight to Bagdogra. According to the ACLJ, the pastor was carrying funds to cover the expenses for the two conferences as well as the two-week trip for himself and the other pastors. Customs agents questioned Pastor Nerren about the funds and their usage for about an hour. According to reports, Pastor Nerren has been traveling to India and Nepal for the past 17 years to train people to become Sunday school teachers.

According to the ACLJ, customs agents specifically asked Pastor Nerren if he was a Christian and if the funds would be used to support Christian causes. After fully explaining what the funds were to be used for, the customs agents told Pastor Nerren he was free to go. However, when Pastor Nerren arrived in Bagdogra, he was arrested and transported to Siliguri where he was incarcerated for six days and denied any visitors, including those from the US Consulate.

Pastor Nerren was able to secure bail after six days in jail. However, the judge has retained Pastor Nerren’s passport and ordered a travel ban. A hearing regarding Pastor Nerren’s case was scheduled for October 22, but it did not take place. Another court date has been set for Pastor Nerren’s case on December 12. According to the ACLJ, Pastor Nerren is effectively trapped in Siliguri.

Religious intolerance and instances of persecution have steadily escalated in India since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a political party founded on Hindu nationalist ideology, took power in 2014. 

According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), 147 instances of religiously motivated violence against Christians were documented in 2014. In 2018, after four years of BJP rule, EFI documented 325 instances of religiously motivated violence against Christians.

William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We here at International Christian Concern are deeply concerned by the arrest and detention of Pastor Nerren. We are most concerned by reports that Pastor Nerren was targeted by Indian customs officials after he told them he is a Christian. 

Article 25 of India’s own constitution protects religious freedom for all of the country’s citizens. In addition, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also protects religious freedom. However, it seems these protections are being denied to Pastor Nerren due to his identity as a Christian.
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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Imprisoned Chinese House Church Member Released After Seven Months

Finally, a bit of good news for Christians in China, via the following unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC). Please check out their website at www.persecution.org for more on the persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.

Imprisoned Chinese House Church Member Released

Gou Zhongcan Returns Home After Seven Months in Prison 

10/24/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 22, Gou Zhongcan from Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Sichuan was released and returned home to Bazhou city. Gou was detained in March and spent the last seven months in prison.

Gou is currently recovering since his vision deteriorated in prison. Otherwise, he is generally in good health, according to another ERCC member, Jia Xuewei.

Gou went missing on March 15, while he was visiting a friend in Zhejiang. His cellphone and computer were taken away from him. Three days later, he was spotted at the Hangzhou East Train Station being escorted by multiple plainclothes police officers. His head was shaved and he was handcuffed.

Since then, Gou’s lawyer has been unable to locate him despite multiple attempts. China Aid reported in July that Gou was detained and held in the basement of a public security bureau office for refusing to reveal the passwords to his computer and cell phone. When Gou’s elderly father was finally allowed to meet with him, he shared that his son did not look well, but that he had been singing hymns and worship songs while being detained.

This was not the first time that Gou has been jailed. At 23 years old, he was a reporter and was imprisoned for more than 10 years for reporting on the inhumane treatment of prisoners in China to human rights organizations abroad. While in prison, he was greatly tormented.

Gou came to Christ in 2016 after he was released, and began attending ERCC.

A Chinese Christian familiar with the case shared on Twitter yesterday, “Brother Gou Zhongcan from ERCC in Chengdu, who was arrested in March earlier this year has returned home yesterday. Thanks be to God that the captive has been delivered!”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “What great news to know that Gou is finally free. But the Chinese government has not relented on the persecution of Christians. ERCC pastor Wang Yi and elder Qin Derfu are still criminally detained on trumped up charges and their lawyers and family have not been able to see them, even after 10 months. We should continue to put pressure on Beijing so that they will be set free. None of them deserved imprisonment in the first place.”
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Algerian Authorities Close Two of the Country’s Largest Churches

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC). Please check out their website at www.persecution.org for more on the persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.  

Algerian Authorities Close Two of the Country’s Largest Churches

10/15/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that authorities in Algeria have ordered the closure of two of the largest churches in the nation. Both churches are linked to l’Eglise Protestante d’Algerie (EPA), an organization formed in 1974 to collectively represent Algerian Christians before the government.

According to a report by Morning Star News, a 500-member Protestant church in Makouda was officially closed by the authorities today, October 15. This comes only one day after the congregation received an order from the government, notifying them that the church would be closed.  In response, congregants of the Makouda church filled the place of worship in protest of the closure.

The second church, the Protestant Church of the Full Gospel of Tizi-Ouzou (EPPETO), was notified that its building would be closed on October 16. However, despite the closure order being effective for October 16, authorities also closed EPPETO today. EPPETO represents the largest church west of the Nile River, with 1,000 members in the congregation. The church’s head pastor, Pastor Salah Chalah, is also the head of the EPA.

Today, two of the largest churches in Algeria have been closed,” an EPA spokesperson, speaking with ICC on the condition of anonymity, said. “We do not understand the relentless injustice of the Algerian government towards us. They refuse to hear us or listen to us.

Last week, the EPA organized peaceful protests against church closures. The orders for the two most recent churches to be closed come just days after the completion of the protests. Pastor Salah attempted to meet with governing authorities multiple times over this issue, without success.

Algerian Christians have now found themselves with thousands of Christians without a place of worship,” the EPA spokesperson told ICC. “But we remain confident in the Lord. We need the prayers of our brothers and sisters from across the world.”

The two churches have been closed under a 2006 law that mandates any non-Muslim worship be conducted in specific, designated buildings. However, no church has received official permission since the passage of the law. With these closures, seven of Algeria’s 60 EPA-affiliated churches have been closed in the past six weeks.

ICC’s Advocacy Director, Matias Perttula, commented, “Reports of rising levels of religious intolerance in Algeria are once again causing a great level of concern for ICC and our partners. These church closures are completely baseless and clear indicators of persecution and harassment of Algeria’s Christians, who represent a significant religious minority. ICC plans to raise this issue with our partners as well as members of Congress on Capitol Hill to make them aware of these human rights violations.
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Friday, October 4, 2019

Winter Is Coming - Will You Be Ready?

Winter is coming. Really. It is, despite the hot weather at the moment. Now is the perfect time to get ready for winter's inevitability/  Here are some information and tips for winter survival:

The Anatomy of Body Heat

A major concern for winter survival is body heat. The human body needs to maintain the core temperature of 98.6° F (37° C). If it gets too low or too high for too long, it could be damaging or even fatal.  Most body heat is lost through the head, neck, hands, and wrists, but this is due to those areas being typically not as well-covered as the other areas of your body. If you were naked, you would lose body heat roughly equally throughout your body.  The hands and feet, especially the fingers and toes, as well as the ears and nose, are more vulnerable to frost bite due to their greater distance from your body core.

Wearing warm, dry socks, and appropriate shoes or boots is important during the winter. Warm gloves and head coverings (such as a wool toboggan or a full Balaclava) are also recommended in cold weather. You should keep a bag with extra socks, gloves and toboggans/Balaclavas in your vehicles, just in case.  A warm blanket also makes a good addition to your vehicle kit.  

Frostnip & Frostbite Symptoms & Treatment

Frostnip is a mild form of early frostbite. According to the WebMD website: "When it's cold out, exposed skin may get red or sore. This is called frostnip, and it’s an early warning sign of frostbite. If this happens, find warm shelter quickly."

According to the Mayo Clinic website: "Frostbite is most common on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. Because of skin numbness, you may not realize you have frostbite until someone else points it out."

The symptoms of frostbite include:
  • Early on, cold skin and a prickly sensation (frostnip)
  • Numbness
  • Skin discoloration: red, white, bluish-white, or grayish-yellow
  • Hard skin and/or waxy-looking skin
  • Joint and muscle stiffness, causing clumsiness and difficulty using hands
  • In severe cases, blistering and peeling of skin after rewarming

For frostnip, the Mayo Clinic website recommends rewarming the skin and protecting it from further cold. Frostbite requires medical treatment, especially is the frostbite is severe or is accompanied by increasing pain, swelling, discharge, or fever.  While awaiting medical care, do not walk on frostbitten feet. You may take ibuprofen to reduce pain. 

NOTE: Frostbitten skin is easy to burn, so avoid direct contact with fire, heaters,  lamps, HOT water, and heating pads. While outside, you can warm hands by placing them under your arms. Inside, you can soak hands and feet in WARM (not hot) water.

Hypothermia

According to the Mayo Clinic website: "Get emergency medical help if you suspect hypothermia, a condition in which your body loses heat faster than it can be produced.  Hypothermia occurs as your body temperature falls below 95 F (35 C)" 

Symptoms of hypothermia include:
  • Intense shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Drowsiness and loss of coordination
  • Confusion and/or memory loss
  • Unconsciousness
Hypothermia is a very serious condition. Seek medical help immediately if you suspect someone has hypothermia. In the meantime, here are the first aid recommendations from the Mayo Clinic website:
  • Gently move the person out of the cold. If going indoors isn't possible, protect the person from the wind, especially around the neck and head. Insulate the individual from the cold ground.
  • Gently remove wet clothing. Replace wet things with warm, dry coats or blankets.
  • If further warming is needed, do so gradually. For example, apply warm, dry compresses to the center of the body — neck, chest and groin. The CDC says another option is using an electric blanket, if available. If you use hot water bottles or a chemical hot pack, first wrap it in a towel before applying.
  • Offer the person warm, sweet, nonalcoholic drinks.
  • Begin CPR if the person shows no signs of life, such as breathing, coughing or movement.
  • Do not rewarm the person too quickly, such as with a heating lamp or hot bath.
  • Don't attempt to warm the arms and legs. Heating or massaging the limbs of someone in this condition can stress the heart and lungs.
  • Don't give the person alcohol or cigarettes. Alcohol hinders the rewarming process, and tobacco products interfere with circulation that is needed for rewarming.
Avoid hypothermia by wearing appropriate shoes, socks, clothing, gloves and head/neck coverings for the weather conditions. If you get wet, including heavy sweating, change into dry clothes as soon as possible. Avoid staying outside in cold weather for too long. Older folks, babies, young children, and folks with certain medical conditions (such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and hypothyroidism) are more susceptible to hypothermia. Keep a watchful eye on those folks. 

Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter
  • Inspect your tires and make sure they are in good shape.
  • Inspect your wiper blades. Change them if needed.
  • Make sure the anti-freeze level is appropriate for your location (a local mechanic can help you with that if you don't know).
  • Inspect/test your battery, especially if it is more than four years old.
  • Check all fluids and catch up on any routine maintenance to prevent breakdowns (see my Prepper Auto Maintenance Schedule).  
Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle, including items such as some food and water, first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, extra oil, and jumper cables or battery starter. For winter, include extra gloves and head/neck coverings. A warm blanket is also a good idea, as is a power bar for your phone.

NOTE: Many folks get the shortest jumper cables possible in order to save a couple of bucks (if they have jumper cables at all). However, its not always possible to park both vehicles that close together. Jumper cables are not that expensive, so go ahead an spend a few extra bucks to get a set that will be long enough to actually be useful. I have a 16' set in both my vehicles. 


Other Winter Survival Tips
  • Inspect/clean your chimney and wood stove pipes.
  • If you use firewood, make sure you have enough to last you all winter.
  • Don't let fallen leaves pile up against your home (fire hazard).
  • Clean out gutters after the leaves stop falling (safety issue).
  • Turn off and/or cover outside faucets and watering systems.
  • Make sure your home food and water storage are topped off in case winter storms leave you homebound. Same goes for any medications you take.
  • Keep your gas tank topped off. Running out-of-gas is not a good idea in freezing weather.
  • Update your bug-out bag for winter: include dry socks & underwear, gloves, head/neck coverings, poncho, emergency or reflector blanket, cold weather sleeping bag/system, and make sure you have plenty of matches, lighters, and/or firestarters.
Oh yeah... Before I forget, here's one last tip: Don't eat the yellow snow. 
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