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Pastor Dragged, Beaten by 150-Strong Mob While praying for Sick People

praying for a sick

In one of the eight attacks on Christians since the COVID-19 lockdown was partially lifted in India two weeks ago, a mob of about 150 people in the southern state of the Region of Telangana dragged a pastor into the street and beat him while he was praying for a sick person.
“I was kicked like I was a football,” Pastor Suresh Rao, a church planter, told the U.S.-based Christian persecution watchdog International Christian Concern about the attack on him in Kolonguda village last Sunday.

“I was dragged unto the street and forced to the ground,” Rao added. “There, they started to trample on me. My clothes were torn to shreds, kicked me all over my body, and punched my left eye. A Serious eye injury was acquired as a result of a blood clot.”

Local Christians told ICC that Rao arrived at the sick person’s house around 9:30 a.m. for prayer. Soon after that, the house was surrounded by a mob of nearly 150 people led by a man identified as Ashok.
The attackers accused Rao of illegally converting Hindus to Christianity. “It was said that India is a Hindu nation, and there is no place for Christians,” Rao explained. “I am prepared for this kind of eventuality. I know the cost of serving Jesus in these remote villages, and I will continue to serve the people of this region.”

ICC said it has recorded at least eight separate attacks on Christians in two weeks following the partial lifting of the nationwide corona-virus lock-down.
On June 11, a group of unidentified people burned down the building of an independent evangelical congregation of about 100 Christians, Real Peace Church, in Vaylur village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

“It was so distressing and it pained in my heart,” Pastor Ramesh, the church’s head pastor, was quoted as saying. “It was hard labor for 10 years to build the church. All the hard work and sacrificial donations from the poor congregants were brought down to the ground. All that is left is ash.”

The Hindu nationalist government of the northern state of Haryana recently pledged to enact a law to regulate religious conversions that would lead to the arrest of Christians who segment the faith given to them by God, talk about Heaven or Hell, or perform charity work for lower caste Hindus.

The draconian “anti-conversion” laws, termed as Freedom of Religion Acts, presume that Christian workers “force” or give financial benefits to Hindus to convert them to Christianity.
While these laws have been in place for decades in some states, no Christian has been convicted of “forcibly” converting anyone to Christianity.

However, these laws allow Hindu nationalist groups to make false charges against Christians and launch attacks on them under the pretext of the alleged forced conversion.
Attacks on the minority Christian community in India continued even during the COVID-19 lock-down.

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In the east-central state of Chhattisgarh, villagers had banned Christians from burying their dead until they paid fines for not taking part in Hindu festivals and rituals.

The Christians were told to make “restitution” for not partaking in or giving donations for religious rituals in those villages for all the years gone by, and pay an additional fine before their dead would be allowed to be buried.

Now in some circumstances, the attacks were perpetrated by mobs objecting to Christians holding worship services.

India is ranked at No. 10 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List of countries where it’s most difficult to be a Christian. The organization says that Christians in the country face “horrific” levels of violence from extremists, with thousands of attacks taking place every year.
Incidents targeting Indian Christians have risen steeply since 2014, when Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, according to Open Doors, which noted that at least one Christian was attacked every day last year.

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Getting To Know The Romani Gypsies And Their Beliefs

Romani Gypsies

 The Romani Gypsies And Their Beliefs

“A gypsy must’ve come in the night and stolen our best hen.” I was in rural Spain in 2002 when I overheard an elderly couple discussing a broken latch on their chicken coop door and a missing hen.

A week later, my family and I attended a crowded festival in a medieval Spanish town and were warned by locals to “watch out for the gypsies,” described as “thieves,” “beggars,” and “swindlers who rig the festival games.”

After my vacation, I returned to work and mentioned this all to a co-worker. Furrowing his brows, he insisted that I must’ve misunderstood what the locals had said because “gypsies aren’t real.”

Who are the Romani Gypsies, and what do they believe in?

‘Gypsies as a term refers to an ethnic group of people called the Roma or the Romani (also spelled Romany). The Roma are not to be confused with Romanians or with the Romans, both of which are distinct ethnic groups from the Roma.

The Romani Gypsies follow several different faiths, adopting the predominant religion of their particular country of residence. Some Romani follow a Christian denomination while others are Muslim.

Genetic research has shown that the Roma descend from a single group of people who left northwestern India 1,500 years ago. In the centuries that followed, Romanies spread throughout Europe and, by the 19th century, had migrated to the Americas.

Today, the Romani are a diverse people living in every inhabited continent in the world. The language of the Romani is also called Romani. Romani includes various distinct dialects, all of which derive from Sanskrit and are closely related to India’s Hindi language.

What is the origin of the word “gypsy?”

Gypsy as a word originated in the 16th century and meant Egyptian, since Romanies were initially believed to be from Egypt. The word “gypsy” is often considered derogatory due to its usage to connote illegal behavior and a wandering lifestyle, instead of as an identifier for a particular race of people.

The word “gyp,” which means to swindle, is also offensive to Romanies because the word likely derives from the word “gypsy” and stereotypes all those thought to be “gypsies” as swindlers.

What was life like for the first European Romanies?

Historians believe that the original Romani population who migrated to Europe were distrusted by the Europeans as a displaced people with a strange, nomadic lifestyle.

There has been discrimination against Europe from the Romani people (Gypsies.

Europeans have long portrayed the Roma/Gypsies as cunning outsiders who steal from local residents before moving on to the next town.

Because of this distrust, European nations over the centuries have enslaved, expelled, imprisoned, and executed Romani people. Other European nations used their legal system to oppress the Roma, passing laws prohibiting Romanies from buying land or securing stable professions.

Some believe that these legal restrictions placed on the Roma necessitated the continuation of their itinerant lifestyle, forcing Romanies to live on the perimeters of settled society for centuries. These nomadic Roma (gypsies) traveled in horse-drawn, brightly-colored wagons and sought jobs conducive to a transient lifestyle. Such jobs included working as livestock traders, animal trainers and exhibitors, entertainers, fortune tellers, and metalsmiths.

Based on discrimination against the Roma coupled with their migratory culture, school attendance and literacy rates among Romanies have traditionally been low. In fact, most of what we know about the Romani culture has been passed down through oral histories because the Romani language remains largely unwritten.

Traditional Romani and Gypsy culture upholds family, customs, and self-governance.

As a displaced people targeted by popular society, Romani culture focuses heavily on family, customs, and self-governance. In Romani communities that remain itinerant, the groups travel in bands made up of ten to several hundred extended families traveling together in caravans. Each band elects a male leader to govern the group, and a female leader to ensure the welfare of the band’s women and children.

Romanies/gypsies are also expected to support the larger Romani community by attending events within the community such as weddings, christenings, and funerals. Not attending these events could be viewed as disrespectful and may eventually lead to isolation from the broader Romani community.

Many Roma also follow traditional Romani customs. For example, once a Romani/gypsy girl reaches puberty, she’s expected to wear long skirts and dresses. Further, some Romani groups still follow the practice of arranged marriages, teen marriage, and “bride prices” paid by the groom’s family to the bride’s family.

The Roma also have their own internal system of self-governance to address accusations of misconduct. In particular, community leaders and courts of elders are responsible for adjudicating conflicts and administering punishments within their particular Romani group. Punishment can include a loss of reputation and, in extreme cases, expulsion from the Romani community.

What is life like for the modern Romani people?
Europe has the largest Romani/Gypsy population, home to an estimated 10 to 12 million Roma, most of whom live in Central and Eastern Europe. Some European Romanies remain nomadic, living in camps or caravans and moving from town to town in cars and RVs.

Today’s Roma (Gypsies) in Europe

However, many of today’s Roma lead settled lives. Despite settling down, the Roma remain one of Europe’s most disadvantaged ethnic groups, with 80% of Romanies living below the poverty line as of 2016. Moreover, government policies in certain European nations have sought to prevent Romani integration by hindering the Roma’s access to housing, education, and employment.

In recent years, there have been alarming reports of anti-Roma discrimination in Europe, including the systematic demolishing of Roma camps and deportation of thousands of Roma at a time in France, and the horrific forced sterilization of Romani women in countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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In addition, in March of 2019, Amnesty International filed a complaint before the European Committee of Social Rights against the Italian government, alleging international violations against Romanies in Italy, including “widespread forced evictions…use of segregated camps featuring substandard housing and lack of equal access to social housing.”

The plight of the Romanies is also a major concern of the children’s rights organization UNICEF, which is currently working to increase literacy among Romani children in Europe through home-visitation programs that connect new parents with child education and social services.

Today’s Romani Gypsies in America

There are an estimated 1 million Roma living in the United States, arriving here from different countries and speaking different languages. The U.S. has played a role in discrimination against Romanies in the past, as some states have on their books repealed laws that limited where Romanies could rent property, where they could entertain, and what goods they could sell.

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However, precise statistics about American Romanies are limited due to:

The lack of studies assessing the socio-economic realities of American Romani
The absence of Romani information on census returns
The trend of some American Romanies to hide their Romani heritage as a holdover mentality rooted in the discrimination their forefathers endured in Europe
The lack of awareness among some Americans that the Romani arean actual ethnic group, not “a Halloween costume” or” fictional characters with “wagons and horses and tambourines”
In an effort to remedy the lack of statistics on American Romanies, Harvard University has recently launched a study to assess the structural, social, and economic status of American Romani communities.

What can Christians learn from the Romani/Gypsy lifestyle?

Any Christian partial to the classical music of Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Haydn, or Brahms, or any Christian awed by the beauty and rhythm of flamenco can thank the Romani, whose acclaimed musical heritage heavily influenced these musical styles.

Further, although Christians will find some Romani traditions offensive—such as arranged marriages and bride prices—there are other Romani traditions worthy of emulation. Among these traditions are the Roma’s inclusion of extended family members, respect for the elderly, and sense of solidarity.

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It’s important to note that many of the nations criticized for discriminating against the Romani are largely Christian nations, i.e. Italy, France, and Slovakia. Recently, as an important gesture to help heal the wounds and undo the division caused by Christian oppression of Romanies, Pope Francis met with a Romani community, asked for mercy, and apologized that Christians have historically regarded Romanies “with the look of Cain rather than Abel.”

How should Christians respond to the Romani people?

Christians should respond to the Romani community in the same way that they would respond to any other child of God—by doing unto others as you’d have done unto you (Luke 6:31), and by remembering that whatever you do for the least of your brothers and sisters, you do for the Lord (Matthew 25:40).


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200 Communist Officials Demolish Church, Beat Christians in China

Sunzhuang Church China

Some individuals were arrested which including at least two women were injured in China’s Henan province after 200 communist officials stormed into Sunzhuang Church China, which is part of a network of administration run churches, and brought it down using cranes and heavy-duty machinery.

These individuals threw the church’s furniture and other belongings out of the building before razing it, reported China Aid, which helps those who are persecuted by the Communist Party in China.

Sunzhuang Church China

A Christian woman who tried to resist the officials lost consciousness after being pushed to the ground. Herself and another female member of the church who was beaten had to be hospitalized, the group said, and a male church attendee was taken into custody.

The Sunzhuang Church China, joined the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in June 2012, when the communist government allowed it to build a new church building. Subsequently after the building had been constructed in June 2013, the church received eviction and demolition notices from the Sunzhuang village authorities.

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The Chinese Aid said the 2013 decision to demolish the church was made without the villagers’ consent and authorities were barred from carrying out the demolition at the time. Alternatively, vehicles owned by Henan province threw tons of dirt and rocks at the church’s doorway. Administrators also cut off electricity and water to the church.

The Italian-based magazine Bitter Winter, a publication produced by the Center for Studies on New Religion which covers human rights issues in China, reported earlier this month that authorities removed crosses from more than 250 state-sanctioned churches in Anhui province between January and April.

“All Christian symbols are ordered to be removed as part of the government’s crackdown campaign,” a provincial employee from Ma’anshan city was quoted as saying.
China’s crackdown on religion and religious minorities has drawn scrutiny from international actors such as the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, rights groups, and the U.S. State Department.

Christians all around the world are all encouraged to pray for our brethren in China who are going through so much persecution today.

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The United States Of America Has a Sin Problem: Black Police Officer Explains to White Reporter

America Has a Sin Problem

A protester of White Black Lives Matter argued with both black and white police officers in Washington, D.C. this week.

A Black police officer told a white Black Lives Matter protester that “America has a sin problem” after the activist said at least one of the officers was racist.
According to Faithwire, the unnamed protester told one of the White police officers that it didn’t matter if he had a Black wife.
“It does not mean that you are not racist, sir, just because you have one Black friend or a Black wife,” she charged. “You can still be racist. It has nothing to do with your acquaintances.”
She also said she didn’t believe that the White officer was married to a Black woman.
In a video posted to Twitter, a Black police officer said they were willing to have a “conversation” with her, but that there was “no point” because she had a “one-track mind.”
“If it doesn’t fit your agenda, you don’t want to hear it,” one of the officers said.
Finally, the officer told the woman that the problem isn’t racism, but sin.

“Our Nation has a sin problem,” said the officer, seconds later referencing John 14:6. “The world has a sin problem ma’am. Our lord Jesus Christ said ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ America and the world has a sin problem. You understand me? This is where racism, injustice, and hate and anger and violence come from. It’s not about racism. Read the Bible.”

The exchange is one of many happening across the country as activists continue to demonstrate and call for police policy reform. The protests began after a Black man died after a white police officer pressed his knee into the man’s neck.
Most recently, also in Washington, D.C., protesters called for the Emancipation Memorial to be taken down, but authorities placed more police presence and barricades around the statue.

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