3 - Pakistani teen arrested under blasphemy laws
Pakistan's blasphemy laws are front and center again in a disturbing story, according to Morning Star News. An 18-year-old, Patras Masih, was taken into custody. The report states:
Patras Masih was accused of posting a blasphemous image on a group Facebook page from his phone on Jan. 16, but his father said his son’s cell phone has been in a repair shop since December.
His son told him that a friend had posted a sacrilegious photograph on a Facebook group from his ID a month ago, and that he had no intention of hurting religious sentiments, he said. Under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws, intent must be shown for conviction.His father, Indreyas Masih, stated: “My son is illiterate and works as sweeper at a private bank,” adding, “He has never been involved in any religious dispute with any Muslim in the village. I’m unable to understand why he has been trapped in this case.”
Patras was taken into custody in the midst of strong protests by Muslims in the region. The Morning Star report said that, "Hundreds of Christian families fled their homes in a village near Lahore, Pakistan," and that,"The protesters threatened to burn down the homes of at least 700 poor Christian families, area residents said." Police dispersed a crowd blocking a main highway by assuring protesters that Patras had been arrested. A local police official is quoted as saying, "“We have deployed some 400 police personnel in Dher village to protect the local Christian community,” adding, “The situation was brought under control late on Monday night when we informed the protest leaders that the accused boy has been arrested and charged with blasphemy.”
2 - Thousands converge on Olympics to share faith
On Thursday's edition of The Meeting House on Faith Radio, I featured a conversation with evangelist Terry Veazey, in South Korea ministering with the International Sports Chaplains organization. The evangelistic outreaches surrounding the games were featuring in a Religion News Service article appearing on the ChristianHeadlines.com website. The article estimated some 2,000 missionaries were on hand during the Games - from a variety of faiths.
The article relates:
There is no reliable count of missionaries at Olympics past. But the number of local missionaries here far exceeds previous games, said Marty Youngblood, leader of the Georgia Baptist Convention mission team, who is at his fifth Olympics this year.
South Korea, which is 29 percent Christian, and among whom Protestants predominate, enjoys high levels of religious tolerance. Buddha’s birthday and Christmas are both national holidays.The report also says:
Myungsu No, a campus minister in Seoul, says his students from the Baptist Student Union use pin trading — a pastime at this and previous Olympics — to spread the gospel. While athletes and spectators trade pins that typically depict a certain country, sport or team, mission groups give away a “More Than Gold” lapel pin, borrowing the slogan a consortium of missionary groups adopted in the 1990s to brand their Olympic outreach.Veazey had told me that his team was also involved in pin trading. The story at the ChristianHeadlines.com site also said:
The first weekend of the Olympics, mission groups passed out Christian literature in the Olympic park unimpeded.1 - The world responds to the death of Billy Graham
Then Olympic park officials posted signs informing visitors that passing out religious material in the park was banned, and any materials found would be confiscated.
Youngblood, of the Georgia Baptist Convention, said he is not concerned. His missionaries are also using the pin trading and only give pamphlets to those who want to learn more.
World-renowned evangelist Billy Graham went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday of this past week. He was 99 years of age. Tributes were shared from throughout the world. Over the weekend, a motorcade carried the earthly body of Mr. Graham from the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove near Asheville to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, where the body will lie in repose Monday and Tuesday.
The body will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday and will be brought back to Charlotte for a funeral service on Friday.
During these times of public viewing, the body will be in a pinewood casket, according to the BillyGraham.org website, that was "crafted in 2006 by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, is lined with a mattress pad. On top rests a simple wooden cross the prisoners nailed into place." The story says:
The plain wooden caskets caught Franklin Graham’s eye during a 2005 preaching engagement at Angola. That’s when he saw the inmates hard at work crafting them, and he soon learned why. The initiative began when then-warden Burl Cain discovered many of the poorer inmates were being buried in cardboard boxes.
As a result, Cain had the inmates construct plywood caskets for themselves and others who couldn’t afford one. In addition to making the caskets, the prisoners—many of them former hardened criminals who are now committed Christians—also pray over them.Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham, wrote a tribute to his father that appeared on the USA Today website, as well as on the BillyGraham.org website, entitled, Billy Graham's New Home. He wrote:
Since 1947, some 215 million people at more than 400 crusades, simulcasts and evangelistic rallies heard my father tell them, “The Bible says, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life’” (John 3:16). Today, he is experiencing what he devoted a lifetime to telling others they could experience if they placed their trust in Jesus Christ.Franklin recounted a time in his life when he was struggling and not walking with God and how his father had challenged him to surrender his life to Christ, which ultimately Franklin did. He now heads the ministry that bears his father's name. Franklin writes that following the Flushing Meadows crusade in New York in 2005, his father wrote a piece at the end of a book that contained the text of the three sermons he preached there. Franklin writes, "...the purpose of Billy Graham’s life is captured in a single paragraph found at the end of a little book a number of years ago."
“No matter what your problem is,” he wrote, “if you and I could sit down and talk, I would want to tell you one great truth: God loves you, and He can make a difference in your life if you will let Him.
“God loves you so much that He sent His Son into the world to die for your sins. When we open our hearts to Christ, He forgives our sins and comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. He also gives us strength for the present and hope for the future. This is the message of the Gospel—and this is the message you have read in this book.”Franklin Graham stated, "If my father could speak or write to us today, he would say the same thing. It was what he lived and breathed—until his very last breath."
The DeMoss publicity agency reports that, "More than 22 million people have made a commitment to Jesus Christ through a Billy Graham or Billy Graham Evangelistic Association outreach effort."