Islamist terrorist ambush kills 7 Christians
CAIRO (MS) – Seven Coptic Christians, including six from the same family, were ambushed and killed Nov. 2 in an attack on their bus by Islamist terrorists.
The Coptic Orthodox Church reported an additional 19 Christians were wounded in the attacks, which took place near St. Samuel the Confessor monastery, about 90 miles south of Cairo. On one of the attacked buses, 6 of 28 members of a family reportedly traveling to a baptism of one of its children were injured.
An Egypt-based Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack.
Egypt ranked 17th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Greear gives Lottie Moon challenge
DURHAM, N.C. (BP) – Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear thinks Southern Baptists can exceed their $160 million goal for this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) for International Missions. So he’s offering a lighthearted incentive to encourage a challenge goal of $170 million.
If the 2018-19 LMCO hits that mark, Greear will perform a stunt suggested by Southern Baptists on social media, he announced Nov. 27 during a Facebook Live event, which had been viewed more than 6,100 times by midday Nov. 30. A video clip of Greear’s challenge tweeted by the International Mission Board had been viewed more than 2,500 times in the same timeframe.
Thus far, suggested stunts include singing a duet with newly elected IMB President Paul Chitwood, arm wrestling Chitwood, performing a Broadway number, taking a pie in the face and sporting a mullet at the SBC annual meeting.
Despite the jovial nature of Greear’s challenge, he told BP giving to international missions is no laughing matter.
“The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is, I believe, the best investment, with the greatest impact, that we can make toward the Great Commission,” Greear said. “As a former missionary, I benefited from it personally. Our church has enthusiastically given for over 17 years, and we are hoping this year will be our largest ever.
“The gospel only goes forward through sacrifice. More than [3,600] Southern Baptists have answered the call to preach the gospel in foreign contexts,” Greear said. “My prayer is that those of us who are called to stay will do our part in keeping them there.”
First lady addresses opioid crisis at Liberty
LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP) – First Lady Melania Trump spoke to students at Liberty University on Wednesday (Nov. 28) about the opioid crisis in America. She urged students to make wise choices during this time in their young lives.
Trump said over the past year she learned that people often become addicted to these types of drugs unintentionally after being prescribed legal doses of drugs for an injury or surgery.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016 and 2017 more than 17,000 deaths were attributed to overdosing on commonly prescribed drugs. More than 130 people reportedly die each day due to overdosing on opioids.
She emphasized the importance of seeing the problem as part of “a human story and an opportunity to save lives” rather than as merely statistics.
The First Lady urged students to seek help if they or someone they know is struggling with addiction in order to remove the stigma and battle against the crisis in the nation.
Iraq-Syria genocide bill draws praise
WASHINGTON (BP) – The head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s religious freedom entity and his fellow advocates have praised bipartisan congressional action to help Christians and other survivors of genocide committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The House of Representatives approved without opposition Nov. 27 the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act, H.R. 390, and sent it to President Trump. The Senate passed the bill in October, also without opposition.
The measure will provide humanitarian aid to Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities in the two Middle East countries. It also will support criminal investigations and prosecutions of the terrorists responsible for genocidal acts and crimes against humanity.
In written comments, Moore thanked Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. — the bill’s lead sponsors — for their “tireless work.” He looks forward to the president signing the bill into law and is “praying for swift implementation,” Moore said.
The House initially passed the legislation in June 2017, but the Senate approved an amended version that required representatives to vote again on the measure.
S.C. church honors memory of enslaved members
CHARLESTON, S.C. (BC) – A South Carolina congregation has taken a step to officially honor the memory of past members of the church who were enslaved prior to 1865.
On Nov. 11, First Baptist Church of Charleston dedicated a marker that says: “In memory of the thousands of enslaved members of the First Baptist Church of Charleston whose names we do not know, but are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 7:9.”
The bronze tablet was unanimously approved by the congregation as a way of acknowledging the contributions of the many enslaved members who served in the church but had been largely ignored by history, said pastor Marshall Blalock.
“We can’t change the past, but we can honor those who were unjustly forgotten and work to bring the hope of a world where every person is recognized as uniquely made in God’s image, worthy of respect, and pursued in friendship,” Blalock said. “Only the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ makes that possible, and this memorial honors people who through the power of the gospel overcame the indignities and suffering of slavery and now rest in the peace of Christ himself.”
Pastor’s wife tragically killed in New Orleans carjacking
METAIRIE, L.A. (MESSAGE) – Celebration Church is asking for prayers for Jeannot Plessy, who was tragically killed in a carjacking incident in New Orleans Tuesday, November 27.
According to WDSU-TV in New Orleans, the incident was reported around 8:25 p.m. in the 2400 block of Prentiss Avenue in New Orleans. New Orleans Police Department investigators are seeking to identify the assailant.
Lead Pastor Dennis Watson wrote in a letter posted on the church website that Plessy, 49, was a “great woman of God” who recently returned from ministering in Samoa. She is the wife of David Plessy, a pastor of the non-denominational Crossover Christian Fellowship in New Orleans, and the mother of Celebration Church member Nadia Sanchez and the mother-in-law of facilities manager Kristian Sanchez.
He said that while such tragedies cause sadness and grief, followers of Christ are not left without hope.
Taiwan votes to keep marriage laws traditional
TAIPEI, Taiwan (BP) – Three referendums supporting marriage between one man and one woman passed overwhelmingly in Saturday (Nov. 24) elections in Taiwan. The votes appeared to show that most citizens may still hold traditional values even though the country’s highest court moved toward legalizing same-sex marriage in 2017.
The question of whether Taiwan Civil Code should continue to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman received more than 7.6 million yes votes compared to 2.9 million voting no. Referendums need 4.94 million votes — a quarter of eligible voters — to be considered by the government.
Another referendum stating the Ministry of Education should not enforce LGBT curriculum in elementary and middle school passed with more than 7 million yes votes. And a ballot initiative that would allow same-sex couples to enter a civil union separate from “marriage as defined by the Civil Code” was approved with 6.4 million yes votes.
Meanwhile, two referendums in support of same-sex marriage did not garner enough votes to pass.
Taiwan was set to become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.