Christian World News: August 19, 2011 –

Today on Christian World News ñ The U.S. and several allies call on the Syrian
president to resign. But how will this affect the Christian community? Plus ñ Christchurch, New Zealand still recovering
from a massive earthquake. See how Christians there answer the call to provide some of the
most basic needs. And ñ Healing the hearts of orphans. How one missionary
couple in Mexico is providing a loving family to those who need it most. And welcome everyone to this weekís edition
of Christian World News. Iím George Thomas. The President of the United States is calling
on Syriaís leader to step down. In a written statement, President Obama said Bashar Assadís
bloody crackdown on civilian protestors makes him unfit to lead and that he must go. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed
up on the presidentís statements: The people of Syria deserve a government that
respects their dignity, protects their rights, and lives up to their aspirations. Assad is
standing in their way. An estimated 2,000 Syrians have been killed
by government forces since a peaceful uprising began nearly five months ago. The U.N. says
the crackdown may rise to the level of crimes against humanity. The United States also slapped sanctions on
the Syrian regime, freezing all government assets and targeting its lucrative energy
sector. The European Union joined the call for Assad
to resign. Syriaís political chaos, as you can imagine,
has the countryís tiny Christian community also on edge. Christians, mind you, make up
about ten percent of the population and have historically enjoyed a level of religious
freedom. Hereís a look at their role in Syrian society. Friday night in the Old City of Damascus.
It was a short distance from here that the Apostle Paul had his dramatic encounter with
God and received his calling to spread the Gospel. Today Syrian Christians are continuing to
follow in Paulís footsteps. This image of Christians sharing their faith in a Muslim-dominated
country may come as a surprise to some. But the fact is that Christianity has had
its roots in Syria since early in the first century. Following his conversion on the road
to Damascus, Paul established the first organized Christian church at Antioch in ancient Syria. Meanwhile, John the Baptistís head is said
to be located here at the Umayyad mosque, which used to be a church at one time. And up the road from the Umayyad mosque youíll
find the Chapel of Ananias. It is here down in the cellar where locals say the Lord used
Ananias to cure Paulís blindness. (Voice of Interpreter). This is the place
where the Apostle Paul received his calling to share the Gospel across the Roman world.
Today Christians have the freedom to worship openly here and we are proclaiming the name
of Jesus Christ everywhere in Syria. Christians make up ten percent of the Syrian
population; the majority are Muslims. Most of the Christians live in the cities of Damascus,
Aleppo, Hamah, and Latakia. The Orthodox and Catholic churches have the strongest following
here. There are also have a dozen or so evangelical
churches. Edward Awabdeh pastors one of those congregations on the west side of the capital. Less than one percent of the Christians are
the evangelicals in Syria. So we are a small minority. By a minority that is seeing some growth.
Ibrahim Samara pastors an evangelical church in the Old City of Damascus. (Voice of Interpreter). The church today in
Syria is living in its golden age. We see a hunger for God among the youth, and many
families are expressing openness to the message of Christ. The church is also moving in freedom. The Syrian constitution allows for freedom
of religion. Although proselytizing is discouraged, the Christians we talked to say theyíve never
had trouble sharing their faith with non-believers. (Voice of Interpreter). Obviously, we have
to use some wisdom and discernment in how to best share Christ. We especially have to
avoid talking negatively about other religions. In the meantime one of the most effective
tools of evangelism in Syria, and in fact throughout the Middle East, continues to be
the showing of the Jesus Film. (Voice of Interpreter). Over the years weíve
had the chance to show the Jesus Film in a number of cities across the country. And every
time we show the film, 99 percent of those in attendance are non-Christians. Today the Gospel, which spread from here to
the uttermost parts of the world, is making its way back to the region. And the Syrian
Christians that CBN News talked to said the changes that are taking place across the Middle
East are part of Godís plan for the sake of the church here. (Voice of Interpreter). God is using these
changes for the glory of His church. We believe that we are living in the End Times and that
Christís return is very imminent. God is giving an opportunity for the people in the
Middle East to turn to Him. And these are truly historic times in that
region. Joining us for some perspective is CBN senior
editor John Waage. He has spent several years in our Jerusalem bureau covering the events
in the Middle East. What is it about Syria, John, that makes this
place quite acceptable for evangelical Christians, perhaps unlike any other country in the Middle
East – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq? Well, I think part of it, George, is that
Assad himself is from a minority in Syria and so minorities get a little more protection.
Also his father when he came to power in 1970 was a member of the secular Baath party, the
same party that Saddam Hussein had founded in Iraq. And so Christians actually had a certain amount
of, if not freedom, at least ability to carry out their faith within their own communities
and everything under both of them. And so that I think is the primary reason. But I remember five years ago you were in
Syria and you were really taken aback. I remember you being struck by what you saw in Damascus
at the time. Absolutely, because, you know, in some ways
when I hit the streets of Damascus you get this perspective of a very closed, Islamic
country. And it is quite the opposite. You have women who are wearing European outfits.
Theyíre not walking around with the hijab, and there is this openness. But I am concerned as Iím sure you areóour
viewers watching this are concernedóthe president is calling for Assad to step down, who replaces
him and more importantly what does it mean for the Christian community, as you mentioned,
that has thrived under the Assad regime? Your thoughts? Well, there were some problems for the Christians.
I mean, Assad himself, there are reports that he shut down eight house churches among evangelicals
last year and probably continues to this day. So it isnít all roses for the Christians
there, but, no, there is uncertainty in the Christian community now in Syria about where
it goes from here because Syria is 90 percent Sunni. And if you look around at the so-called Arab
Spring and who seems to be coming to the forefront itís the Sunni Muslims. And just as in Iraq
where itís estimated that more than half the Iraqi Christians have left since the U.S.
invaded and ousted Saddam, the same fate might await the Christians in Syria. And so itís a really difficult time because
Christians, as many other people in Syria, would like to see human rights come to the
forefront. Theyíd like to see the end of the dictatorship, but what comes after it
thatís a very important question for them. And it is one that Iím sure that you will
continue to watch for our viewers. A very, very important hard time in this strategic
part of the world. John Waage, as always, thank you, sir, for your insights. We have other news to report. In neighboring Iraq, as John was mentioning,
a lot of challenges there. A bomb blast severely damaged a Christian church in the northern
city of Kirkuk. It is the second attack against a church in the city just this month alone.
Here you can see the damage done to the Syriaq Orthodox Church in aff-fromm (phonetic). The
bomb blew a hole in the wall sending bricks across the church, floor and furniture. The
pastor says itís the third attack against this church in the last five years. No one,
fortunately, was hurt in the attack. Right now Muslims around the world are observing
their holy month. Itís called Ramadan. A ministry to persecuted Christians is asking
the global church to pray for believers living in the Muslim countries during this holy time. Michele Miller of Open Doors USA told us that
those prayers do make a difference. Often we do go to prayer but we donít always
feel that it really is meeting that need. But God calls us to prayer. He tells us to
do that to unite the Body of Christ. And they have told me time and time again that they
feel our prayers and that they know that theyíre not alone during these difficult times. Difficult times, indeed. And to learn how
you can take part in Open Doorsí prayer outreach, visit our website at Well, coming up on Christian World News ñ Rebuilding Christchurch, New Zealand after
a devastating earthquake. How Christians rise up to help those who are still struggling. And welcome back to Christian World News. Well, people in Christchurch, New Zealand
are still rebuilding their lives six months after a deadly earthquake. Within hours after
this earthquake struck, the cityís churches sprung into action. And as our news partner SHINE TV reports,
churches have continued their relief work to this day. News director Allan Lee filed
this firsthand report from Christchurch. Five months on, Christchurch is still broken,
the scene of one of the worst natural disasters in New Zealand history. More than 180 lives
lost and so far more than a billion dollars worth of damage, and that will climb significantly. From the outside itís surreal. Images of
disaster come through our TV screens. Itís hard to fathom that this is New Zealand. The
people who live in Christchurch are still there, still struggling, but more than ever
determined to get through. Normal is whatever you find, isnít it. And
today normal is weíve got a huge row of containers here protecting people from potential rock
fall. Weíve got some empty buildings which are being used. But weíve got a family thatís
having a birthday and theyíre just carrying on having donkey rides with the very young
kids. And in general terms, people quickly accept
their environment because you canít do a lot else. The people whose homes are in the red zone
(??? have been told that the clay seaboard just nine months earlier to raise a family
and so into a community) is to be pulled down because itís not fit to repair or build. First houseówe only bought it last year in
Januaryóso yeah itís been a little bit of a shattered dream for us but thatís why you
get doubts. Some are in authority, dealing with their
own disasters and also having to help a community come to terms with incredible loss. The place
that youíre passionate about and live in and work in will look completely different.
Driving past homes and places from your past will simply become bare land and a memory. We were quite positive about being able to
save the major portion of this, but the next one came along and itís really devastated
unfortunately. Iím not so worried myself about physical
things. They donít really affect me in that way. Whether the car survives or the building
survives is more minor to me than whether a person is okay. Christchurch people have had to deal with
more in just a few months than most of us will experience in a lifetime. But there is
something you have to envy: how these people, these communities, have pulled together and
the family who prays God that theyíve been told their home wonít be repaired or rebuilt
because at least they know, unlike so many others. Itís incredible that when we face our darkest
times, when it seems that nothing can go right or thereís no hope, the human spirit, the
Kiwi spirit, awakens and we begin to understand what this life is about ñ family, community,
and a personís ability to show amazing love. Going through hardships and struggles, I believe
personally, it amplifies what we feel in our heart, and so therefore if we feel love in
our heart and we go through struggles we also amplify that. So for us going through hard
times I think in a way has actually shown us where our true heart is and where our true
faith is. It may be the simplest ideal to love your
neighbor, but itís more valuable now to people in Christchurch than ever. And if this tragedy
has shown us Kiwis anything, itís how remarkable we can be when we have to be. And to find out how you can help the victims
of the Christchurch quake, you can go to our website, Up next ñ Caring for the orphans. How one missionary
couple is changing lives, one child at a time. For the past two months students in Chile
have abandoned their classrooms and joined street protests to demand improvements in
public education. Student demonstrators have been met with water
cannon and tear gas as the government struggles to come up with solutions. But while some
students protest, a few Christian youth have taken a very different approach – theyíre
turning to prayer to change their country. Lord, you are above all, the head of this
country, and thatís why we turn to you now so that you will control this situation, so
you will bring peace, harmony and love in this country. Chilean students are protesting the lack of
school resources, especially in the nationís poorer communities. Orphanages, housing, dozens, or even hundreds
of children are disappearing. Instead, governments are stepping in to protect children from neglect
or abuse by placing them with substitute families. But one American couple in Mexico is creating
a new model. Itís a wholesome community for orphaned or abandoned children where they
can grow up in a family atmosphere. Stan Jeter has their story. In Arriaga, Chiapas in southern Mexico, Bill
and Tammy Woods and their missionary staff offer love and guidance to dozens of orphan
children. They started out decades ago working on youth
ranches and a Romanian orphanage and saw that growth was limiting personal attention. We started out with eight kids and then before
long there were twenty, within a year we had forty. We found that as it grew then we lost
the family atmosphere. The first twenty kids were very healthy emotionally, but then what
happened with adding so many more children to the mix that you couldnít meet all the
emotional needs. Bill and Tammy didnít have children of their
own but theyíre convinced that every orphan needs a loving family. When you put a bunch of children into a large
building you can maintain them, you can take care of their basic needs of clothing and
schooling and food, but in terms of being able to get those hugs and the time one-on-one
they lose it. And when a child begins to lose that then something happens in their soul,
something happens in their personality. Weíve seen children come out of orphanage
who reject their adoptive parents because they donít know how to connect. The Beacon of Hope is an orphanage set up
like a home, according to founders Bill and Tammy. Now that weíre in Mexico we really felt that
we wanted to do something that was more family-oriented and have smaller amounts of children living
with us. This concept of Christian family has resulted
in the emotional and physical restoration of dozens of children ñ as in the case of
Carmita, a brutally abused, artistic girl who over the years has been restored and turned
into a happy young lady. Many of these kids will never be adopted because
their parents have parental rights but they canít keep the children. So we keep them
in long-term care. And so we function as a family. We tell the
children yes, to the world this is an orphanage but to us this is family. When we go on vacation
we take all twenty-plus kids with us. This is our family. Three years ago they began a new project called
the Potterís Ranch. The Potterís Ranch is 106 acres where we
can take care of more than 200 children. We have the building for production of rabbits,
cattle, we have fruit trees, weíre also putting in greenhouses, all for the purpose of sustaining
the work with whatís produced here. The ranch will also have tilapia tanks, a
concrete block factory, and community homes. Öto produce almost a village idea where you
would put them in small homes with a substitute mother or a couple so that they can get that.
Weíre designing it for twenty homes to begin with. There will be a school in the area, everything
that weíd find in a little village so that they feel like this is normal. The ranch is designed to be self-sustaining
and to host visiting work teams. The goal is to make it self-sufficient so
that weíre not always looking for others to give. And whatís also helped here, I think,
is the kids can work there, they can learn to work with their hands and be outside and
work with the animals. And then in that way when they leave they can have a life. So for us the goal this year is to finish
our first house, which is called the bunk house, and that house receives short-term
teams that come in and help us build. Bill, Tammy and their team hope that with
Godís help they can establish loving families that will serve hundreds of Mexican orphans
now and for generations to come. And we just go little by little, watching
it happen. Stan Jeter, CBN News. ñ Commercial Break ñ And finally on our broadcast this week ñ A Dutch man is building a replica of Noahís
ark. And it matches the dimensions of the vessel found in the Bible. My colleague Chris Mitchell went to Holland
to see it for himself. Drive about an hour south of Amsterdam and
you can see the ark. The big idea started with a dream in 1992. The night of my dream the ??? part of Holland
was flooded. So the next day when I woke up I said to my wife, ìIím going to build the
ark of Noah.î Yeah, that was the first beginning. Despite objections from his wife and others,
Johann Huibers first built this replica, one-tenth the size of Noahís original ark. Six hundred
thousand visitors came to see that one, but Huibers had a bigger dream. Huibers built the ark the same dimensions
as Noah did: 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. As you can see, itís huge. Some believe the
ark was the largest wooden structure ever to roam the seas. That makes it the length of one and a half
football fields and the size of a five-story building. But how do you build an ark? I didnít make plans, you know, I had no drawings,
I had nothing. I had the will to build a boat and I asked God every day, give me the ideas
how to build, how to do it. And God gave me day by day, so it was fairly easy. The ark also carries replicas of the animals
that would have been on the ark. But is the story about Noah real? Huibers says there
are more than 200 stories of a flood in ancient history. Itís the same story. There was somebody who
took all the animals inside a boat and he survived. But why did this modern-day Noah want to build
the ark in the first place? To tell the people about God – who is God
and that people start to read the Bible again. When you open the Bible, God will be there,
you know, and He will give you all the answers. Huibers believes the ark is a sign of the
days weíre living in, just like in the days of Noah. Theyíre terrible, like the same situation
at the time of Noah. Nobody cares about God. Nobody cares about each other. They kill each
other for nothing. Unbelievable. Just like Noah, people criticized Huibers. It was a very hard time. Everybodyís asking
why and itís not necessary and you donít have permission to build the ark of Noah. But Huibers and his team persevered. They
expect to finish the ark by the end of the year and hope to take it to the 2012 London
Olympics. Chris Mitchell, CBN News, Dordrecht, Holland. Thank you, Chris. Well, thatís it for this weekís edition
of Christian World News. I hope youíve enjoyed our broadcast. If youíve got any suggestions,
story ideas, please email those to Until next week, from all of us here at Christian
World News, good-bye and God bless you.

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  1. you stupid christians are as bad as taleban in afghanestan, you just dont have power otherwise no difference.

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