By Blessen Varghese.

Christians Flee the Syrian Town of Maaloula as Rebels Take Control

The Syrian Christian town of Maalula

The Syrian Christian town of Maalula

Syrian rebels have taken control of Maaloula, a historic Christian village near Damascus. Forces, believed to be led by jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda, captured the village, also known as one of the few places in the world where residents still speak Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. Witness say Islamists burned churches and attacked homes, forcing hundreds of Syrian Christians to flee. Many witnesses also were shocked that some of their Muslim neighbours were also involved in the attack. Click this link to read more on this. Also, this link will give you an updated eye-witness account of the attack.

Militants To Continue Targeting Non-Muslims After Peshawar Church Bombing

pakistan-church-suicide-bombersA wing of the Pakistani Taliban called Jundallah (‘Soldiers of God’) who claimed responsibility for the bombings, said that they would continue to target non-Muslims until the United States stops its drone attacks in Pakistan. Two suicide bombers had rushed the church doors of the historic All Saints Church in the northwestern city of Peshawar in Pakistan, as worshipers streamed out on 22 September 2013. Christians who came out in protest the following week believe that the government has done little to protect the minorities in the country. Excerpts taken from this site. Read more on the attacks here.

Pastor Shot at, Killed During Church Service

Pastor Ronald Harris Sr

Pastor Ronald Harris Sr

Ronald Harris Sr, a pastor in Lousiana, USA, was shot at and killed during a revival service. His alleged killer, Woodrow Karey, was in fact a former member of his church, the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center. The pastor was yet to begin his teaching when Karey, armed with a gun, shot the pastor twice, killing him almost instantly. The motive behind this act is yet to be known. Talisha Harris, the daughter of the pastor later said that if her father could talk to his killer, he’d say, “I forgive you and I love you.”

Harris said that forgiveness and love wouldn’t be her father’s only message to his killer. “He’d say, ‘Come to church. And let God visit (your) mind.'” Click here to read more on this story.

Man Forgives His Former Employee Who Shot Him

fatal-rampageIn what would be a true example of forgiveness and Christian love, John Choi forgave the man who shot him in the end. Sang Ho Kim, who had a hazy past, was employed by Choi as an act of Christian kindness. However, this act of kindness turned into a nasty business dispute and ended in a bloody rampage. Last week, Kim walked into Choi’s office on Long Island, pulled a gun and shot him in the head. The police said, he also shot and killed Yong Jae Shin, a young man who worked at the company. At Nassau University Medical Center, his face bandaged where the bullet had entered and narrowly missed his brain, Choi had a simple message for Kim, whom the police were still seeking: Turn to Jesus. Heaven is not out of reach. Read this incredible story of love and true Christian attitude here.

Former Syrian-Muslim Writes A Book On His Conversion

karim-shamsi-basha

Karim Shamsi-Basha, a former Syrian-Muslim, released his book, ‘Paul and Me’ in which he tells of this quest, and recounts how he spent close to two decades of his life discovering Jesus and learning his purpose, which he now testifies is “to share God’s love with people and let them know He loves all his children.” A sudden brain aneurysm had left Shamsi-Basha in a coma for almost a month in 1992. After he made an amazing almost-complete recovery, his neurosurgeon, recognizing the rarity of what had occurred, told him that he had “seen very few people recover as you did. You have to find out why you survived.” That would eventually lead him to Jesus Christ. Read more on Karim Shamsi-Basha and his story here.

Follow-up: US President Barak Obama Calls for Pastor Saeed’s Release

obama-pastor-saeedUS President Barak Obama has asked Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to have American Pastor Saeed Abedini released from prison. Obama talked by phone with the new Iranian president Friday afternoon, marking the first conversation between leaders of the two nations in more than three decades. Abedini has been imprisoned in one of Iran’s toughest facilities for more than a year for his faith in Christ. Excerpt taken from this link. Pastor Saeed’s story has been frequently covered in the previous editions of News Digests as well. Let this encouraging news increase our faith, as we continue to remember Pastor Saeed for his quick release.