China sentences pastor and wife to prison for cross removal

As communist authorities in China continue to crackdown on churches in the southeastern Zhejiang Province, considered the heartland of Chinese Christianity, a court sentenced a Protestant pastor to 14 years in prison and his wife to 12 years, according to Chinese media. Bao Guohua, a government-approved pastor, and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, were targeted for their efforts to defend their church against an order to remove its cross, just as authorities have taken down over 1,200 crosses from churches and other buildings for violating “planning” rules over the past two years. Excerpt from this link.

Large number of Muslims turning to the Lord through Iranian House Church movement

According to estimates provided by Open Doors USA, as many as 450,000 practicing Christians in Iran because of the rapidly accelerating house church movement. The Iranian government labels Christianity as a threat to the nation’s Islamic identity and imprisons Christians for worshiping Christ. Such crackdowns on faith, however, have not prevented Iranian house churches from blossoming into a movement too big for the Iranian religious police to contain. More optimistic estimates put the figure as one million. Click here to read more about this movement.

Hundreds killed in Nigeria attacks

Several days of attacks in February’s final days killed hundreds of people and sent thousands fleeting from largely Christian areas of Nigeria’s farming belt. The armed attacks in and around Agatu, in the central Nigerian state of Benue, had features long familiar to Nigerians: ethnic Fulani cattle herders, largely Muslim, moving in on farmers, largely Christian. The long-running land conflict frequently is framed in economic terms, but it also has distinctive religious contours. Survivors quoted by Christian-rights advocates said the attackers specifically targeted Christians and churches and spared Muslims and mosques. Excerpt from this link.

Radicals Beat 60 Christians Worshiping at Pentecostal Church, Strip Women Naked

A group of radicals in India’s Chhattisgarh state reportedly attacked and beat 60 Christians worshiping at a Pentecostal church on a Sunday, only a week after the Indian government denied visas to a U.S. Commission investigating religious freedom abuses in the country. International Christian Concern reported that a mob of 25 Hindu radicals targeted a Pentecostal church in Kachana colony, where they stormed the house of worship on motorbikes, and began beating the 60 or so Christians that had gathered for Sunday worship. Read more here.

Militants kill four Wycliffe Bible translators

Militants killed four national translators and injured several others in a raid on a Wycliffe translation office in the Middle East. They shot and destroyed all the equipment in the office including the Print On Demand (POD) equipment. The invaders burned all the books and other translation materials in the office. Two workers died of gunshot wounds. Two other workers laid on top of the lead translator—saved his life—and died deflecting bludgeoning blows from the radicals’ spent weapons. Excerpts from this Wycliffe Associates link.

Gunmen kidnap 3 pastors during church camp in Nigeria

Two of the three church leaders kidnapped at gunpoint during a church prayer camp in northern Nigeria remain in captivity, over a week since their abduction on March 21. One of men, Rev Iliya Anto, was released due to poor health, but the other two men remain in captivity. Their kidnappers are demanding a ransom of 100 million naira ($500,000). The two pastors that remain in captivity are Rev Dr Emmanuel Dziggau and Rev Yakubu Dzarma. Click here to read the entire story.

Secret notes hidden in 500-year-old Bible

A historian in the U.K. has discovered secret notes hidden in the text of England’s first printed bible. Recent analysis of the Latin Bible, which was published in 1535 by Henry VIII’s printer, has revealed fascinating English annotations made during the 16th-century Reformation. Click here to read more.