China closes church founded by Samuel Lamb
Plus, a new church in Ukraine and other international news and notes
CHINA: More than 60 police officers stormed a children’s Bible class Saturday morning to launch a raid shutting down Rongguili Church in Guangzhou. The church was founded by the late Samuel Lamb and became the third prominent Protestant church in China closed in recent months.One week after authorities moved against Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, detaining its pastor and about 100 members, worshippers this Sunday found their building surrounded by police—and moved worship services to nearby parks. About 60 churchgoers were arrested as a crackdown on one of China’s preeminent unregistered ministries continues. At a nearby riverside park, reports WORLD Magazine’s June Cheng, about 50 Early Rain members sang hymns, prayed, and recited the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism: “What is your only comfort in life and death? That I am not my own but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.” Surveillance technology is aiding China’s Big Brother transformation—with facial recognition technology and cameras monitoring classrooms, concerts, and jaywalkers.
UKRAINE has founded its own national church, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, with approval from three leading Orthodox bishops (including two from the Moscow Patriarchate). “It’s a church without Putin,” said President Petro Poroshenko. “It’s a church without prayers for the Russian government and Russian army. Because the Russian government and Russian army are killing Ukrainians.”
TURKEY says it plans to launch a new operation this week against the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) militia in northern Syria. The Pentagon said unilateral military action there by any party would be “unacceptable.”
Turkey’s foreign minister is still claiming American Pastor Andrew Brunson “was a CIA agent.”
INDIA: The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was defeated in five state elections, a victory for Christians in those areas who have suffered a spike in violent attacks since the BJP’s rise to controlling the national government in 2014.
EGYPT: President Abdul-Fattah El-Sisi ordered the building of a church in a new city on the outskirts of Cairo. But churches approved for construction represent only a handful of thousands of applications pending.
BELGIUM: The signing of a UN migration pact has brought down Belgium’s government and over the weekend launched protests in Brussels that turned violent.
INDONESIA: Jakarta’s former governor, known as “Ahok,” sentenced last year to two years in jail for blasphemy against Islam, may be released from prison next month, four months ahead of schedule.
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