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Questions loom over French cathedral fires

Investigators say the latest blaze looks like arson

Firefighters at the cathedral in Nantes, France, on Saturday Associated Press/Photo by Romain Boulanger

Questions loom over French cathedral fires

FRANCE: Police say arson likely caused the fire at the 15th-century cathedral in Nantes on Saturday that engulfed the Gothic structure’s interior. The fire comes just over a year after the Notre Dame blaze in Paris. Workers have yet to access the origin point of that fire and determine a cause. Investigators have cleared and released a Nantes cathedral volunteer arrested on Saturday.

IRAN: Authorities executed by hanging this morning Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd, a translator the regime accused of spying for Israel and the United States. It was the third execution since June of a detainee who allegedly spied for the CIA. Iran’s state Fars News Agency said Mousavi-Majd was responsible for passing on information related to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, assassinated by U.S. forces in Baghdad in January.

Recent explosions and fires at critical facilities in Iran are heightening already high tension with Israel and the United States. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has warned it will “react decisively” if it finds foreign powers had something to do with the July 2 bombing at the Natanz nuclear fuel enrichment site.

QATAR: From the time Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani stepped off the plane to attend the University of Southern California, an entire economy quickly grew up around him to meet his wishes and whims. Escapades of the brother of Qatar’s emir ultimately involved a slush fund with Beverly Hills Rent-A-Car to cover off-the-book expenses and a Mexican immigrant doctoral student who acted as an academic sherpa to keep up his grades.

MALAYSIA: Coronavirus border closures have stranded more than 200,000 ship workers at sea—what the UN warns is a growing humanitarian crisis. “The last time I stepped off from this 200-meter [650-foot] ship was in February,” said Indian seafarer Tejasvi Duseja.

SOUTH KOREA: Prosecutors are questioning the leader of the heretical Christian sect Shincheonji Church of Jesus over accusations it hampered the government’s anti-virus response. The church became the center of an outbreak in the southeastern city of Daegu after thousands of COVID-19 infections were detected among its members in February and March.

Even with outbreaks from Daegu, South Korea has become a success story for limiting COVID-19. With its extensive contact tracing, a large study from South Korea shows children 10 and above are particularly contagious, complicating the picture for school reopenings.

IRELAND: Doctors are puzzling over the dramatic drop in premature births during the coronavirus lockdown.

CANADA: J.I. Packer, one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century, died on Friday in Vancouver.

GLOBAL: Organizers postponed the Global Anglican Future Conference in June, but you can hear global Anglicans who’ve taken stands for Biblical orthodoxy such as Michael Nazir-Ali, the Pakistani-born former Bishop of Rochester, England, leading daily devotions.

WATCH Singapore from Liyana’s window, Germany from Elmar’s window, or Spain, Australia, Brooklyn, and more at Window Swap.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine’s first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run From ISIS With Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C.



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                About five hundred years ago a Frenchman Jacques Le Fèvre translated the New Testament and Psalms into French making the scriptures available in the common language of the day.  The religious establishment which ruled France opposed their distribution by persecuting those who possessed or used them to preach the gospel of Christ.  A hermit who was a seeker after God lived in a hut in the forest of Livry, a small burgh on the road to Meaux, not far from Paris.  The hermit read the scriptures, received salvation through reading them, and then shared with anyone who visited him.  Soon his little hut became a meeting place for worship and discipleship.  The Catholic Church took prompt measures to crush the growing testimony of the gospel in Meaux and the surrounding regions. 

                The believers in the district understood that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were not confined to a particular class but were given to all members of the body of Christ.  All were free to participate in their meetings and they celebrated the Lord ’s Table together without the need of officially appointed clergy. (Note 1 Cor. 14:26)  Severe persecution removed or silenced many brethren forcing them to meet in secret. From the time he believed the hermit devoted himself to visiting all in the district, receiving those who came to his hut, and explaining to all from the scriptures the way of salvation.  His activities led to his imprisonment and then to his death where he was burned alive before the porch of Notre Dame. 

      “Nothing was wanting which his persecutors could think of that might make the spectacle of his death terrible to the on-lookers. The great bell of the temple of Notre Dame was rung with immense violence, in order to draw out the people from all parts of Paris. As the martyr passed along the street, the doctors told the spectators that this was one of the damned who was on his way to the fire of hell. These things moved not the martyr; he walked with firm step and look undaunted to the spot where he was to offer up his life.”

                The hermit of Livry laid down his life for the brethren and the evangelization of his town and district some five hundred years ago.  About 500 years later Note Dame, the great Catholic cathedral where he offered up his life to our Lord, and for his fellow brethren, caught fire from an electrical shortage and burned on April 15, 2019.  The damage was great and the sound of bells is gone.  In 2020, on the anniversary of the fire, one large bell rang to honor those who are laying down their lives in the present pandemic and for those who have perished in it.  Notre Dame is empty and the bells do not ring to gather people together.  We remember that Jesus said:

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV)

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another… And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”  (Matthew 24: 9-14 KJV)