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China Gov Using Facial and Fingerprint Scanning on Christians as They Enter Church

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Hi-tech surveillance devices including face and fingerprint scanning equipment are now being installed in churches throughout China.

According to a report from Bitter Winter, a publication that explores human rights and religious freedom in China, a facial recognition system that was placed in a government-controlled church, called the Three-Self Church, in Urumqi — the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region — is now being introduced elsewhere in China.

“On October 6, Muyang Church in the central province of Hubei, which is also the home of the Two Chinese Christian Councils of Huangshi city, had two biometric devices set up on its second floor. Since then, congregation members have to stand in line to have their faces and fingerprints scanned before being allowed to enter the church,” the publication reported.

“Around the same time, in the city’s state-run Tian’en Church, facial recognition equipment has been also installed to check the believers who attend gatherings.”

A Christian told the magazine several weeks ago that local authorities required every meeting venue established by Three-Self churches in Huangshi city to take the fingerprints of fellow believers and put on file their personal and family information.

The churchgoer was disturbed by the order since it requires not only that church members be under constant tracking and surveillance but that their families and relatives are implicated by association.

Other local believers also reported that since October, multiple state-sanctioned churches in Huangshi began using fingerprint sensors and face scanners to record their attendance at services.

“In late September, members of a Three-Self meeting venue in the Nanzhulin community in Huangshi had their fingerprints taken. The person in charge of the venue told them that all congregants have to have their fingerprints scanned to attend Sunday services,” Bitter Winter noted.

“Just like employees punch in at work,” the person in charge of one church venue in the Nanzhulin community in Huangshi explained to a churchgoer. “In this way, the church can know clearly who attends the services and who doesn’t.”

Chinese Christians believe this is yet another example of the ever-increasing amassing of power by the government.

State surveillance of churches is not new in China. What is called the Sharp Eyes Project has long had a presence in state-run churches, with cameras placed even in washrooms of certain places of worship to ensure “comprehensive monitoring.”

According to the South China Morning Post, the name of the surveillance program seems to stem from a Mao-era slogan aimed at urging people to denounce those who failed to follow Communist Party creed: “The people have sharp eyes.”

The surveillance program intends to cover all rural areas with the goal of achieving “blind-spot-free monitoring” by the year 2020, “covering all regions, sharing across all networks, available at all times, and controlled at all points.”

Earlier this year, reports emerged that state-run churches in Qingdao city in the eastern province of Shandong were ordered to stop singing songs from the Worship Songs or Spiritual Song Collection and were instead ordered to sing from a book of hymns approved by the state. The new approved songs only featured themes about loving the nation of China, celebrating birthdays and funerals, and respecting parents and the elderly.

“The hymns published by the government only promote political, secularized content. All believers are unwilling to sing them,” one director of a state-approved church told Bitter Winter in June, referencing the chorus of one of the hymns as an example: “China is beautiful; China is great; the sons and daughters of China love China. … Bless China, O Lord.”

Sources: Christian post

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Mission group urges Christians to pray for release of missionary pilot, 2 volunteers imprisoned in Mozambique

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The U.S.-based ministry Mission Aviation Fellowship is urging Christians to pray for the release and safety of one of its pilots, Ryan Koher, and two South African volunteers who have been detained for nearly a month in Mozambique on suspicion of supporting insurgent activity.

Koher, 31, and two South Africans — 77-year-old W.J. du Plessis and 69-year-old Eric Dry — were detained in the coastal city of Inhambane on Nov. 4 while they were loading supplies into the aircraft to be taken to church-run orphanages in the Montepuez district in the troubled Cabo Delgado Province.

“I urge Christians around the world to pray for Ryan’s safety and swift release, and call on those in power both in Mozambique and here in the U.S. to do everything they can to resolve this wrongful detainment,” MAF President and CEO David Holsten said in a statement Friday.

While conducting the normal security scan at the airport, police asked about the supplies — vitamins, over-the-counter medications and food preservatives — Koher was to deliver for the orphanages and adult staff, the ministry said, adding that Koher is a pilot for its partner, Ambassador Aviation Ltd.

“None of the confiscated material belonged to Koher nor had it been loaded onto the airplane. AAL has been conducting these annual supply charter flights to the orphanages since 2014.”

The three men have been jailed on a still undetermined written charge, according to MAF.

While the three men were suspected to be supporting insurgency, “Ambassador Aviation has long sought to care for those who have been harmed by the insurgency, including evacuating innocent residents following a March 2021 insurgent attack.”

Islamic extremists have been exploiting a crisis in the coastal province of Cabo Delgado. A civil war started in 2017 over the area rich with gas, rubies, graphite, gold and other natural resources. Protesters demonstrated against what they say is profits going to an elite in the ruling Frelimo Party, with few jobs for local residents.

In the mostly Muslim region of Cabo Delgado in the otherwise Christian-majority country, Islamic extremists kidnap women and force boys to become child soldiers, The Washington Post reported in October.

“In 2017, jihadist insurgents began in the Cabo-Delgado province, winning over some locals due to the fact that they gave back resources to villagers from the government, and killed no one,” the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported. “This did not last, however, as IS started setting fire to Christian villages, and killing those who lived there.”

A lawyer from AAL the U.S. Embassy are engaged in the situation, MAF said, adding, however, that Embassy officials were denied access to Koher at a prison in Inhambane. Koher was later moved to the Machava High Security Prison near Maputo.

“Ryan is a caring and gentle individual,” Holsten said. “Over the last couple of years, he and his wife have worked hard to learn the language and culture of Mozambique to better serve those who rely on our service. Understandably, this situation has been very challenging for the family. We fully believe in Ryan’s innocence, and we are all praying that this issue will be resolved very soon with the charges dismissed and Ryan released.”
Sources:Christian Post

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Do Christians Really Donate More? Bible’s Stunning Impact on Charitable Giving Revealed in Fascinating New Study

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As the debate over the impact of Christianity on charitable behavior forges on, a new study reveals Scripturally-engaged Americans are “far more likely than others to donate to charity.”

In fact, the majority of these individuals — people who interact consistently with Scripture and allow it to shape their lives and relationships — report giving to such causes, according to the eighth chapter of “The State of the Bible” report.

“Americans who are engaged with the Bible gave $145 billion to charitable causes in 2021,” a statement from the American Bible Society read. “And … Practicing Christians, those who are actively living out their faith, are much more likely to give.”

The results are pretty stunning when comparing people engaged in the Bible with those who are disengaged as well as the so-called Moveable Middle, a group falling between those dynamics.

Bible-engaged Americans gave a total of $145 billion to charities in 2021, amounting to about $2,907 per household. The same figure for the Bible disengaged was just $924.

To underscore the monumental nature of that giving, consider that Scripturally engaged Americans account for just 19% of adults yet give 44% of every dollar donated.

The finer details point to the fascinating nature of this group’s generosity.

“People who are Scripture-engaged gave six-times as much to churches as those in the Movable Middle and 13-times as much as those who are Bible-disengaged,” a statement explained. “When it comes to non-church giving, Scripture-engaged Americans gave 9% more than the Bible-disengaged and 165% more than the Movable Middle.”

Giving among active believers is, thus, much higher than for other cohorts.

Dr. John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society, said his organization’s research continues to show “a strong correlation between charitable giving and human flourishing.” This is particularly relevant among Christians surveyed in the annual report.

“Engaging with the Bible and actively living out our faith doesn’t simply mean reading the words in the pages of Scripture — rather, it is a transformation of the heart that inspires us to love and live well,” Plake said.

The results for this chapter of the “State of the Bible” were collected from 2,598 phone and online responses from American adults in January 2022.

Atheists will often decry the Bible and its contents, yet study after study shows the strong benefits faith offers individuals and, in turn, the culture at large.

As Faithwire reported, an earlier chapter from the “State of the Bible” report showed “Americans who consistently read and apply the Bible report greater levels of hope and resilience.” Read more about the Bible’s significant impact on the faithful here.
Sources:faithwire

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PASTOR JACOB MATHEW – 57 MEMORIAL SERVICE 12/02/2022

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For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel,and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We walk by faith, and not by sight! Pastor Jacob Mathew (57 ) has been promoted to his eternal home and went to be with Jesus on 11/24/2022 . He served as the assistant Pastor of the Mizpah Church of God. Pullad. He lived a life that exampled Jesus Christ, a life of servitude,faith,and love. He will be missed by his family, his wife Shiney,daughter Jesna Jacob and son Joel Jacob.

We kindly request for prayers at this time for the family. He is Survived by his mother, Thankamma Mathew, sister Mary Mathew, and brother Paul Mathew and family.


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