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“One Nation, One Faith, One Lord”: Prayer rallying Norfolk streets against racism

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In front of Norfolk City Hall, hundreds of white Christians kneeled to ask for forgiveness.

Jim Wood of First Presbyterian in Norfolk asked whites in the crowd to repent on behalf of white Christian churches. The pastor, who is white, said white Christian churches have a history of racism and upholding racist systems, such as slavery, segregation and discrimination.

They obliged, and many in the crowd still standing were moved to tears.

“A lot of people felt healing to see that repenting in action,” said Cathy Martinez of Norfolk, who wiped tears as she saw people near her drop to their knees. “Honestly, I’ll still be processing that when I get home. We’re hurting, and we need healing.”

The prayer march was one of two demonstrations on Sunday afternoon, with protests for Black Lives Matter in Hampton Roads showing no signs of slowing after a week and a half. Hundreds of people marched through downtown Norfolk and the city’s Colonial Place neighborhood, the latest local protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, a black man, pleaded for help as an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The prayer march, organized by the Hampton Roads City Collective of local churches, promoted faith and unity and decried racism and policies that harm communities of color — at different points, the crowd chanted, “Jesus. Justice.” The event drew a massive crowd that filled the area in front of City Hall and later Waterside Drive and a segment of Town Point Park.

Shana Smith-Coleman of Virginia Beach said it was overwhelming to see such a diverse crowd come together for justice. She was glad to see that in such a difficult time, Christians of various backgrounds were having real discussions about racism and justice.

“As Christians, we are connected through Jesus, and we should all be unified to seek justice, to stand up for justice and to stand up for what’s right,” Martinez said.

The crowd proceeded with a police escort to Town Point Park and gathered for an event akin to a church service, with many prayers and preachers.

Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone spoke at the event and received a warmer reception than he has at some other demonstrations in the city.

He spoke of attempts by police to reform and prevent deaths like Floyd’s, but police forces have come up short. He pledged the department would search for solutions and engage with the community. He encouraged residents to bring specific reform ideas to the department.

Bishop Courtney McBath of Calvary Revival Church urged whites in the crowd to be empathetic to struggles in black communities, recounting the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic in recent months and the 400 years of injustices that contribute to the inequities African Americans still suffer today.

He asked the crowd to seek out perspectives from people of different backgrounds and said that exposure could help people realize that they and the church have to reckon with an ugly history.

“Sometimes, complicit is a compliment because many times the church in America has not been the officers standing around while George Floyd was murdered in the street,” McBath said. “They’ve been the knee in the neck of George Floyd as they took him down and took down people of color.”

In Norfolk’s Colonial Place, a march for children began at 2 p.m. near the Greenspace circle at the intersection of Colonial Avenue and Delaware Avenue. The demonstration drew large numbers of first-time protesters, many who are parents wary of bringing their children to other marches that drew bigger crowds.

The chants were largely the same as at other protests, though some were toned down to a PG-version for the young audience.

“Let’s raise some heck for social justice,” said Jen Detlefsen, who helped organize the event.

At the Sunday march, protesters sold baked goods for $2 and $4 a pop, planning to donate the proceeds to the Equal Justice Initiative. Under some shade in a park, children drew at a sign-decorating station.

“Black Lives Matter.”

“No Justice, No Peace.”

Organizers required people to wear masks and encouraged them to practice social distancing, which the crowd generally tried to do.

Adrian Green, 37, attended the march with his wife and 7-year-old son, the family’s first protest since the demonstrations started nearly two weeks ago.

Green’s message: Keep it peaceful. Elon, his son, said he wants people to know that “everyone is equal and no one should be treated differently because of their appearance.”

“When he looks back, he can say he was a part of history,” Green said of his son.

As the crowd walked to Lafayette Park in Norfolk, where the march ended, police blocked several intersections for the protest and many people stuck in traffic honked in support. On an apartment balcony, three women returned the chants of “no peace” to the marchers’ “no justice” as the crowd walked by.

Some wanted to make sure their kids were ready to be an advocate on these issues when schools reopened. Others highlighted the importance of teaching children about racism at a young age, before harmful habits are ingrained. Many stressed that it is key to show up to these events, both to speak up and to see that others supported them.

“It lets them know early on that they have a voice,” said Taryn McLean, who was with his two kids and wife.

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North Korea is facing a severe food shortage

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Addressing a meeting of senior leaders, Mr Kim said: “The people’s food situation is now getting tense”.

He said the agricultural sector had failed to meet its grain targets due to typhoons last year, which caused flooding.

There are reports that food prices have spiked, with NK News reporting that a kilogram of bananas costs $45 (£32).

North Korea has closed its borders to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Trade with China has plummeted as a result. North Korea relies on China for food, fertiliser and fuel.

North Korea is also struggling under international sanctions, imposed because of its nuclear programmes.

The authoritarian leader of the single-party state talked about the food situation at the ruling Workers’ Party central committee which started this week in the capital Pyongyang.

During the meeting, Mr Kim said that national industrial output had grown by a quarter compared to the same period last year.

Officials were expected to discuss relations with the US and South Korea during the event but no details have been released yet.

In April, Mr Kim made a a rare admission of looming hardship, calling on officials to “wage another, more difficult ‘Arduous March’ in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little”.

The Arduous March is a term used by North Korea officials to refer to the country’s struggle during the 1990s famine, when the fall of the Soviet Union left North Korea without crucial aid.

The total number of North Koreans who starved to death at the time is not known, but estimates range up to three million.

It is highly unusual for Kim Jong-un to publicly acknowledge a food shortage. But this is a North Korean leader who has already admitted that his economic plan has failed.

The problem for Mr Kim is that when he took over from his father, he promised his people a more prosperous future. He said they would have meat on their tables and access to electricity. This has not happened. Now he’s having to prime the population for more hard work.

He is trying to tie this into the global pandemic, and state media reported that he pointed out to party officials that the situation across the world is getting “worse and worse”. With so little access to outside information, he can paint a picture of things being bad everywhere – not just in sealed off North Korea. He also described efforts to beat Covid-19 as a “protracted war”. That signals that border closures are not easing any time soon.

That is the concern of many aid organisations. The sealed border has prevented some food and medicine getting through. Most NGOs have had to leave the country, unable to get staff and supplies in or out.

Pyongyang has always called for “self-reliance”. It has closed itself off, just as it may need assistance and it is unlikely to ask for help. If it continues to push away all offers of international assistance, as ever, it may be the people who pay the price.

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Christian pastor killed over outreach to Muslims: ‘Today Allah has judged you’

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A radical Muslim has confessed to police in Uganda that he killed a 70-year-old pastor earlier this month because of Allah’s word to kill all infidels who mislead Muslims by sharing the Gospel.

The accused, identified as Imam Uthman Olingha, told police he killed Bishop Francis Obo, senior pastor of Mpingire Pentecostal Revival Church Ministries International in Odapako village Mpingire Sub-County, on June 11, Morning Star News reported.

Olingha was one of the Muslim extremists dressed in Islamic attire who stopped Pastor Obo and his wife on their way home from a market at about 8:30 p.m., his wife, Christine Obo, said.

“Olingha openly confessed to police that he can’t regret that he killed the bishop because he did it in the cause of Allah’s word to kill all infidels who mislead Muslims. He added that Allah will be with him in jail, but the kafiri (infidel) deserved the killing.”

One of the attackers told the pastor, who oversaw 17 churches across the region and had been sharing Christ with Muslims, that he was an “infidel” who caused Muslims to leave Islam and “blasphemes the words of Allah,” and that, “Today Allah has judged you.”

A week before the murder, the couple had invited a former Islamic teacher to testify on how he became a Christian at their church, Christine Obo recalled. Area Muslims were also upset with the church because it offered the former Islamic teacher a pig as part of a micro-enterprise livestock project that helped raise funds for the church, she added.

Describing the incident, she said, “As I moved a few meters in a hurry trying to save my life, I heard a little noise and wailing from my husband and realized that his life was in danger.”

When she reached home, she was trembling and unable to speak, she said, and her children took her to a hospital. When she regained consciousness the following morning, she told her oldest son and his siblings to go to the site.

“Reaching there, they were shocked and fearful as they found a big number of Christians and relatives gathered around the dead body mourning their bishop after being murdered by Muslims,” Obo was quoted as saying.

According to World Watch Monitor, a homegrown Islamist rebel movement organizing in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo has emboldened Ugandan radicals to persecute Christians.

Voice of the Martyrs earlier noted that Uganda’s history has made it vulnerable to the influence of Islam as “Arab countries also continue to invest significant resources into furthering Muslim interests in the country.”

In Uganda, persecution is mainly seen in the form of local Islamists persecuting Christians, mostly in areas where “radicals have been steadily encroaching.”

“Radical Islam’s influence has grown steadily, and many Christians within the majority-Muslim border regions are facing severe persecution, especially those who convert from Islam,” a Voice of the Martyrs factsheet explains. “Despite the risks, evangelical churches in Uganda have responded by reaching out to their neighbors; many churches are training leaders how to share the Gospel with Muslims and care for those who are persecuted after they become Christians.”

Last December, a mob of Muslim extremists in Uganda reportedly killed 41-year-old former imam Yusuf Kintu a week after he converted to Christianity.
Sources:Christian Post

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