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Pastor Jentezen Franklin urges Christians to vote their faith after Calif. bans singing in church



Megachurch pastor Jentezen Franklin cried “discrimination” and urged Christians to vote their faith in November as the California Department of Public Health issued updated guidelines Wednesday, forbidding churches from singing during services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“California’s Governor just banned singing/chanting at church. Catholics can’t recite mass; Evangelicals can’t worship out loud. The very definition of discrimination is to allow thousands to march and scream without masks while telling churches 100 or less that you cannot sing,” Franklin, who is senior pastor of the multi-campus Free Chapel Church in Gainesville, Georgia, tweeted Friday.

“Christians must realize the radical left will restrict & control church if we don’t vote our faith this November! Are you registered to vote your faith?”

A few weeks ago, California began allowing the reopening of churches for in-person services with guidelines after requiring most Californians in March to stay at home to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 among the population. As the number of cases began inching upwards again, public health officials said singing and chanting in houses of worship must not happen.

“Even with adherence to physical distancing, convening in a congregational setting of multiple different households to practice a personal faith carries a relatively higher risk for widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations,” health officials noted in the new guidelines document.

“In particular, activities such as singing and chanting negate the risk reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing. *Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower,” they advised.

Houses of worship, along with other places of work such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, prisons, food production, warehouses, meat processing plants, and grocery stores, were identified as places that had suffered multiple outbreaks of COVID-19.

A report from the Skagit County Public Health Department in Washington State published by the CDC in May showed how quickly the coronavirus spread after a choir practice became a “superspreader event” for the disease that infected 86% of attending members and killed two of them.

While churches are still allowed to operate with restrictions, California health officials strongly recommended that places of worship continue to facilitate remote services and other related activities for those who are vulnerable to COVID-19, including older adults and those with underlying conditions.

Like Franklin, many other evangelical leaders saw the banning of singing in churches in California as a hypocritical assault on religious freedom.

“The ‘science’ that allows for protests but prohibits singing in church is ‘fake science’ that must be rejected. If being outside makes protests safe, then why are beaches being shut down?” Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas asked on Twitter Friday.

Tony Suarez, chief operating officer of the Sacramento-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said he would rather be jailed than stop singing in church.

“I’ll go to jail before I’ll stop singing to my God! This just turned into our Daniel chapter six moment. California has just banned singing/chanting in houses of worship,” Suarez said, encouraging civil disobedience.

He also shared a statement from NHCLC President Samuel Rodriguez who noted: “You cannot permit tens of thousands to march in protest without masks and demand that 100 worshipers refrain from singing. That my friend is the very definition of discrimination. @GavinNewsom please stop discriminating! #inalienablerights.”

Tom Buck, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, also encouraged Christians in California to reject the ban on singing.

“This is where every church should draw the line & practice civil disobedience. They must choose to obey God rather than man! Of course, part of that involves being willing to suffer the consequences, but the churches must not bow to this totalitarian order,” he said.

Some churches, meanwhile, are choosing to abide by the guidelines.

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa chose to be “flexible” and “safe” and avoid congregational singing. Instead of the typical series of worship songs, the worship team sang from the stage while reading scriptures and encouraging the congregation to meditate and pray.

“It’s not the end of the world if the health department says it’s not the best idea for you to be singing congregationally,” Senior Pastor Brian Brodersen said Sunday. “We’re mature enough. We have the Lord. We can navigate that. We don’t have to get all stressed out about it.”

Jason Batt, chief operating officer of Capital Christian Center, one of the Sacramento area’s largest congregations, told The Sacramento Bee, “We recognize that singing is a challenge.” He said the choir has been put on hold for the time being and the church only had limited singing on stage during the recent reopening.

Sources:Christian Post

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American Missionary Kidnapped in Southern Niger



Niger– On October 27, a missionary named Phillip Walton, was at his home in the town of Birnin Konni, near the border with Nigeria. He was there with his family, when gunmen entered his home early that morning. According to a report done by the Daily Mail, the gunmen demanded money. They tied up the family and threatened Phillip. They searched the home, but were only able to find about 35 dollars’ worth of Central African Francs. The gunmen then took Phillip. His family was left tied up and unhurt according to the report.

The police did not find out about the attack until about four hours later because the family had been detained. It is believed that the gunmen took Philip across the border into Northern Nigeria. They are now demanding a ransom for the return of Philip.

These types of kidnapping for ransom have become big business in Nigeria and throughout West Africa. Foreigners and locals alike are taken and ransomed back to family and friends for thousands of dollars. Other missionaries have been kidnapped from Niger in recent months as well. Jeffrey Woodke and Father Pier Luigi Maccalli are two of the more recent victims. Macalli spent more than two years in captivity before being released earlier this month.

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North Korean Christians Brutally Tortured for Their Faith



North Korea– It is no secret that North Korean Christians are facing one of the harshest regimes when it comes to Christian persecution. A recent report by the London-based Korea Future Initiative (KFI) further confirms the atrocities done to North Korean Christians once arrested.

KFI conducted 117 interviews with survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators, all of those who escaped North Korea, on their experience of religious persecution, dating from 1990 until 2019. More than 200 Christians were identified as victims, their age ranging from 3 years old to 80 years old.

One story shows how a man who converted to Christianity claimed to have been imprisoned into a metal cage measuring only 3ft by 4ft wide with bars ‘heated with electricity’. While prisoners typically only survived three or four hours in the cage, his prayers helped him endure 12 before he eventually soiled himself and passed out. But even unconscious, the guards continued to beat him after he was removed from the cage, leaving him severely injured.

Women, especially pregnant women, witnessed horror daily, as pregnant women were injected with medicine to trigger labor. After giving birth to live babies, the newborns would be taken from them, smothered by guards using plastic sheets or cloth sacks and then discarded in a cleaning cupboard.

Only for possessing a Bible, prisoners who were tied to a wooden stake were shot by a five-person firing squad, recalled some interviewees. A Korean Workers’ Party member was arrested for owning a Bible and executed at Hyesan airfield in front of 3000 residents. Others were executed for smuggling Bible pages into the country from China for North Koreans to make prayer books.

Before the Kim regime began in 1948, Christianity once flourished in North Korea. However, over the next decades, the Kim dynasty made the country’s official religion the cult of Kim Il Sung. The country’s supreme leaders are seen as God(s) and all must worship them or they face deadly consequences. North Korea then became known as the harshest country in the world in which to live as a Christian.

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