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Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards calls for fasting prayer against Corona

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The governor of Louisiana on Tuesday called for people to join him in a day of “fasting and prayer” in honor of those who have died or lost loved ones to the coronavirus.

In a post on social media, Gov. John Bel Edwards wrote, “In this Lenten season where we focus on fasting and prayer, I wanted to let the people of Louisiana know that I will be fasting today.”

“I ask you to join me in a day of prayer and fasting for comfort to those that have lost a loved one to COVID-19,” he said, adding that, according to the Catholic faith, “prayer coupled with fasting is pleasing to God.”

The governor included an image quoting the Bible verse John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Lent, the period in the Christian calendar that culminates on Easter, is often marked with acts of self-sacrifice and abstention. It begins the day after Mardi Gras, Louisiana’s most famous holiday.

On Monday, Edwards posted an updated report of 1,172 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, with at least 34 deaths.

He highlighted that Louisiana’s case growth is faster than any state in the country, ranking third per capita.

“This is why we need people to stay at home as much as possible. Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to,” Edwards said. “And if you do need to go out, get what you need and return home.”

Edwards concluded his message by saying, “God will, as He has done before, heal His people and our land.”

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Vietnamese Christian Imprisoned for Trumped Up Charge Returns Home

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Vietnam– A pastor in northwestern Vietnam told ICC that on January 10, a Christian man named Sung A Khua returned home after serving two and a half year in prison.

In 2018, when Sung A Khua and his family converted to Christianity, they were facing a lot of hostilities and persecution from the local authorities and villagers. Soon after his conversion, the local authorities and villagers came and prevented him and his family from attending church. They were asked to denounce their Christian faith. But he ignored them, continued to attend church, and grew in his faith. Later that year, the villagers destroyed his house and confiscated his properties, so his family had to move out and lived temporary near the forest.

With the intervention of the leading pastor, the authorities allowed them to return home and repaired their house with some support from friends. Similar to many other tribal people living in that area, he went to the forest to log some wood to repair his house. He was soon arrested by the local authorities and brought to the court. On Nov 26th, 2018, he was charged for illegally logging and destroying the forest and was sentenced to a 30-month imprisonment. This is a common tactic used to intimate Christian converts.

Though he has now returned to his family, he will be placed under the surveillance of the local authorities for at least six months to two years. The local government forbids any visit to his family. Some pastors and friends have tried to reach out to him but to no avail. A Khua will probably face many challenges from now on as he begins life anew. Please remember him and his family in your prayer.

Sources:persecution

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Christians in Nepal Continue to Face a Context of Growing Persecution

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Nepal– Persecution in Nepal continues to be an increasing concern for the growing Christian population of the predominantly Hindu country. The Global Press Journal recently published an article discussing the story of Pastor Hari Tamang, a current example of this persecution. Pastor Tamang has been falsely charged with trafficking children and attempted conversions after he had agreed to shelter children who would have otherwise been put on the street because their former shelter could not help them any longer. Although the trafficking charges were dropped, Tamang is still years later fighting the charges of attempted conversion of the children.

Nepalese law allows for the free exercise of one’s religion but forbids the conversion of others. This has produced a context of growing tensions in the society. The Nepalese Christian community says that they are holding fast to the principle that Christ calls His followers to share their faith, but choosing to follow Him is an individual choice, not something to be forced on anyone. Nevertheless, this community is consistently accused of forcefully converting.

Similar cases to that of Pastor Tamang have become more common throughout Nepal as the growth of Christianity as skyrocketed. Advocacy organizations estimate that Christians now number between 2 and 3 million throughout Nepal, comprising a larger portion of the Nepalese population than ever before. Nepal’s churches number between 10,000 and 12,000 across the country.

In neighboring India, similar anti-forced conversion laws have been implemented in several states across the country with similar penalties. India, however, has been leading the way in persecuting religious minorities – a trend that only encourages the predominantly Hindu country of Nepal to take similar actions.

The Church also conducts a good deal of aid distribution in communities of need throughout Nepal, which also raises the suspicions of local authorities and devout Hindus who see it as a ploy for conversions. In other words, the charitable actions of the Church are viewed with suspicion. Regardless of this, the Church continues their mission and remains adamant that no forced conversions are taking place, arguing that they are simply fulfilling the teachings of their faith in aiding and serving the poor. The free exercise of religion for Christians means doing exactly that.
Sources:persecution

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