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Tropical Storm Isaias forms and could affect Florida this weekend

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With a midnight bulletin from the National Hurricane Center on Friday morning, Isaias became a category 1 hurricane, its forecast path continuing an eastward trend and leaving a majority of Broward County and all of Miami-Dade outside the anticipated range for the path for the storm’s center.

Despite the shift, the coastal areas of both counties, along with Palm Beach County, remained under a tropical storm watch. All the population centers in Palm Beach County remained inside the west side of the forecast path, and a northeastern portion of Broward (Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach and coastal Fort Lauderdale) remained in the extreme western edge of the cone.

Although there was still uncertainty, the possibility of South Florida experiencing hurricane conditions was “quite low,” the National Weather Service said Thursday afternoon.

Still, the center of the predicted track isn’t too far off the coast, with the storm still almost 1,000 miles from South Florida.

Isaias (ees-ah-EE-ahs) saw a major uptick in windspeed upon exiting mountainous Hispaniola (the island containing the Dominican Republic and Haiti) late Thursday night and hitting the open water about 80 miles southeast of the southeastern Bahamas.

Its maximum sustained winds were measuring at 80 mph, up from the 60 mph reading in the 11 p.m. Thursday advisory. The storm was moving toward the northwest at a speed of 18 mph. Hurricane-strength winds extend 30 miles from the eye, while tropical storm-force winds reach up to 240 miles from the center.

A hurricane warning was issued for the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday night, which includes Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, Abacos Islands, Berry Islands, Grand Bahamas Island and Bimini. Many of those areas, including Grand Bahama Island and the Abacos Islands, were pounded last year in Hurricane Dorian.

In a statement issued Thursday just before 5:30 p.m., the Miami forecast office of the National Weather Service was telling South Floridians that tropical storm-force winds could reach as far west as coastal Palm Beach County and very close to coastal Broward, and that strong winds also couldn’t be ruled out for Miami-Dade, given the uncertainty in the forecast.

“Therefore, a tropical storm watch has now been put into effect for Southeast Florida. A reasonable worst-case scenario at this time is for portions of southeastern Florida to be potentially impacted by high-end tropical storm-force winds (winds greater than 58 mph),” the statement said.

“Although concerns for hurricane conditions to impact portions of southeast Florida cannot be ruled out, the chances of that remain quite low at this time.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday urged residents to be prepared.

“While we can’t be certain of the exact track of the storm and we certainly cant be sure about the intensity it will ultimately reach, we do expect to see impacts to the state of Florida even if the storm remains off our shore, which is the current forecast, but this is an evolving situation so please keep up with official updates and make sure you have a plan and have seven days’ worth of food water and medicine,” DeSantis said.

Athough tropical storm-force winds could start impacting South Florida on Friday night, Saturday would be the most likely day for the area to feel the impacts of Isaias, said Pablo Santos, Meteorologist-In-Charge at the Miami office of the National Weather Service, on Thursday.

“The key takeaway here is that tropical storm conditions are possible this weekend for South Florida,” Santos said earlier on Thursday. “If it were to happen, Saturday would be the day, so people would have to complete their preparations at the latest on late Friday night just to be safe.”

Santos indicated forecasters would rather err on the side of caution and were stressing the possibility of tropical storm conditions in South Florida until the forecast — with certainty — tells them otherwise because right now there wasn’t a lot of certainty either way.

“If you look at the the last two or three advisories, even when the trend has moved ever so slowly eastward, it doesn’t change the messaging,” Santos said. “Until we gain some more certainty, some more confidence in the forecast, I think we have to be very careful.

“So the message we’re putting out there is the concern is tropical storm conditions are still possible across portions South Florida going into this weekend.”

The National Weather Service said South Florida should expect winds in the range of 58 to 73 miles an hour, which could cause the following types of damage:

Some damage to roofing, siding, awnings, porches, carports and sheds.
Some buildings will see window, door and garage-door failures.
Damage to mobile homes, especially those that are not anchored.
Unsecured lightweight objects could become projectiles.
Some roads could become blocked and impassable from large debris.
Scattered power outages.

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32 Christian Students Released from Captivity

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Nigeria – In the early hours of July 5, 2021, gunmen invaded Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Nigeria, and kidnapped an estimated 153 students.

As of today, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the kidnappers have released 32 of the students, 28 of which were freed on Sunday and an additional four on Monday.

While the exact number of students kidnapped remains an estimate, authorities agree that over 80 children from Bethel Baptist High School remain in captivity.

Over 1,000 students have been abducted just this year—a sharp increase over previous years in what is a relatively new trend. The mass abduction of schoolchildren began in 2014 when the Islamist terror group Boko Haram abducted 276 mostly Christian girls from a school in Chibok.

We thank God for the release of these children to their parents and pray for the thousands who remain in captivity. We ask you to join us in praying for Nigeria, for the Lord to comfort those uncertain of their children’s whereabouts, and for those who persecute the church to find faith in Jesus Christ.
Sources:persecution

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Church Buildings Burned in Canada and the United States

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Canada – A number of churches in the Canada and the United States have been vandalized by criminals, some of whom claim to be acting in response to recent revelations around the horrifying mistreatment of indigenous children in Canada at the hands of mostly Catholic-run schools. Officials are still investigating the incidents.

A Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, British Columbia in Canada was burned, adding to the now 45 churches attacked in Canada in recent weeks. The Coptic community is heavily persecuted in Egypt, and Christians often flee the region to escape persecution. Incidents like the recent vandalization of the church are a stark reminder of the community’s difficult history.

In the United States, protestors in Portland have vandalized four Catholic churches buildings in the last two months. Father George Kuforiji, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church vandalized last month, told the Catholic Sentinel that he was extremely saddened by the crimes to their church, which is “a community that has nothing to do with the graves.”

Matias Perttula, Director of Advocacy at International Christian Concern, also commented on the incidents, saying, “The attacks on Churches in Canada and the United States are a sobering reminder of the growing anti-religious and anti-Christian hatred in the West. The lack of severe condemnation of the attacks from public leaders is disheartening and more needs to be done. History is filled with difficult memories of atrocities and crimes that mankind has committed against each other, but the response to the painful history must be measured and productive. Burning down churches is not the answer. It is evil, wrong and only perpetuates a climate of hatred.”

Ambassador Sam Brownback, who served as Ambassador for International Religious Freedom for the Trump Administration recently called the current time “the most persecuted era of Christianity in the history of mankind.” Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world with over 300 million Christians facing persecution.
Sources:persecution

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