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Fire breaks out at Midwest College Church in New York

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A massive fire gutted a historic church in Manhattan that is home to “New York’s Liberty Bell,” which rang out to mark the birth of the U.S. in 1776.

The blaze broke out in an adjacent building just before 5 a.m. Saturday morning, the New York City Fire Department says, before spreading to the Middle Collegiate Church.

Video and photos from the scene show fire consuming the church with flames shooting through its windows and roof. The FDNY says firefighters arrived in three minutes to combat what grew into a six-alarm fire that consumed the two buildings.

New York reports that damage from the fire spread to a third building, but that occupants were able to evacuate.

FDNY Assistant Chief John Hodgens said there were four minor injuries to fire personnel and that the cause was under investigation.

A statement posted to church’s website said there had been no loss of life, but that congregation was devastated by the damage.

“We are devastated and crushed that our beloved physical sanctuary at Middle Collegiate Church has burned. And yet no fire can stop Revolutionary Love,” wrote the Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, the church’s senior minister in charge.

The statement also said churchgoers would meet digitally for services on Sunday, as they have since social distancing was put in place in March.

The church congregation’s history goes back nearly 400 years. Its first building was built in 1729, and the church moved to its current East Village location in 1892.

The church housed several Tiffany stained-glass windows and a skylight dome. Those were apparently lost in the fire.

“Unfortunately, it seems like it was pretty bad — the sanctuary is not in good shape and we have some beautiful Tiffany stain glass windows that are gone,” Middle Collegiate Church Minister Amanda Ashcraft told WABC-7.

The church’s tower also housed New York’s Liberty Bell, which rang out for the inauguration and death of every U.S. president, as well as for Sept. 11 remembrances and other occasions. The bell was cast in 1729, according to The New York Times. Its condition was unclear as of Saturday evening.

In a tweet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the Middle Collegiate Church an “icon of the East Village.”

“I can’t count the number of times I walked past it and took in its humble beauty,” de Blasio tweeted.

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Iranian Christian Arrested For The Third Time

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Iran – Mary Mohammadi, an Iranian Christian convert and human rights activist, was arrested again on January 18. Mohammadi has been in and out of prison for her identity as a Christian and outspoken activist.

Most recently, she was arrested by the “morality police”, claiming that she improperly wore her hijab, her pants were too tight and her coat was unbuttoned. Iranian officials previously charged her with the same accusations. She spent six months in jail for being a member of a local house church, and also spent time in prison in April 2020 after participating in a peaceful protest.

Despite her good relationship with her employer, she has also been unable to return to work since her release last year. According to Mohammadi, it is clear that her employers receive pressure from intelligence officials to not take her back. Her life has now been interrupted several times for her identity as a Christian, with the Iranian government not allowing her to return to her normal life, even after serving her undeserved prison sentences.
Sources:persecution

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Woman Leaves Islam After Having Visions of Jesus, Attacked by Husband

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Kenya – On January 13, 2021, Mansitula Buliro experienced visions of Jesus, calling for her to follow Him, amid her Muslim evening prayers. Her husband believed her to be possessed, but she was curious to know who Jesus was.

Buliro inquired about her visions to her Christian neighbor for hours, praying. She knew Jesus was real and put her complete faith in Him. Suddenly a neighbor knocked on the door. He discovered Buliro praying as a Christian and left immediately.

She returned home to an angry husband. “I kept quiet. [He] started slapping and kicking me indiscriminately. I then fell. He went inside the house and came back with a knife and started cutting my mouth, saying, ‘Allahu akbar,’ (God is greater), I am punishing you to not speak about Yeshua in my house. This is a Muslim home!”

Her screams, along with her children’s cries, alarmed the neighbors who stopped the attack. He divorced her on the spot and threatened her he would kill her if she did not leave.

Buliro miscarried her 13-week-old baby as a result of the attack. According to Morning Star News, she lives with a Christian family.
Sources:persecution

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