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Biden assures Israel’s Netanyahu of U.S. support, urges calm as fighting kills dozens

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The United States dramatically deepened its involvement in the latest Israeli-Palestinian crisis on Wednesday, with President Joe Biden breaking his silence by assuring Israeli leaders of America‘s support but also calling for an end to the fighting that has already killed dozens of people.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also reached out to the Palestinian president and announced he was sending a State Department official to the region.

After days of staying quiet amid escalating tensions and increasing pressure from even some fellow Democrats, Biden on Wednesday spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Blinken also spoke to Netanyahu, while Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Benny Gantz. Separately, national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with top Qatari officials in the hopes that they could help deescalate the situation.

Biden and his three deputies have all said Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas rockets being launched into Israeli territory and other violence. But all have also expressed a desire to see calm prevail.

“My expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later,” Biden said in an encounter with reporters on Wednesday. “But Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”

Since taking office, Biden has sought to deemphasize focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in favor of other national security interests. But that posture has drawn increased criticism from activists and some members of Congress in recent days, with activists in particular questioning Biden’s silence and urging the administration to get more involved.

Sullivan’s call with Qatar’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister was likely aimed at getting Qatar to pressure Hamas to stop the rocket fire. The United States has labeled Hamas a terrorist group and does not directly engage it. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.

“Mr. Sullivan made clear that the ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas into Israel are unacceptable and must end,” according to a readout of his call.

In his call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Blinken expressed condolences for the lives, but “condemned the rocket attacks and emphasized the need to deescalate tensions,” according to a readout of the call. It was Blinken’s first call with Abbas since the former became secretary of State. Biden is not known to have spoken to the Palestinian leader since taking over the presidency.

Some leading activists said the situation remains unpredictable.

“U.S. engagement at a time like this is desperately needed,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a left-leaning pro-Israel group. “This conflict can’t go untended. The United States has to be party that manages this conflict. Without it, the fires will continue to burn.”

According to a readout of Biden’s call with Netanyahu, the U.S. president “conveyed the United States’ encouragement of a pathway toward restoring a sustainable calm” and “shared his conviction that Jerusalem, a city of such importance to people of faith from around the world, must be a place of peace.“

The Pentagon said Austin conveyed “ironclad” U.S. support for Israeli self-defense. Blinken, meanwhile, “emphasized the need for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to live in safety and security, as well as enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy,“ according to a readout of his call with Netanyahu. He used similar language in the call with Abbas, according to the State Department.

Blinken said Wednesday that he is sending Hady Amr, a deputy assistant secretary of State, to the region to try to help defuse the crisis. The fighting has killed dozens of Palestinians in recent days — including a number of women and children — as well as several Israelis and injured hundreds more in the surrounding area.

The latest conflagration erupted earlier this week after simmering for a few weeks. Disputes between Israelis and Palestinians over access to holy sites in Jerusalem — as well as Palestinian frustration over attempts by Israeli settlers to evict several Palestinian families from their homes in east Jerusalem — have driven clashes. Hamas escalated the conflict when it began launching rockets at Jerusalem on Monday. Israel has responded with airstrikes. There have also been reports of scattered incidents of mob violence by both sides.

In comments to reporters Wednesday, Blinken condemned the rocket fire from Hamas-aligned militants but added that Israel has “an extra burden” to try to avoid civilian casualties in its response. “When we see children caught in the crossfire losing their lives, that has a powerful impact,” he said.

The hostilities between the two countries is the worst since 2014 and have shown little sign of abating. The violence has overlapped with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as well as a politically precarious time for Netanyahu, who faces legal problems and was unable to recently form a government after Israel’s fourth election in two years.

Palestinians face their own political turmoil. Abbas recently postponed what would have been the first Palestinian elections in 15 years. There were concerns in some corners that Hamas-linked candidates would do well, though Abbas blamed Israel, saying it wasn‘t clear if Palestinians in east Jerusalem would be allowed to vote.

Blinken made his remarks to reporters as he unveiled the State Department‘s annual religious freedom report, which assesses the climate in nearly 200 countries. The report put out Wednesday covers 2020, and, unsurprisingly, the impact of Covid-19 — which precipitated extraordinary restrictions on religious life and other mass gatherings — permeates the document.

The report was particularly tough on China and its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, which the state Department labeled “genocide” in late January as one of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s final acts in office.

As part of the report’s rollout, Blinken announced visa restrictions on Yu Hui, a former Chinese official accused of “gross violations of human rights,” particularly regarding members of the Falun Gong movement.

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Do Christians Really Donate More? Bible’s Stunning Impact on Charitable Giving Revealed in Fascinating New Study

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As the debate over the impact of Christianity on charitable behavior forges on, a new study reveals Scripturally-engaged Americans are “far more likely than others to donate to charity.”

In fact, the majority of these individuals — people who interact consistently with Scripture and allow it to shape their lives and relationships — report giving to such causes, according to the eighth chapter of “The State of the Bible” report.

“Americans who are engaged with the Bible gave $145 billion to charitable causes in 2021,” a statement from the American Bible Society read. “And … Practicing Christians, those who are actively living out their faith, are much more likely to give.”

The results are pretty stunning when comparing people engaged in the Bible with those who are disengaged as well as the so-called Moveable Middle, a group falling between those dynamics.

Bible-engaged Americans gave a total of $145 billion to charities in 2021, amounting to about $2,907 per household. The same figure for the Bible disengaged was just $924.

To underscore the monumental nature of that giving, consider that Scripturally engaged Americans account for just 19% of adults yet give 44% of every dollar donated.

The finer details point to the fascinating nature of this group’s generosity.

“People who are Scripture-engaged gave six-times as much to churches as those in the Movable Middle and 13-times as much as those who are Bible-disengaged,” a statement explained. “When it comes to non-church giving, Scripture-engaged Americans gave 9% more than the Bible-disengaged and 165% more than the Movable Middle.”

Giving among active believers is, thus, much higher than for other cohorts.

Dr. John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society, said his organization’s research continues to show “a strong correlation between charitable giving and human flourishing.” This is particularly relevant among Christians surveyed in the annual report.

“Engaging with the Bible and actively living out our faith doesn’t simply mean reading the words in the pages of Scripture — rather, it is a transformation of the heart that inspires us to love and live well,” Plake said.

The results for this chapter of the “State of the Bible” were collected from 2,598 phone and online responses from American adults in January 2022.

Atheists will often decry the Bible and its contents, yet study after study shows the strong benefits faith offers individuals and, in turn, the culture at large.

As Faithwire reported, an earlier chapter from the “State of the Bible” report showed “Americans who consistently read and apply the Bible report greater levels of hope and resilience.” Read more about the Bible’s significant impact on the faithful here.
Sources:faithwire

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PASTOR JACOB MATHEW – 57 MEMORIAL SERVICE 12/02/2022

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For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel,and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We walk by faith, and not by sight! Pastor Jacob Mathew (57 ) has been promoted to his eternal home and went to be with Jesus on 11/24/2022 . He served as the assistant Pastor of the Mizpah Church of God. Pullad. He lived a life that exampled Jesus Christ, a life of servitude,faith,and love. He will be missed by his family, his wife Shiney,daughter Jesna Jacob and son Joel Jacob.

We kindly request for prayers at this time for the family. He is Survived by his mother, Thankamma Mathew, sister Mary Mathew, and brother Paul Mathew and family.


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Christian Organization Wins Legal Battle, Will Be Allowed to Hire Christians

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Just two months after the Wyoming Rescue Mission filed its federal lawsuit against state and federal agencies for threatening to punish the Christian nonprofit for hiring employees who share the ministry’s religious beliefs, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced they reached a favorable settlement in the case.

As part of the settlement, state officials acknowledged that the rescue mission, as a religious organization, is free to hire like-minded employees who share the ministry’s religious beliefs and mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through its homeless shelter, clothing voucher service, faith-based recovery programs, and life-rebuilding assistance to Casper residents.

“The First Amendment protects Wyoming Rescue Mission’s freedom to hire those who share its beliefs without being threatened and investigated by the government,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jacob Reed. “We’re pleased to favorably settle this case for the rescue mission so it can continue its critical work of serving some of Casper’s most vulnerable citizens and spreading the Gospel.”

On behalf of the faith-based organization, ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Wyoming Rescue Mission v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in the US District Court for the District of Wyoming.

According to court documents, the mission requires all employees to agree with its religious beliefs. Before being forced to remove it, the mission’s “Career Opportunities” webpage explicitly stated that “Employees are expected to commit to the precepts in our Statement of Faith, and to help the Mission fulfill its mission statement, vision statement, and ends statement.”

And the Mission’s employment application says: “The Mission considers every position one of ministry and a vital and valued part of our team. Therefore, it is essential that all employees of the Mission have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and subscribe to our Statement of Faith and Ministry Principles. Employees must be willing to lead and/or participate in Bible study, prayer, devotions, and sharing the Gospel.”

As CBN News reported, in 2020, the mission decided not to hire a self-proclaimed non-Christian for one of its Rescued Treasures Thrift Store associate positions. Included with this job is the responsibility of teaching the mission’s Discipleship Recovery Program guests how to spread the gospel and model Jesus Christ.

The lawsuit explains that the mission advised the applicant during the pre-screen interview that it is a Christian ministry and that all employees must agree with the Mission’s statement of faith and demonstrate Christian principles in their life and work as a condition of employment. The applicant responded that she did not have any faith.

The non-Christian applicant then filed a discrimination charge against the mission with Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to Decision Magazine.

State officials conducted a 16-month-long investigation to determine if the mission engaged in discrimination as prohibited by law.

The officials determined the mission likely violated the Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act of 1965 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to hire the non-Christian applicant, ignoring the fact that neither of those laws applies to faith-based organizations’ religiously based employment decisions.

After ADF attorneys filed suit, the government capitulated and agreed the mission can hire only “those individuals who agree with and live out the mission’s religious beliefs and practices.”

“Like-minded employees who share the mission’s purpose to spread the Gospel and uplift the Casper community by providing free meals, shelter, recovery programs, and job training are essential for the Wyoming Rescue Mission to continue its important work,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “Wyoming officials have rightly recognized that both state and federal laws protect religious organizations’ ability to hire those who share their beliefs.”

As part of the settlement in Wyoming Rescue Mission v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agreed to pay the rescue mission’s attorneys’ fees. In light of the settlement, the court dismissed the EEOC from the case and signed a consent decree settling the case with the state.

A press release from the ADF revealed that in 2021, the mission served 60,862 free meals to the public; provided 41,037 beds for men, women, and children; enrolled 92 Discipleship Recovery Program participants; offered 5,597 case management sessions, and gave 1,208 thrift store vouchers worth $39,649.92 that provided free clothing and essentials to families and guests in need.

John G. Knepper, one of more than 4,600 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, served as local counsel for the Wyoming Rescue Mission.
Sources:BREAKING CHRISTIAN NEWS

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