Author Archives: grelanmuse

Opelousas native’s award-winning wines to appear in upcoming Tyler Perry film

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Darjean Jones Wines

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

Magnolia, Texas – Darjean Jones Wines, a small boutique wine company owned and operated by scientist Dr. Dawna Darjean Jones, will be the choice of characters in Tyler Perry’s newest movie, “Nobody’s Fool,” which will be released on Friday, Nov. 2.

As the movie hits theaters next month, audiences are encouraged to experience Darjean Jones Wines for themselves by attending a special event from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Star Cinema Grill, 8920 Fry Road, in Cypress, Texas. Jones will host a private movie screening that will include dinner and a glass of her rosé, which is featured in the movie. Tickets are $60 and available on Eventbrite.

“Nobody’s Fool” stars Tiffany Haddish, who is just released from prison and reunites with her sister (Tika Sumpter) only to find the man her sister has been dating online may not be what he seems. Bottles of Darjean Jones Wines can be seen in scenes of the movie as the wine of choice for its characters. The brand’s inclusion is part of a continuing trend by movie producers to include wine as part of its characters’ lifestyles, further making them relatable to audiences.

“I’m honored that Darjean Jones Wines appears in Tyler Perry’s “Nobody’s Fool.” I identified deeply with the determination of the strong, female executive character,” said Jones, who earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science from Southern University in Baton Rouge. Jones, a native of Opelousas, La., and is the second Black woman to receive a doctorate degree in plant pathology from the University of California, Davis.

Darjean Jones Wines has received more than two dozen awards, including gold medals at the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Since launching in 2010, the company’s portfolio has grown to include a Russian River Valley Viognier, a Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, Pathologiē a Proprietary Red, a Napa Valley Cabernet Franc and a Napa Valley Merlot. This year, Jones introduced her latest addition, a 2017 Rosé of Tempranillo.

“I’ve poured so much of myself into my wines that success is the only option. I hope people truly experience ‘joie de vivre’ – joy of living when they open our bottles,” Jones said.

A portfolio selection will also be served on Nov. 7 at the James Beard House in New York City for the event, “Savoring Jamaica.”

As an award-winning wine brand, the placement is an important step in building more awareness about black-owned wine companies, like Darjean Jones Wines, in the U.S. and abroad which is currently less than 10%.

Darjean Jones Wines are available through their distributor, Delectatio, and online wine store. Learn more at www.darjeanjoneswines.com and follow @darjeanjoneswines on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

King: Farewell Ambassador, welcome Justice

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By Evangelist Alveda King
Special to Inside The Pew

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose… A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away…” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6 KJV

In the last several days, we’ve had so many things changing that we’re having to pray hard to keep up. Certainly, President Donald John Trump is moving forward with the agenda; as he is keeping

his promises to make America great again. What with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and approaching departure of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, we can expect more transformation.

Justice Kavanaugh and his beloved family have survived a trial by fire, and he is entering into a heightened season of public service. Ambassador Haley is seeking a well-deserved break from service to humanity to attend to her family for a season. Who can blame her? Well done Madame.

We’re living in a time that when we wake up we can either ask and say: “What is happening today? Let me turn on the news.” or we can ask and say, “What’s going to happen today? Let me tune in to God.” Your outcome will be guided by your perspective. My pastor Theo McNair at Believers Bible Christian Church often teaches that we should ask God to bless our perspective.

I’m saying all this to point out that as the world is moving on around us, we should be asking ourselves, “What are we going to do in the process?”

Please check out these two audio clips (Audio One and Audio Two) of some reflections; and be encouraged as you move forward. Begin to look at your day with a new perspective. There’s a song, “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord, I Want to See You.” Pray with open hearts, eyes and arms.

The world is out there; and we step into it all the time. What are we going to do with and about the events around us? Are we going to make the world a better place or are we just going to see problems and have problems? God uses people to make history. God uses people to accomplish divine purposes. Let’s join together, pray and actually become part of the solution.

For more on, Evangelist Alveda King, visit civilrightsfortheunborn.com.

 

Garner: Kanye-Trump meeting exposes liberal Democrats as plantation gatekeepers

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By Day Garner
Special to Inside The Pew

WASHINGTON, D.C. – I want to give Kanye West props for standing up for free speech and free thought.

Recently, we all watched how the media and Dems tore into Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his family with disgusting lies and down-right demonic slurs.

Why attack Kavanaugh? Because Trump selected him. They would have attacked anyone Trump nominated.

With Kanye, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s as if the media is saying “how dare anyone, especially a black person, have a friendship with — or support this President of the United States.”

So, then comes the derogatory name-calling: minstrel, Uncle Tom, coon, “negro,” and the other “n” word delivered by plantation blacks to the delight of their white colleagues.

Are we really surprised? Unfortunately, no.

The Dems and liberals will always attempt to marginalize black people who “step out of line.”

I experienced similar attacks years ago when I decided to compete in the formerly all-white Miss America Pageant* rather than compete in the all black pageant.

I received racially charged name-calling and death-threats from white people as well as racial slurs from many blacks.

Note to Kanye: Sometimes it’s hard to stand in the midst of an overwhelming flood. So, you learn to swim — and even float.

I know I did, and in a very small way, I helped to change the face of America’s girl next door.

Kanye and I don’t agree on much, but regarding President Trump, I stand with him as one of the thousands and thousands of black so-called “tokens” who truly believe President Trump — with God’s grace — has the ability to make America great, maybe even greater than ever before.

 

Day Gardner is president of the National Black Pro-Life Union. Gardner was selected Miss Delaware 1976 and was the first black woman to place in the semi-finals in the Miss America Pageant.

Lyft becomes official rideshare provider for LSU home games

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Pew Sports

Rideshare giant Lyft announced Aug. 31 its official partnership with LSU Sports Properties, serving as the official rideshare partner of LSU Athletics.

Along with in-venue signage and event marketing, this partnership creates additional transportation options for fans arriving at and departing from LSU Athletics events in Baton Rouge.

Lyft additionally provides a responsible and reliable transportation option to fans in the Greater New Orleans area who might prefer to “stand up and roar” locally during games.

First-time Lyft riders who use promo code “GEAUXTIGERS” will receive up to $5 off their first four rides and fans are encouraged to download and ride with Lyft.

“We’re thrilled to be the official rideshare partner of LSU Athletics,” said Jessica Inman, Lyft Louisiana Market Manager. “Partnering with the LSU community connects fans with Lyft’s responsible, reliable, and affordable service. With a fleet of local drivers in both New Orleans and Baton Rouge, we are looking forward to the start of the season.”

“LSU Sports Properties works hand-in-hand with the athletics department in an effort to constantly improve our fans experience,” said Ward Wyatt, general manager of LSU Sports Properties. “With Lyft as the Official Rideshare partner of LSU Athletics, we are able to provide another transportation option to our fans getting to and from athletics events.”

 

Retired law enforcement officer authors resource for young men

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filling the void by charles d dangerfield

Charles D. Dangerfield’s new book on need for positive male role models, accountability

Special to Inside The Pew

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As a retired law enforcement professional, Charles D. Dangerfield addresses many real-world issues as a first-time author in hisauthor charles dangerfield writes Filling a Void: A Resource for the Journey to Manhood. ' book “Filling a Void: A Resource for the Journey to Manhood.” The book is geared towards young men, single mothers, young fathers, educators, mentors, and other caregivers.

This resource teaches young men about the characteristics they need to consider in forming their identities, the way certain emotions may affect their decisions, the importance of thinking before they act, avoiding poor choices, and the dos and don’ts for encounters with law enforcement.

“The book has taken a lifetime of experiences to write,” Dangerfield said. “It was written out of concern regarding my own upbringing as well as observations from working as a law enforcement officer inside of California’s prisons and on the streets.”

Both hopeful and practical, this guide for young men and those who care for them seeks to offer advice and assistance for their journey to manhood.

Dangerfield’s passion is mentoring young men by the sharing of his God given talents, gifts, and life experiences. Upon his honorable discharge from the Navy, Dangerfield began his 28-year law enforcement career with the California Department of Corrections (CDC). Dangerfield worked 12 years behind the walls of prison. For the remainder of his career, he served in thefilling the void by charles d dangerfield investigative arena, including roles as a Special Agent with CDC’s Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) and the Special Service Unit (SSU). Dangerfield was later appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to head CDC’s statewide street law enforcement unit as the Chief of the Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) until his retirement from law enforcement in 2015.

“Filling a Void: A Resource for the Journey to Manhood” By Charles D. Dangerfield is available in soft and hard cover and eBook at the Lulu Online Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Round: Don’t be a part of the blame game

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By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”—Galatians 6:2 (NIV).

Anger.  Disbelief.  Grief.  Finger pointing. All responses to the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at a Florida high school. Some reports say it’s the 18thfl-florida-school-shooting-peter-wang-obit-20180215 incident of gunfire at a school campus since the beginning of 2018. Regardless of the numbers, this week’s column is meant to convict our hearts, including mine.

At this writing, 17 were killed in the rampage and another 13 were injured. Questions abound. Responses reported in and by the media, both traditional and socially, call for more gun control, more assistance for the mentally disturbed, and higher levels of school security.

For 30 years, I was a public educator. Beginning my career in 1975, I was naïve enough to believe I could make a difference in all of my students’ lives. Years later, I had a reality check. I couldn’t save everyone; I couldn’t meet every need. Still, I knew I should and could do what I could.

A 19-year-old has confessed to the most recent shooting rampage. News reports paint a picture of a disturbed young man. One of his former teachers said he was a quiet student, a loner. The students familiar with Nikolas Cruz were not surprised by his actions. His attorney has called him a “broken human being.”

Christian author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot said, “We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.”

In an article by Sam Harris, written after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, he says, “There’s a way to stop mass shootings, and you won’t like it. That’s right. You’re not going to like it because it’s going to require you to do something personally, as opposed to shouting for the government, or anyone to ‘do something.’”

Harris’ solution? “Notice those around you who seem isolated and engage them.”

He adds, “If every one of us did this we’d have a culture that was deeply committed to ensuring no one was left lonely. And make no mistake, as I’ve written before, loneliness is what causes these shooters to lash out. People with solid connections to other people don’t indiscriminately fire guns at strangers.”

But that requires effort on our part. Notice the strange kid sitting by himself at lunch. Invite him to eat with you. What about the awkward guy at work who doesn’t fit in? Ask him about his weekend.

As parents, we also have a responsibility to teach our children to do the same, to make sure no one feels isolated. As Harris says, “That’s the breeding ground. That’s where the seeds are planted.”

We can all plant seeds—seeds of kindness. We may take for granted our own circle of connections—family, healthy friendships—but we must not assume everyone has that connection.

Don’t be part of the blame game. Be a part of the solution.

Check out www.carolaround.com for more inspiration and information about Carol’s books and speaking ministry.

Photo: Peter Wang, one of 17 victims killed during the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Wang was seen holding door open for others during shooting. (Sun-Sentinel).

Owens: Black pastors feel betrayed by black politicians

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Special to Inside The Pew

“Our Black politicians did it to us again,” the Rev. William Owens, the president of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), said passionatelycoalition-of-african-american-pastors during a press conference Feb. 13 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He was referencing what he and 20 other national black leaders felt was the worst representation by the Congressional Black Caucus demonstrated during the televised State of the Union Address.

The tone set by the caucus angered numerous national black leaders, prompting many groups to convene in Washington, D.C. to address what they considered was a severe misrepresentation and a disservice to the achievements of blacks in this country.

Owens joined by over 20 national leaders such as Stephen Broden: Senior Pastor Fair Park Bible Fellowship, President Protect Life and Marriage; Dr. Alveda King (Civil Rights For The UnBorn); Bishop Leon Benjamin (Coalition Of Leaders United); Shirley Husar (CEO Urban Game Changers); the Rev. Dean Nelson (Frederick Douglas Foundation); the Rev. Derek McCoy (Urban Cure); Dr. Randy Short (International Human Rights Association For American Minorities); Dr. Johnny Hunter (Life Education and Resource Network); Jonathan Alexander (Liberty Counsel Action); Suzzanne Monk (Political Pundit from Chicago); Johnny Rice for Congress (D.C.); and Kenneth McClenton (President of Exceptional Conservative Show) joined forces to expressed their disappointment and mismanagement of the People’s power entrusted to the Congressional Black Caucus.

“The disgrace before the global community by the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) during the State of the Union Address was the worst I have ever witnessed in my life as a black father, educator, civil rights activist, and man of faith. Our elected officials’ demonstration of childish behavior; sulking in their seats, texting, pretending to be disinterested, was distasteful. We did not elect children, we thought we had leaders,” Owens said.

Collectively the leaders called to question what they characterized as “foul demeanor” and demanded either the caucus start “REPRESENTING or GO AWAY.” Also, CAAP launched an online petition “CROSSROAD” that will be hand-delivered to black caucus members’ offices to demonstrate the will of the people. Individuals are encouraged to sign by visiting www.caapusa.org.

In addition, the multifaceted group rolled out its new 2018 Black Agenda to counter the fallout among younger blacks who have lost interest in political engagement in hopes of inspiring civic engagement. To attract a younger demographic, the group is utilizing social media platforms to promote the hashtag #representorgoaway. Many of the speakers at the press conference extensively expounded on what numerous officials don’t want known about the current effectiveness of the caucus.

Owens and others indicated, “What began 46 years ago in March 1971 has morphed into the greatest breach of trust in the black community since Reconstruction. Our precious black children are not on the minds of the Congressional Black Caucus, they care more about the rights of undocumented immigrants and football players who don’t stand for the National Anthem than they do about our families and precious children.”

Various group leaders made strong pleas to the black community to embrace this position with openness and to hear the total message citing, “We, meaning Black Americans, have been sidelined by traitors in Washington.”

Owens also mentioned that last year his media relations office contacted Congressman John Lewis, the Rev. Al Sharpton (who purports himself as a civil rights advocate for the voiceless), and Attorney General Jeff Session pertaining to the documented research conducted by Yale University researchers published in USA Today in 2016. The article detailed racial bias and poor treatment of preschool-age black children, with special emphasis on black boys. CAAP requested several meetings to initiate a national dialogue, but was met with resistance.

“Not one elected official or civil rights leader has responded to date or called for an inquiry. This is a shame. If our children are not protected at this tender age, what kind of future will exist for them when lawmakers don’t care enough to take up the just cause to fight and utilize the power of their office? My office sent copies of the Yale research to many and to this very day, no serving black politician in Washington, black news reporters (and we reached out to many) and sadly, even the black clergy, have responded. This is really tragic,” Owens said.

Unfortunately, this issue is very personal to Owens and his wife, Dr. Deborah Owens, whose then 4-year old son experienced racial discrimination in his preschool. The Owens’s, after documenting many instances which they cited were deeply troubling, immediately removed their son after school officials failed to correct the problems in a timely manner.

Owens said he thought his son’s troubles at his preschool were isolated until he discovered the article published in USA Today in 2016 written by Yale University Researchers citing this was a national problem. He also said it was alarming to read that black teachers were worse than whites.

To date, over 50 online groups have attached their support to this cause. Join the conversation and sign the CROSSROAD petition. Visit www.caapusa.org.

Top: Coalition of African American Pastors logo.

Inside: Members of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) at a recent press conference.

 

American evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST News Service

MONTREAT, N.C. – American evangelist Billy Graham – a confidant to presidents, a guiding light to generations of American Christians and a world-billy-graham-preachingtraveling preacher who saw millions give their lives to Christ, died Feb. 21, at the age of 99.

Graham, who was known as “America’s Pastor,” passed away at his home in Montreat, N.C.

“The skinny preacher with the booming voice evangelized to nearly 215 million people over six decades and prayed with US presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama,” said CNN. “Several presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, relied closely on his spiritual counsel.”

He was the reason I got into journalism

But on a personal side, it was 50 years ago in London, England, when I got my first job in journalism. It was with The Christian, an historic British newspaper that the Graham Association had bought and modernized.

I’ll never forget my first day in their Camden Town, London, office, when the editor, Dr. J.D. Douglas, welcomed me on board the paper, and then told me that my first interview would be with Coretta Scott-King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was to speak at St. Paul’s Cathedral at his Memorial Service.

It certainly was an amazing way to start my career in journalism, but sadly, after a year there, the paper was shut down by the BGEA for so-called “financial reasons” and we were all out on the streets. I was married with two sons to support, so it was quite a shock.

Fortunately, I soon secured another position on a local newspaper in London, and not long after the closure of The Christian, I was reporting on an event in the West End of London, where Billy Graham was to speak to the stars of many of the big shows in Theatre-land there.

When he arrived, Mr. Graham went around the room introducing himself, and when he got to me, the 6 foot 3 inch evangelist said, “Hi, I’m Billydan-wooding-billy-graham Graham. What is your name?” Without thinking, I said, “Mr. Graham, my name is Dan Wooding. You may remember that you fired me a few weeks ago.” There was an embarrassed look on Billy Graham’s face, as he tried to explain that it wasn’t his decision to close the paper, but that of his board.

After that I finished up working in the British tabloids, and I never thought I would every work for Billy Graham again, especially during a period when I had lost my confidence as a journalist, feeling that God couldn’t really use a former tabloid-journalist.

Norma, my wife, and I had moved to Southern California with our two sons, Andrew and Peter, from the UK ten years earlier, and we had eventually launched ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times), as a ministry to help persecuted Christians around the world.

As ASSIST began to grow, I had decided to just concentrate on running the ministry. After all, wasn’t that more spiritual than being a journalist?

Or so I thought at the time!

But it all changed when I received a phone call from A. Larry Ross, who was then Billy Graham’s press officer, in which he said, “Dan, you know that Mr. Graham has been going to Russia for years now.”

“Yes, and we are running a pen pal ministry with new believers there,” I cut in, thinking that he wanted to know more about our Bridge of Friendship Russia program.

Larry said politely that he thought that was “very interesting” and then added, “Mr. Graham has been invited to Moscow to hold a crusade there. It will be the first time that he can openly invite people to receive Christ.”

He paused for a moment, and then said, “We’d like you to come and join our media team and use your journalistic skills to report on this historic dan-wooding-bill-ruth-grahamMission to Moscow.”

I felt all the air being sucked out of my lungs when he then added, “We feel your tabloid skills could be used to portray what is going to happen there. When could you get on a plane to Moscow?”

I stammered my thanks and said that I would be honored to go and so he said arrangements would be made for my air ticket and visa and he would like me there “as soon as possible.”

When I put the receiver down, Norma looked at me in a strange way.

“What’s up?” she asked. “You have gone as white as milk.”

“Larry Ross wants me to fly to Moscow to join his media team and use my journalistic skills,” I said, trying to take in what was being asked of me.

I also recalled how, sometime after I had moved to America, someone I was working with had told me that I really “couldn’t write” and I believed that. I had figured that my tabloid past had been a complete waste of time, and could not be used by the Lord.

Norma smiled and said pointedly, “It’s a good thing that Billy Graham doesn’t know that you ‘can’t write.’” I smiled weakly in response.

Within a few days, the tickets and the visa had come through and I drove to Los Angeles International Airport to fly to Moscow, via Frankfurt, Germany.

After checking into the President Hotel, a formerly secret place that had been built for communist leaders visiting Moscow like North Korea’s Kim Il-sung, I went to bed to get a good night’s sleep and prepared for an exciting three weeks.

It was amazing as Billy Graham’s historic Moscow crusade, held in October 1992 in the indoor Olympic Stadium which, twelve years earlier, had been the site of the Moscow Olympic Games that the United States had boycotted, was quite incredible.

I spent three wonderful weeks meeting with Billy Graham along with Larry Ross, and worked on the various news releases that went out around the world, the first of was called, “A Miracle in Moscow.”

And it sure was that. What a crusade it was to report on! Each night eager Muscovites filled the 38,000-seat stadium to hear Billy. On the first evening inquirers coming forward signed 10,641 cards of commitment; on the second evening 12,628 signed. On the closing Sunday afternoon 50,000 persons had jammed into the stadium, and apparently the fire authority didn’t limit them. Another 30,000 stood outside in the freezing cold where a huge television screen with audio echoed what was happening inside. The number of decision cards signed was 19,417.

A highlight was being able to film the Red Army Choir singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which still sends shivers down my spine. Another, which I will never forget, was when, on the final night, Joni Eareckson Tada, who had been sitting in the wheelchair section of the stadium, was brought up onto the stage, to share her extraordinary story, and was interpreted by a blind Russian translator. By the way, Mr. Graham was suffering from Parkinson’s disease when he spoke, and it was illustration to me on how God can use anyone, despite their disabilities, for His Glory.

When I got home, I then knew that I had to re-start my journalistic career and so I began the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net) as a first step.

I had finally realized that God can use even an ex-tabloid journalist to spread the word about what He is doing in His World. I would also work with him as a writer at his overseas crusades in Germany and Puerto Rico, and also wrote the cover story on Billy and Franklin Graham for the Saturday Evening Post.

Billy Graham was an extremely humble man who could never understand why God chose him, —  a boy from a farm in North Carolina — to preach thebilly-graham-kim-il-sung Gospel to the world, yet he was welcomed by many world leaders including Queen Elizabeth and even Kim il-Sung. As we had both been to North Korea, we would have long chats about whether Kim il-Sung had given his life to Christ after Billy had talked with him. Billy was even planning to go back to go fishing with Kim and told me, “I was going to challenge him out on the lake to give his life to Christ, but then he died and I didn’t go.” So we will never know this side of heaven, what happened to the North Korea leader who had a Christian mother.

Some years ago, he showed me around his log-cabin home on the top of a mountain at Montreat, N.C., and I marveled how simple it was. No palace for this man, who has now left this earth, but is finally in a better place, but what a legacy that he has left behind.

Billy was devastated when he lost the love of his life, Ruth, in 2007, when passed away from pneumonia and degenerative osteoarthritis, but now he will has been reunited with her in heaven, and also the millions who found Christ because of his ministry.

Thank you Billy Graham!

Photos

Top: Rev’s. Martin Luther King Jr., left) and Billy Graham in 1957. (Photo courtesy of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association).

1) Billy Graham preaching. 2) Dan Wooding talks with Billy Graham during his crusade in Essen, Germany. 3) Dan Wooding chats with Billy and Ruth Graham at their home in Montreat, N.C. 3) Billy Graham with Kim il-Sung in North Korea.

Dan Wooding, 77, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents and is now living in Southern California with his wife, Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 55 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California.

Maronite Archbishop condemns attacks on churches in Syria

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Call for prayers to be said on the feast of St Paul

By Sheraz Khan
Middle East Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

DAMASCUS, SYRIA – Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, has condemned the death of 24 people following military bombardments in many regions in war-torn Syria.

A press release from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity, said that it had received an update from Archbishop Samir Nassar in relation to theMgr-Samir-Nassar-archeveque-maronite-Damas sufferings of Christians in Syria.

It quoted the Archbishop as saying that the bombs of Jan. 22 had now claimed 24 victims, of which seven were children, who were hit as they left school.

The release stated that the Archbishop in his communication to Aid to the Church in Need described the community’s “fear” and “anguish” following the loss of life.

“At the Patriarchate, there was more, serious damage in addition to the destruction caused by the bomb of Jan. 8,” the release quoted the Archbishop as saying.

It stated: “The initial shelling caused major damage to the Cathedral’s doors and windows as well as fuel tanks and water tanks.”

The Archbishop called for prayers for peace on the feast of St Paul (Thursday, Jan. 25), asking Christians around the world to join with them in prayer when they celebrated Mass.

“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has turned towards peace and forgiveness. Please unite with us in our Eucharist on Jan. 25 – the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul,” the press release quoted the Archbishop as saying.

According to the release in Afrin, northern Syria, where Turkey started military action on Jan. 21, the Rev. Valentin Hanan of the Good Shepherdyoung-girl-holds-candle-damascus-syria Church made an urgent appeal for an immediate ceasefire – also asking Christians to pray for them.

“We call for urgent international protection for the believers in Afrin and to stop the Turkish bombardment,” he said. “At this moment, we are subjected to heavy shelling and the Islamic factions vow to enter the city. As a church we ask the Lord first for protection and then ask brethren for prayers and help.”

The press release said the Archbishop described the Christian community as “being under siege,” also saying that the city has experienced heavy shelling.

There are 250 Christian families in Afrin Canton with 190 families in Afrin city, 45 families in Rajo and 15 families in Maabatli, according to the minister, said the release.

It added: “Turkey claimed the bombardments were targeting Daesh (ISIS) fighters in the region, but the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have disputed this claim.

“According to the Syrian Democratic Forces, up to 150 Daesh (ISIS) fighters were killed in air strikes on the Middle Euphrates River Valley in the south-eastern province of Deir al-Zour take took place on Jan. 20”, it said.

Note: Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St. John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organisation is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world. Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians. Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey, and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow and another office based in Lancaster that covers the North-West.

Photos:

Syrian church damaged after bomb attack. (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus.

Young girl with a candle at Al-Zaytoun Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Damascus, Syria. (© Aid to the Church in Need).

Brownback confirmation comes at crucial time for religious freedom worldwide

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate confirmed noted human-rights champion Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas on Jan. 25 as the new Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

Brownback will head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom that monitors religious freedom abuses throughout the world. He is the first ambassador under the revised Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, the passage of which affirms continued congressional commitment to international religious freedom as a foreign relations priority.

The New York Times reported Jan. 24 that Browback will resign as Kansas’ governor on Jan. 31.

The outgoing governor tweeted hat he looks forward to working hard for the American people and religious freedom around the world.

With roughly 80 percent of the world’s people living in countries with high levels of religious oppression, it is a critical time for international religious freedom. In Burma, Iraq, China, and Nigeria, among other countries, Brownback’s diplomatic experience will be crucial in the months ahead.

“International religious freedom is one of the few, truly non-partisan issues in Washington, both fundamental to our identity as Americans and also essential to our national security,” said 21Wilberforce Senior Fellow Frank Wolf. “In Sam Brownback, we have a leader who not only understands the intricacies of Capitol Hill; he has a heart and the demonstrated passion for the mission of this office.”

While in Congress, Brownback was a Senate leader on international religious freedom, advocating for landmark policy reforms, both domestically and abroad, as well as for prisoners of conscience wrongly incarcerated for their faith. He led the effort to enact the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 which was central to the movement to combat human trafficking. Brownback was actively involved during the Darfur crisis. His travels to that embattled region compelled him to push for a genocide declaration in 2004. He introduced numerous pieces of key human rights legislation, including on North Korea and also Sudan, where he called on the Sudanese government to end slavery, “manufactured” famines, and civilian bombings. Brownback chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs and co-chaired the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom post was most recently held by Rabbi David Saperstein. 21Wilberforce President Randel Everett noted, “Ambassador Saperstein’s leadership has been an invaluable asset and he has furthered the cause for religious freedom around the globe.” When Saperstein was asked about Brownback’s support for international religious freedom he responded “It’s an issue he knows, he knows well and cares deeply about.”

Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris said Brownback’s appointment is a step in the right direction toward defending international religious freedom.

“America must defend and protect religious freedom globally, and Gov. Brownback is unquestionably capable of engaging this vital mission. It’s clear from history that when any nation abuses or suppresses religious freedom, other freedoms are likewise in danger. America needs a strong advocate for the basic human rights and dignity of those who wish to live consistently with their faith without undue government interference. We commend the Trump Administration and the Senate on the confirmation of Gov. Brownback, whose clear passion and understanding of this issue will work for the good of persecuted people of faith around the world.”

Photo: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been appointed Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

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