Tag Archives: jeremy reynalds

Police move homeless people off Philadelphia streets ahead of Pope Francis’ mass

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By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

PHILADELPHIA – As crowds moved into the city for Pope Francis’ large public Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27, the Homeless_man_in_Philadelphiahomeless are heading out — part of a high-security lockdown forcing people off the streets.

According to a story by Alex Jacobi for the Religion News Service (RNS), the displacement of the homeless comes amid the pope’s repeated calls for greater income equality and social inclusion of the poor.

He told members of Catholic Charities during his Washington, D.C., stop Sept. 22 that there was “no justification whatsoever for lack of housing.”

Then the pope lunched with homeless people in the nation’s capital, forgoing an invitation to dine with members of Congress.

More than 1 million people converged on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for Sunday’s Mass, an area where thousands live in makeshift shelters, RNS reported homeless advocates said.

In all, about 5,500 people live on the streets of Philadelphia, according to Project Home, an advocacy group for homeless people.

Police said everyone, not just the homeless, was being evacuated from certain areas and said it was for “security purposes.”

Yet some within the homeless community felt targeted.

Jason Taylor, a homeless Philadelphian, was collecting donations Sept. 24 to take a train to New Jersey or suburbanPope_kisses_young_man_in_Philadelpia Philadelphia. RNS said he was hoping to avoid the police sweep.

Others aren’t leaving quite so easily. Joe McGraw, who’s been on the streets since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979, said this year’s security is much more intense.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

“It wasn’t like this,” McGraw said. “They (now) shoo us away.”

McGraw said he understands the irony of homeless people being forced to make way for an event by a champion of the poor.

According to RNS, Sue Smith, vice president of residential and homeless programs for Project Home, police are working with homeless advocates for a smooth transition.

“It is not a matter of keeping homeless people out of the parkway,” said Smith who was helping the police with the effort. “It is just an unusual protocol.”

The homeless were also “hidden” from the Pope in his visit to Manila earlier this year. It was a move that caused considerable controversy.

Photo cutlines: Top, Jason Taylor, a homeless man in Philadelphia. (Religion News Service photo by Alex Jacobi). Pope Francis kisses and blesses Michael Keating, 10, of Elverson, Pa., after arriving in Philadelphia and exiting his car when he saw the boy, Sept. 26, at Philadelphia International Airport.

Contact Jeremy Reynalds at jeremyreynalds@gmail.com.

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Acid attack on Catholic priest part of ‘a series of assaults on churches and church leaders’ in Zanzibar

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Father Anselm Mwang'amba displays his terrible injuries.

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SURREY, ENGLAND (ANS) – A Christian human rights organization is deeply troubled by an acid attack on an elderly CatholicFather Anselm Mwang'amba displays his terrible injuries. priest in Zanzibar on Sept. 13.

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said in a news release that the incident, the latest in a series of assaults on churches and church leaders in the semi-autonomous archipelago, highlights a worrying deterioration in freedom of religion or belief in Tanzania.

Father Anselm Mwang’amba was attacked as he left an Internet cafe in the historic Stone Town area of the Zanzibar capital, and is currently hospitalized with severe burns to the face, neck and hands.

CSW said according to a local report, while inside the cafe Father Mwang’amba received a call from an unknown number and was doused with acid as he exited to answer his telephone.

The assault on Father Mwang’amba is the fourth major attack on a Christian leader in Zanzibar since December 2012, when a Catholic priest was wounded by unknown gunmen.

Local Christians report receiving threats via text message or in leaflets naming church leaders who have been targeted for assassination, and in some instances referring to a prospective date.

In February, the murder of a Protestant pastor was followed a week later by the killing of a Catholic priest.

In addition, CSW reported, at least 20 churches have been looted and either burnt or demolished, allegedly by supporters of the separatist religious movement Uamsho (Awakening). Perpetrators of religious violence are never brought to trial even when identified or caught in the act, and police investigations are generally extended indefinitely.

In a comment to CSW on the attack on Father Mwang’amba a local Christian speaking on condition of anonymity said, “We are asking the international community to intervene in this issue. Christians do not have any protection. In this environment we live in so much fear of what will happen to whom tomorrow.”

CSW has also received reports of increasing discrimination on the Tanzanian mainland and an inadequate official response to religion-related violence.

The family of a Pentecostal pastor beheaded in March in violence that erupted in Geita after the Muslim community objected to the opening of a Christian-owned butchery are still awaiting justice.

Christians complain of the inequitable application of public order regulations designed to maintain religious harmony, including discrimination in the granting of permits for open-air meetings and new media outlets.

In May, people died and more than 60 were injured when the inauguration service for a new Catholic Cathedral in Arusha was bombed in what the Tanzanian president described as a “terrorist attack.”

Daniel Sinclair, Communications Director at CSW said in the news release, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Father Mwang’amba, who we wish a speedy recovery. These threats and attacks targeting church leaders and church buildings are in violation of the Tanzanian constitution, which provides for freedom of religion or belief. If left unchecked, religious violence will ultimately undermine national cohesion. CSW calls upon the Tanzanian authorities to take decisive action to tackle rising extremism and prevent impunity from taking hold in any part of the country.”

He added, “It is vital that the Government of Zanzibar effectively addresses attacks on the local Christian community, offers protection to all who are under threat, adequately compensates churches that have been looted or demolished, and ensures that inciters and perpetrators of religion-related violence are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

For further information, visit www.csw.org.uk.

 

Faith Comes By Hearing receives 4-star rating from charity evaluator

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By Jeremy Reynalds
ASSIST News Service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) – Faith Comes By Hearing audio BibleJerry Jackson, left, and his wife, Annette ministry has again been awarded the prestigious 4-star rating from Charity Navigator – a charity evaluator.

According to a news release from Faith Comes by Hearing (FCBH), being recognized for the sixth straight year elevates the ministry into the top 3 percent of all charities.

 

Charity Navigator said this means FCBH “demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”

FCBH said in his notification letter, Charity Navigator’s president and CEO Ken Berger wrote, “We are proud to announce Faith Comes By Hearing has earned our sixth consecutive 4-star rating. Only 3 percent of the charities we rate have received at least six consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Faith Comes By Hearing outperforms most other charities in America.”

FCBH said the recognition is especially meaningful, as “Charity Navigator evaluates 10 times the number of charities than (its) next closest organization, and draws more visitors to (its) website than every other charity evaluator combined.”

Jerry Jackson, FCBH’s founder and president, said in the news release, “It has always been our priority to be good stewards with every donation given to complete our mission. The best way to ensure accountability is to be open with our finances.”

He added, “As an outside and impartial evaluator, Charity Navigator’s continued recognition of our transparency and fiscal responsibility is testimony to our current and prospective donors that they are giving to a ministry that is using their funds wisely.”

For more information go to www.fcbh.org

American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran fears supporters have abandoned him

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

TEHRAN, Iran (ANS) The American pastor sentenced to eight years in Iran’s Evin prison is unaware of the groundswell of international support for him, and insteadSaeedAbedini fears he’s been abandoned, according to relatives who met with him this week.

According to Fox News, Saeed Abedini mentioned his doubt during a visit with relatives on Monday. It was a second time he was allowed to see members of his extended family since he was convicted. Abedini expressed apprehension and concern to his relatives about his fate and openly asked if there were international efforts to secure his freedom, according to advocacy group American Center for Law and Justice (http://aclj.org).

The story said that it is believed that Abedini’s downtrodden spirit is due to abuse and brain-washing techniques used by prison officials.

“It is no surprise that the Iranian prison guards are engaging in this kind of psychological abuse. We know that Pastor Saeed is undergoing physical beatings and torture. And we know there is growing concern about his health,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director for ACLJ, told www.FoxNews.com.

“Now, a troubling report that the guards are trying to take away his hope — by feeding him false information about his fate — trying to convince him that no one cares — that efforts to secure his freedom have ceased. This tactic is predictable, but also very tragic.”

“What the Iranian guards will never tell Pastor Saeed is that there’s a growing international network of support. … We continue to urge President Obama to personally call on Iran to release Pastor Saeed. And now that Secretary of State Kerry is on the job, it is time for him to follow through on earlier statements demanding that Iran release Pastor Saeed,” he added.

Abedini also has been unable to communicate with his wife, Nagameh, and their two children since being sentenced.

“When I heard this from my husband, I cried. It broke my heart. Behind those walls he feels helpless and relies on us to be his voice. It is so easy to feel forgotten in the walls of the prison. Please help me make sure he is never forgotten,” she said in a report posted on ACLJ’s website.

Abedini, a 32-year-old father of two, denied evangelizing in Iran and claims he had only returned to his native land to help establish an orphanage. Authorities pulled him off a bus last August and threw him into the notorious prison in Tehran, the story continued.

“The exact crimes he was accused of only became public late last month, when the prosecutor outlined charges that Abedini undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and that he was attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam,” added the Fox News story.

“Supporters of Abedini believe the charges stem from his 2,000 conversion to Christianity and his involvement several years ago with house churches in Iran.”

Although Abedini’s lawyer has appealed the sentence, experts following the case think Abedini’s only chance at freedom lies with a grant of clemency from the religious clerics that rule Iran.

According to Jeremy Reynalds of ASSIST News, the American Center for Law and Justice recently reported award-winning musicians, Christian radio stations, and concerned citizens all across America and around the world are trying to get #SaveSaeed trending on Twitter and encourage people to sign the petition at www.SaveSaeed.org to free Abenini.

Reynalds said Ricky Skaggs, TobyMac, Bart Millard (Mercy Me), Kevin Max (DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline), Steven Curtis Chapman, Skillet, Rhett Walker Band, Air1 Radio, and thousands of others are helping to #SaveSaeed.

Be thankful for what the Lord has done

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By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) — It’s Thanksgiving again at Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, and only shelter for homeless families.

It’s hard for me to believe that Thanksgiving Day will mark the 27th successive year we have shared the blessing of Thanksgiving with Albuquerque’s many homeless and abused women and homeless families.

I’m so thankful to the Lord and our wonderful family of donors for helping make this ministry of compassion possible on an ongoing basis.

Thanks to YOU, during 2012 we have been able to serve many thousands of hot and nutritious meals to hungry people, minister to many spiritually needy men, women, boys and girls in our chapel services and life recovery classes and provide thousands of nights of shelter to homeless people.

At Joy Junction on Thanksgiving Day and the holiday season as we provide special meals and activities for our homeless guests, we will be giving thanks to the Lord for all of His blessings. We are a faith-based ministry. We believe that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important component for homeless people in getting back on their feet again.

But not everyone sees things the same way as we do. For many people, “Thanksgiving” is not a time to give thanks to God. Take, for example, these Thanksgiving “offerings” I found some years ago from America on Line, billed as “All the Essentials for a Stress-Free Holiday.”

Encouraged to “sit back and relax,” AOL surfers learned that they could find “advice on roasting a perfect bird, crafts for the kids, ideas for giving back, hints for handling holiday stress, tips for avoiding the travel crush and much more.”

However, if you didn’t go any further than the stress section, you’d have missed a lot. There were a couple of forums on this AOL Thanksgiving special, one titled “Thanksgiving’s Best and Worst,” and another giving surfers the opportunity to say what they were most thankful for.

I was curious to see what people loved and hated about Thanksgiving, so I went over first to Thanksgiving’s best and worst. I got an inside look at what was on the minds of some Americans that year.

Here are some examples of what I read. One forum participant wrote, “Thanksgiving is easily the most boring day of the year.”

Someone else commented, “Every year, my house (which is always neat and tidy) gets ‘trashed,’ even after I’ve told my in laws and their kids repeatedly to respect me and our house. My husband sits by and doesn’t say a word. I can’t turn them away, because they come from out of state and my husband thinks they do no wrong. I’m ready to move to Alaska where I know they’d never visit.”

The saddest post of all was from someone who wrote, “This is my first Thanksgiving without my husband of 25 years. He left me and our five kids (earlier this year) and served me with dissolution papers (soon after).”

However, what a testimony that this woman was still grateful for the blessings that she had. She continued to write “Through this horrible experience, I pray my Thanksgiving is filled with the gratitude and offerings to God that it should be. I am thankful for the gifts I have received, but pray that God’s will is to return my husband to me and our children. I would appreciate any prayers, silent or aloud at your Thanksgiving table for the healing of my family and all other families enduring pain and heart ache.”

Examples of people writing about what they were most thankful for included an inspiring post from someone who doesn’t mind getting older. She wrote, “I used to dread growing older, but now I actually feel as if I can embrace it. When I was younger it was always a case of watching after the kids, stressing over everything always being ‘perfect’, trying to prove myself to everyone but now I have grown to be thankful I had those times … I (also) have many things to look forward to.”

However, the letter that really touched my heart was a daughter’s tribute to her dad. She wrote:

“My father passed away this year. He was a quiet gentleman. I learned much by his words but far more by his actions. He served his country during WWII. He did not speak much about his experiences. Instead he flew our country’s flag proudly, reverently. His eyes welled up with tears when he stood for our national anthem. He stood even to the day he needed my mother on one side and myself on the other. He placed flags on the grave sites of each of my brothers, who also served our country. My father is a genuine patriot; his legacy lives on through all that knew him. I love you daddy, and I’m thankful and proud to be your daughter.”

Some forum participants also remembered the essence of Thanksgiving. Someone wrote, “I am thankful for the Lord for giving me good health and all my children home and in good health and His mercy.” Another person commented, “I am most thankful for allowing Christ to be my guide. I am also thankful for my mental and physical health. I give God all the praise.”

After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is really all about, isn’t it? In case you are not familiar how the day came into existence, here’s a quick synopsis.

It was way back in 1789 that President George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. This was the first ever presidential proclamation issued in the United States and read, “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer…”

However even back then, not everyone was in favor of this National Day of Thanksgiving. It took 74 years and President Lincoln to set things straight. In his 1863 proclamation, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

After describing America’s blessing, Lincoln wrote, “No human counsel has devised nor has any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Lincoln also encouraged his fellow citizens that while praising the Almighty for his blessings they also needed to exercise “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience … and to fervently implore the (intervention) of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.”

Since that time, Thanksgiving has been proclaimed by every President. So as we get closer to Thanksgiving Day, take a moment and thank the Lord for the many blessings which we enjoy.

Waterproof Bible tops recommended military resource list

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By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

BIRMINGHAM, ALA (ANS) — According to Bardin and Marsee Publishing, its NIV Waterproof Bible New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs has topped the list of the Top 25 Recommended Resources published by Military Ministry, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ International.

In a news release obtained by the ASSIST News Service, soldiers and chaplains have used the Waterproof Bible since 2006, and this recommendation will markedly expand its use.

“Thank you for producing such a Bible that I’m sure will withstand the harsh Afghanistan climate,” said an Army chaplain speaking in a news release shortly before deploying with his soldiers earlier this year.

Another soldier put it this way. He said in the news release, “I love my Waterproof Bible. I can carry it with me where ever I go in my ACU cargo pocket. It helps me redeem those little fragments of time throughout the day by reading God’s word.”

The news release said Bardin and Marsee has recently partnered with the Norwegian Bible Society to produce a military Chaplain’s waterproof devotional titled PÅ PATRULJE SOLDATENS ANDAKTSBOK.

Bardin and Marsee are also working with the Bible Society New Zealand to publish a custom NLT New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs exclusively for the New Zealand Defense Force.

“We are very excited to be working with the New Zealand Defence Force to produce a waterproof New Testament for Army, Navy and Air Force personnel,” said Stephen Opie, Program Director for Bible Society New Zealand, speaking in the news release.

Opie continued, “The waterproof edition was chosen as it is more durable than a paper-based Bible, meaning it will serve Defense Force personnel better, especially when deployed overseas.”

At first appearance, the Waterproof Bible resembles a regular Bible, but on a second glance its durability shines through.

“This is why our soldiers and chaplains have long used the Waterproof Bible. It can go to the frontlines and back without being destroyed by the wear and tear that causes a regular paper Bible to fall apart,” said Bobby Bardin, who co-owns Bardin and Marsee.

What began as a project to make a durable Bible for a few friends has turned into a growing niche within the Bible segment of Christian publishing.

With Waterproof Bibles now available in nine foreign languages and five English translations, NIV, ESV, NKJV, KJV, and NLT, the news release said Bardin and Marsee Publishing has seen significant growth since its inception in 2005.

Wooding bases ‘Dagger’ on personal experiences

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By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Dan Wooding’s career must rate as one of the most unusual in journalism. For he has gone from being a London correspondent for the National Enquirer and a staffer on the Sunday People and the Sunday Mirror, two of Britain’s raciest tabloids, to an undercover reporter and campaigner for persecuted Christians in the restricted countries of the world.

And now international journalist, Dan Wooding, 71, founder of the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), has put his many years of exciting and often dangerous travel to good use in Red Dagger, his 44th book — and his first novel.

The fast-moving book, much of which is based on his many years of traveling to some of the world’s hot-spots, features a Palestinian terrorist who belongs to the Red Dagger terror group from Gaza, a place that Wooding has visited several times, an Irish double agent, and a drunken American journalist who moves to London and spends too much time in a pub called “The White Hart” which had been nicknamed “The Stab in the Back” because that is where tabloid journalist gathered to verbally stab each other in the back.

Wooding knows all about this journalists’ pub as it was there that he recommitted his life to Christ back in the late 1970s and went to Uganda to write “Uganda Holocaust” with Irish-Canadian, Ray Barnett, who later founded the African Children’s Choir.

Each one of the characters finally finds redemption in their twisted lives, but not before much mayhem has been committed and the world had stood on the edge of complete disaster.

“Red Dagger is the result of more than 20 years of loving work,” Wooding told me. “It began when a colleague told me that I should put together a novel that incorporated all the years of personal experiences I have had since I first entered journalism with The Christian in London back in 1968.”

This, said Wooding, has included the time he was arrested and locked up in a cell in Lagos, Nigeria. Also when he and a colleague were in a hotel in San Salvador, El Salvador, when a car bomb exploded in the parking lot and badly damaged the hotel and, finally when he and his wife Norma were held up by terrorists in Bethlehem and were going to be shot by them. That was until a quick-thinking Arab taxi driver saved their lives by explaining they were visitors from the USA.

“Although none of these experiences are used in the book as they occurred, they helped me to imagine many of the scenes included in the book,” said Wooding. “Also, my travels to Gaza were great background to writing up the many scenes there.”

Red Dagger has already received interest from movie producers and praise from various celebrities who have read it.

They include veteran American entertainer, Pat Boone, who said, “Dan Wooding’s latest book, Red Dagger, is a gripping novel about terror, betrayal and redemption. Much of it is set in Gaza, but also features a Northern Ireland terrorist and an American journalist who, after moving to London, finds himself spending too much time in a bar called ‘The Stab in the Back’ with other drunken hacks. The conclusion of the book has a most dramatic twist that held my attention right to the very end. I enthusiastically endorse Red Dagger, which is written by one of the world’s most traveled journalists.”

Rock keyboard legend, Rick Wakeman, about whom Wooding penned his biography called “Rick Wakeman – the Caped Crusader” – foreword by Elton John – wrote, “Terrorism is a dangerous subject both in reality and in fiction. To bring Christianity in as a major part of the plot is potentially even more dangerous, but Dan Wooding portrays all his characters as both very real and very believable in this novel that literally sets off at a tremendous pace from the very first page. I found myself thinking very visually whilst reading it and that’s the secret of any good novel.”

So if you want to enter the dark and dangerous world of international terrorism and be inspired with its conclusion, this is the book for you, or even for a friend who loves good novels.

To purchase a copy of “Red Dagger” (Tanswell Books), go to: http://www.lulu.com/shop/dan-wooding/red-dagger/paperback/product-11050174.html;jsessionid=89997AD165003FF2695A468AB262C07D
It is also available as an e-Book file download.

You can also get it at http://www.amazon.com/Red-Dagger-Dan-Wooding/dp/0578056534

If you live in the USA and would like an autographed copy of the book, just send a check for $20 (which includes postage) made out to Dan Wooding, and mail it to Dan Wooding, PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609. For overseas orders, please add a further $3 USD. Also, please put in the memo section of the check, “For Red Dagger.”

Churches can extend their reach through mobile apps

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By Jeremy Reynalds
ASSIST News Service

When mobile apps first became a “must have,” only the largest churches and nonprofits could afford the hefty price tag required to hire a firm to build a custom mobile app.

Because the majority of nonprofits can’t afford that kind of money, ROAR is now releasing its own app-building CMS to help nonprofits and churches afford their own iPhone and Android apps for a fraction of the cost.

Launched in January 2010, ROAR has become a major app development firm for churches, schools, and ministries.

“Our goal is to enable each nonprofit and church we work with to reach into the community and into the pocket of every person to encourage, connect, and retain them as a customer and participant,” said Matt McKee, president of ROAR, speaking in a news release.

McKee added, “With our new software, building a custom-looking mobile app for any organization is an affordable reality.”

ROAR’s CMS is built on WordPress. McKee said, “We customized the Admin, Plugins, and WordPress sections to meet our needs, so now, every customer we work with gets their own custom WordPress build that powers their own app.”

McKee added, “A nonprofit mobile app can help organizations of all kinds communicate with their volunteers and increase donations. A church mobile app can connect members to their churches through sermon podcasts, event updates, and social media all in one place – their phones.”

McKee said, “We encourage churches and nonprofits to give away their apps for free as a way to establish loyalty and goodwill.”

The news release said as organizations update content, graphics, and audio files in their custom ROAR CMS, the app is automatically updated in real time. This ensures the app always contains the most relevant information and media.

Visit www.RoarApp.com for more information.