Beaten and Burned for Praising Jesus
On May 12, a young female student — Deborah Samuel — in Sokoto, Nigeria was beaten to death and burned to ashes for praising Jesus on a WhatsApp group chat site. A gang of her radical Muslim classmates saw her post, became enraged, and murdered her. Deborah’s “crime?” She was accused of blasphemy against Islam and the Prophet Mohammad — a crime that calls for a death sentence according to Sharia Law.
Deborah was rejoicing because she had successfully passed her exams at Shehu Shagari College of Education, located in northwest Nigeria. According to Open Doors, she posted, “Jesus Christ is the greatest. He helped me pass my exams.” For that message and other similar comments, she was murdered.
A gruesome video of the murder went viral on social media, causing outrage among the Christian community in Nigeria and across the world. Unfortunately, it was really nothing new. Brutal violence against Christians throughout the country has been not only commonplace for decades but has dramatically increased in recent months.
On Saturday, May 14 in Sokoto, according to several accounts, the protests became even more violent. Rioters, armed with machetes, knives and sticks, chanting Islamic prayers, demanded the release of the two suspects the police had arrested (there appeared to be more than two). Shops were looted and burned, and at least two churches were attacked and vandalized. Some of the protestors also besieged the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, a preeminent religious leader among Nigeria’s Muslims, who make up approximately half of the country’s population.
One Nigerian Christian clergyman recently emailed friends in the U.S.: “Keep us in your prayers. The situation is so tense. It was alleged (though not fully confirmed) that two young ladies posted in response to the situation in Sokoto, and that they are said to have also blasphemed the Holy prophet. Now they are asking the government to get the ladies and have them prosecuted.” (frc.com)
There’s No Crisis in Aging
Recently, Stanford Center on Longevity announced a project called the “New Map of Life.” “In the United States,” the authors write, “as many as half of today’s 5-year-olds can expect to live to the age of 100, and this once unattainable milestone may become the norm for newborns by 2050.”
The problem, the authors admit, is that we don’t know what to do with an extra 30 years. The “narrative of an ‘aging society’ seems to convey only a crisis.”
Reaching this 100-years-of-life milestone is, as one researcher put it, a “breathtaking package of human potential the world has never seen, unprecedented numbers of people with unprecedented capabilities, and significant desire to give back and leave the world better.”
Scripture agrees, calling old age “a crown of glory.” But that’s not because of how long it lasts or what is accomplished. It’s because there’s a “why” behind it all. As Stanford looks for technological and sociological benefits to longer lives, Christians can point to the Source of meaning for all of life, who faced and defeated death.
The more time we have to do that, the better. (familycouncil.org)
Skit Guys’ Star in Faith-based Family Comedy
The Skit Guys, a Christian comedy duo, debuted their first-ever family film on May 13 at theaters nationwide. “Family Camp” chronicles the journey of two “polar opposite” families who find themselves sharing a cabin for a week at rustic Camp Katokwah. During competition for a camp trophy, the two fathers (played by Tommy Woodard and Eddie James, known as the Skit Guys) find themselves lost in the woods after a series of mishaps. The two men have to work together to find their way out of the woods.
The film was produced by Provident Films, producer of such films as “Overcomer,” “War Room,” “Courageous,” “Fireproof” and “Woodlawn,” as well as Educational Media Foundation, the parent company of K-LOVE, the largest contemporary Christian radio network in the United States and Roadside Attractions, whose movies have grossed more than $500 million and garnered 23 Academy Award nominations.
Woodard and James have wanted to make a comedy feature film for more than 20 years. When Brian Cates, one of the film’s directors, came up with the idea for Family Camp five years ago, little did they know of the difficult days that lay ahead with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we began this project, we knew families needed this but had no idea how much hope and healing they would need a few years later,” Woodard told the Message. “It was a dream come true for Eddie and me. As kids, both of us surrendered our dream of making a movie to the Lord, and He was so kind to grant that back to us years later.”
The Skit Guys have performed together since they were members of the youth group at First Baptist Church, Edmond, Okla., and officially formed the group in 1996. Since then, they have performed at churches, conferences and other events around the world. (baptistpress.com)
Girl Dies in Botched Exorcism
Officials at a small Pentecostal church in San Jose, Calif., confirmed that a three-year-old girl died within their walls last September after undergoing a botched exorcism, bringing a renewed spotlight on the practice of expelling demons from individuals believed to be possessed.
Rene Huezo leads Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas where three-year-old Arely Naomi Proctor died, and is also her grandfather. He insists they were simply trying to follow the Bible when the girl’s mother brought her to the church seeking deliverance from demons.
The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s office ruled that Arely Naomi Proctor’s death was a homicide caused by asphyxiation and arrested her mother, Claudia Hernandez, in January on felony child abuse charges.
According to a police report, at around 8:12 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2021, the San Jose Police Department, Hernandez reported that her daughter passed away at the church. When police responded to the scene they found, Hernandez, Pastor Huezo who is her father and the child’s uncle.
After the child was pronounced dead at Valley Medical Center at 8:59 p.m., officers learned that “the suspects believed the child was possessed by a demon and they were at the church praying for her.”
Hernandez told police that her daughter was “possessed by an evil spirit” and that “she attempted to stick her finger down the victim’s throat and squeezed the victim’s neck to induce vomiting,” the report said. The child “fell asleep several times” as Hernandez “pushed down on the victim’s throat with her hand.” Hernandez further stated that her daughter suffered bruises around “her eyes, throat/neck and chest” during the ordeal. She also told police that they waited for one to two hours after her daughter passed before calling 911.
In a subsequent interview with police, Hernandez revealed that the night before she brought her daughter to the church, she started to believe her daughter was possessed because she “would wake up and scream or cry periodically.” She said she and her brother prayed for her daughter in a bedroom until they decided to drive her to the church at 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 24.
She told police that she suspects her daughter, who was given nothing to eat since about 9 p.m. a day earlier, died between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 24. Days before she was arrested in January, Hernandez told her followers on YouTube, “I could sit here and be negative… be sad about the whole situation that she passed away. But it’s like, there is no point because it is what it is. It’s many reasons why God took her. What if something would have happened to her, what if she would have had a sickness? It is what it is. I gotta be positive about the situation. You know, like at least she’s not suffering,” she said. “That’s what I’m thankful for, that she’s not gonna grow up in that world, like in that world we live in.” (christianpost.com)