Month Archives: February 2021

Alabama Seeks to Protect Minors from Gender Transition Drugs and Surgeries

by Chantel Hoyt

February 18, 2021

Alabama lawmakers are currently considering two bills that would prohibit doctors from prescribing gender transition drugs, hormones, and surgeries to minors. Known as the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Acts,” these bills are designed to protect minors who are struggling with gender confusion from harmful procedures that cannot be fully reversed later and that they may likely come to regret.

These bills also prohibit nurses, counselors, and school personnel from withholding information about a child’s gender confusion from the child’s parents. Senate Bill 10, introduced by Representative Shay Shelnutt of the state’s 17th district, passed the Senate Healthcare Committee in a vote of 11 to 2 last Wednesday, while House Bill 1 is still awaiting a vote after being the subject of a public hearing by the House Judiciary Committee on the same day. Under both bills, doctors who violate such laws would face criminal charges.

The Alabama House version of the bill was introduced by Republican Wes Allen last year. “When I learned that this was going on in our state of Alabama, I was really shocked that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones were being given to minors,” he said on Washington Watch recently. When asked about his motivation behind the bill, Allen replied that it is simply about protecting children. “The most important thing we can be doing as legislators is taking care and protecting children, so that’s really the motivation behind it.” 

Rep. Allen also spoke briefly about how children lack the proper ability to make life-altering decisions, as well as studies that suggest that 85-90 percent of children with gender dysphoria will eventually outgrow such issues and “grow to accept how God made them and grow to accept their bodies.” Allen was hopeful about the success of House Bill 1: “We’ve got to make sure we protect our kids, and we’re looking forward to advocating for this bill in the weeks to come.”

Chantel Hoyt is a Research Assistant with State & Local Affairs at Family Research Council.

Abby Johnson’s New Initiative Will Help Bring Justice to Women Harmed by Abortion

by Mary Szoch

February 16, 2021

Abby Johnson has partnered with the Thomas More society on a new initiative, Hurt After Abortion. As part of this initiative, Johnson’s team is offering referrals for free legal consultation, emotional and spiritual healing options, and assistance in accessing medical records for women who have been harmed by an abortion. The goal of this initiative is to provide justice and healing for women who have been exploited by the abortion industry.

In a perfect world, every woman harmed by abortion would take legal action, and the abortion industry would be brought to justice. But, sadly, there are many barriers for women seeking justice and healing after an abortion. Shame, depression, regret, and the life circumstances that caused a woman to consider abortion in the first place are all roadblocks to her taking legal action against an abortionist. Hopefully, many women will overcome these hurdles and become part of the Hurt After Abortion initiative. Even if they do not, there is plenty of evidence that abortion hurts women. 

In 2020, Operation Rescue reported 67 abortion-related medical emergencies and one maternal death. It should be noted that this does not mean only 67 women were physically harmed by abortions in 2020—but that 67 instances were recorded on film and were reported to Operation Rescue. Two of those emergencies happened less than 20 miles from the White House. 

LeRoy Carhart, an 80-year-old abortionist, operates a late-term abortion business in Bethesda, Maryland. Due to Maryland’s liberal abortion laws, the business can perform abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. Through his numerous abortion businesses over the years, Carhart has admitted to ending at least 20,000 lives

Carhart has no problem making light of the work he does. In a BBC Panorama documentary with Hilary Andersson in 2019, Carhart told her he uses the word “baby” with his patients, and when Andersson asked, “And you don’t have a problem with killing a baby?”, he responded, “Absolutely not. I have no problem if it’s in the mother’s uterus.”

I have seen Carhart’s cold nature firsthand. A few years ago, before his business moved from Germantown, I was praying outside Carhart’s business with a group of women as he and his wife got out of his car and walked toward the building. One of the women I was with said to him, “Those babies have a future.” Carhart turned, scoffed at her and said, “They sure don’t when I’m done with them.”

Is it any wonder that a man who speaks with such little regard for life sent two women to the hospital this past May? While the identity of these women remains anonymous, the incident report from the Montgomery County Maryland Fire and Rescue services showed that on May 12, a 25-week pregnant woman from out of state was rushed to the hospital from Carhart’s business. A whistleblower told Operation Rescue that the woman suffered a ruptured uterus and other internal injuries from an abortion. Several baby parts had been left inside the woman. The damage to the woman’s bowels was so bad that she was given a colostomy, that included an external bag. The woman was finally discharged from the hospital on May 21.

That same day, an eerily similar situation occurred. A second incident report showed a 25-week pregnant woman from out of state was taken to the hospital from Carhart’s business. A whistleblower indicated that this was because she, too, had a perforated uterus. She arrived at the hospital in critical condition, and once again, surgery was necessary. This time, the woman required a hysterectomy. The baby the abortionist had killed was still partially intact inside the woman’s abdominal cavity. 

LeRoy Carhart is 80 years old. He has sent at least 22 women to the hospital, and he is responsible for the death of Jennifer Morbelli. It is unclear if he was the abortionist who maimed the two women who were hospitalized in May, but it is certain the abortions happened at his business.

Pray that Abby Johnson’s new Hurt After Abortion initiative brings abortionists like LeRoy Carhart to justice. Though this will be some solace to women, there is no initiative that can take a woman back to the moment before she walked into the abortion business—the moment before her baby was killed, before her body was mutilated, before her life was changed forever. Still, there is hope and healing for these women.

Abby Johnson’s new initiative also provides referrals for an options-based approach to emotional and spiritual healing for women. Project Rachel has worked with thousands of women to help them find peace and healing after an abortion. If you know someone who is suffering physically, emotionally, or spiritually from an abortion, mention these two programs, and pray—pray for justice, pray for an end to the exploitation of women through abortion, and pray for the end of the destruction of life in the womb.

Connecticut Seeks to Stifle the Voice of Pregnancy Resource Centers

by Mary Szoch

February 15, 2021

Last week, the Connecticut State Senate considered SB 835, “An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers.” Contrary to its title, this bill is not about deceptive advertising. In fact, there is no substantial evidence that clients seeking services at Connecticut pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) have been or currently are being deceived. No, this bill is about silencing PRCs.

SB 835 singles out PRCs as the only organizations that are required to prevent advertising they know “or reasonably should know” to be deceptive “whether by statement or omission.” The legislation places the pro-abortion attorney general—who testified in favor of the legislation—as the arbitrator of “deceptive advertising,” and gives him the authority to force PRCs to “correct” their advertising and pay a fine.

This bill is a clear violation of the First Amendment rights of PRCs. It makes it harder for women who are unexpectedly pregnant to know what their choices are, and it places the state in the position of promoting abortion over childbirth.

Despite what this bill implies, there are already many generally applicable laws at the state and federal level preventing deceptive advertising. What makes SB 835 unique is that it deliberately—and unjustly—singles out PRCs as the only organizations required to prevent advertising they know “or reasonably should know to be deceptive.” Nothing in the bill prevents abortion businesses from engaging in deceptive advertising practices. For example, Planned Parenthood—whose very name implies that a pregnant woman visiting the clinic will receive balanced information regarding the resources available to her if she would like to parent—is not obligated in any way to clarify in their advertising that their core mission is expanding abortion. PRCs are targeted for one reason only—to stifle their speech.

If this were just another deceptive advertising law, it would not target an ideologically unified group of service providers who take a position on one of the most controversial topics in the country. SB 835’s vague wording—“whether by statement or omission”—allows the pro-abortion attorney general (who is so pro-abortion and anti-woman that he doesn’t think abortionists should be required to have hospital admitting privileges) to decide which words a PRC omitted. Clearly, the attorney general is attempting to bully PRCs into only advertising what he would choose to advertise—which is definitely not help and support for women who feel pressured into having an abortion. This is an intimidation practice with the prevention of pro-life speech as its goal. It is unconstitutional.

In 2018, California passed a law that forced PRCs to 1) advertise that the state offered free abortions and 2) post a notice stating they were not medical providers. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California’s law was unconstitutional and prohibited the state from directly demanding this speech. Although SB 835 is not directly demanding speech from PRCs, through the vague wording “by statement or omission,” it is indirectly attempting to force them to make those same statements. The Supreme Court has already ruled this is unconstitutional.

Singling out PRCs for heavy fines because they do not provide or refer for abortions compels them to advertise in a way that significantly limits their potential clients. Many women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant feel afraid, alone, and unsure of where to turn. PRCs do not coerce women into giving birth. Rather, they give a woman all the information available to her and allow the woman to make her own decision, knowing that she can always turn to the PRC for support.

Unlike abortion businesses, PRCs do not make money when a client chooses life. In 2019, PRCs provided $270 million in services at virtually no charge, and they provided services to women regardless of whether they chose life or abortion, offering more than 21,000 women post-abortion healing services.

PRCs do not exist to make a profit; they exist because they care about women and their children. According to a Guttmacher Institute study, women most frequently choose to have abortions because having a child would “interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents (74%); that she could not afford a baby now (74%), and that she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems (48%).” The resources offered by PRCs help women rise above and change these circumstances. The support of PRCs empowers women to choose life for their children.

There is no good reason to attack centers that have such a positive impact on society. Doing so places the state in the position of promoting abortion practices—who stand to profit from a woman’s decision to have an abortion—above centers offering women the tools they need to choose life.

The Connecticut state legislature should recognize that SB 835 is an attack on one of the foundations of American liberty—freedom of speech—and as such, it is unconstitutional. More importantly, the state legislature should recognize that SB 835 harms women in need.

More Than Romance: The True Meaning of Valentine’s Day

by Molly Carman

February 14, 2021

For some, Valentine’s Day is a fun excuse to dote on a spouse or loved one with roses, chocolates, and heart-shaped cards. But for others, Valentine’s Day can be a lonely reminder of their lack of a romantic relationship. A cynical few believe Valentine’s Day is just a marketing ploy—a made-up holiday that guilts you into spending money on someone. However, the historical origin of Valentine’s Day had nothing to do with any of these things.

February 14 marks the anniversary of St. Valentine of Rome’s martyrdom in A.D. 269. He was executed by the emperor for his Christian faith and for marrying couples when marriage was temporarily illegal. St. Valentine’s life and death demonstrate the high price that can sometimes accompany standing up for Christian values despite pushback from authority or the culture.

St. Valentine lived in Rome during the reign of Claudius II, also known as Claudius the Cruel. The Roman government was notorious for persecuting Christians ever since the church’s founding, in part because Christian ethics dissented from the practices of polygamy, homosexuality, pedophilia, and prostitution that were prevalent in the Empire. Rome was at war while Claudius II was in power, and he believed unmarried men made the best soldiers (because they did not have families at home to worry about and could not use their marriage as an excuse to get out of military service). Claudius’ desire to strengthen his army, combined with his prejudice towards Christians, led to his decision to make marriage illegal in Rome for a time.

The emperor’s edict did not stop Valentine from marrying couples in secret. He did not marry them because he was a hopeless romantic or because he wanted to defy the emperor, but because he believed that marriage was a core value of the Christian faith. Claudius soon discovered Valentine’s actions and had him arrested.

While in jail, legend has it, Valentine befriended Judge Asterius and his adopted daughter, who was blind. According to some accounts, Valentine placed his hands on Asterius’s daughter’s eyes, and she was healed. Because of this miracle, the judge and his whole family became Christians and were baptized. He even released Valentine from confinement. However, the emperor arrested Valentine again, had him beaten, and later beheaded him for his “crimes.” Before his execution, Valentine wrote to the judge’s daughter and signed it, “Your Valentine.” This gesture inspired the more modern tradition of writing letters to loved ones on the Feast of St. Valentine, or “Valentine’s Day.”

Christianity’s doctrine of marriage has been attacked countless times since the church’s early days and continues to be under attack in our modern culture. Our government’s expansion of the definition of marriage, the spread of “no-fault” divorce laws, the proliferation of easily accessible pornography, and the current push to legalize prostitution are just a few of the recent cultural shifts that degrade human sexuality and ignore God’s good intent for sex and marriage. Nearly every industry—including entertainment, Big Tech, and social media—promotes rather than discourages these trends. But a Christian understanding of marriage is worth protecting and fighting for—both for the societal good it does and how it depicts the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church.

Christians know that humanity did not invent marriage. Rather, it was ordained by God to be a picture of the gospel, illustrating the enduring and sacrificial love that He has for the world. As the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (ESV).

The world has plenty of examples of one-night stands, adultery, divorce, unfaithfulness, and selfishness. What it needs are more examples of healthy, committed, selfless, God-centered marriages. Christians can provide these examples by committing and being accountable in their marriages, discipling the next generation on how to prepare for a godly marriage, and teaching others how marriage displays God’s character.

Marriage is about much more than romance or sexual desire—it is about sacrifice and an image of God’s love for us. Whether you are married, engaged, dating, or single, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate God’s holy parable of marriage. St. Valentine sought to protect this image, and we can do the same today. May we all learn to sacrifice for one another and love just as Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19).

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of February 7)

by Family Research Council

February 12, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: Impeachment: No End Incite

Democrats are tossing aside every real issue facing America to take a second crack at impeaching a man who isn’t even president. This time, though, their pathetic obsession with destroying Trump comes at a steeper price.

2. Update: Mark Cuban’s Airball on Freedom

Back in November, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suspended the playing of the national anthem before home games. Because stands sit empty due to coronavirus restrictions, nobody noticed until Tuesday.

3. Blog: Important Update about Burma/Myanmar’s Military Coup from Dave Eubank

Reports from Burma (Myanmar) have been the focus of international news recently. A military coup has overthrown the quasi-democratic government, and has placed the already-struggling Burmese people in a potentially dangerous situation. Uncertainty has gripped the country and persecuted religious minorities—particularly Christians—are at greater risk than ever.

4. Blog: “The Holy Spirit Will Be Working”: Despite Persecution, Hong Kong Christians Remain Hopeful

Well-known American pastor Francis Chan surprised many when he announced his plan to move to Asia to serve in ministry, leaving his comfortable position as a mega-church pastor to follow God’s call. In less than a year, he and his family planted three house churches in Hong Kong. Then the Chans were informed that their visas had been revoked, forcing them to leave with only a few weeks’ warning.

5. Washington Watch: NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson Argues That Un-American Critical Race Theory Taints Young Minds

Mark Robinson, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor, joins Tony Perkins to discuss the North Carolina Board of Education’s proposed educational standards infused with Critical Race Theory.

6. Washington Watch: Sen. Roger Marshall Shares His Firsthand Account of Trump Impeachment 2.0

The U.S. Senate recently voted to proceed with the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) joined Tony Perkins with a firsthand account of the trial proceedings. Also discussed was Senator Marshall’s Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act.

7. Pray Vote Stand Townhall: The Way Forward

How do believers in America successfully navigate the challenges ahead? We must pray, persist, and not lose heart. Tony Perkins, Gary Hamrick, and Mike Farris led an interactive discussion about the way forward.

Thinking Biblically About Unity

by Joseph Backholm

February 12, 2021

This is the first edition of our “Worldview Wednesday” blog series, in which we will feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview.

Things change quickly after the White House switches parties. After years claiming that detention facilities at the border were American concentration camps, Democrats will be ok with them again. After years of relative silence on spending during a spending spree, Republicans will again call for fiscal restraint. And then there’s the issue of unity.

Those who spent four years talking about how patriotic it is to criticize a president now call for unity. Meanwhile, those who spent four years urging people to support the president are quick with reminders that criticism of political leaders is the American way.

Which highlights an important point: unity is neither good nor bad. Whether unity is desirable depends entirely on what we are unifying around. Unity around a planned crime spree is bad. Unity around a surprise birthday party for a loved one is good.

We like the idea of unity because it brings up images of people getting along. Who doesn’t want that? What are the calls for unity today asking us to unite around?

If we are being called to treat people with dignity and respect regardless of their beliefs, background, or political persuasions, Christians can be united in that effort. “So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18).

If we are being called to listen to our neighbors, Christians can be united in that effort as well. “Be slow to speak and quick to hear for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19).

Politically, Christians should be the best citizens because we are commanded to seek the welfare of our cities (Jer. 29:7), pray for those in authority (1 Tim 2:2), and submit to their authority (1 Peter 2:13) so long as their commands are not inconsistent with what God has commanded (Acts 5:29).

But as Christians look for ways to build bridges, we must also be mindful of the things we cannot unite around.

If we’re called to unify with the sacrifice of preborn children on the altar of convenience, we can’t do that.

If we’re called to unify with a sexual revolution that God calls sin and destroys people’s lives, we can’t do that.

If we’re called to unify with a movement that seeks to punish people for their fidelity to the gospel and their obedience to God, we can’t do that.

Despite cultural sentiments suggesting otherwise, it is not loving to be indifferent or agreeable toward wickedness because “love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

None of this means that Christians are obligated to be combative—“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6). But there are times when Christians must be confrontational. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).

We must always pray for our leaders, but the degree to which we are unified with our leaders must depend on the degree to which our leaders are unified with God. If they want unity with us while earnestly seeking to honor God, we should be the first to encourage them and support them. If they want unity with us while waging war on truth, beauty, and goodness, the answer must be “not until you repent.”

As with many things, the world tries to deceive the church with a counterfeit version of what God made.

God’s path to unity is through submission to Jesus. The world’s path to unity is through submission to them. These are mutually exclusive options, so choose wisely. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

When the White House changes parties, a lot of things change in Washington, D.C. But what shouldn’t change for Christians is that regardless of who is in the White House, we first seek unity with God and then with anyone else looking for the same thing.

Kindness: The Glue that Holds Marriages Together

by Dan Hart

February 11, 2021

In America, most marriages fail, either ending in divorce/separation or degenerating into turmoil and resentment. However, three out of 10 people who are married remain happily married for the rest of their lives. A natural question arises here: Is there something that is missing from failed marriages that is common to successful ones?  

In 1986, psychologist John Gottman began an illuminating study of married couples, which was summed up by Emily Esfahani Smith in an excellent Atlantic article a few years ago. In the study, Gottman observed how newlywed couples interacted with each other while asking them questions about their relationship, like how they met, good memories, and how they handle conflict. While asking these questions, he measured their vital signs in order to gauge their physiological reactions as they talked about their relationships. After gathering this data, Gottman sent the couples home and followed up with them six years later to see if they were still married.

The data revealed that there were two distinct types of couples. One group, nicknamed the “masters,” were the couples that were happily married six years later. They felt calm in each other’s presence and were almost always warm and affectionate in their interactions. These couples made it a habit of finding positive ways to compliment their spouse in their day to day lives, even down to seemingly “mundane” things like acknowledging and responding positively when their spouse tries to connect in a small way (e.g., “Honey, aren’t the stars especially clear tonight?”).

In contrast, the other group, nicknamed the “disasters,” often found ways to nitpick each other with criticisms. During Gottman’s study phase, their physiologies showed signs of being in “fight-or-flight mode,” as if they were always prepared to verbally attack or be verbally attacked by their spouse. Not surprisingly, these couples had either divorced or had highly dysfunctional marriages when Gottman followed up with them six years later.

The main takeaway from Gottman’s studies and other research on married couples is clear—it all boils down to kindness:

Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?

Kindness … glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved.

For believers especially, the results of these kinds of studies about marriage should come as no surprise, but they do validate what we Christians know from the truths of Scripture. In Ephesians 5:28-30, Paul wrote:

Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

Paul gives an intimate and evocative description of the type of love that should be shared between spouses—to “nourish” and “cherish” one another as one would their own body. Interestingly, this image of nurturing love as one would nourish their own body matches up well with how Emily Esfahani Smith sees the nature of kindness—as a muscle that needs to be exercised:

There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: Either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters [those in healthy marriages] tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.

During this National Marriage Week, the theme of kindness is an especially fitting one to ponder for all those who are discerning marriage and who are married, particularly those who may find themselves stuck in a rut of marital dysfunction. As Emily Smith has observed:

There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, careers, friends, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against each other tear them apart.

However, there is always hope, and a chance to begin again. For believers, the centrality of kindness in the Christian life is encapsulated in the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). It’s a tall order, and we often fail at it. But if spouses keep working toward incorporating kindness into their daily lives together, they will keep the “muscle in shape” and make it the animating quality in a harmonious marriage, year after year.

Important Update about Burma/Myanmar’s Military Coup from Dave Eubank

by Lela Gilbert

February 4, 2021

Reports from Burma (Myanmar) have been the focus of international news this week. A military coup has overthrown the quasi-democratic government, and has placed the already-struggling Burmese people in a tenuous and potentially dangerous situation. Widespread displacement is already taking place, uncertainty has gripped the country and persecuted religious minorities—particularly Christians—are at greater risk than ever.

Many of us who are concerned about religious freedom are familiar with the remarkable story of Dave Eubank and his Free Burma Rangers. This man and his heroic efforts are legendary in today’s broken world. As Lara Logan reported about him last year on Fox News:

There is an army of volunteers who seek to serve in the world’s most dangerous places — not by killing an enemy, but by rescuing the innocent. They go where most humanitarian aid organizations will not, from the jungles of civil war-torn Myanmar to the desert killing fields of Mosul, Iraq. They are the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) and their leader is a Green Beret veteran and Christian missionary.

Ask anyone who follows him, they’ll tell you Dave Eubank is a soldier of God. He enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces at the age of 18, following the example of his father. His career began as an infantry officer before joining the 2nd Ranger Battalion and finally the special forces. Eubank ran missions in South and Central America and in Thailand.

After 10 years of service, he left the military, but he was called back to conflict for a different purpose. His father called him to say that he had met a man seeking help for Burmese people caught in a seemingly endless civil war.

We started the Free Burma Rangers,” Eubank responded, “to give help, hope, and love to people under attack and get the news out and to stand with people.”

Today as always, Dave Eubank’s heart remains with the suffering Burmese people, and this week’s news about the Burmese coup has touched him deeply. He sent the following update to Family Research Council. It is not only important and newsworthy, but it is a call to prayer, so we are sharing it with you.

*** 

We are on a relief mission in Burma (Myanmar). The recent coup has revealed to the world what the people here knew already—that the military is in charge, has been in charge and will not share power. And attacks against the ethnic peoples have not stopped. Here where we are in Karen state, Burma, over 5,000 have been displaced in the past two months due to Burma army attacks. This is in spite of a cease-fire. Now the Burma Army are sending reinforcements—all around us—I just walked back to our camp from one group of 1,100 displaced people hiding in the mountains.

Our teams are giving them medical care and coordinating rice and tarp delivery on foot. Also attacks continue up north in Kachin State where over 100,000 remain displaced and in northern Shan state where Shan and Taang people are under regular attack. In Arakan state, western Burma, there is a lull in the fighting but over 70,000 are displaced there. Also in Arakan State the over 750,000 Rohingya who were chased out earlier are still in Bangladesh. 

Here in Karen State, the Karen people feel like the coup only reveals overtly what they and every ethnic already knew, that the army is totally in charge and they hope that this revelation will cause people who are ignorant of that fact or try to ignore it to not be able to ignore it anymore and realize the evil of the situation. Their own lives haven’t changed because they were attacked before the coup and they’re being attacked after the coup. Holding their babies in hiding places under the trees, they told me, “We don’t need you to give us food and medicine and shelter just stop the Burma army from attacking our villages. We are not attacking them in their cities—why are they attacking us? If you stop them we can take care of ourselves.”

Right now the best we can do is pray with the people in their hiding places in the jungle and deliver rice and medical care. Please pray as God leads you and we request that the US Government provides direct humanitarian relief to the ethnic groups or cross border relief groups who have proven track records for providing relief efficiently, accountably and transparently. Please pray for but do not send relief through the Burma government as they will not help the people their army is attacking. Also the ethnic groups need recognition and need to be part of a solution for a free, just and reconciled Burma. The US can help provide relief for those under attack and help the ethnics and Burmans who want change to work together to achieve the goal of a free and democratic Burma. 

Thank you for caring and God bless you,
David Eubank, family and the Free Burma Rangers 
freeburmarangers.org

The Holy Spirit Will Be Working”: Despite Persecution, Hong Kong Christians Remain Hopeful

by Arielle Del Turco

February 2, 2021

Well-known American pastor Francis Chan surprised many when he announced his plan to move to Asia to serve in ministry, leaving his comfortable position as a mega-church pastor to follow God’s call. In less than a year, he and his family planted three house churches in Hong Kong.

Then the Chans were informed that their visas had been revoked, forcing them to leave with only a few weeks’ warning. Chan announced the move in a January 5, 2021 video, saying, “Last week, after Hong Kong officials rejected our visas, we had to leave the country. We are now back in the U.S. and appealing the decision. Hopefully, we can get back into Hong Kong because, man, we want to be there.”

Chan is unsure whether the government will ever let his family return to Hong Kong. The revoked visas come at a time when Beijing is increasing pressure on Hong Kong following the national security law enacted June 30, 2020, that enables the government to crack down on perceived opponents. 

On January 6, 2021, Hong Kong police officers arrested over 50 people connected to the pro-democracy movement. The mass arrests—mostly of pro-democracy politicians—marked a sad day for the hundreds of thousands of freedom-loving people who flooded the streets in support of democracy not long ago.

The immense scope of the national security law has left many Hong Kong Christians worried about how this may affect their churches or religious expression. Ever since the British handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997, the city’s freedom had been protected by the “one country, two systems” policy. Now, Beijing is abandoning any pretense of Hong Kong’s autonomy. As the city starts to look more like mainland China, believers fear they will face the same restrictions found on the mainland.

Christianity is legal in China, but it is governed under the Three–Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the State Administration of Religious Affairs. The “three selves” in the Three–Self Patriotic Movement are self-governed, self-funded, and self-propagated. These requirements specifically cut off churches from outside aid or influence. The government closely monitors registered churches, and unauthorized churches risk being harassed or shut down.  

The Chinese government has long warned Christian churches against “foreign influence.” Revoking Francis Chan’s visa is significant, and it may signal a similar effort to reduce “foreign influence” in Hong Kong.

For decades, Hong Kong served as a hub for Christian ministry in Asia, including mainland China. Any crackdown on churches in Hong Kong would have far-reaching consequences. 

Some Hong Kongers are preparing for the possibility of increased religious restrictions. When Chan and his family knew they had to leave, they left the young churches to the congregants they had discipled. Chan asked if they were ready for the challenge, to which they nervously answered, “No.” But Chan encouraged the house church members, reminding them that church members in New Testament times had no Bibles or resources, but God used them to start a powerful church.

Across the world, churches that operate in a context of persecution are forced to function differently. But time and again, God has proven that no earthly force can impede the gospel. The growth of Christianity in China and Iran testifies to that.

Believers in Hong Kong may endure more challenges in the days ahead, but their hope need not waver. Before leaving, Chan told the members of his house church something that may apply to churches throughout the city: “I have faith in you. I have peace in my heart because I know that the Holy Spirit will be working. Although I believe God is having me go back to the U.S., I think this a great season for you to be pushed and stretched.”

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