News – Parable Magazine Faith, Culture and Lifestyle Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Russian Airstrike Kills 45 in Latakia Province Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:15 +0000 Russia's airstrikes in Syria have proven to be very deadly.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 45 people were killed in an airstrike in the Latakia province, including the commander of the Free Syrian Army and some family members of opposition groups.

Since the beginning of the military campaign on Sept. 30, at least 370 people have been killed, an estimated one-third of them civilians, according to the human rights group.

Russia has been claiming it is targeting ISIS jihadists, but critics, including some in the United States, say Russia's real aim is to support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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Tropical Storm Punches Philippines Again after Deadly Lando Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:14 +0000 Tropical storms are giving the Philippines a one-two punch after being hit hard by Typhoon Lando.

At least 35 people died when Lando hit Sunday and many others were injured. CBN International Disaster Relief is on the scene helping victims, despite the heavy rains.

When Typhoon Lando hit the Philippines it left behind a path of destruction.

"We were already packing our stuff to evacuate then the landslide fell on our house so we ran away," resident Gina Santillian said.

The Category 4 typhoon blew ashore into the Aurora province forcing more than 65,000 villagers out of their homes.

Now families face the threat of Lando's aftermath, Tropical Storm Koppu. The storm's record rainfall has triggered area flooding and mudslides.

"It's very hard for us, especially my children," resident Melanie Bo said. "We lost everything including our clothes even their things for school are gone. Everything is gone."

CBN International is providing for the immediate needs of families in the province. The team is ready to help people in the evacuation centers by providing food and purified water.

A medical team is also available to monitor people's health.

"In this town we want to be more strategic, not just relief but we would want to help them rebuild their lives giving livelihood programs," Dr. Kim Pascual, with CBN International, said.

"Even if the storm comes, it is only Jesus that can give them hope and rebuild their lives," Pascual said.

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Syria’s President Assad Meets with Putin in Moscow Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:13 +0000 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the ongoing military operations in his war torn country.

The visit marks the first known trip Assad has taken abroad since civil war broke out there four years ago.

According to a statement on the Syrian president's official Facebook page, the pair discussed operations against terrorism in the nation, stressing the importance of finding a political resolution.

Putin said his country believes "a long-term settlement can only be achieved as part of a political process, with the participation of all political forces, ethnic and religious groups."

"The Syrian people have been putting up a fight against international terrorism effectively on its own for several years, sustaining sizeable losses, but it has achieved positive results recently," he said.

Putin said he had invited Assad, thanking him for "coming to Moscow despite a tragic situation in your country."

The United States and other critics say Putin's actions in Syria is helping to prop up Assad's regime, even though Russia insists it is only targeting ISIS in the country.

Assad says Russia's intervention was in line with international law.

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Philippines Still Reeling from Typhoon Koppu Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:12 +0000 The Philippines is still reeling four days after Typhoon Koppu slammed the island nation.

The storm, known locally as Lando, has left 54 people dead and has displaced more than 600,000 residents. All together more than 1 million people have been affected.

One of the most devastated communities is the Aurora province. CBN Disaster Relief is providing for the immediate needs of families there.

They responded by distributing six kilos of rice along with canned goods, noodles, and milk, as well as urgently needed medical care.

CBN is not only bringing relief but teaching residents how to prepare for the next storm. The Guardian reports that on average 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year.

"We would also want to teach them how to prepare since they are always hit by typhoons", said Dr. Kim Pascul with CBN International. "It is very hard to communicate and give them relief after big disasters."
CBN Disaster Relief plans to help victims rebuild their homes. To help, you can give to CBN Disaster Relief.

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Haiti’s Violent Riots Not Stopping Children’s Food Ministry Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:11 +0000 Tensions are rising in Haiti ahead of Sunday's first round of presidential balloting and local elections.

Officials say at least 15 people were killed over the last few days in Cite Soleil, one of the biggest slums in the country on the edge of the capital city of Port Au Prince.

In other parts of Haiti, riots have been happening every day for months. The town of Arcahaie is one of those communities. It sits along the main road running through Haiti.

Driving through it looks much like any other community, until you take a closer look.

Scorch marks scar the roads, visual reminders of riots from the day before and the unrest that has plagued this community.

The anti-government riots often break out without warning and result in violent altercations between the rioters and police.

Children's Lifeline, an organization that partners with CBN's Orphan's Promise has been working in the community for nearly 20 years.

"We're not working for the government, we're not working for anyone, but we're working for God," Osmy Bozor, the Haitian director of Children's Lifeline, said.

The organization's school feeding program has been affected by the riots. Schools have been closed for more than a month already because it's not safe for kids to attend.

But Children's Lifeline refuses to let the children in their care go hungry. The kids are coming to their complex five days a week for a warm meal.

For those who can't make it, staff members pack the food into buckets and travel either by truck or on foot to make sure it's delivered.

"We try to do our best, even though we got problems in this area, we still send them food," Bozor said.

"The other day we got problems because no vehicles can drive on the main roads," he continued. "We carry the food on our heads to transport to the kids because we care about them."

It's unknown when school will be able to resume for the children of Arcahaie, but Children's Lifeline says, despite the violence, it won't stop carrying out it's mission.

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Teacher Killed in Attack on Swedish School; Attacker Shot Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:09 +0000 COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – A masked man attacked a school in southern Sweden on Thursday before being shot by police. Health authorities said one teacher was killed and two students seriously wounded in the attack.
Students fled Thursday morning from the Kronan school in Trollhattan, near Goteborg, Sweden's second-largest city. In a statement, police in Trollhattan said the attack took place in the school's cafe area.
Police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg told The Associated Press the attacker was in his 20s and carried more than one weapon, including "at least one knife-like object." Fuxborg said police fired two shots, one of which hit the attacker.
Health authorities in Trollhattan said one teacher died after being wounded in the attack and two students, aged 11 and 15, were seriously wounded with cuts. They said the attacker was also in serious condition.
The school has 400 students, ranging from pre-school to high school. Fuxborg could not say whether the man had any connection with the school.
Swedish media say the school held a meeting Thursday morning to discuss teachers' worries that the school was too open, with a cafe for adults that meant the school could not control who comes in.
The Dagens Nyheter newspaper said students must go through the cafe to reach the school's own cafeteria and other parts of the building.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven cancelled his schedule and was heading to Trollhattan.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Kerry Heads to Vienna Amid Putin’s Outmaneuvering in Syria Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:08 +0000 For the first time since Russian warplanes began flying combat missions in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russian officials in Vienna Friday.
The meeting will follow a visit to Moscow this week by Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad, his first known trip outside his country since the start of its conflict more than four years ago.

Assad owes Russian President Vladimir Putin a great deal. He was losing before Russian forces began operations against rebels.

The red carpet welcome for Assad, who has used chemical weapons on his own people, was a slap in the face to the West. It is seen as an effort by Russia to position itself as the leading power broker in the Syrian conflict.

"What I can tell you is, regardless of the visit, nothing's going to change about what we're focused on, which is two things: going after ISIL inside Syria and inside Iraq and trying to get at a political track, a political solution here in Syria," State Department spokesman John Kirby said during a briefing.

But perhaps something should change because Putin is outmaneuvering President Barack Obama on the chess board of the Middle East. The White House is now looking for a way to salvage it's agenda for the region.

Meanwhile, the United States, France, Britain and Germany have asked the U.N. Security Council to investigate and take "appropriate action" against Iran for conducting a ballistic missile test earlier this month.

They say it violated U.N. sanctions, although the United States called the test "entirely separate" from it's nuclear deal with Iran.

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A World with No Christians? Report Shows Disturbing Trend Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:07 +0000 Christians could soon be extinct from entire regions of the world, according to a new report from the U.K. Catholic group, Aid to the Church in Need.

This week, the group released its latest bi-annual report, Persecuted and Forgotten?

"Christians are fast disappearing from entire regions – most notably a huge chunk of the Middle East but also whole dioceses in Africa. In large part, this migration is the product of an ethnic cleansing motivated by religious hatred," the report says.

As a result of the persecution against Christians, a massive exodus is happening in parts of the Middle East, notably Syria and Iraq.

Christianity could disappear from Iraq within the next five years if the situation doesn't change, ACN's John Pontifex told CBN's George Thomas. Click to watch more.

British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote a letter addressing the situation to introduce the ACN report to the House of Lords.

"No believer should have to live in fear, and this is why (the British) Government is committed to promoting religious freedom and tolerance at home and around the world," Cameron wrote.

"This report serves as a voice for the voiceless, from their prison cells and the places far from home where they have sought refuge," he said. "Now is not the time for silence. We must stand together and fight for a world where no one is persecuted because of what they believe."

ACN's report says Christians are now the most persecuted faith group in the world, citing the International Society for Human Rights 2012 report, which estimates that 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination were against Christians.

Click here for the full report from Aid to the Church in Need.

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Megastorm Patricia Inflicts Little Damage on Mexican Coast Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:06 +0000 CHAMELA, Mexico – Just a day after menacing Mexico as one of history's strongest storms, Hurricane Patricia left surprisingly little damage in its wake Saturday and quickly dissipated into a low-pressure system that posed little threat beyond heavy rain.
The hurricane's most powerful punch landed on a sparsely populated stretch of Mexico's Pacific Coast before the system crashed into mountains that sapped its potentially catastrophic force. The popular beach city of Puerto Vallarta and the port of Manzanillo were spared the brunt of the violent weather.
Authorities were still checking on some isolated areas, where roads had been blocked by downed trees, but the devastation appeared to be far less than feared.
There were no reports of deaths or injuries, said Roberto Lopez Lara, interior secretary for the state of Jalisco. Later, President Enrique Pena Nieto reported that between 3,000 and 3,500 homes had been damaged and the storm also affected 3,500 hectares (about 8,650 acres) of farmland. He said 235,000 people had lost electricity when the storm hit, and about half had power restored by Saturday.
It was a remarkable outcome, considering that Patricia had once been a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 200 mph (325 kph) before coming ashore with slightly less power in an area dotted with sleepy villages and a few upscale hotels.
As the storm spun inland, it collapsed into fast-moving bands of rain aimed at already sodden Texas.
Residents of towns nearest the strike described enduring a terrifying night.
"Those were the longest five hours of my life," said Sergio Reyna Ruiz, who took cover between the shaking concrete walls of a neighbor's home when Patricia passed over the hamlet of La Fortuna, about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the ocean. "Five hours riding the monster."
Before the storm hit, Reyna tried to secure the shingles of his roof with metal cables. But looking up from the inside Saturday, the ceiling was a patchwork of old tile and blue sky. He and family members next door tried to clean up, sawing through a downed tree and putting waterlogged mattresses and books into the sun to dry.
All were thankful that everyone survived: "It's something to tell the grandchildren," Reyna said.
Down the road in Chamela, people picked through boards, tree limbs and other refuse for anything salvageable. All 40 families that live there rode out the storm at a shelter in nearby San Mateo. When they returned, they found little that was recognizable.
Arturo Morfin Garcia wielded a machete trying to clear debris from around his home, which was reduced to a jumble of bricks and beams. The only part left standing was a concrete bathroom at one end.
"It wasn't hard to leave. It was hard to come back and find this," Morfin Garcia said. "So much work to build something. It makes me very sad, but what can we do with these natural phenomena?"
In Manzanillo, high winds and waves blew out windows and damaged some buildings. Trees and utility poles were toppled. An enraged sea battered the Hotel Barra de Navidad in a nearby town, scooping sand away from the foundations.
Puerto Vallarta, home to some 200,000 people, including thousands of U.S. residents and visitors, was largely unscathed. After the storm passed, people snapped selfies next to a seaside sculpture, and business owners swept sidewalks as they would on any morning. Puddles dotted the downtown district, but no more than a passing thunderstorm might leave.
Patricia plunged ashore about 65 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Vallarta, which was protected from much of the fury by mountains.
"We were fortunate as to where it made landfall. It was not a densely populated area," said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center. "You and I would be having a very different conversation if this went over the top of Puerto Vallarta."
He said the lack of fatalities was probably the result of the storm's narrow footprint. Category 5 winds extended 15 miles out on either side of the eye, and hurricane-force winds extended for 35 miles from the center of the storm.
On Saturday, Patricia's maximum sustained winds had dropped to 30 mph (45 kph), according to the hurricane center. The storm's remnants were expected to feed into existing rain hitting southern Texas.
"There's an area of low pressure that'll be forming along the Texas coast, and that will be about the time that moisture from Patricia will be arriving," Feltgen said. The wet weather was forecast to spread from Texas to the central Gulf coast by early next week.
By late afternoon, the hurricane's remains were about 45 miles (75 kilometers) southwest of the Mexican city of Monterrey, moving to the northeast at 22 mph (35 kph).
That such a monster storm could inflict so little harm seemed wondrous. Patricia formed suddenly Tuesday and quickly strengthened to a hurricane. Within 30 hours it had zoomed to a record-beating Category 5 storm, catching many off guard with its rapid growth.
By Friday, it was the most powerful hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere, with a central pressure of 880 millibars, according to the hurricane center.
Patricia's power while still out at sea was comparable to that of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 dead or missing in the Philippines two years ago, according to the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization.
Hurricane experts praised Mexico's expertise at storm preparations and credited good fortune.
The mountains in the area quickly weakened the storm, and the coastal landscape did not offer the large area of shallow water necessary for a storm surge that could have become a devastating wall of water.
The storm was also moving fast enough at landfall – about 20 mph (35 kph) – that its heavy rains "did not stay in place long enough to generate the kinds of devastating floods we've seen in the past from Mexican hurricanes," said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground.
Mexico's transport secretary, Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, put it another way: "Nature was good to us."
Associated Press writers Gerardo Carrillo in Perula and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Refugees: Sweden’s Deadly Double Standard against Christians Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:42:05 +0000 STOCKHOLM, Sweden — While Europe has welcomed in thousands of Syrians, mostly Muslims, it's a different story for Pakistani Christians. In Sweden, many are being ordered to return home — and some may face death.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants have sought a better life in Europe. Pakistani Faisal Javaid became a Christian after he arrived in Sweden.

"I don't have any more belief in Islam," he told CBN News.

Javaid fell in love with Eka, a Christian woman from the country of Georgia who introduced him to Christ. He was baptized last April, but unlike many other migrants, Javaid soon faced rejection from his host country.

When Deportation Means Death

The word is out: If you are a Muslim and you're from Syria, you are welcome in Sweden — there's an open border. But if you are a Christian and you are from Pakistan, you may as well pack your bags and go home.

The Swedish Migration Board issued a deportation order against Javaid and his family. Javaid would be sent back to Pakistan, and his wife and daughter to Eka's home country of Georgia. The couple is expecting another child in November.

Eka could barely talk about her plight, tearfully telling CBN News she wants her family to remain together in Sweden. Not only would deportation separate a family, but it would also endanger Javaid's life because Muslims now consider him to be an apostate.

"If we will be deported — our family, relatives, friends, everyone — they just think this is their responsibility to kill us," he explained. "We want just to save our life. I want to stay with my family."

Javaid's lawyer, Gabriel Donner, said, "They didn't care if he was a convert or not. And the practice here in Sweden has so far been that no Christians from Pakistan need any protection."

Donner sued the Swedish government, charging it had violated European Union rules that require protection for Muslims who convert to Christianity. He says the court agreed.

"The court said this can't be done and sent everything back to the migration board and said, 'You have to do your homework and do this properly this time,'" Donner said.

Eventually Javaid and his family may be allowed to stay in Sweden.

"As long as Faisal can prove that he is a true believer, he's safe," Donner explained.

Proof of Conversion

But how does Javaid prove his conversion is sincere, that he didn't just pose as a Christian to get asylum?

His pastor, Joel Backman of Elim Church, sent a letter to the migration board. He admits gauging faith is difficult.

"I mean, how do you determine my faith and how do I determine yours? So, we write what we can and that is the visible things: They come to church. They pray and they're part of our Bible studies. They're part of ministry as a whole," Backman told CBN News.

"I mean that is what we can say to the government and we can throw in assessment. I believe this is sincere," he said.

Before Elim, Javaid attended a house church in Eskiltuna led by Gabriel Blad. He said Swedish Migration Board officials have trouble distinguishing between relationship and religion. They'll often ask Christian converts technical questions.

"We have got very strange questions sometimes," Javaid recalled. "They will ask about liturgical collars and things like that. If you've been meeting in a simple home, discovering Jesus together, read the Bible and discovered Jesus."

"They [converts] don't know about church traditions, nothing," he explained. "They know about Jesus. They love Jesus."

In another case, one Pakistani's love for Jesus nearly cost him his life. Former teacher Herman Fernandez, who changed his name from a Pakistani one, taught Western ideas to students in northwest Pakistan.

That's when he started having difficulties with hardline Muslims.

"I got threats from two students whose parents were — what do you call them? — imams in the area," he recalled.

Fernandez said they were concerned he was teaching the children Western ideas. They told him that he was "a kaffir" who is "bringing kaffir thoughts" to their society.

In addition to being called a kaffir, someone who has rejected Islam, Fernandez was also accused of being an American spy because he assisted some Western organizations. He said he and two colleagues were kidnapped in September 2011.

'They Beheaded My Colleages'

Herman claims he witnessed their murder.

"On the second or third day they beheaded one of my colleagues…and they forced me to watch it. I'm trying to get over this," he said.

Fernandez said a second colleague was beheaded several days later. The murder was videotaped.

He said eventually one of his captors helped him escape. Afterwards, he fled to Sweden where the migration board denied his asylum request.

"They don't see that my life is in such a danger in Pakistan," he explained.

And what if he is deported back to Pakistan?

"They will get me either from the airport or, oh, that would be the last of me," he gasped.

Donner also represents Fernandez. He wants the Swedish government to do a better job of considering the plight of Pakistani Christians when deciding cases like Javaid's and Fernandez's.

"And give them the same benefit of the doubt that they are giving today to other refugees coming into Europe," Donner said.

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