Category : Asia

(CT Cover Story) How Christians in Cambodia are drawing attention to labor trafficking and the quiet power of prevention

At a shelter in Cambodia, 16-year-old girl points to the scar where she tried to slit her wrist with a broken plate.

Two years before, she left her province when offered a job as a cleaning lady in South Korea. Instead, she was sold into marriage in Beijing, where her new husband kept her locked up and demanded she give him a child.

“It was like hell,” she tells CT through a translator. “I just wanted to die.”

When she got pregnant soon after, the teen bride escaped at her first doctor’s appointment and contacted her friends 2,000 miles away, who called a hotline to arrange her rescue and repatriation. She and her 11-month-old daughter live in a home operated by Agape International Missions (AIM), among dorm-style bunk beds with about 50 other girls.

Read it all.

Posted in Cambodia, Sexuality, Violence

(CT) Blasphemy Blocks Re-Election of Indonesia’s Only Christian Governor

The blasphemy charges that cost Indonesia’s top Christian politician his re-election race won’t send him to jail.

Just a day after Basuki Purnama—popularly known as Ahok—conceded the runoff for governor of Jakarta, prosecutors recommended a light sentence of two years probation instead of the maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Ahok, a double minority in the archipelago as a Christian and as an Indonesian citizen who is ethnically Chinese, secured approval ratings as high as 70 percent in the capital region during his campaign. But when the anti-corruption crusader was accused of distorting a Qur‘an teaching to convince the nation’s overwhelming Muslim majority to vote for a Christian, public opinion shifted dramatically.

Ahok repeatedly denied the claims as a translation error, and accused Indonesia’s hardline Muslim groups of coordinating an attack against him. He ultimately conceded Wednesday’s election, trailing in the polls by less than 10 percentage points.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Indonesia, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Ian Johnson’s book ‘The Souls Of China’ Documents Country’s Dramatic Return To Religion

SHAPIRO: There is such an interesting relationship between these emerging religious practices or returning religious practices, I guess we should say, and the government. There are several instances where you talk about sort of local government observers sitting in the back of a religious ceremony, and the preacher trying to thread this needle where he can deliver a message that might be a little bit barbed but deliver it not so explicitly that the government agents will shut down the ceremony.

JOHNSON: Yeah, especially with Christianity. There’s a suspicion of it from the government side. They see Christianity as foreign-influenced. So in that particular case, yeah, there were plainclothes police at the back of the hall – this was a big Christmas service that I attended – and they were listening in. And I think they were eager to find an excuse to shut it down, but they didn’t.

On the other hand, the so-called traditional faiths are often really encouraged by the government. And we can see this under Xi Jinping, that he’s given a lot of money and support to traditional religions like Buddhism and Taoism.

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Posted in Books, China, Religion & Culture

(WWM) Life for a Christian woman in Yemen is about survival. Read Nadeen’s story

Nadeen (*), a born-and-raised Yemeni woman in her late 20s, became a Christian before the civil war broke out in 2015. She had to keep her new faith hidden as her family would probably disown her if they knew. Yemen ranks 9th on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

It meant for Nadeen that she had to live her faith in isolation, as she could not meet with other Christians.

Not only can Christians not openly gather in Yemen, for her as a single woman it was especially hard to get away from the house.

“My family strictly controlled everything I did,” she says.

Read it all.

Posted in Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Women, Yemen

(AP) Pakistan asks Facebook and Twitter to help identify blasphemers

Pakistan said Thursday it has asked Facebook and Twitter to help it identify Pakistanis suspected of blasphemy so that it can prosecute them or pursue their extradition.

Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy has approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam.

Read it all. Also, WWM has a look at Pakistan’s blasphemy laws there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(FT) US and North Korea on collision course, says China

China’s foreign minister has warned the Trump administration that it is on a collision course with North Korea and called on Washington to halt military exercises with Seoul to avoid conflict.

While Wang Yi also called on North Korea to suspend its missile and nuclear programmes, his direct challenge to President Donald Trump — who has warned Pyongyang that its goal of building a nuclear warhead that can reach US soil “won’t happen” — was unusual in its bluntness.

“The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other with neither side willing to give way. The question is, are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” Mr Wang told reporters in Beijing. “Given the situation, our priority now is to flash the red light and apply brakes on both trains.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, North Korea, Politics in General

More for Eric Liddell's Feast Day–The Second Life of the Man Who Wouldn’t Run on Sunday

Liddell lived life to the hilt, but not in the modern “I am tenaciously dedicated to my own hedonic brand” kind of way. Liddell’s vision of an all-out life was to assess his options, count the cost, and then take the most risky step in the name of Jesus Christ. The calculation was a simple one: “Each one comes to the cross-roads at some period of his life,” Hamilton quotes Liddell as preaching, “and must make his decision for or against his Master.” This Christocentric logic made great sense to Liddell, even if it made little sense to the world. Liddell faced fierce skepticism for his attempts to live out his faith, whether in his famous decision not to run on Sundays or his withdrawal from competition in order to answer the missionary call.

This example can help inform contemporary engagement for believers. Much effort is made today by younger evangelicals to get the cultural backflip just right, to strenuously befriend unbelievers while never offending them with over-stressed Christianity. Liddell’s was a more straightforward approach. Drafting off of the Sermon on the Mount, his favorite section of Scripture, he stood for his convictions without flinching while loving his neighbor without hesitating. The resulting model of Christian witness is as simple as it is inspiring.

Liddell was not a perfect man, of course. Hamilton covers his lengthy separation from his family with a clear eye. Married in 1934 to the untiring Florence, Liddell fathered three children. He loved his wife and kids, but as Hamilton notes, his first priority was the work of missions. This meant lengthy periods of separation as Liddell worked in Siaochang and later Tientsin. The work was always grueling, and China in the 1930s and 1940s was a very fearsome place indeed. Liddell was often robbed, frequently hungry and dirty, and regularly accosted by officials seeking to impede his work.

Read it all from Christianity Today.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Church History, England / UK, Missions, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Eric Liddell

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Church History, England / UK, Missions, Scotland, Spirituality/Prayer

Movie recommendation–"Lion"

We finally went last night for Valentine’s Day–loved it.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Australia / NZ, Children, India, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television

(NPR) Facing Blasphemy Charges, Indonesian Politician 'Happy That History Chose Me'

Last September, [Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama known by his chinese nickname as] Ahok told a group of fishermen that politicians who quoted from the Quran to say they should not vote for a non-Muslim were lying to them. But he also told the fishermen to vote their conscience.

Ahok, who has a reputation as a blunt speaker, later apologized, saying he had no intention of insulting the Quran or Islam.

But some Muslims took offense, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in three massive rallies against Ahok that convulsed central Jakarta in November and December. Demonstrators continue to congregate at the courthouse where Ahok is on trial. Coils of barbed wire and riot police separate pro- and anti-Ahok protesters.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Language, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Japan

O God our Father, who art the source of strength to all thy saints, and who didst bring the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith that we profess, even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Japan, Spirituality/Prayer

(NYT) We’ll Grow Again’: Bangladesh Cafe Attacked by Terrorists Reopens

By the time the ordeal ended, 10 hours later, 22 people, including two police officers, were dead, the restaurant spattered with blood and shattered glass.

For months, Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter was a spooked place. Restaurants were empty night after night. Foreigners no longer left the safety of their compounds. Young Bangladeshis found themselves wondering who they could trust: Several of the terrorists came from wealthy, cosmopolitan families, not so different from the young elites who died in the siege.

In an effort to break this trance, the restaurant’s owners decided to reopen the Holey, known for its flour-dusted baguettes and homemade pasta. One of the owners, Ali Arsalan, said he was inspired in part by the staff: When he paid them two months’ salary and suggested they return to their villages to recover from the trauma, they said they would prefer to go back to work

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Bangladesh, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(FT) ”˜Death by overwork’ in Japan exposes dangers of overtime culture

For a nation struggling to make sense of deflation, duty and the shock of a graduate trainee being worked to death at one of Japan’s most prestigious companies, “Premium Friday” seems to provide a glimmer of hope.

Following revelations of ruinously excessive overtime demands at Japan’s largest advertising agency, Dentsu, the government wants bosses to order their overworked and under-slept employees home at 3pm on the last Friday of every month.

Proponents of the idea, which include the powerful Keidanren business lobby, argue that workers could use the time for recuperative snoozing or enjoy more leisure activities and rev the economy out of deflation.

It may not, say many labour experts, be quite that simple.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Japan, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Azariah

Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(CC) Philip Jenkins–A Christian governor in Jakarta

The world’s largest Islam­ic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Chris­tians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.

In large part, these crimes resulted from economic grievances””Chinese merchants were targeted as scape­goats. Active Islamist terror movements also appeared, with ties to al-Qaeda. For some years, Indo­nesia seemed to epitomize Muslim-Christian tensions at their most alarming.
Subsequently, conditions have improved enormously, or rather, reverted to traditional norms of tolerance. Although Christians must be very cautious about any attempts at evan­gelism, congregations worship openly, and Indonesia is now home to some spectacular megachurches.

The most encouraging man­i­festation of improved attitudes is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known by his Chinese nickname, Ahok. Since 2014, Ahok has been governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, a city with a population of 10 million, with some 30 million in the larger metropolitan region.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology