January/February News from around the World

ALBANIA: Radio Station Births New Ministry Out of Kosovo
An Albanian radio station created by Words of Hope is now paying it forward by spreading the ministry to Kosovo. Until fairly recently, Albania was a closed, communist country in which religion was almost completely extinct. When the ministry first began broadcasting through Radio 7 in the 1980s, listening to the broadcast was forbidden in the Marxist country. Today, the Church in Albania is beginning to grow again. On any given Sunday, officials estimate that there are about eleven thousand Christians worshiping in Albania. Radio 7's ministry is so vibrant that they recently began broadcasting to neighboring Kosovo as well. The station has received a license to broadcast directly from Kosovo's capital city, Pristina. (Mission Network News)

ALBANIA: 135 Evangelical Churches Receive Legal Status
In 1965, the Albanian government announced the closure of all religious institutions in the country, declaring Albania the world's first officially atheist state. This included 2,169 churches and mosques. Religious-based town and city names were changed, as well as personal names. All religious practice and clergymen were outlawed and those religious figures who refused to give up their positions were arrested or forced into hiding. Things in the country have come full circle with what many Albanian Christians believe is a miracle. On 22 November 2010, the Albanian Minister of Culture signed an agreement with the Albanian Evangelical Alliance, granting legal status to over 135 evangelical churches in Albania. (Assist News Service)

AROUND THE WORLD: Audio Bible Translation Hits Milestone
This month marks an exciting landmark in the world of audio Bible translation: five hundred languages now have access to their own recording of scripture. “About 4.6 billion people speak those [500] languages in the world today,” says Bill Lohr with Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH). “[This] puts us a quarter way to our goal, [so that by] 2016 we want to have 2,000 languages recorded. That will effectively be about 97 percent of the world's population.” (Faith Comes By Hearing)

INDIA: Indian Rescue Mission Rescues Six Girls from Forced Prostitution
After prompt and timely action was taken by the Indian Rescue Mission (IRM), police in Mumbai arrested a brothel owner and manager and rescued six girls on 6 November 2010. The raid was conducted on a brothel in the Simplex Building in the Grand Road area. The Indian Rescue Mission had been investigating the case for five days. Speaking about the rescue operation, James Varghese, founder and president of the IRM, said, “Soon after the information was given to the police, the whole Grand Road area where this brothel was located was tipped off was somehow alerted to the possible raid, so hundreds of girls were sent out to different locations and were hidden.” (Assist News Service)

IRAQ: Iraqi Christians Murdered in their Homes
Hundreds of Iraqi Christians are fleeing Baghdad and Mosul as murderers target families in their homes and workplaces. According to a news release from the Barnabas Fund, an elderly Christian couple and their daughter became the latest victims when they were killed in their home on 5 December 2010. The Barnabas Fund said the victims, like many Iraqi Christians, had left the capital and gone to live in the north. They had returned briefly to Baghdad to finalize the sale of their home and furniture. Two Christian brothers were also shot dead in their car workshop in Mosul. The incident followed the assassination of two other Christians by gunmen who burst into their Mosul home. These raids come after the 31 October 2010 hostage siege at a Baghdad church that left more than fifty people dead. The Islamic State of Iraq (an Al-Qaeda front group) claimed responsibility for that attack and threatened further violence. They said the “killing sword will not be lifted,” and that Christians everywhere were “legitimate targets.” (Barnabas Fund)

PAKISTAN: Five Christians Murdered in a Week under Pakistan's Blasphemy Law
Muslim extremists are blamed for the murders of five Christians in Pakistan in less than a week. Greg Musselman, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs Canada, says 22-year-old Latif Masih was shot to death shortly after he was granted bail in a “blasphemy” case. He was accused in early November under Law 295c—the infamous “Blasphemy Law”—in which the two militants claimed he burnt pages of the Qur'an. Days earlier, on 12 November 2010, in southern Punjab Province, police say Lashkar-e-Taiba militants killed four family members because of their Christian faith. There are concerns that the violence against Christians will continue. The marked increase in these cases has created a renewed call by human rights watchdog groups for an end to the blasphemy law. The support couldn't come at a better time. Musselman says, “Christians are always under this kind of law. In recent days, it's received international attention because of some of the other cases that are happening. The international community is saying, ‘This is ridiculous. You can't have these kinds of laws.'” (Mission Network News)

PAKISTAN: Peace March Allows Ministry to Distribute CDs
Global Recordings Network’s (GRN) Ishmael Project personnel were able to help with the coordination and production of audio materials for a large outreach held recently in Pakistan. The event centered on Peace March, organized by national Christians as a political event to request that the human rights of Christians in Pakistan be honored and that discriminatory laws be abolished. As part of the Peace March, the group was able to share tens of thousands of CDs with the people in the capital city, explaining their beliefs. Much prayer is still needed for ongoing fruit from the event—and for the peace of Pakistan and the massive rebuilding after a recent devastating flood. (Global Recordings Network)