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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Veronica Neffinger

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
After years of harsh punishment for those who broke them, Pakistan is beginning to reform its blasphemy laws
The Christian Post reports that, in the last 20 years, blasphemy laws have caused the death of an estimated 60,000 people. 
It is very easy to accuse someone of blasphemy against Islam, but very difficult for the defendant to plead his or her case.
The high profile case of the Christian woman and mother known as Asia Bibi is a prime example. 
While harvesting berries with a group of Muslim women, Bibi was accused of drinking from the same water bowl as them. She was sentenced to the death penalty for blasphemy against Islam.
Although Pakistan’s blasphemy laws make it simple for someone to accuse another of blasphemy, they have no provision to punish false accusers or false witnesses.
Paul Bhatti, whose brother, Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed by terrorists for opposing the blasphemy laws, believes there is hope for Pakistan.
“We are still facing the cruel and harsh realities of violence against the weak and voiceless people of our community” but “The people of Pakistan are gradually coming out of oppression and fear, which has dominated them for many years."
Speaking to the U.K. parliament, Bhatti said, “We can gain inspiration and courage by looking to those who have gone before us who stood for peace, justice and unity at such great cost.”
Publication date: November 25, 2015
A network of nuns is disguising themselves as prostitutes to help stop human trafficking.
According to Christian Today, Talitha Kum has about 1,1000 nuns. The group launched in 2004.
"I'm not trying to be sensational but I'm trying to underscore the fact this is a world that has lost innocence ... where dark forces are active," said John Studzinski, an investment banker and chairman of Talitha Kum.
The group often dresses up as prostitutes and integrates into brothels.
"These sisters do not trust anyone. They do not trust governments, they do not trust corporations, and they don't trust the local police. In some cases they cannot trust male clergy," Studzinski said.
"They work in brothels. No one knows they are there."
The sisters also raise money to buy children out of slavery.
"This is a new network of houses for children around the world who would otherwise be sold into slavery. It is shocking but it is real," he said.
The charity said that about 73 million people are trafficked around the world. 
Studzinski said one woman was locked up for a week without food when she refused to have sex with 12 clients a day. In another case, another woman was forced to have sex with a group of 10 men at one time.
Publication date: November 25, 2015
A preaching competition sponsored by the London School of Theology (LST) and Preach magazine has been announced.
The competition called “Sermon of the Year” welcomes pastors of all ages to submit sermons, according to Christian Today.
The sermons must be between 1,000 and 2,000 words and can be emailed to by midnight on December 31, 2015.
The purpose of the competition is to help pastors sharpen their skills and to celebrate how sermons can impact the world.
Preach magazine editor Jo Swinney said: "We believe sermons have the power to quite literally change the world. Yes, this is in part down to the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the listeners, but the preacher can do their part. We want the competition to cause our nation's preachers to consider their craft and raise their games for the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom."
For the two finalists--one in the category of under 21 and one in the category of 21 and older will have the opportunity to preach their sermons to a panel comprised of the Vice-Principal of Moorlands College, Rev. Dr. Ian Coffey, international evangelist and speaker Julie Sheldon, and the President of LST, Rev. Dr. Krish Kandiah, as well as a live audience.
The winners will also be given the opportunity to be mentored in their ministries, as well as the opportunity to access some free LST resources. Their sermons will also be published.
Publication date: November 25, 2015