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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Amanda Casanova

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

A pastor who ministered in Eritrea said in an interview that he was tortured, starved and forced to do hard labor while he was imprisoned in the country.

The pastor, who is called “Gabriel,” told the Barnabas Fund that he was jailed several times while working in Eritrea, the Christian Post reports. The country is ranked as the seventh most hostile country in the world for Christians, according to Open Doors USA.

Gabriel was first jailed in 1998 for about a month along with other church members. His second time, he was imprisoned for three years even though his sentencing was only for six months. He says he was kept longer because he is a Christian pastor. He fled the country after his release.

“Sometimes you dispute with God, why you let me go through this hardship?” Gabriel was quoted as saying. “But when you start reading the Bible, when you pray devotion daily, automatically your mind clicks, you are in the main way – the way you are supposed to go.”

He said once he was tied up and hit in the head with a stick for about an hour. Another time he was locked inside a metal shipping container for two weeks in solitary confinement.

He said prisoners were only given a small amount of food every 18 hours and they were forced to collect and to carry stones that would be used in construction work.

“Sometimes you break the stones with a heavy hammer. You hear a sound here, in your back, because everyone has malnutrition,” Gabriel recalled.  “The guards discriminated against Christian believers, refusing them medical treatment if they fell sick.”

During his imprisonment, a nurse told him to reject his Christian beliefs so the beatings would stop. The nurse suggested that Gabriel could later continue his Christian faith once he was out of jail.

Gabriel refused.

He also said the Christian prisoners divided a Bible up so each could have Scripture with them. Gabriel’s part was the book of Revelation.

Photo courtesy: Pixabay

An Oklahoma teenager is being charged with a felony for making a terrorist threat after the 18-year-old told co-workers that she had bought an AK-47 and had an urge to “shoot 400 people for fun.”

According to ABC News, Alexis Wilson showed her coworkers at a pizza restaurant in McAlester, Oklahoma pictures and videos of the rifle. She allegedly told her coworkers that “there were so many people” at her former school, McAlester High School, that she wanted to shoot.

Wilson was arrested and police with the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office said they found the rifle in her bedroom. Police also found a 12-gauge shotgun, six high-capacity magazines and rounds of ammunition.

"This is probably everybody's biggest fear in the United States right now -- a school shooting," Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris told ABC News in an interview Tuesday. "Lots of people don't want to acknowledge that this, an active shooter or school violence, is probably the biggest threat in America right now."

"There's no time to sit around and wait on it. I don't want one of my schools in my county shot up. I don't want anybody hurt," he said. "So when I got the information, I spoke with my deputies and I told them not to go home until they had it resolved and taken care of."

According to police, Wilson dropped out of school during her freshman year. While she was in school she had been suspended for bring a knife to campus and having a swastika symbol on her belongings.

"Alexis also then stated to me that she used to be suicidal and borderline homicidal to the people of Mcalester School because she was bullied," one of the arresting officers wrote in the incident report. "I asked Alexis if she had thought about hurting anyone at the school and she stated not recently but she has in the past."

Photo courtesy: Kyo Azuma/Unsplash

A video uncovered by a Christian nonprofit organization shows how North Korea is teaching people in the country to identify and silence Christians and other religious believers.

According to the Christian Post, the video from the Voice of the Martyrs tells the story of Christian evangelist Cha Deoksun who illegally fled to China to find her uncle. She came across Christian church Seotap Church.

But the video calls the church a place for “spies” and an “anti-republic” community.

“Seotap Church is operated by disguised pastors from the puppet South Korea government’s secret service,” the video says. “It harbors homeless illegal trespassers, providing anti-republic (anti-North Korean) religious study, effectively training them as spies.”

The video says Deoksun became a “fanatical believer” and came to North Korea to launch an underground Christian network.

“She was completely fooled by the enemy,” it says.

Deoksun eventually turned herself in for illegally crossing into China and she was released.

“Instead of being grateful for the forgiving policy party (the Workers’ Party of Korea), she gave thanks to the ‘God of mercy,’” the video states.

The video called her a “spy” who tried to recruit others while “on a mission from the enemy, absurdly trying to establish the kingdom of God.” Deoksun, the video says, was reported and found by officials.

“It is unclear how Deoksun died, but it is possible that she was executed,” the Voice of the Martyrs said in a statement. The group said she “served the Lord without recognition, just as many North Korean Christians do today, despite their government’s attempts to eradicate Christianity.”

Photo courtesy: Pixabay