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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Kayla Koslosky

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

The popular Hallmark channel television show, “When Calls the Heart,” is releasing an accompanying devotional in September.

The show released its first devotional back in February, but is releasing two more, one next month and another sometime in 2019. The devotional that is being released in September will be coming out just before the holiday season and will be Christmas themed. 

The Christian Post had a chance to sit down with one of the show’s writers, Brian Bird, and ask him about how these devotionals came to be.

According to The Christian Post, Bird said, “I am a Christian. I was raised in the church. My grandfather was a pastor. My father was a pastor, for a time, and I pledged really early on in my writing career that I was going to find a way not to have an agenda or not to browbeat people over the head with my worldview. But my prayer has always been that my words would move men closer to God in some way or another."

The Christian Post reports that Bird feels like the show has a lot to offer, and that TV and film can stir up cravings of the soul. Bird said, "I heard from enough people that if we were to do a devotional, we could take that conversation a little deeper.”

He continued saying, "We could use the episodes as a jumping off point for that conversation, a little summation of the episode and then spin that into a deeper devotional dive. And that's honestly what we've done."

As the show gained success, “the hearties,” as the fans deemed themselves, started reaching out the show’s writer on social media and a fandom was quickly created. Bird credits the fans for the reason the show has succeeded and wanted to create something that would help them dive a little deeper.

Bird said when talking about the devotionals, “they all are, are similar in that we're trying to take hearties on a deeper dive into the content of the show, but also into a deeper reflection for their spiritual lives.”

Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Lubomyr Myronyuk

Teachers and staff at a Florida school have donated some 100 sick days to a fellow history teacher who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Robert Goodman, 56, used his own sick leave until he ran out in July, but he still needs chemotherapy for colon cancer until October. For this reason, Goodman was faced with the daunting decision to either return to school or take unpaid leave.

"It truly frightened me," he told the BBC. "Chemo really messes with you. I was wondering how I could handle getting up at 5am every day.

"How could I handle all the different side-effects around the kids? How could I handle kids bringing the flu and colds to school?"

The Florida school system allows teachers to exchange sick leave with each other or donate it.

Goodman reached out to his coworkers on Facebook.

"I asked for help. I just didn't expect to get the help in four days," he said.

Some 60 teachers and employees responded to his message. In total, about 100 sick days were donated to Goodman— enough for him to finish his chemotherapy.

"It surprised me how fast it happened," he said. "But it didn't surprise me that teachers gave.

"Teachers always give - it's a profession of giving, but it was extraordinary that so many people were willing to donate those days to me.

With the donation, Goodman does not have to return to school until January 2019.

"They could have cashed those days in when they retired if they didn't use them. They were in a sense giving me their retirement money to help me heal.

"When hundreds of people shower you with their love it's a life-changing experience."

Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Tra Nguyen

August 172018 (Morning Star News) – A convert from Islam in Iran said he and 11 other Christians were sentenced to a year in prison for “inclination to the land of Christianity” among other charges, according to Mohabat News.
“Interrogations were obviously indicating that they were looking for confession to communications with [those] abroad, especially America, Britain and Israel,” the Christian, identified as Payam Kharaman, told Mohabat, which focuses on human rights abuses in Iran.
Mohabat reported last week that Kharaman and 11 other members of a church in Bushehr, a port city in southwestern Iran, were sentenced to one year in prison on charges of “propaganda activities against the system and in favor of Zionist Christianity through holding house meetings, evangelism, and invitation to Christianity and inclination to the land of Christianity.”
Kharaman and the other Christians were jailed for three years following their arrest on April 7, 2015, obtaining bail only last April, according to Mohabat.
Judge Abbas Asgari of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Bushehr issued the sentence earlier this year, saying the accused would be informed last June 20, according to the verdict.
Kharaman told Mohabat News that authorities began pressuring him in early 2012.
“I was repeatedly summoned by the Office of Police Monitor Public Place in Bushehr and interrogated about evangelism and communication with abroad, and I always insisted on the belief in Christianity for myself and not for promotion of Christianity,” he told Mohabat. “Because I had a boutique shop in Bushehr, a number of officers’ family members in the office knew me and informed of heavy sentences against me, and the case which was under investigation by the intelligence office.”
He said he took their statements as empty threats at the time.
On April 7, 2015, three plain-clothes security agents came to his house with a warrant shortly after 8 a.m. and seized his computer, mobile phone, flash drive, CDs, books and pamphlets and a private photo album, he told Mohabat. They took him to the intelligence office of Bushehr and interrogated him all day, he said.
Among those sentenced along with Kharaman was Shapour Jozi and his wife, Parastoo Zariftash.
“In the part of the verdicts issued,” Jozi, also a convert from Islam, told Mohabat, “[it] was hinted that many books and pamphlets, publications, CDs, banners, a lectern painted with a cross for holding prayer and lectures, the Holy Gospel, computer case, the boards painted with signs of Christianity, tablet, mobile phone and statue were discovered, all of which were seized in favor of the government.”
Mansour Borji of advocacy group Article 18 reportedly suspects that security agencies’ inability to stop the spread of Christianity in Iran has led them to try to eliminate Farsi-speaking churches “through unlawful pressures and false accusations in revolutionary courts and seemingly legal routes.”
“The harassment of religious minorities, particularly Christians, has been mandated for the Islamic Republic’s security apparatuses,” he said, according to Mohabat. “Many Iranian Christians have preferred to abandon their homes in the last two decades and leave Iran to avoid the securities and judges.”
Three Christians in Iran were arrested from their homes on July 24-25 following the violent arrest of pastor Yousef Nadarkhani on July 22. Pastor Nadarkhani, a convert from Islam like the others arrested, was awaiting a summons to begin a 10-year prison sentence after his appeal of a conviction for “propagating house churches” and promoting “Zionist Christianity” was upheld in May.
Iran is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to change one’s religion. Additionally, Article 23 of the Iranian Constitution states that “the investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”
The U.S. State Department has designated Iran as a Country of Particular Concern for severe religious freedom violations, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom this month recommended it remain on the list.
Iran ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
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Publication Date: August 13, 2018

Photo Courtesy: Morning Star News/Wikipedia