Malaysian pastor kidnapped after helping Muslims
(WNS)–March 13 marked one month since the disappearance of Malaysian Pastor Raymond Koh, whom family and friends believe was kidnapped because of his interaction with Muslim Malays. Police have arrested a suspect in the kidnapping but have not released any information about Koh’s possible whereabouts. On Sunday, March 5, hundreds of Christians around Malaysia held candlelight vigils in solidarity with Koh’s family. Holding candles and signs reading, “Where is Pastor Raymond?” and, “Let Raymond go,” the people prayed for the pastor’s safe return.
Ancient Assyrian palace found in Mosul ruins
(WNS)–In 2014, Islamic State militants captured the Iraqi city of Mosul and bombed an ancient shrine that many believe contained the burial place of the Old Testament prophet Jonah. The tomb was located within a Sunni mosque near the site of the ancient city of Nineveh. After Iraqi troops liberated Mosul in January, archaeologists were dismayed to see the extent of tomb’s damage—but then they discovered a priceless treasure. Buried beneath the shrine they found the 2,600-year-old palace of King Sennacherib of Assyria. After the Islamic militants demolished the shrine with dynamite, they dug deep tunnels into Sennacherib’s palace and presumably looted hundreds of artifacts to sell on the black market. Experts assume the militants destroyed the shrine because they believe worship at such places violates the teachings of Islam.
Canada pledges $650 million for abortion, family planning
(WNS)–Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged $650 million on March 8 for international abortion, sex education, and contraceptives. The move, announced on International Women’s Day, follows on the heels of the country’s pledge of $20 million to support international abortion as part of the European “She Decides” fundraiser. Mostly Nordic nations raised $180 million in pledges last week to make up for the loss of U.S. funding for international abortion-providing organizations after President Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy. This pledge doubles Canada’s current funding for international abortion and contraceptives, according to Canadian news outlet National Post.
Scotland to reconsider contentious child welfare plan
(WNS)–Scottish officials this month announced they are reintroducing a controversial law that would assign a state guardian to every child in the country. The announcement comes nine months after the U.K. Supreme Court struck down the “Named Person” law, a plan to monitor child “wellbeing” by having an education or health official track each Scottish child from birth to age 18. The court ruled certain provisions in the proposed law violated human rights and infringed on privacy. On March 7, education secretary John Swinney told the Scottish Parliament that despite the ruling, he remains “absolutely committed” to the scheme. Swinney said he made adjustments to the law based on the high court’s ruling and plans to resubmit legislation this summer, with implementation set for 2018. Despite Swinney’s plans, critics of the law praised the announcement as a “major victory for parents” because the modified proposal does not have the teeth of the original.
Droves of Canadian doctors opt out of euthanasia
(WNS)–Dozens of Canadian doctors who signed up to provide lethal injections have changed their minds, according to medical officials. At least 24 doctors in Ontario have asked to be removed from a list of physicians willing to participate in Canada’s Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) law, passed in June. Some 30 more have requested their names be put on hold. Jeff Blackmer, vice president of the Canadian Medical Association, said some doctors initially think they are helping patients end their suffering but find the reality much different. “We’re seeing doctors who go through one experience and it’s just overwhelming, it’s too difficult,” he said. “And those are the ones who say, ‘Take my name off the list. I can’t do it anymore.’”
What’s driving Muslim refugees to Christianity?
(WNS)–Hundreds of Muslim refugees have converted to Christianity across Europe in recent years, according to church leaders, but motives vary. In Austria, the rolls of Catholic churches swelled with Muslim immigrants, leading to new guidelines for baptism to ensure sincere faith. Other churches in Lebanon, Germany, and England also report growing numbers of Muslim refugee converts from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Bangladesh, and Eritrea. Bishop George Saliba of Beirut, Lebanon, told PRI he has baptized about 100 Syrian refugees since 2011. In another Beirut church, a pastor meets with Syrian refugees to teach them “Christian doctrines” from Scripture. He requested anonymity out of fear of Islamist reprisals but said dozens of Bible study groups for Syrian refugees now meet in Lebanon. No national statistics exist, but many local churches across Europe attest to the influx of Muslim refugees seeking to become Christians. Still, they remain a small fraction of the millions of Muslims in Europe.