North And South Korea To Resume Talks
On Saturday 4 October a top-level delegation from North Korea visited South Korea and had lunch with their South Korean counterparts. The visit has been described by experts as ‘unprecedented’. Further talks are being organised for late October or early November. The North Korean regime knows its situation is unsustainable as the trend towards openness is unstoppable. While seeking to improve conditions in the North, the regime is also escalating repression to restrain citizen anger. The visit provided propaganda for domestic consumption in the North, while also opening the way for talks aimed at getting South Korean sanctions eased. Whilst the obstacles appear insurmountable, the Lord is King and is in control. Please pray he will break through, bind the ‘strong man’, transform North Korea and sustain its Church.
Christian’s Death Sentence Upheld in Pakistan
(WNS)–An appeals court in Pakistan last week upheld the death sentence for a Christian mother accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad. Asia Bibi, a mother of five, has been in jail since 2009, when some of her Muslim co-workers in a field asked her to fetch water. They then told her it was unclean, to which she claims to have responded, “Are we not all humans?” She was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death by hanging in 2010. She plans to appeal the sentence to Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which likely will take several more years. The case shines new light on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, by which a person can be convicted based on scant evidence. Accusers do not even have to repeat the allegedly blasphemous statements, only testify that they heard someone say something insulting.
Hillsong Pastor Denies Covering Father’s Crime
(WNS)–The founder and senior pastor of the multicampus Hillsong Church in Australia, Brian Houston, took to a witness stand in Sydney to answer questions about his past handling of child sexual abuse allegations against his late father. Frank Houston never faced prosecution for crimes committed in the late 1960s and 1970s, and Brian Houston denied any attempt to cover up the matter. Houston’s testimony is part of an Australian government commission scrutinizing how certain institutions, including Australian Christian Churches (formerly called Assemblies of God in Australia), a Pentecostal church network that gave birth to Hillsong, have handled claims of child sexual abuse. Frank Houston, a church founder and Pentecostal leader, admitted several years before he died that he had sexually abused a boy in New Zealand decades earlier. Assemblies of God, led by Brian Houston at the time, confronted Frank Houston after a victim came forward, and suspended him in late 1999. The organization ultimately allowed Houston to resign quietly with a retirement package. He died in 2004.