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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "fox-news/world/religion/christianity"

What it is like to be a Christian activist jailed with ISIS operatives in Sudan

It was the kind of calling that Petr Jasek simply could not turn away from. For more than 28 years, the Czech Republic native and global ambassador for international nonprofit The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) had traveled the world in support of persecuted Christians.

And then what was supposed to be a four-day trip to aid a badly beaten, young Christian convert in the Islam-dominant nation of Sudan in December 2015 turned into 445 days of torment and torture –  and Jasek learned first hand what it felt like to be hunted and oppressed for his faith.

While preparing to board a flight home from the country’s capital Khartoum, the Christian leader was detained on charges of espionage and purporting to “wage war against the country of Sudan.” He was informed he was facing the death penalty and thrown into a filthy cell.

Westlake Legal Group jasek1 What it is like to be a Christian activist jailed with ISIS operatives in Sudan Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/crime fox-news/politics/judiciary/political-rights fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc cbac8d70-e40d-5ff3-8b38-a125a8d120cd article

Petr Jasek (left) and fellow VOM Christians were imprisoned for their faith under espionage charges in 2015 and held for more than a year in Sudan.

Although it was seemingly designed for just one person, Jasek was caged with six other cellmates – who he quickly learned were members of ISIS.

“They asked me to tell them some news from the outside world, and a few weeks earlier was the series of coordinated terrorist attacks across Paris,” Jasek, who has documented a haunting chronology of his experiences in a new book, “Imprisoned with ISIS: Faith in the Face of Evil,” told Fox News. “Then I heard the cheering, and I knew.”

The men, Jasek went on, were all young and “highly intelligent” – doctors, pharmacists and computer engineers – and were from an array of different countries, including Sudan, Pakistan, Egypt and Somalia. One fighter, in particular, was held in higher regard than the others. He was a Libyan national who had purportedly served as a personal bodyguard to Usama bin Laden in the barren hills of Tora Bora in the early days of the U.S. invasion in Afghanistan.

ISIS COULD EXPLOIT CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC TO CARRY OUT TERROR ATTACKS, EU OFFICIAL WARNS

After being injured in a U.S. bomb blast and imprisoned after returning home to Libya, Jasek said, the jihadist was released by then ruler Muammar Gaddafi and went on to pledge allegiance to the notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before severing the heads of 21 Coptic Christians on the Libyan shores in February 2015. The fellow inmates lauded the Libyan as “the man of the sword,” whose hands were still figuratively saturated in the blood of the nonbelievers.

But the initial curiosity the ISIS terrorists had toward their new devoutly Christian cellmate quickly gave way to brutality and beatings.

“They started to treat me as an infidel, calling me a filthy rat and a filthy pig. I was not allowed to move on my own; they forced me to answer their questions,” Jasek recalled. “Then started the physical attacks – fists to my face, kicking my legs with their shoes still on. They used a wooden stick to beat me and experimented with other modes of torture.”

Westlake Legal Group jasek2 What it is like to be a Christian activist jailed with ISIS operatives in Sudan Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/crime fox-news/politics/judiciary/political-rights fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc cbac8d70-e40d-5ff3-8b38-a125a8d120cd article

Christian leader Petr Jasek was held for 445 days in Sudan, spending a large portion in a cell with ISIS operatives (Petr Jasek provided)

At one point, Jasek’s body was forced into such arduous positions for extended periods that he was not even able to walk for days on end. The sound of laughter from the guards echoed through the iron bars and constantly swirled in his mind.

“The guards were allowing them (the ISIS members) to have more freedom in prison than any of the others because they were afraid of them,” Jasek explained. “It makes you question who the real prisoners are.”

As the men prayed loudly around him at least five times per day and read from their Korans, the Czech native – who was not permitted so much as a Bible – turned his Christian prayers inward and did whatever he could to hold on to the remaining threads of his sanity.

“I was concerned I would lose my sane mind,” Jasek admitted. “Worse than the living conditions, the infectious diseases, and the worry of losing my life, I was trying to occupy my mind to something that made sense.”

He could not, he would not, fall apart, he pledged silently.

On one especially grim day, after months of merciless treatment at the hands of ISIS, as his body broke down and he suffered from malnutrition, the ISIS operatives decided Jasek should be waterboarded and demanded relocation to the only cell with a running tap. Just before the process was about to begin, the Christian leader was whisked away by a guard and into the dearth of solitary confinement.

“You would think these people would be punished, but actually, I was the one punished,” he said.

In the solitary cell, where there were no cracks of light, Jasek was left to endure another torture method dubbed “the freezer,” whereby freezing air was haphazardously blown in to bite his feeble frame.

The sobering nights and days dragged on, and Jasek was relocated to several other prisons – some overstuffed with the sick and diseased, teeming with insects and overflowing sewage. He had little more than scraps of moldy bread to eat and dozens fought over the meager rations to temporarily ease their hunger pains.

His case was finally brought before Sudan’s Court of Law in early February 2016.

“In one sense, it was a tragic comedy,” Jasek noted, detailing how it is all the worst kept secret that the judge was merely an arm of then-President Omar Bashir’s secret police. “I was sentenced to life imprisonment.”

SHUNNED CONGOLESE REFUGEE ON RAISING A SON BORN OUT OF RAPE: THE BABY HAD A RIGHT TO LIVE

As it stands, Sudan is ranked the seventh worst country for the persecution of Christians, according to global watchdog Open Doors.

And although Jasek knew deep down that Christians across the world were praying for him and diplomats spanning Europe and beyond were advocating for his release, the ruling gave him a new lease on life.

Westlake Legal Group jasek3 What it is like to be a Christian activist jailed with ISIS operatives in Sudan Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/crime fox-news/politics/judiciary/political-rights fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc cbac8d70-e40d-5ff3-8b38-a125a8d120cd article

Book detailing his ordeal hits stands June 2, 2020 (Petr Jasek)

In a musty cell converted into a makeshift chapel, Jasek resumed his passion for preaching to fellow prisoners, the ones who had fallen through the cracks of society.

“Once, sometimes twice a week, I would preach to the hopeless, the desperate, and the forgotten prisoners. I knew we were being monitored, but I had nothing left to lose. I had already been sentenced to life imprisonment so there could be no more penalty on me,” Jasek said. “I saw the way their lives transformed through the gospel, and that was the most important mission of my life.”

Suddenly, one morning in the spring of 2017, 445 days after he was cuffed and dragged from Khartoum’s airport, the heavy prison cell door was wrenched open and the guards told him he was to be released.

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The behind-the-scenes negotiations had finally come to fruition. And although Jasek walked away from those decrepit confines and never looked back, he returned home with a profound sense of clarity and understanding that the path of persecution was one he had been destined to travel.

“Persecution was to be expected because that is what Jesus had been preparing his followers for all along, so having this mindset helped me to overcome throughout this time,” Jasek added. “I prayed a lot, and I knew that my life was not in my own hands. This strength came not from myself, but the strength came from Lord Jesus.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118475727001_6118476501001-vs What it is like to be a Christian activist jailed with ISIS operatives in Sudan Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/crime fox-news/politics/judiciary/political-rights fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc cbac8d70-e40d-5ff3-8b38-a125a8d120cd article  Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118475727001_6118476501001-vs What it is like to be a Christian activist jailed with ISIS operatives in Sudan Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world/terrorism/isis fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/crime fox-news/politics/judiciary/political-rights fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc cbac8d70-e40d-5ff3-8b38-a125a8d120cd article

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Myanmar pastor presumed dead returns home more than a year later

Westlake Legal Group myanmar-pastor-presumed-dead-returns-home-more-than-a-year-later Myanmar pastor presumed dead returns home more than a year later fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/good-news fox-news/faith-values/family fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke c9ee650b-879f-579d-9446-a0b28f688fd5 article

A pastor who was kidnapped and thought to have been dead for more than a year was reunited Monday with his family, according to a Christian mission organization.

Myanmar Pastor Tun N., who allegedly refused to join the insurgent Arakan Army in their cause to overthrow the current government, described his 14-month captivity as “the most hellish time of my life, be it spiritually, mentally, and, in particular, physically.”

AMERICAN CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY DIES IN PLANE CRASH DELIVERING CORONAVIRUS AID IN INDONESIA

The 42-year-old pastor, his wife, and three kids moved to a different region for “safe shelter” and are continuing their ministry work, Gospel for Asia (GFA), the pastor announced.

Westlake Legal Group Paston-Tun-Gospel-for-Asia Myanmar pastor presumed dead returns home more than a year later fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/good-news fox-news/faith-values/family fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke c9ee650b-879f-579d-9446-a0b28f688fd5 article

After 14 months in captivity and being presumed dead, Pastor Tun N. was released and reunited with his wife and kids. (Courtesy Gospel for Asia)

“To see Pastor Tun back with his family and safe brings such joy to our hearts. He is an incredible example of someone willing to risk his life for the sake of bringing hope to some of the most downtrodden in the world,” Bishop Danny Yohannan, GFA vice president, told Fox News. “We want to thank everyone who was praying for him and his family.”

NORTH KOREA URGED TO RELEASE CHRISTIAN SERVING 15 YEARS FOR SHARING GOSPEL

Tun was purportedly forcibly removed at gunpoint from his home by five men believed to be part of a rebel army seeking control of the Rahkine state, on Jan. 19, 2019. Weeks later, on Feb. 1, 2019, it was reported that he and a church elder had been killed by his kidnappers, but local police and government armies were unable to trace him.

Westlake Legal Group Pastor-Tun-Gospel-for-Asia-2 Myanmar pastor presumed dead returns home more than a year later fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/good-news fox-news/faith-values/family fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke c9ee650b-879f-579d-9446-a0b28f688fd5 article

Pastor Tun N. was reported dead in February 2019 after being kidnapped by an insurgent group a month prior, but is alive and reunited with his family. (Courtesy Gospel for Asia)

“Miraculously, on March 7, the insurgent group released Pastor Tun into the hands of his village elders with threats of future harm,” GFA said in their April 4 statement.

Prior to his kidnapping, Tun served a church of 50 people for two decades.

Yohannan said each ministry partner involved with GFA memorizes part of Matthew 10 that says, “Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves,” which he says is a “harsh reality” in the region.

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Myanmar, also known as Burma, is listed No. 19 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List 2020 for its “Buddhist extremism and a dictatorial military.”

Westlake Legal Group Pastor-Tun-Gospel-for-Asia-2 Myanmar pastor presumed dead returns home more than a year later fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/good-news fox-news/faith-values/family fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke c9ee650b-879f-579d-9446-a0b28f688fd5 article  Westlake Legal Group Pastor-Tun-Gospel-for-Asia-2 Myanmar pastor presumed dead returns home more than a year later fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/good-news fox-news/faith-values/family fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke c9ee650b-879f-579d-9446-a0b28f688fd5 article

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Polish archbishop calls for child sex abuse probe before Saint John Paul II centenary celebrations

Westlake Legal Group polish-archbishop-calls-for-child-sex-abuse-probe-before-saint-john-paul-ii-centenary-celebrations Polish archbishop calls for child sex abuse probe before Saint John Paul II centenary celebrations fox-news/world/world-regions/italy fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/religion/vatican fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc Danielle Wallace c92b2fc1-0023-5ba1-bb94-ef1121405d9f article

The 100th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Paul II has been somewhat marred in his native Poland after the country’s most senior member of the Catholic Church asked the Vatican to investigate a Polish bishop accused of protecting priests known to have sexually abused children.

Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the most senior member of Poland’s Catholic Church, asked the Vatican on Saturday to “launch proceedings” into the findings of a new documentary. In March 2019, Pope Francis established a new reporting framework to prevent and counter abuses against minors and vulnerable persons.

The film “Hide and Seek,” by brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, was released earlier Saturday and explores how bishop Edward Janiak, based in the city of Kalisz, allegedly failed to take action against priests reported to have sexually abused children, according to Reuters.

POPE’S WORDS ON INTERFAITH PRAYER AGAINST CORONAVIRUS SPARKS CONTROVERSY AMONG CATHOLICS

Westlake Legal Group RT-Wojciech-Polak Polish archbishop calls for child sex abuse probe before Saint John Paul II centenary celebrations fox-news/world/world-regions/italy fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/religion/vatican fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc Danielle Wallace c92b2fc1-0023-5ba1-bb94-ef1121405d9f article

Archbishop Wojciech Polak speaks with media representatives after extraordinary sitting of Polish bishops, to discuss steps the Catholic Church in Poland should take to tackle the problem of pedophilia, at the Polish Episcopate headquarters in Warsaw, Poland May 22, 2019. (Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski/via Reuters) 

The documentary, as of Sunday, has more than 1.9 million views on YouTube, the BBC reported.

In a video broadcast by the Catholic news agency KAI, Polak said the film “shows that protection standards for children and adolescents in the church were not respected,” The Guardian reported.

“I ask priests, nuns, parents and educators to not be led by the false logic of shielding the Church, effectively hiding sexual abusers,” Polak said in another statement published Saturday, according to Reuters. “There is no place among the clergy to sexually abuse minors. We do not allow for the hiding of these crimes.”

This comes as churches across Poland have scheduled Sunday Masses, as well as online events and concerts due to the coronavirus pandemic, to celebrate Saint John Paul II. The centenary of his birth is Monday.

Saint John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyła in Wadowice, southern Poland, on May 18, 1920.

BISHOP CHOSEN TO INVESTIGATE CHURCH SEX ABUSE IS HIMSELF ACCUSED 

The first non-Italian pope in more than 450 years, he took the helm of the Catholic Church in 1978 until his death in 2005 and remains widely revered in his native Poland, where he’s credited to helping foster the belief in the 1980s that an end to the communist regime was possible, the BBC reported.

He was canonized, or officially became a saint, in 2014. The ruling nationalist Law and Justice party in Poland still has close ties to the church and promotes Catholic values.

“Tomorrow will be the centenary of the birth of Saint John Paul II, in Wadowice, Poland,” Pope Francis said Sunday in a livestream address to the Apostolic Library after praying the Regina Caeli.

“From Heaven, may he continue to intercede for the People of God and peace in the world,” the pope said, inviting Christians to remember Saint John Paul II “with great affection and gratitude.”

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-pope-john-paul-II Polish archbishop calls for child sex abuse probe before Saint John Paul II centenary celebrations fox-news/world/world-regions/italy fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/religion/vatican fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc Danielle Wallace c92b2fc1-0023-5ba1-bb94-ef1121405d9f article

(File photo from 1982) Close-up of Pope John Paul II sitting on a chair, wearing red robes with a portrait of the St. Theresa of Avila in the background during his visit to Avila, Spain.

Pope Francis announced that Masses could resume in person in Italy for the first time since the pandemic began starting Monday, Vatican News reported. He said he will host a Monday morning Mass broadcast by World Vision from the same altar where Saint John Paul II’s remains lie in rest in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

“I share in the joy of the communities that can finally reunite as liturgical assemblies, a sign of hope for all society,” the pope said.

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The Sekielski brothers released a film last May titled “Tell No One,” which alleges that known pedophiles were deliberately shuffled between parishes. That documentary has more than 23 million views on YouTube.

Though the first two films do not explore Saint John Paul II’s involvement in alleged cover-up schemes, the filmmakers said they plan to release a third focused on the “role of John Paul II in the dissimulation of crimes committed by priests,” The Guardian reported.

Westlake Legal Group RT-Wojciech-Polak Polish archbishop calls for child sex abuse probe before Saint John Paul II centenary celebrations fox-news/world/world-regions/italy fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/religion/vatican fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc Danielle Wallace c92b2fc1-0023-5ba1-bb94-ef1121405d9f article  Westlake Legal Group RT-Wojciech-Polak Polish archbishop calls for child sex abuse probe before Saint John Paul II centenary celebrations fox-news/world/world-regions/italy fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/religion/vatican fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/world fnc Danielle Wallace c92b2fc1-0023-5ba1-bb94-ef1121405d9f article

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Pope’s words on interfaith prayer against coronavirus sparks controversy among Catholics

Westlake Legal Group popes-words-on-interfaith-prayer-against-coronavirus-sparks-controversy-among-catholics Pope’s words on interfaith prayer against coronavirus sparks controversy among Catholics fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc f2095dd4-7c0a-5224-bb34-e2372cebcfab Caleb Parke article

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Pope Francis is being accused of “blasphemy” and “sacrilege” by some Catholics for participating in an interfaith prayer Thursday with Muslims, Jews and Christians, calling on God to end the coronavirus pandemic.

The Abu Dhabi-based multifaith Higher Committee on Human Fraternity formed after the pope’s historic visit in 2019 to the Arabian peninsula. Its nine members came up with the idea to pray, fast and perform charitable works.

POPE ASKS FAITHFUL TO ADD THESE TWO PRAYERS TO THE END OF THE ROSARY

Aware of the potential controversy, the pontiff addressed the matter during his Friday morning Mass at the Vatican.

Westlake Legal Group pope-francis-Committee-of-Human-Fraternity-2-AP Pope’s words on interfaith prayer against coronavirus sparks controversy among Catholics fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc f2095dd4-7c0a-5224-bb34-e2372cebcfab Caleb Parke article

Members of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF) meeting with Pope Francis ‎and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (Photo: AETOSWire)

“Maybe there will be someone who will say, ‘This is religious relativism and it cannot be done,” Francis said. “But how can we not pray to the father of us all? Each one prays as they know how, as they are able to. We are not praying one against the other, one tradition against another … (but) as brothers.”

UN CHIEF CALLS ON FAITH LEADERS TO FIGHT ‘INACCURATE AND HARMFUL’ CORONAVIRUS INFO

The multifaith prayer upset many among the faithful.

“The only ‘spiritual’ union that Christians recognize is the communion of the Holy Spirit with those baptized into the Body of Christ,” English Deacon Nick Donnelly told Church Militant. “He’s asking us to unite ourselves on the level of spirit with those who worship idols and demons or who venerate false prophets that deny the divinity of Christ.”

Donnelly called His Holiness’ actions “appalling” and wrote on Twitter that the committee is trying to create “a false ‘one world religion'”.

Westlake Legal Group pope-francis-Committee-of-Human-Fraternity-AP Pope’s words on interfaith prayer against coronavirus sparks controversy among Catholics fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc f2095dd4-7c0a-5224-bb34-e2372cebcfab Caleb Parke article

Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Pope Francis (AETOSWire)

The traditionalist Catholic blog Rorate Caeli mocked the pope, Reuters reported, describing him as, “Francis’ Fast with Infidels” and calling on the faithful to feast, instead of fast, on pork, which neither observant Muslims nor Jews eat.

THIS PASTOR URGES CHURCHES NATIONWIDE TO REOPEN IN DEFIANCE OF GOVERNORS

Priests John Stone and Dennis Michael Hand Sobocik tweeted they “owe no allegiance whatsoever” to the multifaith committee.

The Society of Saint Pius X, an influential traditionalist group, called Francis’ promotion of the interfaith day “poison fruit.”

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But not all Catholics were upset. Many expressed their approval online and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints tweeted its support: “Our hearts are joined with our brothers and sisters in the Muslim, Catholic and other faith traditions”.

In his own tweet, Francis said: “May God have mercy on us and put an end to this tragedy, this pandemic, as well as the pandemics of hunger, war, and children without an education. This we ask as brothers and sisters, everyone together.”

Westlake Legal Group pope-francis-Committee-of-Human-Fraternity-AP Pope’s words on interfaith prayer against coronavirus sparks controversy among Catholics fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc f2095dd4-7c0a-5224-bb34-e2372cebcfab Caleb Parke article  Westlake Legal Group pope-francis-Committee-of-Human-Fraternity-AP Pope’s words on interfaith prayer against coronavirus sparks controversy among Catholics fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc f2095dd4-7c0a-5224-bb34-e2372cebcfab Caleb Parke article

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American Christian missionary dies in plane crash delivering coronavirus aid in Indonesia

Westlake Legal Group american-christian-missionary-dies-in-plane-crash-delivering-coronavirus-aid-in-indonesia American Christian missionary dies in plane crash delivering coronavirus aid in Indonesia fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/maryland fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke article 5c57a559-454e-5453-b8a1-c9e11236c395

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A 40-year-old missionary from Maryland was killed Tuesday while delivering much-needed coronavirus test kits to a remote village in Indonesia, according to officials.

Joyce Lin, a Kodiak pilot and IT specialist for Idaho-based Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), reported an emergency minutes after taking off from Sentani International Airport in Papua, the country’s easternmost province, early in the morning when her aircraft crashed into a lake, according to a statement from MAF.

US MISSIONARY KILLED BY REMOTE ISLAND TRIBE INSPIRES OTHERS TO JOIN MISSION FIELD

“Our hearts are broken as we grieve her death, but we are also encouraged knowing that she gave her life to a work that she absolutely loved doing,” David Holsten, MAF’s president and CEO, told Fox News.

Westlake Legal Group Joyce-Lin-1 American Christian missionary dies in plane crash delivering coronavirus aid in Indonesia fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/maryland fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke article 5c57a559-454e-5453-b8a1-c9e11236c395

Joyce Lin, 40, died doing mission work in Indonesia. (Mission Aviation Fellowship)

“Joyce embodied so much of what we love to see in MAF staff,” Holsten added. “She was following a call from God to serve others. Joyce was invested in the local culture and maintained a deep connection to her family, friends, and supporters around the world. She was professional in her IT work and in her flying, and well-loved by those she served.”

NORTH KOREA ‘CHURCH’ DOESN’T LOOK LIKE ANY OTHER BUT IT EXISTS: WATCHDOG

Ahmad Musthofa Kamal, a Papua police spokesman, said Lin apparently had technical problems two minutes after takeoff, when she sent out a distress call and requested a return to the airport but the control tower lost contact with her. Lin’s body was discovered by Indonesian Search and Rescue divers two hours after the crash.

MAF staff in Papua and Jakarta are working with authorities to investigate the crash. Lin was the only person on the plane headed for Mamit, a remote village in a mountainous area which is typically a one hour flight. She was delivering supplies to the indigenous Papuan people, including COVID-19 rapid test kits, books, food, and school kits.

Westlake Legal Group Joyce-Lin-3 American Christian missionary dies in plane crash delivering coronavirus aid in Indonesia fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/maryland fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke article 5c57a559-454e-5453-b8a1-c9e11236c395

Joyce Lin with a crowd in Indonesia. (Debbie Klynstra, Mission Aviation Fellowship.)

“She has dedicated her life to transporting humanitarian supplies and missionaries to hard-to-reach areas in Papua,” Kamal said.

Lin, who was raised in Colorado and Maryland, joined MAF in 2017, and “though she was just there two years—one in Central Java for language school and another in Sentani—her impact was significant,” the group said.

MEGACHURCH ENGULFED IN FLAMES IN INDONESIA AS THEY RAISE FUNDS FOR COVID-19 RELIEF

She joined the Christian ministry after earning two degrees in engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a decade-long career as an officer in the U.S. Air Force and in private-sector cybersecurity. She then earned her master of divinity degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where she discovered missionary aviation and traveled to Papua for a summer internship with MAF.

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Joyce Lin with her aircraft in Indonesia. (Mission Aviation Fellowship)

“She was a very competent pilot, top class,” Keith Doyle, who works in the IT department at Gordon-Conwell and became friends with Lin, told The Salem News. “She had a lot of joy about her. She was quiet, but very thoughtful and very methodical. She was a brilliant engineer and you could see that in her thinking. There was never any rashness or impulsiveness.”

“I’m privileged to be serving the many churches and missionaries in Papua who continue to reach out to isolated villages so that people can be both physically and spiritually transformed,” Lin is quoted as saying in her online memorial.

“Anyone who knew Joyce recognized that she was extremely dedicated. That showed up most in her commitment to being used by God and sharing His love with others, especially those less fortunate. She was extremely generous, giving of herself and her treasures selflessly,” said Brock Larson, regional director of MAF Indonesia and Joyce’s teammate.

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A makeshift memorial was set up for Joyce Lin, a missionary with Mission Aviation Fellowship. She died on Tuesday in a plane crash delivering supplies to a remote village. (Mission Aviation Fellowship)

The final line of her MAF bio reads, “While Joyce will always be excited to fly planes and work on computers, she is most excited to share the love of Jesus Christ by helping to transform other people’s deep discouragement and mourning into dancing and joy.”

Lin is survived by her parents and two sisters, according to MAF.

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“Prayers for her family in this time of sudden loss are appreciated, as well as prayers for the MAF Papua team that worked by her side,” the group added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Joyce-Lin-1 American Christian missionary dies in plane crash delivering coronavirus aid in Indonesia fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/maryland fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke article 5c57a559-454e-5453-b8a1-c9e11236c395  Westlake Legal Group Joyce-Lin-1 American Christian missionary dies in plane crash delivering coronavirus aid in Indonesia fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/maryland fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke article 5c57a559-454e-5453-b8a1-c9e11236c395

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Israel threatens to shut down new TV channel for preaching ‘gospel of Jesus’

Israel is reportedly threatening to remove GOD TV channel just one week after its launch, claiming it is proselytizing.

The Christian network that broadcasts in at least 200 countries, responded in a statement saying, “if we were doing something sneaky, we would not have announced it to the world.”

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GOD TV began airing the 24/7 Hebrew-language “Shelanu TV” channel last week on Israel’s HOT cable network as part of a seven-year license from the Israeli Communications Ministry, The Times of Israel reports.

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GOD TV’s new “Shalunu TV” channel in Israel has been threatened to be shutdown by government officials if they engage in proselytizing. (GOD TV/YouTube)

“Today we made history! For the first time ever, a Messianic television channel is broadcasting the Gospel across Israel in the Hebrew language,” GOD-TV said in a statement April 29. “Shelanu translates to ‘Ours’ in Hebrew. We want every person in Israel to know, not a foreign Messiah, but a Jewish one! His name is Yeshua and He has not forgotten His people,” it continued.

But on Tuesday, Israeli Communications Minister David Ansalem said in a statement he was not aware that a license was granted to GOD TV, adding he “will not allow any missionary channel to operate in Israel, at no time and under no circumstances.”

The decision to allow the channel’s contract was an “oversight,” said Ansalem, who requested a “thorough investigation of the issue” by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council. “If indeed this channel does missionary work, it be removed immediately,” the statement said.

NORTH KOREA URGED TO RELEASE CHRISTIAN SERVING 15 YEARS FOR SHARING GOSPEL

Proselytizing to anyone under 18 years old without parental consent is against the law in Israel, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and the terms of the license issued to Shelanu, prohibit missionary programming. More than 700,000 Israeli households subscribe to the channel – nearly half the Israeli market for cable, satellite and online services.

Shelanu’s station manager said it’s “been a challenging process” and asked for financial support on GOD TV’s website “to produce relevant and dynamic content that will grab the attention of the Israeli people and open their eyes to the truth of their Messiah, Yeshua.”

The channel was launched as a partnership with GOD TV and Israel-based Tikkun International, which describes itself as “a global family of ministries, congregations and leaders, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church.”

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Michael Brown, a Messianic Jewish radio host, announced in a video on Tikkun International’s website that the new channel will “preach the gospel of Jesus the Messiah in Hebrew on cable TV for the first time in history.”

Israeli outlets report Christian channels Daystar and Middle East Television both broadcast on Israel’s YES satellite TV and do not proselytize.

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North Korea urged to release Christian serving 15 years for sharing gospel

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A Christian nonprofit that supports persecuted believers all over the world is urging North Korea to release one person kidnapped and imprisoned by the Hermit Kingdom for sharing the gospel.

The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) Korea launched a global letter-writing campaign advocating for the release of Jang Moon Seok, a Korean-Chinese Christian, arrested for evangelizing North Koreans on the border with China.

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“Deacon Jang was targeted for abduction by North Korea’s government specifically because of his gospel work reaching North Koreans crossing into China. He’s been held captive more than 2,000 days—in conditions, most of us can’t even imagine,” Todd Nettleton, spokesman for VOM and host of VOM Radio, told Fox News.

He added, “But we, as Christians, can respond. We can pray for Deacon Jang and for other Christians imprisoned in North Korea. And we can have a voice, calling on North Korean leaders to release this unjustly imprisoned man, our brother in Christ.”

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The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) Korea launched a global letter-writing campaign advocating for the release of Jang Moon Seok, a Korean-Chinese Christian, arrested for evangelizing North Koreans on the border with China. (Courtesy The Voice of the Martyrs)

Jang ministered alongside Rev. Han Chung-Ryeol, a pastor who is believed to have reached at least 1,000 North Koreans before he was assassinated in 2016, according to a defector.

“Deacon Jang, who is also known by his Chinese name Zhang Wen Shi, is an ethnically Korean Chinese citizen who was kidnapped in November 2014 from China and put in a North Korean prison,” VOM Korea spokesman, Dr. Hyun Sook Foley said in a statement.

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She added, “We believe the reason for his kidnapping was to gather information about the North Korean ministry work we were doing with Pastor Han.”

Jang is serving a 15-year prison sentence for allegedly defaming the Kim regime, attempting to incite subversion of state power, and providing aid and gospel to North Korean citizens.

More than a year after Jang’s kidnapping and arrest on Nov. 1, 2014, the group believes Han was lured from his home and stabbed to death in Changbai, China.

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Foley describes Jang as “a simple man who never did anything political. He just helped North Korean people for many years. That should never be a crime, and Christians should join together to help Deacon Jang and his family.”

MEGACHURCH ENGULFED IN FLAMES IN INDONESIA AS THEY RAISE FUNDS FOR COVID-19 RELIEF

Jang would clothe and shelter North Koreans who traveled over the border and would share his faith, along with Han, according to VOM Korea.

One of the defectors, identified as Sang-chul, shared his story in a short documentary by VOM last year. Without food or work in North Korea, he crossed the border to pick mushrooms and sell them in the market.

He said Han helped him and shared his faith, even though he knew it could lead to his death.

Westlake Legal Group Deacon-Jang-Courtesy-Voice-of-the-Martyrs-Korea-2 North Korea urged to release Christian serving 15 years for sharing gospel fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/united-nations fox-news/world/religion/persecutions fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke article 3785a655-5391-57e7-88d2-1a9b3d3eb966

The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) Korea launched a global letter-writing campaign advocating for the release of Jang Moon Seok, a Korean-Chinese Christian, arrested for evangelizing North Koreans on the border with China. (Courtesy The Voice of the Martyrs)

“We hope that our sacrifice, when the day comes, will be worthwhile, just like it was for Pastor Han,” Sang-chul shared about the man who worked alongside Jang.

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The Hermit Kingdom sits at No. 1 in the World Watch List as the most dangerous place to be a Christian, according to Open Doors 2020 World Watch List.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Megachurch engulfed in flames in Indonesia as they raise funds for COVID-19 relief

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A massive Christian church outside Indonesia’s capital, where authorities stopped a 2011 Easter bombing plot by Islamic terrorists, was engulfed in flames Monday morning.

No casualties were reported at the Church of Christ Cathedral, near Jakarta. The fire began at 7 a.m. and was successfully extinguished at 11:30 a.m. The cause of the fire is unknown; an official investigation is ongoing.

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Riza and Stephanie Casidy, executive pastors of Christ Cathedral, updated the 8,000-member congregation on Instagram LIVE.

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Christ Cathedral Indonesia outside Jakarta, where an Easter bombing plot by Islamic terrorists was thwarted, was engulfed in flames Monday morning. (Adria Jerusha)

“My hand was just shaking. We pour our heart into this church,” Riza shared, fighting back tears, adding, “God is telling us to think of and take care of others, and when we do so, He will be the one to take care of us.”

The church is raising funds for COVID-19 relief as the nation reports its highest single-day rise since the virus was first detected in early March, Jakarta Globe reports. Southeast Asia’s largest country now has more than 9,000 confirmed cases and at least 765 deaths.

AMID KIM JONG UN HEALTH RUMORS, ANY NORTH KOREA POWER TRANSITION ‘LIKELY THE ONLY OPPORTUNITY’ FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: WATCHDOG

“I don’t want to let something like this stop us from staying true to our vision and our mission,” Stephanie said.

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Inside the 8,000-member Christ Cathedral that burned down Monday. (Adria Jerusha)

“We’ve always been a church that cares about people outside our church walls. We don’t have a building anymore,” she added. “There’s still people out there who need our help, so we still have to do this.”

Reactions poured in from around the world.

Westlake Legal Group IndonesiaChurch2 Megachurch engulfed in flames in Indonesia as they raise funds for COVID-19 relief fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/world/religion fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/world fnc Caleb Parke article 39bac3e8-4a27-502e-a336-2fce3a4b92f6

Sean Feucht, Bethel Music worship leader and pastor out of California, preaching at Christ Cathedral in 2019. (Adria Jerusha)

Sean Feucht, a Bethel Music worship leader and pastor, recalled the last time he preached in the building, almost exactly one year ago, when a pastor was reportedly imprisoned.

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“We have partnered for so many epic gatherings, events and rallies throughout the years,” Feucht wrote. “The Church of the East knows and has walked through persecution and the testing of their faith like we can only imagine.”

He added, “We have so much to learn and receive from them…especially in this season!”

Christ Cathedral, which was founded in 2008, is a part of the Indonesia Bethel Church (GBI) denomination, a group of Christian Pentecostal churches in Indonesia.

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In 2011, police thwarted an Islamic terror plot on Easter, uncovering five massive bombs buried beneath a gas pipeline near a Catholic church in the same area as Christ Cathedral. An Indonesian court sentenced an Islamist extremist to 18 years in prison for the terror attempt, according to Reuters.

The most populous Muslim nation is on the 2020 World Watch List from persecution watchdog Open Doors USA and has been battling Muslim extremists since 2002 when al-Qaida-linked militants attacked two nightclubs on Bali island, killing 202 people, many of them foreign tourists.

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Pope asks faithful to add these two prayers to the end of the rosary

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Pope Francis is asking Catholics all around the world to join him in praying the rosary, along with two prayers, to be “united” and “overcome” the coronavirus pandemic together.

The Vatican released the pope’s request for the month of May in a letter published on the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist on Friday.

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“Contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary, our mother, will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial,” he wrote, noting that May is traditionally devoted to praying the rosary.

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Pope Francis delivers his blessing from the window of his private library overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, March 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

With so many faithful at home, Francis is asking them to “rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home in the month of May, whether individually or as a group.”

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Francis is proposing two new prayers “to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which can be recited at the end of the rosary,” according to Vatican News.

Given the COVID-19 outbreak, the new petitions from the pope include specific intentions for caretakers, patients, and people who’ve died or are mourning a loss.

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“In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection,” reads part of one of the prayers. “Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes toward us amid this coronavirus pandemic.”

For the full text of the two prayers, click here.

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Nick Hall: As coronavirus spreads suffering and death, many people ask: Where are you, God?

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At a time when our lives have been fundamentally changed by the coronavirus pandemic many people have been asking: Where are you, God?

People have lost their jobs, people are sick, people have died and more continue to die.

So, where is God in the midst of our suffering?

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I recently found myself asking this same question, but it wasn’t because of the coronavirus.

My sister was diagnosed with cancer seven months ago. Six months later, she passed away. Her illness and death were devastating. I had many moments where I was angry with God for taking her too soon. I still miss my sister terribly and I always will.

But as I walk through the grieving process, I have begun to understand that God does not condemn us for our feelings or our questions – or even for being angry at Him.

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I believe God sometimes uses our suffering to show us where our hope is and where it should actually be.

We tend to put our hope in things, places and people. When things fall apart – when the doctors can’t save our loved ones or the job we thought was so secure suddenly vanishes – we also fall apart.

Suffering reminds us that we cannot control everything that happens in our lives, but we can control in whom we put our trust.

The Apostle Paul wrote about trusting God in the middle of suffering in one of his letters. Scholars believe that what he describes in this passage was an actual near-death experience:

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“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10 ESV)

Whatever it was that Paul experienced, it clearly caused him intense mental, emotional, spiritual and perhaps physical pain. But it was in the middle of this excruciating experience that he remembered God was his only hope.

If you are grappling with the question of God’s presence and power in your suffering, you are not alone. As you try to process what is happening around you, I encourage you to think about these three things.

It’s OK to give yourself a break to feel angry and sad when bad things happen in life.

Feel your feelings

Be honest with yourself and with your loved ones about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through. To deny your feelings is to deny who God made you to be.

I take great comfort in the fact that Paul was so vulnerable about his suffering. He confessed that he and his companions “despaired of life itself” and “felt that we had received the sentence of death.” While it’s tempting to think that Paul was superhuman or flawless, he was just as human as we are.

It’s OK to give yourself a break to feel angry and sad when bad things happen in life. We need to give ourselves permission to feel, so God can heal us, and others can help us.

Pray for perspective

When you are hurting, it is easy to give up on prayer. But don’t stop praying. Cry out to God, tell Him what’s on your mind and heart. Ask Him to give you perspective on your suffering. Be willing to wait for His response.

Psalm 34:18 says: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

We sometimes may think that because we are experiencing pain God is far away from us, but He is a lot closer than we realize.

Land on truth

Don’t allow hard times to make you question everything you know about God, your family and your friends. Don’t let one thing lead you into questioning everything you know to be true and foundational.

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Turn to God’s Word in your suffering. Read what He has to say to you. Speak aloud or write down who God says He is and who God says you are.

In the middle of suffering, Paul and his companions reminded themselves of who God was: “He raises the dead,” He had “delivered [them] from the deadly peril” and He “will deliver” again. This is why Paul could boldly say, “On Him we have set our hope.”

When you start to feel depressed by your suffering, pause, and reflect on what God has done for you in the past. He is an unchanging God, and we can confidently set our hope in Him.

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Westlake Legal Group lifetabernaclechurch Nick Hall: As coronavirus spreads suffering and death, many people ask: Where are you, God? Nick Hall fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/opinion fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health/infectious-disease fox news fnc/opinion fnc be37804c-0761-569a-b940-5cb4b3e67705 article  Westlake Legal Group lifetabernaclechurch Nick Hall: As coronavirus spreads suffering and death, many people ask: Where are you, God? Nick Hall fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/opinion fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox-news/health/infectious-disease fox news fnc/opinion fnc be37804c-0761-569a-b940-5cb4b3e67705 article

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