World News, Week 31, 2014

Written by WMCN Editor on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – August 15 2014

Mars Hill Church Cancels Resurgence Conference: Cancellation caps eventful week at besieged church

Family-Owned Pharmacy Leans on Hobby Lobby Ruling for Support
Family Pleads for Detained American’s Release from North Korea

Tennessee Judge Issues First Ruling in Favor of Traditional Marriage

New Nonprofit Exemption to Contraceptive Mandate Coming Soon

Who Will Get to Decide Definition of Marriage?

France Loosens Abortion Restrictions Despite Strong Pro-life Protests

Missionaries Quarantined After Arriving in the U.S. from Liberia

Ebola Claims Another African Doctor

Christian Expats Lead Seoul Outreach Ministries: While South Korea is known for sending missionaries to other countries, the local church is not as good about addressing cultural needs at home





Mars Hill Church Cancels Resurgence Conference

Cancellation caps eventful week at besieged church

By Warren Cole Smith

Seattle’s Mars Hill Church has canceled its annual Resurgence Conference, one of the megachurch’s flagship events, originally scheduled for Oct. 28-29.

The website for the conference, which until this week contained biographical sketches of speakers and registration information, now has only the cancellation notice. That notice reads, “The Resurgence Conference has always been born out of our love of Jesus and the church, and the desire to support efforts to grow leaders to grow churches. Unfortunately, we have decided to cancel this year’s conference due to unforeseen changes to our speaker line-up and other challenges we believe would make it difficult to provide the quality of conference people have come to expect from Resurgence. Anyone who has already purchased a ticket will be receiving a prompt refund. Thank you for your support of Resurgence and the ministries of Mars Hill Church.”

No other information is available on the web-site, but Mars Hill Church spokesman Justin Dean told WORLD via email that refunds would be automatically processed “within one week,” and all the church had already notified all ticket holders. Dean said he did not know how many people attended last year’s conference, or how many had signed up so far for this year’s event.

Among those scheduled to speak at the event were Driscoll, James MacDonald, Greg Laurie, Crawford Loritts, Paul Tripp, Terry Virgo, and – via video -- J.I. Packer.


MacDonald and Tripp had been members of Mars Hill Church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability (BoAA), though both have recently resigned. On Aug. 12, Tripp released a statement explaining his resignation. “It’s because of this love that I accepted the position on Mars Hill Church’s BoAA,” Tripp said. “But it became clear to me that a distant, external accountability board can never work well because it isn’t a firsthand witness to the ongoing life and ministry of the church.”

Tripp was not directly critical of Mars Hill Church, but he suggested that the church did not have a “biblically functioning internal elder board that is the way God designed his church to be led and pastors to be guided and protected.” Tripp concluded: “I would still love to see the leadership community of Mars Hill Church become itself a culture of grace and I am still willing to help, but not through the means of a board that will never be able to do what it was designed to do.”

The statement by Tripp and the cancellation of the Resurgence Conference capped a tough week for Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. Earlier this week, Driscoll was dropped from four upcoming “Act Like Men” conferences. He was scheduled to speak in Phoenix this October, Dallas-Fort Worth in November, and Miami and Chicago in 2015. He’s also been dropped from the Gateway Conference scheduled for Oct. 20-22 at Dallas’s Gateway Church. On Monday, Lifeway and, the retail arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said it was pulling Driscoll’s books from its 180-plus retail stores. Lifeway’s media relations manager Marty King said the retail chain made the decision to give Lifeway’s leadership time to “assess the developments regarding his ministry."

Family-Owned Pharmacy Leans on Hobby Lobby Ruling for Support


By Sarah Padbury

Posted Aug. 14, 2014, 10:21 a.m.

(WNS)--Attorneys in Washington state filed a brief in federal appeals court last week arguing their clients shouldn’t have to choose between their livelihoods and their consciences. State law requires all pharmacies to dispense the abortifacient drugs Plan B and Ella. A pharmacy and two pharmacists filed suit against the state for violating their religious rights. They say the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case supports their claim.

In January 2006, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy investigated the refusal by some pharmacists to “dispense lawfully prescribed medications,” according to the lawsuit. The board’s investigation targeted the refusal of a few pharmacies and pharmacists to sell abortifacient drugs marketed as emergency contraceptives. The Food and Drug Administration requires the drugs be held behind the pharmacist’s counter, but any adult over 18 can buy them with proof of age. Minors can get the medication by prescription only.

Initially, the board unanimously approved a rule allowing pharmacists with religious objections to refrain from dispensing the medication or refer customers to other suppliers of the drug. But due to pressure from then-Gov. Christine Gregoire, in July 2007 the board instituted new rules requiring pharmacies to deliver and distribute all FDA-approved drugs and prohibiting them from refusing to do so on religious grounds. Though pharmacists have an individual right to refuse filling objectionable prescriptions, pharmacies do not.  

Kevin Stormans, one of the owners of Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia, Wash., refuses to sell Plan B or Ella at its family-run pharmacy because he believes life begins at fertilization. Stormans filed suit and was granted a preliminary injunction from the rules. Two individual pharmacists who worked elsewhere joined the suit, claiming the rules could cost them their jobs. The practical effect of the new rules is that a pharmacy employing a pharmacist with religious objections to abortifacients must have a second on-duty pharmacist to deliver the medication.

“In effect, the conscientious objector costs the pharmacy twice what a single, non-conscientious objector does,” the suit said, “For pharmacies that need only one pharmacist per shift, such a cost is unreasonable, and the pharmacy’s only real option is to fire the conscientious objector.”

In Feb. 2012, a federal judge struck down the law, asserting “the state failed to explain why a refuse-and-refer policy creates greater difficulties when a pharmacy declines to stock a drug for religious reasons, rather than for secular reasons. A pharmacy is permitted to refuse to stock [the narcotic] oxycodone because it fears robbery, but the same pharmacy cannot refuse to stock Plan B because it objects on religious grounds. Why are these reasons treated differently under the rules?”

The state appealed the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case was put on hold in December 2013 until the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case. The Becket Fund and the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing the pharmacy, filed a joint brief on July 28. The brief states the Hobby Lobby ruling confirmed closely-held corporations like Ralph’s Thriftway have the right to free-exercise of their owner’s religious rights and that the

Washington law burdens those rights. Hobby Lobby also confirmed the plaintiffs’ rights to fully participate in the “economic life of the community” without fear of job or business loss due to religious views. The brief argues officials need to establish a workable alternative for Ralph’s Thriftway and other pharmacies like it.


Family Pleads for Detained American’s Release from North Korea


By Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Posted Aug. 13, 2014, 04:08 p.m.

(WNS)--The family of an American man detained in North Korea for “anti-state” crimes apologized to the country yesterday and pleaded with officials to show mercy and release him, saying in a statement that they were desperate for him to return home. 

Jeffrey Edward Fowle, 56, is from Miamisburg, Ohio. His wife and three children appeared at a newscast, but didn’t speak. Attorney and family friend Tim Tepe acted as their spokesperson, reading their statement and answering questions while they sat nearby. He said the family was not answering questions out of fear of compromising Fowle’s situation. 

Tepe said Tatyana, Fowle’s 40-year-old wife and their family is struggling to survive financially. Fowle told her on a recent phone call that he was afraid the benefits from his job at the city streets department would run out soon. 

“The kids miss their dad, that’s the bottom line,” Tepe said. “(Tatyana) is having to be mom and dad at this point for the past three months. … I hear the desperation in her voice to get Jeff home.” 

Fowle was detained sometime after arriving in North Korea on April 29 for what the country said were hostile actions that violated his tourist status. It is suspected that he left a Bible in a nightclub in Chongjin. 

Tepe said Fowle was not on a church mission, but on a vacation tour in the country. 

North Korean officials said they are preparing to bring Fowle and another American detainee, Matthew Todd Miller, 24, of Bakersfield, Calif., before a court. They have not specified what actions on the part of the Americans is considered hostile or illegal. The country has also not indicated what kind of punishment they might face. 

Tatyana Fowle and her three children have written to President Barack Obama to ask for his intervention. They also reached out to former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. Tepe said only Bush responded, though they have received assistance from Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, and former congressman and U.S. diplomat Tony Hall. 

The U.S. has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy there, but has offered to send a human rights envoy to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for the detainees. The U.S. State Department works with the Swedish embassy in North Korea in cases like this. A small number of U.S. citizens visit North Korea as tourists every year, something the State Department has strongly discourages.

The State Department re-emphasized its commitment to Fowle’s release yesterday, but the Obama administration has not had any luck getting the North Koreans to release another American detainee, Kenneth Bae. The Korean-American missionary was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in late 2012 for plotting to overthrow the government.

But in February, the North Korean regime released Australian missionary John Short, who was arrested earlier this year for evangelizing. Short apologized to the government and begged for his freedom on a video released to the international media.

Tennessee Judge Issues First Ruling in Favor of Traditional Marriage


By Daniel James Devine

Posted Aug. 12, 2014, 02:45 p.m.

(WNS)--A judge in eastern Tennessee has dropped an anchor amid the deluge of state and federal court rulings favoring same-sex marriage. In a decision last week, Roane County Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr. said Tennessee, which defines marriage as only between a man and woman, need not recognize gay marriages performed in another state.

“The court finds that Tennessee’s laws concerning same-sex marriage do not violate the equal protection clause or the U.S. Constitution,” Simmons wrote in his opinion, which U.S. Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston posted online Monday.

The case involved two men, Frederick Michael Borman and Larry Kevin Pyles-Borman, who married in Iowa in 2010. They later moved to Tennessee, separated, and filed for divorce. But since Tennessee bans same-sex marriage in its constitution and does not recognize homosexual marriages made in other states, Tennessee officials would not grant divorce proceedings.

The case before Simmons dealt primarily with the question of whether Tennessee must recognize out-of-state marriages, but the judge wrote broadly on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage laws. Since the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2013 decision United States v. Windsor struck down the federal law protecting traditional marriage, courts in more than a dozen states have ruled against similar traditional marriage statutes.

But last week, Simmons argued the Supreme Court in Windsor didn’t explicitly say states could not define marriage as between one man and one woman. Nor did it say it was unconstitutional for states to ignore same-sex marriages formed elsewhere.

“The Windsor case is concerned with the definition of marriage, only as it applies to federal laws, and does not give an opinion concerning whether one state must accept as valid a same-sex marriage allowed in another state,” the judge wrote. “[N]either the federal government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility.”

Citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent, Simmons said the “Full Faith and Credit” clause of the Constitution that requires states to recognize one another’s laws need not apply when the laws of two states are diametrically opposed.

The judge also rebuffed the common argument that same-sex marriage bans discriminate against a “class” of people: “There are other marriages between opposite sex couples that are prohibited in Tennessee, such as prohibited degrees of relationship (a parent marrying their child, a brother marrying a sister, etc.) … Also, a second marriage before the dissolution of a first marriage is prohibited.”

While agreeing marriage is a “fundamental right,” Simmons concluded, “The battle is not between whether or not marriage is a fundamental right but what unions are included in the definition of marriage. The legislative branch of Tennessee and the voters of Tennessee have said that the definition of marriage should be as it always has been. That man’s best definition of marriage will always be the union of one man and one woman.”

The surprising ruling comes the same week that voters in Chattanooga overturned a new city ordinance giving health benefits to the domestic partners of city employees. The City Council had passed the ordinance in November, but an opposition drive led by a local tea party leader quickly gathered 7,755 signatures petitioning to put the measure to a popular vote.

Last Thursday, Chattanooga residents voted down the ordinance, 13,685 to 8,184.

The 6th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last week heard arguments in several same-sex marriage cases, including a challenge attempting to force Tennessee to recognize gay marriages formed elsewhere.

New Nonprofit Exemption to Contraceptive Mandate Coming Soon


By Emily Belz

Posted Aug. 12, 2014, 10:40 a.m.

(WNS)--The Obama administration plans to release its new, new, new regulations for nonprofits objecting to the contraceptive mandate by Aug. 22, according to a court filing. The government set the deadline for itself in a filing at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday in the Little Sisters of the Poor case challenging the mandate.

This will be the third time the federal government has issued regulations for nonprofits objecting to the contraceptive mandate. The administration issued a very narrow exemption when it first announced the mandate. After more than a year, it came up with a new “accommodation” for religious nonprofits that few found satisfactory. Now, after signals from the U.S. Supreme Court this year that the current nonprofit regulation might not work, the administration will try again.

The new proposal will be an “interim final regulation,” which means the government will hold a comment period before the rule is finalized. The administration’s lawyers asked the 10th Circuit that Little Sisters’ lawyers inform the court by Sept. 2 if the organization plans to continue its lawsuit under the new regulation. Oral arguments on the case before the 10th Circuit are scheduled for Sept. 29.

The Supreme Court at the beginning of the year gave Little Sisters an emergency injunction against the mandate, the first injunction from the court for an objecting nonprofit. Then in July the Supreme Court issued an order granting an emergency injunction against the mandate to Wheaton College. The order exempted Wheaton, but said the federal government was free to try to provide Plan B and Ella (the abortifacients Wheaton does not cover) to Wheaton employees.

The new regulation could resemble the Wheaton accommodation the Supreme Court came up with; but the court explicitly said no one should construe its order as a ruling on the nonprofit cases. So the government might come up with its own scheme to try to satisfy the justices.

In July, a White House official speaking on background about the new regulation said it would “provide an alternative way for objecting non-profit religious organizations to provide notification [of their objection], while ensuring that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage of contraceptive services without cost sharing. "

Nonprofits and religious freedom lawyers are divided about the Wheaton approach. Some think that it is the most a nonprofit can demand—to be free of arranging any contraceptive coverage, and to notify the government of a conscientious objection to any provision. But others, foreseeing that the government could simply require the nonprofit’s insurance provider to cover the drugs, want a complete exemption from any coverage.

Who Will Get to Decide Definition of Marriage?


By Mary Reichard

Posted Aug. 11, 2014, 02:55 p.m.

(WNS)--The 6th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last week held a marathon three-hour session to hear six marriage cases out of Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. In each case, lower courts had struck down state laws affirming marriage between a man and woman or forced states to recognize marriage licenses granted to same-sex couples by other states.

Themes of tradition and child rearing arose, as they have before. But in a new and different twist, one judge thought the issue was for the legislature and voters to decide, not the courts.

“I would have thought the best way to get respect and dignity is through the democratic process, not forcing one’s neighbors, co-employees, friends to recognize that these marriages or this status deserves the same respect as the status of a heterosexual couple,” Judge Jeffrey Sutton said.

But the attorney for a lesbian couple from Michigan who have adopted children said 

the “wait and see” approach was not a rational basis for denying marriage rights to her clients.

“No other group in society has to pass a parenting competency test before they’re allowed to marry,” attorney Carole Stanyar said. “There are groups of parents in society that we know tend to have poor outcomes, on average. Parents who have low incomes, parents with lower educational levels, parents who may have children, get divorced, and want to marry again—there’s no competency test for these parents, but we don’t bar them from marrying or having children.”

Stanyar argued that “doctrinal development” drives contemporary understanding of marriage, and that’s what judges should do, too. Sutton expressed skepticism, though.

“When you say ‘doctrinal development,’ is it fair to paraphrase that to mean reasoning that’s inconsistent with other lines of precedent? Isn’t that what you mean by a doctrinal development?” he asked. Stanyar called doctrinal development an evolution of concepts. She needs that argument to overcome the legal basis for rejecting same-sex marriage at the state level. 

The attorney for the residents of Michigan who voted for traditional marriage argued for democratic process in his opening statement.

“It is a fundamental premise of our democratic system that the people can be trusted to decide even divisive issues on decent and rational grounds. And that’s what this case is about. It’s about who gets to decide what the definition of marriage is, not what that definition must be,” Aaron Lindstrom said.

Lindstrom pointed out the state does not regulate friendships, but the reason the state regulates marriage is because of children, who are only produced by heterosexuals. It’s not much of a burden for the state to show that defining marriage as between one man and one woman is a rational state interest.

Sutton seemed to agree. Judge Debra Cook didn’t seem to buy into fundamental right of gays to marry, either. But the third judge, President Bill Clinton-appointee Martha Daughtry, leaned the other way. Of all the appeals courts to hear this issue, the 6th Circuit seems more likely to uphold traditional marriage in a 2 to 1 decision. The 10th and 4th circuits have already found traditional marriage rules unconstitutional. And last week, Utah filed a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court to look at a lower court ruling striking down its marriage amendment. Other states will follow with their own appeals.

So a split among the circuits will exist if the 6th Circuit rules in favor of letting voters decide, and that could make the Supreme Court take up the case sooner.

France Loosens Abortion Restrictions Despite Strong Pro-life Protests


By Courtney Crandell

Posted Aug. 12, 2014, 09:56 a.m.

(WNS)--French lawmakers legalized abortion on demand for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy under a new law passed Aug. 5 despite pro-life protests.

The law, part of a broader legal push to increase gender equality, alters France’s nearly 40-year-old law allowing abortions only for women who prove they are in situations of “distress.” Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the country’s women’s rights minister, called that limited restriction obsolete. France’s population may be overwhelmingly Catholic, but about 220,000 abortions are performed in France annually. And, one out of every three French women will have an abortion.

“This might seem merely symbolic, but it’s a strong message,” Belkacem said. “Women must have the right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy without having to justify themselves.” 

The law also stipulates punishment for anyone who attempts to prevent a woman from obtaining information about abortion services. France’s government already pays for legal abortions and contraceptives for girls between 15 and 18 under a law passed last year. 

Lawmakers approved this year’s abortion law despite at least two pro-life protests while they debated the bill. In January, 40,000 people gathered for France’s annual March for Life. Protesters said the new law would “totally trivialize” abortions, The Christian Institute reported. Several conservative religious and pro-family groups also protested in Paris on Aug. 3. The protesters claim 40,000 attendees while police estimated about 16,000, the Huffington Post reported. They waved Spanish flags and shouted “viva Espagna”—a tribute to Spain’s proposal to further restrict abortion. 

Current law in Spain, France’s Catholic neighbor, allows abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy. However, proposed legislation would restrict abortion up to 22 weeks if pregnancy endangers the mother’s mental or physical health. It also only allows abortion up to the 12th week in cases involving rape. Some human rights groups said in May that the legislation would conflict with laws in most European Union countries and subject Spain to criticism. One French politician said Spain’s proposed law would “take women back to the Stone Age,” the Huffington Postreported. 

But more conservative French politicians still expressed skepticism about weakening France’s abortion restrictions. Jean-Louis Borloo, former president of the centrist Union of Democrats and Independents, said in January that modifying the law equated to opening a Pandora’s Box. 

Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon agreed, saying the changes are risky both morally and politically. “It is moral fault as it risks trivializing abortion, which, according to the terms of Simone Veil (the minister who introduced it in 1975), should remain an ‘exception,’” he said. “It is a political fault as it risks once again dividing the French.”



Missionaries Quarantined After Arriving in the U.S. from Liberia


By Andrew Branch

Posted Aug. 11, 2014, 01:38 p.m.

(WNS)--David Writebol, husband of Ebola-stricken missionary Nancy Writebol, arrived in the United States on Sunday night with two other SIM staff members, the Christian aid group said Monday. But he won’t be allowed to visit his wife, who is in isolation at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, for up to three weeks. 

A chartered plane flew into a private portion of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport about 10:16 p.m. EDT, where North Carolina and Mecklenburg County officials found all three to be healthy. The trio began a mandatory 21-day isolation in Liberia, and state officials are requiring them to finish out the quarantine on SIM’s Charlotte campus. 

Writebol’s wife, along with Dr. Kent Brantly, are improving. Brantly issued the first public statement from either Ebola victim Friday, saying he was “growing stronger every day.” But in West Africa, Ebola has killed nearly 1,000 people after spreading from Guinea to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and now Nigeria.

While Saudi Arabian officials say a man who died there did not have Ebola after all, Nigerian officials reported the 10th confirmed case in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. And on Saturday, a Catholic humanitarian group based in Spain said a Congolese nun working in Liberia has died of the disease.

Spain continues to treat one of the nun’s colleagues, a 75-year-old priest, evacuated last week to Madrid. Spanish officials announced they had obtained some of the same experimental serum used to treat Writebol and Brantly. 

Just last week, U.S. officials said virtually no doses of the drug were available and that it could take months to develop a modest amount. No African has received the treatment, and Spanish media reports that despite the priest’s hopes, Spanish officials refused to allow the now-dead nun to evacuate with him for treatment. 

Ethical debates are becoming more heated, and Guinean officials on Monday asked for the drug. Nigerian officials said last week they had asked U.S. authorities about the serum but have not received any. The serum is still in the development stages and Brantly and Writebol were the first humans to get it. No approved treatment or vaccine for Ebola exists, and the fatality rate is as high as 90 percent without treatment. A World Health Organization official said a vaccine could be available in 2015, and WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., reported Monday that Raleigh’s GlaxoSmithKline is the developer.

For now, the ill-equipped health systems in the poor African nations are struggling to keep up. Liberia announced that a donation of protective gear from China would arrive Monday. A shortage of full-body suits and even clean surgical gloves has prompted some health workers to refuse to treat Ebola patients. The European Union and USAID announced more than $23 million in new aid, along with more laboratory diagnostic support. 

But the situation has only gotten worse in Liberia. Riot police on Saturday raced to quell a demonstration blocking Liberia’s busiest highway as an angry crowd protested the government’s delays in collecting the bodies of Ebola victims. Protestors reported bodies lying by roadsides for days after villagers apparently complied with government orders to end dangerous burial rituals and cremate victims.

The deteriorating situation prompted Guinea, where the outbreak is improving, to close its land borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone. Those borders had remained largely open as the three countries focused on isolating themselves from other neighbors. Saudi Arabia has also refused to issue visas to 7,400 Muslim pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea for the hajj pilgrimage, which sees millions of people from around the world gather in Mecca. 

Ebola Claims Another African Doctor


By Andrew Branch

Posted Aug. 13, 2014, 03:38 p.m.

(WNS)--Another leading physician in Sierra Leone’s fight against Ebola has died from the disease, an official announced Wednesday.

So far, Ebola has infected more than 1,848 in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria, and 1,013 people have died. Those numbers include 52 new cases of Ebola reported between Aug. 7 and Aug. 9. Many of the dead are health workers, who often work with inadequate supplies and protection.

Dr. Modupeh Cole died on earlier today, according to Sidie Yayah Tunis, director of communications for Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation. Trained in the United States, Cole was one of the top doctors working in the isolation ward in Freetown’s Connaught Hospital. He tested positive for the disease last week and received treatment from Doctors Without Borders. Fearful Connaught staff briefly went on strike Friday and Saturday upon hearing his diagnosis.

News of Cole’s death came amid further controversy about the use of experimental drugs to treat victims. The World Health Organization declared on Tuesday it is ethical to use untested drugs and vaccines, and Canada subsequently donated up to 1,000 doses of its experimental Ebola vaccine.

But the WHO revealed Wednesday it had denied a different Sierra Leonean doctor the now-depleted experimental serum given to American missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol.

Nearly three weeks ago, doctors decided against giving the drug to Sheik Humarr Khan, the chief doctor treating Ebola in Sierra Leone. WHO tried to airlift Khan out of the country, but “his condition had deteriorated too much,” officials said. He died July 29, before the Americans received the serum. 

In a statement issued this afternoon, Doctors Without Borders said it made the difficult decision to withhold the serum because Kahn had already started developing antibodies to fight the disease: “Every day, doctors have to make choices, sometimes difficult, about treatment for their patients. Trying an untested drug on patients is a very difficult decision, particularly in the light of the 'do no harm' principle.”

Anger has been rising in Africa because the only people to receive this particular experimental treatment, called ZMapp, have been Westerners. The Spanish government procured a dose to give a priest in Madrid, but he died Tuesday. It’s not clear whether he received the treatment or not.

Doses of ZMapp for two Liberian doctors could arrive as soon as Wednesday in Liberia, according to Liberian Health Minister Walter Gwenigale. But that caused a different discontent among some. “The Liberians can count on their government, but Guineans can only count on God in the face of Ebola,” said Assiatou Diallo, a nurse in Conakry, Guinea’s capital.

San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical says it has no doses of the serum left. Produced in tobacco plants, the antibodies necessary for another batch could take months to produce.

The body of Spanish priest Miguel Parajes was to be cremated Wednesday to avoid any public health risks, a Madrid hospital said. He was working for the San Juan de Dios hospital order, a Catholic group, helping to treat people with Ebola in Liberia when he became ill and was evacuated.

NPR reports that St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, which Parajes directed, has been shuttered for two weeks after the disease spread among staff. The hospital wasn’t equipped for Ebola, and the medical director said seven staff members were also diagnosed with the disease. St. Joseph’s had prided itself on staying open even through Liberia’s bloody civil war in the 1990s. But the 140-bed facility will stay closed at least two more weeks, as the Liberian Ministry of Health hasn’t disinfected the wards. Ebola has an incubation period of 21 days.

Christian Expats Lead Seoul Outreach Ministries


While South Korea is known for sending missionaries to other countries, the local church is not as good about addressing cultural needs at home

By Sophia Lee

Posted Aug. 13, 2014, 08:38 a.m.

(WNS)--The Starbucks near Seoul National University was like the iced drinks the young customers were shaking and sipping—cool, mixed, and tightly packed with bodies tumbling over one another as they bucked for the rare open seat. 

At a corner table for two, two Korean-Americans and a Canadian woman bowed their heads in prayer. They conversed in English, which attracted some cursory glances, but perhaps it was also their outfits and mannerisms that stood out. 

Starbucks isn’t the only rapid foreign expansion in Seoul, which now has more Starbucks stores than any city in the world. The number of expats living in Seoul has also exploded—and continues to grow. According to a 2012 city survey, more than 280,000 foreigners live legally in Seoul, a hike from 61,920 in 2000. Most are migrant workers, but some are bilingual Korean-American working professionals, college graduates with wanderlust tutoring English part-time, or Koreans who were adopted as children and have come back. 

In a nation that prides itself as one of the most ethnically homogeneous in the world, the seep of multiculturalism stirs alarm and hot discussions among native Koreans who worry about cultural and ethnic preservation, diseases, and crime. The debates aren’t that different from typical American anxieties about immigrants, but with greater emphasis on ethnic purity. Still, more and more Koreans, particularly the younger generation, are welcoming multiculturalism and embracing expats. 

The South Korean government has played a crucial role in pushing smoother integration for foreigners since 2006. On a quieter note, so has the expat church community, a small but dynamic group whose outsider perspectives open ways to minister in the many blind spots in Korean society. As the international community burgeoned, so has the need for and roles of international ministries. The three expats praying at Starbucks late on a Sunday afternoon offer a great example.

Jee Lee, a 34-year-old from northern Virginia, is a full-time volunteer at Jerusalem Ministry (JM), a Christian NGO that trains and equips international volunteers to serve children’s homes in Seoul. With her were two fresh volunteers: Young-rae Kim, 23, from Los Angeles, and Emily Boivin, 35, from Montreal. As Lee led the two-hour training session, in which she described Korean prejudices against orphans and stressed long-term commitment, the two orientation students took copious notes. 

Boivin, who moved to Seoul after the Korean bug “bit” her, told me she was drawn to JM after listening to sermons about orphans at New Philadelphia Church, the multi-site EM (English-speaking Ministry) branch of a Korean Presbyterian church. As an adoptee, she “knew the orphan spirit” and felt “tugging in the heart” to serve the abandoned children of a country she has come to love. Meanwhile, Kim is on a one-year stint in Seoul to teach English—but considers lengthening his stay to serve its community.

JM, founded in 2006 by John-Michael Becker, a gangly 32-year-old Virginia Tech graduate, is one of many Christian organizations founded by expats in South Korea. I joined Becker and his mostly expat team at his apartment/office for their weekly prayer meeting for North Korea. 

Becker has lived in Seoul for nine years, during which he married a Korean woman, learned conversational Korean, and now eats spicy, pungent Korean food without losing weight. Within five months of working full-time at a Christian children’s home, Becker noticed a pressing issue: Commitment from orphanage volunteers was weak, especially among Western volunteers who expected warm hugs and Orphan Annie smiles, and then disappeared when things got too difficult or a new job popped up. Such broken commitments only deepen the children’s spirit of rejection and distrust. 

When Becker first initiated JM, the orphanage staff, tired of foreign irresponsibility, refused to accept any expat volunteers despite the dire need for English tutors. Since then, JM has formed partnerships with nine children’s homes and has trained and sent about 100 expat volunteers who commit to serve a minimum of 6 to 12 months. Becker has broadened his ministry to include soccer and arts and crafts camps, and a college scholarship and mentorship program for orphans. Becker said he’s seen many foreigners recommit to a 10-year stay in Korea because “they recognize that God is doing something here.” 

Even though South Korea sends out many missionaries, Becker calls it “ironic” that not as much outreach goes to its own people—leaving many Christian expats to fill in the blind spots created by cultural barriers and social challenges. Orphans—socially typecast as undisciplined troublemakers and rarely adopted because of deep cultural emphasis on bloodline—are just one unreached pocket in South Korean society. Other typically overlooked issues include sex-trafficking, prostitution, North Korean refugees, the homeless, single mothers, and abortion. 

Eddie Byun, a 40-year-old Korean-American pastor from Illinois who’s been leading Onnuri Church’s English-speaking Ministry (OEM) since 2008, remembers being shocked to discover that some estimates of the women and children under sexual servitude in South Korea topped 1 million. He was even more shocked that not a single local church was doing anything about it. When he first started OEM’s anti-sex-trafficking ministry, he ruffled the feathers of many local pastors, who shunned taboo topics of sex and prostitution, suspected encroaching “social justice” liberalism, or just wasn’t used to a young, newly appointed pastor shaking up the rigid hierarchy based on position and age. 

Byun said if he had been raised in Korea, he probably wouldn’t have been able to leap past cultural prejudices and initiate the various justice ministries OEM leads today, including foster care for North Korean orphans. Because he is so obviously American, even elderly Korean pastors allow him certain leeway in saying something that would ordinarily be “shocking” or “offensive” from a native pastor. 

But sometimes, the shock factor helps. Becker said because he’s “the most random white guy,” there’s “a level of shame that hits Koreans” when he gets up on stage at benefit concerts to represent Korean orphans. “To them it’s kind of like, ‘Hello, wake up!’ I think if I was Korean, they wouldn’t be ashamed.” 

And some Korean churches are taking notice. OEM’s Korean parent church has recently partnered with OEM to form a “social mission” ministry to sex-trafficking victims and North Korean orphans. Byun said he believes God has placed “a very special role for the expat community” in Korea to speak up for traditionally repressed voices, and hopes one day Korean churches will lead such initiatives by placing “a higher value on the gospel and kingdom culture versus the Korean culture.”


Appeals Court Saves Last Mississippi Abortion Center from Closure


(WNS)--A federal appeals court panel ruled in July that a Mississippi law that would close the state’s only abortion facility is unconstitutional. The three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its 2-1 ruling in a case involving the state’s 2012 law, which required all abortionists at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO) to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. Two abortionists at the facility were unable to get privileges at Jackson-area hospitals. The ruling appears to directly contradict a March decision by the same court that upheld a Texas law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges. But the difference has to do with geography and the availability of abortions in the two states. The Texas law would have caused some clinics to close, but not all. Women would have had to drive farther to get an abortion, but, “an increase of travel of 150 miles for some women is not an undue burden” on their constitutional right to an abortion, the court wrote in its opinion. But the Mississippi law would have closed the state’s only abortion center.

4th Circuit: Virginia Gay Marriage Ban an “Impermissible Infringement”


(WNS)--A federal court in Virginia struck down that state’s traditional marriage law this morning, striding lock-step with other courts who have ruled same-sex marriage cannot be banned. The state’s same-sex marriage bans “impermissibly infringe on its citizens’ fundamental right to marry,” Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 designating marriage as only between one man and one woman. State law also forbids recognition for same-sex marriages from other states. Although practically identical to cases in other states that outlaw same-sex marriage, the legal challenge in Virginia got a lot of attention because Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, announced earlier this year he would not defend his state’s regulations. Herring was not the first attorney general to refuse to defend state marriage laws, but he took it one step further, joining the plaintiffs’ suit against the state.

Six Marriage Cases at the 6th Circuit


(WNS)--Attorneys from four states argued six challenges to traditional marriage laws on Aug. 6 before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Federal judges recently overturned statewide bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky and Michigan, forced Ohio to recognize marriages outside the state by listing same-sex spouses on birth and death certificates, and ordered Tennessee in spite of its state constitution to recognize three same-sex couples married outside the state.

Houston Rejects Petition to Send LGBT Anti-Bias Policy to Voters

(WNS)--Conservative Christians in Houston filed suit against Mayor Annise Parker’s administration after city officials ruled invalid a petition to overturn a new LGBT anti-bias ordinance. City officials threw out thousands of signatures that would have forced the city to put the ordinance on the November ballot. But conservatives are not willing to declare defeat yet.

Parker in May rammed through her “Equal Rights Ordinance” in hearings some called a sham. Supporters say the ordinance is a generic rights rule that simply adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a list of other protected classes. But Parker, who is open about her homosexual relationship, has publicly declared the ordinance “about me.”


Is Hindu Nationalism Behind Crackdown on India’s Christians?


(WNS)--Christian minorities in central India face a new threat as Hindu extremists in more than a dozen village councils have passed restrictions on religions other than Hinduism. The laws, passed under the guise of stopping false conversions, made Christian prayer, services, and “propaganda” illegal, World Watch Monitor (WWM) reported. The Bastar district president of the World Hindu Council, Suresh Yadav, told The Times of India that more than 50 village councils have banned all non-Hindu missionaries. The state government of Chhattisgarh, where the tribal Bastar villages are located, has not moved to intervene on the rules, but plans to wait and see what happens, according to the Times. Chhattisgarh Christian Forum president Arun Pannalal told the newspaper that village councils were wrong to think they could pass resolutions that override constitutional protections. Pannalal noted that Article 25 of India’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all. Church leaders say the resolutions have already harmed Christians and called for higher government officials to overturn them.


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The West Michigan Christian News desires to glorify God while providing global, national, and local news to the West Michigan community. The West Michigan Christian News is a non-denominational, Christ-centered, advertiser-supported monthly newspaper published in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Manna Media Inc. It is unabashedly biased in its Christian presentation of news and views. It is also dedicated to the promotion of Christian unity by focusing on the 95 percent of the Christian faith on which all Christians agree while refusing to get drawn into controversies about the 5 percent on which we might differ.

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