Christian Today

Dapchi crisis: CNN is only U.S. network to follow up on missing Leah Sharibu

Dapchi crisis: CNN is only U.S. network to follow up on missing Leah Sharibu

Typically, the international media often tires of a crisis after a few months and departs the scene, leaving the rest of us to scan more local outlets to find out what happened to the victims.

But the story of more than 100 Nigerian school girls kidnapped in February by a terrorist group is different. Not only were nearly all these girls returned a few months later, there was one left behind. This was one Christian girl who refused to convert to Islam in exchange for her freedom. Not surprisingly, her plight has caught the attention of many.

Including the U.S. president. According to Vanguard Media, a Nigerian outlet, we learn that Leah’s captivity was discussed in talks between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and President Donald Trump when the former was in Washington this month.

Meanwhile, CNN was the lone U.S. network to send a reporter to Nigeria to find out who is this 15-year-old girl who defied a terrorist army. She may pay for her bravery with her life. Their story begins thus:

Dapchi, Nigeria (CNN) - Under normal circumstances, Leah Sharibu would have shared a special birthday meal with her family under the bamboo covering protecting them from the Sahara desert dust swirling around them at their home in northeast Nigeria.

At some point during the celebration, they would have bowed their heads in prayer, asking God to bless Leah on her birthday and to make her dreams come true.

But this birthday, her 15th, was different and her family spent the day crying and fervently praying. They don't know where she is. 

Leah was one of the 110 schoolgirls kidnapped by members of the terrorist group Boko Haram in February from their school in Dapchi, in northeast Nigeria.

All the other kidnapped schoolgirls from Dapchi have been freed -- except Leah who her friends say refused to renounce her Christian faith to Boko Haram.

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Gabby Douglas redux: Why is her faith never mentioned in news about her suffering?

Gabby Douglas redux: Why is her faith never mentioned in news about her suffering?

The 2016 Olympic womens gymnastics competition is over and the medals all awarded, but one gymnast seemed to have a rougher time than the others. That would be the 2012 Olympics all-around champ Gabby Douglas, who this time around didn’t come close to her triumph of four years ago.

Those of us who’ve been following gymnastics since Russian Olga Korbut’s smash 1972 Olympics performances know that women gymnasts who are gold medalists in one Olympics rarely do better four years later. In 1976, Korbut was not the star -- but Nadia Comaneci of Romania was. There are exceptions, such as Aly Raisman, but generally that’s been the rule.

The following USA Today piece is typical of what Douglas' second week of competition has been like. There is much more to this painful, social-media ordeal than people criticizing her scores in Rio 2016. Legions of people are even making fun of her hair. USA Today notes:

RIO DE JANEIRO –- If there was any doubt Gabby Douglas was hurting, that the Olympics had become far more painful than she’d ever imagined after her decision to return for an encore, it was all erased not long after she finished seventh in the uneven bars on Sunday.
For nearly 10 minutes after the likely final event of her career, the 20-year-old American, who had such a thrill ride four years ago in London, spoke with reporters about the emotional roller coaster here. As if failing to qualify for the individual all-around finals after winning  in groundbreaking fashion in 2012 and earning just the team gold weren’t enough, she was criticized at every turn in the social media spectrum so often devoid of humanity.
They said she was unpatriotic on Wednesday, when Douglas was the only member of the Final Five who didn’t place her hand on her heart during the national anthem after they won gold. They said she was bitter on Thursday, when Simone Biles won the individual all-around, Aly Raisman won silver and Douglas -- who was clapping -- didn’t stand and cheer like her teammates Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian.

The article goes on to chronicle her misfortunes this past week but it does not refer to her much-documented brand of stoic Christianity that has brought her through tough times.

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Shooting back: Christian militia in Iraq gets mainstream media attention

Shooting back: Christian militia in Iraq gets mainstream media attention

Maybe the terrorists of ISIS forgot, but their victims can get guns, too. One such militia, the Babylonian Brigades, is made of Christians who have joined Muslim defenders in Iraq. And as NBC News reports, "they're out for revenge."

Sounds like NBC's crew has zeroed in on a hot story that could well get hotter:

The 1,000-strong Babylonian Brigades is the only Christian militia under the Shiite-dominated umbrella group of volunteer fighters known as the Popular Mobilization Forces — and they're out for revenge.
ISIS "displaced us from our houses, they took our money, killed our young men and women and they took our properties," the group's commander, Rayan Al-Kildani, told NBC News. "Therefore, Christians decided to fight the terrorists of ISIS."
"By the will of God we will avenge what happened to our community," he added.

Many news organizations last year woke up to persecution of Christians;  "Iraq's Other Horror Story," Chris Matthews of MSNBC called it. But NBC News not only jumped on the counterattack, but talked to the fighters.

NBC reports that the Babylonian Brigades formed in June 2014 after the fall of Mosul, a city that once had 30,000 Christian residents.  The militiamen tell the reporter of thefts, rapes, enslavement and summary executions of their loved ones.

It cites the CIA World Factbook that only about 260,000 are left in Iraq as of 2010, although it doesn't say how many once lived there. Some sources count as many as 800,000 to a million before the U.S.' two military actions against the government of Saddam Hussein, starting in 1991.

ISIS' persecution of religious minorities -- Yazidis and Sufi and Shiite Muslims as well as Christians -- has gotten a rising tide of coverage, in mainstream media as well as the religious press. But most of the stories take one of two themes: suffering masses fleeing violence, only to face sickness and hunger; or thousands falling victim to shootings, burnings or beheadings by ISIS.

There's also an occasional subplot of mainstream media: friends of various religions banding together against a common foe. Newsweek did it in March with its feature on the Christian flight from Maaloula, Syria. " In this town, we are not defined by religion," a Sunni man told the newsmagazine. "We all know each other. Everyone is a Christian, and everyone is Muslim."

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New persecution in Sudan: Religion News Service report leads mainstream media

New persecution in Sudan: Religion News Service report leads mainstream media

"Courage is contagious," Billy Graham has said. "When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened."

Whether from courage or just old-school nose for news, the Religion News Service deserves thanks and applause for its Wednesday story on a new round of persecution in Sudan.

Remember Meriam Yayha Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman who was jailed and threatened with death last year? Well, something like that is happening again: The government there has jailed two pastors, charging them with spying and, according to RNS, with "assault on religious belief."

In a way, it's even worse this time around. Ibrahim was accused of "apostasy," deserting the Islamic faith. Her counter-argument was that her mother raised her as a Christian and she never converted to the faith of her father. She won her case and was released in a month, then emigrated to the United States.

In the current case, neither the Rev. Michael Yat nor the Rev. Peter Yein Reith is accused of leaving Islam. At bottom, their arrests stem from the creation of South Sudan in 2011 after a long, brutal civil war. Both ministers are members of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church.

As RNS tells it:

Yat was arrested last year after visiting the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church’s Bahri congregation in Khartoum, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a charity that works on behalf of persecuted Christians.
The congregation had resisted the takeover of the church by a Muslim businessman, who had demolished part of the worship center.
In December, police beat and arrested 38 Christians for worshipping in the church.
With Yat’s arrest, South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church sent Reith with a letter to the authorities to demand his release. He was arrested on Jan. 11.

RNS adds that since the creation of South Sudan, the northern nation "has forced out all foreign missionaries, raided churches and arrested and interrogated Christians on grounds that they belonged to South Sudan." So Yat's and Reith's case is an apparent blend of governmental paranoia and Sudan's militant form of Islam.

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Yo, Washington Post editors: Do faith issues matter to the Islamic State death crews? Maybe they do ...

Yo, Washington Post editors: Do faith issues matter to the Islamic State death crews? Maybe they do ...

Once again, we are seeing the dreaded orange jumpsuits on our television screens during the news. Once again, it appears that we have an Islamic State video threatening the lives of hostages, if a Western power does not give the terrorists what they want.

This time, it's Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is facing the threats made by the YouTube-seeking terrorist with the British accent.

And who are the two hostages? What are there stories and, this time around, will journalists dig into the poignant details?

In The Washington Post, readers were told early on:

Japanese officials declined to discuss whether they would consider paying for the release of the hostages: journalist Kenji Goto Jogo and self-styled military consultant Haruna Yukawa.

The Post team doesn't tell us much about Goto, but is truly interested in the details of the story behind the "self-styled" -- what a loaded term -- military consultant.

Goto, 47, a well-respected Japanese journalist, was last heard from Oct. 24. He had told friends he was traveling to Kobane, a flashpoint town on the Turkish-Syrian border, but it is unclear exactly where he was kidnapped while covering Syria’s multiple conflicts.

And Yukawa? That's another story:

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