On Christian World News, Dec. 14: Navy SEAL in Afghan rescue gave life for others; Sudan renews attacks on Christian-populated area; Chiang Mai a gateway for modern missions; and more.
Today on Christian World News –
One doctor's mission to give back turns into
a rescue mission for his life. The Afghan
raid that left a Navy SEAL dead.
Gay marriage in the U.K. The new law keeping
some churches from having to perform same-sex
And we'll take you to an unlikely capital
of international missions.
A Christian worker is snatched from the hands
of the Taliban. Hello, everyone, I'm Wendy
And I'm George Thomas.
Well, a special operations raid saves an American
doctor captured in Afghanistan. He was there
on a medical mission to help save lives. Sadly,
one of the rescuers gave his own life to set
the doctor free.
A member of a Navy Special Ops group died
in the daring rescue mission. The Pentagon
has identified him as Petty Officer 1st Class
Nicolas D. Checque. He was 28 years old. The
fallen warrior was a member of SEAL Team Six,
the same group responsible for the raid that
killed Osama bin Laden.
President Barack Obama praised the SEAL's
action, saying "He gave his life for his fellow
Americans." His death came as part of the
mission to rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph. Dr. Joseph
was working in Afghanistan with the Christian
relief group Morning Star Development.
A military spokesman says members of the Taliban
abducted Dr. Joseph and two co-workers last
The Afghan captors were eventually released
but Dr. Joseph remained captive for three
days until Special Forces made the daring
It was a combined operation in order to rescue
this individual. Seven of the captors were
killed actually, and indeed, very sadly one
of the American soldiers was killed during
According to officials, a firefight broke
out during the rescue mission. The service
member was injured in that fight and later
died of his wounds.
By the way, Dr. Joseph's family issued a statement
expressing their condolences to the family
of the slain service member, and thanking
all those who took part in the rescue mission.
Morning Star says it remains committed to
helping the people of Afghanistan.
Armed forces of the Islamic regime of Sudan's
Omar Bashir attacked at least 26 villages
in the Nuba mountains in November.
The Satellite Sentinel Project tracks activity
in Sudan. These images shown burned out huts
in South Kordofan where the Nuba mountains
Government forces destroyed schools, homes,
churches, food, crops and grasslands in its
54-square-mile area in the Nuba mountains
The Nuba mountains are home to one of Sudan's
largest Christian populations. The area suffered
vicious attacks during the 20-year civil war
between the Arabic Islamic regime of Khartoum
and Christians and black Africans in the south.
Jonathan Hutson is with the Enough Project,
one of the partners behind the Satellite Sentinel
Project. Recently CBN's Heather Sells asked
him why the government is targeting the Nuba
The government of Sudan is pursuing a policy
of scorched earth and starvation warfare in
order to rid the Nuba mountains of the Nuba
people. Simply put, it's an ethnic cleansing
campaign. We've seen these scorched earth
tactics before in Darfur and Abb-ee-ay (phonetic)
and now in the Sudanese border states of South
Kordofan and Blue Nile State.
We've documented digital globe satellite imagery
of 26 Nuban villages burned across an area
54 square miles. That's nearly the size of
our nation's capital of Washington, D.C. Imagine
And what is happening to the people in those
Tens of thousands of people have fled the
Nuban villages into the Nuba mountains. They're
now living in caves, many of them able to
stay in contact with the satellite central
project through solar-powered laptops, believe
it or not.
But then hundreds of thousands more have fled
on foot as refugees. There are about 70,000
now living in the Yee-da (phonetic) refugee
camps just over the border in South Sudan.
But that's a 7-day walk on foot and many people
are too injured, weak, old or frail. They
die along the way trying to walk out of the
Nuba mountains, often being indiscriminately
bombarded by their own government as they
try to become refugees in South Sudan.
Now, Sudan's president is already an indicted
war criminal. Now his regime is committing
more of these crimes. Why can't he be stopped?
Well, he should be arrested. As you've mentioned,
he's indicted for war crimes, including genocide
in Darfur. And currently he is presiding over
the Khartoum regime which is actively blockading
all humanitarian relief into South Kordofan
and Blue Nile State, Sudan. That means no
food, no drinking water, no medicine is getting
to the tens of thousands—or hundreds of
thousands actually—of internally displaced
There are about half a million people just
within the Nuba mountains region who have
been displaced by this scorched earth and
starvation warfare. They're not just burning
the huts. Again, as you mentioned, they're
burning the grasslands needed to feed the
cattle and they're burning the orchards and
the food crops needed for people to feed themselves.
So they could grown their own food but they're
All right, well we just have a few seconds
left, if I may just interrupt you for one
second – you know, we hear so much about
the Syrian government attacking its people
but we're not hearing about this situation,
why do you think that is? Why not more international
Well, that's a good point, you know. People
invoke the international doctrine of the responsibility
to protect when it comes to Syria. And if
that's true in Syria the same should also
pertain to the government of Sudan.
The international community and regional partners
in the Horn of Africa have a responsibility
to protect the civilian populations who are
being bombarded and driven out of their homes
by their own government.
All right. Well, we are out of time but Jonathan
Hutson, thanks so much.
Thank you, Heather.
Nigeria's Christians are asking American churches
to pray they will be safe from attacks this
Rev. Musa Asake, the general secretary of
the Christian Association of Nigeria, says
he's very, very worried. Dozens of Nigerian
Christians died in bombing attacks during
Christmas services the past two years.
The radical Islamic group Boko Haram is carrying
out a war to drive Christians from northern
Rev. Asake says that won't stop Nigerian Christians
from going to church on Christmas and he's
asking believers in America to pray that the
Lord will intervene to protect them in the
Gay marriage could be the law of the land
in Great Britain.
In little more than a year, Parliament leaders
have unveiled a plan to redefine the institution
and to protect churches who have long opposed
Efrem Graham has that story.
Gay couples have been able to form civil partnerships
in Great Britain since 2005. But same-sex
weddings may now be legal as early as 2014.
The British government is set to introduce
a bill next year.
Extending marriage to same-sex couples will
strengthen not weaken this vital institution.
Equalities Minister Maria Miller outlined
the plan before the House of Commons this
week. The law would make gay marriage legal.
But it would also make it illegal for the
Church of England and the Church of Wales
to perform such ceremonies.
Because the Church of England and Wales have
explicitly stated that they do not wish to
conduct same-sex marriage, the legislation
will explicitly state that it would be illegal
for the Churches of England and Wales to marry
Prime Minister David Cameron specifically
supports that part of the law. Cameron has
said while he backs homosexual marriages in
churches he wants a "100 percent" guarantee
no church, synagogue, or any mosque be forced
to conduct them.
Churches have a right to fight for and articulate
their beliefs, and to be under no compulsion
to conduct same-sex marriages.
That protection for England's religious organizations
does not sit well with gay marriage supporters.
We talk about how this is the bedrock of society,
and how important it is for people to be making
a commitment, and that we want them to have
the church as part of that community, and
then the church is saying, "No, we're not
going to be involved in that, we don't want
to be part of it." It just makes more and
more people feel that the church is not a
place where they want to be.
Efrem Graham, CBN News.
And coming up –
How CBN's disaster relief teams are stepping
up in flood-devastated areas
of the Philippines.
death toll from a typhoon that savaged the
Philippines last week has climbed to more
than 900. More than 400,000 people have lost
And now injury and disease are threatening
to take more lives. CBN Disaster Relief is
on the scene giving medical aid to keep that
Lucille Talusan has the story.
Roads blocked by mudslides and bridges destroyed
by flooding are making it extremely difficult
for disaster relief teams to reach the victims
of Typhoon Bopha.
Instead of two hours it will take eight to
ten hours drive to get to the other side of
this bridge. And that is why CBN is using
these small boats to bring the much needed
relief faster to some 28,000 households that
have been isolated.
We could feel the people's sense of helplessness
as we saw firsthand the damage Bopha did to
their community. The storm devastated vast
lands of coconut plantations, schools, churches
and even hospitals.
Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon
despaired over the plight of the typhoon victims
and the shortage of medical assistance for
the injured and those suffering from fever
…everything from nebulizers, they need people
to have traction for their legs. There are
a lot of people who need operations, they
need an x-ray for their head. A lot of people
have lost their families. They need to have
one hospital that is well equipped even if
it's…just so long as it is an orderly procedure.
When Arnelia Singoc heard that CBN Disaster
Relief was in her village, she immediately
brought her niece Hannah for a doctor's examination.
Hannah was suffering from dizziness due to
dehydration. But even worse, she was traumatized
by losing her father in the typhoon.
She's very much affected by the death of her
father. He was struck by a coconut tree during
the storm and our house was swept away by
the winds. We now live in a makeshift tent
along the road. All this is very traumatic
A CBN doctor gave Hannah oral rehydration
solution to replace lost fluids. And a CBN
church volunteer prayed for healing for her
body and emotional condition.
You were really God-sent. Only a few organizations
come to us. Thank you very much for coming
to our village to help us.
Arnelia was also surprised that CBN found
their tent. She was grateful for the mat and
blanket that are important in helping Hannah
Many more victims need medical care in these
isolated towns. And CBN will be holding more
medical missions in these areas in the coming
Lucille Talusan, CBN News, Davao Oriental,
The Philippines is the largest Christian nation
in Southeast Asia and a partner in the war
against Islamic extremism.
The Philippine ambassador to the United States
recently talked with our Gary Lane about a
number of issues, including joint efforts
to fight terror groups in the southern Philippines.
This relationship militarily, how is it working,
is it working, or isn't it working to prevent
terrorism in the region?
Well, certainly it has been working quite
well because the Abu Sayyaf, which was a very,
I guess, aggressive, very militant organization
ten years ago, has somehow been neutralized.
From about 1200 armed persons, they're down
to about 200 and they're on the run. Many
of their leaders have been apprehended or
killed in battle.
And frankly, it is also because of the support
and assistance of the U.S. forces, particularly
providing night goggles, which allow them
to go after this Abu Sayyaf, even during the
Joint training was also very helpful.
Let's talk about peace in the Philippines.
After 40 years, you resolve this dispute,
this military battle with the Moral Islamic
Liberation Front in Mindanao.
They now will have their own autonomous area.
It is a framework agreement but it's a very
significant first step. Now, the basic law
will be written by the transition committee,
which will have representatives from both
the government of the Republic of the Philippines
and the Moral Islamic Liberation Front.
What if they have Sharia law there? What will
that mean for the Christians?
Well, while it is true that they will have
their own traditional system, the civil courts
will convene. So in other words, the rights
of the individuals, including the Christians,
will also be respected.
We have seen in other places where there has
been Sharia where Christians have been attacked:
Christian women for not being veiled or covering
their heads, things like that. What can the
Philippine government do to assure that that
doesn't happen or to protect them?
I think it's both training, education and
so on, because we of course we will respect
the rights of the Muslims but the Muslims
should also respect the rights of the Christians.
And we are hopeful that we will see that kind…
Is that written into the deal, into the agreement?
It's, well, it's still not there because as
I said this framework agreement is not very
detailed at this point. There will be a more
detailed peace agreement that will be signed
at a later stage.
Mr. Ambassador, we look forward to hearing
some more from you when we get closer to that
point. And we thank you for visiting us today
and God bless you.
Bless you, and thank you, Gary. God bless
Up next –
From ordinary city to missionary hub. We visit
the Thai town that's become a major training
for the gospel.
And welcome back to the broadcast.
Hey, you may have heard about Colorado Springs
and Orlando, Christian mega cities, but have
you heard about Chiang Mai?
That's right. It's a missions hub located
in northern Thailand. As Heather Sells tells
us, it's become a launching pad for hundreds
of Christian ministries.
More than one million people live in and around
Chiang Mai, a city surrounded by lush countryside
and the mountains of northern Thailand.
Streets here teem with commerce and temples
abound, a reminder that 95 percent of the
people are Buddhist.
But amidst all this, a powerful Christian
community is at work, strategically building
As many as 2,000 missionaries and Christian
workers live and/or work out of Chiang Mai,
and hundreds of Christian organizations have
established offices here.
That puts the city on the level of Colorado
Springs and Orlando, Florida, two well-known
hubs for Christian ministry.
But what sets Chiang Mai apart is its proximity
to the 10/40 window, those countries between
10 and 40 degrees north of the equator that
missions experts say have the least access
to the gospel.
It's just a phenomenal place in which to work.
Media missionary Tom Silkwood has worked here
since the 1980s. He's collaborated with CBN,
which operates a production center in the
city, and countless other organizations.
We also have Campus Crusade. We have Compassion
International. We have YWAM. We have Wycliffe,
SIL. Just all your top players as far as ministry
outreach are here.
So how did this ordinary Asian city grow to
this? The answer begins almost 200 years ago.
The history goes way back till about 1828
when the first missionaries came here and
they set up schools, they set up hospitals.
You don't have to look far in Chiang Mai to
find evidence of its missions roots. Right
behind me is First Church Chiang Mai founded
by missionaries in 1868.
There's also McCormick Hospital, founded by
Presbyterian missionaries in 1888, Prince
Royal's College, a private Christian K-12
school, and the McGilvary College of Divinity
at Payap University.
But despite these services, long-timers like
Esther Wakeman, say for many years the missionary
population in Chiang Mai remained relatively
When I came to Chiang Mai 33 years ago, if
you were a Westerner walking down the main
street of Chiang Mai, little kids would still
kind of point you out, "Oh, there's the Westerner."
Then in 1997, the British gave Hong Kong back
to China, forcing a sizeable change on that
I think a lot of mission organizations were
going, "What's next, what are we going to
They soon realized that Thailand could be
Thailand was a free country and the government
of Thailand actually supported freedom of
religion, so it was a very safe place for
organizations to migrate to and to work.
Part of the support came from the Thais' appreciation
for missions work: medical care, the schools,
and other social services.
Mission organizations have also learned that
Chiang Mai offers a way of life that facilitates
The cost of living makes it easier for missionaries
to be here. It's a very reasonable cost of
living and it's also a very safe place.
It's a really nice place to live. It's located
really wonderfully in Southeast Asia and with
access to China, India, all these nations
in Asia, very easy access. So a lot of mission
organizations that don't actually work in
Thailand but work in the region have their
Another plus, a host of services in Chiang
Mai aimed at keeping Christian workers on
the field. The Well and Cornerstone provide
counseling, and the Juniper Tree provides
lodging for those in need of rest.
Some missions actually recommend that people
leave their country maybe every four months
or six months just to come out from the pressures
that they're under.
It would no doubt be impossible to measure
the impact this city has for Christ. Perhaps
the bigger question right now, however, is
this: how long will Christians be welcome
The concern? The 85-year-old king of Thailand.
He's ruled the country since 1946 and no one
knows who will succeed him.
It will be a huge event when we lose the king.
And nobody's really sure what will happen
For now, missionaries here say they're enjoying
the benefits of working side by side and thankful
for a city that makes it relatively easy to
advance the gospel.
Reporting in Chiang Mai, Heather Sells, CBN
And you can find daily reports about the work
of the church around the world. Simply visit
our Christian World News website. Find it
We'll be back right after this.
Well, many Christians avoid writing "Xmas"
this time of year. They assume it's a way
of taking Christ out of the word Christmas.
But that's not so according to author Ace
Collins. In fact, the opposite is true. And
Occasionally around Christmas, you see it
abbreviated as "Xmas." Are we abbreviating,
are we going back to an older tradition, what's
the story behind that?
A lot of people get upset when they see that.
They think you're trying to take Christ out
of Christmas. Yet if Paul or Timothy came
back they would look at it as putting Christ
into Christmas, because X is the first letter
of Christ's name in Greek. And so they look
at that as the way Christ was spelled.
As a matter of fact, in the old days when
a Christian was martyred, people would go
up on the street after that Christian was
martyred and the body was taken off, and draw
an X on that spot to represent a Christian
died here for his faith.
For fifteen hundred years the church wrote
Christmas as X-mas, worship Christ. Remember,
most people couldn't read. X, they could read,
though, is Christ's name.
Secondly - and this is really I think key
and critical - paper and ink were in very
short supply. They abbreviated anything they
could when they were writing out text. And
so this was like an early form of texting,
X-mas. But believe it or not, it was not taking
Christ out of Christmas. It was actually keeping
Christ in Christmas. And we can use that as
a worship and a witnessing tool today. We
can tell people the history of X-mas and show
them that it's actually putting Christ into
What are you doing?
This is my partridge in a pear tree for Christmas.
Oh, wonderful. Very festive.
Kind of looks like one of those English hats.
It does. Well, folks, I hope you've enjoyed
our show this week. Thank you so much for
Until next week, from all of us here at Christian
World News, good-bye and God bless you.
God bless you.