Monday, September 29, 2014

Women 'deserve to hear the truth'

Two stories have surfaced of problems experienced after abortion.

Lora Bishop, who is 34 and comes from Eastbourne, says when she left the abortion clinic, attached to her medical notes, face down, was a picture taken during a scan she had had five weeks earlier.

"Seeing my baby for the first time, it finally became real to me that a life had been brutally stopped. As a mother, I had committed the most unimaginable betrayal. I hated myself so much at that moment, I could hardly breathe."

A couple of days before her baby's due date, she took an overdose of pills and was hospitalised for several days.

She writes: "I don't doubt that if I'd continued with the pregnancy our lives would have been challenging, but surely that would have been preferable for my child to having no life at all?

"The destruction of that baby is something I will live with for ever. It never goes away and maybe that is the way it should be. Not quite an "eye for an eye," but it is naive to assume we can end a precious, beautiful life and simply forget about it afterwards.

"I would advise any woman planning a termination to think very carefully. Otherwise she could, like me, end up regretting it for the rest of her life."

Adele Best, who has suffered abortion twice, says "!Women deserve to hear the truth about the horrific after effects of abortion. Nobody ever warns them, nobody ever tells them - the media doesn't, the abortion providers don't. Women deserve the truth. and they're just not hearing it.

"I would say now that I really think abortion is never right in any circumstances because of the damage it does to a woman.

"Abortion is never, ever, the answer. It's just going to give you a lot more problems and those problems are for a lifetime."

Adele later became pregnant for a third time, and now has a five-year-old daughter. She says the amount of joy her daughter brings her every day is "priceless."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Not a slippery slope, but 'an avalanche'

Frank Van Den Bleeken, who is serving a life sentence for rape and murder, has become the first prisoner to be given permission by a Belgian court to undergo euthanasia.

He is 50 years old and is not terminally ill, but claims he is suffering "unbearable psychological anguish." "What's the point in sitting here until the end of time and rotting away?" he says.

Some 15 other prisoners have now reportedly made inquiries about euthanasia.

Since euthanasia was legalised in Belgium some 12 years ago, qualifications have been steadily expanded. Says Paul Moynan, of CARE for Europe: "With euthanasia being packaged as palliative care, our care homes are not safe. With its extension this year for all ages, our children are not safe. And now the mentally ill are not safe. This is not a slippery slope, but a rapid avalanche."

This is the danger of making so-called mercy killing legal. Wherever it has been permitted, it has become increasingly easy to obtain.

Since 2006, British parliaments have been asked to legalise euthanasia or assisted suicide three times. Each effort has been unsuccessful. But the House of Lords is now believed to be more favourably inclined to a change in the law. And in a recent appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the law, dismissing the appeal, but hinted that if Parliament does not make a satisfactory change it would consider allowing individuals wishing assisted suicide to have their cases heard by a High Court judge.

 Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill, which has already passed its second reading, has been criticised for its lack of adequate safeguards. It would allow doctors to dispense lethal drugs to adults who were mentally competent, judged to have six months or less to live, and to have a "settled wish" to end their lives. These conditions are difficult to assess. Apparently it would only be necessary for a doctor to say it was his "genuine view" that these conditions applied for lethal drugs to be given.

All major disability rights groups in the UK oppose the bill. It would allow assisted suicide for a few - but place pressure on a far greater number of vulnerable people - old, sick, disabled, depressed - to end their lives for fear of being a burden to others.

Monday, September 22, 2014

'15 minutes of pure love'

Phil and Bonnie Walker had four children. After Bonnie became pregnant for a fifth time, she went to hospital for a routine scan.

"The doctor said there was a problem with the pregnancy," said Bonnie. "It wasn't a viable pregnancy and she could offer a termination within the week. It was that blunt."

Baby Grace had anencephaly. If she was born, her life would be short.

"I just cried," said Phil. But they were adamant the baby should be born. "We saw it as a gift from God. That wasn't for us to take away."

When Grace was born, they showed her to the family. All the family held her. "We had no idea how long she was going to survive, but she was alive."

Grace lived for 15 minutes. Said Phil: "It was 15 minutes of pure love."

"There was such a peace. I can't describe it," said Bonnie. "We got to see her face. She was so beautiful. Why would anyone want to take that away?

"There's a reason for every life, no matter how short."

You can see Phil and Bonnie tell their story on video here.

Friday, September 19, 2014

'I was scared' - escaped child bride

Narin is a 14-year-old Yazidi girl given as a gift to an ISIS commander.

"As the sun rose over my dusty village, relatives called with terrifying news: jihadists from ISIS were coming for us. . . We scrambled out of town on foot, taking only our clothes and some valuables.

"Our plan was to take refuge on Mount Sinjar, along with thousands of other Yazidis who were fleeing there," Narin told the Washington Post. "Suddenly several vehicles drew up and we found ourselves surrounded by militants wearing Islamic State uniforms. Several people screamed; we were scared for our lives. I've never felt so helpless in my 14 years. They had blocked our path to safety, and there was nothing we could do."

They were divided into groups by gender and age, "One for young and capable men, another for girls and young women, and a third for older men and women. The jihadists stole cash and jewellery from this last group, and left them. They placed the women and girls in trucks. As they drove us away, we heard gunshots. Later we learned they were killing the young men, including my 19-year-old brother, who had married just six months ago.

"They took us to an empty school. Islamic State fighters entered. One recited: 'I testify that there is no God but Allah, and that Mohammed is his prophet.' If we repeated them, we would become Muslims. We refused. They were furious.

"We were taken to a large hall full of Yazidi girls and women. We slept on the floor and ate only once per day. Every now and then, an Islamic State man would come in and tell us to convert, but each time we refused. As faithful Yazidis, we would not abandon our religion. We wept a lot.

"My childhood friend Shayma and I were given as a gift to two Islamic State members. They wanted to make us their wives or concubines. Shayma was awarded to Abu Hussein, a cleric. I was given to an overweight, dark-bearded man about 50 years old. He went by the nickname Abu Ahmed. They drove us to their home in Fallujah.

"Abu Ahmed kept telling me to convert, which I ignored. He tried to rape me several times, but I did not allow him to touch me in any sexual way. He cursed me and beat me every day, punching and kicking me. Shayma and I began to discuss killing ourselves.

"On our sixth day in Fallujah, Abu Ahmed left for business. Shayma's captor went to the mosque for prayers, leaving us alone in the house. Shayma and I used kitchen knives and meat cleavers to break the locks of two doors to get out."

Wearing traditional black abayas they found in the house, they walked through the town to the house of an acquaintance, who recruited a cab driver to take them to Baghdad, dressed in niqabs, with only their eyes visible, and carrying fake student IDs. With more fake ID cards, family friends enabled them to board a flight to Irbil."Hugging my dad again was the best moment of my life." 

When Narin met her mother, "we hugged and kept crying until then I fainted. My month-long ordeal was over, and I felt reborn.

"I can never set foot again in our little village, because the memory of my brother who died would haunt me too much. I still have nightmares and swoon several times a day when I remember what I saw or imagine what would have happened if Shayma and I hadn't escaped.

"I want to leave this country altogether. This country has no place for me any more. I want to go to a place where I might be able to start over, if that is even possible."

Narin is not her real name. She was fortunate to escape. She has at least one female relative who has not been so fortunate.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Antisemitism: A fivefold increase

Antisemitic incidents during Israel's 50-day war with Hamas drew heavily on references to Hitler and the Holocaust, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League.

Protests from 14 countries from Argentine to the UK included such slogans as "Jews to the gas," "Gaza. Open-air museum of the Palestinian Holocaust" and "Death to the Jews." Jews were portrayed in the media as snakes, Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu was portrayed as Hitler, and the Star of David was juxtaposed with swastikas.

Michael Gove, Conservative Chief Whip and MP for Surrey Heath, told a gathering of the Holocaust Education Trust: "In France, in July of this year, more than 100 Jewish citizens had to be rescued from one synagogue and another was firebombed. The leader of an antisemitic party - the Front National - is France's most popular politician. . .

"In Germany, Molotov cocktails were lobbed at one synagogue. In Belgium a cafe displays a sign saying "Dogs are allowed but Jews are not," while a doctor refuses to treat Jewish patients. And in May of this year four people visiting the Jewish Museum in Brussels were killed by a jihadist terrorist.

"We must all remember where this leads. Now more than ever.

"And we must not think that Britain - gentle, tolerant, civilised Britain - is immune. CST, the Community Security Trust, monitors instances of antisemitism throughout the UK. . . In July this year, CST recorded 302 antisemitic incidents, a fivefold increase from July, 2013. . . On our streets our citizens have marched with swastikas superimposed on the Israeli flag."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Love is not soft

The love of God is greater far
  Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
  And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
  God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
  And pardoned from his sin.

 Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
  How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure -
  The saints' and angels' song.

 You might find the words above a blessing. Or they might be just words. But one thing is sure: the love of God is a marvellous thing.

You may remember the Prodigal Son. He persuaded his father to give him his inheritance. although his father wasn't dead yet. Then he went off and blew it in. Destitute, starving and repentant, he came home, intending to ask for a servant's job. But his father saw him coming, ran to meet him, embraced him, ordered the fatted calf to be killed and proclaimed a party.

That's my Heavenly Father - unconditional forgiveness for the repentant sinner. But we sometimes have a strange idea about His love. It doesn't mean that He turns a blind eye to everything about us, or that He will ignore the foolish things we do.

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
  Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by him,
For whom the Lord loves he chastens. 
                                                                   Heb 12:5

He chastens us because He wants us to grow up straight. When we're chastened by the Lord, it hurts. But remember two things. First, if we're chastened by the Lord, it's evidence that we're His sons. Second, He does it because He loves us.

He's our Father, and there's no better father than He.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The two faces of Islam

For weeks the headlines have been of beheadings, crucifixions and executions taking place in Iraq. Even people to whom Iraq seems a million miles away have been concerned, and rightly so, that Islamic State terror might be exported to the streets of London and New York.


Listen to Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of Barnabas Fund and an expert on Islam:

"Last month I was in Damascus. I had the great privilege of meeting Dr Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria. He is a man of peace who pleads repeatedly for equal and harmonious relations between Muslims, Christians and followers of all religions as members of one human family. Because of this stance, he has endured great abuse and criticism from some of his fellow Muslims and was targeted for assassination by the Saudis. Knowing that he would have good security and protection, the group of Islamist hit-men were instructed that, if they could not kill the Grand Mufti himself, they should kill one of his sons instead. In due course they murdered his teenage son. After some months, two of the perpetrators were caught and imprisoned. The Grand Mufti asked to see them and they were brought to him blindfolded. He instructed their blindfolds to be removed, and the two young men, discovering themselves face to face with the head of Sunni Islam in Syria and the father of their victim, shook with fear. But, to their astonishment, the Grand Mufti gently reached out his hands to them and told them not to be afraid. He said that he did not want their mothers to weep as his own bereaved wife had wept for her son, and therefore he forgave them. 


"Last week I was in northern Iraq and came face to face with the stark reality of another face of Islam, that of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, now calling itself simply the Islamic State). The sheer brutality of this face of Islam cannot be comprehended. It kills men, women and children, the elderly, the poor and the weak. It cuts in half little children and commits acts of ethnic cleansing that border on genocide. This behaviour is pure barbarism reminiscent of the early Assyrians and later Babylonians who once inhabited this region and were known for their immense cruelty, , , 

"This face of Islam, based as it is on Islamic sources including the Quran and hadith [tradition recording the words and actions of Mohammed], is as authentic as the peaceful tradition of the Grand Mufti of Syria. Both have existed throughout Islamic history. The Grand Mufti of Damascus has not only been ridiculed and vilified by his co-religionists but also told that he is not a true Muslim. When he visited the UK some ten years ago, and he preached at Regent's Park mosque in London and at other mosques, he afterwards had to be protected from Muslim leaders who disagreed with his theology. . .
. . 
"The question therefore is: what is true Islam? The reality is that there are now many 'Islams' depending on one’s interpretation of the texts and of the history. All can validly claim to be theologically based on the same Islamic source texts."

Dr Sookhdeo adds a word of hope. And a word of warning.

You can read his complete article here.

Monday, September 08, 2014

'Outspoken' pastor faces 10 years in jail

Christianity has enjoyed phenomenal growth in China. The Pew Forum on Religion and Ethics has estimated Protestants there at 58 million and Catholics at nine million: others say there are more than 100 million Christians in China. The Chinese Communist Party has only 86 million members.

In May, a national report listed religion as one of four "severe challenges" to national security in China. (The others were the import of democratic ideals, the influence of Western culture and uncensored access to the world-wide web.)

A few weeks later, the New York Post reported, a Chinese government document said religion had grown too fast, there were too many religious sites and there were too many religious activities. Once again, the Chinese authorities are tightening the screw, especially in the coastal Zhejiang province, where Christians are particularly numerous.

Communist officials have toppled the crosses of at least 229 churches, torn down some churches entirely, and issued demolition notices to over 100 more. They have even attacked state-controlled churches, where the state has the say about membership, the appointment of pastors and the content of sermons.

Church members, some of them elderly, attempting to protect Wenzhou Salvation Church, were beaten with electric batons. A number were hospitalised with a fractured skull, broken bones and internal injuries.

One of the pastors, Huang Yizi, has been openly critical of the demolition programme, calling it "severe persecution" and an "insult" to China's Christians. "I will not be silenced," he said. "I know I will be put in jail one day." 

He was detained on August 2 for "gathering a crowd to assault a state agency" and has not been released.

He is 40 years old, and has a wife and two young children. He is said to be facing a 10-year jail term.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Israel: More trouble ahead

The war between Israel and Hamas is not over. It cannot be over. Hamas is sworn to destroy Israel.

Caroline Glick, senior contributing editor at the Jerusalem Post, says: "Hamas exists to obliterate Israel. The goal of each round of fighting is to soften Israel up for the next round. Hamas will only stop fighting when it is defeated. And Israel did not defeat Hamas."

She says that according to Amos Harel, Ha'aretz' defence analyst, senior Israeli military commanders want Israel to bow to Hamas’s demands for open borders with Israel and for the steady transfer of funds to Hamas’s treasury. If Israel doesn’t give in to Hamas’s demands for open borders, Hamas will renew its attacks at the end of September.

"Hamas went to war with Israel because its back was up against the wall. Due to Egypt’s decision a year ago to seal its borders with Gaza, Hamas lost the ability to expand its arsenal, fuel Gaza’s smuggling-based economy and pay its terrorists their salaries.
"US President Barack Obama adopted Hamas’s demand for open borders as the official position of the US government almost at the outset of the conflict. . . Under Obama the Federal Aviation Administration instituted a discriminatory and unwarranted flight ban on Israel. The repercussions of that move continue to harm Israel’s economy. . .

"Today, the US and the EU are working together at the UN Security Council to draft a resolution that would see the deployment of international military forces to Gaza. The defined role of the force would be to oversee Gaza’s demilitarization, seemingly in line with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s demand.

"But the notion that UN forces would take any steps to disarm Hamas is absurd. The minute such forces arrive in Gaza they will become human shields preventing Israel from defending itself against Hamas aggression. If they are deployed to Gaza, then in the next round of Hamas’s war against the Jews, IDF troops will have to constrain their offensive operations still further to avoid killing Western forces.

"In other words, the deployment of such a force in Gaza will make it all but impossible for Israel to fight Hamas in the future. . . Hamas now knows that all they have to do to survive, thrive and expand their war on Israel, is shake the tree. Something will fall out that will reward their aggression.

"If they pay any price at all, it will involve nothing more than the death of the civilians of Gaza. And Hamas leaders couldn’t care less. For them, the death of civilians is yet another means of attacking Israel. . .

"Residents of the south are livid at the government for opting for a ceasefire rather than mounting a full invasion of Gaza and dismantling Hamas piece by piece, terrorist by terrorist. As they see it, Operation Protective Edge failed to bring them the security they deserve and require to lead normal lives."

A man living in Israel writes in a letter: "This is a spiritual war. This is a real battle of right versus wrong; light versus darkness; truth versus lies; life versus death; the truth of the Bible versus the lies of the Koran."

Western television media have not filmed Hamas rockets falling on Israel, but they have filmed Israel air strikes on Gaza. There is no doubt that people have been influenced by the unbalanced propaganda war. In the interests of balance, they should watch this video here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Antisemitic attacks up 436 per cent

Thousands gathered outside London's Royal Courts of Justice this week at a rally to protest increased antisemitism in Britain.

Speakers included Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, who is a Muslim.

Douglas Murray, associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, said "We have to stop the lies." He said it had become  "acceptable discourse for people to say that Israel is committing a 'genocide' instead of the most targeted military campaign against a terrorist group in history."

Thousands of people have taken part in anti-Israel protests in recent weeks accompanied by antisemitic violence. Pro-Palestinian rioters vandalised a Tesco store in Birmingham over a refusal to boycott Israeli products. Demonstrators rioted outside a Kedem store in Manchester. Dozens of death threats were made to the store's owners.

Hate crimes against Jews have risen 383 per cent worldwide since 2013, and 436 per cent in Europe. According to a Jewish newspaper, nearly two-thirds of the UK's Jewish population have questioned their future in the UK.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Eighty years of 'wonderful' marriage

Do you like good news? Here's some good news.

Maurice and Helen Kaye are celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary. He's 102, and she's 101. They live independently in their flat in Bournemouth.

They met in 1929, when he was 17 and she was 16. Helen worked in her father's women's wear shop in London. Maurice was a travelling salesman. On the day they met, Maurice stayed in the shop for three hours. Eventually, Helen's mother asked her "Who's going to throw him out, you or me?"

They courted for four years before they married, because Helen's mother wanted Helen's older sister to be married first. Her mother didn't think Helen's marriage would last.

"I suppose what I fell in love with was the fact that he had a car," says Helen. "Not many young men did in those days." Maurice was persuaded by his children to give up driving when he was 100, and he's not sure if he's quite forgiven them. 

He says the secret of a happy marriage is always agreeing with his wife. "You mustn't be hard on each other," she says. "If you have to give in a little bit, you give in a little bit.

"It's been a wonderful marriage. It works because we have the same sense of humour. We laugh at the same things."

They have two children and a host of grandchildren and great grandchildren. You can see a video of the happy couple here.