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Christian teams livid at Blinken for putting off Nigeria from spiritual violence record – POLITICO



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Critics are blasting the secretary of State's transfer because the "revenge of the paperwork."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s determination was once printed ultimate week simply sooner than he visited Nigeria, Africa’s maximum populous nation and one the place Muslim-Christian tensions have lengthy flared. | Sarah Silbiger/Pool by means of AP
Via Nahal Toosi
11/23/2021 04:34 PM EST
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Christian teams, a U.S. govt panel and previous senior U.S. diplomats are livid over Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s determination to take Nigeria off a listing of nations accused of enticing in or tolerating spiritual persecution.
Blinken’s determination was once printed ultimate week simply sooner than he visited Nigeria, Africa’s maximum populous nation and one the place Muslim-Christian tensions have lengthy flared.
State Division officers gave no explanation why for the transfer instead of announcing Blinken, upon the recommendation of quite a lot of division sections, determined Nigeria didn’t meet the criminal threshold to be named as “nation of explicit worry” in an annual spiritual freedom record launched by means of the secretary of State. They denied the verdict’s unveiling was once related to Blinken’s travel however couldn’t absolutely give an explanation for the timeline.
Critics, alternatively, are calling Blinken’s transfer political, designed to assuage crucial African spouse. One former diplomat known as it the “revenge of the paperwork” on the State Division. Others wondered the way it suits with the Biden management’s declare that human rights lies on the heart of its overseas coverage.
The verdict is more likely to improve worries amongst conservatives, together with many evangelical Christians, that the Biden management — not like the Trump management — will de-emphasize the plight of Christians persecuted in a foreign country.
“It’s a victory for the terrorists — it’s a defeat for any individual enthusiastic about human rights and spiritual freedom,” Frank Wolf, a former GOP congressman, mentioned about Blinken’s determination. Wolf spearheaded one of the vital key regulation requiring administrations to call spiritual freedom violators; one of the most rules is known as after him.
America sees Nigeria as a key spouse within the battle towards terrorist teams akin to Boko Haram and the Islamic State. Nigeria is also a big financial and political participant at the African continent, which has suffered a string of coups and different instability in contemporary months.
However the problem of spiritual freedom in Nigeria is difficult. The rustic of 200 million is kind of flippantly cut up between Christians and Muslims, and the tensions between the 2 communities are regularly multifaceted. They are going to come with disputes over land and farm animals grazing rights, for instance, or tribal variations.
Lately, alternatively, the upward push of Islamist terrorist organizations in Nigeria has intended faith is a better issue, some activists say. Some additionally level to using courts that depend on Islamic regulation as a problem. Many additional rigidity that Muslims — particularly reasonable ones — additionally face rising threats in Nigeria.
It’s tough to nail down precise statistics on religiously motivated violence dealing with Christians or different religion teams in Nigeria, however the collection of Nigerians who’ve died immediately or not directly because of Islamist fueled battle runs into the masses of hundreds, in keeping with the United Countries. And there are common stories of assaults on homes of worship, spiritual leaders and others.
The U.S. Fee on Global Spiritual Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan panel, has since 2009 beneficial that the State Division designate Nigeria as a “nation of explicit worry” on spiritual freedom. In 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the end did so, incomes the panel’s reward.
A USCIRF document on Nigeria from previous this 12 months gave an array of examples of what seem to be faith-driven violence. Amongst them: the 2020 abduction and execution of Rev. Lawan Andimi by means of Boko Haram combatants.
In a information unlock ultimate week, USCIRF mentioned it was once “appalled” and “particularly displeased” at Blinken’s reversal on Nigeria. “We urge the State Division to rethink its designations in keeping with information introduced in its personal reporting,” USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza mentioned in a remark.
The rules that govern the secretary of State’s determination say governments may also be categorised as being of “explicit worry” or be placed on a “particular watch record” in the event that they “engaged in or tolerated” serious violations of spiritual freedom.
After “a excellent dialogue throughout the division,” it was once determined that Nigeria didn’t meet the factors for any of the designations of shock, a State authentic mentioned. The authentic declined to mention which division divisions took what aspect within the inner discussions, however wired that without equal conclusion didn’t imply that U.S. diplomats wouldn’t stay elevating problems with human rights in Nigeria.
In keeping with folks aware of the problem, the State Division officers who’ve lengthy been proof against directory Nigeria as a rustic of explicit worry have a tendency to be staffers within the Africa bureau.
Like different regional bureaus on the division, the Africa phase’s most sensible precedence isn’t essentially human rights — it’s keeping up and bettering political relationships with different international locations. It’s now not strange that the bureau would possibly wish to keep away from injecting some other issue into an already advanced dating with Nigeria.
Pompeo necessarily overruled the dept officers who fought the designation of Nigeria. He was once supported by means of Sam Brownback, the previous Kansas senator who served because the Trump management’s particular ambassador for global spiritual freedom.
Brownback mentioned that he by no means argued that faith was once the only real consider a lot of the violence in Nigeria, however that it was once silly to faux it was once now not an element in any respect.
“I feel what you’re seeing is the revenge of the paperwork,” Brownback mentioned of Blinken’s determination to take Nigeria off the record.
Every other former State authentic who handled spiritual freedom problems mentioned it was once bizarre that Blinken didn’t even put Nigeria at the lower-tier “particular watch record.”
It was once “diplomatic malpractice,” the previous authentic mentioned, talking on situation of anonymity to be candid. The previous authentic added: “You simply gave leverage away. It was once obviously tied to Blinken’s seek advice from. The Nigerians obviously cared about it. Did we get the rest out of it?”
On this picture launched by means of the Nigeria State Area, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, is welcomed by means of Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, proper, sooner than a gathering on the Presidential palace in Abuja, Nigeria, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. Blinken is on a 5 day travel to Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal. | Sunday Aghaeze/Nigeria State Area by means of AP
The State Division authentic mentioned Blinken’s seek advice from had not anything to do with the discharge of the secretary’s record of spiritual freedom violators. Moderately, it was once all a couple of closing date. Blinken was once anticipated to unlock the record inside of six months of his unveiling of the dept’s annual Global Spiritual Freedom Record.
However the division regularly misses time limits with out repercussions. Plus, Blinken launched the spiritual freedom document on Would possibly 12. That intended the dept had already neglected the six-month closing date when it unveiled his determination on which international locations had been of explicit worry on Nov. 17.
“I remember the fact that it’s arduous to consider that it’s a twist of fate,” the State Division authentic mentioned of the travel’s timing.
In truth, when Blinken launched the spiritual freedom document in Would possibly, he particularly discussed spiritual liberty violations in Nigeria in addition to a couple of different international locations.
“In Nigeria, courts proceed to convict folks of blasphemy, sentencing them to long-term imprisonment and even dying,” Blinken mentioned all the way through a press convention. “But the federal government has nonetheless now not introduced any individual to justice for the army’s bloodbath of loads of Shia Muslims in 2015.”
The State Division authentic pushed aside questions on whether or not the Nigerian govt had promised or introduced the rest in go back for being got rid of from the record, announcing the verdict was once purely a criminal topic. The authentic mentioned, alternatively, that Nigerian officers are smartly conscious about the numerous demanding situations dealing with their nation, together with from extremism and a rising inhabitants.
The Nigerian embassy in Washington didn’t respond to requests for remark. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, has again and again pledged that his govt won’t tolerate spiritual or ethnic violence.
Underneath President Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, the State Division made selling spiritual freedom one in all its few human rights priorities.
The hassle was once pushed by means of evangelical Christians who supported Trump and who fear about persecution of Christians all over the world — specifically in Muslim-majority international locations.
Now, Christian activists are decrying Blinken’s de-listing of Nigeria. The transfer seems to validate their issues that the Biden management will de-emphasize the desire to give protection to Christians in a foreign country.
One of the activists say Christians face a possible genocide in Nigeria. However in addition they word that participants of different faiths, too, face threat from extremists there.
“Boko Haram has focused each reasonable Muslims and Christians,” mentioned David Curry, president of Open Doorways USA, a bunch that works to give protection to Christians international. He mentioned his group was once achieving out to U.S. lawmakers and hopes to persuade Blinken to switch his thoughts.
The Biden management has emphasised that it cares about all forms of human rights, and that it doesn’t plan to emphasise one proper over others — the best way Trump’s staff prioritized spiritual freedom. However the Biden management has additionally made quite a few choices that display it’s going to now not at all times put human rights above U.S. nationwide pursuits.
International Coverage
Via Nahal Toosi
That looks to incorporate ignoring some other USCIRF advice and leaving India off the international locations of explicit worry record.
Biden and his aides see India as a a very powerful spouse within the rising U.S. festival with China. In consequence, they’ve mentioned little publicly about rising spiritual violence towards Muslims in India.
Blinken did, alternatively, observe some other USCIRF advice and upload Russia to the record of nations of explicit worry. The management is at odds with Moscow over an array of problems.
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The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother




The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother

Embracing True Friendship: The Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother

Friendship is a valuable asset that enriches our lives by providing companionship, support, and a shoulder to cry on. But have you ever had a buddy who goes above and beyond—someone who remains closer than a brother? In a world where relationships can be fickle, a friend who sticks by us through thick and thin is a rare and priceless gift.

More Than Just Blood Ties

Consider the tie between siblings, which is based on blood and shared history. Consider a buddy who is more than just a family member. “One who has untrustworthy friends soon comes to ruin,” says Proverbs 18:24 (NIV), “but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

This verse describes a friendship that goes beyond basic conditions. It’s a bond founded on trust, loyalty, and real concern for one another.

Continuous Support

Consider a buddy who is present not only during happy times but also during difficult times. This type of friend is unconcerned about changing circumstances or personal gain. They provide their presence, encouragement, and steadfast support.

Jesus expresses the core of such friendship in John 15:13 (NIV): “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This selfless affection serves as the foundation for a lasting connection.

Journeys Together

Consider a friend you’ve shared many stages of life with—the highs, the lows, and everything in between. This shared experience forges a link that extends beyond surface-level exchanges. The value of companionship is brilliantly captured in Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 (NIV): “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

A friend who sticks closer than a brother is someone who goes beside us through life’s ups and downs, lending a solid hand and an ear to listen.

A Mirror of God’s Love

As a symbol of God’s love for us, consider the buddy who sticks closer than a brother. God Himself offers an unbroken, unchanging, and everlasting companionship. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” says the Bible in Romans 8:38–39.

God’s love is the ultimate paradigm of true friendship—a love that is not conditional but remains faithful regardless of what happens.

Conclusion: Value true friendship.

A friend who sticks closer to you than a sibling is a treasure to be treasured. This type of friendship is founded on love, trust, and mutual care rather than convenience or shared interests. May we seek to be that sort of friend to others in our lives, just as God offers us His unfailing love.

In a world where relationships can be fleeting, let us create friendships that will endure. Let us be the sort of friends who are present in both joy and sadness, who offer unconditional support, and who mirror God’s unfailing love. We are reminded of the beauty of true friendship, which clings closer than a brother, as we welcome and cherish these unique and valuable ties.

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The Just God




The Just God

The Just God: The Divine Balance of Justice and Mercy

The concept of justice is intertwined with the fabric of human society. We seek justice, responsibility, and reparation for wrongs done. But have you ever pondered a God who is not only just but also perfectly just? The Just God is a lighthouse of truth and righteousness, providing a profound awareness of justice and kindness that transcends human comprehension.

Justice in Pursuit

Consider a world where wrongdoers go unpunished and the disadvantaged have no recourse. The pursuit of justice is a natural human goal that reflects a feeling of rightness and order. And if we as humans value justice, how much more should the Creator of the universe, who is completely just?

According to Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIV), “He is the rock; his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. He is a loyal God who does no wrong, who is straight and just. This verse reveals God’s character, which is characterized by unwavering justice.

Justice and Mercy in Balance

Consider yourself in front of a judge who holds you accountable for every action and decision you make. Imagine that same judge showing mercy and giving you a second opportunity despite the evidence against you. The just God is kind as well as just.

This delicate balance is captured in Psalm 103:10–11 (NIV): “He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor does He repay us according to our iniquities. For his love for people who fear him is as high as the skies are above the earth. God’s justice is balanced by his unending love and kindness.

The Redemption of Justice

Consider a debt that you will never be able to repay—a debt of mistakes and wrongs that weigh heavy on your soul. In His perfect justice, the just God provides a solution. God provides a mechanism for justice to be served and redemption to be offered through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” says Romans 3:23–24 (NIV), “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. This is an example of justice being met via the redemptive act of Christ’s sacrifice.

A Call to Justice

Consider a society in which justice is not simply a notion but a way of life. In our interactions with others, the just God calls us to exemplify justice. Micah 6:8 (NIV) states unequivocally, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. What does the Lord expect of you? Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Living justly entails treating people with fairness, compassion, and respect, as the character of the just God requires.

Finishing: Adoring the Just God

The Just God asks us to comprehend the breadth of His justice—a justice that supports truth, requires accountability, and strikes a balance between mercy and justice. God’s justice and mercy merge in the person of Jesus Christ, offering us redemption and restoration.

May we turn to the just God as our ultimate standard as we traverse a world that frequently grapples with issues of fairness. May we seek His wisdom and counsel in order to live justly and treat others with love and justice. We find not only a paradigm of perfect justice but also an invitation to experience the transformative power of His kindness when we embrace the Just God.

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The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Pathway to Achievement




The Joy of Serving Others: A Pathway to Fulfillment

The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Highway to Contentment

Have you ever ever felt the nice and cozy glow that effects from lending a serving to hand to a stranger, the enjoyment that lasts for days after the act of kindness? That emotion offers a way of the pride of serving to others. The straightforward act of serving to can give us a sense of function and pleasure in contrast to the rest in a society that incessantly pushes us to place our consideration on ourselves.

The Want to Serve

Believe a society the place everybody labored to fortify the lives of people of their instant neighborhood. The need to lend a serving to hand, proportion a load, and supply comfort is on the core of carrier. The instance used to be established through Jesus Himself when he stated, “For even the Son of Guy didn’t come to be served, however to serve, and to provide his lifestyles as a ransom for plenty of.” (NIV, Mark 10:45)

Serving others is extra than just a nice deed; it is a way to emulate the compassion and love that Christ proven for us.

Discovering Pleasure in Selfless Giving

Believe spending time with the aged or going to a neighborhood refuge to hear their stories and cause them to really feel essential. Those tiny acts of kindness won’t appear to be a lot, however they be capable to make any person’s day higher, create relationships, and toughen a sense of group.

A better feeling of pleasure emerges after we set aside our personal issues and be aware of the wishes of others. The Bible admonishes us, “Every of you can use no matter present you’ve gotten won to serve others, as trustworthy stewards of God’s grace in its more than a few paperwork.” (NIV) 1 Peter 4:10 We specific the particular talents God has given us through serving others, and it’s in those deeds of carrier that we discover authentic pleasure.

Have an effect on Unmeasurable

Take into consideration the impact if all of us realized to experience serving to others. If we take a bit spoil from our tense schedules to lend a hand a neighbor, supply a sympathetic ear, or donate cash to a reason we reinforce. Small acts of kindness have the facility to unfold, sparking a sequence response of generosity and optimistic exchange.

In step with the NIV translation of Matthew 25:40, Jesus stated, “Actually I inform you, no matter you probably did for this sort of least of those brothers and sisters of mine, you probably did for me.” No longer simplest can we fortify the lives of other folks we serve, however we additionally perform Jesus’ command to like and deal with the ones round us.

Development Relationships and Connections

Believe the sensation of camaraderie that comes from cooperating with others to reach a shared purpose. Folks come in combination via carrier, growing ties and friendships that differently won’t have took place. It serves as a reminder that we’re all part of a broader group, and that group would possibly take pleasure in the acts we do.

Serving others permits us to peer the arena from many angles and to realize the demanding situations and victories of other folks round us. Our lives are enriched and {our relationships} are deepened through this sensitivity.

Conclusion: Discovering Contentment Via Carrier

Every people has a skill that is able to be opened: the pleasure of serving to others. It serves as a reminder that our lives are meant to be about extra than just our personal pursuits; they’re an opportunity to fortify the lives of others.

Let’s thus embody the pride of serving to others, if it is by means of deeds of kindness, volunteering, or simply being conscious about their wishes. The easy act of serving would possibly supply mild and hope in a global that every so often turns out overwhelming. As we emulate Christ and prolong ourselves in love, we no longer simplest exchange the lives of others but additionally revel in a deep feeling of success and enjoyment that overflows into our personal hearts.

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