A new economic report on India revealed a lower poverty rate in the world's second most populous country. At the same time, more than half of the population still cannot meet their basic needs. With that, the Roman Catholic Church in India echoed Pope Francis' call to devote itself to serving the poor and those marginalized by society.
"The Catholic community intends to improve its services to education, making schools and other educational institutions closer to the poor. It also aims to combat the culture of well-being, which leads to 'globalization of indifference,' as Pope Francis defines it," Agenzia Fides reported on Thursday, citing comments by the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Indian Bishops.
The McKinsey Global Institute report, commissioned by the Indian government and released this month, revealed mixed economic news for the South Asian country. While the official poverty rate has gone down from 45 percent of the population in 1994 to 22 percent in 2012, it was found that 56 percent of the population, or 680 million people, still lack the means to meet essential needs, such as food, energy, housing, drinking water, sanitation, healthcare, education, and social security. more >>
The North Korean government has arrested an Australian Christian missionary for handing out Gospel tracts, with the family of the 75-year-old man fearing he could face up to 15 years in prison.
"My husband does what he believes is what God wants him to do," Karen Short said of her husband, John, who was arrested at his Pyongyang hotel on Sunday, according to Australian news site ABC.
"Without sounding strange, that's him, he's a man of faith. We're faith missionaries and he believed that we should care and not just talk but do something." more >>
An orphan who was previously forced to work in a North Korea labor camp has relayed his treacherous experience, saying that he was "treated like an animal" and therefore resorted to "no thinking … just fear."
Hyuk Kim was arrested by the North Korean government at the age of 16 after trying to go into China in search of food. The young, homeless orphan was then sentenced to three years at one of the country's most unrelenting labor camps, known as Jungeori Labor Camp, where Kim says he was treated "like an animal" and didn't even dare dream of his escape.
"At Jungeori, there was no sense of being human; if you thought you were a human being, you couldn't live there," said the now 33-year-old, who was freed from the camp in 2001 after eight months of imprisonment. "You were like an animal. You do the hard labor you were ordered to do, that's it. No thinking. No free will. Just fear." more >>
With reports of extreme persecution and human rights abuses in North Korea, including a recent 400 page report by the U.N. exposing "unspeakable atrocities," Christians are wondering whether God has abandoned the country.
"Is God at work in North Korea? Because we don't see it," some have told Open Doors, a persecution watchdog group. The organization has listed North Korea as the most oppressive country in the world for Christians on its World Watch List for the past 12 years in a row now, and despite constant prayers for change, the situation only seems to be getting worse.
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK said in its extensive report on Monday, which is to be formally presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 17, that "the gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world." more >>
An extensive U.N. report released on Monday has detailed some of the "unspeakable atrocities" being committed in North Korea, including mass starvation and extermination, while leader Kim Jong Un spends money lavishly on private movie theaters and luxury cars.
"The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," said the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK in the report.
Close to 400 pages of linked reports, supporting documents and first-hand testimonies from victims and witnesses have revealed the extent of the crimes being committed in the Pacific nation, which include "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation." more >>
China Aid Association revealed in its annual Persecution report that persecution of Christians in China continues to rise, with house and urban churches being some of the main targets.
According to the statistics, government persecution in the world's most populous country, where Christians make up only 3-4 percent, "worsened significantly" in 2013. Persecution rose by 38.82 percent since 2012.
"House churches in China had a difficult year in 2013, but we won't lose heart. Oppositely, only in such circumstances can churches be constantly purified, free of blemishes, mature and strong, and prepared for even greater mission," said Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid. more >>