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Friday’s religion wrap

The Journey team selects stories that got us talking this week. 

I think it’s gonna be a long long time … before little Rocket Man accepts Christ 

The Christian Post explores the reasons why North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is afraid of Christianity and persecutes the faithful in the secretive nation. Open Doors USA lists North Korea as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians and says that “Christianity directly challenges the notion of any Supreme Leader and the idea that there is any master outside of Jesus Christ”.  

While some reports indicate there are over 300 000 Christians in North Korea, many are imprisoned for their faith and Christian defectors have told of North Koreans being imprisoned or executed for being caught with a Bible.  

High praise to survive that blaze  

CBN News reports on the miraculous survival of a painting of Jesus that managed to endure a church fire and remain unscathed. The First Baptist Church in Massachusets was hit by lightning and subsequently caught fire, with the entire building engulfed in flames.  

While fire gutted the building one item was rescued without a scratch: a framed portrait of Jesus Christ.  

“The building had been ravaged by the fire, so it’s amazing that anything on the inside made it out intact,” said church member Maria Kakolowski. “At a time when our church community was experiencing a lot of grief, I think God was sending us a reminder that we should keep our eyes on Jesus, who is still alive and active.” 

Lives at stake for Texan on the lake 

The Christian Post reports on a Texan pastor who will not leave his barge on a Dallas lake until he’s raised over $2 million for clean water initiatives in Liberia. Pastor Todd Phillips has been living on the barge for over two weeks and is broadcasting on Facebook his experiences of life on the water.  

He has already raised 50 per cent of the target ($2.29 million) with the money going towards helping Liberians access the gospel and safe drinking water. Phillips’ nonprofit organisation The Last Well says “25 000 lives will be saved rather than lost due to water borne illness” through their project.  

You can find more information about The Last Well by visiting their website

Hell not effective for “Give to the poor” directive  

The Conversation has an article by University of Dayton Assistant Professor of Christian Origins Meghan Henning who writes that hell just isn’t what it used to be for motivating Christians to take care of the poor. While early Christians were presented with a vision of hell that would “persuade them to behave according to the ethical norms of each gospel”.  

“A major idea in Matthew was that love for one’s neighbour was central to following Jesus,” writes Henning. “Later depictions of hell built upon this emphasis inspiring people to care for the ‘least of these’ in their community.”  

Fast forward to today and hell has been used to “scare people into becoming Christians, with an emphasis on personal sins rather than a failure to care for the poor or hungry”. Henning argues that the modern take on hell is unlikely to depict consequences for neglecting the poor. 

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