Sunday, March 17, 2019

This is the fun day. Mass at Notre Dame (homily here), museum, Jordan River… …culminating with camel rides, floating in the Dead Sea and dinner on the rooftop of Jerusalem . Enjoy!


The World’s 50 Most Anti-Christian Countries

by Steve Ray on March 17, 2019

Is anyone surprised that the majority of these anti-Christian countries are Islamic? Click on map below for larger image. This was published by Ignatius Press’ Catholic World Report.

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Washington D.C., Jan 15, 2018 / 11:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There are more than 215 million persecuted Christians worldwide according to the 2018 World Watch List, Open Doors USA’s annual ranking of the 50 worst countries for violence and persecution against Christians.

The report found that one in twelve Christians worldwide are victims of violent persecution. Open Doors USA cites the spread of radical Islam and increasing religious nationalism as the two major drivers of global Christian persecution.

North Korea tops the list of worst offenders, as it has for the past 16 years. Although the communist North Korean government claims to provide freedom of religion in its constitution, no one can be openly Christian within the atheist state without facing arrest, re-education in a labor camp, or, in some cases, execution.

87768_w_725Despite the danger, Open Doors USA finds that there has been tremendous growth in underground Christianity in North Korea in the last two decades. The report estimates that there might be up to 300,000 Christians living clandestinely in North Korea.

Afghanistan comes in a close second in this year’s World Watch List ranking. Afghan citizens in this 99 percent Muslim country are banned from becoming Christian. Open Doors USA reports that underground Christians in Afghanistan have been killed by their own family members, who viewed the Christian conversion as a shameful apostasy.

341a4bab0687206404434a2ede99be9dIslamic oppression continues to be a growing concern for many Christians around the world. For eight of the top ten countries on the World Watch List, Islamic extremism is the primary cause of Christian persecution.

Islamic militancy has been on the rise in Somalia, where Christians, if discovered, are often martyred. Christians in Egypt, India, Libya, and Kazakhstan also experienced increased persecution since last year’s report.

Pakistani Christians experienced the most documented violence according to the report. Islamic militants in Pakistan specifically target Christians. A suicide bomb on Easter Sunday 2016 killed 74 people and injured hundreds more.

In addition to the spread of radical Islam, the report identified a rise in religious nationalism and intense persecution in central Asia as major trends in the persecution of Christians. Hindu nationalism has increased in India and Nepal, as has Buddhist nationalism in Burma and Sri Lanka. And persecution of Christians in central Asian nations, including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, is intensifying under nationalist, pro-Islamic governments.

Also included on the list were Mexico and Colombia, where organized crime and corruption were cited as the source of Christian persecution.

Open Doors USA documented that 3,066 Christians were killed; 1,252 were abducted; 1,020 were raped or sexually harassed; and 793 churches were attacked within the reporting period for the 2018 World Watch List.

The World Watch List includes specific prayers requests for each of the top 50 countries, recalling Open Doors USA’s founder Brother Andrew’s faith in the power of prayer to aid those who are suffering afar: “Our prayers can go where we cannot … There are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray.”

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54256077_10105611876217174_649835814674497536_oWe met on an airplane. I knew I was going to marry him by the time we landed.

I had seen him in the airport. He walked by and I stared in awe thinking he was the cutest guy I’d ever seen. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I had no idea he was on my flight. He saw me too.

I chose a middle seat (weird!) on southwest toward the front of the plane and the aisle seat next to me stayed open. He was one of the last to board and when he saw the seat next to me was open he sat down. MY.HEART.STOPPED. We talked the whole flight and the nice woman next to us asked us tons of questions as if she was a matchmaker. He was sweet. He was kind. He was soft spoken and humble. He was so funny. I was smitten.

54437470_10105611876706194_7665989673822453760_oHe was too shy to give me his contact info so I gave him mine. He deployed the next day for Iraq and we emailed each other for the next 6 months. I fell in love. Hard. He did too but it took a little for him to realize it.

I was there waiting to see him the day he got home. The only time we had spent together in person was on the plane, but we were best friends and it felt like a fairy tale getting to finally look into his eyes and hold his hand. Three weeks later he told me he loved me, and I was so glad because I had been dyingggg to tell him how much I loved him too.

We lived 4.5 hours apart but saw each other every single weekend. That whole year was so magical.

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 1.31.15 AMIn 7 years of marriage (and 2 years of dating) we’ve been together thru undergrad, medical school, infertility, adopting our precious boy, moving across the country for residency, a miracle pregnancy that brought us our baby girl, a fixer upper, hours of laughter, hours of tears, and tons of memories in between.

There’s no doubt in my mind that God arranged our meeting on that plane and I’m so thankful. #7yearanniversary #married7years