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Pastor in India Severely Beaten for Preaching Gospel Vows Not to Stop Despite Persecution

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An Indian pastor who was severely beaten alongside members of his congregation earlier this month in Bihar state has vowed to continue preaching the Gospel just like the heroic figures of the Bible did, Christian Post reports.

“Since I am working for the Lord, I have always prepared myself for any kind of eventuality, persecution, or danger. I am prepared to pay the price for serving my God,” said Pastor Bangali Das in an interview with International Christian Concern while wrapped in bandages and breathing heavily due to injuries he sustained during the attack.

“Great men of God in the Bible like Shedrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and their friend Daniel were persecuted. So I feel that it’s an occasion for me to glorify God, like them. I will continue to work for the Lord in spite of all such obstacles and pain,” he added.

Das, who has been a pastor for the last 12 years, was accused by others in the village of Tetua of carrying out forceful conversions, which is a charge often used against Christians in villages across the Hindu-majority country.

With his congregation having increased to over 200 worshipers, for months he also faced issues with local police. In February, they evicted him from the premises that he rented for church services, due to noise complaints. But Das refused to give up on ministering to people in Tetua and explained that he had to carry out services at an open place.

He said that a number of men and women from the local Manjhi caste “accepted Jesus and they offered me an open place to conduct worship.” As many as 150 non-Christian Manjhi attacked a worship service on Nov. 4, however, accusing the pastor of forcefully converting people, and demanding that he stop preaching.

“When our believers requested them to give some time to buy a place and build a worship hall, they surrounded us and started beating us. Two men caught me and began to rain blows on me with their hands. I got hurt in my chest very badly and my arm was injured. They threw me on the ground and beat me until I became unconscious,” Das explained.

Christians have been under a wave of persecution in several Indian states this year, which has resulted in pastors being beaten and churches being destroyed. Pastor Singh, who leads a congregation in India’s Madhya Pradesh State, shared of how Christians are being threatened to stop following their faith back in September. Hindu radicals threatened to beat and kill Christians, leading to 15 families becoming too reluctant to go to church.

“The reason for this drop in the attendance is the threats from Hindu radicals,” Singh told ICC at the time. “The radicals say they will beat and kill my church members if they continue to attend the services. Prior to May this year, around 200 people used to worship regularly in my church. But now only 50 to 60 people attend my church on Sunday. They are under tremendous pressure from Hindu radicals.”

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Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet Access

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Iran imposed an almost complete nationwide internet blackout on Sunday one of its most draconian attempts to cut off Iranians from each other and the rest of the world as widespread anti-government unrest roiled the streets of Tehran and other cities for a third day, The New York Times reported.

The death toll for the three days of protests rose to at least 12; hundreds were injured; and more than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to semiofficial news agencies like Fars News.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, called the demonstrators “thugs” and endorsed the government’s decision to raise prices it sets for rationed gasoline by 50 percent as of Friday and by 300 percent for gasoline that exceeds ration limits. Even after the price hike, gasoline in Iran is still cheaper than in most of the rest of the world – now the equivalent of about 50 cents a gallon.

In a speech on Sunday, Khamenei said he would support rationing and increasing gas prices because heads of three branches of government had made the decision.

Khamenei also acknowledged that Iranians had taken to the streets to protest and that some had died – however, he blamed the protests on monarchists and opposition groups trying to destabilize Iran, the Times added.

The widespread discontent on display across the country marked yet another crisis for the country. Iran has been struggling with an economic crisis after the United States exited a nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions that ban Iran’s oil sales.

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HASC Chairman Claims Legislation to Create a Space Force in 2020 ‘Still Possible’

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House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said last week that negotiations on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act are “proceeding reasonably well” but he expressed doubt that the NDAA will include language to authorize a Space Force as a separate military branch, SpaceNews reported.

“It’s still possible but by no means guaranteed,” Smith told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. When asked for specifics, Smith said, “I don’t think it would be helpful for me to make predictions.”

The biggest sticking point in the NDAA negotiations is language in the House version of the bill that restricts the use of military funds to pay for the wall that President Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, SpaceNews adds.

There are other dealbreaker issues. The authorization of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces is one of them, Smith said. Other contentious matters include extending the “war powers” legislation that authorizes the president to use military force, and allowing transgender people to serve in the military.

Smith said the House and Senate NDAA conference in recent weeks worked on compromise language on hundreds of provisions and “reduced the stack significantly, and we’re down to a few really contentious issues.”

Smith characterized the Space Force as a “higher echelon” issue that is proving divisive. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate continue to have reservations about the administration’s Space Force proposal, said Smith. “There is bipartisan concern on the proposal and bicameral concern about the specifics of that proposal.”

The House version of the NDAA creates a Space Corps and is closer aligned with what the administration proposed. The Senate bill would rename the Air Force Space Command the U.S. Space Force and does not specifically authorize a sixth branch of the armed forces.

Smith noted that the House has been a proponent of a military space branch since 2017 while the Senate had adamantly opposed it. “In their bill they didn’t have the same language that we did. But the president has persuaded them to look at it differently.”

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Gunman Kills Four at California Backyard Party

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Police in the California city of Fresno were investigating a mass shooting at a football game party on Sunday in which at least 10 people were shot, killing four, with five others left in critical condition and another wounded, Reuters informs.

Three men died at the scene and another died at a hospital, Fresno Deputy Police Chief Michael Reed said in a late night news conference. Six more were hospitalized, he said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this thing,” Reed said. “This was senseless violence. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators were and bring them to justice.”

A gunman walked into a backyard and started shooting at a south Fresno home, where a gathering of about 35 family and friends was watching a football game before 8 p.m., said Reed. Neighbors soon flooded 911 dispatchers with calls for help, Reuters adds.

The suspect fled the scene and police were combing the neighborhood for witnesses and possible security camera footage, police said. Police did not release further information about the shooting in the city about 200 miles (320 km) north of Los Angeles, except that the dead were men between the ages of 25 and 35.

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