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US former NBA player interviewed about his meeting with N Korea leader Kim Jong-un

By Dan Wooding

Dennis Rodman talks on ABC about his latest trip to North Korea

He says, “I think it’s worth it,” despite the widespread criticism and backlash he has faced for his trips to North Korea

Dennis Rodman, the former NBA great, and friend of North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un, broke down in tears during an interview on ABC News.

Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman enjoying a basketball game in Pyongyang in March 2013 (Photo: KCNA/AFP)

Rodman, who just got back from his most recent trip to North Korea, sat down with Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan, himself a former American football defensive end who spent his entire 15-year career with the New York Giants of the National Football League, to talk specifically about his motivation for the trips and the backlash he faces for going.

In his exclusive interview with ABC News, the retired professional basketball player, who played for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks in the National Basketball Association (NBA), appeared to suggest that that he was partly responsible for the reclusive nation’s release of American college student Otto Warmbier, who died last Monday, just days after being medically evacuated from a North Korean prison.

“I was just so happy to see the kid released,” Rodman told Good Morning America co-anchor, Michael Strahan of when he first learned of Warmbier’s release. “Later that day, that’s when we found out he was ill, no one knew that. We jumped up and down … Some good things came of this trip.”

Otto Warmbier being arrested in North Korea.

Warmbier, who was released on the same day that Rodman arrived in North Korea for a brief visit, was sent back to the U.S. in a state of unresponsive wakefulness, according to doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The University of Virginia student was detained by North Korea for nearly 17 months following his January 2016 arrest in Pyongyang, for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster while he was visiting the country on a sightseeing tour.

ABC News said, “Despite Rodman’s belief that he had something to do with Warmbier’s release, a Department of State spokesperson has said that Rodman had nothing to do with Warmbier’s release, according to the Associated Press. Warmbier’s father also said in a statement to ABC News that ‘Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto returning to the United States.’”

Chris Volo, Rodman’s agent who accompanied the athlete on his trip to North Korea, told ABC News that before they went, “I asked on behalf of Dennis for his release three times.”

“I know being there had something to do with it,” Volo said of Warmbier’s release. “Because when I was organizing the trip … and I meet with the delegates here, you know, I addressed … Otto Warmbier. And I said to them, ‘we…would need his…you know, a release, some type of good faith, if we’re ever going to do some type of future sports relations … They said they understood.”

Rodman hungs Kim Jong Un

Rodman said he wished to “give all the prayer and love” to the Warmbier’s family, adding “I didn’t know that he was sick.”

Volo added that they have contacted the family and are hoping to meet them, “but we were told that, you know, it just couldn’t happen.”

The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year said he didn’t meet with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, during his most recent visit.

“The previous times we did,” he added. “I think the fact that, you know, my trips going up to North Korea is more like trying … to get to communicate sports-wise. It ain’t about trying to release people.”

“It’s not trying to do … political stuff. It’s almost just trying to reach out for sports and see if I can bring sports to North Korea,” Rodman said.

Rodman also discussed how the country has changed over the course of his visits, saying “we’ve seen a lot of changes,” including “the fact that it is so modernized now.”

“When you go over there, and you hear the radio, and … people are talking,” Rodman said. “They’re so happy now, because it’s more like … it’s civilized again.”

Rodman, who calls North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a friend, said, “people don’t see … the good side about that country. It’s like going, like, to Asia. It’s like going to like Istanbul, Turkey, or any place like that. It’s pretty much just like that. You’re know, you going to see some poverty. You’re going to see some people that’s not doing too well.”

Rodman talks to the media

“We sing karaoke,” Rodman added of his relationship with Jong-un. “It’s all fun. Ride horses, everything.”

“I think people don’t see him as … a friendly guy,” Rodman added of the country’s dictator, adding “if you actually talk to him” you would see a different side of him.

“It’s the politics that’s the bad thing. If we can try to figure something out, just open the door,” Rodman suggested, saying that he believes “if Donald Trump had a chance,” he would fly to North Korea “and try to make peace.”

Rodman, who identifies as a Trump supporter, also called on the president to join him in creating peace with North Korea.

“I’ll ask him right now. Donald, come talk to me. Let’s try to work this out. Because you know what? I get nothing out of this. The only thing I get is out of pride for my country, America. I love America,” Rodman said. “But I want these two sides to get together and try to figure something out. Some dialogue. That’s it.”

Rodman also revealed that the North Korean leader gave him a message to pass on to former President Obama on one of his previous visits, and he thinks the next time he visits, the leader may give him a message for President Trump.

“I think the next time we go, I think it’s going to be in August. I think the fact that when … I sit there and talk to him … he’ll throw comments out there,” Rodman said of Kim Jong-nn. “You know, he’ll say, ‘I want three things, Dennis, from you, if you can do this for us.’”

Rodman said that his message for former President Obama was to ask him to “move his ships.”

“He said, ‘There’s just one thing I, I, would love for … Obama to do,’” Rodman said of his conversation with Kim Jong-un. “He said, ‘I would love him if he can move his ships…away a little bit.’ That’s the one thing he asked me. He said, ‘If he can do that, I think we can have some new positive.’”

Screen shot of Kim Jong Un

Rodman said that he is not going to North Korea for attention, saying, “I don’t need to be on TV.”

“What am I getting out of this? I’m going over there out of my kindness of my heart just to try to help. Just to open the door … a little bit so we can have [a] talk,” Rodman said.

“I’m spending hundreds of dollars just to go over there to try to just open the door a little bit,” Rodman said.

Rodman said despite the widespread criticism and backlash that he has faced for his trips to North Korea, “I think it’s worth it.”

* ABC News’ Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

 

Source: ASSIST News Service



Christians Taking Children to Camp in India Charged with Kidnapping, Forced Conversion

Ratlam railway station in Madhya Pradesh state, India. (Morning Star News via Indiarailinfo.com)

HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – Six Christians taking children to a Vacation Bible School camp in Madhya Pradesh state, India, remain in custody after police detained them last month on charges of kidnapping and forcible conversion, sources said.

Also detained was a 15-year-old boy who was held in a juvenile detention center for nearly a month before he was released on Tuesday (June 20).
“I missed my home so much – I cried every day, and prayed and prayed,” Akash Gundia told Morning Star News. “Finally, the Lord heard me. I am happy to be back home.”

Akash was one of 72 children preparing to board a train in Ratlam on May 21 for a Vacation Bible School (VBS) camp in Nagpur before Ratlam Railway Police detained them and the eight adults supervising them. The children were all Christians whose parents had granted permission for them to go to the program, sources said.

“I told the police I am a Christian by birth, and we are going to attend the VBS, but they did not listen to me and took us to the police station,” Akash said after his release from Ratlam Juvenile Detention Center. “Children as young as 6 also were in police custody, but when their parents came, the police handed them over to the parents. I was produced in court a day later, and from there was sent to a juvenile detention home.”

The children had arrived at the station from other villages, so it took two or three days before their parents learned of their detention and were able to get to Ratlam to retrieve them.

From Jabua village, 60 Christian children along with adults had travelled by bus to Megh Nagar on May 21 to catch a train to Ratlam Railway Station. Another 12 Christian children accompanied by two adults from Alirajpur village churches had also arrived by train from Indore Railway Station to join them.

The combined groups were to catch a private bus arranged by a church in Ratlam to reach Nagpur.

Akash’s father, Hartesh Singh Gundia, told Morning Star News that he and other parents arrived at the Ratlam Police Station within two or three days and informed officers that they were already Christians and that there was no case of forcible or fraudulent conversion.

“But they refused to hand over my child to me,” Singh Gundia told Morning Star News. “Later, I got to know from the police station that police had not intended to file the case, but that there was pressure from RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu extremist umbrella group] and Bajrang Dal activists, because of whom my child spent 25 days in judicial custody.”

The parents customarily send their children to such camps every summer, he said.

Singh Gundia’s son was found innocent of any wrongdoing, but the Ratlam District Court and the state High Court denied bail to five adults volunteering to supervise the children.

Asserting that police had yet to submit the charge sheet with the case diary, the High Court on June 12 denied bail to Ameya Jaal, 45; Alkesh Ganava, 27; Pandu Singh Vasuniya, 31; Nitin Mandod, 23; and Lalu Babore, 28, Singh Gundia said.

A sixth volunteer, 17-year-old Vijay Meda, was also denied bail and remains in custody. Determining that he was over 17 years old but less than 18, the Juvenile Justice Board rejected his bail application. On June 16 the counsel representing him filed an application to the Juvenile Justice Board to transfer his case to Ratlam Railway Court.

“We are making all efforts to get them bailed out,” Singh Gundia said.

Two women who were also supervising the children, Sharmila Damore and Savita Buria, were also detained on May 21. The Additional Sessions Court of Ratlam granted them bail on May 27.

Legal delays appear to be prolonging the case; prosecutors have told the court that the case diary is not available and therefore requested that the trial be put off. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday (June 28).

Eight Years in Prison

While police appear to be slow to submit the charge sheets to judicial authorities, they have charged the Christians under sections 3 and 4 of Madhya Pradesh’s anti-conversion law, the so-called Freedom of Religion Act prohibiting forcible conversion, attorney Anand Nagarkar told Morning Star News.

The prison term for forcible conversion is one year, he said.

The VBC volunteers were also charged with Section 353 of Indian Penal Code prohibiting kidnapping, which calls for a prison term of seven years.

“The children were travelling with tickets accompanied by the adults, and we argued it before the court,” Nagarkar said. “The charges were framed based on malice and suspicion, and on this basis there can be no conviction, but the police have been taking it slow to file the challan [charge sheet]. They are under pressure by the Bajrang Dal and RSS activists.”

The parents of the 72 children have submitted an affidavit before the court that all the children were born to Christian parents, and that the adults were volunteers in Sunday schools of the respective churches, Nagarkar said.

“My daughters also were among the children; they were going to the VBS camp,” said Dhum Singh Gundia, pastor of a church in Jabua.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 15th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

Source: Morning Star News



China Arrests Five Pastors for Protesting Demolition of Church, Blocks Re-Construction Efforts

Christians in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, worship in the rubble of their demolished church on May 22, 2016. China Aid

Chinese authorities have arrested five church leaders who protested the demolition of their church building and blocked all efforts to construct a new place of worship amid worsening human rights abuses in the country.

According to persecution watchdog China Aid, 300 police officers and city and inspectors forcibly demolished Shuangmiao Christian Church-which was under construction in Shangqiu, Henan-on the morning of May 5.

The Communist Party reportedly ordered the church’s demolition after labeling it an “illegal structure”, and dispatched personnel to search the belongings of the Christians and construction workers. They confiscated phones and other personal property, damaged closets, smashed offering boxes, and stole laptops, money, and jewelry.

Christians who opposed the demolition were beaten and pushed to the ground by officials, who then detained about 40 worshipers.

“The church was completely razed, and a church member likened the scene to the Japanese invasion of China during World War II,” notes the report.

A month later, four church leaders – Huang Xiangju, Zhao Wenjing, Guo Chungai, and Lü Yuexia – and the pastor of a neighboring church, Zhang Di, were formally arrested after a month-long detention.

An anonymous member of Shuangmiao Church told China Aid that church members had attempted to gather after the demolition, but were forbidden to do so. Using wood, they tried to construct a temporary meeting place in front of the original church, but officials prevented the meetings.

“We don’t have any light, either,” the church member said. “The government workers took away the electricity meter and cut off the wires.”

China Aid notes that the government also claims that the demolition was a punishment for refusing to pay 4,000 yuan ($588 USD) annually as part of an arbitrary road usage fee imposed by villagers who envy the church’s money. However, church members dispute this reasoning, saying they attempted to negotiate with the officials in efforts to remedy this problem prior to the demolition.

China is ranked 39 on Open Door USA’s World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution. Freedom House has reported that 100 million people face persecution in China, including Christians of various denominations, with Protestants facing “high” levels of persecution.

Over the past several years, authorities have destroyed church rooftop crosses and churches, leading to clashes with hundreds of congregants. Hundreds of pastors and human rights activists have been arrested for speaking out against the government’s treatment of Christians.

The Rev. Erik Burklin of China Partner, which trains Chinese Christian leaders, said that despite such persecution, God is in the business of “changing lives” and “building His Church.”

“Like Jesus said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my church.’ When He said that, He said, ‘I will build my church.’ Not, ‘You Christians build my church,’ but, ‘I will,'” Burklin told Mission Network News.

Burkin shared how one person with the central government donated close to $7.3 million for a new chapel at Union Theological Seminary in the city of Nanjing.

“I was just scratching my head, thinking to myself, ‘How in the world is it possible that in China, where Communism still runs the country, a person in the Central Government would donate so that a local school – in this case, the national seminary in China – can finish constructing their chapel?’ It’s unbelievable,” Burklin stated.

Despite the government’s best efforts, Chinese citizens continue to embrace Christianity at a dramatic rate.

“Then we met with leaders for dinner that night, and we asked the pastors there, ‘How many baptisms did you have last year? How many new converts did you have in your city?’ he then gave us an overview of what God is doing in their whole province. He was proceeding to explain to us that they have up to 100,000 new believers on the average every year. … That’s unheard of,” Burklin said.

Source: The Gospel Herald



Is Pastor Held in North Korea in Danger?

The family of a Canadian pastor serving a life sentence in North Korea is concerned for his safety, according to a Reuters report.

Their concern is heightened after the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was also imprisoned there for 17 months.

Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim was sentenced to hard labor for life in December 2015 after being charged with trying to use religion to overthrow the government.

Family and friends say he has made more than one hundred visits to North Korea, where he supports a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage.

Reuters reports Lim’s family wants the Canadian government to do more to gain his freedom.

There has reportedly been little progress in Lim’s case since Canadian officials were allowed to visit him in December 2016.

Canadian officials this week promised ‘something different’ would be done.

It was not clear what that is.

source: CBN



Pakistan Expels South Korean National Accused of Spreading the Gospel

BY SAMUEL SMITH , CP REPORTER

Pakistan officials say a South Korean national who it accused of using a business visa to preach the Gospel inside the Islamic republic has been expelled from the country.

(PHOTO: REUTERS)

The news comes after two Chinese nationals believed to be associated with the South Korean were killed last month by Islamic militants affiliated with the Islamic State terror group.

“Investigations have revealed that the South Korean national went to Pakistan on a business visa, set up an Urdu academy in Quetta and got involved in illegal preaching activities,” a Ministry of Interior official told ucanews.com this week. “We have revoked his visa and asked him to leave the country.”

According to World Watch Monitor, the South Korean national is Juan Won-seo. Pakistani officials told ucanews.com that 24-year-old Lee Zingyang and 26-year-old Meng Lisi, who were abducted and killed last month, were preaching Christianity under Won-seo’s guidance.

(Photo: Twitter/@usmanmasood44)Lee Zingyang and Meng Lisi of China were killed by Islamic militants affiliated with the Islamic State terror group in Pakistan in May 2017.

However, the Hindustan Times reports that South Korea has rejected Pakistan’s claims that Lee and Meng, who were in the country on the premise that they were Mandarin teachers learning Urdu, were preaching Christianity. A South Korean official told the news outlet on June 14 that there is no evidence from Pakistan to backup the claim that they were proselytizing under the leadership of the South Korean.

World Watch Monitor notes that Lee and Meng were only two of a dozen Chinese nationals in Pakistan for Urdu classes but Chinese media has claimed that the school is “merely a front for conducting religious activities.”

According to World Watch Monitor, a Chinese student interviewed by a Chinese government-sanctioned English news outlet claimed that South Koreans recruit Chinese “teenagers to conduct missionary activities in Muslim countries.”

“Compared to Chinese, more South Koreans have been killed abroad due to risky missionary activities in conservative Islamic regions,” the student was quoted as saying. “Some Chinese voluntarily join in the dangerous missionary activities in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq after being converted by South Koreans.”

However, critics have warned that China’s placing the blame on South Korean missionaries is an attempt to “mislead the Chinese people.”

“Most Chinese Christians have become Christian through Chinese evangelists. It has been very difficult for foreign citizens to proselytise in China. China does not have a visa category for religious clergy or missionaries,” Yang Fenggang, the director of the Centre on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University in Indiana told the Hindustan Times. “Some foreign students, professionals and business people may do evangelistic work within China, but evangelistic activities are restricted.”

Carsten Vala, an associate professor of political science at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, told the Hindustan Times that Chinese nationals have also been “eager to go abroad as missionaries.”

“At least one Chinese church leader I interviewed reported that his congregation had sent missionaries to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Arabic-speaking countries,” Vala said.

Both China and Pakistan are listed as two of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians. Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List ranks Pakistan as No. 4 and China as No. 39.

 

Source: Christian Post