In The World—April 3, 2016

April 3, 2016 No Comments »
In The World—April 3, 2016

By Melissa Wuske

Prayer App for Persecuted Believers

Stories of persecution against Christians are prevalent. Recently, a magazine published by The Boston Globe ran a series of articles about persecution of Christians worldwide. In one installment, John L. Allen cites estimates that a Christian is killed for their faith every hour. With a problem this large, it’s hard for believers to know how to respond.

Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) has long worked with Christians whose lives are at risk, and they’ve answered the question of many Christians who feel removed, but deeply moved by, the danger Christians face around the world: What can I do? VOM calls believers to prayer and offers a mobile app to help people know how to pray. The app features photos of persecuted Christians, information about the countries where they live, daily devotions, and the latest news from VOM’s work around the world. It’s available for iOS and Android by searching VOM Pray Today.

The Science Behind Opioid Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 2.5 million Americans are addicted to opioids and heroin. Jack O’Connor became addicted as a teenager, and he was so determined to stop that at age 19 he joined the Marines. It worked, but only for 13 weeks; then he started using again. Over three years, O’Connor went through detox—stopping the drugs and ridding his system of them—more than 20 times. His story of relapse is not uncommon. 

Dr. Seddon Savage, an addiction and pain specialist at Dartmouth College, studies why addiction is so tough to kick. The answer is the brain’s own wiring. Drugs cause pleasure in the limbic system, and then, “addiction recruits memory systems, motivational systems, impairs inhibitory systems and continues to stimulate the drive to use [drugs],” she said.

“For people who don’t get intensive treatment, people who are just detoxified [from opioids], relapse rates can be above 90 percent,” said Savage. Having years of more comprehensive treatment, including medication, therapy, and job support, can help recover the brain’s natural defenses.

Is Crime on the Rise?

Crime rates in the United States have remained fairly steady in recent years, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. In fact, overall crime rates in large cities may have declined between 2014 and 2015. 

The report cautions against using murder rates alone to generalize about crime rates nationwide. Since murder rates are low (they’ve fallen by about 20 percent since 1990), a small number of murders can skew the rate for a particular city during a particular year. Additionally, an overall increase in murders nationally may be skewed by a few areas; in 2015, a murder rate increase was reported, but Baltimore and Washington, DC, accounted for nearly half of the increase.

New Cancer Test

Grail is a company doing innovative cancer research. Grail aims to create a blood test that can detect a variety of kinds of cancer. The test aims to be less invasive, more cost effective, and more able to achieve early detection than current tests. The test, referred to as a liquid biopsy, could register cancer DNA even before tumor growth is visible. Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have contributed $100 million to help fund this work. Grail plans to have the test available in 2019.

Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (

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