In The World—December 6, 2015

December 6, 2015 No Comments »
In The World—December 6, 2015

By Melissa Wuske

German Minister Baptizes Hundreds of Muslim Refugees

“Will you break away from Satan and his evil deeds? Will you break away from Islam?” Minister Gottfried Martens in Berlin, Germany has asked these questions of hundreds of Muslim refugees. And the answers are resoundingly affirmative. His church has grown from 150 people to 600 in two years and has become known as a welcoming place for refugees. 

Many wonder whether the conversions are legitimate or whether people feign belief to increase their chances of receiving asylum—since they’d be in danger as Christians in their home countries. Martens sets motives aside: “I know there are—again and again—people coming here because they have some kind of hope regarding their asylum. I am inviting them to join us because I know that whoever comes here will not be left unchanged.” Only about 10 percent, he said, don’t return to the church after their baptism.

Because of his openness, he’s seen many lives change, including Mohammed Ali Zonoobi, an Iranian refugee who now goes by Martin. Zonoobi went to clandestine Christian services in Iran after a friend introduced him to the Bible. He chose to seek a new life in Germany after Christians he knew were arrested for their beliefs. Martens baptized Zonoobi and his wife, Afsaneh, who now goes by Katarina. “Now we are free and can be ourselves,” Katarina said.

Queen Elizabeth’s Reign Surpasses Victoria’s

Earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth outlasted Queen Victoria’s duration as monarch: 23,226 days. Queen Elizabeth addressed the landmark day calmly: “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones,” she said. “My own is no exception.”

How do the two queens compare in other areas? When she was born, Victoria was fifth in line to the throne; Elizabeth was third. Other than English, Victoria spoke German, Hindustani, and French; Elizabeth speaks French. Victoria ruled over a fourth of the globe—450 million people; Elizabeth has ruled over 139.5 million. While Victoria was the first monarch to ride a train, appear in a photograph, undergo anesthesia, have her voice recorded, and be filmed, Elizabeth is the first to have her coronation on television, travel by subway, send an email, have a website, and tweet.

New Images from NASA Reveal Intriguing Spots

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has sent back intriguing images of Ceres, a dwarf planet residing in an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. (A dwarf planet orbits the sun directly and has its own balanced gravity, but its gravity hasn’t cleared the other objects from its area.)

The images show a cluster of bright spots that NASA says “gleam with mystery.” The light spots are a stark contrast to the rest of Ceres’s surface, and no one knows yet what they are. Dawn’s images are a closer look at what the Hubble telescope captured 11 years ago, which looked like a single bright spot. “Dawn has transformed what was so recently a few bright dots into a complex and beautiful, gleaming landscape,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director.

Which Is Worse?

According to a Pew Research study, white evangelicals who attend church weekly are more likely to say stinginess is a sin than divorce. While 37 percent said divorce is a sin, 48 percent said “spending money on luxuries without giving to the poor” is a sin. Around 39 percent of white evangelicals who don’t attend church weekly and 26 percent of all black Protestants agree: living in wealth without giving to others isn’t right.

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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