By Tyson Thorne

December 26, 2018

BiM27 Large

"Media" used to mean "print media" like books and newspapers, but the world has grown. Today media can also mean radio, television and movies delivered to personal computers, tablets and cell phones. As the world's best selling book of all time the Bible continues to make headlines, both good and bad, across all forms of media. Iranian refugees in Turkey are turning to Jesus in unprecedented droves, Austria celebrates the 200th anniversary of a national song that has become a beloved Christmas carol the world over, and a stolen pocket Bible from the 1800's finds its way home for Christmas.

National Public Radio (NPR) reported last week that many Iranian refugees in Turkey are turning to Jesus in such great numbers local churches are having trouble keeping up. Many of these refugees attend services and have a testimony to share, like Farzana who said a friend of hers began giving her photocopied pages of a New Testament telling her, "Go read them. These are the word of God." Many are willing to share their testimony but not their names. In Iran, anyone who converts from Islam is likely to receive capitol punishment. While it is true that some of the refugees change their religious affiliation in hopes that it will go better for their asylum to America, it is also true that these people left Iran for a reason. That reason is mostly to flee Islamic oppression. It should also be noted that the majority of Iranians under 40 are pro-Western.

This Christmas, Austrians celebrate the 200th anniversary of the composition of one of the season's favorite carols. The song has become a part of Austria's national heritage, and they plan to celebrate with concerts and exhibits telling the legend of how the song came to be. According to legend, on Christmas Eve of 1818, a church reverend named Joseph Mohr, had discovered that mice had chewed through the organs bellows, making it useless for the usual hymn sing. Grabbing a poem he had written only a few weeks before and Franz Xaver Gruber (a composer and church member) he gathered the congregation around a nativity scene and taught them to sing "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht." For those who don't speak German, that's "Silent Night, Holy Night". The song came to America in 1839 with the Rainer Family singers when they performed at Trinity Church. John Freeman, a priest at Trinity, would publish a translation of the lyrics 20 years later, and it became as popular in America as it did when first introduced to the Austrians.

In 1854 Archibald Todd was given a pocket Bible when reporting for duty with the 13th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry. It became a treasured possession with notes jotted in the margins of Romans 12 and Matthew 18. The Bible was passed down through the generations, eventually being inherited by Robert Burrows. Todd was Burroughs' great-great-uncle. Burroughs enjoyed the family heirloom until it was stolen in 2015. This year he found it again, on eBay. He called the local police, who guided him to the FBI who looked into the matter. A short while later they called back and told Burrows to expect a package in the mail. They had recovered the stolen Bible. It is unknown if the theives or the eBay "fence" were charged with crimes, but Burrows is glad his family Bible has found its way home this Christmas.

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