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Local connections

"Local connections" Continued...

Issue: "Tick, tick, tick ...," May 7, 2011

Afghan freed

Jailed Afghan Christian Shoaib Assadullah has been released and has fled Afghanistan. Authorities in Mazar-e-Sharif arrested the 23-year-old Muslim convert last October for giving a Bible to a man who reported him. Like others imprisoned by Afghan officials recently, he was promised legal representation and a court trial, but those were repeatedly denied him. While jailed he was also beaten-and at one point hospitalized. His release came after Western pressure on the Karzai government-but not before his mother, who was ill, had died. From prison Assadullah said, "I am not afraid to die for Jesus but if I die now, I will get to heaven and there won't be many Afghans." WORLD learned of Assadullah's release in March but agreed not to publish it until he received a passport allowing him to leave Afghanistan.

Carolina blues

A powerful set of storms killed at least 45 people in six southern states over a single April weekend, but the worst damage hit one state: North Carolina. Meteorologists said the storms spawned 62 tornadoes there on April 17. The state usually averages 19 in an entire year.

The twisters killed at least 23 people in North Carolina and damaged or destroyed more than 800 homes. Dramatic accounts included a 3-month-old baby boy surviving after the winds ripped him from a relative's arms. Heartbreaking reports included four children-ages 6 months to 8 years-dying after a tree crushed their mobile home.

Relief groups dispatched clean-up crews to the area, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association sent a team of chaplains. It's the second time the group's chaplains have visited Bertie County in seven months: Last October, Tropical Storm Nicole wreaked havoc in the rural community. "All of us have been stunned at how quickly homes, possessions, businesses, and-most tragically-precious lives have been lost," said BGEA vice president Preston Parrish. "In the blink of an eye, so many people have been plunged into grief and crisis."

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