Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Students Hold Annual Prayer Meeting around School Flagpoles
- Pope Says Church's Approach to other Religions Must Be Tolerant, Open
- Azeri Officials Deprive Christian Baby of Name
- ATS Launches Grass Roots Evangelical Outreach for Halloween
Students Hold Annual Prayer Meeting around School Flagpoles
AgapePress reports students nationwide have gathered to pray and worship around their school flagpoles for the 17th annual "See You At The Pole." The student-led event is held before class on the fourth Wednesday each September. Doug Clark of the National Network of Youth Ministries estimates that yesterday's SYATP observance attracted two million students at tens of thousands of schools in every state. Clark says he knows of only one school, a public middle school in Louisiana, where the principal refused to let students pray around the flagpole before class. And he says there are other reports of Christian students being heckled by their classmates. But students who participated also said it encouraged them and gave them opportunities to share their faith with classmates.
Pope Says Church's Approach to other Religions Must Be Tolerant, Open
Believing that each person is created in the image of God, the Catholic Church hopes all people will come to know the Gospel, Catholic News Service reports. However, the Church's primary approach to other religions and cultures must be one of tolerance and openness, Pope Benedict XVI said. On Sept. 28, Pope Benedict welcomed Germany's new ambassador to the Vatican, telling him faith increases people's commitment to the common good, which is marked by defending the life and dignity of all people, including those of other faiths and cultures. "The church does not impose itself," the pope said. "It does not force anyone to accept the Gospel message because faith in Jesus Christ, whom the church proclaims, can only happen in freedom. For this reason, encounters with others must be marked by tolerance and cultural openness." Pope Benedict met Sept. 25 with ambassadors from predominantly Muslim countries and with representatives of Italy's Muslim community, expressing his deep respect for Muslims, pledging to continue dialogue and encouraging joint Christian-Muslim efforts to curb violence.
Azeri Officials Deprive Christian Baby of Name
Born on June 18 to a Christian family in northern Azerbaijan, three-month-old Ilya Eyvazov still has no official name. According to Compass Direct News, local authorities in the town of Aliabad at first refused to issue a birth certificate to the baby’s father, Novruz Eyvazov, when they saw his son’s name was the Russian form of Elijah. “They said it was because it was a Christian name,” said the Baptist church member. After a month, Novruz Eyvazov succeeded only in securing a birth certificate that left his son’s name blank. One official in the regional registration office in Zaqatala said that Baptists in Aliabad were facing difficulties because their attempt to take non-Azeri names was part of a plot to cede Zaqatala to neighboring Georgia. Little Ilya Eyvazov’s two older brothers, Moisei [Moses] and Luka, were also denied birth certificates by the municipality for some months. Considered part of a “foreign” religious sect, the three Baptist congregations in Aliabad face ongoing harassment from the local government, which has refused them official church registration for the past 13 years.
ATS Launches Grass Roots Evangelical Outreach for Halloween
The American Tract Society is calling on individual Christians from every denomination to "Light Up the Night" this fall, according to Religion News Service. "Light Up the Night" is a totally new campaign to get gospel presentations and evangelical messages into the hands and pockets of children and adults all over the country this October. ATS is offering an industry first - Glow-in-the-Dark tracts for children during the darkest holiday of the year, Halloween. "It's not just for Halloween," states David LeFlore, ATS Vice President of Evangelism/Outreach. "This year we are encouraging people in every denomination to shine the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, to tens of thousands of children through gospel tracts. This can be done at church harvest festivals, Christian bookstores, and individual homes that will help "Light Up the Night" this Halloween." ATS is offering free downloadable resources and ideas on their featured website www.light-up-the-night.org.