Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- So. Calif. City Won't Shut Down Home Bible Group
- Jailed Iranian Pastor Temporarily Freed
- Threat of Return to Hindu State in Nepal Looms
- Awana Programs Celebrate 60 Years of Ministry
So. Calif. City Won't Shut Down Home Bible Group
The Christian Post reports that a home church group will be allowed to continue without a permit, according to officials in the greater Los Angeles area. Shiloh Tabernacle Church in Rancho Cucamonga was allegedly drawing such regular crowds that a neighbor complained. City officials, including the mayor, visited the group and found that the Friday meetings were a Bible study, not operating as a church. "We are very pleased that the City of Rancho Cucamonga saw the light and dropped their attempts to shut down this Friday night Bible study," said Michael Peffer, an attorney who heads Pacific Justice Institute's Southern California office and represents the Bible study group, in a statement released Tuesday.
Jailed Iranian Pastor Temporarily Freed
Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN) reports that an Iranian pastor arrested almost two months ago has been freed temporarily. Pastor Wilson Issavi left prison on Sunday after posting bail, but he faces further investigation into charges that he was trying to convert Muslims. Still, FCNN reports that he "is in good spirits" after his 54-day ordeal, which those close to him say included torture. Issavi was arrested on Feb. 2. Iranian intelligence officials told his wife that her Issavi might be executed for his alleged activities. Issavi is the pastor of The Evangelical Church of Kermanshah in Isfahan, a 50-year-old church body. Christians in Iran, though one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, face increasing pressure from the Muslim state.
Threat of Return to Hindu State in Nepal Looms
Compass Direct News reports that, just four years after Nepal became officially secular, fear is growing that the country could revert to the Hindu state it was until 2006. Before then, proclaiming Christ was a punishable offense and many churches functioned clandestinely to avoid being shut down. There is now growing doubt that the ruling parties will not be able to fashion the new constitution they promised by May. "We feel betrayed," said Dr. K.B. Rokaya, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Nepal. "The Constituent Assembly we elected to give us a new constitution that would strengthen democracy and secularism has frittered away the time and opportunity given to it."
Awana Programs Celebrate 60 Years of Ministry
Christian Newswire reports that Awana youth ministries will celebrate 60 years of ministry on April 12. The organization now has programs for kids ages 2 to 18 in its partnerships with churches in the U.S. and 100 countries worldwide. About one million children and youth participate in weekly programs at nearly 20,000 churches representing 100 Christian denominations. The special 60th celebration takes place in St. Charles, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The event kicks off Summit 2010, an annual gathering of high-school students from 24-7 Ministries, the youth ministry of Awana. The celebration features guest speakers, musical artists, special giveaways, a tribute to Awana Co-Founder Art Rorheim and a message from Awana President/CEO Jack Eggar.