Religion Today Summaries - April 19, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 19, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Christianity on the Rise in Iraq
  • Violence Scars Easter Week in Three States in India
  • Open Doors Urges Participation In North Korea Freedom Week
  • Southern Baptist Missions Head Steps Down

Christianity on the Rise in Iraq

An Associated Press story details how attendance is booming at the Rev. Andrew White's church as more Iraqi Christians seek solace in religion to cope with a life of car bombings, kidnappings and deprivation. ''Canon White,'' travels to Baghdad monthly to minister to Western Protestants and Iraqi Assyrian Christians - who must be bused into the protected Green Zone to hear White preach after al-Qaeda put a price on his head. Over the past three years, the number of Iraqis attending his services has grown to about 900, said the 41-year-old British Anglican priest. ''People turn to religion when they are desperate,'' White began visiting Iraq regularly in 1998, and he has witnessed profound changes since then. Under Saddam, White found a more secular society where tensions between religious groups seemed nonexistent. Later he learned the divisions were there - Iraqis were just afraid to speak frankly.

Violence Scars Easter Week in Three States in India

Easter in India was marred by violence throughout Holy Week, according to a Compass Direct release. In the southern state of Karnataka yesterday, 15 Hindu extremists said to be from the extremist Bajrang Dal attacked a Sunday morning church service, assaulting Pastor V.P. Paulouse, injuring his head and fracturing both hands; his wife also was severely beaten. In Madhya Pradesh state, on Good Friday, April 14, two Christian women in Jabalpur district were arrested for “promoting conversion.” Last Tuesday (April 11) near Mumbai, at least two pastors suffered serious injuries when about 50 Hindu extremists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad barged into a prayer meeting of 500 Christians and assaulted them with chains and iron rods.

Open Doors Urges Participation In North Korea Freedom Week

During North Korea Freedom Week April 22-30, Open Doors USA is partnering with North Korea Freedom Coalition members to focus on atrocities and raise up prayers. For Soon Ok Lee, a Christian survivor of political prison camps and author of Eyes of the Tailless Animals, North Korea is the world's No. 1 "Evil Empire." Lee still bears physical scars from her prison camp experience where: "According to North Korean law... a criminal's seed must be scorched up to its third generation, [so] they abort the baby. If somehow the baby survives and is born, they strangle the baby by stepping on them in front of its own mother. I also witnessed many human experiments. They said it was pointless to test weapons and chemicals on animals because they were created to target their enemies - other human beings. I also saw many Christians in the camp... they were stepped on until death. If they didn't deny God, they were often times burned to death from boiling hot liquid metal. And these weren't rare sights for me. Because I went through many physical tortures... the right side of my face is still a little distorted, the left half of my mouth is crooked and the whole left half of my teeth were crushed. I live with a lot of physical pain on my body and it's difficult to get through each day. But there are still many people going through tortures and human experiments even at this very moment." Lee says we as Christians need to speak out about these abuses. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) adds: "In North Korea, we hear reports of religious believers being tortured, imprisoned and even executed for their beliefs."

Southern Baptist Missions Head Steps Down

The Christian Post reports that North American Mission Board President Robert E. Reccord announced his resignation - effective immediately - Monday morning following a critical assessment that put the agency to question. The Christian Index had released a report in late February that listed the NAMB's shortcomings and failures to complete certain missions projects. Reccord responded humbly to the report, which had prompted an investigation of his leadership, and then decided to step down on his own. "While others might have placed their own personal well-being ahead of what was best for NAMB, Dr. Reccord is doing just the opposite," said Barry Holcomb, chairman of the Board of Trustees. While Reccord was not forced to resign, the now former president took the "high road of leadership" on behalf of the agency, stated Holcomb. Reccord leaves with mixed emotions: "I am thankful for the countless number of people we have seen come to Christ and the thousands of churches we have seen planted and nurtured. On the other hand, I regret we were not able to complete a number of things we started or dreamed about. I regret that events of recent weeks have created an environment which makes it difficult to lead the organization and to stay on mission." Reccord, who was announced as the key speaker for this year's Promise Keepers conferences, will serve as a liason Ambassador between NAMB and the large men's ministry.