Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Can Kids’ Prayers Heal Our Nation?
- Ministry On Site During Indonesian Quake Promises Long Haul Assistance
- Pakistan: Ministries Expand in Midst of Persecution
- Iranian Pastor Called Before Islamic Court
Can Kids’ Prayers Heal Our Nation?
Presidential Prayer Team
Can the prayers of our nation’s children quell the decades long attacks on America’s moral fiber and religious framework? “Absolutely,” said John Lind, President/CEO of The President Prayer Team (PPT), a 3-million strong grassroots effort to encourage millions of Americans to pray daily for the President, his cabinet, our nation and the Armed Forces. “I can’t think of a better way to make an impact on a child than to encourage them to develop a lifelong habit of daily prayer. Our nation will be the long-term beneficiary of those prayers. That’s why we started The Presidential Prayer Team for Kids website. Our children need to experience the joy and satisfaction that come with praying for their leaders and their country--as well as the truth about the role of faith in our nation’s history and heritage. And that’s just what PPT for Kids does.” With 25,000 members, PPT for Kids uses fun, interactive, age-appropriate activities, games and updates to encourage and inspire young people to pray. The site is designed to give children an understanding and appreciation for the role of people of faith in the birth, growth, and development of America into the greatest nation the world has ever known. The site puts God front and center in telling the story of our country. (www.presidentialprayerteam.org)
Ministry On Site During Indonesian Quake Promises Long Haul Assistance
Allie Martin, Agape Press
An official with Food for the Hungry was in Indonesia when a major earthquake hit the region. The situation in that country, while tense, has afforded the Phoenix, Arizona-based relief ministry some opportunities for outreach. Food for the Hungry Indonesia Field Coordinator Peter Howard says his hope is that the Indonesians were able to see the commitment and compassion of the ministry staffers, and that the indigenous people will continue to see the gospel in the foreign Christian workers' ongoing presence. The Indian Ocean tsunami that swept through Southern Asia last December claimed more than 200,000 lives. Now with that tragedy compounded by the devastation of the March earthquake, Howard says the physical needs in Indonesia are enormous. Therefore, he says Food for the Hungry is assisting in the relief and recovery effort "through small business rehabilitation, agriculture rehabilitation, education, and just working with the locals incarnationally -- being here one on one, helping people individually and then helping whole communities." Food for the Hungry is cooperating with other aid and government organizations to assess needs in the wake of the earthquake and respond accordingly. Howard says the ministry is "committed to being here for the long haul and to helping rebuild lives" in Indonesia, even as its workers build relationships with the people and bridges for the gospel through compassionate service.
Pakistan: Ministries Expand in Midst of Persecution
Christian Aid Mission
As seen in several recent attacks, Muslim persecution of Christians continues in parts of Pakistan, with some Muslims using discrimination, application of shari'a law or violence to oppress local Christians. Yet even as the challenge grows, so does native missionaries' commitment to spreading the love of Christ. Most recently, they have been able to expand into a city where hundreds of shrines to Muslim saints and a substantial pre-Islamic pagan presence draw thousands worshippers. An indigenous mission was able to send a full-time missionary there who has to date distributed over 100 copies of the complete Bible, New Testament and books of Genesis and Proverbs to interested residents. Several local people have been led to the Lord and are now attending a newly-planted, steadily growing church. Another indigenous ministry has been able to plant 10 new churches this year throughout Pakistan. Native missionaries do this work knowing the possible consequences. In Pakistan, Christians have endured dangerous persecution from local Muslims angry at the spread of the gospel. The federal government of Pakistan has taken many steps to protect its Christian minority, even providing police guards for church services. In several instances, Muslim extremists have turned violent. Pray that Christians in Pakistan would continue to hold strong to their faith, despite opposition of Muslim extremists.
Iranian Pastor Called Before Islamic Court
Iranian Christian Hamid Pourmand must appear before the Islamic (sharia) court of Iran within nine days. Arrested last September when security police raided a church conference he was attending, the lay pastor will be brought up before the Islamic court between April 11 and 14 to face charges of apostasy from Islam and proselytizing Muslims to the Christian belief. Both "crimes" are punishable by death. Pourmand was the only one of more than 80 church leaders arrested at the conference who was not released. Pourmand, now 47, converted from Islam to Christianity nearly 25 years ago. Pourmand, an army colonel at the time of his arrest, was found guilty by a military court on February 16 of "deceiving" the Iranian armed forces about his faith, despite evidence he produced to the contrary. According to the judge of the military court, his recent three-year sentence was given because Pourmand withheld from his superiors the information that he was a Christian. The Islamic regime in Iran has made it illegal for a non-Muslim citizen to serve as a military officer, since that puts him in a position of authority over Muslim soldiers. The military court verdict is currently under appeal to the Supreme Court. But with the judiciary's threat to try Pourmand before a sharia court of Islamic law now being carried out, he could face the death penalty.