Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- N. Korea Sentences U.S. Christian to 8 Years
- Nigerian Christian Leaders Meet President
- Radical Iran Growing More Christian
- Anglican Bishops Call for Debate on 'Discrimination'
N. Korea Sentences U.S. Christian to 8 Years
The Christian Post reports that an American citizen has been sentenced to eight years of hard labor by North Korean officials. Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, was caught and arrest on Jan. 25 after crossing the border from China, though people close to Gomes don't know what he was doing in the country. Gomes, originally from Boston, had previously worked as an English language teacher in a town north of Seoul. He participated in at least two demonstrations calling for the release of Robert Park, another American arrested for illegally crossing into North Korea. Park was released in February. Gomes was convicted of illegal entry and "hostile acts" against North Korea, crimes that he allegedly confessed to.
Nigerian Christian Leaders Meet President
Agence-France Presse reports that Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua met with both Muslim and Christian leaders over the last week, when both groups prayed for the ailing president. Yar'Adua is Muslim, and has made few public appearances since falling seriously ill in November. "We prayed for him and that was the reason why we went there. I wish this had happened earlier than now," Kure told AFP, saying that the four Christian pastors had been invited by the president's family. "The President is alive and he needs our prayers. I think Nigerians should rise up to pray for him, not because he is our president, anybody with a health challenge should be prayed for." Nigeria's middle belt has been periodically wracked with violence between Christian and Muslim groups, killing thousands in the last few years.
Radical Iran Growing More Christian
Mission News Network reports that Christianity is growing in Iran, even as the government's agenda grows more radical. "There has been a continual movement not to back down and to continue moving forward with their Islamic agenda," evangelist Sammy Tippit said of the government. "The church has continued to grow, although it has become much more difficult for the church. We continue this year to receive reports of people who are being arrested." Some Christians have been released, but that does not point to increased freedom, he said. "It seems to me that everything is moving toward some kind of boiling point." Even with this kind of persecution, however, Tippit believes "there's no place in all of the Middle East that is as receptive to the Gospel as Iran."
Anglican Bishops Call for Debate on 'Discrimination'
Religion News Service reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury is downplaying calls by six Anglican bishops for an election-year debate on workplace "discrimination" faced by Christians. In a March 28 letter to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, the five bishops and former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey cited the case of Shirley Chaplin. Chaplin is a nurse in a National Health Service who was removed from patient care duties after refusing to remove the cross she has worn around her neck for 38 years. On Easter Sunday, Dr. Rowan Williams was critical of what he called "overheated language" used to describe Christian suffering in Britain by groups seeking to protect what they see as their country's religious heritage.