Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 4, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 4, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Focus on the Family Lays Off 110 Workers
  • Six More Churches Attacked and Robbed in Kyrgyzstan
  • Church in China Experiencing 'Tremendous' Growth
  • 'Hunger Season' Has Hit Niger Early, Aid Group Warns

Focus on the Family Lays Off 110 Workers

The Christian Post reports that ministry giant Focus on the Family shed another 110 of employees over the weekend, dropping to half the number it had in 2002. "The economy continues to be in recession," said Gary Schneeberger, vice president of ministry communications at Focus on the Family. "And people who have given in the past are having financial difficulties of their own." The ministry's budget has continued to drop since 2008. Two executives were cut, but most of the layoffs occurred in service departments, taking the total number of employees to 750. "This is not a happy time, obviously, having to say 'goodbye' to some of our ministry family," he said. "But our mission, and the measure of our success, isn't how many of us work here; it's whether those of us who work here are helping families thrive. We are, and we will keep doing so - robustly."

Six More Churches Attacked and Robbed in Kyrgyzstan

ASSIST News Service reports that six churches in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, have been vandalized and robbed. This follows a similar attack on a different church three weeks ago. Jed Courley, the church's pastor said, "At about 1:00 in the morning four men climbed over the fence and broke into the back door of the church. A woman, Valya, who was there was badly beaten, tied up with tape, and then beaten more when very little money was found. Rooms trashed, safe demolished. Some music equipment, a computer, and other things were taken." Courley says police have done nothing and did not even respond to one scene. The church is currently working to help Kyrgyz refugees affected by violence in the city of Osh.

Church in China Experiencing 'Tremendous' Growth

Christian Today reports that Christians in China's official churches face greater opportunity and much less persecution than 15 years ago. Mathews George Chunakara, Director of the World Council of Churches' (WCC) International Affairs and Public Witness, said there had been a "unique and explosive growth" of Christianity among the Chinese people. "I have been visiting China for the last 15 years. I am astounded to see the tremendous growth there. Their worship places are now overflowing," Chunakara told Christian Today. "It is not just the poor you see in churches, even the rich and educated are embracing Christianity. Beijing and Shanghai are the proof," he added. Since the early 1970s, when an estimated 3 million Christians lived in China, that number has shot up to as many as 130 million. Chunakara maintains that now security officials "will not raid unless provoked" by a church.

'Hunger Season' Has Hit Niger Early, Aid Group Warns

Christian Today reports that children in the West African country of Niger face even worse shortages now than in their annual "hunger season." Clinics have seen more than twice the usual number of acutely malnourished children for this time of year. "There aren't many places in the world where you have an annual ‘hunger season,' but Niger is one of them," reported Judy Moore, the emergency response director in Niger for World Vision. "Unfortunately, this year, poor harvests and a lack of rainfall meant the hunger season began earlier than usual." Moore said the shortage is the worst in five years. "We've even heard reports of parents feeding their children ‘galgu', a plant normally used to feed cattle because they can't find anything else to eat," Moore said.