Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Vietnam Pastor Remains in Police Custody
- Truth for Youth Week Promotes Bible Distribution Campaign
- Officials in Saudi Visit Jailed Indian Christian
- MO School Settles Suit, Scraps Ten Commandments
Vietnam Pastor Remains in Police Custody
Seven weeks after his arrest in a police raid on his home in Ho Chi Minh City, Mennonite pastor Nguyen Hong Quang has been allowed his first visitors. The unexpected visit occurred after Quang's wife wrote a letter to senior Vietnamese officials seeking permission to see her husband. A university student and the mother of three small children, Mrs. Quang explained that the confiscation of all the family's money in the June 8 police raid when her husband was arrested has placed her in very difficult straits. The following day, officials summoned Mrs. Quang and Mennonite evangelist Nguyen Thanh Tam to the police station for interrogation, allowing them to speak with Quang briefly. They said the jailed pastor looked thin and sickly and had an "ill color." Sources in Vietnam say that authorities are trying to build a legal case against Quang for possessing and distributing materials harmful to the state. This crime, if classified as severe, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Truth for Youth Week Promotes Bible Distribution Campaign
Jenni Parker, Agape Press
Starting Monday, August 2, American Family Radio (AFR) and Revival Fires International will begin hosting the fourth annual "The Truth For Youth" week, a promotion with special programming that will air on 204 affiliate stations across the United States. In a unique evangelism outreach, the sponsors of the project are offering The Truth For Youth New Testament freely to teens who will commit to give the special Bible to an unsaved friend at school. During the week of August 2 through August 6, in hopes of reaching as many students in public schools as possible with the gospel, the sponsoring partners are encouraging young people to call 1-800-733-4737 or visit the AFR website (www.afr.net) to request a free copy to give away in school. Revival Fires' Tim Todd, publisher/designer of the Truth For Youth, says the national Bible distribution campaign was launched to respond to the "ill effect that the liberal agenda being promoted agressively in America's public schools is having on young people." This youth-targeted new testament has "The Student's Legal Rights on Public School Campuses" printed on the back cover to inform youngsters and school administrators that students have the right to give away Bibles on campus during non-instructional time. In the last three years, Revival Fires' parternship with AFR has resulted in more than 150,000 Bibles being given away in schools, and at least 138 young people affirming their decision to surrender their hearts to Jesus Christ.
Officials in Saudi Visit Jailed Indian Christian
Barbara Baker, Compass Direct
Four months after he was tortured and jailed for "spreading Christianity" in Saudi Arabia, Indian Christian Brian O'Connor received his first official prison visits this week. O'Connor, 36, was lured out of his home in Riyadh on March 25 and arrested by a group of Saudi muttawa (religious police), who beat him severely, claiming he was dealing in drugs, alcohol and the spread of Christianity. This week two representatives of O'Connor's embassy visited him at Riyadh's Al-Hair Jail, followed the next day by an official representing the office of the governor of Riyadh. At the end of that interview, the man told O'Connor that within 10 to 15 days' time, he would either be sent back to his job or deported to India. "I am confident that the Lord will turn this mess into a message and my test into a testimony," O'Connor told a visitor last week. Although Saudi government officials claim to exercise "practical tolerance" toward non-Muslims who worship privately in their homes, in legal terms freedom of religion does not exist within the kingdom.
MO School Settles Suit, Scraps Ten Commandments
A woman has accepted a settlement in her federal lawsuit challenging the display of a plaque featuring the Ten Commandments in a Missouri school cafeteria. The Humansville School District has agreed to pay Carrie Roat $45,000, refrain from displaying religious symbols and prevent school officials from leading students in prayer. Roat claimed in her suit that the plaque on the cafeteria wall where high school and junior high students eat violated separation of church and state. She also said it served as "an unambiguous symbol of Christianity and of the Christian faith and belief." Roat also claimed that a policy at the high school and junior high allowed prayers to be said on various occasions, such as Veterans Day assemblies, as well as before athletic banquets.