Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Nine Bishops Intervene In Priest Suspension
- Jailed Pakistani Christian Released On Bail
- India: Helping Tribal Women Escape Abuse and Disease
Nine Bishops Intervene In Priest Suspension
Nine conservative Episcopal bishops say they'll take Connecticut's bishop to religious court over his suspension of one priest and threat to remove five others. The conflict stems from Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith's support for the openly homosexual Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Dubbed the "Connecticut Six," the priests had asked to be supervised by a different Episcopal bishop because they disagreed with Smith's support for Robinson's consecration in 2003. Earlier this month, Smith suspended one of the six, Rev. Mark Hansen of Bristol. In a letter to Smith, the nine bishops say they plan to intervene in the case and are prepared to do the same if the five other priests are suspended.
Jailed Pakistani Christian Released On Bail
Jeremy Reynalds, Assist News Service
A Christian believer who ran afoul of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy law has just been released on a bond of $4200. Yousaf Masih, 60, was arrested on June 28 from the Lalkurti area in Nowshera following an allegation that he had deliberately burnt pages of the Koran. After Masih’s arrest, a news release from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) stated that he was brutally tortured in a police station and later moved to the Central Jail in Peshawar, where he was kept in a special cell. There was serious concern beginning to emerge about Masih’s health. Masih was released from jail on Aug. 6. The news release from APMA stated that when Masih was informed about his impending freedom, “he fell down on his knees and loudly said, ‘Hallelujah.’. We took him from Central Jail in Peshawar to a location where his family was waiting for him.” Speaking in the news release, an APMA official called Masih’s release on bail “a great miracle.” He added, “It is for the first time in Pakistan that (someone accused of blasphemy) is released from jail on bail in a very short span ... Such type of blasphemy cases take years for any kind of outcome.”
India: Helping Tribal Women Escape Abuse and Disease
Christian Aid Mission
Centuries ago women from Rajasthan state's Rajnut tribe danced in the courts of kings for favor. Today they are no better off, as most Rajnut girls become prostitutes living along Rajasthan's highways. Since they are regarded as outcasts, Rajnuts rarely have access to basic medical care or education. One indigenous ministry is reaching a community of 10 Rajnut villages scattered along a main Rajasthan thoroughfare. The ministry's goal, as expressed by its leader, is to "bring about community transformation through education and health awareness, income- generating activities and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases." Training in income-generating skills such as sewing gives women a legitimate way to support themselves. Education programs target young girls, offering them a future other than the one mandated by tradition. Rajnut girls are expected to join the sex trade when they turn 13. Sanitation systems, care for illegitimate children and medical help are also impacting poverty-stricken Rajnut communities. As they receive practical aid given in the name of Christ, these outcast people are coming to Him. Already a small Christian fellowship has begun in one Rajnut village. Pray it will continue to grow.
Charisma News Service
In the first known death of a Christian imprisoned by authorities during a crackdown of believers, a believer reportedly has died as a result of mistreatment in detention. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Kelati Awalom, a member of the Rhema Church in Asmara, died at his home on July 24 after he was released from prison where he was beaten. Awalom had been detained on three separate occasions. While in detention for the third time recently, prison guards beat Awalom so severely that one of his arms was paralyzed. Meanwhile, 70 Christians arrested at a wedding celebration in Asmara on May 28 may have been sent to a detention centre in Wi'a, one of the most inhospitable parts of the African country. According to reports received by the religious liberty group Release Eritrea, the believers, who include popular gospel artist Essey Estifanos and several of his friends, were promised freedom on condition that they express allegiance to the Orthodox, Catholic or Lutheran churches, the only religions that are sanctioned by the government other than Islam. Last Friday, a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for Christian prisoners in Eritrea was held at the urging of Eritrean Christians. Some 500 Christians are currently imprisoned in Eritrea. (www.charismanews.com)