Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 26, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 26, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Christians 'Troubled' by Iranian Leader's Christmas Greeting
  • Military in Iraq Celebrating Christ amidst War, Chaplain Says
  • Philippine Typhoon Update
  • Tsunami Victims Say 'Thank You' to Southern Baptists

Christians 'Troubled' by Iranian Leader's Christmas Greeting

The Christian Post reports that Christians felt “troubled” by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent Christmas greeting that included references to Jesus. “President Ahmadinejad’s Christmas greeting is nothing short of cynical,” said the Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick, Christian Solidarity International Washington representative, on Thursday. Ahmadinejad wished “all Christians happiness and prosperity on the occasion of the birth of the Christ,” last Tuesday, according to an Iranian Student News Agency. Yet just last year, Roderick reminds us, Ahmadinejad told a gathering of Iranian provincial governors that he would stop Christianity in Iran. Faith McDonnell, director of Religious Liberty Programs at The Institute on Religion & Democracy also found the Iranian president’s greeting “very troubling.” She is concerned that Ahmadinejad’s message will either be misinterpreted as nice, or dismissed.

Military in Iraq Celebrating Christ amidst War, Chaplain Says

A Southern Baptist chaplain in Iraq says military personnel are celebrating the birth of Christ in the midst of a war-torn country. Baptist Press reports that Chaplain LTC Jim White, 3rd Infantry Division, says "in spite of the circumstances," America's finest are celebrating Christmas in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. White, stationed in Baghdad, requested prayer for members of the military who are away from family during the Christmas season -- that they may "sense God's presence each and every day.... We also ask that you'll pray for each of our chaplains, that they will sense the when, the where and the how to share God's love this Christmas season to all that they serve. Meanwhile, here in Baghdad, we continue to celebrate the Christ of Christmas."

Philippine Typhoon Update

Christian Aid-supported ministries in the Philippines have begun the lengthy process of rebuilding the lives and homes of those affected by typhoon Durian, which crashed into the island of Luzon at 140 mph on November 30. Those who lost their homes have crammed into schools and churches for temporary shelter. More than 40,000 people have been displaced. Four provinces were badly hit. However, the villages surrounding Mt. Mayon — an active volcano approximately 200 miles south of Manila — were the most devastated. Heavy rains spawned by the typhoon loosened mud and boulders from the slopes of the volcano, which crushed and buried entire villages, including many small churches. One church leader who lost his home is now distributing relief goods given by various churches and individuals from Manila to those in the affected regions. They had a worship service on the Sunday following the typhoon, where all the members thanked the Lord for sparing their lives. Christian Aid has already sent some funds, but more is needed.

Tsunami Victims Say 'Thank You' to Southern Baptists

It has been nearly two years since an earthquake and a deadly tsunami hit parts of eight Asian nations, including Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Many survivors have tried to move on with their lives, while others are still working to regain normalcy and stability. But many survivors who found hope through the work of Southern Baptists have launched a website through the International Mission Board, thanking those who have helped them rebuild their lives. Baptist Press reports the new website features personal “thank yous” from tsunami survivors, video footage of the devastation and rebuilding efforts plus witnesses’ personal accounts of that tragic day. Baptists raised $16.8 million in financial support to help hundreds of thousands, while also volunteering time and effort to travel directly to the effected areas.