Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Egypt: Future of Christians Unclear Following Resignation
- 11-Year-Old Boy among Hostages Held in Sinai
- Indonesia: Mob Attacks Could Produce Fruit
- At 102, George Beverly Shea to Receive Lifetime Grammy Award
Egypt: Future of Christians Unclear Following Resignation
After the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Friday, pro-democracy protestors celebrated in the streets of Cairo and other cities around the country. An Open Doors source in the area said while international television is showing people celebrating, he has received mixed reaction from Christians to the resignation. Dr. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, told Mission Network News today, "Given recent polling data, if an election were to be held tomorrow, it's quite likely that Islamic extremists would have a significant - if not dominant - role to play in the new government." Moeller said if that should occur, there will likely be greater hardship for Christians. One survey indicates that 84 percent of Egyptian citizens would favor public execution for apostasy, or leaving Islam.
11-Year-Old Boy among Hostages Held in Sinai
An eleven year-old Eritrean boy is one of at least three minors being held hostage for ransom by people traffickers in the Sinai Desert, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports. The boy, known only as Abiel, is reported to be suffering from a broken arm, but is bound by chains on his hands and feet, along with 150 other refugees and asylum seekers. Two other children, age 14, are reportedly being held in the same inhumane conditions in metal structures close to Egypt's border with Israel. Most of the hostages were freed after traffickers received some form of payment. However, despite the fact that the plight of these hostages has now been highlighted by Pope Benedict XVI, the European Parliament, the UNHCR and the international media, there has been no effective action on the part of the Egyptian government to secure their release.
Indonesia: Mob Attacks Could Produce Fruit
Mission News Network reports that Christians in Indonesia are still shaken following last week's religious violence in Central Java, when an extremist mob burned several churches and beat a priest. Paul Jenks with AMG International says Christians are concerned by the lack of police interference in these events. Still, he says believers "realize that this is an experience that they will continue to face until the cause of Christ is advanced much further there in Indonesia." However, the violence has disgusted many non-believers and may have opened some doors. When "violence is perpetrated in the name of religion, those that are just nominal in their faith really question--many really question--if violence is the wise way to go," says Jenks. "And when someone then proclaims grace, and truth, and peace, it really is a very appealing alternative to this which they're seeing acted out in the name of the majority religion there."
At 102, George Beverly Shea to Receive Lifetime Grammy Award
Gospel singer and longtime Billy Graham associate George Beverly Shea received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards this weekend. Religion News Service reports that, at 102, Shea is one of the oldest living persons to be honored by The Recording Academy. For more than 60 years, Shea was the signature soloist at Billy Graham crusades. He says he still sings as often as he can. "You know, you keep tuned up with the Lord when you love the songs that are written about him," Shea told the PBS program "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly." A Canadian pastor's son, Shea says music was always a part of his life. He was working at a Christian radio station in Chicago in the 1940s, when his baritone voice caught Graham's attention. Shea sang at almost every Graham crusade, and according to Guinness World Records, he has sung before more people than anyone else -- an estimated combined live audience of 220 million people.