Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 8, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 8, 2008

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

  • Convert from Chad Loses Family Members for His Faith
  • Gaza Believers Continue in Fear
  • Haggard Ends Restoration Process with Overseers
  • ‘Hands off Bibles’ Church Body Tells Malaysian Government

Convert from Chad Loses Family Members for His Faith

A little over a year after becoming a Christian in Ngudungudu, Chad in December 1995, Jeje Nehamiah Baki left the town to meet up with his nomadic family in the wilderness. His wife had already returned to her parents and their nomadic lifestyle, and Baki, a former Muslim and nomadic Fulani of the Bororo dialect in Chad, was looking forward to reuniting with her and their two children. But he said his father-in-law, having learned of his conversion, seized his wife and would allow her to go back with him only if Baki renounced his Christian faith. He refused and left, returning a few years later to try again to persuade his father-in-law. The effort resulted in his father-in-law killing Baki’s first-born son, Compass Direct News reports. “Having lost my first child, and with threats to my life, I had to leave without my wife, but [returning later] only succeeded in taking away our second son.”

Gaza Believers Continue in Fear

In Bethlehem, a visiting Gaza woman nervously looked around at the outdoor praise and worship concert by Bethlehem Bible College students. "We couldn't do something like this in Gaza. People are always watching," she whispered, afraid someone might hear. "Ever since our dear brother was killed for his faith, Gaza Christians live in fear." Rami Ayyad, a prominent Baptist, was kidnapped and found dead less than a mile from a Christian bookstore he managed for the Palestinian Bible Society. Officials say there has been no progress in the investigation of the October incident. The bookstore was bombed last April but no one was injured. Baptist Press reports that life has been increasingly difficult for Christians in Gaza since Hamas seized control of the coastal strip last June. Attacks against Christians have been rare; however, the Baptist community has been a target for extremists because of its evangelical work. Many Baptist leaders have fled Gaza Strip, taking refuge in the West Bank. Pastor Hanna Massad and his family are among eight families who relocated because they felt it was too dangerous to remain in their homeland. "The Lord is teaching us many things during this time. To follow Christ is very real to us now," Massad said. "There's a price to pay to follow our Lord. We see people willing to give their life for Christ. Every day, Gaza Christians are confronted with the question, 'Are you willing to follow?'"

Haggard Ends Restoration Process with Overseers

The Christian Post reports that Ted Haggard's journey of "spiritual restoration" came to a halt this week at the request of the ousted New Life Church pastor. A year after Haggard agreed to enter counseling with four ministers after his sex scandal, he asked to end the team's oversight of his recovery program. But New Life Church officials believe the termination of the relationship is premature, according to a statement on Tuesday. Early last year, just months into his recovery program, the overseers had indicated that the restoration process could take years. "New Life recognizes the process of restoring Ted Haggard is incomplete and maintains its original stance that he should not return to vocational ministry," read the statement.

‘Hands off Bibles’ Church Body Tells Malaysian Government

According to ASSIST News Service, Malaysia's government should stop harassing Christians by seizing their Bibles especially at entry points, the country's biggest church group said on Tuesday amid a new furor over the imports of the holy book. The Christian Federation of Malaysia's statement came a day after a Malaysian Christian complained that airport custom officers seized 32 English Bibles on her arrival from Manila. Federation chairman Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing said the incident, which happened on Jan. 28, was not an isolated case. "We have received many complaints from Christians being told to hand over religious books to custom officers at various checkpoints in the country," he said in a statement. "Now they even want our Bibles." "We will not comply with any directives from the government or its agencies that infringe on our right to use our sacred book and other Christian literature."