Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Campaign Launches to Save Afghan Christian Convert
- Christians Increasingly Join Calls for Reform in Egypt
- Mislabeled Super Bowl Gear to Go to Impoverished
- Large Churches Fared Better During Recession
Campaign Launches to Save Afghan Christian Convert
Barnabas Fund has launched a petition urging Western governments to put pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to release a man sentenced to death for converting to Christianity. Christian Today reports that 45-year-old Said Musa, a Red Cross worker, may be executed as soon as Thursday if he refuses to return to Islam. Musa has been imprisoned for eight months but has yet to stand trial or have a lawyer step forward to defend him. Despite talks with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives of the French and German governments, President Karzai has not intervened to free Musa. The petition reads in part, "As long as the West continues to prop up the Karzai regime and refuses to demand tougher action by the Afghan government to uphold its international agreements, it is surely complicit in the persecution of converts to Christianity."
Christians Increasingly Join Calls for Reform in Egypt
As protests against Hosni Mubarak's regime continue in Egypt, Christians are increasingly joining in. Christianity Today reports that the restoration of Internet and mobile phone service four days ago has emboldened Christian leaders to speak more openly against the Egyptian president. Yesterday by email, one prominent Protestant pastor said to his overseas supporters, "We stand united with our courageous young people who broke the barrier of fear and started to demand their basic human rights for a dignified life, freedom and social justice." Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda, however, spoke on national television, saying, "We have called the president and told him we are all with you and the people are with you."
Mislabeled Super Bowl Gear to Go to Impoverished
The Pittsburg Steelers' lack of the Lombardi Trophy this year will actually benefit people in places such as Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua and Romania. The National Football League is continuing its more than 15-year partnership with World Vision to distribute the mislabeled, pre-printed championship clothing from the Super Bowl to impoverished communities. "The NFL is pleased to once again work with World Vision to ensure that usable Super Bowl apparel does not get thrown out, especially when there are so many around the globe who have never had a brand-new item of clothing in their lives," said David Krichavsky, NFL Director of Community Affairs. Reebok, Sports Authority, Dick's and Modell's also donate the losing team's apparel to World Vision.
Large Churches Fared Better During Recession
Houston's First Baptist Church offers a prime example of how large churches have weathered the current recession. The Houston Chronicle reports that more than 5,000 people attend the church each weekend. In early 2009, after pledges started to lag, the church laid off 20 staff members, half of whom worked part-time. However, donations picked up in time to fund the church's $17 million annual operating budget. Even more incredibly, the church recently wrapped up a $25.3 million capital campaign. First Baptist's story matches the results of a 2010 study, which showed small churches faring much worse during the recession. For big churches, "It's not as bad as everybody thinks," said Dave Travis, vice president and managing director of the Leadership Network, which works with large churches.