Religion Today Summaries - February 24, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 24, 2005

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

  • Evangelical Relief Ministry Seeing Gradual Success in Sudan

  • Eritrea: Another 31 Believers Jailed

  • Malawi: Native Missionaries Fight Taboos to Aid Elderly 

  • Indian Hindus Attack Christian Students in Rajasthan

Evangelical Relief Ministry Seeing Gradual Success in Sudan
Allie Martin, AgapePress

A ministry that seeks to spread the message of Christ in persecuted nations is involved in ongoing work in war-torn Sudan. Oklahoma-based Strategic World Impact has been working for the past five years in Eastern Sudan, reaching out to refugees and nomadic Muslims with the gospel. SWI president Kevin Turner recently talked with Mission Network News about the ministry and how it has worked gradually to establish a rapport with the natives of the area. "When we first started our outreach in this region, the people were pretty closed," Turner explained. "But over five years, we've been able to build credibility with them," he says. And because of their trust in the ministry workers' genuine concern, he notes, "We've been able to share the JESUS Film, distribute some literature for them to read, and we've even had several Muslims now request Bibles." And even in its outreach among Muslims, SWI is seeing successes. "We're seeing people turn from Islam to follow Jesus, and it's really very rewarding in this area," Turner says. Each success contributes to the SWI's goal of reaching Eastern Sudan for Christ, one person at a time. SWI is a global ministry dedicated to caring for the most oppressed people in times of crisis.

Eritrea: Another 31 Believers Jailed
Charisma News Service

Another 31 believers have been jailed recently, making a total of 187 arrests for "illegal" Christian activities since the beginning of the year. On Feb. 4, 14 members of the Kale Hiwot Church in Adi-Tekelzan were apprehended during a Bible study at the home of their pastor, Compass Direct reported. The previous day, Senere Zaid, professor of the agriculture faculty at Eritrea University, was arrested in Asmara. A physician identified as Dr. Segid was arrested in Keren in late January. On Feb. 12, 15 Christian women were jailed at the police station in Keren, Eritrea's third-largest town 40 miles northwest of Asmara. "All the sisters exposed to imprisonment and insult by the authorities in Keren were gathered merely for the purpose of prayer, not any political purpose," one of their colleagues told Compass. Authorities in Keren are reportedly seeking informers to divulge details of any known meetings of evangelical believers, who are being described as "a threat to national security." Three well-known Protestant pastors have been held under arrest since May by the Eritrean government, which refuses to confirm their location or allow anyone to visit them. Several hundred more Protestant believers, many of them soldiers caught worshiping during their active military service, also remain imprisoned for refusing to recant their faith, Compass reported. (

Malawi: Native Missionaries Fight Taboos to Aid Elderly
Christian Aid Mission

In a culture where elderly people are feared as sorcerers or discounted as unimportant, native gospel workers in the sub-Saharan country Malawi are bringing aid and changing attitudes in the name of Christ. A team of native missionaries recently visited a rural village to distribute 50 bags of grain to the neediest people, including many elderly. Instead of being cared for by their children and grandchildren, older men and women are discarded in many African communities as people no longer having value. Worse than this, the elderly are often feared to be sorcerers for no other reason than that they are old. Many aged people are left to fend for themselves and often slowly die from hunger. Native missionaries feel called to reach out to these marginalized individuals in the name of Christ. In addition to providing food for the elderly in Malawi, this ministry repairs their homes, thatching damaged roofs with grasses. Native missionaries hope by such actions to change the mindsets of those African young people conditioned to see older people as witches and sorcerers.

Indian Hindus Attack Christian Students in Rajasthan
Compass Direct

Activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal beat and robbed 280 Christian students on February 19 while the group was on its way to Emmanuel Mission's graduation ceremony in Kota, India. The 2:30 a.m. attack occurred as the travelers disembarked from a train carrying them to Kota, Rajasthan state, for the February 23 to 27 event. Afterward, local police rounded up the students and kept them in custody at a local police station until the following evening. Alleging that Emmanuel Mission had lured the visiting students to Kota with promises of a bicycle and 250 rupees ($5.70) in exchange for converting to Christianity, police officials forced the students to return home. No attackers were arrested. At press time, RSS and Bajrang Dal activists are threatening to shut down the graduation ceremony, which annually attracts 5,000 Christian visitors to the city. Emmanuel Mission has announced that graduation ceremonies will go ahead as scheduled, despite the indifference of local authorities to their security needs. Hindu activists have vowed that they will not allow the mission to hold the graduation ceremony.