Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Iranian Pastor's Execution Could Come at Any Time
- Campus Christian Groups Told to 'Stop Whining,' Meet in Homes Like in Communist China
- Islamic Extremists Storm Pakistan Church, Wound Two Christians
- Jeremy Lin's Christian Faith Inspires Persecuted Christians in China
Iranian Pastor's Execution Could Come at Any Time
Sources in Iran say an execution order for Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been signed, Mission Network News reports. Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs USA said: "Apparently, that execution order has not been delivered to his family or his attorneys, but the report is that it has been signed. That means that at any time, he could be executed." It is unclear whether the execution order has been approved by the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani. Publicly held executions must be approved, but most executions are conducted in secret and without any prior notice to attorneys or family. Nadarkhani, who was charged with "apostasy" and leaving Islam, has refused to recant his Christian faith during the three years he has been imprisoned and separated from his wife and two sons. His conviction and sentence have been delayed thus far because of international pressure.
Campus Christian Groups Told to 'Stop Whining,' Meet in Homes Like in Communist China
An Americans United for the Separation of Church and State official told Vanderbilt University Christian groups to "stop whining" about the school's nondiscrimination policy and hold their meetings in private homes like Christians in communist China, the Christian Post reports. AU executive director Barry Lynn defended the university's right to impose the policy that could potentially drive religious organizations off campus by not allowing them to restrict leadership positions to those who share their beliefs. "I'd say stop whining here," he said. "Why not do what evangelicals do: go out into the world, out into the community [and] have your meetings, if you have to, off campus. Show your faith [and] meet with students not in a club room somewhere in the university, but in those home churches that kept Christianity alive during the darkest days of communist China." He added that Christian groups must "get over" themselves and open up their leadership positions to all people regardless of their beliefs. Vanderbilt is standing by the policy, and groups affected may have no legal recourse because the university is privately funded.
Islamic Extremists Storm Pakistan Church, Wound Two Christians
A dozen armed Muslims stormed Grace Ministry Church in Faisalabad, Pakistan, seriously wounding two Christians, AsiaNews reports. One man was hit by bullets and is in critical condition in the hospital, possibly requiring the amputation of his arm. Another man was pushed from the roof after being struck repeatedly with a rifle butt. The extremist raid was sparked by charges that the church was trying to evangelize Muslims in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. It has been assaulted several times, and the pastor and his family have received repeated death threats. The police, instead of pursuing the perpetrators, have opened an investigation against the pastor and 20 other church members on allegations of "proselytizing."
Jeremy Lin's Christian Faith Inspires Persecuted Christians in China
The sudden rise to fame of Taiwanese Christian NBA player Jeremy Lin has received the attention of many Chinese Christians, and has inspired many who face persecution in their Communist homeland, the Christian Post reports. Chinese media has largely stifled any mentions of Lin's Christianity in covering his basketball play, typical of the government's attempts to control religious practices, but Lin's story has nonetheless caught the attention of Christians throughout the country. One Chinese Internet wrote, "[Lin's] physical agility has shown me the glory and omnipotence of God." Another wrote: "How should young Christians live the life of the Lord? We have a good example in Lin Shuhao's miraculous performance and we should cheer him on." Hu Shubang, a seminary student at Zhejiang Theological Seminary in Hangzhou, said Lin could become a symbol for Christians in China to use in seeking converts. "Just by his being a Christian, it is a fantastic way to broadcast the ways of Christ," Hu said.
Publication date: February 24, 2012