Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Explosive Growth of Christianity, Missions in Sub-Saharan Africa
- U.S. Releases $40 Million to Palestinian Authority
- Chinese Authorities Deny Facility to Church, Arrest 48 From Outdoor Service
- Poll: Churchgoers as Digitally Engaged as Non-Churchgoers
Explosive Growth of Christianity, Missions in Sub-Saharan Africa
A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows the largest growth in Christianity during the past 100 years has occurred in sub-Saharan African countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria, according to the Abilene Reporter-News. In 1910, just 1.4 percent of the world's Christians lived in sub-Saharan Africa, but in 2010 that number had grown to 24 percent. And now, instead of Christianity being spread into African nations by missionaries, African converts are now the ones taking the message to the rest of the world. Many large churches in Europe are also now filled with African Christians who escaped persecution, said Larry Henderson of Abilene Christian University (ACU). "Europeans and North Americans are no longer in the driver's seat [of world missions]," he said. "African Christian leaders have taken the ball and run with it," said Wimon Walker of ACU.
U.S. Releases $40 Million to Palestinian Authority
The United States has released $40 million in foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, CBN News reports. The $40 million amounts to about 20 percent of the $187 million in funds from fiscal year 2011 that was frozen in response to the P.A.'s bid for statehood at the United Nations last September; the Obama administration is urging Congress to release the rest. According to the Associated Press, the administration has requested that Congress allocate nearly $546 million to the Palestinian Authority in the new fiscal year.
Chinese Authorities Deny Facility to Church, Arrest 48 From Outdoor Service
Authorities in China once again thwarted efforts by Beijing's Shouwang Church to lease a worship facility at the year's end, and the congregation met outdoors on Jan. 1, resulting in the arrest of 48 members, Compass Direct News reports. The church tried three times to rent three different venues, but was denied -- the latest in a months-long saga in which government officials have repeatedly refused the congregation access to a permanent worship place. Shouwang first began meeting outdoors last April after authorities blocked their attempts to rent worship venues or meet in a building they had purchased. Church leaders had hoped the situation would change in 2012, but authorities have instead shown "that they are determined to continue their crackdown on independent religious groups in the coming year," said Bob Fu, president of China Aid.
Poll: Churchgoers as Digitally Engaged as Non-Churchgoers
American churchgoers are just as likely to use Twitter, Facebook and the Internet as non-churchgoers, according to a study designed to show the impact technology can have on spreading a church's message, Baptist Press reports. The survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life project showed that 79 percent of churchgoers use the Internet, nearly the same as the 76 percent of the general population. Forty-five percent of churchgoers use social networking sites, compared to 47 percent of all adults. Nine percent of both groups use Twitter, and 60 percent of both groups use text messaging.
Publication date: January 4, 2012