Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Billy Graham Preaches to Stadium Crowd in Baltimore
- Rick Warren Confirms Visit To North Korea On July 17
- Chinese House Church Pastor Sentenced to 7.5 Years
- Baptist Minister Decries Clergy Leadership Gap on Sexuality
Billy Graham Preaches to Stadium Crowd in Baltimore
Billy Graham says he's getting too old to preach. The 87-year-old evangelist has delivered what he said could be his last stadium sermon on the final day of his son Franklin's festival at Baltimore's Camden Yards, says a report in The Christian Post. Graham was joined onstage by his longtime crusade colleagues, 83-year-old choir director Cliff Barrows and 97-year-old singer George Beverly Shea. The elder Graham said he's proud of his son's commitment to preaching the gospel. Tens of thousands attended the festival, with hundreds accepting Christ, Franklin Graham said.
Rick Warren Confirms Visit To North Korea On July 17
ASSIST News reports that pastor Rick Warren has confirmed plans to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on July 17 to meet with church and business leaders, despite the current standoff over recent missile firings by the isolated communist country. “Regardless of politics, I will go anywhere I am invited to preach the Gospel,” said Warren, best-selling author of “The Purpose Driven Life.” Contrary to recent media reports, Warren’s visit to North Korea later this month is to meet with leadership in preparation for his return to preach in March 2007, in conjunction with the 100th Anniversary of the Pyongyang Revival in what is now the capital city. Warren will arrive in South Korea on July 12. Then, after speaking to US troops at a military base near the Demilitarized Zone, Dr. Warren and his team will cross the border to meet with the invitational committee in Kaesong. Warren said he hopes that through these visits he can promote religious freedom in a country where individual faith practice has been tightly controlled and virtually prohibited since 1945.
Chinese House Church Pastor Sentenced to 7.5 Years
The Zhongmu City People’s Court sentenced Chinese house church pastor Zhang Rongliang to seven and a half years in prison on June 29, though a co-worker said he was not notified of the verdict until Tuesday (July 4). Compass Direct reports Zhang is a key leader of the China for Christ house church movement, formerly known as Fangcheng but renamed by Zhang in October 2004. He was arrested by Henan police without charges on December 1, 2004. Only months later was he charged with “attaining a passport through cheating” and with “illegal border crossing.” Zhang’s lawyer, Zheng Laiyou, was not optimistic about an appeal. “It is very clear that the verdict was not made independently by the People’s Court,” he said. Pastor Zhang’s wife, Chen Hongxian, was shocked at the verdict. “Who would have thought the outcome would be this bad?” Chen said. “It is the Communist Party’s court, not the People’s Court, that makes the real decision.”
Baptist Minister Decries Clergy Leadership Gap on Sexuality
Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, the Baptist minister who established The National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality, has called on other African American ministers to take immediate action to address the health crisis in the African American community. According to a Religion News Service release, Veazey issued a call to action as more than 500 clergy, religious educators, parents, guardians, and youth prepared to gather July 12-14 for the 10th annual National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality, at Howard University School of Divinity in Washington DC. “Clergy who continue to ignore the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the harmful effects of teen pregnancy are failing their congregations and, in effect, abdicating their role as spiritual advisors,” said Reverend Veazey. “Every minister and youth educator must be actively engaged in education about sexual responsibility.”