Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Praying for the 2004 Election
- Pastor Assassinated While Preaching In Indonesia
- Duluth Church Rescues Decalogue Monument
- Iranian Pastor Released from Prison
Praying for the 2004 Election
A nationwide coalition of prayer has launched an effort focusing on the upcoming elections in November. The Presidential Prayer Team, which now boasts three-million participants, says when Christians pray, they "open a window for God to work" -- and that's why the PPT has announced its "Pray the Vote" campaign. Mike Searcy, who chairs PPT's board of directors, testifies to the power of prayer and to having seen miracles happen when Christians have prayer -- and John Lind, the group's president and CEO, believes all citizens have the responsibility to exercise their right to vote. Pray the Vote features online resources on the history of voting, offers ideas on how a community can be engaged in prayer for the election, and explains how groups can participate in "virtual prayer rallies" on October 5 and November 1. PPT describes itself as non-partisan and non-denominational, and exists in perpetuity for whoever occupies the Oval Office.
Pastor Assassinated While Preaching In Indonesia
Barnabas News Fund
Rev. Susianty Tinulele of the Presbyterian Christian Church of Central Sulawesi (GKST) in Palu was shot dead while speaking from the pulpit during the 6.00 p.m. service on Sunday 18th July. Four masked men, who arrived by motorbike, opened fire with machine guns on the preacher and worship team. Rev. Susianty was shot in the head and died instantly. Four teenage worshippers were hospitalised with serious injuries and one (a 17-year old girl) has since died. Rev. Susianty is the latest victim of what appears to be a campaign to assassinate Christian leaders in Central Sulawesi which began in November 2003. She had taken food to GKST pastor Rinaldy Damanik in prison two days before her death, and her support for him may be one reason why she was targeted. Central Sulawesi's police chief, Brig. Gen. Taufik Ridha, believes the campaign to kill prominent Christian figures may be an attempt to disrupt this year's elections in Indonesia. When police arrested suspected Jemaah Islamiah militants last year they found detailed descriptions of church services and lists of Christian officials. Violence is also directed against Sulawesi Christians who are not church leaders. The night before Rev. Susianty's death, Mrs Helmy Tombiling (35) died from nine stab wounds to her chest and stomach, which were inflicted by attackers outside her home in Poso.
Duluth Church Rescues Decalogue Monument
A church has helped keep a disputed Ten Commandments monument in Duluth, Minnesota. The monument once stood outside Duluth's city hall, but was removed as part of a settlement of a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Celebration Church of Lakeville bid more than $15,000 to purchase the monument. However Celebration's pastor, Lowell Lundstrom, agreed to sell it to a Duluth-based Christian group known as "Save the Ten Commandments." Lundstrom explains the transaction. "We decided we would give them the Ten Commandments back," he says. "For their $8,200 bid, we would make up the $6,500 or so difference -- so we wanted to [make it a gift] to the City of Duluth and to this Christian group, and we're just very thankful we could be a part in this wonderful turnaround." The pastor says the lawsuit against Duluth's display of the Ten Commandments is a sign of the times. "The secular forces today are crowding God out of our American life, and it's time Christians stand up and vote for the people that have consciences and want to have commitment," he says. The group Save the Ten Commandments plans to place the granite monument on private land in a Duluth park.
Iranian Pastor Released from Prison
Charisma News Service
A pastor who was arrested with his wife and children in Chalous, a city along the Caspian Sea coast, was recently released from prison. On July 6, Khosroo Yusefi and another believer were freed. They are reportedly the last of several dozen Christians arrested throughout May in the province of Mazanderan and later freed by police, Compass Direct reported. Yusefi's wife, Nasrin, and the couple's two teenage children were released after a week in detention in May. In his late 40s, Yusefi converted to Christianity from the Bahai religion nearly 20 years ago and gives pastoral supervision to several unregistered Assemblies of God house churches in the Caspian region. A source told Compass that the jailed Christians were ordered to stop meeting for worship and to "stop talking about Jesus." The theocratic Islamic republic forbids proselytizing among Muslims. Any Muslim who converts from Islam to another faith faces the death penalty. The recent police crackdown in the country's northern region targeted the spreading house-church movement, made up mostly of former Muslims who have come to faith in Christ.