Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Mission Planes Fly Famine Relief into Somalia, Kenya
- New Petition Launched to Save Pakistani Christian Woman
- Illinois: Judge Rules Catholic Charities Can Keep Serving
- Iranian Christian Released after Huge Bail
Mission Planes Fly Famine Relief into Somalia, Kenya
On Wednesday, the United Nations declared a famine in parts of southern Somalia. Eleven million people across the region are facing a hunger crisis caused by several years of severe drought. Now, an airplane from the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) program in South Africa is flying to Kenya to reinforce the mission organization’s response to the famine in the Horn of Africa. According to ASSIST News Service, MAF has flown leaders from relief and mission organizations, as well as ambassadors from several countries, into the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya to assess the situation. MAF says the organization is also experiencing increasing demand for flights into South Sudan following the country’s independence earlier this month. “We are ramping-up our capacity to respond should the need for relief flights continue to grow," said John Woodberry, MAF manager of disaster response and security. The organization is preparing seven planes for use in the region.
Global Petition Launched to Save Pakistani Christian Woman
Another persecution watch group has joined the global petition to save a Pakistani Christian sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. Asia Bibi, a mother of five, was convicted and sentenced on trumped up blasphemy charges nine months ago. If her sentence is carried out, she will be the first woman executed under Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws. Since Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) joined the petition drive this week, The Christian Post reports, her case has already collected more than 150,000 signatures. Open Doors USA and other groups have also circulated petitions that have collected hundreds of thousands of signatures, but so far Pakistan's government has not budged on her sentence. One of her only public defenders, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, was murdered in January for his support of the Christian mother.
Illinois: Judge Rules Catholic Charities Can Keep Serving
On July 18, Judge John Schmidt ruled that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) must continue to refer new foster care children to Catholic Charities. WORLD News Service reports that the IDCFS had tried to remove more than 2,000 foster children from the care of the local Catholic Charities. Judge Schmidt halted the action on July 12, but the IDCFS ignored his court order, forcing Catholic Charities to present the emergency motion on July 18 that again secured the referral of new children—for now. Catholic Charities handles 20 percent of Illinois’ adoption and foster care services. The organization filed suit against IDCFS when the state attacked the dioceses of Peoria, Joliet, and Springfield for refusing to place children with cohabiting or same-sex couples.
Iranian Christian Released after Huge Bail
An Iranian Christian has been temporarily released from jail, but only after posting bail of more than $100,000. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that Masoud Delijani, from Kermanshah in western Iran, was released July 9 in poor health after almost four months in solitary confinement. He is charged with crimes related to his Christian faith, including hosting house church meetings. Delijani was arrested by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry on March 17, along with nine other house-church members who were gathered in a private home. During the raid, the security forces also confiscated a Christian painting, Bibles, DVDs and personal IDs. The group was taken to an unknown location, where members were subjected to harsh interrogation. Seven were released the next day after signing statements promising not to attend any future Christian gatherings, and two more posted bail in April. No court date has been set for Delijani.