Religion Today Summaries - June 18, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 18, 2007

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Christians Mourn the Passing of Ruth Bell Graham
  • Mobs Attack Egyptian Churches near Alexandria, Egypt
  • Gaza Residents Anticipate an Islamic Future
  • Pastors Arrested in Zimbabwe for Giving Sweets to Children

Christians Mourn the Passing of Ruth Bell Graham


"I must faithfully, patiently, lovingly, and happily do my part – then quietly wait for God to do His.” Ruth Bell Graham, who died Thursday, said this in reference to being a mother, but she exhibited this patient, quiet strength and complete trust in her Creator throughout her life.  Wife of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham, Ruth was called to be a mother and wife first, but Mrs. Graham was also an accomplished author and gifted poet in her own right. Christian women, especially the wives of pastors, are thankful for her contributions and credit her as an inspiration and role model.  In a statement released from Wheaton College Thursday, Dr. Duane Litfin, president of the school, remarked, “Strong, steady, and dauntless, Ruth Bell Graham was the glue that held the many of the parts of their lives together.”  Understanding the importance of his calling, Ruth joined Rev. Graham willingly in his ministry, though she preferred her role to behind the scenes. The poetry she wrote, books she authored, lives she touched, husband she loved, and the godly children she raised, are all testaments to Mrs. Graham. Ruth Bell Graham left a godly heritage here on earth and a legacy vividly pointing to the God she loves, and the place she now calls home. 


Mobs Attack Egyptian Churches near Alexandria, Egypt


Muslim rioters attacked two Coptic Orthodox churches, damaged Christian-owned shops and injured seven Christians in two unrelated incidents in northern Egypt during the past week, local Christians said. According to Compass Direct, witnesses said that a mob in Zawyet Abdel-Qader, 20 miles west of Alexandria, had freely vandalized the town’s Christian quarter for 90 minutes the night of June 8 before police intervened. In a second incident in Dekheila, six miles west of Alexandria, police immediately halted a mob attack on the Church of the Holy Virgin on Tuesday night (June 12), preventing all but minimal damage from occurring. Local Christians confirmed that each attack was triggered by a fight between a Muslim and a Christian, but Akram Anwar Bekheed, a local member of the National Democratic Party in Zawyet Abdel-Qader, laid partial responsibility on the government. Bekheed said that the government had created a permissive atmosphere for sectarian violence by allowing previous attacks on churches to go unpunished in the interest of keeping peace.


Gaza Residents Anticipate an Islamic Future


After days of violence, reports the Gaza Strip was quiet on Friday as citizens there awakened to a new Islamic reality. One Gaza resident said that while he and his family are physically fine, they feel "terrible" because they don't know what the future holds. "Hamas militants are behaving politely," said an economist who asked not to be named. Since Thursday night, people have been allowed to go out, he said.  Hamas members allowed Gazans to visit a prison formerly controlled by the Fatah faction, showing them the jail cells and implements of torture in an effort to paint themselves as the good guys, the man said. Hamas has vowed to bring strict Islamic law to the Gaza Strip. Arab affairs expert, Dr. Mordechai Kedar from the BESA Center for Strategic Studies near Tel Aviv, said he expects the situation in the Gaza Strip to worsen. Press reports on Friday blamed a weak and indecisive Fatah leadership for allowing the smaller and better organized Hamas movement to triumph in Gaza.


Pastors Arrested in Zimbabwe for Giving Sweets to Children


Following a warning last month from President Robert Mugabe telling church leaders to steer clear of politics after Catholic bishops denounced the Zimbabwean government over its human rights record, ASSIST News  reports three pastors were arrested in Masvingo, Zimbabwe by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) for distributing toys and sweets to children.  Rev. Sonykis Chimbuya, Pastor Peter Bondai and Pastor Mugondi were the clergymen detained and interrogated by state security agents for distributing playing and eating materials to the children on Sunday, June 10, according to Salem Voice Ministries News Service. SVM says that in a bizarre case highlighting deep levels of paranoia in government, the agents of the Central Intelligence Organization accused the pastors that they distributed campaign material of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party. Pastor Peter Bondai and Mugondi were released after they were interrogated for more than three hours while Pastor Chimbuya was kidnapped and dumped along the Masvingo-Great Zimbabwe highway hours after his arrest, SVM reported. "We are living in constant fear after the harassment at the hands of the CIO agents," Rev. Sonykis Chimbuya said to Paul Ciniraj, the Director of the Salem Voice Ministries (SVM) News Service by telephone.