Religion Today Summaries - June 19, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 19, 2008

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Gospels Approved for China Olympics
  • Record Fuel Prices Slam Charities
  • Burma Junta Evicts Cyclone Refugees
  • Algeria: Convert Charged with Evangelism Again

Gospels Approved for China Olympics

The Christian Post reports that although Chinese authorities had earlier said Olympic tourists would not be allowed to bring Bibles for "distribution or propaganda," officials are allowing the printing of 50,000 Gospel booklets for athletes, printers recently announced. In addition to the booklets, Amity Printing Press in Nanjing - the world's largest Bible production factory - is working in conjunction with the Bible Society to publish 30,000 Chinese-English New Testaments and 10,000 Chinese-English entire Bibles. "This great sporting event presents a unique opportunity to make the life-changing message of the Bible available to thousands of athletes and visitors from all over China – and all over the world," said James Catford, chief executive of Bible Society, in a statement. An estimated two million visitors and 16,000 athletes and officials will attend the Beijing Olympics, which begin Aug. 8.

Record Fuel Prices Slam Charities

Record fuel prices have hit Christian ministry and charity organizations doubly hard this summer, reports the Christian Post. "We're finding the price of food is going up due to transportation costs, and production costs are going up as well. When those two things are put together, then all of a sudden the amount of money you had available for food is strained even more. There's just less available,” Gary Zander, communications coordinator for Food for the Hungry, told Mission News Network. "We could serve 100,000 people two years ago, now we're only able to help 66,000 people,” said Bruce Whitmire of Living Water International, whose organization supplies clean water for thousands of people around the globe. Higher fuel costs make it more difficult to conduct daily operations, he said. At the same time, many look to the current situation as an opportunity to trust God. “God still supplies our needs according to His riches and not according to ours,” said Al Joslyn of Bible Pathway Ministries.

Burma Junta Evicts Cyclone Refugees

Questions of corruption and propaganda are flowing more freely as donor organizations have still been prevented from accessing affected villages in Myanmar a month and a half after Cyclone Nargis hit, according to Mission News Network. The Burmese junta has been quietly evicting cyclone survivors from shelters and shutting down refugee camps, sending people home for "reconstruction" even though nothing remains. Martial law has been imposed on many delta regions, and donor organizations have been forced to deliver supplies to army-controlled warehouses instead of directly to cyclone victims, prompting questions of stockpiling and fake distribution lists. Vision Beyond Borders' Patrick Klein says they have confirmed reports that the army is now shooting survivors as well as raping female survivors. Blockades are up on all roads and river ways to the delta area to intercept local individuals bringing aid to survivors in order to extort money from them.

Algeria: Christian Man Again Charged with Evangelism

Compass Direct News reports that, convicted of blasphemy and evangelism in two separate cases this year, an Algerian Christian goes on trial in west Algeria for a third time tomorrow, again for evangelism. Rachid Muhammad Essaghir (previously reported as Seghir), 37, will be tried in Tissemsilt, 110 miles southwest of Algiers, for “distributing documents to shake the faith of Muslims.” An evangelist and church elder for a small community of Muslim converts to Christianity in Tiaret, Essaghir believes that local police have targeted him for his religious work. Officers stopped Essaghir and another Christian in the vicinity of Tissemsilt in June 2007 and discovered a box of Christian books in their car. The two men said they were transporting the literature from one church to another.