Religion Today Summaries - June 21, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 21, 2005

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

  • 'Focus' on Religious Liberty Urged for Vietnamese Leader's U.S. Trip 

  • North Africa: Christian Aid Sponsors Historic Missions Conference for Native Ministry Leaders 

  • Saudi Arabia Releases Five Christian Prisoners

  • India

'Focus' on Religious Liberty Urged for Vietnamese Leader's U.S. Trip
Charisma News Service

A ministry that supports persecuted Christians is urging President Bush to make religious freedom the focus of a meeting with the leader of Vietnam. Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai is scheduled to make an historic seven-day visit to the United States. The trip would make him the first Vietnamese leader to travel to America since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Khai and Bush are expected meet at the White House to discuss economic issues. But Open Doors USA President Carl Moeller believes religious liberty in Vietnam should be the focus instead. "Although the United States and Vietnam have made giant leaps in trade and economic issues over the years, religious freedom -- including persecution of Christians -- remains a key issue," Moeller wrote to supporters recently via e-mail. "Vietnam has made promises this year to give religious liberty to all groups -- including Christians -- and allow freedom to worship. "However, the reality is that Christians are still being arrested and harassed, especially the minority Montagnard Christians in the Central Highlands," he added. Vietnam is ranked third on Open Doors' 2005 World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians suffer most for their faith. "I urge President Bush to make religious freedom the focus of the talks," Moeller said. "This is a golden opportunity to bring religious freedom to the forefront. Please join me in praying for President Bush and Prime Minister Khai during the meetings."

North Africa: Christian Aid Sponsors Historic Missions Conference for Native Ministry Leaders
Christian Aid Mission

Native missionaries working in some of the world's most difficult missions fields were brought together recently at a conference sponsored by Christian Aid. This was the first gathering of its kind for leaders of indigenous ministries in North Africa. For most, the conference was their first opportunity to meet with fellow native missionaries on such a large scale. The vision and motivation they received there is invaluable, particularly as they struggle to spread the gospel in hostile Islamic countries. The conference lasted for eight days and consisted of teaching sessions and fellowship time. The need for their work is immense: native missionaries are much more effective at doing the secret work of the gospel in their homelands than foreigners could ever be. One of the purposes of the meeting was to identify how Christian Aid can help underground churches in closed Islamic countries. Christian Aid can get financial assistance to believers who have been doing missionary work without any aid for many years. Great progress could be made if they receive our support. Funds are needed for Bibles, tapes and recorders (many Christians here are illiterate), vehicles, evangelistic projects and personal support. Please prayerfully consider giving towards this vital underground work. For more information: [email protected].

Saudi Arabia Releases Five Christian Prisoners
Barbara G. Baker, Compass Direct

Five East Africans arrested on April 29 and detained for a month for leading a private Christian worship service in Riyadh have been released and allowed to return to their jobs in the Saudi Arabian capital. Three weeks after their May 30 release, the three Ethiopians and two Eritreans have been given no indication that they will lose their jobs or be subjected to deportation as a result of their detention. The men were interrogated extensively, initially while blindfolded the first seven days, but were not physically mistreated. Within the past two months, at least three groups of expatriate Christians meeting privately for worship in Riyadh have been raided and their leaders put under arrest for several days or weeks. Under the rule of strict Islamic law, Saudi Arabia prohibits the public practice of any religion other than Islam within its borders.

Charisma News Service

A Christian couple is recovering from injuries received when axe-wielding Hindu villagers assaulted them recently. Last month, Jamubhai Choudhary and his wife, Jathriben, were attacked as they returned from their farm in the Valia Taluka area of the southern state of Gujarat, Compass Direct reported. Only 12 of the 130 families in the village are Christian. Joseph Durairaj, area coordinator of the Friends Missionary Prayer Band, believes the Hindus were targeting the small group of Christians who meet for worship in the Choudhary home every Sunday and planned to construct a small church building there. Meanwhile, the Christian community in Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh State, reportedly has been shaken by the brutal murder of the Rev. K. Daniel. A pastor from Neralla, Karimnagar district, Daniel died on May 20 after acid was poured over his body by militant Hindus, according to an AICC news release. "Pastor K. Daniel had been threatened many times by the local Rashtrya Swayamsevak Sangh," Sam Paul, national secretary of the AICC, told Compass. The AICC reported other incidents of violence against Christians in the region. (