Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Missionary Kidnapped by Anti-Christian Terrorists in Bangladesh
- Presbyterians Hope Task Force Can Heal Divisions
- Libertarian Church Leaders Appeal for Aid
- Assemblies of God School Starts Women's Studies Program
Missionary Kidnapped by Anti-Christian Terrorists in Bangladesh
Charisma News Service
A terrorist group recently kidnapped a Gospel for Asia (GFA) native missionary active in evangelistic outreaches. GFA leaders were informed last week that the group will kill the believer -- identified only as Mose -- unless it receives a huge amount for ransom. "Do earnestly pray for the Lord's intervention and protection of this dear and faithful brother," GFA officials said in e-mail to supporters. "Pray also that God will grant wisdom to our leaders and staff as they deal with this critical situation." GFA has two Bible schools and 82 missionaries in Bangladesh. Local believers have recently expressed concern that attacks on Christians are on the rise. Believed to be the country's first martyr in modern times, evangelist Hridoy Roy was recently stabbed to death by at least seven Muslim extremists after showing the "Jesus" film, The Barnabas Fund said. In Islamic law, conversion from Islam to another faith is considered apostasy and punishable by death. www.charismanews.com
Presbyterians Hope Task Force Can Heal Divisions
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service
As the Presbyterian Church (USA) wrapped up its annual General Assembly meeting on Saturday (May 31), about the only thing delegates seemed inclined to do was to put off doing much of anything. The most controversial issues facing the church – whether to allow actively gay clergy, how to handle a controversial report on families – were deferred to a panel that is charged with bridging the church's deep divisions. The Task Force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church—representatives from the left, right, and center asked to prove the church’s unity and diversity on the nature of Jesus Christ, the authority of the Bible, sexual standards, and how decisions should be made and enforced—was appointed in 2001 and will make its final report in 2006. For many years the church has been battered by its most divisive issue, homosexuality. Church leaders say there must be a "third way" that does not leave winners and losers. One option would be a so-called "local option" policy that allows local churches to set their own standards. The panel warned the church against relying too heavily on its decisions, and cautioned that it will not have all the answers.
Liberian Church Leaders Appeal for Aid
Alexandra Alter, Religion News Service
Liberian church leaders are seeking emergency aid from American Christians as the proliferation of armed groups threatens the stability of a nation ravaged by 13 years of civil war. Fighting between the Liberian government and rebel factions continues to
prevent relief agencies from bringing supplies to 80 percent of the country, according to United Nations sources and Church World Service. Hundreds of thousands of refugees in camps around Liberia have been cut off from the World Food Program's aid because armed raiders have repeatedly seized rations. More than a million West African residents have been displaced while another half-million have fled to neighboring countries. Church World Service has sent food, blankets and hygiene supplies to Liberian refugees and is urging U.S. churches and government leaders to join their efforts. "Despite efforts by the Catholic Church and other religious institutions to promote peace and reconciliation, government and rebel forces continue to choose violence over dialogue, and the pursuit of selfish political and economic gains at the expense of the civilian population," said Bishop John H. Ricard, of Pensacola-Tallahassee. Government and rebel representatives are scheduled to hold talks June 4 aimed at ending the fighting.
Assemblies of God School Starts Women's Studies Program
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
Vanguard University of Southern California, an Assemblies of God school in Costa Mesa, Calif., will inaugurate a women’s studies minor and open a Center for Women's Studies this fall. The new offerings make it the first Assemblies of God University and one of just a few evangelical Christian universities to offer such a program, the school announced. Based on research regarding violence within Christian families, the center's directors have decided to make family violence a special area of focus.
The center also will work to meet the needs of women in their places of ministry, the workplace, the academy and the home. It also will provide mentoring opportunities for women who plan to go into vocational ministry and professional careers by providing ministry options, resource materials and counseling. The school’s academic senate approved the new minor in late April.