Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Liberia: Unreached Village Hears Gospel for the First Time
- Eritrean Sunday School Children Released But Church Leader Arrested
- Myanmar: Missionary Asks for Prayer after Tragic Loss
- Delhi: Indian Evangelist's Arrest Exposes Police Brutality
Liberia: Unreached Village Hears Gospel for the First Time
Christian Aid Mission
Native missionaries working in the war-ravaged country of Liberia were recently able to preach in a village that had never been presented the gospel. Over 200 villagers attended the meetings, and a total of 29, including nine Muslims and the chief, accepted the Lord after hearing the missionaries' message. Missionaries began a week-long series of evangelistic meetings in the isolated town in late February. Most of the residents were animists, worshiping spirits of nature and ancestors. Reportedly, some even practiced human sacrifice. All 29 people who chose to follow Christ were baptized and are now attending a Bible study begun in the village. Missionaries were able to build a temporary church building to serve the young congregation, where a trained pastor is leading Sunday morning services. Native missionaries in Liberia have been busy building and repairing church buildings throughout the country that were damaged in a 14-year-long civil war and, more recently, in outbreaks of fighting between Christians and Muslims. Fighting between religious groups is a relatively new conflict in Liberia; past strife has been along ethnic or political lines. Gospel workers hope by spreading the gospel of Christ's peace to heal the wounds of prejudice that have plagued Liberia since its settlement in 1822, when conflict between freed slaves from the USA and native peoples first began. For more information go to www.christianaid.org.
Eritrean Sunday School Children Released But Church Leader Arrested
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
The last 30 from a group of 131 Sunday school leaders and children have been released from custody, but a further church leader has been arrested. The children were attending their classes at an Eritrean Orthodox church in the capital Asmara when they were rounded up by police on February 19. They were taken to a police station where their names and addresses were registered and children as young as two were held for three hours. The remaining 30 have now all been released. In a further development of concern however, a senior church leader has been snatched by police from the streets of the capital. Kidane Weldou, senior Pastor of Muluwengel church in Asmara , was stopped on the streets on March 18. Pastor Kidane was taken into custody and the car that he was using was found abandoned nearby. It was confirmed over the weekend that neither his family nor the Church have been informed of his whereabouts or of the charges against him. Other senior figures from the same church have been in custody for almost 11 months. Stuart Windsor, National Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, added: "While we are relieved all those arrested in February have now been released, this latest arrest of a church leader concerns us deeply. The Eritrean regime seems to be pursuing with impunity an increasingly aggressive campaign against the churches."
Myanmar: Missionary Asks for Prayer after Tragic Loss
Christian Aid Mission
On March 12, 16-year-old Julia, a resident of a Myanmar children's home supported by Christian Aid, was on her way to school when a car struck the bicycle she was riding. Though she was rushed to a nearby hospital, Julia passed away as a result of her injuries at 8:30 that night. She was one of nearly 20 young people cared for in the children's home, which ministers to needy orphaned children from the poorest parts of Myanmar. This tragic incident echoes a similar one in July, in which a bus carrying two teachers and several children was hit. Though many suffered serious injuries, thankfully none were killed in that accident. The recent tragedy has affected all in the home. The leader writes, "Julia was humble and gentle, loved by all people. Unexpectedly she graduated from this ugly world into heaven. All the children still weep. Their hearts are broken for Julia. May I request you to pray for the children, that God would comfort them?" Please remember the Christian children's home, which was Julia's only family for most of her life, in your prayers. For more information go to www.christianaid.org.
Delhi: Indian Evangelist's Arrest Exposes Police Brutality
Vishal Arora, Compass Direct
The defense attorney for a Christian evangelist arrested on charges of attempting to convert Hindus in India's Orissa state appealed his client's case to the Orissa High Court. The appeal exposes police negligence and charges officers with torturing evangelist Kiran Kumar, an evangelist of the Life in Christ Mission. The case relates to a February 27 incident in which nine persons allegedly belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council) tried to throw 30-year-old Kumar into a lake. When police arrived on the scene, instead of protecting the evangelist, they arrested Kumar and charged him with preaching Christianity to Hindus in order to convert them, an activity prohibited by Orissa's draconian anti-conversion laws. Dasarathi Behera, the Hindu seeker Kumar was intending to visit on February 27, was accused and arrested along with the evangelist. Behera reportedly testified before the police that he believed in Jesus Christ without any fear or pressure induced by anyone. His testimony should have absolved Kumar of any charges of "forced conversion" under the 'Orissa Freedom of Religion Act,' Orissa's 1967 anti-conversion law. Evidently Babu and his fellow police officers have chosen to ignore Behera's statement.