Religion Today Summaries - May 3, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 3, 2007

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

  • North Korean Christians still Suffering
  • ArkALMIGHTY Launches Across America
  • North Korean Refugees in Thailand End Hunger Strike and Reach Asylum Deal
  • Dobson Stresses Unity, Repentance for Day of Prayer Observance

North Korean Christians still Suffering

North Korea Freedom Week wrapped up Sunday in Washington. According to a release from Open Doors USA, the event featured a genocide exhibit, congressional hearings and panel discussions. On Saturday, a rally was held at the Chinese Embassy to protest their government’s practice of sending North Korean defectors back to their home country where they are routinely tortured or killed. For the fifth year in a row, North Korea ranks as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians, according to the Open Doors USA 2006 World Watch List. Christianity is banned, and hundreds of thousands of Christians are currently in labor camps. According to Dr. Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, “Millions have died under dictator Kim Jong Il’s regime, and almost half of all North Korean children suffer from malnutrition, having almost no basic human rights. We want to bring about action that will relieve their suffering and bring some light into this very dark place.”
ArkALMIGHTY Launches Across America

ArkALMIGHTY, a nationwide good deeds program that matches up the needs in churches with the talents and skills of the members of those congregations, officially launches on May 1, 2007, says a Religion News Service release. Inspired by Universal Pictures’ Evan Almighty and the book Conspiracy of Kindness: A Refreshing New Approach to Sharing the Love of Jesus with Others by Pastor Steve Sjogren, ArkALMIGHTY is designed to enable youth groups and churches to easily get involved in practical and tangible volunteer outreach via the Internet. Gathering the needs of church attendees, these requests are compiled on a Craigslist-type website ( administered by the church. Then, the members of the congregation can easily search through the needs and find ways they can help. “In my many years of doing projects to creatively urge the Church to become outward, ArkALMIGHTY stands in a class by itself,” said Sjogren.

North Korean Refugees in Thailand End Hunger Strike and Reach Asylum Deal

Some 400 North Korean refugees have ended their hunger strike at a Thai immigration detention centre after receiving a promise to fly 25 of them to South Korea for asylum last week, a humanitarian worker said on Friday, April 27. ASSIST News Service, citing a Reuters story, reported that Thai authorities said last Thursday (April 26) that the strike was over after they reached a deal with South Korea. They gave no details. The refugees had refused food since Tuesday to protest against processing delays and harsh conditions. “They ended the hunger strike early Thursday night,” Seoul-based humanitarian worker Peter Jung, of Justice for North Korea, told Reuters by telephone. The story went on to say, “South Korea's Foreign Ministry, which typically refrains from speaking on North Korean refugees, declined to comment. “North Korean refugees are almost always granted citizenship after arriving in South Korea. Ten of them were flown to the South on Friday, followed by another 15 on Saturday. The processing would then slow to about 20 each month under the agreement, said Jung. “But that is not nearly fast enough. They are dying a slow death inside.”

Dobson Stresses Unity, Repentance for Day of Prayer Observance reports that the chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer is urging people observing Thursday's event to follow the example of King David when they seek "divine help." Shirley Dobson said the aid of prayer is the only way to heal a culture wracked with violence and anxiety. The National Day of Prayer has been a part of American history since the Continental Congress of 1775. In 1988, Ronald Reagan declared that the first Thursday of May would be a National Day of Prayer. Mrs. Dobson's take is that the NDop is a day for Americans of all faiths to "drop their denominational tags and racial and cultural differences" and unite in prayer. Dobson expects some 50,000 prayer gatherings to take place on Thursday, focusing on unity and repentance of sin.