Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 12, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 12, 2008

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

  • Eritrea: Persecution Ignored Internationally
  • China: Legal Wheels Turn Slowly for Arrested Christian
  • Haiti: School Collapse Mirrors National Instability
  • Study: Poor Planning Impedes Small Church Progress

Eritrea: Persecution Ignored Internationally

Mission News Network reports that Eritrean Christians have yet to garner international concern in spite of heavy persecution. More than 2,000 Christians have been arrested, although the government denies any religious discrimination or arrests. "Because Eritrea is such a small country and because of other things going on in the world, it tends to fly below the radar," says Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs. "There hasn't been the public outcry. There haven't been other countries calling on the Eritrean leader to let the Christians go... That's a frustrating thing for those of us who do know about what's going on and do understand that 2000 of our brothers and sisters are in prison. We would like more people to speak out on their behalf."

China: Legal Wheels Turn Slowly for Arrested Christian

Compass Direct News reports that Chinese officials have yet to declare a new court date for Alimjan Yimit, a Christian house church leader and ethnic Uyghur in China’s northwest province of Xinjiang detained since his arrest on Jan. 12. Alimjan’s name appears as Alimujiang Yimiti in Chinese documents. State prosecutors in mid-October returned Alimjan’s case to a Xinjiang court for consideration, China Aid Association (CAA) reported. Sources told Compass that further legal action is expected imminently. Charges against Alimjan include “inciting secessionist sentiment to split the country” and “collecting and selling intelligence for overseas organizations,” CAA reported in June. Once a Muslim, Alimjan converted to Christianity more than 10 years ago and became active in the growing Uyghur church. Friends said they believe his faith is the real reason for his arrest. Officials have threatened to hand down a sentence ranging from as much as six years in prison to execution.

Haiti: School Collapse Mirrors National Instability

ASSIST News Service reports that hope is fading for survivors of a school building collapse, and the event serves as a reminder of Haiti's overall political and economic instability. College La Promesse (The Promise College) collapsed Friday, killing at least 90 students and adults and severely injuring more than 150 others. Haiti's President Rene Preval has made several visits to the disaster site. He blamed constant government turnover and a lack of respect for the law for the deadly collapse. "There is a code already, but they don't follow it. What we need is political stability," Preval told The Associated Press. The school's owner and builder, Protestant preacher Fortin Augustin, was arrested late Saturday on charges of involuntary manslaughter. More than a fifth of Haiti's nine million people live in ramshackle slums, go to churches, and attend schools similar to the one that collapsed.

Study: Poor Planning Impedes Small Church Progress

The Christian Post reports that pastors of small churches have no problem identifying needs and problems in their communities, but 67 percent say they don't understand why progress toward solutions is so slow. A new study by LifeWay research found that only 29 percent of small church pastors strongly agreed that they had a clear plan to transform their churches into what God wanted them to be. "The effectiveness of local church ministry often is jeopardized by poor organization," diagnosed Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. "Understanding God’s calling and the context of the church is important, but leadership requires knowing where you are, knowing where you need to go and knowing how to get there. Most pastors of small churches actively pursue the first two, but many struggle with the third."