Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Controversial Religious Leaders to Receive Final Sentence in December; Execution Could Be Imminent
- Christian Lecturer Attacked in West Java, Indonesia
- GFA Missionary Dragged Away at Bus Stop
- Pope to Re-Establish Ties with Muslims, Orthodox Christians
Controversial Religious Leaders to Receive Final Sentence in December; Execution Could Be Imminent
China Aid Association (CAA), a Christian advocacy group for the Church in China, says that it has learned that the Heilongjiang Higher People’s Court re-tried the case of the “Three Grades Servants” on October 17-19, ASSIST News Service reports. “In December it is very possible that the death sentence issued by the Shuang Yashan Intermediate People’s Court in the first trial will be upheld for Xu Shengguang and two other church leaders,” said a CAA spokesperson. “The second trial was held in the Shuang Yashan Intermediate People’s Court room by judges from the Provincial Higher Court. Officers from National Jurisdiction Organs and the National Religious Affairs Bureau were also present. Only 15 of the 16 defendants appealed for a second trial. “The court allowed one relative of each suspected criminal to be present at the trial, although some 100 people were present in the audience. According to the eyewitnesses, Xu seemed physically and mentally well during the trial. The CAA spokesperson went on to say, “The Defense argued that there is no evidence to prove Xu and the other two church leaders were directly involved or took part in organizing and abetting the murder of the members of the Eastern Lightening religious group.”
Christian Lecturer Attacked in West Java, Indonesia
Compass Direct News reports that Muslim extremists in West Java attempted to murder a Christian lecturer in mid-October for converting from Islam three years ago. The theology lecturer, whose name was withheld for security reasons, has taken shelter in another province to escape further threats to his life. Sources told Compass that a man claiming to be a Christian phoned the lecturer saying he wanted to study Islam in order to relate to his Muslim acquaintances. After meeting with the caller and his friends several times, they asked him to travel with them to Lembang, a small community on the outskirts of Bandung. En route, they slipped a rope over the lecturer’s neck and attempted to strangle him. They hit him several times over the head with a hammer, but he managed to jump out of the car and roll downhill. Police arrested one of the men responsible for the attack, but the others escaped.
GFA Missionary Dragged Away at Bus Stop
As soon as Gospel for Asia missionary Jakson stepped off the bus, four men from a radical Hindu group grabbed him, taking him by force to a nearby paddy field, ASSIST News Service reports. A barrage of questions were hurled at him about two local Christian young men. As a result of Jakson’s witness, they were planning to attend a GFA Bible college to prepare for mission service themselves. Jakson’s attackers began to slap him, beat him and throw him to the ground. As they were beating him, a neighbor approached and pleaded with the men to stop. The four men left, but not without issuing threats—they warned the GFA missionary that he and the believers of his church fellowship were not to meet for worship or engage in any kind of Christian activity. They then paid visits to the parents of the two young men planning to attend the GFA Bible college, warning them of death if they allowed their sons to follow through with their plans.
Pope to Re-Establish Ties with Muslims, Orthodox Christians
According to The Christian Post, when Pope Benedict XVI goes to Turkey this month for his first papal visit to a Muslim nation, he will in effect be making two distinct journeys. The world will be watching the Pope's efforts to "win back" the respect of Muslims angered by his remarks on religious violence. But the pontiff's other primary purpose will be a pilgrimage to one of Christianity's last toeholds in Turkey - a Nov. 29 meeting in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. No breakthrough is expected, but the visit may highlight the weak links in efforts to heal the East-West divide in Christianity.