Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Indonesians Responsive to Quake Relief
- Haggard Starting New Church at Co. Springs Home
- Pastors Apologize to Gay Community in Atlanta
- Faith Groups Can Beat Poverty, Says UK Official
Indonesians Responsive to Quake Relief
Baptist Press reports that Christian relief volunteers in Indonesia have found a surprisingly open audience. "And so, this is what He is up to on our island ... taking a tragedy and opening up a door for seeds to be planted," a Christian worker in Indonesia wrote following the magnitude 7.6 earthquake on Sept. 30. The worker, along with a team of 23 national believers and U.S. volunteers, took supplies to a remote village of nearly 3,500 people in Western Sumatra. The team held medical clinics and distributed tents, blankets, food and water. When they arrived in Indonesia, the volunteers were surprised by the friendly reception from villagers. Community leaders opened the mosque for their use. The village, previously a difficult place for Christian workers, joined the team in their prayers and openly talked about their experiences.
Haggard Starting New Church at Co. Springs Home
The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that disgraced pastor Ted Haggard is again starting a church in his Colorado Springs home. Haggard, who also founded New Life Church in his home before it grew into a megachurch, had to resign from that church three years ago after his drug-and-sex scandal came to light. "We wanted to do something in our house to connect with friends," said Haggard. Though technically a "prayer service," he said Thursday's first meeting could also be called a church. "For this prayer meeting, I have no goals," Haggard said. "I have no secret hope that more people will come. I am not driven as I was. Before I focused on the Great Commission. Now I focus on helping other people." Haggard resigned from News Life in 2006 with a severance package that dictated he participate in a restoration program and not start a church near Colorado Springs.
Pastors Apologize to Gay Community in Atlanta
As an apology to the gay community for the way religious people target and treat gay individuals, pastors Craig Gross and Jason Harper joined 39th annual Atlanta Pride Festival to share Christ's unconditional love. "We came to simply say we are sorry for the way people in religious circles have attacked gay people and caused them to feel like outcasts," said Gross, founder of TripleXChurch, a Web network that helps those struggling with pornography and workers in the adult entertainment industry. "The Jesus that we believe in does not discriminate. He loves all people - no matter who they are or what they have done." The pastors and volunteers handed out more than 1,000 water bottles with "Jesus Loves You" labels. The pastors included the stop as part of their book tour for "Jesus Loves You...This I Know." The book aims to reach out to those the Church neglects, they said: gluttons, adult film stars, the disconnected, outcasts and even the overtly religious.
Faith Groups Can Beat Poverty, Says UK Official
Christian Today reports that a senior Government minister in the UK has recognized the role faith-based groups play in alleviating poverty. "Faith is the motivation behind of a lot of impressive work in our communities and I'm pleased the government is recognizing this," said Labour's Vice-Chair for Faith Groups, Stephen Timms. "Faith not only inspires individuals to help those in need but provides a resource to help communities respond to challenges." Timms spoke before meeting with members of Faith in Community Scotland, an organization that supports local faith groups in Glasgow. The group's director, the Rev. Dr. Martin Johnstone, said, "At the heart of our work lies the belief that people who struggle against poverty must be part of the solution not constantly treated as part of the problem."