Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Help Provide Urgently Needed Emergency Supplies For Earthquake Victims
- Record 7.3 Million Meals Provided To Victims Of Hurricanes Katrina & Rita
- Christian Arrested Under Anti-Conversion Law
- U.S. Believers Called Upon to Protest Indonesian Christians' Persecution
Help Provide Urgently Needed Emergency Supplies For Earthquake Victims
Jenni Parker, Agape Press
World Vision is asking people to donate to its SAVE fund to help provide urgently needed emergency supplies to children and families in crisis in the wake of the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that hit the South Asian subcontinent last Saturday morning. More than 30,000 people have been reported killed by the deadly quake, the epicenter of which was about 60 miles north-northeast of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. However, the estimated death toll is currently over 42,000 and rising, with many bodies still buried under debris. A large portion of the hardest-hit area is in the Himalayas, virtually inaccessible, and poor weather is also making rescue efforts difficult. More than three-million people are presently homeless and living in the open, despite temperatures which have dipped below freezing. James East, a World Vision relief worker in Pakistan, told Associated Press that Americans are responding generously to the need in a disaster that has killed 30 times the number of people who died in Hurricane Katrina, and although his agency is a Christian organization, its teams are working well alongside Muslims and being welcomed as people of faith. (www.worldvision.org)
Record 7.3 Million Meals Provided To Victims Of Hurricanes Katrina & Rita
Mickey Noah, Baptist Press
An all-time record has been reached -- more than 7.3 million meals prepared to date for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita under the Southern Baptists' mammoth disaster relief effort across the Gulf Coast. Southern Baptists provide the third-largest disaster relief operation in the country behind the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army, with more than 30,000 trained volunteers on call for local, state and national emergencies. But while the efforts of Southern Baptist feeding units are tapering off, the need for cleanup and recovery operations continues to grow, said Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization for the North American Mission Board. "The number of damaged homes and churches is overwhelming," Burton said. "Volunteers will be needed for years to assist in the long-term recovery efforts." Louisiana Baptists have identified more than 200 churches destroyed or severely damaged by the two hurricanes; 100 have been counted in Mississippi; 100 in Texas; and 60 in Alabama. In addition to these 460 churches, many more have been impacted by the hurricanes, and damage assessment is under way. To assist the hurricane-ravaged churches, NAMB created "Adopt A Church." The program thus far has registered pledges from 1,583 Southern Baptist churches to provide financial and other assistance over a 12-24-month period. A webcast briefing about Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts is available at www.namb.net.
Christian Arrested Under Anti-Conversion Law
A Christian worker is in jail in Indore, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, after authorities arrested him on October 7 for “converting young children from poor Hindu families to Christianity.” Indore police arrested Sunny John under the state anti-conversion law after members of the Dharma Raksha Samiti (DRS or Religious Protection Committee), a Hindu extremist group, surrounded the Heera Nagar police station protesting “conversions” on October 7, reported the Pioneer, a national daily. John, an independent worker, runs three schools for children. He was accused of converting 11 children between the ages of 5 and 10 who were residing in his school-cum-children’s home at Sunder Nagar Extension in Indore. Indira Iyengar, member of the State Minorities Commission, noted that none of the children had converted to Christianity or complained of attempted conversion, and John denied the charges. (www.compassdirect.org)
U.S. Believers Called Upon to Protest Indonesian Christians' Persecution
Allie Martin, AgapePress
The president of a human rights group reports that there is growing evidence of religious persecution against minority Christians in Indonesia. Jim Jacobsen is president of Christian Freedom International (CFI), an interdenominational human rights organization that helps persecuted believers worldwide. He recently took part in a fact-finding mission to the Muslim-dominated country of Indonesia. CFI vice president Vickie Koth says Jacobsen is urging the Indonesian government to allow religious freedom and to denounce a radical Islamic group that has used intimidation, fear, and threats in order to force church members to close down their churches. The CFI spokeswoman encourages Christians in America to get involved in advocacy on behalf of the persecuted Indonesian Christians. "We can go to our media," she says, "go to our congressmen, go to our supporters and ask our supporters, 'Call your congressmen. Call the Indonesian Embassy and tell them this needs to stop.'" Up until now, Koth notes, the Indonesian government has not taken any measures to protect Christians in that country from such harassment. She says it is time for the authorities to put a stop to the rampant persecution of the Christian minority members.