Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Feds Reverse Course, Return Books to Prison Chapel Libraries
- Threats Force Church in Northern Nigeria Underground
- Christian Non-Profit Continues Training in Burma Despite Riots
- 6 Nuns in Arkansas Excommunicated for Heresy
Feds Reverse Course, Return Books to Prison Chapel Libraries
A release from Prison Fellowship says the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a statement to NPR's Talk of the Nation indicating that it will "alter its planned course of action with respect to the Chapel Library Project." In order to rid chapel libraries of violent materials, the Bureau of Prisons had recently removed all religious materials from prison chapel libraries except a very limited number of resources. This effort elicited a vocal response from chaplains and a diverse group of faith-based and religious organizations that work with prisoners - including Prison Fellowship - who believed the new policy impeded prisoners’ access to a variety of wholesome, faith-filled books. In today's statement, the Bureau of Prisons said, "The Bureau will begin immediately to return to chapel libraries materials that were removed in June 2007, with the exception of any publications that have been found to be inappropriate, such as materials that could be radicalizing or incite violence. The review of all materials in chapel libraries will be completed by the end of January 2008."
Threats Force Church in Northern Nigeria Underground
Death threats and other dangers here drove most of the members of a church of converts from Islam to other parts of northern Nigeria – yet a fellowship remains, Compass Direct News reports. Of the 25 converts who formed a church in this city in the northeastern state of Borno two years ago, only three remain. Still, while worshipping separately in the towns where they now reside, once a month the converts brave the threats of Islamic extremists and family members to return to Maiduguri to secretly pray and praise together. “The venue and time is agreed among themselves, and the venue is also changed every meeting so that they are not attacked,” said the Rev. Titus Dama Pona, founder of Good Way Mission, who planted the church, Kanuri Christian Fellowship, in September 2005. The only known underground fellowship in Nigeria, the group is said to be the first church among the Kanuri and Shuwa Arab ethnic groups in the Islamic enclave of Borno.
Christian Non-Profit Continues Training in Burma Despite Riots
This week, as riots continued in Burma and monks were killed during peaceful protests, U.S.-based international leadership development organization EQUIP was on the scene training local leaders of faith to positively impact their community during this critical time and beyond. Because the government in Burma monitors religion very closely and is attempting to ban Christianity, EQUIP, headquartered in Atlanta, has partnered with Singapore-based Equipping Leaders for Asia to leverage their understanding of the political situation and their shared Asian heritage with Burma. This week, armed with EQUIP's Million Leaders Mandate leadership curriculum, trainers have returned to Burma. "Our team could see the demonstrations from windows in our room and we paused several times to pray for the tense situation," said one of the trainers, a pastor from Asia who cannot be named for safety concerns. "We see first hand the desperate need for God to work through effective leaders during this critical time in Burma's history."
6 Nuns in Arkansas Excommunicated for Heresy
An Associated Press story states that six Catholic nuns have been excommunicated for heresy after refusing to give up membership in a Canadian sect whose founder claims to be possessed by the Virgin Mary, the Diocese of Little Rock announced Wednesday. The Rev. J. Gaston Hebert, the diocese administrator, said he notified the nuns of the decision Tuesday night after they refused to recant the teachings of the Community of the Lady of All Nations, also known as the Army of Mary. The Vatican has declared all members of the Army of Mary excommunicated.