Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 18, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 18, 2013

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Seven Christians Killed After Church Shelled in Central African Republic
  • Gospel Legend, George Beverly Shea, Passes Away At 104
  • French Lawmakers Approve Gay Marriage, Ignoring Protests
  • Brazilian Missionaries Freed From Prison, Still Face Legal Battle
  • Arrest is Imminent in Boston Marathon Bombings

Seven Christians Killed After Church Shelled in Central African Republic

A weekend of violence leaves seven dead after three artillery shells crashed into a Central African Republic church, reports World Watch Monitor. At least twenty were reported dead after gun battles in sectors of Bangui, the capital of the republic, where rebel groups took power last month. The seven Christian victims in the attack were attending church service at the Evangelical Federation of Brothers church on Sunday.

“Many children account among wounded persons and were transferred at the paediatric hospital for treatment,” Rev. Mbaye-Bondoi told World Watch Monitor in a telephone interview. The pastor was hurt in his heart ear, but said the injury was not life-threatening. Various independent news reports said clashes erupted Saturday after members of the rebel forces known as Séléka began a sweep through parts of Bangui to gather weapons. There’s no official confirmation whether the church was targeted or simply caught in the crossfire, but there have been increased attacks on Christian clerics and lay people since the Séléka coalition formed in December.

Gospel Legend, George Beverly Shea, Passes Away At 104

Singing News has learned that legendary Gospel singer, George Beverly Shea, has passed away at the age of 104. The following is from the Billy Graham Ministries website. Click here for the original press release.

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 16, 2013 - George Beverly Shea, 104, of Montreat, North Carolina, soloist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), died this evening (April 16th) following a brief illness.

Since George Beverly Shea first sang for Graham in 1943 on the Chicago radio hymn program, "Songs in the Night," Shea has faithfully carried the Gospel in song to every continent and every state in the Union. Graham's senior by ten years, Shea devotedly preceded the evangelist in song in nearly every Crusade over the span of more than one-half century.

Shea was the recipient of ten Grammy nominations, a Grammy Award in 1965, and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grammy organization in 2011. He was also a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame (1978), and was inducted into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in February 1996. Shea was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists' "Hall of Faith" in 2008.

"I first met Bev Shea while in Chicago when he was on Moody Radio," said Billy Graham. "As a young man starting my ministry, I asked Bev if he would join me. He said yes and for over 60 years we had the privilege of ministering together across the country and around the world. Bev was one of the most humble, gracious men I have ever known and one of my closest friends. I loved him as a brother. My prayer for his wife, Karlene, and his children, Ron and Elaine, is that God will strengthen them during this time."

Born in Winchester, Ontario, Canada, where his father was a Wesleyan Methodist minister, Shea's first public singing was in the choir of his father's church. Between Crusade, radio, and television dates in many countries, he sang at hundreds of concerts and recorded more than 70 albums of sacred music. At age 23 he composed the music to one of his best known solos, "I'd Rather Have Jesus."

"Even though Bev was 10 years older than my father, he never acted his age," said Franklin Graham. "He was absolute fun to be with. Bev was one of the most gracious and unassuming men I have known. He was always encouraging and supportive, a man of deep faith and strong commitment to Jesus Christ."

Shea is survived by his wife, Karlene, and his children from his first marriage, Ronald and Elaine. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Erma, who died in 1976.

Ron, born in 1948 in Chicago, graduated from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., in 1971. For more than 30 years, Ron has been an associate in Crusade ministry through the BGEA, assisting in preparatory work for evangelistic crusades involving Mr. Graham and more recently for Franklin Graham's ministry. He is married to the former Kathy Ford.

Details on the funeral service for Shea will be forthcoming.

French Lawmakers Approve Gay Marriage, Ignoring Protests

The French Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage April 12th ignoring the protests of hundreds of thousands of traditional marriage supporters, WORLD reports. The legislature also approved the adoption of children by gay couples. Parliament still has to vote on minor amendments, but the complete gay-rights package is expected to receive final approval in May. This will make France the 13th nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The French have spent months debating the vote, although same-sex civil unions have been legal since 1999.

Brazilian Missionaries Freed From Prison, Still Face Legal Battle

Two Brazilian missionaries held in a Senegal jail without charge for five months are now free on bail, World Watch Monitor reports. The two still face accusations that they operated youth programs without permits. Jose Dilson Da Silvia is a missionary with the Brazilian Presbyterian Church in the Senegalese capital Dakar. Zeneide Moreira Novais runs an orphanage for street children in Mbour, 80 kilometers south of Dakar. The Brazilian National Organization of Evangelical Lawyers for the Defense of Fundamental Civic Freedoms, or ANAJURE, says a final judgment on their case is expected within 30 days of their April 5 release.

Their troubles began when a father because upset that his son, said to be 17-years-old, had learned about Christianity in Da Silva’s Project Obadiah, which has 200 registered children.  ANAJURE President Uziel Santana told World Watch Monitor that the complaint about forceful conversions of Muslims found a legal foothold when it was discovered that Da Silva’s projects had been operating without necessary licenses. The detention without trial of foreign Christian workers raises a number of questions in a country seen as a democratic model in Africa and known for its culture of tolerance.

Arrest is Imminent in Boston Marathon Bombings

Several news outlets are reporting that a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings is under police custody. CNN reports that, according to federal law enforcement, the arrest has been made "based on two videos showing images of the suspect."  An official spoke to the Associated Press on condition on anonymity, stating that the suspect was to be taken into custody by federal law officials and brought to a Boston courthouse.  An official news briefing is scheduled for later Wednesday.