Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Thousands Flee Syria's Largest City
- 'Chick-fil-A Day' Sign-Ups Surge Past 500,000
- South Korean Christians Release Gospel Balloons into North Korea
- Two Iranian Christians Released From Prison
Thousands Flee Syria's Largest City
More than 200,000 people have evacuated Syria's largest city, Aleppo, as fighting between rebel forces and president Bashar Assad's regime continues to intensify, CBN News reports. Rebels currently control much of Aleppo, but according to the United Nations, the Syrian government is fighting back with mortars, tanks and helicopter raids. Neighboring countries like Jordan have already seen an influx of refugees as Syrians flee the conflict. Turkish officials ordered troops to its border in light of possible refugees, and put in place more armored combat vehicles and missile launchers. Meanwhile, Syria's top diplomat in London, Khaled al-Ayoubi, defected Monday, saying he could no longer support the regime.
'Chick-fil-A Day' Sign-Ups Surge Past 500,000
A growing number of Chick-fil-A supporters -- more than 533,000 as of Tuesday afternoon -- are pledging to take part in today's Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, while political leaders in Boston and Chicago are backing off statements they made opposing the opening of new Chick-fil-A restaurants in their cities. Boston mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel had implied they would attempt to block new Chick-fil-A restaurants from opening in their cities, but they reversed positions when attorneys from across the spectrum -- including the left-leaning ACLU, the right-leaning Alliance Defending Freedom and Boston and Chicago newspapers -- said such actions would be unconstitutional. Meanwhile, opponents of Chick-fil-A's stance have announced "National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A," scheduled for August 3, and the Jim Henson Company has announced it will no longer partner with Chick-fil-A to make toys for kids' meals.
South Korean Christians Release Gospel Balloons into North Korea
On July 4, four North Korean defectors now living in South Korea joined a Voice of the Martyrs worker to release 10 balloons into North Korea carrying 45,000 gospel flyers plus their personal written testimonies. It was the fifth such balloon launch by the VOM partner this year -- a tangible way for North Koreans now living in South Korea to reach out to their home country. The North Korean Christians hope the balloons and materials will reach their hometowns in North Korea to spread the gospel of Jesus there.
Two Iranian Christians Released From Prison
After months in prison and solitary confinement, two Iranian Christians have recently been released, Mission Network News reports. Noorollah Qabitizse, 48, a house church leader arrested during a raid on Christmas Eve 2010, was released after serving 19 months in prison. Though he suffered mental abuse as the result of authorities interrogating him and trying to force him to denounce his faith, he started a Bible study in Dezful prison. However, when authorities learned of his activities, they transferred him to Ahwaz prison as punishment. The second Christian released was 24-year-old Ehsan Behrouz, a student studying management at the University of Mashhad. After his arrest in October 2011, Behrouz spent eight months in prison, including 105 days in solitary confinement. Though he has been released, he hasn't been able to resume classes, and his education is at stake. Other Christian students in the past have been forcibly deprived of their education.
Publication date: August 1, 2012