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Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 20, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 20, 2007

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Students Turn to God in Wake of Virginia Shooting
  • Three Evangelicals Murdered in Turkey
  • Christian Lawyers in Vietnam Could Get Harsh Sentences
  • Haggard Leaves Colorado For Phoenix

Students Turn to God in Wake of Virginia Shooting

According to a Reuters story, "the prayers started even before the gunshots stopped at Virginia Tech university, and the pleas to God from grief-stricken survivors of the massacre have continued ever since." A day after the worst shooting spree in modern U.S. history, a traveling prayer vigil moved across the Tech campus carrying placards reading: "Jesus loves you," "God knows and He cares," and "Can we pray with you?" At Tuesday's memorial, President Bush and others urged students to persevere in hope or comfort one another in prayer. Makeshift memorials have sprung up across the campus with messages such as: "God bless you Jarrett, your family, friends, and all of the victims and those around you. Enjoy the Lord's kingdom." John Stremlau, associate director of peace programs at The Carter Center in Atlanta, said Americans will look to religion to help them cope with the massacre, just as they have in dealing with past shocks like 9/11.

Three Evangelicals Murdered in Turkey

Three evangelical Christians were brutally murdered in Turkey, April 18, ASSIST News Service reports. Necati Aydin (35), Ugur Yksel (32) – both Turks – and the German Tilmann Geske (46) were found tied up and their throats slit in the small Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, Central Turkey. A fourth person escaped by jumping out of a window and was seriously hurt. Turkish police have arrested five 19 and 20-year-old suspects. According to press reports the Muslims have admitted the crime. The paper Hurriyet quoted one of the suspects with the words: “May this be a lesson to the enemies of the faith.” Zirve Publishing House specializes in Turkish Christian literature and distributes the Jesus Film.

Christian Lawyers in Vietnam Could Get Harsh Sentences

Following the March 29 sentencing of Father Nguyen Van Ly to eight years in prison for distributing “material harmful to the state,” two Protestant lawyers charged with the same “crime” are expected to face equally harsh sentences in what Human Rights Watch has called the harshest crackdown in 20 years. Compass Direct News reports that attorney Nguyen Van Dai, a 38-year-old member of the main Hanoi congregation of the legally-recognized Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North) since 2000, was arrested on March 2. According to Pastor Au Quang Vinh of the Hanoi church, a second lawyer, 27-year-old Le This Cong Nhan, was also arrested in early March. She had just completed a doctrine course for new believers at the same church in preparation for baptism. Authorities have prohibited Dai’s wife, Khanh, from visiting him, and her home phone and cell phone services have been cut. A Christian source also said that police have been trying to incite neighbors against her.

Haggard Leaves Colorado For Phoenix

An Associated Press story says the Rev. Ted Haggard moved Wednesday from his longtime home in Colorado Springs to Phoenix. In Arizona, Haggard, who was disgraced last Fall, will join the same church  - Phoenix First Assembly of God - that helped fallen televangelist Jim Bakker. The 50-year-old Haggard stepped down from his pastorate and the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals after confessing to undisclosed "sexual immorality" and purchasing (but not using) methamphetamines. For the past several months, three ministers, including the Rev. H.B. London, have overseen Haggard's "restoration." Haggard has told these advisers he does not believe he's gay. However, he did agree to move out of Colorado Springs, a move London commented upon: "When he moved out of town today, there was a kind of relief on the part of the church that life can get back to normal." In Phoenix, Haggard plans to pursue a graduate degree in counseling at an area university. The family is expected to live in a home made available by a supporter.