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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 22, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 22, 2008

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

  • Tensions between Russia and Georgia Hit the Church
  • Pakistan: Custody Case Could Go to Supreme Court
  • Amish Population Nearly Doubles in 16 Years
  • Large Gift Saves Historic Mission Group from Staff Cutbacks

Tensions between Russia and Georgia Take Toll on the Church

Mission News Network reports that although Russia is scheduled to complete its pullout of Georgia today, residents of the conflict-ridden region fear all-out war could still erupt. Both sides have accused each other of genocide and ethnic cleansing during the week-long conflict in South Ossetia, making many apprehensive as they return home. Meanwhile, Jonathon Shibley with Global Advance says their ministry was scheduled for a conference in Georgia this week, but had to ultimately recall their team for security concerns. However, many pastors were already gathered, according to Shibley. "It could potentially be an opportunity for these pastors still to come together and just use this as a strategic time of prayer and intercession for the nation. This was going to be a multi-denominational gathering of pastors and leaders of various churches, and we hope that somehow they'll still be able to convene," he said.

Pakistan: Custody Case Could Go to Supreme Court

Compass Direct News reports that the custody battle in Pakistan over two Christian girls kidnapped and allegedly forced to convert to Islam remained inconclusive after a hearing Wednesday, with rights advocates for the family suspecting Muslim fundamentalists of pressuring the minors and a medical board. Judge Malek Saeed Ejaz of the Lahore High Court’s Multan Branch set the next hearing for Sept. 9. Lawyers for the Masih family said that if the girls are not returned to their parents at the next hearing they will appeal to the Pakistani Supreme Court. Until then, Aneela and Saba Masih, 10 and 13 respectively, will remain at Multan’s Dar Ul Rahman women’s shelter. Rashid Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said, “They are giving them misinformation regarding their parents, saying, ‘If you return to your parents, they will kill you.’”

Amish Population Nearly Doubles in 16 Years

In spite of relatively little outreach, the United States' Amish population has grown from an estimated 123,000 in 1992 to an estimated 227,000 today, Associated Press reports. This growth in population has led to an exodus extending far beyond their traditional homes as they journey to affordable farmland in seven new states since 1992. "When we think they might be dying out or merely surviving, they are actually thriving," said Elizabethtown professor Don Kraybill, a leading expert on the Amish who shared his research from an upcoming book with The Associated Press. Most of the growth comes from birth and retention rates; most Amish couples have at least five children, and more than four out of five decide to stay within the church.

Large Legacy Saves Historic Mission Group from Staff Cutbacks

Christian Post reports that an unprecedented gift of mercy will keep one of the world's oldest Protestant mission organizations afloat for a while longer. A legacy believed to be around $1.4 million will help postpone staff cuts in the Baptist Mission Society World Mission for at least a year, allowing board members to come up with more permanent solutions. The organization has suffered from three consecutive years of individual deficits more than $561,000, and announced staff cuts just one week before the gift came. “Although a legacy is a one-off gift and not a source of regular income, it allows time to consider whether new options become available over the coming year,” the board members said in a statement released Wednesday.