Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 24, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 24, 2007

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

  • Koreans Ponder Their Future in Global Missions
  • Eritrean Pastor Disappears, 10 Protestants Arrested
  • Egypt Extends Jail Time for Christian Rights Workers
  • Former Cannibal Tribe Apologizes for Eating Four 19th-Century Missionaries

Koreans Ponder Their Future in Global Missions

A large sign outside the multi-story Shinsegae department store in downtown Seoul reads, "Pray for the safe return of the hostages in Afghanistan." It is written in Korean, Arabic and English. But as Korean Christians pray, church and mission agency leaders are struggling with how best to adapt to environments and cultures where a Christian presence is unwelcome and often dangerous. Baptist Press reports that they are discussing how best to complete the task of taking the Gospel to "the ends of the earth," while protecting those under their watch who have been called to difficult places. And, at the request of the Korean government, plans are underway to remove all Korean Christian workers from Afghanistan. "We hope that this is only temporary," said Jae Kyeong Lee, president of the Korean Foreign Mission Board of the Korea Baptist Convention, "and that we will have opportunity to send workers back soon. But we want to be sensitive to the safety of the hostages and to the request of our government." The Korean government currently is negotiating with Taliban militants over the fate of 19 hostages remaining in Afghanistan.

Eritrean Pastor Disappears, 10 Protestants Arrested

Christians in Eritrea confirmed yesterday that a pastor in Asmara who disappeared 11 days ago remains missing. Pastor Leule Gebreab of Asmara’s Apostolic Church failed to return home to his family on August 12. “His wife is greatly distressed about his disappearance,” a local source told Compass Direct News. Gebreab, 35, is married with two children. In a separate development, Eritrean authorities issued an ultimatum to Catholic church leaders on August 16, ordering that all the church’s schools, clinics, orphanages and women’s vocational training centers be turned over to the government’s Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor. More than 2,000 Eritrean Christians remain locked up and subjected to severe torture for their religious beliefs. A Kale Hiwot Church pastor and 20 members of his congregation arrested in the town of Dekemhare in late May and early June have yet to be released from custody. But the Rev. Zecharias Abraham and 80 worshippers at the Mehrete Yesus Evangelical Presbyterian Church, who had been arrested during Sunday services in Asmara on April 29, were all reported released during the fourth week of May.

Egypt Extends Jail Time for Christian Rights Workers

Egypt has renewed the detention of two Christian rights workers, held without charge since their arrest on August 8, Compass Direct News reports. Police detained Adel Fawzy Faltas and Peter Ezzat after their organization was involved in several controversial human rights cases, including that of Mohammed Hegazy, who made an unprecedented bid to have his conversion to Christianity legally recognized. Top Egyptian religious scholars called for the convert’s death yesterday in London’s Arabic daily newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi. Faltas, 61, had conducted a high profile Internet interview with Hegazy only days before his arrest, sparking claims in Egyptian media that he had led the Muslim to Christianity. Yesterday, a state prosecutor at New Cairo’s State Security Investigation renewed Faltas and Ezzat’s detention. Muhammad al-Faisal refused to give a reason for his decision to hold the two Christians until September 4. “It’s not right for Peter to remain in custody,” said Peter Ramses al-Nagar, a lawyer for the two Middle East Christian Association members.

Former Cannibal Tribe Apologizes for Eating Four 19th-Century Missionaries

According to ASSIST News Service, a former cannibal tribe in Papua New Guinea has apologized for killing and eating four 19th-century missionaries who were under the command of a British clergyman, reports the Irish Independent. The story said, “The four Fijians were on a proselytizing mission on the island of New Britain when they were massacred by Tolai tribesmen in 1878. “They were murdered on the orders of a local warrior chief, Taleli, and were then cooked and eaten. “They had been sent by the Reverend George Brown, a Wesleyan missionary from County Durham who spent most of his life spreading the word of God in the South Seas.” Last week thousands of villagers attended a reconciliation ceremony near Rabaul, the capital of East New Britain province, once notorious for its ferocious cannibals. “Their leaders apologized for their forefathers' taste for human flesh to a Fijian delegation led by Fiji's high commissioner to Papua New Guinea,” the story continued. “They laid wreaths at the Fijians' feet and placed strands of sacred shells around their necks.”