Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Ministry Partners Bring Good News to Charley Victims
- Satellite Broadcasts by Ex-Muslims-Turned-Pastors Evangelizes Iran
- German Church Tax - And What it Means to Foreigners
- Missionary Couple Slain in California
Ministry Partners Bring Good News to Charley Victims
Allie Martin, AgapePress
The International Bible Society is partnering with The Salvation Army to distribute copies of God's Word to disaster survivors who were in the path of Hurricane Charley. Through an agreement between the two Christian organizations, tens of thousands of Bibles are being handed out to victims of the recent hurricane. IBS president Peter Bradley says officials with The Salvation Army are in the process of meeting people's physical needs and determining how many Bibles will be required. Bradley says the IBS has prepared a number of what the ministry calls "special outreach scriptures" for people who have been devastated by crisis, "people who after a crisis such as this one are really in despair." Many of the hurricane victims have lost property, security or even loved ones, and the Bible Society president notes, "They're seeing their whole world change, they're fearful, they're looking for hope, and that's exactly what the scriptures [provide] through the promises our good Lord has given to us." IBS is handing out several crisis-victim-targeted booklets with titles like "Where Is God Now?" and "When Your World Changes," which are designed for young people. Another popular Bible excerpt the Society gives out to disaster victims is a collection of psalms, and one booklet called "Building a Mosaic" is being distributed to aid workers.
Satellite Broadcasts by Ex-Muslims-Turned-Pastors Evangelizes Iran
Charisma News Service
Two former Muslims who are now pastors in the United States have separately launched satellite TV ministries that try to reach Muslims in Iran -- a country where it is illegal to evangelize. Their groundbreaking work has resulted in thousands of Iranians coming to Christ -- many of whom become such fervent believers that they risk their lives to share the gospel in the Islamic republic. "The religion of Islam has held a grip on this land for over 1,500 years," said Reza Safa, 43, pastor of Fishermen's House Church in Tulsa, Okla., and founder of Nejat Christian satellite TV station, which has sought to evangelize the millions of Farsi-speaking people in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan since May 2003. Nejat means "salvation," "freedom" or "deliverance" in the Farsi language. "Iranians have seen the true nature of Islam and are desperate for change and the truth," Safa told "Charisma" magazine in the September issue, out now. "This is also God's time of visitation upon that land," he added. According to this year's Open Doors' "World Watch List" of countries where Christians are targeted, Iran ranked fifth among nations that persecute believers. Safa said Nejat TV (www.rezasafa.com) has seen more than 3,000 Iranians and Afghans accept Christ since they started broadcasting last year. (http://www.charismanow.com)
German Church Tax - And What it Means to Foreigners
Wolfgang Polzer, ASSIST News Service
A Christian from Italy or France who settles in Germany may be in for a surprise when the first paycheck arrives. Church tax may have been deducted. And that is quite legal if the foreigner is a Roman Catholic or member of a church in official fellowship with a main line Protestant Church in Germany. This applies, for instance, to the 103 Lutheran, Reformed, United and Methodist churches in Europe and South America belonging to the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe. But a Danish woman recently challenged the liability to pay church tax In Germany. She belonged to the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark, and when she settled in Germany with her unchurched German husband she was charged church tax to the tune of Euro 309 (US-Dollars 380). She argued that in her opinion she had not joined a German church simply by moving to the country. But an administrative court in Koblenz declared the practice legal. The only way of escaping church tax was to cancel her church membership altogether - which she did. The practice of church taxation for foreigners was confirmed, when the evangelical news agency enquired with the main office of the Protestant Churches in Hanover. Church tax -- a peculiar German phenomenon -- amounts to nine per cent of a person's income tax.
Missionary Couple Slain in California
Reports suggest the execution-style killings of a Christian missionary couple in California last week may have been a hate crime. Police are going door-to-door in the coastal town of Jenner, seeking clues to the murders of 23-year-old Lindsay Cutshall of Ohio and 26-year-old Jason Allen of Michigan. The two, who were set to be married next month, were found shot to death in their sleeping bags on a beach near Jenner last Wednesday. The couple had been working together as counselors at a summer youth camp. Warren Dayton, whose son worked with the slain couple, speculates they may have spoken with their killer. "They could have even been witnessing to him, and ... maybe he's going to come to the Lord," Dayton says. "Of course, a lot of prayers are going up for that murderer." Meanwhile, Pastor Chris Cutshall, who had planned to officiate at his daughter's wedding next month, says despite the tragedy he is nevertheless "grateful to God for taking our children home."