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Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 16, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 16, 2007

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

  • Water for the Poor – Establishing 1,000 New Wells in Ethiopia
  • Evangelist Graham Seeks to Convert Sudan’s Muslim President
  • Uzbekistan Admits Arrest of Protestant Pastor
  • Christian Docs Seek Federal Help to Find Slavery Victims

Water for the Poor – Establishing 1,000 New Wells in Ethiopia

The Blair Foundation announced they have accepted the invitation of President Yaregal Aysheshim to establish a well in 1,000 of his poorest villages in Benishangul-Gumuz, Ethiopia. Using a new and innovative technology, The Blair Foundation is drilling wells in villages not accessible by conventional and otherwise expensive drilling rigs. At a cost of $687 per well, this new and cost-effective technology will utilize local materials for both the drilling and the construction of the well and pump and covers all materials, labor and training. According to UNICEF, Ethiopia is one of the two poorest countries in Africa, in large part because only a small percentage of the people have access to safe drinking water.

Evangelist Graham Seeks to Convert Sudan’s Muslim President

The Christian Post reports that Franklin Graham met with Sudan’s Muslim president Omar Hassan al-Bashir this week and confirmed his aim of converting the leader whom many say is behind the Darfur genocide. Graham affirmed that he still believes Islam is an “evil and wicked” religion, and that "I would like to convert every person I meet... through persuasion." Graham first met al-Bashir in December 2003 when Graham told the Sudanese president that he wanted to lead him to Christ. Bashir had responded that he wanted to make Graham a Muslim. Proselytizing by both parties continued on Monday and religious differences remained strong. However, Graham had a softer opinion of Bashir and the Darfur situation following the meeting.

Uzbekistan Admits Arrest of Protestant Pastor

Uzbekistan’s religious authorities admitted publicly for the first time this week that an Uzbek Christian pastor was arrested last month in the eastern city of Andijan and faces criminal charges, Compass Direct News reports. Denying reports that Dmitry Shestakov is an evangelical pastor affiliated with the legally registered Full Gospel Church, the press service of Uzbekistan’s Religious Affairs Committee told a Russian news agency on Feb. 12 that he was not an authorized leader of any officially recognized religious organization in Uzbekistan. The agency said he was an “imposter” leading an underground group identified as “Charismatic Pentecostals” who were engaged in “missionary and proselytizing activities.” But according to a written statement from Shestakov’s lawyer, a church document proves that the pastor has been authorized to conduct official worship services in the Full Gospel Church since October 5, 2004.

Christian Docs Seek Federal Help to Find Slavery Victims

A spokesman for the Christian Medical Association says the 16,000-member group is asking the Bush administration and its federal agencies to take part in a nationwide education campaign to help medical professionals better identify victims of human trafficking, AgapePress reports. Christian Medical Association (CMA) member Dr. Jeffrey Barrows has prepared continuing education materials and taught doctors about the existence of modern-day slavery and how to identify the tell-tale signs of victimization by traffickers. One recent study found 28 percent of human trafficking victims were taken to see healthcare professionals and not identified. In addition to raising the general awareness of medical and healthcare professionals about human trafficking, Barrows says, "we're teaching them things to look for."  CMA's emphasis on human trafficking is being advanced in conjunction with the soon-to-be-released movie Amazing Grace, a biographical film on abolitionist William Wilberforce. The release of the movie has been timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the end of the slave trade in Britain.