Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 23, 2011

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 23, 2011

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

  • Four Americans Killed on Yacht Hijacked by Somali Pirates
  • Christian Agencies Respond to Deadly New Zealand Quake
  • Pastor in India Traumatized after Attack
  • House Bill Would Appoint Envoy to World Hot Spots

Four Americans Killed on Yacht Hijacked by Somali Pirates

Two missionaries were among those killed yesterday aboard a yacht hijacked by Somali pirates. All four hostages died despite attempts by U.S. forces to save them. The missionary couple, Scott and Jean Adam, knew they were going into a global hot spot, their friends said. “They wanted to spend time ... making loving disciples,” said Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson of St. Monica Catholic Church in California, The Los Angeles Times reports. The Adams attended the church when they were in town. “They felt they could bring the Scriptures to all parts of this far-flung world.” The Adams had carried Bibles aboard their yacht and distributed them along their journeys. Nineteen pirates were involved in the hijacking, four of whom died during the altercation. The rest of them have been arrested.

Christian Agencies Respond to Deadly New Zealand Quake

Relief agencies are racing to respond to Tuesday's earthquake in New Zealand's second largest city. The 6.3-magnitude earthquake was the second large quake in six months, and killed at least 65 people. The Christian Post reports that World Vision is partnering with several other groups, including Salvation Army, to get practical support to survivors. “We have been in communication with our New Zealand colleagues since the earthquake struck,” said World Vision Australia CEO, Tim Costello.  He said their most pressing concern is reaching children in the area who may be traumatized from the quake. Christchurch's airport is closed, power and telephone lines are out, and some water pipes have exploded. “It is just a scene of utter devastation,” said Prime Minister John Key to 3 News New Zealand. “We may well be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day.”

Pastor in India Traumatized after Attack

A pastor in India’s Rajasthan state who was stripped, beaten and wounded by Hindu extremists earlier this month is still traumatized. Compass Direct News reports that police have yet to investigate due to family fears of further violence, security and hospital officials said. Pastor Hari Shankar Ninama, 65, was praying for an 8-year-old boy’s recovery from illness at a house in Pratapgarh district on Feb. 1 when at least 10 Hindu extremists arrived on motorbikes and stormed in, he said. The assailants beat him and, putting him on one of their motorbikes, took him outside the village, where they stripped off his clothes and struck him. The pastor’s family was afraid that a police investigation would lead to retaliation from the extremists. Area source Sunny Meda told Compass that the extremists have threatened to burn down the home of the family of Pastor Ninama’s daughter if police prosecute.

House Bill Would Appoint Envoy to World Hot Spots

Open Doors USA is championing legislation to create a special envoy who would promote religious freedom of minorities in countries of the Near East and South Central Asia. The legislation from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) would give extra attention to countries such as Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya. “Open Doors USA supports this bill for a special envoy because these are mostly the same countries in which some of the worst persecution against Christians exists,” says Open Doors USA Advocacy Director Lindsay Vessey. “This effort to draw more attention to the lack of religious freedom and to empower the special envoy to take action to improve the situation of persecuted minorities is a much-needed and timely initiative by Congressman Wolf."