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Religion Today Summaries, February 27, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 27, 2004

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

  • Haiti Help from Phoenix-Based Food for the Hungry
  • ICC Expected to Rule It's Illegal for Israel to Protect Itself
  • Islamic Militants Slaughter 49 Christians in Raid
  • Couple's African Outreach Experiences Miracles, Church Growth

Haiti Help from Phoenix-Based Food for the Hungry
Tamara Dutch, Food for the Hungry

As armed rebels are just hours away from overtaking Haiti's capital city Port- Au-Prince in hopes of pressuring president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to step down, Phoenix-based Food for the Hungry has arranged to provide emergency relief to families. Haiti's U.N. ambassador John Negroponte said the death toll in the revolt is now about 60, and the country faces "an abyss of civil war," according to a CNN report. In the past 72 hours, flaming barricades and blocked roads have quickly become 'normal' for thousands of panicked people.  Much of the food supply has been depleted with over half of the country assailed by rebels. "We've been keeping a close eye on the Haitian situation, particularly since we have sponsored children, missionaries and additional staff working with families just across the border in the Dominican Republic [DR]," said Food for the Hungry president, Ben Homan.   Food for markets on the Haitian side has normally been supplied by vehicles crossing from the DR into Haiti; however, the border is closed to vehicular traffic. The international relief and development agency has arranged to distribute food along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border through local Haitian pastors and border churches.   Food for the Hungry will work to identify the most vulnerable families, helping them access food short-term and provide relief until the situation stabilizes and the borders open again. Food for the Hungry was founded in 1971 and provides emergency relief to countries all over the world.

ICC Expected to Rule It's Illegal for Israel to Protect Itself
Chad Groening and Jody Brown, Agape Press

An Israeli author and Middle East expert says he doesn't expect the U.N. International Criminal Court to rule in his country's favor on the question of whether the Israeli security fence is "legal." Testimony has wrapped up in The Hague, Netherlands, with the Arab League claiming the Israeli defense barrier is a violation of international law.  One Palestinian delegation leader said the construction of the wall was an illegal occupation of Palestinian land, denied Palestinians their rights, and destroyed the chance of peace. Israel, which says the ICC has no jurisdiction, boycotted the three days of testimony because the hearing failed to address the issue of Palestinian terrorism.  But the Israeli Foreign Ministry did send one piece of evidence: the mangled wreckage of a vehicle blown up by a homicide bomber.  Israeli terrorism expert Victor Mordecai says there is very little doubt how the court will rule. "Eventually the Palestinians will take the anti-Israel decision of this Hague court to the U.N. and have the United Nations General Assembly vote sanctions against Israel," he says. Mordecai says the court has shown a blatant double-standard by putting Israel on trial for defending itself but not holding countries accountable for real atrocities.

Islamic Militants Slaughter 49 Christians in Raid
Barnabas News Fund

Some 49 Christians were massacred by Islamic militants in a raid on the Christian town of Yelwa, Nigeria on Tuesday 24 February. Police Commissioner Innocent Ilozuoke told reporters how most of the Christian victims had been shot as they ran to a church desperately seeking refuge. The attackers are thought to have mainly been ethnic Fulani Muslims. Local security sources indicate that the merciless guerrilla tactics used in the assault suggest Islamist fighters from Chad and Niger may also have been involved. Police and army units have been sent to the town and order has now been restored. Local Christians in Plateau State have suffered repeated attacks from ethnic Hausa/Fulani Muslim settlers since September 2001. Hundreds have been killed in the violence. Islamic militants from Chad, Niger and other countries outside of Nigeria have repeatedly been involved. Local Christians believe militant elements within the Muslim community are working to a strategy to drive out Christians and Islamise the whole state.

Couple's African Outreach Experiences Miracles, Church Growth
Charisma News Service

An American couple has planted more than 5,000 churches in Mozambique, while ministering to thousands of AIDS orphans in the African nation. Rolland and Heidi Baker say they've come to know the love of God more keenly through the suffering orphans they minister to daily. "The poor, the dying and the orphans we work with show us the face and heart of God every day. It's a face of incredible love," Heidi Baker said. Since starting Iris Ministries in 1995, the Bakers say they have seen the lame walk, the blind receive sight, the deaf gain hearing and even the dead raised to life. Explosive church growth of approximately 5,000 churches across Mozambique and into the neighboring nations of Malawi and South Africa, as well as 14 other countries has reportedly accompanied these miraculous signs and wonders. "There's such desperation for Jesus in these countries," she says. "We go to where there aren't any other churches, into the darkness." Currently, the Iris team cares for 2,000 orphans living in their two children's centers. Many of the children lost their parents to AIDS. Iris Ministries has three Bible schools operating in Mozambique, one in Malawi and another one is set to open soon in South Africa. They train local Christians who feel led to start churches -- many of these congregations are planted in remote areas of Mozambique where the gospel has never been heard.