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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 23, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 23, 2009

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

  • Rwandan Bishop Honored with Wilberforce Award
  • Kids Alive Reaches Out to Orphans in Southern Sudan
  • Pope Congratulates Obama on Inauguration
  • Ancient Monastery in Turkey Threatened

Rwandan Bishop Honored with Wilberforce Award

The christian Post reports that Prison Fellowship Ministries on Saturday recognized a Rwandan bishop's mission of reconciliation. "Bishop John [Rucyahana] believes that if the Rwandan situation can be amended by repentance and forgiveness, and the people there can be reconciled to live together again, forgiveness can happen anywhere," said Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint President Mark Earley, whose ministry honored Rucyahana with the 2009 Wilberforce award. Rucyahana's program helps victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide struggle through forgiveness in preparation for face-to-face meetings. “We must forgive now, like Jesus did while He was on the cross," says Rucyahana, who lost many members of his family in the genocide.

Kids Alive Reaches Out to Orphans in Southern Sudan

Mission News Network reports that Kids Alive International is working to make Sudan home again for victims of the country's civil war. "We have three homes and schools in the north in the capital city which many of the children in Darfur are coming to. We have just recently launched the southern part of our operations where extreme poverty and suffering has gone on for years," said Al Lackey with Kids Alive. Lackey said that plans for similar projects in southern Sudan are finally getting underway after four years of planning. The plans will help support orphans and widows who have seen their resources drained away because of war. "Our focus is to do it through residential children's homes, care center models, reaching out into the communities, and whatever educational assistance those children need so that they become productive, godly young men and women." All Kids Alive workers in Sudan are native to the country.

Pope Congratulates Obama on Inauguration

Religion News Service reports that Pope Benedict XVI sent a congratulatory telegram to President Barack Obama for his inauguration Tuesday (Jan. 20), urging him to "promote understanding, cooperation and peace among the nations." Invoking America's "impressive religious and political heritage," Benedict expressed hope that Obama's leadership would foster the "building of a truly just and free society, marked by respect for the dignity, equality and rights of each of its members, especially the poor, the outcast and those who have no voice." He said, "I pray that you will be confirmed in your resolve to promote understanding, cooperation and peace among the nations, so that all may share in the banquet of life which God wills to set for the whole human family," Benedict wrote. According to Vatican protocol, the pope sends greetings to all new heads of state when they take office.

Ancient Monastery in Turkey Threatened

Compass Direct News reports that the Syriac Christians in southeastern Turkey say a land dispute over the historic Mor Gabriel Monastery is part of a larger system of discrimination against the religious minority in this overwhelmingly Islamic country. Muslim residents of southeastern Turkey dispute the boundary lines of an ancient Christian monastery dating to the fourth century as being unnecessarily large for the needs of a religious community. Islamic leaders from Yayvantepe, Eglence and Candarli are attempting to confiscate one-third of the monastery’s property, claiming it was wrongfully appropriated and that they need it for their livestock. The mayors of the three towns also charged the monastery with attempting to proselytize young children (illegal in Turkey) and carrying out “anti-Turkish” activity.