Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 28, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 28, 2008

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

  • U.S. Aid Worker Kidnapped in Afghanistan
  • Basketball Coach Goes Barefoot to Provide Shoes for Africa
  • Tempers Flare into Melee at Egyptian Convert’s Hearing
  • Indigenous Group in Malaysia Sues Over Demolished Church

U.S. Aid Worker Kidnapped in Afghanistan

Gunmen kidnapped an American aid worker Jan. 26 as she was headed to work in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Baptist Press reports that Cyd Mizell, who works for the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, and her driver were stopped by the unidentified men about 7:47 a.m. local time, according to Jeff Palmer, international director of the organization. Mizell was wearing a burqa and was not traveling with an armed guard. “Local government officials have reported that Miss Mizell and her driver were stopped on the road as they traveled in the Kandahar area and were taken by unidentified persons,” Palmer said to Baptist Press. “We have not been contacted by the worker or by any captors voicing demands. It is our hope that Miss Mizell will be released safely and quickly,” he added. “We are doing all we can to resolve the situation. We understand that provincial government authorities and local police are working to locate our worker.” No one immediately claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but news agencies are reporting a provincial government adviser received a telephone call that claimed Mizell is in Taliban custody.

Basketball Coach Goes Barefoot to Provide Shoes

ASSIST News Service reports that a staggering 110,000 pairs of shoes have so far been donated to Samaritan's Feet, a nonprofit, Christian-based charity, through the efforts of Ron Hunter, Head Basketball Coach at IUPUI (Indiana University, Purdue University at Indianapolis). Hunter recently had the privilege of meeting Emmanuel (Manny) Ohonme, the founder of Samaritan’s Feet. Four years ago, Manny left a lucrative marketing and supply chain job to start Samaritan’s Feet ( ), whose goal is to put 10 million pairs of shoes on children’s feet in 10 years around the world. Manny is originally from Nigeria and grew up very poor. He received his first pair of shoes at the age of 9 from a missionary, who also taught him how to play basketball. Samaritan’s Feet was formed in 2003 and four years later over 500,000 pairs of shoes have been donated. Coach Hunter was so moved by Manny's story that, after much thought and prayer, he decided to coach in his bare feet for the IUPUI basketball game on January 24th against Oakland. Why would he do this? Hunter said: "Dr. Martin Luther King Day is January 21, 2008. Therefore, in recognition of what Dr. King did for our country, I want to honor his life by standing for the children around the world who don’t have a voice. I have always looked up to Dr. Martin Luther King and what he stood for. 2008 is the 40th anniversary of his death. I want to honor the late Dr. King by raising 40,000 pairs of shoes for children throughout the world. There are hundreds of millions of children who don’t have shoes. They suffer from diseases, infection and many other ailments because they don’t have shoes to wear." Hunter's goal of 40,000 pairs of shoes was reached by lunch. Soles4Souls, a Nashville, Tennessee-based charity, donated 40,000 pairs. Wal-Mart gave 25,000; Nine West, a women's shoe company, offered another 5,200. During Hunter's appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" show, a Converse representative joined the program and promised another 15,000. Most were directly shipped to Charlotte, N.C., where Samaritan's Feet is based.

Tempers Flare into Melee at Egyptian Convert’s Hearing

Compass Direct News reports that An Egyptian judge is scheduled to rule this week on the case of a Muslim-born convert to Christianity whose court hearing threatened to turn into a brawl earlier this month, the convert’s lawyer said. On Tuesday January 29, Judge Muhammad Husseini is expected to decide whether to allow former Muslim Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy to drop his case to change his religious affiliation in order to correct certain legal mistakes, lawyer Gamal Eid said. The conservative judge also is expected to rule on a range of religious freedom issues. Among other things, Husseini will decide on a case by Islamists to force the government to implement a legal punishment for “apostasy,” or conversion away from Islam. Hegazy has aroused widespread criticism in Egypt as the first known Muslim-born convert to Christianity to petition the government to change his religious affiliation. The convert’s January 15 hearing, which he did not attend due to death threats, became heated after Islamist lawyers charged the government with doing too little to stop Christian evangelization. It was cut short when at least 15 Islamist lawyers tried to attack Hegazy’s attorneys. “They were very angry because they think this kind of case is against Islam,” Eid said.

Indigenous Group in Malaysia Sues Over Demolished Church

An indigenous church community of the Temiar Orang Asli people from Gua Musang is suing the Kelantan state government over the demolition of their church building on June 4, 2007. Kampung Jias village headman Pedik bin Busu and three other leaders of the community filed the suit on July 1, and a hearing scheduled for January 15 was postponed until May. The state claims that the building was constructed on state land without proper approval. The church group, however, disputes this, arguing that the building was built on land belonging to Pedik, who had donated it to the Temiar Orang Asli community for erection of a worship building. High court judge Mohammad Azman Husin ordered both parties to submit written arguments of their case, Compass Direct News reports.