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Religion Today Summaries - January 13, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 13, 2005

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

  • Mix 'Due Diligence' with Compassion

  • Christians Respond With Love In Aftermath Of Tsunami - Indonesia

  • Indian Priest Attacked In Church On Christmas Eve

  • Christians Offer Colombia's Displaced Citizens 'Sanctuaries of Peace'

Mix 'Due Diligence' with Compassion
Fred Jackson, Jody Brown, and Allie Martin, AgapePress

A Christian watchdog organization based in North Carolina is offering free, research-based advice on donors who are considering giving to Christian relief groups working in the areas ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami. Wall Watchers is encouraging individuals to exercise due diligence when contributing, and to focus on ministries that are "efficiently and effectively providing aid" to the victims "while sharing the gospel in both word and deed."  The group warns of scam artists who "pop up" at times like this to take advantage of those with a compassionate heart. "In times like this it is often best to donate to those ministries that already have established networks of key people in the effected areas rather than to smaller groups that desire to do good but may not have the capability to effectively carry out their well intentioned plans," Wall Watchers says in a Donor Alert. The ministry offers donors advice on "red flags" they should be on the lookout for, and also includes a partial list of recommended ministries it considers legitimate in the South Asia relief effort. Wall Watchers also notes that both the U.S. House and Senate have unanimously passed HR 241, a piece of legislation that allows U.S. taxpayers to deduct donations to tsunami-related relief through the end of January.

Christians Respond With Love In Aftermath Of Tsunami - Indonesia
Open Doors USA

The tsunamis, sparked by a massive earthquake near the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, affected coastlines in Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Some coastlines and outlying islands on the African continent were also affected. Many of these countries rank among the top 50 persecutors of Christians on the Open Doors World Watch List. For example, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India, the worst affected countries, are known for violent discrimination against Christians. While the Western world reels from the scale of the tragedy - and questions the very existence of a merciful God - persecuted Christians have already come to terms with a God who allows hardship and suffering. On the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, reports are still coming in from Banda Aceh, the worst-hit region. The sheer enormity of devastation in Aceh has hampered relief efforts and damage assessment. Statistics are still emerging, but an unconfirmed report from Barnabus Fund three days after the tsunami said at least 150 Christians were reported killed, and at least 5,000 were displaced. While Christians make up eight percent of Indonesia's total population, they form less than one percent of the population in Aceh. World Relief reported on Jan. 6 that over half of all Indonesian churches have now formed a coalition to assist with relief efforts in Aceh.

Indian Priest Attacked In Church On Christmas Eve
Jeremy Reynalds, Assist News Service

An Indian priest was viciously attacked at the altar of his church on Christmas Eve. The Rev. Father Saji Abraham was preparing for service at St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Banswara, Rajasthan and was followed and beaten. Abraham was taken to hospital where he was last reported to be in critical condition. There have been a number of incidents in India over the last few weeks where Christians have been threatened or attacked, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported. According to CSW, a Christian orphanage in Baran reported in early December that it may have to relocate because of anti-Christian threats. Despite police protection, tensions in the region have forced the orphanage to relocate the children. Dr. Joseph D'Souza, President of the All India Christian Council speaking in a release issued by CSW said, "On behalf of the All India Christian Council, I want to express my deep concern and sorrow for this type of persecution against Christians and other minorities that continues across the nation of India. Despite a new and secular government elected in 2004, we maintain our outcry against the activities of extreme Hindutva followers who insist on inciting violence. The All India Christian Council stands by those who have been attacked and will do everything within our power to bring justice in these situations."

Christians Offer Colombia's Displaced Citizens 'Sanctuaries of Peace'
Charisma News Service

Uprooted by their country's long-running unrest, some of Colombia's displaced millions are finding hope through caring Christians. An estimated 3 million Colombians have been displaced by the country's civil war - a conflict now in its fifth decade that claims almost 11,000 lives a year. The prolonged war has drained the national economy, driving two-thirds of Colombians below the poverty line. Some believers forced to relocate have seen God's sovereign hand at work. Jasper, Adelina, pastors of Evangelical Christian Church in Macallepo, and pastor Edgar Benítez joined forces to plant El Remanso Christian Church in Sincelejo. Believers at El Remanso do more than worship together - they also help one another survive. After Jasper heard of a government program that provided free breakfasts to children, he volunteered El Remanso to manage a local nutrition program. Adelina has launched a program, The Committee of Virtuous Women, to teach marketable skills to the kids' mothers. Jasper devised a place which enables displaced husbands to farm small plots on the hills surrounding El Remanso to help feed their families. El Remanso is a member of a growing network of churches designated as Sanctuaries of Peace, which was formed five years ago "to minister ... through preaching the gospel of peace, inviting to conversion and commitment and ... attending to families displaced by violence." (http://www.charismanow.com)