Religion Today Summaries - July 11, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 11, 2008

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

  • Myanmar, China: Local Church Leaders Help Rebuild
  • Chinese Clergy to Provide Services in Olympic Village
  • Turkey: Alleged Masterminds of Malatya Murders Named
  • Southern Baptists Included at Bush Faith-Based Conference

Myanmar, China: Local Church Leaders Help Rebuild

China's earthquake and Myanmar's cyclone may seem like a long time ago, but the long-term rebuilding is only beginning in the two countries, Mission News Network reports. "A long-term presence is needed in order to...rebuild those communities into viable places in which to live and work," said Howard Amland, Vice President, Resource Partners, of Partners International. The organization is committed to partnering with local Christians to help them rebuild and strengthen their outreach. "[In] farming communities and fishing communities, individuals can't really make a living right now. Entire areas...won't be able to be replanted for quite some time to come," Almand continues. This also means helping provide everything from basic necessities to plates and bowls in Burma and caring for orphans in China. China's death toll climbed more than 80,000 and millions were left homeless after the May 12 quake. Myanmar's Cyclone Nargis killed 50,000 and destroyed rice harvests in already poor areas.

Chinese Clergy to Provide Services in Olympic Village

Chinese clergy both protestant and catholic will be on site in the Olympic Village to hold services for foreign believers, according to The tradition of a religious service center continues in Bejing, where the clergy from the five major world religions have been invited to lead services. Sister Yu Shuqin, a Catholic nun, will be in the village with 16 colleagues, and Rev. Xu Xiaohong, an official of the Shanghai-based China Christian Council, leads a group for the Protestant church. The services include typical religious activities, simple interpretations works and guiding the way to churches in downtown Bejing. An additional 50,000 copies of Chinese-English new Testaments are being printed in a special Olympic edition, taking the total to 110,000 available in the main churches of Beijing, the six co-host cities and the Village itself.

Turkey: Alleged Masterminds in Malatya Murders Named

Compass Direct News reports that despite new court testimony naming a web of ranking local officials behind the slaughter of three Christians in Malatya last year, defense lawyers for the alleged murderers attempted to turn last week’s hearing into an investigation into Christian missionary activities. Playing to rising anti-Christian sentiments in 99 percent Muslim Turkey, the murderers’ attorneys peppered four of the six witnesses testifying at hearing with probing questions about their personal religious beliefs and involvement in Christian activities. The defense also pursued a line of questioning linked to a farfetched conspiracy theory, based on the murderers’ claims that the Malatya office of Zirve Publishing Co. was secretly linked to the illegal Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist group. But the firsthand testimony of a prosecution witness claiming to know personally the instigators of the deadly plot dominated Friday’s (July 4) hearing. Metin Dogan said Burhan Coskun, president of the ultranationalist youth organization Ulku Ocaklari, had insisted to him, “This job will be done with a knife, it cannot be any other way. If it’s done with a gun, it cannot be arranged with the police.”

Southern Baptists Included at Bush Faith-Based Conference

The Baptist Press reports that Bush emphasized the importance of people, not government to "fix" America, Bush told more than 1,000 faith-based and community groups in Washington. "Groups like yours have harnessed a power that no government bureaucracy can match," Bush said. "So when I came to Washington, my goal was to ensure that government made you a full partner in our efforts to serve those in need. The results have been uplifting, and that's what we're here to talk about today." The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives hosted the national conference which included about 200 small group workshops. The event served as a "pep talk," said Karl Ragan, a specialist in disaster relief for the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. "The entire administration is looking ahead toward the next administration," Ragan said. "They wanted the faith-based groups to show strength and solidarity behind the faith-based initiatives going into the next administration.