Religion Today Summaries - June 4, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 4, 2009

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

  • U.S. Evangelicals Pessimistic about Christianity in America
  • Christians Hope for Possible Change in North Korean Leadership
  • Aid Targets Famine in Kenya's Rift Valley
  • Iran: Authorities Arrest Five Converts to Christianity


U.S. Evangelicals Pessimistic about Christianity in America

The Christian Post reports that North American Christian leaders expect the Gospel to continue its spread - just outside the U.S. “Evangelical leaders are very bullish on the future growth of Christianity, except in America,” said Leith Anderson, president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The most recent survey of 100 evangelical leaders shows that no one expects the number of Christians worldwide to decrease, but will be concentrated in other parts of the globe. Most expect the United States and Europe to diminish as Christian strongholds while more people come to Christ in the global south. Still, Anderson notes that Christians are more likely to be persecuted or ignored as a cultural influence in these regions.

Christians Hope for Possible Change in North Korean Leadership

Mission News Network reports that Christians hope the apparent grooming of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's third son is a good sign for them. "To me it indicates that Kim Jong Il is really not well. There have been more reports over the last year since he had his stroke that he is quite unwell and therefore in need of appointing a successor," said Paul Estabrooks with Open Doors International, a persecution watchdog. "Our greatest desire is that our brothers and sisters will have more freedom in the country. I think with another generation, the chances are better." Millions of North Koreans have died of famine or at the hands of Kim's military since he assumed power in 1994. North Korea has remained number one on Open Door's persecution watch list for seven years.

Aid Targets Famine in Kenya's Rift Valley

Most Americans have never been desperate enough to scrounge for fallen kernels of corn in the dusty ground. But in Kenya, Baptist Press reports that famine is a harsh daily reality for millions of people. Southern Baptists, through their World Hunger Fund, are providing food relief for thousands in the country. In January 2009, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared the food shortage a national disaster. "Our national assessment is that 10 million people are food insecure and require emergency support," Kibaki said. The World Hunger Fund has distributed about $25,000 worth of supplies among nearly 5,000 people in Samburu district to relieve the crisis. "Many Samburu are having a difficult time these days; some more than others," Daniels said. "While some are still able to walk and wait and survive on a little, others are in real danger. These are the ones we sought out."

Iran: Authorities Arrest Five Converts to Christianity

ASSIST News Service reports that Iranian security forces on May 21 raided an underground house church and arrested five Christian converts. Plainclothes security officers handcuffed and took the five Christians, who converted from Islam, to an unknown location. The officers also confiscated several Bibles. Mr. Javad Abtahi, the leader of the church, is among the detained Christians. This arrest comes after two Christian women were imprisoned in March. Marzieh Amairizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, and Maryam Rustampoor, 27, who are also converts from Islam remain detained in the notorious Evin prison. "Our sources indicate that Marzieh and Maryam are still in prison and Iranian officials have not brought charges against them," said Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern.