Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 25, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 25, 2009

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

  • Three Elderly Christians Released in Eritrea
  • Six Months Later, Colombian Pastor Still Missing
  • Missionaries Evacuate Madagascar Due to Unrest
  • Vermont Senate Passes Gay Marriage Bill


Three Elderly Christians Released in Eritrea

The Christian Post reports that three Christian men, all in their 80s, have been released from a military prison camp and police facility at Mitire. Two of the men had been held since November. Persecution watchdog Open Doors said the men's physical condition is unclear. "There are some 360 prisoners held in Mitire, many of them in underground prisons or shipping containers, without enough food and medical care," the group told BosNewsLife. Eritrea ranks ninth on Open Doors' list of worst persecutors worldwide, and is especially harsh on Christians who share their faith with others. Even members of Eritrea's three legal denominations report harassment from officials. To date, Open Doors reports that almost 3,000 Christians have been imprisoned in the country.

Six Months Later, Colombian Pastor Still Missing

Compass Direct News reports that six months after the disappearance in Colombia of the Rev. William Reyes of Maicao, La Guajira. This week marks six months of agonizing uncertainty for his family. The pastor of Light and Truth Inter-American Church disappeared en route home from a ministers’ meeting in Valledupar, a city in the neighboring department (state) of Cesar, on Sept. 25. Family members and friends fear that guerrilla fighters kidnapped the veteran minister; they have not seen or heard from him since his disappearance. Rev. Reyes and colleagues had received repeated threats from illegal armed groups operating in the La Guajira peninsula since March 2008. Reyes' wife, Idia Miranda de Reyes, told Compass by telephone, “My daughter Estefania helps me stay strong. She tells me, ‘Mama don’t cry, remember that God is with us.’

Missionaries Evacuate Madagascar Due to Unrest

ASSIST News Service reports that Assemblies of God World Missions has evacuated its missionaries from troubled Madagascar. The island nation off the southeastern coast of Africa has suffered months of political infighting, which culminated in a coup March 17. “The military is divided as to who they are going to support,” explains Africa Regional Director Mike McClaflin. “The American Embassy very strongly urged American citizens to evacuate the island ... and now the American Embassy has evacuated its staff.” Missionaries formerly placed in Madagascar are now waiting in Nairobi, Kenya. Hurst added, “Madagascar is an example of how so many of the crises in our world today demand that we as a church must commit ourselves increasingly to intercessory prayer for our missionaries and fellow believers around the world.”

Vermont Senate Passes Gay Marriage Bill

AHN reports that Vermont may soon join Massachusetts and Connecticut in offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state senate passed legislation to that effect Monday, and will likely pass the state House of Representatives. Republican Gov. Jim Douglas opposes the bill, but the legislature may be able to override a veto, as the bill passed by 26-4 Senate vote. Vermont became the first state to offer civil unions in 2000, and both the state Speaker and state Senate President have labeled the measure as a "priority bill" during the 2009 session. Meanwhile, opponents of the bill are pushing a statewide referendum, similar to California's method last November, to let the people of Vermont decide the issue.