Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Citing Health Reasons, Lucado Steps Down from San Antonio Pulpit
- Iraqi Assyrian Refugees Flocking to Sweden
- Unchurched Population Nears 100 Million in the U.S.
- Mozambique Flood Victims Head Home
Citing Health Reasons, Lucado Steps Down from San Antonio Pulpit
Prolific Christian author Max Lucado has announced plans to step down as senior pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio due to a heart ailment, Associated Baptist Press reports. The 51-year-old is suffering from heart arrhythmia. "While my spiritual heart is in a wonderful state, my physical heart has developed some irregularities," Lucado wrote. "We have high hopes for complete healing; yet, I need to make some lifestyle adjustments." Lucado's condition often causes extreme fatigue in sufferers. He plans to continue preaching on weekends for now, but will opt out of weekly meetings.
Iraqi Assyrian Refugees Flocking to Sweden
In the town of Södertälje, Sweden, the number of Iraqis has increased from 750 to 5,300 in five years, says labor market coordinator Aydin Özkaya in an ASSIST News Service report. Just last year 1,052 refugees came to Södertälje. The Swedish Migration Authority says the municipality will receive at least 2,000 more Iraqi refugees this year. "The USA -- the whole country -- has decided to take 7,000 Iraqi refugees, when we in Södertälje at the same time on our own have almost reached that amount," says Özkaya. In Sweden, you can choose where you want to live when you are applying for asylum. Most of the Christian Iraqis who come to Sweden want to settle in Södertälje, mainly because of the city's already large Christian population from the Middle East. Every fifth inhabitant of Södertälje is of Assyrian (Syriac or Chaldean) origin.
Unchurched Population Nears 100 Million in the U.S.
The latest study from The Barna Group indicates that since 1994, while so much about life in America has changed, one constant has been the proportion of adults in the population who are unchurched. Despite noteworthy shifts in religious behavior, the percentage of adults who have stayed away from churches for six months has remained stable. One out of every three adults meets that qualification for being considered "unchurched." Political liberals (47%) are more than twice as likely to be unchurched as political conservatives (19%). Ethnically, African Americans, whites, and Hispanics all fell between 25-34%, but Asians are unchurched at an alarming 63 percent rate.
Mozambique Flood Victims Head Home
As the floodwaters continue to recede in central Mozambique, the once-stranded people are now returning home to rebuild their lives, reports Operation Blessing. OBI and German partner Humedica are aiding their transition by providing food, water and "family start-up kits." This week, OBI completed air drops of food, water and other relief items supplied by the International Red Cross and the World Food Program. The kits contain essential items such as mosquito nets, cooking utensils and gardening tools. Meanwhile, unsanitary conditions are contributing to rising cases of cholera and dysentery, while stagnant water is becoming a major breeding ground for mosquitoes and malaria.