Religion Today Summaries - March 9, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 9, 2005

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

  • North Korea Retains No. 1 Persecution Ranking In World

  • Children Find Refuge And Comfort In GFA Transition Homes 

  • Christian Claims Conflicts-of-Interest Tainted Religious Freedom Case Outcome

  • Arab Countries: Innovative Vet Clinic Reaches Nomadic Peoples

North Korea Retains No. 1 Persecution Ranking In World
Open Doors USA/Assist News Service

For the third straight year, the isolated communist nation of North Korea remains atop the annual Open Doors International "World Watch List" of countries where Christians are persecuted. Exact figures are difficult to obtain, but it is believed that tens of thousands of Christians are currently suffering in North Korean prison camps, and at least 20 Christians were shot or beaten to death in 2004 while in detention. "North Korea is the most repressive nation in the certainly deserves its shameful ranking on the World Watch List," says Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. The annual list ranks countries according to the intensity of persecution Christians face for actively pursuing their faith. Five of the top 10 are Islamic-dominated countries, four have communist regimes in power, and one country, Bhutan, is dominated by Buddhism. Saudi Arabia again held the second spot on the list, followed by Vietnam, Laos, and Iran. Other countries listed on the WWL's top 10, from No. 6 to 10, include: Maldives, Somalia, Bhutan, China and Afghanistan. Newcomers to the top 10 are Somalia and Afghanistan. Dropping out of the top 10 are Turkmenistan (No. 12) and Myanmar (No. 17). The "World Watch List" is based on evaluation and testimonies obtained by Open Doors' indigenous contacts, field workers and from members of the Persecuted Church.

Children Find Refuge And Comfort In GFA Transition Homes
Gospel For Asia

In India and Sri Lanka, two of the nations hardest hit by the tsunami, Gospel for Asia has set up transition homes for displaced children. They find refuge in the care of loving GFA workers. Ramji, 12, was playing cricket by the seaside on the morning that changed his life forever. When he saw the wave coming, he ran to the biggest house in his village and climbed to the top floor, where he could watch the water coming. When he came back down, he couldn't believe what he saw. The death and destruction made him sick to his stomach, but he still searched for someone he knew. Tragically, one of the bodies was familiar: It was his father. Not knowing where to go next, he searched for his home but couldn't even find where it used to stand. He wandered, crying inconsolably, looking for his mother and little brother - until someone told him they were also dead. After a few days, an uncle found Ramji and brought him to a GFA transition home. He 'learned that Jesus loves him, and that the GFA workers do, too. By making a donation to GFA's "Bridge of Hope" program, you can help bring the message of Jesus' love to these precious ones. With your help, each child can find hope for the future and grow up knowing the love of Christ.

Christian Claims Conflicts-of-Interest Tainted Religious Freedom Case Outcome
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A federal appellate judge is being accused of a conflict of interest in a ruling against an Indiana woman who lost her teaching job at a United Methodist university for passing out Christian magazines in her classroom. A three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals recently overturned a jury verdict in favor of DePauw University education program coordinator Janis Price. The panel rejected the jury's finding that DePauw officials discriminated against the university employee by creating a hostile work environment and violating her free-speech rights. Even before the three-judge panel announced it was setting aside the jury's decision, the December 7 online edition of the DePauw newspaper was already reporting that her favorable verdict had been overturned. Price also notes that one of the panel members, Judge Terry Crone, is a DePauw alumnus, a fact she feels should have forced the jurist to recuse himself from the proceedings. And, she adds, "He also is well-acquainted with John Neighbors, who is the DePauw lawyer and a 1971 graduate of DePauw University." In light of the judge's influential role in the matter and in authoring the panel's ruling, Price feels his connections to the school and others involved with the case could be viewed as conflicts of interest. Price is filing an appeal with the Indiana Supreme Court.

Arab Countries: Innovative Vet Clinic Reaches Nomadic Peoples
Christian Aid Mission

For three years, the native missionary tried visiting Bedouin families tent to tent, starting conversations about Christ and salvation. Yet the reactions he encountered were discouragingly the same: "Jesus?" the tired desert-dwellers would respond. "Yes, we know about Jesus. We also know about Mohammed." With a shrug of the shoulders, they dismissed both as irrelevant to their lives. The native missionary and his coworkers sought God for the best way to reach nomadic Arab peoples like the Bedouins with the gospel. They presented a unique dilemma, for it was not their hostility that barred the way but their indifference. Gospel workers realized that the most important aspect of a Bedouin's life was his source of livelihood: animals. Their animals are the basis for their nomadic lifestyles as they herd them from grazing land to grazing land. Realizing this, native missionaries began developing a plan to establish veterinary clinics in desert areas throughout the Middle East and North Africa where nomadic Arab tribes are most numerous. Christian vets and staff working at the clinics would be able to develop trusting relationships with nomadic herders, who in turn would be more willing to hear of the one true God. Already the outreach has produced fruit. Pray that this veterinary ministry would continue to reach nomadic peoples with the gospel as clinics are opened in more areas.