Religion Today Summaries - May 15, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 15, 2009

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

  • 'We Are the Forgotten Church,' Say Palestinian Pastors
  • Sri Lanka: 50,000 Still Trapped in Fighting
  • Iraq: Christian Exodus May Be Slowing
  • Britain Will Invite Thousands 'Back to Church'

'We Are the Forgotten Church,' Say Palestinian Pastors

Christian Post reports that the number of Christians surrounding Christ's birthplace continues to dwindle. “Because of the economic pressures, many Christian families when they get the chance, are leaving for a better life abroad,” said Pastor Jack Sara, senior pastor of the Jerusalem Alliance Church in Old City Jerusalem. “We are not the forgotten church; we are the beaten and forgotten church," one pastor told Release International, which estimates only 5,000 evangelical Christians remain in the West Bank and Gaza. Those who stay face military action in the contested region and sometimes hostile neighbors. “I’ve been beaten up after preaching,” says Steve Khoury, a young ordained Arab minister, “and, as painful as that is physically, you get over it."

Sri Lanka: 50,000 Still Trapped in Fighting

Reuters reports that renewed attacks killed a Red Cross relief worker in Sri Lanka's war zone on Wednesday, following hundreds of civilian deaths Sunday and Monday. U.S. President Barack Obama and the U.N. Security Council have urged both sides to back down from the small region where at least 50,000 civilians are trapped. Christians comprise about 20 percent of the trapped Tamil population. "Four Christian workers were killed in the shelling at the end of April, and there are many Christians among the displaced in the camps. Others have lost family members. Still others do not know if their loved ones are alive or dead, or where they might be, as families have been scattered among different centers," the Barnabas Fund aid group reported.

Iraq: Christian Exodus May Be Slowing

Mission News Network reports that the tide of emigration may have slowed in Iraq, though the number of Christians continues to dwindle. Three Christians were killed in Kirkuk on April 26 by gunmen in two separate attacks, and periodic violence continues. "We talked to our leader in Iraq, and he said there's about ten major terrorist groups. It's their job to persecute Christians and go after them." said Tom Doyle with E3 Partners. Despite the challenges, ""We do know of significant numbers of Christians that are staying and have a fruitful ministry, and God is working in their midst," he said.

Britain Will Invite Thousands 'Back to Church'

Christian Today reports that churches across the United Kingdom are encouraging their members to invite someone they know "back to church" this September 27. The united effort of the Methodist Church, Churches Together in Scotland, the Church in Wales, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and others has spread to other countries, and organizers hope to invite half a million worldwide. The initiative met with widespread success last year, when the Church of England spearheaded the initiative. “This is a wonderful initiative and I encourage all of our Methodist Churches to be involved. We must also give thought and time to how we continue the warmth of welcome every Sunday of the year so those coming among us will want to stay to find friendship and deepening faith," said Methodist President the Rev. Stephen Poxon.