Religion Today Summaries - May 20, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 20, 2009

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

  • India's Christians Celebrate Congress Party's Win
  • Sri Lanka War Ends; Desperate Aid Needed
  • Top Chinese Rights Lawyer Still Missing After 104 Days
  • Church Gives Fresh Meaning to 'Offering' Plate


India's Christians Celebrate Congress Party's Win

Mission News Network reports that Christians and minorities in India hope for a peaceful future under the newly elected Congress Party, which replaces the extremist-leaning party in power. According to reports, the Congress party won 262 seats in Parliament, up from the 190 seats they had in the previous elections. The results from the month-long elections promise a secular government that will not try to force Hinduism as the national religion. "Hundreds of thousands of people across India and the world have been praying. We are so grateful to God for answering our prayers. This will definitely benefit the growth of Christianity in the next five years," said President of Serve India Ministries Ebenezer Samuel. Samuel does not expect persecution to disappear, but hopes the new government will ease some tensions.

Sri Lanka War Ends; Desperate Aid Needed

The Christian Post reports that Sri Lanka's civil war is over, but the humanitarian challenges remain stark. The country's 25-year war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the official government leaves more than 250,000 dependent on aid in refugee camps. "The conventional war may be over but the real challenge now is to foster an environment where fractured and displaced Tamil communities can heal and have a real chance at creating a future for themselves and their children," said aid agency director Suresh Bartlett, of World Vision in Sri Lanka. The United Nations estimates 7,000 civilians were killed and 16,700 wounded in the fighting over the last five months, as the LTTE used civilians as human shields and prevented them from leaving the war zone.

Top Chinese Rights Lawyer Still Missing After 104 Days

ASSIST News Service reports that it has been more than 100 days since Christian human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng has been seen in public. Two Christian groups, who work for the rights of believers in countries where they face persecution or discrimination, are working together for his release, while U.S. senators are calling on the China's president to release Gao. ChinaAid and Voice of the Martyrs have released a video exposing the torture Gao suffered after his last arrest in 2007, and say he is likely experiencing the same treatment now. That video gives Gao's personal account of 58 days in detention, exposing the brutality of the Communist Party and the persecution of house church Christians. He was last seen being hauled away by Chinese officials.

Church Gives Fresh Meaning to 'Offering' Plate

Most churches have church members put offerings into the collection plate - but one church has decided to do it backwards, CNN reports. Pastor Toby Slough at Cross Timbers Community Church in Texas told his congregation to take what they needed from the plate earlier this year, hoping to ease financial stress. When the church collected the plates again though, they found that the church had had its highest offering ever. Since that Sunday, Slough and his church have given away a half-million dollars to members, non-members, missions and local groups. "In these economic times, we can't be so into church business that we forget what our business is, and that is to help people," Slough told CNN television affiliate KDAF in Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas.