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Religion Today Summaries, May 28, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, May 28, 2004

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

  • Communist Asia, Mid-East Countries Top Church Persecution Charts 
  • Christian Attacked By Muslim Policeman for Blasphemy Dies
  • Georgia Business Proofreads Bible to Ensure ‘Perfection’
  • Minnesota Group Uses Paintball Fundraiser to Buy Vehicle for Sudanese Pastor

Communist Asia, Mid-East Countries Top Church Persecution Charts
Allie Martin and Jenni Parker, Agape Press

On a list of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is greatest, North Korea is the leader of the pack. Each year Open Doors, a ministry to the persecuted Church, compiles a world watch list of countries where Christian believers face the most severe persecution. North Korea topped the most recent list, followed by Saudi Arabia, Laos, the central highlands of Vietnam, and Iran. Also included in the top ten worst countries is Burma, which has no constitution or laws to protect freedom of religion. Open Doors' Jerry Dykstra says the government of Burma favors Buddhists but treats Christians harshly. The Open Doors spokesman says when Open Doors communicates with believers in Burma, they request prayer for moral, spiritual, and physical support; for an end to 40 years of repressive military rule and church isolation; and for breakthroughs for the Christian faith among the Buddhist majority. China also made the ministry's top ten list, Dykstra says. Persecution has not lessened under the new president, Hu Jintao, despite public commitments to human rights and religious freedom. In that communist nation, where Christians are required to register with the official state church, those believers who resist government control over their religious life must often face harassment by the police, detention, beatings and torture, and other forms of government intimidation. Nevertheless, an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 people are coming to Christ daily in that country.

Christian Attacked By Muslim Policeman for Blasphemy Dies
International Christian Concern

Samuel Masih, the Christian in Pakistan that was attacked by the policeman with a hammer for blasphemy has died. He had been in the hospital for a few days and was closely guarded by the police. A source at the hospital was able to ascertain his condition and had reported that he was probably brain dead. The policeman reportedly told people that he attacked Samuel so that he (the policeman) could "gain a place in paradise." This is only the latest in a long string of attacks on Christians for "blasphemy". President Musharraf has introduced legislation that would abolish the blasphemy laws. He has done this at great danger to himself.

Georgia Business Proofreads Bible to Ensure ‘Perfection’
Agape Press

A Georgia business owner says people who read the Bible expect perfection, so she makes it her business to catch errors in the Word before they go to print. Without Peachtree Editing and Proofreading, one of the few such companies anywhere to specialize in Bibles, the holy scriptures might refer to "sour ancestors" instead of "our ancestors," and the Apostle Paul might have called for an end to fractions -- instead of factions -- in the Church. But Peachtree caught those errors in time. In a recent Associated Press interview, June Gunden, who founded the business along with her husband Doug, noted that the scriptures make for a particularly demanding proofreading project. "People are counting on the Bible to be perfect, because we know that in the original, when God gave it, it was perfect," she says, "but we don't want to introduce errors just in the typesetting process -- the human errors that come in trying to get that print onto the page." For that reason, employees of the editing and proofing service begin each project with prayer. And when they run into the occasional misspelling, typo, or stray letter -- as in the aforementioned warning against "fractions" -- they maintain a sense of humor. “But things like that, just one little letter, can change the meaning."

Minnesota Group Uses Paintball Fundraiser to Buy Vehicle for Sudanese Pastor
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

A group of concerned citizens outside Minneapolis has a unique way of raising money for its Sudan Relief Fund -- paintball games. Group member Jan Geffers has hit the e-mail "send key" big time, sending out invitations and information about the Fund's latest round of money-raising, including homeschooling groups and church friends, in a bid to buy a vehicle for a Sudanese pastor. "Our Sudan Relief Fund is doing a paintball fundraiser in June. All proceeds will go toward buying a vehicle to serve the refugee camps in northern Uganda. A Sudanese pastor with a faithful, fruitful ministry will be primarily responsible for the use and upkeep of the vehicle. He is ministering in several refugee camps scattered around northern Uganda as well as doing church planting work in southern Sudan," Geffers wrote. "Recently over 6,000 people have accepted Christ through their efforts of showing the Jesus film. They have established nine Houses of Prayer for the believers to be taught and encouraged. There are few vehicles available in the area, and the evangelists need transportation for themselves and for distributing Bibles and other teaching materials. This vehicle will also be used to transport sick people for medical care. The estimated cost for a good, used vehicle in Uganda is $9000 (US)."