Religion Today Summaries - May 31, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 31, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Crystal Cathedral For Sale to Ease Debt Woes
  • North Korea Releases California Christian
  • Pakistan's Churches Growing Stronger, Christians Say
  • Day of Prayer Scheduled for Christians in Iran


Crystal Cathedral For Sale to Ease Debt Woes

The Crystal Cathedral has announced plans to sell its iconic glass-walled church in Southern California to pay back creditors and overcome bankruptcy. Religion News Service reports that Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman, daughter of founder Robert H. Schuller, said the church will remain as a tenant and will have the option to buy back some of church's campus in Garden Grove. "We are thankful to the vendors for their patience and we are so sorry for any pain that they have incurred," Schuller said in a statement on Thursday. The church campus is expected to be sold to an unnamed real estate investment group with a 15-year leaseback plan. The megachurch known for its "Hour of Power" television broadcast filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors last October.

North Korea Releases California Christian

ASSIST News Service reports that a California Christian held since November on charges of proselytizing has been released in North Korea. Jun Young-Su of Orange County, California, was released on “humanitarian grounds,” according to the official Korean Central News Agency. Jun, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was working legally in North Korea when he was detained. He admitted to proselytizing, which is illegal in the country. Christianity is strictly outlawed, and owning a Bible often leads to long sentences in forced labor camps. Former President Jimmy Carter and Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham were among those who called for Jun's release. He was ultimately escorted out of the country by Robert King, the U.S. envoy for North Korean human rights.

Pakistan's Churches Growing Stronger, Christians Say

Christians in Pakistan are eager to remind the outside world that, despite blasphemy laws, terrorism and flooding, God is still at work in Pakistan. Katie Jaye, a producer for International Mission Board, told Mission News Network, "What many people outside of the country are seeing are these negative things... There's so much more that's going on in that country than what we see in the media." She calls the Christian population the "sleeping giant," as many believers could make even more of an impact if they were not afraid. Still, she says, "A lot of the people around them--people they work with, live next to, and see every day--just really haven't even heard or have had the opportunity to know and understand the Gospel." As a result, "there's a real heart for that."

Day of Prayer Scheduled for Christians in Iran

On June 11, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Elam Ministries will be hosting a day of prayer for the persecuted church in Iran. Iranian Christians have recently come under increasing pressure from their government.  Since June 2010 at least 254 Christians have suffered arrests, interrogations and detentions in at least 34 cities across Iran. The majority of those arrested have been released following a brief incarceration, but at least 41 have spent between one and eight months in prison. Many suffered physical and psychological torture during their detention as officials pressured them to make "confessions."