Religion Today Summaries, May 9, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, May 9, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians

In Today's Edition:

  • Jordanian Christian Killed in Lebanon Attack
  • Christian Couple Imprisoned by Egyptian Authorities for Conversion
  • Parents 'Do Little About' Kids' Faith Training
  • Romanian Astronomers Claim to Pinpoint Exact Time of Crucifixion

Jordanian Christian Killed in Lebanon Attack
Barbara G. Baker

(Compass) An Arab convert to Christianity was killed in a bomb blast this week outside his Tripoli apartment, adjacent to the home of a European missionary family thought to have been targeted in the attack. Jamil Ahmed al-Rifai, 28, died instantly when a 4.5-pound bomb exploded just before midnight in the Qubba suburb of Tripoli, Lebanon’s northern port city. A Jordanian citizen, al-Rifai had lived and studied in Lebanon for the past six years. According to the Christian advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC), al-Rifai left Jordan in 1997 “because of pressure from the authorities over his conversion to Christianity.” Griffioen told the Dutch Associated Press (ANP) today that he had been “repeatedly threatened” during his 20 years of ministry in Lebanon, but he had never taken the threats seriously. His neighbor, a Dutch missionary, was “almost 100 percent certain” that the motive for the attack was religious. While there was widespread interest in the teachings of Jesus Christ among the Lebanese people, he said, there were also “people who took offense.” Griffioen and his wife Barbel have three children. The deadly Tripoli bombing was the second attack against Christian missionaries in Lebanon in the past six months. Last November 21, an unidentified gunman shot and killed American missionary Bonnie Penner Witherall at a Christian medical clinic in Sidon.

Christian Couple Imprisoned by Egyptian Authorities for Conversion

(Barnabas Fund) Naglaa, a Christian convert from Islam, and her husband Malak have been held in prison since mid-February in an effort to force Naglaa to give up her Christian faith and return to Islam. Naglaa and her husband were arrested at the airport as they tried to leave Egypt for Cyprus.  They were sentenced to be detained for four days by the El Nozha District Attorney.  However, on February 26, this was extended for a further 45 twice, and the couple are still being held despite this period having now passed. In 1996 Naglaa Hassan Ibrahim, then a student at Ain-Shams University, was baptised after spending three years exploring the Christian faith.  The same year Naglaa married Malak, a Christian. Barnabas Fund was informed of the couple’s plight by senior church leaders in Egypt involved with their case.  “Becoming Christian shouldn’t be a crime punishable by a prison sentence,” the Fund was told by Egyptian church leaders who lament that “it is strictly forbidden to convert from Islam to Christianity.  Freedom of religion should be a human right to all, and conversions should take place with each person’s own accord.”

Parents 'Do Little About' Kids' Faith Training

(Charisma News) Most parents believe that they are primarily responsible for the spiritual development of their children, but few of them spend time interacting with their youngsters on religious matters. According to the latest study from the Barna Research Group (BRG), close to nine of 10 parents of children under 13 - 85 percent -- believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual issues. But related research revealed that a majority of parents do not spend any time during a typical week discussing spiritual matters or studying religious materials with their children. Although about two out of three parents of children under 12 attend religious services at least once a month and generally take their children with them, most are willing to let their church provide all of their youngsters' spiritual training. Released yesterday, the survey of 1,010 adults found that parents typically have no plan for the spiritual development of their children, do not consider it a priority, have little or no training in how to nurture a child's faith, have no related standards or goals that they are seeking to satisfy, and experience no accountability for their efforts. "[Children] are one of the most significant and fertile mission fields, yet the very people who claim responsibility for ... [their] spiritual growth ... are doing little about it beyond dropping their kids off at church," said BRG president George Barna. "Churches could help more by being increasingly proactive in preparing parents to handle that responsibility wisely."

Romanian Astronomers Claim to Pinpoint Exact Time of Crucifixion
Robert Nowell

(RNS) Two Romanian astronomers claim to have pinpointed the exact time and date of the Crucifixion of Jesus, the Internet news service Ananova has reported. According to Liviu Mircea and Tiberiu Oproiu of the Astronomic Observatory Institute in Cluj, Romania, Jesus died at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 33 A.D. According to their reading of the New Testament data, Jesus was crucified on the day after the first night with a full moon after the vernal equinox. If the Crucifixion took place some time between the years 26 and 35, this could mean either Friday, April 7, 30, or Friday, April 3, 33. But it was only in the latter year that records show a solar eclipse as having occurred in Jerusalem ("And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour," according to Mark 15:33). The two astronomers have also timed the Resurrection precisely as having occurred at 4 a.m. the following Sunday, April 5.