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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 5, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 5, 2008

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

  • Aid Groups Struggle to Reach Victims in Congo Conflict
  • Mexic Kidnapped Pastor Released after 11 Days
  • Church Leaders under Fire in Columbia
  • Orissa Violence is 'Religious Genocide,' Says Ministry


Aid Groups Struggle to Reach Victims in Congo Conflict

Christian Post reports that more than 250 million people have been displaced in recent conflicts between rebel and government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and aid groups are still fighting to reach them through the fighting. Many groups had to evacuate when fighting reached the provincial capital of Goma. The 17,000 U.N. peace keeping troops have no authority to keep the "catastrophic" humanitarian toll down, according to U.K.-based Christian charity Tearfund. The conflict is so heightened that many people are avoiding venturing outside. “Both sides are accused of disregarding the rights and safety of civilians and humanitarian access must be a priority," said David Bainbridge, Tearfund’s disaster management director. Tearfund as well as World Vision are developing plans to reach those caught in the conflict with food, medical supplies, clean water and blankets.

Mexic Kidnapped Pastor Released after 11 Days

ASSIST News Service reports that Pastor Manual Jesus Tec has finally been released after being kidnapped and tortured after he crossed the border into Mexico. According to his son Johnny Tec, 30, the elder Tec, 59, was found by police in Tijuana on October 31. Tec said that his father was kept bound and gagged during the entire ordeal, was deprived of food and water, and was repeatedly beaten with barbed wire. Kidnappers initially demanded $1 million in ransom, but slowly lowered their demands, which the family finally met. Pastor Tec related that he had been driven to the drop-off point in the back of a pick-up truck that was also carrying buckets of gravel and sand. He said that his kidnappers dumped him on the ground, covered him loosely with the sand and gravel, then shot at him with what sounded like automatic weapons. He remembered praying while the bullets hit around him, but none of them struck him.

Church Leaders under Fire in Columbia

Compass Direct News reports that Christians in Colombia are anxious to learn the fate of pastor William Reyes, missing since Sept. 25, even as three other pastors have gone missing in the past month. Reyes, a minister of the Light and Truth Inter-American Church and member of the Fraternity of Evangelical Pastors of Maicao (FRAMEN, Fraternidad de Ministros Evangélicos de Maicao), left a meeting in Valledupar, Cesar, at 10 a.m. that morning heading home to Maicao, La Guajira. He never arrived. Family members and fellow ministers fear that Reyes may have been murdered by illegal armed groups operating in northern Colombia. Since March of this year, FRAMEN has received repeated threats from both the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and right-wing paramilitary units. In the past month three other Christian pastors were reportedly killed in separate incidents across the country. At press time investigators were traveling to verify the identities of the victims and circumstances of the killings.

Orissa Violence is 'Religious Genocide,' Says Ministry

The Christian Post reports that one Christian leader in India has called the unceasing violence against Christians a "religious genocide" with no signs of stopping. “This has been a religious genocide according to the U-N definition of genocide, where persistently and systematically it is planned and not stopped,” maintains Ramesh Landge, founder and director of Cooperative Outreach of India (COI), according to Mission Network News. Landge has been working to help displaced Christians in Orissa state through Partners International. According to CP, more than 50,000 Christians have been displaced. Only about 30,000 have found refuge in relief camps, as many are still hiding in the jungles out of fear. "There has been a lot of intimidation. There has been a lot of persecution. People have not been able to go back [to their homes],” Landge said. “If they do go back, the Hindu fundamentalists parties want them to reconvert."