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Religion Today Summaries - November 1, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 1, 2004

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

  • African American Pastors Rally Against Gay Marriage on Capitol Hill

  • Iraq: Bible College Graduates Return, Carry Out Ministry

  • Indonesian Man Shot in Church

  • Iran: Prolonged Detention Of Pastor Without Reason

African American Pastors Rally Against Gay Marriage on Capitol Hill
Charisma News Service

More than 160 African American pastors recently convened on Capitol Hill to register their opposition to gay marriage and in the process publicly chided the Congressional Black Caucus for failing to meet with them to discuss the issue. The Sept. 8 press conference was the culmination of a 24-hour summit sponsored by the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), a conservative lobbying group based in Washington, D.C., and Strang Communications, which publishes Charisma magazine. The event was aimed at educating black ministers about the homosexual agenda and allowing them to voice their opposition to legislative attempts to legalize gay marriage. The pastors said their intent was not to bash homosexuals, but to oppose the assertion that the gay rights movement is a continuation of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. They told the media that they would fight for a marriage amendment no matter who wins the presidential election slated for Tuesday. In the coming year, additional summits are to be held across the country, culminating with a large meeting in Washington, D.C. More than once, the pastors were told they held the key to turning the tide on gay marriage. The pastors hope to present themselves as a nonpartisan group, but plan to work with the TVC as they develop a lobbying plan. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Iraq: Bible College Graduates Return, Carry Out Ministry

Even as Christians leave Iraq in droves to escape persecution, some are crossing the border the other way. Iraqi students who have been studying at an evangelical theological seminary in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan for the past few years have just graduated and are returning to their home country to put into practice what they have learned. One man who graduated at the end of August with a Master of Theology degree has returned to Iraq to teach in a Bible school. He writes that his vision is to "communicate the gospel, teaching and equipping Christians through courses specialized for reaching people of my nation." He joins several other graduates from the seminary who are serving in Iraq. More graduates are expected to return regularly, having been trained in preaching and evangelism. They know the conditions to which they come back are dangerous. In early August, a string of attacks left five Christian churches damaged, 12 people killed and 61 injured. Since then, an estimated 15,000 professing Christians have left the country. Evangelical ministries supported by Christian Aid in Iraq are doing the work of sharing Christ's gospel with their Muslim countrymen, even in the face of constant kidnappings, murders and threats by extremists. Please pray for these seminary graduates as they return to a country so desperately in need of the truth of Christ.

Indonesian Man Shot in Church
Sarah Page, Compass Direct

Unidentified snipers shot and injured Hans Sanipi, a 25-year-old Christian, in Sulawesi, Indonesia, on October 21. Residents of Sulawesi and neighboring Ambon island also found caches of homemade bombs in the third week of October. Over 100 bombs were found hidden in a Muslim cemetery in Poso on October 24, while Christians found 15 bombs in a suitcase planted near a church in Ambon city on October 22. Similar devices were found in another church in Ambon on October 20. Meanwhile, Muslim youths attacked pig farms owned by Christians on October 20, claiming the smell of pigs was offensive, "especially during Ramadan." This year's observance of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, began on October 15 and will end on November 12.

Iran: Prolonged Detention Of Pastor Without Reason
Charisma News Service

Authorities have refused to give any reason for the arrest and prolonged detention of an Assemblies of God (AG) lay pastor. No one has been allowed contact with Hamid Pourmand, 47, since Sept. 9, when he was arrested along with 85 other AG church leaders, Compass Direct reported. Of the other Christians detained with Pourmand, 76 were released by nightfall the day of their arrest. Ten pastors were kept for interrogations for three more days, then all but Pourmand were released conditionally. Earlier this month, Pourmand was allowed one short telephone call to his wife, and he told her that he was all right. Authorities have remained tight-lipped about Pourmand, 47, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity nearly 25 years ago. He served as the volunteer pastor of a congregation in Bandar-i Bushehr. Under Iranian law, Pourmand could be charged with apostasy for converting to Christianity, which could carry the death penalty, Asia News reported. In the last year, prominent government leaders have publicly denounced Christianity and other non-Muslim faiths as threats to the country's national security. "We are hearing estimates that 60 percent of the Iranian people have now heard the message of Christ," one Iranian Christian told Compass. (http://www.charismanow.com)