Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
• Hurricane Wilma Cripples Ministry Funding
• United Methodist Church Deals Dual Blows to Homosexual Agenda
• Beheading of Christian Schoolgirls Sparks Concerns About Religious Strife
• Gospel for Asia Missionary Dies of Malaria
Hurricane Wilma Cripples Ministry Funding
Center for Christian Statesmanship
The impact of Hurricane Wilma in South Florida -- the home base for Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) -- was significant. The Coral Ridge Church, home base for Dr. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Hour television broadcasts, suffered extensive damage. Parts of the roof were blown off, power is out, and it could be weeks before main offices are running at full capacity. Dr. Kennedy and all staff members are reported to be safe, and CRM's TV and radio outreaches are going forward as scheduled. Even with the devastation from Wilma, all of CRM will still reach 3 million people this week with the Gospel applied to our culture.
However, Wilma has thrown all aspects of CRM into an immediate financial crisis, shutting down the primary source of funding because mail has been disrupted and staff are not able to access buildings to process donations. Currently, the Center for Christian Statesmanship (CCS) is asking ministry partners to consider giving online at Statesman.org (http://www.statesman.org/Pages/Donation.asp), or to send designated donations for CCS to the Center's offices in D.C., 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Suite 220, Washington, D.C. 20001.
United Methodist Church Deals Dual Blows to Homosexual Agenda
Jim Brown & Jenni Parker, Agape Press
The United Methodist Church's highest court handed down another defeat to homosexual activists in the denomination yesterday when it defrocked Beth Stroud, a lesbian minister from Pennsylvania, for violating the UMC ban on "self-avowed, practicing, homosexuals" in ordained ministry. The United Methodist Judicial Council overturned an earlier appellate court ruling that had reinstated Stroud. It was one of several cases involving homosexuality that the court considered during the meeting.
Another of these cases involved conservative Virginia pastor Ed Johnson, who had been suspended without pay and required to take an involuntary leave of absence for denying church membership to an unrepentant homosexual. Johnson was serving as senior pastor at South Hill UMC when he entered into an extensive discussion with a prospective member about the man’s homosexuality. Johnson ultimately refused to receive the man into membership, saying he declined either to repent or to seek to live a different lifestyle.
The church court ruled yesterday that Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer had overstepped the authority of her office in punishing the Johnson. The Senior Pastor must be immediately reinstated to the status he held before he was placed on suspension, and once again be entitled to receive appointments.
Beheading of Christian Schoolgirls Sparks Concerns About Religious Strife
Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews
Indonesian security forces remained on high alert and religious leaders appealed for calm following the beheading of three Christian schoolgirls this past weekend. Community leaders sought to downplay religion as a motivating factor in the crime, although observers noted that the severed head of one of the girls had been found outside a church several miles from where the attack took place.
The assault occurred just days before the end of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month. Numerous previous attacks on Christians in Indonesia have occurred during Ramadan. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself suggested that some elements in the Sulawesi city of Poso were bent on "maintain[ing] the hostility and conflict" of the past.
Thousands of Indonesians have died in clashes between Muslims and Christians between 1999 and 2002.
Just last week a group called Indonesian Churches Together sent out an "SOS" message urging Christians around the world to pray for those in Indonesia facing an "escalation of terrorism, intimidation and persecution," the Assist News Service reported. Recent developments had raised questions about the commitment and ability of the government "to protect the rights of religious minorities and to enable them to freely practice their faith."
Gospel for Asia Missionary Dies of Malaria
On Saturday morning, October 22, Gospel for Asia native missionary and film team leader Paul left this earth to be with the Savior he loved and had so faithfully served.
Paul had suffered from a severe headache earlier that week. A doctor's examination revealed he had contracted malaria. Because the disease had already affected his brain, Paul died within a few days. He was only in his 20s. At the time of his death, he led an outreach team for film ministry and had played a significant part in leading at least 24 people to Christ. He had also started discipling a new believer and training him for ministry.
Please pray that the work God started through Paul in this North Indian village will continue to thrive and even penetrate surrounding areas. Pray for those he left behind -- his outreach team and the new believer he was pouring his life into. And please pray for God's special comfort for his family and friends as they grieve his loss. May their hearts find rest in knowing that today Paul experiences the joys of worshipping his dear Savior in heaven.