Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 30, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 30, 2008

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

  • Pakistan Earthquake Kills 150; 15,000 Homeless
  • Algeria: Christians Acquitted in Blasphemy Case
  • Mexico: Pastor Still Held for Ransom
  • Devastation Strikes Honduras Again

Pakistan Earthquake Kills 150; 15,000 Homeless

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit rural parts of southwestern Pakistan before dawn Wednesday, the Christian Post reports. First reports indicated that at least 150 were killed ant 15,000 left homeless, and death toll is expect to grow in Baluchistan, a remote area adjacent Afghanistan. In Ziarat, the hardest-hit region, hundreds of houses were destroyed, some bured under a landslide. "There is great destruction. Not a single house is intact," Mayor Dilawar Kakar told Express News television. "I would like to appeal to the whole world for help. We need food, we need medicine. People need warm clothes, blankets because it is cold here," Kakar said. Thousands of tents, blankets and food packages have been given out, and neighboring hospitals are overflowing, officials said. Officials are also working to clear blocked roads to allow greater humanitarian efforts inside the rural areas.

Algeria: Christians Acquitted in Blasphemy Case

Compass Direct News reports that a court in northwestern Algeria today acquitted three Christians charged with blaspheming Islam and threatening a member of their congregation who re-converted to Islam. The acquittal was announced in a court at Ain El-Turck, 15 kilometers (nine miles) west of the coastal city of Oran. The defendants believe the judge’s decision to acquit was due to the spurious evidence used against them. The acquittal also comes as part of a larger trend of the Algerian government bowing to negative international media attention and government condemnations of such cases, they said. Defendant Youssef Ourahmane said that as a result, a recent government crackdown against evangelical Christians has eased off in recent months. “I think the pressure on them has been strong, such as condemnations from the U.S. and foreign ministries from France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Spain. This pressure from outside has embarrassed the Algerian government very much.”

Mexico: Pastor Still Held for Ransom

Baptist Press reports that although more than a week has passed since San Diego pastor Manuel Jesus Tec was kidnapped Oct. 21 in Tijuana, and his family still has not talked with or heard from him. Originally, the kidnappers demanded a $1-million ransom for Tec's release, but in two calls Monday night, Oct. 27, the kidnappers lowered that figure to $500,000 and subsequently to $200,000. "Last night, we also heard a recording of his voice saying he was OK, and he asked us to do all that the kidnappers told us to do because his life was at risk," Tec's 30-year-old son Johnny said Oct. 28. "We are totally hopeful and faith-filled," Johnny Tec said. Tec was abducted after crossing the border from San Diego around 5 a.m. The family say they have no idea why he was targeted for kidnapping.

Devastation Strikes Honduras Again

Mission News Network reports that more than 270,000 people in Honduras have been forced to flee their homes again due widespread flooding and mudslides caused by unusually heaving rains. The flooding has devasted vulnerable areas and destroyed bean and maize crops. The country was just finishing rebuilding from Hurricane Mitch in 1998. "We've got people on the ground there now who are helping us become more specific in what the needs are," said Myles Fish with International Aid. The organization also responded to Mitch. "Our first attempts will be with healthcare supplies, some food, and we're sending our water filters down because we've heard that many of the water systems have been broken." Many in Honduras were already struggling to make ends meet before their harvest was destroyed.