Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 29, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 29, 2008

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

  • World Vision Warns of Southern Africa Food Crisis
  • Indonesian Pastor Forced to Stop Worship Services in Home
  • Somali Church Leader Assault in Ethiopia
  • India: Violence against Christians in Second Month

World Vision Warns of Southern Africa Food Crisis

The Christian Post reports that the international community must focus on more than one need at a time in Southern Africa. “As we mark World AIDS Day, the international community must focus its attention on the looming food crisis in southern Africa, whilst also addressing its long-term causes – including the AIDS pandemic currently devastating countries such as Malawi and Zambia,” said World Vision policy adviser Stephen Doughty. On wednesday the relief organization began an emergency appeal to assist the 12 to 14 million hungry who face compounded problems thanks to the AIDS pandemic, especially in Malawi and Zimbabwe. World Vision Emergency Officer Nick Wasunna in Zimbabwe said, "I saw queues of people at food distribution centers," he said, in a report on the agency’s website. "After talking to them you discover they are all affected in some way by HIV." Many children must stay home to care for sick parents.

Indonesian Pastor Forced to Stop Worship Services in Home

Compass Direct News reports that residents in North Jakarta have ordered the pastor of a small congregation to cease holding services in his home, despite a letter of permission issued by the Religious Affairs department. On Sept. 12 village officials in South Rawa Badak, Koja district called a meeting with  pastor Syaiful Hamzah and his wife Tiolida Sihotang, police officers, and representatives from the village mosque. At the meeting, officials urged Hamzah and his wife to sign a document agreeing to cease all worship services in their home, effectively rejecting permission granted by Religious Affairs officials. A sympathetic Muslim cleric, Wasi Sholeh, informed Hamzah that “certain people” had made violent threats against him, and that he could not guarantee Hamzah’s safety if he refused to sign the agreement. The couple eventually signed the document under duress.

Somali Church Leader Assault in Ethiopia

ASSIST News Service reports that Islamic extremists beat a 35-year-old Somali church leader (name withheld for security) on September 20 in the neighborhood Saris in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC), says the leader, who lives in another neighborhood in Addis Ababa, went to Saris to pick up documents about the persecution of the Somali churches. The documents author, David Abdulwahab Mohamed Ali, was martyred in Somalia in April 2008 by Islamic militants. According to the leader, he was ambushed by five Muslim men who kicked and punched him repeatedly until he fainted and fell on the ground. Even after he fainted, the men continued their assault for at least another fifteen minutes, according to the police report. The leader was taken to a clinic and is recovering. The documents are also now safe.

India: Violence against Christians in Second Month

Mission News Network reports that anti-Christian violence in India continues unabated into its second month, even as President Bush met with India's Prime Minister this week. MNN reported Friday that mobs vandalized a church and dozens of houses in Orissa state in spite of a forced curfew. Concerns are mounting that politicians are subtly encouraging the attacks. Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope said, "It seems that any gains that are made in that country are met with fierce opposition, and that opposition is organized and even is allied in some ways with political parties. So this is going to be a continuing test for the church in India."  With national ministries facing disruption, DeYoung says they are sharing the Gospel through Hindi radio programs from outside of the country.