Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 9, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 9, 2008

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

  • Message from Orissa: 'God Is in Control'
  • Relief to Georgian Refugees Continues through Local Churches
  • Local Authorities Invade Vietnamese Church Service
  • Chinese Religious Leaders Meet with U.S. Leaders in Atlanta

Message from Orissa: 'God Is in Control'

ASSIST News Serice reports that Juria Bardhan, Gospel for Asia’s state leader in Orissa, India, has seen dozens of churches burned to the ground in the last two weeks. He has seen missionaries and Christians beaten and killed. But during all these horrific attacks, Juria has had one thought. “We know the Lord is in control,” Juria said in an interview Thursday. Juria’s comments may sound naïve to Western ears, but to Christians in volatile parts of Asia, they ring true. They expect persecution rather than peace. They know that to follow Christ means choosing to bring more trouble into their lives. They also know that Christians standing strong in the face of such trials encourages others to follow Christ. “The encouraging thing is that the attackers themselves acknowledge that Orissa used to be only 2 percent Christian, and now it’s 28 percent Christian,” Juria said. “They don’t understand that by doing this, the church will grow by leaps and bounds, and this will cause thousands to come to Christ.”

Relief to Georgian Refugees Continues through Local Churches

Mission News Network reports that while outside aid groups are sometimes denied access to Georgian refugees, Russian Christians are providing care and relief to South Ossetia war victims who have fled into Russia. "Our main response has been to help equip our church planters in the region with Bibles and Christian literature and funds to help them purchase humanitarian aid for the thousands of refugees that have flooded into southern Russia from the conflict," says Joel Griffith, Communications Manager for Slavic Gospel Association. Griffith reported that refugees are often shell-shocked, and their needs are spiritual and emotional as well as physical.

Local Authorities Invade Vietnamese Church Service

Ten local police officers interrupted a house church service in Vietnam on Aug. 31, creating great anxiety among new converts, ASSIST News Service reports. Pastor Chinh Van Nguyen shared an email report of the incident. Nguyen said the authorities interrogated and questioned the congretation about who their leader was and "why we are doing this kind of silly thing? ... We all replied in an accord: 'We are here only to worship and praise our God, Jesus Christ, as Christians, based on the teaching of the Jesus.'" The police returned shortly after to bring Nguyen to the police station "for further investigations and interrogations," although they had no official order. According to Nguyen, minutes from the interrogation banned the church from meeting together in their unregistered house church again and if the authorities saw them re-gathering, they would do more harm.

Chinese Religious Leaders Meet with U.S. Leaders in Atlanta

The Christian Post reports that a delegation of government-recognized Chinese religious leaders has arrived in Atlanta for a meeting with American church and political leaders, including former President Jimmy Carter. Critics say the visit mimics a 2006 visit of similar nature, when Chinese officials brought historical, religious artifacts as evidence of their religious tolerance to Christians. The Chinese delegation includes leaders from the five official religions in China - Catholic, Protestant, Buddhism and Toaism. Christian churches in China must register with the government's Three Self-Patriotic church, but many resist government sanctioning to meet in house churches. The Chinese delegation will also meet with leaders in Washington, D.C.