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Religion Today Summaries - September 15, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 15, 2004

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

  • Another Hurricane Threat to Florida Prompts 'Emergency Prayer Alerts' 

  • One Iranian Pastor Still Jailed

  • Missionaries Abducted and Falsely Accused of Robbery in India

  • Myanmar (Burma): Suffering Refugees Reached with Gospel

Another Hurricane Threat to Florida Prompts 'Emergency Prayer Alerts'
Charisma News Service

With a third major hurricane poised to strike Florida in a month, intercessory groups and authorities recently urged Christians to pray for the Sunshine State. The most powerful hurricane to hit the Caribbean in the last decade, Hurricane Ivan was projected to reach the Gulf of Mexico, and possibly Florida, yesterday or today. As of last Friday, the category 5 storm, the most intense on the hurricane scale, had already killed at least 32 people in the Caribbean and caused emergency officials to order the total evacuation of the Florida Keys. If it strikes Florida, it could add to an already deadly and costly hurricane season for the state. The state has not been hit by three hurricanes in a single season since 1964. Purcellville, Va.-based Intercessors for America (IfA)  issued an emergency prayer alert last week concerning the latest storm. "Let us join in prayer for all the island peoples who have already been struck or are in the path of Hurricane Ivan," IfA said in an e-mail to supporters. Also last week, Orange County (Florida) Chairman Rich Crotty sent local ministers an official county memo asking them "to pray for the safety of our community as we face Hurricane Ivan," "The Orlando Sentinel" reported. (http://www.charismanow.com)

One Iranian Pastor Still Jailed
Barbara G. Baker, Compass Direct

Protestant church leaders in Iran learned this morning that one of 10 evangelical pastors reportedly released from detention by police authorities on September 12 is still being held incommunicado. An Assembly of God Pastor, Hamid Pourmand, 47, has not returned to his home in Bandar-i Bushehr, nor has he been in touch with any of his relatives or friends. He is presumed to remain under police arrest in the Karaj-Tehran area, where he was initially detained with other church leaders on September 9. Eighty leaders of Iran's Assemblies of God Church had convened for their annual general conference in Karaj when police swarmed into the church-owned center on the morning of September 9. All were blindfolded and taken away to be fingerprinted and interrogated. Although most were released by evening, the 10 pastors among them were held for questioning for four days. It was not until yesterday morning that the Assemblies of God leadership discovered that in fact Pourmand was still missing. A former Muslim who converted to Christianity nearly 25 years ago, Pourmand pastors a congregation in Bandar-i Bushehr, along the Persian Gulf in southern Iran. He and his wife, who is of Assyrian Christian background, have two children. 

Missionaries Abducted and Falsely Accused of Robbery in India
Charisma News Service

Five Gospel for Asia (GfA) missionaries were recently abducted and falsely accused of robbery. On July 25, Lokesh, Yesuraj, Kumar, Anil and Ramesh were kidnapped by group of anti-Christians in the area of Karnataka. The native evangelists were blamed for committing a robbery that took place in the community. Although they had received threats twice previously, the missionaries continued sharing their faith. Ramesh managed to escape, but the other four missionaries were beaten and their Christian literature was torn up. "Kindly pray for these brothers," a GFA leader said, "that no harm will be done to them and that the authorities will come to know the truth." Elsewhere, on July 17, a mob of 15 local Hindu farmers desecrated a Protestant church under construction in the tribal village of Rohiyal Talal, located in the northwest state of Gujarat, Compass Direct reported. The group demolished walls, iron gratings and windowpanes of the independent congregation. No arrests have been made, but police officials have reportedly identified the assailants, some of whom are local leaders of the extremist Hindu organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Militants belonging to the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which lost ground in India's recent national elections, have distributed thousands of anti-Christian pamphlets accusing believers of forcibly converting impoverished Hindus to Christianity.  (http://www.charismanow.com)

Myanmar (Burma): Suffering Refugees Reached with Gospel
Christian Aid

Ethnic Burmese people are some of the most persecuted in the world. Since 1962, the Burmese government has maintained an inhumane effort to drive tribal groups, many of which are predominantly Christian, from their homes in the hills of eastern Burma. Accused of being insurrectionists because of past conflicts with tyrannous military regimes, ethnic people are victims of widespread rape, murder, torture and forced labor. After an influx of ethnic Burmese into neighboring Thailand, the Thai government established camps, where currently over 140,000 refugees live. Refugees live in constant threat of deportation by the Thai government, which has long ignored the international principle of non-refoulement (not forcing refugees to return to a country where they will be persecuted). Native Christian missionaries are reaching these tortured souls with the gospel. They hold crusades in refugee camps or in Thai cities where there are large populations of Burmese refugees. In one recent gospel meeting, over 100 came forward to accept Christ. Missionaries plant churches among refugees to nurture new believers. Ethnic Burmese Christians living in the camps bring the hope of Christ to their own people.