World Vision Workers Killed in Sudan, Singles, Egypt & more

World Vision Workers Killed in Sudan, Singles, Egypt & more

In Today's Edition:
  • World Vision Workers Killed and Abducted in Southern Sudan
  • Methodist Leaders Explore Single Adult Ministry Ideas
  • Health Professionals Recognize Power of Addressing Spiritual Needs
  • Freedom House Condemns Jailing Of Egyptian Human Rights Activist

World Vision Workers Killed and Abducted in Southern Sudan ... Two German aid workers from the Christian humanitarian agency World Vision have been abducted by rebels in Southern Sudan. A Kenyan has apparently been killed in the incident, which occurred in the early hours of July 29 near the town of Waat. According to idea news agency, the kidnappers are believed to belong to a group of rebels who have frequently changed sides in the conflict between the Christian and Animist minorities in Southern Sudan and the Islamic central government. Since 1983 the war has cost the lives of at least two million people.

Dean R. Hirsch, president of World Vision International, issued the following statement: "World Vision regrets the tragic death of one of our colleagues, Charles Kibbe of Kenya, who was killed Monday, July 29, while working in southern Sudan's Upper Nile region. Mr. Kibbe was an employee of World Vision and most recently served as the director of World Vision's community health program in Waat. We have provided a professional counselor to assist Mr. Kibbe's wife and three children, as well as for other staff serving World Vision's Sudan office.

"World Vision also regrets the disappearance of three additional staff during Monday's incident in Waat. We are working closely with key parties in the region to help secure the safe return of the three staff, one of whom is Kenyan and two are German. This tragic incident underscores the importance of ensuring the safety and security of humanitarian workers. World Vision urges all parties in the region to work for the prompt, safe return of these humanitarian workers."

World Vision started its work in Sudan in the 1970s. Most recently, World Vision's work in Waat and other districts in the Upper Nile region have focused on child malnutrition, immunization and primary health care since early 2001. Communities in the Upper Nile face fluctuating droughts and floods, exacerbated by a precarious security situation as a result of the civil war in Sudan.

Methodist Leaders Explore Single Adult Ministry Ideas ... Leaders of United Methodist single adult ministries met in Indianapolis July 18-21 to learn about new ideas and resources and meet colleagues in ministry, reports the United Methodist News Service (UMNS). According to conference speaker Harold Ivan Smith, one great frustration in single adult ministry is how often single adults move from place to place to get their needs met. Smith, one of the founding members of the Network of Single Adult Leaders, said that in the church, a person may be in the congregation one Sunday, "but will you have them the next Sunday, especially those single adults without children? They may be down the street [at] 'What's Happening Central' next week."

According to UMNS, Smith highlighted several issues affecting churches' ministries with single adults today. The first is the "doughnuting" of cities. The center of the doughnut used to be the core of the city-the heart and workplace of society. Today, the core is the place where people come downtown to work and then return home to suburbs. In this instance, the potential for single adult ministry for a downtown church is different that that of a suburban church.

Urban sprawl and congestion are symptomatic of the second trend impacting single adult ministry. Programming in many areas must be scheduled to accommodate commuting time, he said, adding that some churches schedule evening singles events as late as 8 p.m. to allow participants time to get home from work and then to church.

Health Professionals Recognize Power of Addressing Spiritual Needs ... On July 24, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a major article illustrating the potent effect health professionals can have by addressing a patient's spiritual needs. Dr. Harold G. Koenig, associate professor of psychiatry and associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, released the results of a case study involving an 83-year old woman with chronic illness and strong religious beliefs. The study provides evidence that people with strong religious beliefs and practices cope better with illness, are able to decrease chronic pain intensity, speed recovery from depression, and enjoy better health outcomes.

Koenig described the patient "as having chronic progressive pain secondary to diabetic neuropathy, spinal stenosis, recurrent bursitis, and arthritis with diffuse body pain as well as increasing weakness of her lower extremities. She steadfastly maintained her independence and good spirit, and consistently stated that her faith in God enabled her to endure her chronic pain. She trusts that praying will help her continue to persevere." When asked for advice to help other patients, she responded, "I think doctors should tell them they must read their Bible and pray a lot to help with the medicine."

While Koenig acknowledged that physicians cannot "impose" religious beliefs on patients, there is a lot they can do. Least controversial is for the physician to take a spiritual history. A more controversial activity is praying with patients. "As many as one-third of physicians engage in prayer with their patients," said Koenig.

He continued, "This case study suggests that when patients feel overwhelmed by anxiety and depression because of their health situation, their religious beliefs and practices provide them with an indirect form of control that helps interrupt these feelings. Physicians should respect and support the beliefs that help their patients cope, ensure that their spiritual needs are met when they are hospitalized, and be aware that religion is likely to influence their medical decisions."

Freedom House Condemns Jailing Of Egyptian Human Rights Activist ... Freedom House recently expressed its disappointment over an Egyptian court's rejection of an appeal of a seven-year jail sentence by Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociologist and human rights activist. Ibrahim, director of the Ibn Khaldun Foundation, a think tank focused on political and economic reform, lost his appeal to overturn the sentence, which was handed down last year. Despite an international outcry over the sentence, the Egyptian government insisted on pursuing its case.

Ibrahim has, in the past, documented human rights abuses and government and electoral irregularities in Egypt. He was charged with damaging Egypt's image after receiving a grant from the European Union to encourage people to vote in Egypt's legislative elections in 2000. Ibrahim, a Muslim, has also spoken out on behalf of Egypt's persecuted Coptic Christian minority.

"The Egyptian government is silencing the wrong voices," said Freedom House President Adrian Karatnycky. "In a post September 11th environment, in which religious and political extremism must be challenged, voices of tolerance, pluralism, and understanding are desperately needed, especially in the Middle East, " he said. "The jailing of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a man who defends human rights and democracy in the Muslim world, represents a dark day for Egypt."

Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom awarded Ibrahim its International Religious Freedom Award in a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol in December 1999. Dr. Paul Marshall, the Center's senior scholar, was one of the first westerners to visit Ibrahim while he was held in jail during his initial trial in 2000. "Ibrahim has always done his work openly and honestly. The charges and this sentence are political moves designed to silence government critics," Marshall said. "They are an alarming setback for democracy, civil society and human rights in Egypt."