Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
Convoy Of Hope Responds To Hurricane Dennis
Michael Ireland, Assist News Service
As hurricane Dennis worked its way closer and closer to the Gulf coast, Convoy of Hope (COH) set its wheels in motion to come to the aid of the people of Florida. On its ministry website COH said: "One of the challenges is staging our trucks close enough to the disaster area to be of immediate help, but not so close as to be in risk of damaging the supplies that are so desperately needed. Trucks loaded with life saving supplies of water and ice left Springfield bound for the Gulf, with no concrete destination in mind. The Convoy staff knew they had to get close to the area where Dennis would cross land, but not too close." Saturday night found the COH Rapid Response Team bedding down in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, about 90 minutes northwest of where Dennis was projected to strike land. As the storm took a turn back to the east just before striking, the Convoy trucks headed for the path of the storm, timing their arrival to come in to Pensacola just after hurricane Dennis departed. Right now the Convoy staff is working with volunteers from the area to setup a relief site to distribute water, ice, and other relief supplies.
VOM Reports Increasing Persecution Against Sri Lankan Christians
Allie Martin, AgapePress
A spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs says persecution of Christians continues to be on the increase in Sri Lanka. Recently, an Assembly of God church in the Sri Lankan town of Ambalangoda was attacked by a crowd of more than 100 people. The church was vandalized and two parishioners, along with the pastor, were severely beaten. Police believe a group of Buddhist monks is responsible for the attack in Ambalangoda, but Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs, an international ministry to the persecuted Church, says such incidents are increasingly common in this part of the world. "This is just one of many attacks in the nation of Sri Lanka in the past few months and in the past few years," Nettleton notes. "The reports are that in the last two years, at least 170 churches have been attacked, and 140 churches have been closed down due to this type of violent attack." The VOM spokesman says a proposed anti-conversion law in Sri Lanka could mean even more persecution for Christians there. The law against inducing anyone to convert to another religion was proposed last year; however, many uncertainties remain about how the legislation should be interpreted. Nettleton says it is not clear at present when Sri Lanka's Parliament may vote on the anti-conversion legislation.
Pakistan: Native Missionaries Experience Opposition in Wake of Quran Desecration Allegations
Christian Aid Mission
"During the month of May," a native Pakistani ministry leader wrote Christian Aid, "gospel workers faced a very hostile response from people all over the country when inviting them to buy Scriptures. This reaction was due to the news claiming the Quran was desecrated by US officials." Though the reports of desecrations were later retracted, their repercussions were felt throughout many Islamic countries. Despite an atmosphere of growing animosity to the Christian faith, some Pakistani Muslims are opening to the gospel message. Missionaries were able to sell over 80 Bibles to interested revelers at a week-long Muslim celebration. But reminders of Pakistan's often volatile environment were quick to come: immediately after the missionary team retreated from the celebration for a day of prayer, a suicide bomber motivated by sectarian rivalry killed 20 and wounded 200 of the Shiite Muslim revelers. Pray for the safety and continued effectiveness of native missionaries in Pakistan.
Charisma News Service
Two Protestants were recently arrested in Hidalgo after the town assembly decided to "eradicate" all non-Catholic Christians from the area. On May 15, police and a local Catholic catechist went to the Fountain of Heaven Church in Cuateceometl, and arrested pastor Francisco Sanchez Gonzalez and church member Raul Bautista, Compass Direct reported. Local officials informed church members that they must renounce their evangelical faith and pay a fine the equivalent of $110, or else their homes and the church's chapel would be torn down. Legal representatives of the evangelical church have asked state and federal authorities to intervene and allow the Cuateceometl Christians to worship freely - a right guaranteed by Mexico's constitution. Elsewhere, the family of Alberto Iturbe, who died on May 25, was denied permission to bury him because they are evangelical Christians, not Catholics, Compass reported. The grieving family, who live in Puebla city, discovered that even their pastor, an official of the Evangelical Pastoral Alliance of Puebla, was unable to work out a solution because recent laws allow an indigenous community to invoke "use and custom" rules over secular laws of burial established in 1859. (www.charismanews.com)