Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
China: State Church Colludes with Government to Seize House Church
ASSIST News Service reports that China's government-sanctioned church helped Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials illegally seize a house church leader's property in January. Cheng Fenying, 54, and her son Xi Chengwei, 25, previously held services for more than 200 people in their home, before government officials threatened attendees. In a letter to China Aid on Feb. 17, Cheng Fengying said the official church, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), had colluded with the government multiple times in the past. TSPM officials helped the PSB raid her home in July 2006, and illegally cancel her ownership title on the house in July 2007. “During the 2008 Olympic Games, I was detained in a black prison (prison cells privately established by government officials) where I was injured in my arms. In Jan. 2009, the TSPM took away my housing property by making use of the court," she wrote. “I hereby implore my brothers and sisters around the world to ... implore the Lord to protect my family so that we can still hold gatherings.
Survey: More Teens Volunteer Than Work Part Time
The Associated Press reports that increasing number of teens are volunteering in their communities as a result of a down economy, according to a new poll. Though many adults still view today's teens as "selfish" (59 percent) and "lazy" (56 percent), more than half of teens do volunteer work for a charitable cause. A total of 56 percent of teens do volunteer work - that's 17 percent more than half a part-time job. The World Vision survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, also found that seven out of 10 parents find their teens more aware of those in need now. "I think that kids are realizing more and more how important it is," said Sara Johnson, a teacher who advises the student service club at Illiana Christian school, in Lansing, Ill. Johnson, 29, said she saw a similar surge in involvement after Hurricane Katrina.
Faith-Based Services Victims of Gov't Cutbacks
The Christian Post reports that faith-based charities who receive government funding are flagging, as government cutbacks have shrunk their resources even as need skyrockets. “Our folks out in the field are feeling a little overwhelmed because they can't see the end, and all they see are more and more people coming and fewer resources coming their way,” said Larry Snyder, chief executive of Catholic Charities USA. "And yet we don't have the luxury to say, 'You know what? We're going to close our doors for a while.'" Sixty-five percent of the organization's funding comes from government contracts. Other faith-based organizations, from food-assistance to medical care programs to foreclosure counseling, are reporting drops in their funding from both government and private donors. Meanwhile, requests for services have seen double-digit increases since last year.
Somalia: Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Released
Compass Direct News reports that two nuns working in northeast Kenya who were kidnapped last November have been freed. Caterina Giraudo, 67, and Maria Teresa Oliviero, 61, both of Italy, arrived back in Kenya on Thursday (Feb. 19), but they are still traumatized. The sisters are receiving both medical care and spiritual counseling. Father Bongiovanni Franco, who worked with the sisters in Mandera, told Compass by telephone that the sisters are fatigued. “Their movement from one place to another, and living in house confinement most of their stay in Mogadishu, seems to have affected their health – it was like a prison cell,” Fr. Franco said. The women Nov. 10 were abducted at gunpoint by suspected Islamic militants from Elwak, near Mandera, and taken across the nearby border into Somalia.