Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
U.N. Imposes Tough New Sanctions on North Korea
Washington Post reports that tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world escalated Friday when the U.N. Security Council added new sanctions against the country. Member countries were called to go the extra step of actually seizing banned North Korean cargo at sea in addition to new financial, military and trade sanctions. Even China and Russia, typically friendly to the isolated country, approved the sanctions with some modifications. North Korean authorities recently sentenced two American journalists for committing a "grave crime" to North Korea after they allegedly crossed the border illegally. They have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor, joining about 300,000 other political and religious dissidents in North Korea's labor camps.
More Than 30 House Church Leaders Arrested in Sichuan
Christian News Wire reports that more than 30 house church leaders were arrested at a house church gathering in Langzhong city, Sichuan province, on June 9. Thirteen leaders were given 15 days of administrative detention, and five of the leaders were placed under criminal detention. The other leaders were released. Pastors Gao Guofu, Pastor Li Ming, Zhang Guofen, Gu Lianpeng and Yu Zhipeng, the five leaders who received criminal detention, are likely to face a formal criminal indictment or up to three years of re-education through labor. Pastor Li Ming was sentenced to three years of re-education through labor in recent years because of his Christian faith. Parts of Sichuan province are still recovering from a devastating earthquake that hit that region last year.
Religious Charities Gain in a Down Year
Religion News Service reports that religious organizations reported a 5.5 increase in donations last year, a marked contrast from the nationwide 2-percent decline in charitable giving, according to a study by Giving USA Foundation. Religious congregations, which accounted for 35 percent of the total$307 billion in charitable contributions, exceeded $100 billion in donations for the second year in a row. Though public-society benefit and international affairs organizations also cited increases in charitable contributions, two-thirds of public charities reported a decrease for only the second time in the report's 54-year history. The economic recession spurred this decline, Del Martin, the chairwoman of the foundation, said in a statement. "We definitely did see belt-tightening ... but it could have been a lot worse," Martin said.
Pakistan: Muslims Attack Pastor's Home, Relatives
Compass Direct News reports that a traffic incident in Punjab Province led to an attack on the home of a Christian pastor earlier this month. Pastor Riaz Masih's brother complained to a local councilor after the official nearly drove into his sons on June 1. The complaint catalyzed growing hostilities that have grown between Masih and area Muslims who increasingly resent his evangelism and justice ministries. Seventeen assailants reportedly came to Masih's house and struck his mother and sister with rifle butts, and threatened further violence if the pastor does not drop assault charges. Local Christians say that Masih's Christ for All Nations Ministries (CANM) meetings have attracted many youths, including some Muslims. With the Swat Valley operation underway, they say extremism is now translating in violence across the country.