Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Indonesian Earthquakes Could Spur Church Growth, Group Says
Mission News Network reports that some previously hostile areas of Indonesia may be more open to the Gospel as child sponsorship programs and church-sponsored relief become more important. "This is a wake-up call for us: we have to do something for our brothers and sisters who need Christ... I see it as the hand of God working in our world today. He Himself opens up opportunities for us to go inside a place that is very, very closed to the Gospel," said David Lu, Associate Coordinator of Southeast Asia for AMG International. Still, he notes that the group is "walking on a tight rope. We have to keep our balance. If not, they will just close churches. They can destroy churches." Foreign rescue workers left Indonesia on Tuesday, saying that the clock has run out for potential survivors of last week's two giant earthquakes. Thousands are still missing, buried beneath rubble or trapped in mudslides.
Islamists Attack Pakistani Christian Family for Refusing to Convert
ASSIST News Service reports that Islamists attacked the home of a Christian family in Murree, a town near the capital of Islamabad, for refusing to convert to Islam. "Rafiq Mashi Bhatti and his family had lived in peace and harmony with their Muslim neighbors for years. However, in the past few months, they received anonymous phone calls and letters warning them to convert to Islam, leave their home or die," said an International Christian Concern (ICC) spokesperson. The family reported the death threats to the police but the police were unable to prevent the Sept. 28 attack. The police are investigating the attack but the unknown assailants remain at large. ICC's Jonathan Racho said, "This latest attack once again highlights the insecurity that Pakistani Christians are living with."
Episcopal Leaders Refrain from Disciplining Breakaway Clergy
The Christian Post reports that the Pittsburgh diocese of The Episcopal Church will not punish its clergy who left to join a rival Anglican body. Instead of defrocking the approximately 100 priests and deacons who left, the diocese's leaders will simply release these clergy from their orders in the Episcopal Church. "We're doing this for pastoral reasons," said the Rev. Dr. James Simons, president of the diocesan Standing Committee, in a statement. "We do not want to see our priestly brothers and sisters deposed." Simsons continued, "We're trying to be as pastoral as possible ... We don't want to deprive anybody of their holy orders. We don't think that's necessary, but we had to find some way to get them off the list of clergy in the Episcopal Church."
Open Doors Mobile Clinics Serve Iraq's Minorities
Mission News Network reports that Open Doors USA has launched a new medical clinic to serve Iraqi minorities, who often have little access to health car. "On a recent trip with our mobile clinic ... we brought medical health care, and we had a great time," said Ronny, Open Doors' medical co-worker in the region. "We examine patients and give them medicines." He adds, "It is heartwarming to see the response of the people after they have a proper exam and are given medicine." The clinic will see thousands of Christian refugees and Kurdish people. "We always have Bibles to hand out to the patients," Ronny says. "The people love the Bibles and often start reading them immediately." The center will offer basic care, food and trauma counseling for its patients.