June/July News from around the World

ALGERIA: Christians Stand Firm, Meet in Vandalized Church
Even on an ordinary Sunday, it takes courage for Pastor Mustapha’s church to meet together. As Christians living in Algeria, many face daily pressure from their families and neighbors, as well as the threat of growing surveillance and restriction from authorities. Recently, the church came under direct attack from a mob of local extremists. The gang entered the premises of their Tafat Church in Tizi Ouzou, sixty-two miles east of Algiers, and began destroying the building and its contents. The extremists were interrupted by the police, but later returned, burning everything they could lay their hands on. And yet the Christians are standing firm, even meeting together in their vandalized building. The Sunday after the attack, many of the believers met together as usual, resolving not to be deterred by the extremists. They have requested police protection, but local officials have as yet failed to respond. (Open Doors USA)

AROUND THE WORLD: Project Hannah Addresses Plight of Women
On 26 April 2010, TWR announced the release of a newly revitalized, user-friendly website spotlighting ministry efforts to women around the world. Project Hannah offers compassion, encouragement, and hope to suffering women worldwide through prayer, awareness, and radio programming. Project Hannah's popular “Women of Hope” broadcast is aired in fifty-six languages globally. “If you ever wondered if you could help change the world, this website offers practical ways to get involved in addressing one of the transcendent injustices in the world today—the brutal treatment of women and female children,” says Project Hannah global ministry director/founder Marli Spieker. “This site provides a powerful account of God's intervention and restoration in countless women's journeys from darkness and despair to light and hope.” (TWR)

BANGLADESH: Buddhist Extremists Drive Christians Out of Village
Compass Direct News (CDN) reported that four Christian families in southeastern Bangladesh left their village on 2 May 2010 under mounting pressure by Buddhist extremists to give up their faith in Christ. A group of Buddhists, brandishing sticks and bamboo clubs in Jamindhonpara village, began patrolling streets on 30 April to keep the eleven members of the Lotiban Baptist Church from gathering for their weekly prayer meetings. Christians in Jamindhonpara have since fled, taking shelter in another village. Jamindhonpara is located in the Lotiban area, Panchari sub-district of Khagrachari district. “When they come, they do not listen to us,” said one church member. “They arbitrarily do whatever they like. The situation is indescribable—they hunt us down the same way that one hunts down a mad dog to kill it.” (Assist News Service)

CHINA: World Vision Responds to Devastating Earthquake
Its been reported that more than two thousand people have died as a result of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on 14 April 2010 that rocked Qinghai Province, a remote, mountainous area of western China. Tens of thousands have been left homeless. World Vision aid workers arrived after thirty hours of travel by road. The team has distributed one thousand boxes of noodles, hygiene kits, and child-friendly kits in Jiegu, where more than eighty percent of the buildings have been damaged or destroyed. According to Meimei Leung, who led World Vision's assessment team into the affected area, adequate shelter and warm clothing for children and families remained a key concern, as average temperatures in the area hovered between -3 to 14 degrees Celsius. (World Vision)

CONGO: Amidst Strife, Gospel Reaches more People
The United Nations plans to begin withdrawal of their peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of Congo in two months time. There are concerns for the civilians in the Congo's east because of increasing rebel violence. However, Sam Vinton with Grace Ministries International says, “The troubles that have taken place in the Congo, and just the general situation in the country, have made people very open to the gospel.” Their 2-year-old evangelism program, “Reaching Congo Students,” has seen phenomenal response. The team has taken OneHope's DVD, “The God-Man,” into hundreds of rural villages along with evangelism training. So far, over fourteen thousand people have made a profession of faith in Christ. (Mission Network News)

GREECE: Churches Prepare to Provide Relief in Battered Economy
With difficult times ahead for the people of Greece, churches’ ecumenical officers met in May 2010 at a gathering organized by the World Council of Churches. According to news reports, as a consequence of the “austerity” measures, the Greek economy is forecast to shrink four percent this year and 2.6 percent in 2011. Unemployment has risen to 11.3 percent, a six-year high. “As a church, we need to bring hope to the people,” said Rev. Fr. Gabriel Papanicolaou, an official attending the meeting. “But we also are preparing to supply food, clothes, and other relief items, as well as to care for the needs of the people who lose their jobs and assist them with pastoral and psychological attention.” (World Council of Churches)

INDIA: 13-Year-Old Girl Rescued from Brothel
Acting on information given by Indian Rescue Mission (IRM), on 27 April 2010, police in the city of Pune raided a brothel in the city's Red Light area and rescued a 13-year-old girl, who had been sold, trafficked, and forced into prostitution. James Varghese, founder and president of IRM, said that that an IRM investigation team was initially planning to rescue a 15-year-old girl from a brothel, but during an investigation the previous night, an IRM team member discovered the 13-year-old girl. The girl has now been placed in a government protective home in Pune and the brothel keeper has been arrested in connection with this case. (Indian Rescue Mission)

INDONESIA: Extremists Infiltrate Pluralistic Nation, Upset Religious Harmony
Life is becoming difficult and dangerous for Christians in Indonesia because of outside extremists, the head of a group of churches in the Muslim-majority nation has warned. “For centuries, Muslims and Christians have been living in harmony and have been coexisting peacefully, but agents [from outside] of extremism and uniformity based on Islamic Shariah law are threatening the peace and harmony of our country,” said the Rev. Gomar Gultom, general secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia. He said that since 2008 Christians have experienced the adverse impact of the influence of “outsiders with Arabic roots and orientation” who have “infiltrated national and local political parties of moderate Muslims” in Indonesia. Islam is Indonesia’s majority religion, with Muslims accounting for about 200 million of its 240 million people, making it the country with the world’s biggest Muslim population. (Ecumenical News International)

UNITED STATES: Rapid Response Team Deploys following Natural Disaster
In May 2010, after flood waters from the Cumberland River spilled into Nashville, Tennessee, during a record rainstorm that dumped 13.5 inches of rain in two days, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) began making plans to deploy. As the deluge receded and the recovery began in earnest, crisis-trained chaplains began ministering to the emotional and spiritual needs of the survivors. Several people were killed in the storm, and thousands of homes were damaged. The RRT deployed in coordination with Samaritan's Purse. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Nashville, and especially with those who have lost loved ones in this tragic storm,” said Jack Munday, director of the RRT. “At times like this, the survivors of the storm need hope and love, and need to know that they are not forgotten.” The RRT is a U.S. network of chaplains across forty states that are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. (Assist News Service)

UZBEKISTAN: Churches Raided, Christians Detained and Questioned
According to Forum 18, on 10 April 2010, eight police officers raided a Protestant church's youth conference held in the village of Baraj in Bostanlyk District of Tashkent Region. Officers claimed to be checking individuals' identity documents. Forum 18 said police confiscated the conference program, as well as computer files of seven hymns. Forty-three attendees, including the conference leader and his wife, were taken to Bostanlyk District police station. All were fingerprinted and photographed before being freed. Two days later, police, tax inspectors, and local officials raided Eternal Life Protestant Church in Tashkent's Yakkasarai District. At the time of the raid, church members were feeding homeless people. Authorities complained that church members were conducting activity “not according to their (registered) charter.” After questioning those present, the police detained the pastor's assistant and several other church members. All were freed after questioning. An investigation against the church is still underway. (Assist News Service)