June/July News Briefs from around the World

BANGLADESH: Bibles for Street Preachers
Twenty young Bangladeshi Christians are risking their lives by selling and handing out Christian literature on the streets, busses, and marketplaces in their cities. In the past 11 months they have distributed more than 500,000 Bibles, New Testaments, and leaflets. They were able to do this in part with the help of Barnabas Aid, which provides training and literature for distribution. (Barnabas Aid)

EGYPT: Christians Attacked in Slums
Deadly clashes between Egypt's Christians and Muslims highlighted rising interfaith tensions. Security had to be tightened around churches in a Cairo slum following riots over rumors of a Christian who converted to Islam. The reports turned out to be false, says Greg Musselman, spokesperson for Voice of the Martyrs Canada. “The last reports I saw: twelve were dead, and churches were burnt down. Really, it was started by a group called Salafist…an ultra Islamist group. The coordination of the rebellion grew over whether or not this was the first play by the Muslim Brotherhood to make a grab for power.” Musselman says the two groups don't seem to share the same ideals. Leaders say that 190 people detained in connection with the violence face a trial in military court. Even while that might be good news, the Christians in Egypt still feel like easy prey. (Mission Network News)

ENGLAND: Global Day of Prayer London Calls for Twitter Followers to Tweet Lord’s Prayer
As part of a 50-day campaign leading up to the Global Day of Prayer on 12 June 2011, GDOP London is calling for fifty thousand followers on Twitter to tweet the Lord’s Prayer. On Easter weekend, GDOP London began tweeting segments of the Lord’s Prayer to encourage Christians to pray for the United Kingdom. “We want to get people of all ages and backgrounds praying the Lord’s Prayer wherever they are,” said GDOP London convener Jonathan Oloyede. This unique project is being coordinated by prayer strategist and trainer Daniel Eagle, who believes strongly in the power of social networking to mobilize prayer: “As the world becomes more and more interconnected as a global village, it is imperative that we use all the tools at our disposal to promote the cause for which GDOP London exists….Social media is the next wave for global communication and interaction.” So far, #GDOPLondon has a growing number of followers, including some members of the British Parliament. (Assist News Service)

JAPAN: Churches Urged to Work Together after Triple Disaster
Japan's churches and Christian councils should establish a consortium to respond to the devastating 11 March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant accident, read a statement released at the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Relief Ecumenical Solidarity Meeting held 6-7 May. In addition, the National Christian Council in Japan should “convene a forum of all the Japanese partners to facilitate the exchange of information and activities and explore avenues of cooperation.” About forty representatives of Christian partner organizations and churches from the West and Asia attended the meeting, which was coordinated by the North East Asia Churches Forum of the Christian Conference of Asia. About 14,700 people were killed by the March disaster, with about 10,700 listed as missing. The disaster also crippled the Daiichi Fukushima nuclear power plant. (Ecumenical News International)

INDIA: Churches Challenged to Address Caste Discrimination
Churches in India were called upon to tackle “institutional casteism” at a conference organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in collaboration with Indian churches and groups. Attended by over seventy delegates, the 1-4 May 2011 conference on “Caste, Religion and Culture” was organized by the WCC Commission for World Mission and Evangelism in collaboration with the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI). The Student Christian Movement of India and the Centre for Social Studies and Culture based in Kerala state also participated. Geevarghese mar Coorilos, moderator of the WCC Commission for World for Mission and Evangelism, noted that “caste dynamics has changed over the decades. The new dynamism must be translated into the life of the churches.” (Ecumenical News International)

INDIA: Justice Eludes Christian Victims of Orissa Violence
Nearly three years after vicious attacks by Hindu radicals in Orissa left dozens of Christians dead and thousands injured, there has been just one conviction for murder, with thousands of complaints disregarded by authorities. A devastating report by a Christian journalist and human rights activist about the Indian authorities' investigations into the mass violence in Kandhamal between August and October 2008 exposes how justice has eluded the Christian victims. The Orissa State government acknowledges fifty deaths, of which thirty-eight were Christians, in Kandhamal during that period and the earlier violence at the end of 2007. Church activists list ninety-one murder cases. In twenty cases brought to date, there has been just one conviction for murder. Around 18,000 people were injured in the attacks, 6,000 houses and 296 churches and smaller places of Christian worship were burnt, and 56,000 people were displaced. (Barnabas Aid)

RUSSIA: Older Orphans Face Serious Risks
There are roughly twenty-one million children under the age of 15 in Russia. Nearly 730,000 of these are orphans. Strict adoption laws can make inter-country adoption from Russia difficult, but so can uncontrollable factors like a child's age. After age 3, the chances of adoption for a Russian orphan are slim; by early elementary school, opportunities to find a forever family are virtually nonexistent. “After 7, there is no chance,” Natasha Votrakova, country director for Buckner in Russia, told Buckner International. “I mean, it's zero. There are no adoptions in Russia that are done by Russian families after the age of 7.” The consequences of overlooking these children are severe. Adoptive parent Garth Wilkins says, “After they are emancipated from the orphanage at 16 or 17, ten percent of the kids commit suicide within the first three years. Forty percent turn to alcohol and drugs, and forty percent fall into a life of prostitution or crime.” (Mission Network News)

SOUTH ASIA: Gospel Tracts Distributed on a Mountain
Celebrating a holiday, villagers in one area of South Asia climbed a mountain, planning to worship local deities when they reached the top. A group of Bible college students also climbed the mountains, but with the goal of sharing the love of God. The students handed out gospel tracts as they hiked up the mountain. Some village elders criticized them, asking, “Why do you disturb us by distributing tracts that belong to another religion?” In spite of the opposition, 1,500 hikers willingly received tracts. (Gospel for Asia)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Students Predisposed to All-inclusive Beliefs
Due to the recent release of a controversial book written by a well-known pastor discussing heaven and hell, the topics of pluralism and universalism have risen to the surface of Christian conversation. “There's definitely an increase in terms of young people today being at least open to the possibility of results of universalism and pluralism,” says InterVarsity Christian Fellowship evangelist York Moore. “Among Christians, I think we've seen an increase as well.” A recent study by the Barna Group seems to confirm this. Universalism—defined by the Barna Group as the belief that all human beings will be saved after death—was supported by forty-three percent of subjects questioned. “Another thing this study cites is that 51% do not believe that they have a responsibility to tell people about their faith in Christ,” explains Moore. “So that lack of responsibility, coupled with an openness for universalism and pluralism among Christians, is a real problem in InterVarsity.” Moore says the danger of straying from these 2,000-year-old truths is significant. “People are gravitating toward that which is easy, that which is more appealing to our American lifestyle, and the consequences of that could potentially be disastrous.” Already the number of college students who leave the church during college and return later in life has declined significantly. Despite the various voices influencing college students, InterVarsity has been winning this war. InterVarsity is still seeing a higher number of conversions than at any time in their 70-year history. (Mission Network News)