August News from around the World

CHINA: Repeated Arrests of Christians Prompts Petition to Government
Pastors from unregistered churches in China have lodged a petition with the Chinese government, calling for religious freedom and a peaceful resolution to an ongoing conflict involving one of Beijing’s largest house churches. Shouwang Church has persisted in its efforts to worship in public despite many of its one thousand members being detained by the police, placed under house arrest, or losing homes and jobs. Government interference has taken place since April 2011. The petition to the National People’s Congress, which is the first of its kind in sixty years, asks for special permission to be set up to investigate events surrounding the church’s clash with authorities and a review of current rules governing religious affairs. (Barnabas Aid)

FRANCE: Luis Palau Leads Unprecedented Evangelistic Campaign
In a country that has resisted open proclamation of the gospel for hundreds of years, God provided a much-needed breakthrough in southern France, focusing attention on the city of Marseille and the greater area of Provence. Invited by 1 Meme Coeur, an organization of church leaders from throughout the region, evangelist Luis Palau led evangelistic campaigns in Istres, Aix-en-Provence, and Marignane. The campaign culminated in a three-day gospel festival on Marseille’s Plage du Prado beach. Riding on the tails of France’s official Day of Music (21 June), and appealing to France’s affinity for gospel music, the festival in Marseille included a good deal of music and helped reach sixteen thousand people with the gospel. The campaign, involving more than thirty evangelical congregations and three thousand believers, was the first time certain events were allowed to be held in open venues, including amphitheaters, public beaches, and parks. The gatherings brought together civic and church leaders as never before. Hundreds of individuals made public decisions for Jesus Christ. (Assist News Service)

HUNGARY: Hungarian Parliament Passes Europe’s Most Restrictive Religion Law
Although Communism officially ended in Hungary over twenty years ago, the Hungarian Parliament just adopted its new “Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on Churches, Religions and Religious Communities.” More than one hundred currently registered religious organizations will be retroactively stripped of their status as religious communities are “de-registered” as religious organizations, losing key rights and privileges provided to registered churches. Only fourteen religious organizations will retain their registration status, and religious organizations that have been “de-registered” may not use the name “Church” and will lose their status as a religious organization if they are not re-registered. Noting the passage of the bill, the pastor of an evangelical church, stated, “This is the greatest discrimination against evangelical Christians since the fall of Communism. This is just the first step against real, active, Bible-believing Christian groups. During Communism we were oppressed and persecuted, but we didn't expect the same from a so-called 'Christian' government.” (Assist News Service)

NEW ZEALAND: Greg Laurie’s Harvest Draws Thousands
In what has been billed as the largest outreach of its kind since Billy Graham visited New Zealand more than forty years ago, evangelist Greg Laurie saw more than 2,500 people make decisions of faith at a recent Harvest Crusade. Some two hundred churches throughout the Auckland area watched and prayed expectantly as they hosted the Greg Laurie: Auckland Harvest at Vector Arena. By the end of the two-night evangelistic outreach, 2,777 people made decisions to put their faith in Christ, while another 170 made the same decision via an online broadcast. (Assist News Service)

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Matching Grant Will Help Complete Fifteen Bible Translation Projects
According to the Joshua Project, twenty-five percent of Papua New Guinea is comprised of evangelical Christians. According to SIL's Ethnologue, 830 languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea, representing twelve percent of the world's languages. To help push the country's translation projects toward completion, Wycliffe Associates is raising matching funds for the New Ireland Translation Institute (NITI) in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea. Following through on a new model of collaboration of Bible translation organizations, the Bible translation acceleration ministry is helping national translation teams to get the New Testament translated into the last fifteen languages in the region that are without scripture. National translators living in the New Ireland Province regularly travel from their villages to the New Ireland Translation Institute to carry out the work of Bible translation. They rely heavily on the support of Wycliffe Associates for everything from their food during the training to the computers they use for translation work. (Mission Network News)

SOMALIA: Kenyans Support Somali Christian Refugees
The brutality of the persecution Somali Christians are facing has many fleeing across the border into Kenya. But even leaving the country does not always stop the Al-Shabaab, a radical Muslim group, from hunting down Christians. Being the #1 country on the failed state list and in the throes of civil war, drought, famine, and piracy make living in Somalia very dangerous. But God is using Global Advance and Kenyan Christians to reach out to Somalis in their time of need. At the Global Advance Frontline Shepherds Conference in Kenya, God stirred the hearts of leaders in Kenya to help fleeing Somali brothers and sisters. The group is targeting refugees who have come across the border into Kenya. A key goal is to disciple future leaders who are going to go back into Somalia with the vision to plant churches and participate in other mission work. This year alone, Kenyan refugee camps are receiving nearly ten thousand Somali refugees a month. This is nearly double the amount of Somali refugees per month in 2010. (Mission Network News)

SUDAN: South Sudan Churches Hope for Peace and Growth
Church leaders in South Sudan expressed their readiness to help secure peace, stability, growth, and development in their new nation, which was proclaimed an independent state on 9 July 2011. Leaders led citizens in thanksgiving prayers on 10 July, a day after thousands in Juba city witnessed General Salva Kiir Mayardit sworn in as the first president. “We stand willing to play our part in sharing the burden of responsibility which rests on the shoulders of the government of South Sudan,” Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal (Anglican) Church of Sudan said in a pastoral letter on Independence Day. Amid celebrations by the churches, which played a critical role in the 50-year struggle for independence, Deng said his church understood the new government faces numerous challenges in delivering the fruits of autonomy. Kiir will lead Africa's 54th state of nearly 9.7 million people, which is beset by serious social and economic issues. Most people live on less than one dollar per day. More than ten percent of children die before the age of 5 and more than seventy-five percent of adults cannot read or write. (Ecumenical News International)