October/November News from around the World

CHINA: Church Leaders Released after Two Years
After serving two years in Chinese labor camps, five leaders of the Linfen house church have been released. Although each experienced physical and psychological torment, all feel strong, experiencing “glory in the midst of trials and tribulations,” reported ChinaAid Association. The Christians were arrested in the aftermath of a September 2009 attack, when over four hundred local police, government officials, and hired thugs attacked one of the church branches. “We sincerely urge all brothers and sisters around the world to pray for Linfen church…[and for] the Linfen leaders who are still suffering in jail,” the five told ChinaAid. Police still occupy the site where the main Linfen church building stands. The church’s members are scattered, but they continue to meet and worship in private homes. (Voice of the Martyrs)

EAST AFRICA: Effects of Famine Stretch Farther than Hunger
The East Africa famine has already cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives. Another twelve to thirteen million have been affected by the disaster. But the consequences of such a wide-scale crisis go much deeper. “The side effects are just astronomical, and they don't go away once people have food in their stomachs,” says Pat Melancon, managing director of disaster response and training for Baptist Global Response (BGR). The list is long: massive migration of people within the affected nations, land seized by others, loss of livelihood, loss of livestock, loss of opportunity for education, increase in human trafficking and other child abuses, etc. BGR, along with other organizations and ministries, is working hard to combat these issues. (Mission Network News)

GREENLAND: Ice-cold Hearts Start to Melt
Historically, the Greenlandic people have been Inuit emigrants from Canada who have held shamanistic or animistic beliefs. Today, much has changed; however, many remain hostile to the truth of the gospel. Operation Mobilization reports that Hans, from the Faroe Islands, and his family have served as independent missionaries in Nuuk for over forty year, but have only seen breakthroughs recently. During a recent family camp, many non-believers said they understood the Christian message and knew they needed God. (Mission Network News)

INDONESIA: Church Can’t Open on Street with Islamic Name
An Indonesian mayor is refusing to allow an embattled church to open, saying that churches should not be built on a street with an Islamic name. This is the latest attempt by Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto to block GKI Yasmin Church, in defiance of rulings from the Indonesian Supreme Court and Ombudsman Commission. The congregation has been holding services in front of its half-constructed church since its building permit was revoked in 2008. Bogor city chiefs, spearheaded by the mayor, have refused to comply with a Supreme Court order issued in December 2010 that the church be reopened. A church spokesman said that the mayor’s reasoning was unacceptable given that a number of churches were built on streets with Islamic names and mosques were built on streets with Christian names. Local cleric Muhammad Mustofa, after whose father the street was named, said that he has no objection to the church. But the congregation’s outdoor services have been opposed by local Muslims, who have disrupted their worship with demonstrations. (Barnabas Fund)

KAZAKHSTAN: Government Bids to Tighten Grip on Religious Freedom
The government of Kazakhstan is renewing its efforts to restrict religious freedom under proposed changes to legislation that would require all religious groups to re-register with the state. On 1 September 2011, amendments to the religion law were adopted. Details have not yet been made public, but the head of the new state Agency of Religious Affairs said that the law will require all currently registered religious organizations to re-register. The government previously tried to amend the religion law in 2008, increasing the harshness of penalties for unregistered religious activities, but the move was blocked by the Constitutional Council the following year. Christians and other religious minority groups are concerned that the move is a further attempt by the government to restrict their activities. The Kazakh population is around seventy percent Muslim and twenty-six percent Christian. (Barnabas Fund)

UNITED STATES: American Christians Don't Know Their Bible
According to an American Bible Society survey, sixty-three percent of participants could not attribute a quote to scripture. In fact, the study indicated that the majority of the people attributed 2 Corinthians 4:8 to Martin Luther King, Jr. A 2005 study by the Barna Group asked American Christians to rate their spiritual maturity based on activities such as worship, service, and evangelism. Christians offered the harshest evaluation of their Bible knowledge, with twenty-five percent admitting immaturity in their understanding of scripture. Faith Comes By Hearing spokesman Bill Lohr says, “You need to understand your faith. The only way you're going to understand your faith is to get into God's Word so that when somebody uses these phrases, or somebody uses a bit of Scripture out of context, you're able to come alongside them and work with them and help them.” FCBH has recorded the complete New Testament in 573 languages. (Mission Network News)