AROUND THE WORLD: Top Ten Places of Persecution
According to a report from Minority Rights Group International, the top ten places where ethnic and religious minorities are persecuted are: Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Angola and the Russian Federation. (Minority Rights Group International)

AROUND THE WORLD: Leadership Changes for WEA Theological Commission
At the August meeting of the World Evangelical Alliance Theological Commission (WEA-TC) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, several transitions in leadership took place. Among them: Dr. Rolf Hille (Tuebingen, Germany) stepped down from his dual role of chair and executive director of WEA-TC to become chair. Dr. David Parker was appointed executive director. Dr. Brian Edgar (Asbury Theological Seminary) was appointed vice-chair, replacing Dr. Ken Gnanakan (Bangalore, India). Dr. David Hilborn (UK) was replaced by his successor at the UK Evangelical Alliance, Dr. Justin Thacker. Dr. James Nkansah (Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology) was appointed as an African representative. Dr. Chris Hall (Eastern University, Pennsylvania, USA) was elected as a North American representative. (World Evangelical Alliance Theological Commission)

ASIA AND AFRICA: Asia and Africa Dominate Top Twenty Bible Translation Needs List
Asian and African nations account for three-quarters of the world’s top twenty countries with the greatest remaining needs for Bible translation. Eight countries in Asia and seven in Africa are on the list. Following are the twenty countries most in need of translation work: Indonesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, India, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Malaysia, Tanzania, Nepal, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Sudan, Iran, Myanmar, Laos, Chad, Central African Republic, Mexico and Russia. (Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada)

CANADA: IFES Welcomes New General Secretary
At its 2007 World Assembly in Ontario, Canada, Dr. Daniel Bourdanné of Chad became the fourth general secretary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), succeeding Lindsay Brown. Bourdanné gave the closing World Assembly address in French. He and his wife Halymah had both knelt on stage earlier for the laying on of hands and had declared their assent to each of the truths of the Fellowship’s doctrinal basis, read out by the whole Assembly simultaneously in three languages. IFES’ primary calling is to proclaim Christ in the world’s universities. Now in its sixtieth anniversary year, IFES has movements in 152 nations. Only seventeen countries have yet to be pioneered. Bourdanné also serves as the Lausanne International Deputy Director for Francophone Africa. (Intervarsity Christian Fellowship USA)

CHINA SAR (Special Administrative Region): Religious Freedom
A year before the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Hong Kong Christian leaders have asked China to grant true religious freedom in the country. “Even though Beijing tried to give the impression it would improve its human rights record, when it was applying to host the 2008 Olympic Games, there was no substantial evidence to show its human rights situation had improved,” the Rev. Kwok Nai-Wang, a consultant to the Christian Conference of Asia, told Ecumenical News International. (Ecumenical News International)

ERITREA: One More Martyrdom
Christians in Eritrea confirmed that 33-year-old Migsti Haile died 5 September at the Weaa Military Training Centre, reportedly as a result of torture for refusing to sign a letter recanting her faith. Haile was among a group of ten single Christian women who had been arrested in 2006 at a church gathering in Keren. She spent eighteen months imprisoned under severe pressure. Haile was an active member of the Rhema church. In May 2002, the Eritrean government criminalized all independent Protestant churches, closing their buildings and banning them from even meeting together in private homes. According to Open Doors, more than two thousand Eritrean Christians remain locked up and subjected to severe torture for their religious beliefs in the nation’s jails, police stations and military camps. All have been denied legal counsel or trial, with no written charges filed against them. During the past year, at least four Christians have died from physical mistreatment while under arrest. (Open Doors USA)

FRANCE: Agreed upon Code of Conduct for Christian Conversions
A World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) theologian says his group, which stresses the importance of the proclamation of the gospel, is ready to support a code of conduct on seeking conversions to Christianity. The code of conduct is being worked on by a group of traditional Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches as well as by Roman Catholics. “'Evangelical’ and ‘ecumenical’ Christians have never been as close in this regard as they are today. Thus, something that would not have been possible thirty years ago has become achievable,” said Thomas Schirrmacher, a German theologian who chairs the WEA’s International Institute for Religious Freedom. (Ecumenical News International)

HONG KONG: New President for Asian Outreach
After serving as international president for Asian Outreach for twenty-five years, the Rev. Dr. David Wang has transferred the duties to Dr. Francis Tsui. Wang has been involved with Asian Outreach for forty years; he will continue to serve as president emeritus, as a minister-at-large and in a mentoring role. Most recently, Tsui served as vice president, supporter and board member of Asian Outreach. As international president, Tsui will lead Asian Outreach supporters and workers to reach Asia for Christ. For over forty years, Asian Outreach has been committed to winning Asians for Christ, and seeing Asians win others for Christ. This is done through strategic partnerships with local churches, indigenous community initiatives and evangelistic groups. Asian Outreach has more than fifty projects and ministries in over twenty-six countries. (Asian Outreach)

ROMANIA: The Role of Christianity in Promoting European Unification
European Commission (EU) president José Manuel Barroso has praised the role of Christianity in promoting European unification, and has appealed to religions to strengthen the values on which the unity of the continent is based. “A union that is reduced to its economic and geographic dimensions alone would lack unity,” Barroso, who heads the executive arm of the 27-nation EU, spoke at the Third European Ecumenical Assembly meeting in Sibiu, Romania, on 6 September 2007. (Ecumenical News International)

SRI LANKA: Churches Ethnically Divided
A senior leader in Sri Lanka’s National Christian Council says that even the churches in his conflict-ridden country are ethnically divided, and need “to break down the walls of separation.” So, he has outlined one way in which this might begin to happen. “If the churches are encouraged to break down the walls of separation in their local communities, they can become the life in their neighborhoods,” asserted Peiris, a priest in the (Anglican) Church of Ceylon. (Ecumenical News International)

UNITED KINGDOM: New Executive Director of Churches in Mission for EA
Dr. Krish Kandiah has been named the new executive director of churches in mission for the Evangelical Alliance. Previously, he served as director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and tutor in evangelism at Wycliffe Hall. Kandiah will be working to inspire and support EA member churches and organizations through networking, engaging with contemporary issues and exploring ways to enable congregations to discover a fresh love for the Bible. “I believe there are great opportunities for the Church in contemporary Britain to faithfully and relevantly witness to Christ in word and deed, and I am looking forward to finding ways to do this together,” he said. (Evangelical Alliance)

UNITED STATES: Wesleyan Coalition Strategic Planning Consultation
Approximately forty leaders from three holiness denominations met in August 2007 at the Wesleyan Church World Headquarters, for what is being called the “Wesleyan Coalition Strategic Planning Consultation.” General superintendents, general officials and district superintendents from the Wesleyan Church, the Evangelical Church of North America and the Evangelical Methodist Church met in the all-day sessions. According to Dr. Jerry G. Pence, Wesleyan Church Board of General Superintendents chair, the purpose of the meeting was “strategic planning for intentional collaboration of programs and ministries for our churches in North America, as well as our interested mission units.” (Wesleyan Information Network)