Weekly Global News
Updated Every Week
Last update: April 17, 2014
China: Updates On Christianity In China Today (OMF International) – Religion is flourishing in China — particularly evangelical Christianity and Buddhism. The government is now taking a more benign view of the role of religious believers in society. A conference on the role of Christianity in Chinese society was held in Shanghai last October. Government official Wang Xinhua stated: “The government welcomes the support of the church. We lack the resources to meet all the needs we face, so we need religious organizations in order to do so." The government particularly has in mind the challenge of caring for the elderly who number several hundred million. Also, there has been a crisis of confidence in some secular charitable organizations because of the financial scandals that have recently embroiled them. Wang stated that the church’s “beliefs” and “love” are an advantage to society. Churches are now being called on to help provide care for the elderly, drug rehabilitation and prevention and to help those with HIV. For the last decade or more both Chinese and foreign Christians have been quietly doing much good work in these and many other fields, but now the government is officially giving its support, which is most encouraging.
Middle East: Field Director Shares Details From Middle East Ministry (Mission News Network) – Despite the region’s widespread violence against Christians, God is at work in the Middle East. Open Doors USA’s Field Director shares details in a recent interview. For security purposes, the worker’s identity cannot be revealed. Open Doors refers to the man as “Stefan”. Stefan describes what he and his coworkers are seeing in Egypt, Syria, and Iran. Throughout the Middle East, Open Doors support persecuted believers with Bibles, Christian Literature and discipleship training. In Egypt, believers are conflicted. On one hand, “they are very happy that the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood has come to an end. They are happy that Morsi is no longer the president. They are very happy that the army has taken over,” says Stefan. “But, at the same time, they fear for the future.” In Iran, many Iranians are coming to Christ, despite continued government oppression. Young college students tell Open Doors that their peers, many from Muslim backgrounds, are now following Christ instead of Islam. “The present government is very upset about it,” says Stefan. “They do not like this development at all.” In Syria, over 9 million Syrians are thought to be displaced, both within the country and outside its borders. Nonetheless, “There is still a large Christian minority in Syria; like in Egypt, it’s about 10-percent of the population,” says Stefan. “Most of the Christians have remained inside Syria…and would like to stay in Syria…but I do not know if they will have any future inside this country.”
Israel: Archaeologists Find Coffin Related To Israelites’ Exodus From Egypt (Worthy News) – Archaeologists unearthed an ancient coffin in northern Israel, and linked it to the age of pharaohs and the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, officials said. Scientists at the burial site also found a golden scarab which had the seal of Egyptian pharaoh Seti I, who ruled in the late Bronze Age, according to Israel’s Antiquities Authority. Seti I was the father of Ramses II, whom some scholars have identified as the pharaoh who ruled during the Israelites’ escape from slavery in ancient Egypt. “We discovered a unique and rare find: a cylindrical clay coffin with an anthropoidal lid surrounded by a variety of pottery, consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cult vessels and animal bones,” according to a statement by the antiquities authority. The mystery man inside this coffin was most likely a regional official who served under his pharaoh ruler around the 13th century BC. Or he could have been a wealthy local man who wanted a funeral fit for a pharaoh. “Since the vessels interred with the individual were produced locally, we assume the deceased was an official of the Canaanite origin who was engaged in the service of the Egyptian government,” according to researchers. “Another possibility is that the coffin belonged to a wealthy individual who imitated the Egyptian funerary customs.” The sarcophagus was discovered in recent months during digs in northern Israel’s Jezreel Valley.
Ukraine: Remarkable Unity And Spiritual Awakening (United Bible Societies) – The dramatic events in our country have led to a remarkable unity and a spiritual wakening across the nation. It has been amazing to see the solidarity between representatives of different religions. The Mufti of Ukraine, the Chief Rabbi of Kiev and all of Ukraine, and leaders from the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches all appeared together on national television, calling for peace and unity. And last week, Archbishop Eustratius of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), shared the astonishing news that Crimean Tatars – the Muslim minority in the disputed territory of Crimea – have offered to host the Church’s services in their mosques. “They said that if it became difficult for our priests and parishioners to pray in our churches in Crimea, they would make room for us in mosques. They have also assured that they would help protect our rights,” said the archbishop. Over the past month, as the situation in Crimea and the southeastern regions has escalated, churches and individual Christians have become very active in speaking out and sharing the hope and encouragement found in the Bible. Christians of different denominations have been fasting and praying together for peace and wisdom for Ukraine’s leaders and other world leaders involved in the situation. In Eastern Ukraine, prayer meetings are held every morning in the central squares of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk. In the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine, a 15-minute prayer session is held every hour from 9 am to 9 pm in the central square. In Kiev, the prayer tents that were erected during the protests in Maidan square are still there and many people still come and use them as places of prayer. The same kind of thing is happening in almost every city and town in the country.