News Update-2/13/12


11-Year-Old Ex-Muslim Boy Clings to Christian Faith despite Beatings
An 11-year-old former Muslim boy in Turkey named Hussein has remained strong in his Christian faith despite beatings, bullying and assaults, CBN News reports.

Hussein accepted Christ at the age of 9 after his father-once an Islamic scholar-became a Christian and began taking his family to church. Wanting to share his faith with others, but unaware of the potential dangers he faced for leaving Islam, Hussein began publicly professing his faith at school by wearing a silver cross necklace.

His Muslim classmates taunted him, spitting on him and calling him names, and his religion teacher beat him regularly with a two-foot-long rod because he wouldn't recite Muslim prayers. Because of the stress and trauma, Hussein began experiencing grand mal seizures; he now takes medicine to treat the condition and attends a new school where he suffers fewer attacks. However, he insists he will never recant his faith, no matter what.

"Christ said, You would suffer for me,'" Hussein said. "So it's okay to suffer and we should be happy to suffer for Him. The Lord is with me." With or without the cross necklace, he said, he will continue to tell others about Jesus.

Religion Today Summaries

Attacks Spark Revival in Nigeria
Increasing violence in Nigeria has strengthened the faith of local Christians, even sparking a revival at the Deeper Life Bible Church in Gombe, where nine Christians were killed in an attack on the church on Jan. 5, according to Voice of the Martyrs.

During a funeral service for those killed, many accepted Jesus and many other believers rededicated their lives to Christ. The crowd of about 500 then joined in intercessory prayer for the church of Nigeria, the country as a whole, Muslims in Nigeria, and the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.

Ever since Boko Haram issued an ultimatum on Jan. 3, ordering Christians to leave northern Nigeria or face violence, the group has claimed responsibility for the murders of at least 44 Christians, including another church attack on Jan. 22 that killed seven. "We have the legitimate right to defend ourselves," said Ayo Oritsejafor, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria. "We will do whatever it takes."

Religion Today Summaries

Poll: Most Americans OK with Religious Groups in Public Schools
As the New York Department of Education prepares to evict more than 160 religious organizations from public schools on Feb. 12 to comply with a ban on churches in schools, a new LifeWay Research study shows that two-thirds of Americans are in favor of renting public school space to churches and other community groups, WORLD New York reports.

However, in New York, 49 percent believed schools should rent to churches and organizations. Twenty-seven percent were okay with schools renting to community groups but not churches, and almost 20 percent said schools should not rent to any organizations. 

LifeWay Research president Ed Stetzer said the new New York City ban had considerable implications for churches in urban areas. "Historically, schools have been welcoming locations to churches, especially in larger urban centers where schools are in the heart of the community," he said. "A trend of banning church use of public schools could have significant implications."

Religion Today Summaries

Bombs Strike Evangelical Bible School in Sudan
A Bible school backed by the American ministry Samaritan's Purse was destroyed in the latest bomb attack to hit Sudan's South Kordofan state, CNN reports.

On Feb. 2, Heiban Bible College's first day of classes, at least eight bombs were dropped in the area, destroying two of the school's buildings and starting fires. No injuries were reported. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse, blamed Sudan's air force for the strike, and called on the international community to establish a no-fly zone in the region. "We are deeply concerned for the welfare and lives of the people of South Kordofan, and we condemn the bombing ofChristian facilities," he said.

At least four churches in the area have also been destroyed in recent months, and more than 78,000 people have fled South Kordofan and the neighboring Blue Nile state since clashes between Sudan's government and an armed rebellion broke out in August.

Religion Today Summaries

Sharia Court in India Expels Church Leaders, Hinders Ministry
A self-styled sharia (Islamic law) court in India recently expelled three pastors from Kashmir state on allegations of "forced conversions," and is continuing efforts to silence the gospel in the area, according to Mission Network News.

The sharia court is not a government court, but "simply a group of Muslim clerics who set themselves up and say, We will dictate what happens because Kashmir is Muslim,'" said David Bast of Words of Hope. The Muslim clerics issued a fatwa against the Christian leaders in January for "luring the Valley's Muslims to Christianity" after videos surfaced of a pastor baptizing Kashmiri Muslim youth. The pastor, facing death threats, was arrested soon afterwards, along with two other Christian workers accused of being accomplices. Since the incident, "Christian ministry has shut down in Kashmirand [Christians] have had to flee for their lives," Bast said.

The area's last remaining above-ground church has since disappeared, and the sharia court has also called on the government to take over the management of missionary schools. Kashmir is India's only Muslim-majority state; Muslims make up 67 percent of the population and 97 percent of the Kashmir Valley.

Religion Today Summaries

Tebow Bills' Abound
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow's faith and success on the football field this year hasn't just captured the attention of sportswriters nationwide or sparked the use of a new verb ("Tebowing") this year.

If some legislators have their way, it could pave a whole new avenue for homeschooled students to be able to play on organized sports teams at their local public schools, WORLD News Service reports.

Tebow, now 24, grew up in Florida, one of 24 states with "equal access" laws that allow homeschoolers to participate in extracurricular activities at public schools. But in recent years, at least three other states-Alabama, Arkansas and Kentucky-have introduced bills specifically named after Tebow to have the same privilege, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said he would support similar legislation introduced there this year.

"Homeschool parents pay taxes just like everybody else," McDonnell said. "It's just fair."

Religion Today Summaries 

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