Global News brings you the latest in world and Christian news. Use Global News to pray for countries and give praise for God's work around the world.
AFRICA: The All Africa Conference of Churches invited Protestant church leaders from around the continent for a four-day summit in Kenya in June to discuss ways to mobilize the church to fight HIV/AIDS. Kenya’s vice president encouraged the leaders to teach young people about behaviors that place them at risk of getting the disease. “Churches are well-placed in society to deal with the menace,” he said. Cameroonian Nyansanko-ni Nki gave grim statistics: “Half of Namibia’s population may be killed by the year 2010. The citizenry of Lesotho may all be wiped out by the year 2025. In Zimbabwe, South Africa and my own country, Cameroon, at least 600 people are infected by HIV/AIDS every day, making pastors these days more busy in burying the dead than engaging in evangelization.”
BIBLES: The United Bible Societies figures reveal that 25 percent fewer Bibles were distributed in 2003 than in 2002. Some 432 million Bibles, New Testaments, Scripture portions and selections were distributed in 2003. That figure was 578 million the previous year. Bright spots: the Amity press in Nanjing printed 2.8 million Bibles for China, Laos and Vietnam, about a million more than in 2002, and Scripture distribution also rose in Nigeria with 830,000 Bibles and 44,000 New Testaments.
BRAZIL: A study released by the government’s education ministry found that less than five percent of fourth-graders could read properly, and less than seven percent were on their grade level in math. With little funding for public education and the system in crisis, some communities are resorting to private organizations to partner with schools and pay for programs and extracurricular activities. One organization works in eight of one Rio de Janeiro slum’s 16 schools where it teaches dance, music, photography and black culture. Foreign foundations and some of Brazil’s biggest corporations fund the programs. Proponents say that without this cooperation, these children would have no access to books, playgrounds or educational toys.
CHINA: Despite government restrictions on religion, the numbers of those who practice religion in the country are rising. Among China’s one billion people are 100 million Buddhists, 20 million Muslims and more than 10 million Christians. And restrictions are loosening. “Not long ago, when party leaders used to open meetings about religion, they would begin with slogans about religion being the opium of the masses, but they don’t say that anymore,” a Muslim elder told the New York Times. “The trends of the times show that religion cannot be suppressed by power any longer.”
COLOMBIA: Women are suffering mental illnesses because of the pervasive violence that has enveloped Colombia since the 1940s. Violence forces women to flee with their children to cities as single parents or widows. A report by UNIFEM, or United Nations Fund for Women, says that fear, danger, violence and family disintegration are some of the ways war impacts women. Violence has displaced more than two million Colombians.
EUROPE: France and Belgium have been staunchly against religious references in the new European Union constitution. In late May, France said it could not accept references to God and Christianity in such a document. Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic, however, want Christianity acknowledged in the charter.
INDIA: On May 18, a week after India’s Congress party defeated the previous pro-Hindu government in national elections, Chief Minister Selvi J. Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu announced the repeal of the state’s anti-conversion law. “I have ordered that the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act 2002 be repealed at once,” she said. Observers say criticism from her political opponents and a steep drop in votes for her party factored in the decision. Hindu nationalists have condemned her actions, but Christian leaders were unanimous in their support. Jayalalithaa’s move has also raised hopes that similar legislation may be dropped in four other Indian states.
NAMIBIA: A white minority owns 90 percent of lands in this Western African country. The government has announced it will begin confiscating white-owned farms. Many fear the move will lead to widespread hunger and chaos as followed a similar program four years ago in Zimbabwe. That nation’s governing party gave white-owned farms to its political cronies who had little or no experience in large-scale farming.
NIGERIA: Violent raids on Christian villages in the central state of Plateau have left more than 20 Christian villagers dead. President Olusegun Obasanjo has declared a state of emergency. The killings may be reprisals for Christians killing 600 Muslims on May 2 in Yelwa. Since 2001, more than 2,000 lives have been lost and thousands have fled the cycle of religious violence. Its ripple effect includes disrupted farming and hunger because farmers have abandoned crops. Nigeria watchers see no end in sight to the violence.
PAKISTAN: The strict Islamic laws passed under the military dictatorship of late General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1979 should be studied afresh to ensure they were not misused, President Pervaiz Musharraf said at a human rights convention on May 15. Ten days later, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam political party announced it won’t permit changes in the legislation of which Musharraf spoke: the blasphemy laws, which call for the death penalty against those who defame the Prophet Mohammed, and the Hudood Ordinance, which are laws based on Islamic sharia. Pakistanis, both Christian and Muslim, have suffered because of false blasphemy charges. In 2000 alone, 52 cases were registered—43 against Muslims and nine against Christians.