This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Christian Headlines, Parts of Texas are underwater as Tropical Depression Imelda dropped more than 40 inches of rain in some counties around the Houston area. The storm moved into the area on Tuesday with gusts of wind up to 50 mph. On Thursday evening, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Twitter that he had declared a state of emergency in 13 counties so that counties could have access to state resources. According to ABC News, at least two people have been killed as a result of the flooding. One man, 19-year-old Hunter Morrison, was “electrocuted and drowned” while trying to move his horse during a thunderstorm, the Jefferson County sheriff’s office reports. Another man from Harris County reportedly died after he drove his van into floodwaters, and it became submerged.
According to the Washington Post, Flames swept a boarding school early Wednesday in the West African country of Liberia, killing at least 27 children and trapping others in the rubble. The students were sleeping in a dormitory attached to a mosque when an electrical issue is thought to have sparked the fire, according to a police spokesman. The blaze remains under investigation. Officers were still searching for the missing by midday in Paynesville City, a suburb of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, as Red Cross ambulances rushed to treat the injured. The victims are believed to be between 10 and 20 years old.
According to Christianity Today, Almost 1,000 children in rural Guatemala gained sponsors this month from a megachurch in southern Indiana. But in this case, it was the indigenous children in need who pondered photos of smiling faces and chose one they felt a connection with. And it was the adult donors in the United States who nervously waited, wondering who would pick them. The role reversal, which World Vision is calling “Chosen,” is the first significant change to the Christian humanitarian organization’s bread-and-butter method of engaging Christians with the world’s needs and equipping children to live healthier and safer lives. As World Vision explains its “simple yet powerful switch” to child sponsorship: Chosen starts with people here in the US signing up to be chosen and getting their picture taken. That photo is sent to a community where World Vision works, to be displayed with the pictures of other potential sponsors. The community gathers for a celebration where the kids choose their sponsors. Soon thereafter, sponsors will receive a picture of the child holding their photo and a note letting them know about the child and what made the child choose them. The goal is to empower children, letting them make the first of many choices during their sponsorship.
According to the Washington Post, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday decried the weekend attacks on the Saudi oil industry as an “act of war” as President Trump ordered a substantial increase in sanctions against Iran, which Washington has linked to the strikes. Amid the escalating tensions in the region, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday presented remnants of what it said were Iranian-made weapons used in the attacks on two key oil facilities. Meanwhile, Iran warned the United States that it would broadly retaliate against any attacks on it, Iranian news agencies reported. “I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” Trump wrote in a morning tweet, without elaboration. He later told reporters traveling with him in California that “very significant” sanctions would be announced “over the next 48 hours.”
According to CNN, Three suspects, linked to a spate of killings targeting women in Nigeria’s oil-rich Rivers State have been arrested, police said on Wednesday. One of the men was arrested in the city on Wednesday after he covered her face with a pillow and attempted to strangle her while she was asleep in a hotel room they shared, police spokesman Nnamdi Omoni told CNN. “The young woman escaped because she was able to raise the alarm at about 2 a.m. She was sleeping when she suddenly woke up and saw the man who brought her to the hotel charging at her,” Omoni said. “She was almost dying when the man tried to strangle her,” he added. Women in the city have been found murdered in different hotel rooms since August, often strangled with a piece of white clothing tied either around their neck or waist, police commissioner Mustapha Dandaura said at a briefing Tuesday. The killings in Port Harcourt bore all the hallmarks of “cultism,” police said.
According to Christian Headlines, A 22-year-old autistic blind singer won NBC’s America’s Got Talent contest Wednesday night, inspiring millions and sparking celebration among autistic families nationwide. With his mother Tina standing by his side, Kodi Lee was announced as the winner in front of a national audience, edging the second-place act, the Detroit Youth Choir. He won $1 million and a chance to perform at a Las Vegas show. Lee speaks primarily through his music, playing the piano and hitting notes few singers can. He is autistic but also has savant syndrome, which, according to the National Institutes of Health website, is a “rare, but extraordinary, condition in which persons with serious mental disabilities” including autism have an “island of genius.” Lee, though, is what is called “prodigious savant” – a term “reserved for those extraordinarily rare individuals for whom the special skill is so outstanding that it would be spectacular even if it were to occur in a non-impaired person.” Asked how it felt to win, Lee said, “Amazing. Unbelievable.”
According to Christian Post, Two-time Grammy Award-winning Christian singer Lauren Daigle will venture out on her first headline world tour. “This year has been life changing,” Daigle told The Christian Post in a statement this week. Daigle had massive success in both the Christian and mainstream markets with her album, Look Up Child. As a result, she sold out every one of her concert dates in 2019 which has now led to her first headlining arena tour, the “Lauren Daigle World Tour” in 2020. “Lauren Daigle World Tour,” will travel to forty-four cities starting January 18th in Melbourne, Australia. The musical experience then heads to the U.S. in February and includes stops in New York, Nashville, Houston, Boston, and Dallas, as well as the Canadian cities of Toronto and Montreal. The Louisiana native will end the world tour in her hometown of Lafayette. When asked what she hopes to bring to the shows, Daigle said hope is her message.
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks for listening and may God bless your day!