This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Christian Today, A UK-wide Church initiative has been launched to welcome Hong Kong residents migrating to the UK as a result of China’s increasing suppression in the city. The website, www.UKHK.org, was launched in London on Friday by Home for Good founder Krish Kandiah with the help of the Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally. The website is available in English and Cantonese and will serve as a one-stop-shop for new arrivals from Hong Kong with information on everything they need to know about getting settled in the UK, from navigating the British education system and applying for jobs, to registering with a GP, travelling on public transport, and where they can find good Cantonese food. Over 500 churches have already signed up to be ‘Hong Kong ready’ via the website, which has been launched after the UK Government opened the door to Hong Kong holders of the British National Overseas (BNO) passport. Around 130,000 Hong Kongers are expected to arrive in the UK this year on the BNO visa.
According to the Christian Post, An international group serving persecuted Christians has drawn attention to the unsolved case of Malaysian Pastor Raymond Koh, who has been missing since he was abducted in a well-organized, military-style operation four years ago after being accused of preaching to Muslims. “For four years, he’s been neither seen nor heard from. For four years, his family has suffered, worried and fought for answers,” says The Voice of the Martyrs in a statement sent to The Christian Post, recalling Koh’s abduction on Feb. 13, 2017, while driving near Kuala Lumpur, the capital of the Muslim country in Southeast Asia. Koh, who is ethnically Chinese, founded Hope Community, a nonprofit to serve the poor and underprivileged along with his wife. In 2011, authorities accused Koh of seeking to convert Muslims — an act forbidden by law in Malaysia. Though the allegations against Koh were dropped, bullets were later sent to his home as a warning.
According to the Daily Mail, Three persons have been injured after a gang of armed robbers attacked members of the Action Prayer Ministry during an all-night prayer service over the weekend. The incident occured at about 2 am Saturday dawn, police sources told dailymailgh.com. The victims, aged between 2 to 22 were hit after one of the robbers, who was wielding a locally manufactured pistol fired into the congregation forcing others to flee for safety, witnesses say. “All three victims sustained minor gunshot wounds on their legs”, one of the congregants who pleaded anonymity told dailymailgh.com. Police from the Abuakwa Division rushed to the scene located at Atwima Koforidua following a distress call. Church members had succeeded in arresting one of the attackers whose named has been given as Sunday Ayine, 22. He is a driver’s mate.
According to the Christian Post, The board of Zacharias Trust in the U.K., which operates a theological training center, has decided to “make a clear separation” from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and choose a new name, in response to the revelation that the late Christian apologist engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape” during his life. “We are appalled by Ravi Zacharias’ abusive actions and their impact on the victims of his abuse,” the six members of the board said in a statement Friday, the day after the results of a monthslong independent investigation detailed serious allegations of sexual misconduct by Zacharias. The board said it had, therefore, unanimously decided to “make a clear separation from the global RZIM organization.” It explained that while the U.K. entity had been a separate charity with independent trustees, “in the current circumstances we believe that we must now operate without any link to RZIM US.”
According to Religion News Service, World Relief heads Scott Arbeiter and Tim Breene are stepping down after a combined 30 years serving the evangelical Christian organization. The two saw World Relief — one of nine agencies contracted by the government to resettle refugees in the United States — through a tumultuous period in the country’s refugee resettlement program. The announcement of their departures — planned for August 2021 — comes at a time they said feels right for younger, more diverse leadership at the organization. “We were looking at the seasons of our life and recognizing that it was a good time to release leadership to a younger generation, perhaps, and hopefully a diverse generation — if not with the senior leader, within the growing leadership cadre of World Relief,” said Arbeiter, 64. “The world we’re in requires that kind of familiarity and diversity.” Arbeiter became president, and Breene CEO, of World Relief in 2016. Both had spent years serving on its board of directors. Arbeiter, a former pastor, had chaired the board for several years before becoming a consultant and adviser to World Relief leadership.
According to Religion News Service, A French nun who is believed to be the world’s second-oldest person was celebrating her 117th birthday in style on Thursday (Feb. 11). There were plans for Champagne and red wine, a feast with her favorite dessert, a Mass in her honor and other treats to toast Sister André’s exceptional longevity through two world wars and a recent coronavirus infection. “It’s a big day,” David Tavella, the communications manager for the nun’s care home in the southern French city of Toulon, told The Associated Press. “She is in great shape. I went to see her this morning. She is really happy. She wanted me to tell her the schedule for the day again.” It was packed. Some of Sister André’s great-nephews and great-great-nephews were expected to join a morning video call for her, and the bishop of Toulon was due to celebrate a Mass in her honor.
According to Christianity Today, Pentecostalism’s global impact outsizes its organizational footprint, according to a recent study parsing the reach of American Protestant mission organizations. Pentecostals and charismatics—it’s often difficult to name such a broad and diverse group—comprise 26 percent of all Christians worldwide, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity’s 2020 report, and they have a growing presence in the developing world. Yet only about 10 percent of US missions agencies serving abroad over the past 40 years were affiliated with the popular movement, sociologist Jared Bok found. “Global Pentecostalism saw its roots historically in the US. Yet despite its growth around the world, in the US itself, it’s evangelical Protestantism that is more dominant,” said Bok, adding that American evangelicalism “doesn’t always affiliate with and sometimes even dissociates with Pentecostalism or charismatic forms of Christianity.” Bok, inspired by his family’s interactions with US missionaries in Southeast Asia, said he has wondered how big of a role US missions agencies are playing in the growth of the faith around the world. In a study published last year in the Review of Religious Research, the researcher analyzed a sample of 799 agencies from the North American Mission Handbook, a directory of North American missions organizations, alongside United Nations data on development and Protestant identity. His analysis begins in 1972—the first year that the questionnaire sent out by Mission Handbook included the word “evangelical”— and differentiates between organizations that identify as evangelicals, Pentecostals, both, or neither. Bok reported that evangelical agencies rose from around 100 in the 1970s to a peak of over 300 in the 1990s, around the time Pentecostal agencies spiked to around 70. (Groups that were neither numbered somewhere in between evangelicals and Pentecostals.) Pentecostals and charismatics have been more likely to engage in evangelism and publishing abroad, while evangelical agencies are more likely to evangelize over TV and radio.
In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “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 so much for listening and may God bless your day!