This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to CBS, A married couple with a long history of service to their South Side community were the victims of a horrific attack over the weekend. Now friends are rallying to support the couple many say would “give you the shirts off their backs.” Even in this violent city, what happened to Timothy and Renee Johnson is inconceivable. “It’s like a page out of a horror movie,” said their daughter, Destinee Johnson. On Saturday Timothy and Renee were on Emerald Avenue near 105th Street doing chores for Renee’s 95-year-old mother. “It was nice outside, so you go out and clean up around the house,” said Timothy’s sister Rhonda Hutcherson. “And he was in the alley, cleaning up behind there.” A man approached Timothy, asking if he wanted to buy something. Hutcherson said, “My brother just told him, ‘No, I’m OK. No thank you. I’m not interested.’ And he just attacked him.” Timothy was beaten with the shovel he was carrying to do yard work. When Renee ran to her husband, she too was attacked. Their eyes were gouged, parts of their ears bitten off. Prosecutors say when the 28-year-old man was arrested, he was covered in blood. “Nobody could have imagined we would wake up on a Saturday and this was going to happen,” their daughter, Destinee, said. It happened to Timothy, a minister at Salem Baptist Church who pastors on streets and parks, even as he recovers from cancer. It happened to Renee, a special education teacher. They are two pillars of the community now facing a long, difficult recovery. Their children said it’s a blessing that there has been such an outpouring of love for the couple. They will not be able to work anytime soon, and they have a GoFundMe page. The 28-year-old alleged attacker is held on a $5 million bond and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.
According to Religion News Service, In a virtual hearing on Wednesday (May 5), a federal judge granted former reality TV star, Joshua Duggar, release from detention as he awaits trial for child pornography charges. Magistrate Judge Christy Comstock at the U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, Arkansas, said her decision to allow Duggar’s release was “a close call,” and comes with many conditions. Duggar, the eldest child in a conservative Christian mega-family made famous by TLC’s 2008- 2015 reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals on April 29 at the car dealership he owns in Springdale, Arkansas. According to court documents, he was accused of downloading pornography that included the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12. He was indicted the following day and has pled not guilty. Comstock ordered Duggar confined to the home of family friends who have agreed to be his custodian during his release and prohibited Duggar from any internet-accessible devices. He is restricted to the home with a few exceptions, including church, medical and legal appointments, and court dates. He is only allowed to see his children in the presence of his wife and cannot have contact with any other minors, including nieces and nephews.
According to NBC News, Amazon is still selling a book that advocates say perpetuates the idea that being transgender is harmful to youth and something to be “cured.” The book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” by the journalist Abigail Shrier, explores what Shrier calls an “epidemic” of young girls coming out as trans. “A generation of girls is at risk,” the Amazon description of the book reads. “Abigail Shrier’s essential book will help you understand what the trans craze is and how you can inoculate your child against it — or how to retrieve her from this dangerous path.” Dozens of Amazon employees, including some who are LGBTQ, filed an internal complaint in April arguing that the book violates Amazon’s policy against selling books “that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” according to The Seattle Times, which received images of the complaint. But on April 23, the company’s director of book content risk and quality announced on an internal message board that Amazon would continue to sell the book. The director wrote, “After examining the content of the book in detail and calibrating with senior leadership, we have confirmed that it does not violate our content policy.” An Amazon spokesperson told NBC News in an email, “As a bookseller, we believe that providing access to written speech and a variety of viewpoints is one of the most important things we do — even when those viewpoints differ from our own or Amazon’s stated positions.”
According to Christian Headlines, During the COVID-19 pandemic, 100,000 Bibles were given to prisoners by the nation’s leading Christian prison ministry amid heightened demand for God’s Word. James Ackerman, the CEO of Prison Fellowship, noted that there was a “sense of hopelessness” in prisons throughout the pandemic. Ackerman said, “During a time when prisons had shut down, and incarcerated men and women had to go without visitations or programming, there’s this sense of hopelessness in prisons.” Ackerman shared that there was an intense level of demand for the Gospel inside prisons, for the first time in Prison Fellowship’s 45-year history. “God put on people’s hearts and encouraged chaplains to promote the Word of God,” he noted. “And [the fact] that hope of the Gospel found itself in such high demand is so encouraging to me.” In response, Prison Fellowship managed to distribute 100,000 copies of The Life Recovery Bible, Tyndale’s bestselling recovery Bible, in nine months. The Life Recovery Bible, which is under the New Living Translation, features unique devotional content based on the 12-step recovery model.
According to NPR, An Atlanta oversight board has ordered the reinstatement of Garrett Rolfe, the fired police officer charged with murder in the death of Rayshard Brooks, based on technicalities about dismissal procedures under the Atlanta city code. Rolfe will remain on administrative leave until his criminal charges are resolved. The department filed paperwork to dismiss Rolfe the day after he shot Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, in the parking lot of a Wendy’s on June 12. Rolfe has since been charged with murder, though his criminal case has been bogged down by procedural delays. The order to reinstate him, made by the city’s Civil Service Board, is based on the finding that Atlanta police did not follow city code when it dismissed him. The board found the department made several errors on the dismissal paperwork and did not give Rolfe adequate time to respond. The board specifically did not make a judgment about whether Rolfe’s conduct was criminal. His firing came at a chaotic time for the Atlanta Police Department. During a board hearing last month over whether Rolfe’s firing should be reversed, witness testimony and evidence showed an error-ridden, rushed dismissal.
According to the Associated Press, A Florida teen accused of rigging a homecoming queen election with her mother is being charged as an adult. Emily Rose Grover was still 17 when she was arrested in March. She turned 18 in April, and the State Attorney’s Office in Escambia County confirmed Tuesday that Grover will be tried as an adult. Grover and her mother, Laura Rose Carroll, face multiple felony charges stemming from the October homecoming vote at Tate High School in Pensacola. While employed as an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School in the same county, Carroll accessed the school district’s internal system to cast fraudulent votes for her daughter so that she would win. Officials have confirmed that Carroll was suspended from her job, but it wasn’t immediately clear if she has been fired. Authorities said Grover was expelled from Tate High School. Each are charged with offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices; unlawful use of a two-way communications device; criminal use of personally identifiable information and conspiracy to commit those offenses. Prosecutors said the mother and daughter each face a maximum 16-year sentence.
According to Reuters, Six people who helped with Japan’s Olympic Torch relay were diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the total number of participants in the event who got the coronavirus to eight. The six people, who included a man in his 20s and another man in his 30s, helped on the relay in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima on April 27. All of them assisted with traffic control and wore masks, with three of them doing so in the city of Amami and the other three in the city of Kirishima, said the organisers. Japanese authorities are determined to protect Games participants and a local population that opinion surveys have shown is largely opposed to the Olympics due to fears the event will lead to more COVID-19 infections. Japan last month declared a COVID-19 state of emergency for the major population centres of Tokyo and Osaka and two other areas set to last until May 11 to contain a fourth wave of infections. The Games, delayed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled to open on July 23.
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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!