LISTEN: Mariam Ibraheem denounces Saeed Abedini’s criticism of Franklin Graham (BCNN, 04/15/17)

1. According to the Christian Post, Mariam Ibraheem, the Sudanese Christian mother who was sentenced to death in 2014, says she’s “disappointed” by Pastor Saeed Abedini’s public “attacks” against leading evangelist Franklin Graham, church leaders, his ex-wife and others. In an email to The Christian Post, she wrote: “I am disappointed by the way that Saeed Abedini [is] handling his issues with some people (pastors, churches leaders, NGOs and others). We are so grateful for what has been done for us from those people. They did a lot of work for us and they are doing more.” Abedini, an Idaho pastor who was the center of an international outcry when he was imprisoned in Iran for over three years because of his involvement with a house church movement, has used Facebook a number of times in the last week to voice outrage at Christian leaders and with the current jobless situation he faces. His critical Facebook posts come more than a year after his return to the United States was celebrated by thousands of supporters.

2. According to Reuters, members of Egypt’s Christian minority flocked to church on Friday but two church bomb attacks on Palm Sunday that killed 45 people have left many in a sombre mood over Easter. Worshippers from the nearly 2,000-year-old Coptic Christian community attended church services, but the holiday to mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ was being observed in subdued fashion, according to church officials. In the city of Alexandria, Christians congregated at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, historic seat of the Coptic Pope, to attend Good Friday prayers. Worshippers passed through a metal detector at the building entrance, where one of the bombs went off. Rafiq Bishry, head of the church’s organizational committee, said he was surprised that so many people had come. He told Reuters Television: “We expected that people would be too scared to attend prayers but there was no need for our expectations because there are a lot of people here. This is a clear message to the whole world that we are not afraid.”

3. According to the Associated Press, the mother of a black woman who died in a jail near Houston following a confrontational traffic stop in 2015 returned to Texas on Tuesday to back a sweeping police reform bill named after her daughter that influential law enforcement groups are fighting. It was the first time the family of Sandra Bland, whose death became a flashpoint in the national Black Lives Matter movement, has testified before Texas lawmakers who meet only once every two years. The “Sandra Bland Act” as drafted would revamp racial profiling laws, officer training and other police accountability measures. Bland was found dead in a jail outside Houston three days after being pulled over by a white state trooper for not signaling a lane change. Her death was ruled a suicide and the trooper, who pulled Bland out of her car while threatening her with a stun gun, was fired.

4. According to the Associated Press, a third Fox News Channel employee has joined two colleagues in their lawsuit that says they were subjected to racial discrimination by a since-fired executive. Monica Douglas said former controller Judith Slater, who was fired on Feb. 28, frequently expressed an unwillingness to be near black people. Douglas is black, as are colleagues Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright, who filed suit against Fox last week. Douglas, who is Panamanian, said in the lawsuit that Slater told her she wouldn’t let her dogs eat food Panamanians eat. She said Slater frequently referred to her status as a breast cancer survivor, calling her the “one-boobed girl” and the like. Douglas said she complained about Slater’s comments in 2014 and nothing was done. Fox, in a statement, said it takes complaints like this very seriously. The network said: “There is no place for conduct like this at Fox News, which is why Ms. Slater was fired.”

5. According to Bleacher Report, four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal has offered to cover all funeral costs for Malachi Hemphill, a 13-year-old Georgia native who accidentally killed himself with a gun while streaming on Instagram Live this week. On Friday, Julie Wolfe of WXIA reported O’Neal visited the family Thursday night and said he would cover everything. Godmother Shantirea Bankston said: “We just broke down and started crying because Malachi didn’t have any insurance. We weren’t prepared to bury him this young. We didn’t have insurance for him. So to have that from Shaquille O’Neal, it was a blessing and very touching, and we appreciate everything he does for the community.” The 45-year-old Hall of Famer provided a statement to WXIA about his decision to help the family during a time of need. He said: “No mother should have to go through this. I can only imagine the pain that she and all of Malachi’s family must be feeling. I just wanted to do what I could to help them at such a terrible time.”

6. According to the Associated Press, Nobel literature laureate Toni Morrison is collecting another prestigious prize. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist is scheduled to be presented with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Emerson-Thoreau Medal. The prize was established in 1958 and is awarded to individuals to recognize a lifetime of literary achievements. Previous recipients include Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Katherine Anne Porter, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer and Philip Roth. Morrison is set to receive her medal Thursday evening at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Academy President Jonathan Fanton says Morrison was selected “for her excellence in the humanities.” Her nomination calls her “an overwhelming figure in American and world literature.”

7. According to the Root, Colson Whitehead, author of the 2016 National Book Award-winning novel The Underground Railroad, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction Monday. Whitehead’s novel has been heralded by everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Barack Obama since being published in August 2016. According to Doubleday, The Underground Railroad has sold more than 825,000 copies in the U.S. The novel tells the story of Cora and Caesar, two slaves on a Georgia plantation who escape but find themselves caught up in a murder while navigating the Underground Railroad, where engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath Southern soil. Other black Pulitzer winners announced Monday include Tyehimba Jess for poetry, Hilton Als for criticism and Lynn Nottage for drama.

That’s all for today. You can read these stories and more online at

In closing, remember, the good news of God’s love. 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.”

Thanks for listening. May God bless your day.