LISTEN: Black Christian News Network One Podcast (06/24/19) with Daniel D.P. Whyte IV

Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to Reuters, At least 14 people were killed and 50 injured on Sunday when heavy rain and a thunderstorm caused a huge tent to collapse in the Barmer district of India’s western desert state of Rajasthan. Locals had gathered for a religious event inside the tent when the incident occurred. Some people died after being electrocuted by live electricity wires as the tent collapsed while others were hit by falling debris. The injured were rushed to hospital. No other details were immediately available.

According to Christian Post, Giving to houses of worship, denominational bodies and religious television and radio declined in 2018 after years of growth as individual Americans donated about $3 billion less than they did in 2017 under a new federal tax code. The Giving USA Foundation, an arm of the Giving Institute, released its 2019 annual report on philanthropy in the U.S. Giving to religious organizations dropped by 1.5 percent to $124.52 billion in current dollars for 2018. That is nearly $2 billion less than the $126.47 billion given to religion in 2017.

According to the AP, a man with a violent criminal history in North Carolina was charged Monday in the shooting death of a Missouri police officer. Officer Michael Langsdorf of the North County Police Cooperative was killed Sunday afternoon in the St. Louis suburb of Wellston after responding to a call about someone trying to pass a bad check at a small market. Langsdorf was a 40-year-old father of two. 26-year-old Bonette Meeks was charged on Monday with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, unlawful possession of a firearm and resisting arrest. Meeks is jailed without bond and does not yet have a listed attorney.

According to the AP, Jurors deliberated less than 90 minutes before returning a guilty verdict Monday at the federal death-penalty trial of a former University of Illinois doctoral student who killed a visiting scholar from China after abducting her at a bus stop. Brendt Christensen looked straight ahead and showed no emotion as a guilty verdict was announced against him. The swift conviction was expected because Christensen’s attorneys acknowledged from the start that he raped and stabbed Yingying Zhang in June 2017. Prosecutors say he also beat her to death with a baseball bat and decapitated her. Illinois no longer has capital punishment, but he could be sentenced to death because he was convicted in federal court.

According to Christian Post, with more than 800,000 followers on Facebook, Chicago-based internet preacher and U.S. Army veteran, Marcus Rogers, has an audience on social media that’s much greater than popular established churches like Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and is just about 300,000 shy of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church’s 1.1 million followers. In recent years, various social platforms and other online technology have amplified the voices of a variety of internet preachers. And as the population of the unchurched continues to grow, some church experts say their data reflect a growing engagement among the faithful with ministries online, with some even choosing to fellowship exclusively on the internet.

According to NBC News, A New York man was charged Sunday with murder and other crimes in the deaths of his girlfriend and their two young children. Shane Walker was arrested after his girlfriend, Alla Ausheva, and their sons, aged 2 and 3, were found dead in their home in Staten Island on Saturday morning. Authorities found the mother and children in a house filled with smoke; firefighters extinguished a small fire. Walker and Ausheva were active-duty military service members.

According to Christian Post, dying churches merging with megachurches is becoming increasingly common in the U.S. Ron Edmondson, CEO of the Leadership Network, an organization that seeks to help provide strategic resources for church leaders, called church mergers “a rising and growing trend.” Edmondson said, “Some 42 percent of multi-sites come by way of merger. The typical merger is a mainline church in decline merging with an evangelical, often non-denominational church.”

According to TMZ, Jussie Smollett still had a noose around his neck more than 40 minutes after his alleged attack. It’s something that has already been reported, but now, for the first time, the video is available. Chicago police just released evidence, including body cam video of officers responding to the 911 call back in January. Cops ask Smollett if he wants to take the noose off. to which he said he would take it off, but he wanted them to see it before he did.

According to the Daily Beast, five alleged New York gang members accused of murdering Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz have been found guilty on Friday, nearly a year after he was brutally butchered with a machete outside a bodega. The five were convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy and gang assault. They are the first of a dozen men arrested in connection with the 15-year-old’s murder caught on a now-viral video. Prosecutors allege the group mistook Guzman-Feliz for a member of the rival faction of the Trinitarios gang.

According to the AP, Riding a wave of widespread Italian enthusiasm to be an Olympic host, Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo won the vote on Monday to stage the 2026 Winter Games. International Olympic Committee members voted 47-34 for the long-favored Milan-Cortina bid over Stockholm-Are from Sweden that also included a bobsled track in Latvia. Italy will get a third Winter Games, after Turin hosted in 2006 and ski resort Cortina staged in 1956. Sweden never hosted the Winter Games and was sent to an eighth loss in bidding in the past 41 years.

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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!