This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Religion News Service, Luis Palau, an evangelical pastor who was born in Argentina and went on to work with Billy Graham before establishing his own powerhouse international ministry, has died at his home in Portland, Oregon. The Luis Palau Assn. said he died Thursday at age 86. He had announced in January 2018 that he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. “It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that we share with you that Dad passed away early this morning. He died suddenly and very peacefully, just as he had hoped,” his family said in a statement. “This is hard news, but Luis is experiencing the beauty of the Lord face to face.” Born to an affluent family in Buenos Aires, Palau rose from obscurity to become one of the most well-known international Christian evangelists. Over a career that spanned more than half a century, he authored 50 books and addressed more than 30 million people in 75 countries at evangelical “festivals” that were his modern-day take on the more traditional crusades that boosted his mentor and idol, Graham, to fame. “In many ways, I feel the Lord has much more in store for me. Yet whatever tomorrow holds — I’m completely at peace. Both Patricia and I are,” he wrote to his followers after the diagnosis. “As we look back, we praise the Lord. Fifty-seven years of marriage. How many places we’ve been. How many people we’ve reached with the Gospel.” His radio programs, including the international Spanish-language “Luis Palau Responde,” are broadcast on 3,500 stations in 48 countries, and his Portland, Ore.-based Luis Palau Assn. organizes dozens of events each year on five continents.
According to Christianity Daily, A Jamaican pastor who went out to clear a piece of land was found headless in the bushes a day after going missing. Jamaican Pastor Kenniffe Andre Reid was found dead and headless on Monday morning in Sandy Bay along a dirt track at New Town district in Hanover, Jamaica, The Star reported. According to The Star, Reid called his wife, Latoya, last Friday that he’ll be going to a community in New Town, Hanover and attend to a land that he is clearing to build a house on. Reid then left the home of a church sister in New Town after lunch of Sunday, specifically 1:30 p.m., to go to the said land. The church sister called the Sandy Bay police when he did not return as he said on Sunday. However, the church sister was told by police that they could not do anything until a person has gone missing for 24 hours. The church sister then organized a search party on Monday morning and found Reid’s bag and water bottle in the bushes along with a machete. They found his headless body thirty minutes later, specifically at 8:30 a.m., in the bushes along a dirt track.
According to Morning Star News, A mosque leader sent men to rape three female relatives of a church pastor in western Uganda because the imam’s wife put her faith in Christ, sources said. The imam also sent a Muslim to the church’s worship services in the Kasese area to gather information for a future attack and yesterday (March 10) sent a threatening message to the pastor, sources said. The Feb. 16 rapes in Musasa village, Kasese District, of the pastor’s relatives, ages 19, 17 and 16, came two days after imam Caled Bwambale Hussein of Kasese municipality learned of the conversion of his wife, Mariam Mbambu, according to church members who said they learned of the imam’s orders from a Muslim sent to their worship services to help plan an attack on the church. Mbambu put her faith in Christ on Jan. 30 and was baptized on Feb. 6. Her husband learned of her faith on Feb. 14, she said.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, On 8 March, a Christian private prayer meeting in Surguda, Bastar District, in India’s Chhattisgarh state, was interrupted by a mob of about 70 people. The incident took place at approximately 8.30pm in a house belonging to an individual named Jaggu, where approximately 30 people had gathered to pray. According to a local source, some members of the mob wielded weapons and surrounded the property, while others entered the house. They proceeded to verbally abuse and assault the Christians, burning Bibles, furniture, bicycles and a motorcycle. At least six people were admitted to the hospital due to serious injuries. The police have assured the Christians that they will register a First Information Report (FIR), which is required to open up an investigation, against the perpetrators of the attack. It is believed that the mob who carried out the attack were affiliated with Hindu right-wing ideology. According to the yearly report by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), 55 incidents of violations against Christians were recorded in the region of Chhattisgarh in 2020, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh. Between January and March 2021, the state has already witnessed at least eight incidents documented by a source known to CSW. The incidents involve Christians facing pressure to convert through ghar wapsi ceremonies, ostracisation from the village, restrictions on burial rights and denial of access to communal village resources.
According to the Christian Post, Persecution of Christian women worldwide has risen dramatically in the last year as a new study released by Open Doors International found that forced marriages have increased by 16%, and physical violence against women has increased 31%. Global persecution watchdog group Open Doors International released the 2021 “Same Faith, Different Persecution” report on gender-specific religious persecution ahead of International Women’s Day finds (GSRP) to detail the plight of the global persecuted Church and how this especially affects women. GSRP has risen to the highest level recorded in the three years since the report was first issued in 2018, as women face a higher potential risk of religious persecution than men. The report’s data comes from the top 50 countries on the group’s annual World Watch List between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sep. 30, 2020.
According to the Christianity Today, Once the largest apologetics ministry in the world, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) will stop doing apologetics work this year. CEO Sarah Davis announced to staff Wednesday morning that over the next six months, the downsized ministry will remake itself as a grant-making charity. It plans to give money to organizations fulfilling its original purpose of defending the truth of the gospel as well as organizations that care for victims of sexual abuse. “RZIM cannot and should not continue to operate as an organization in its present form. Nor do we believe we can only rename the organization and move forward with ‘business as usual,’” said Davis, who is Zacharias’s daughter and has led the ministry since his death in May 2020. RZIM’s speakers have had invitations rescinded since allegations against Zacharias were reported in September. Over the past several months, donations slowed to the $35 million–$40 million ministry as it investigated and ultimately confirmed abuse by its late founder. The investigation found “guilt beyond anything that we could have imagined,” Davis acknowledged on Wednesday. “The ministry of RZIM has been on a journey almost unlike anything we can think of in modern evangelical history,” Davis said. “We, as a ministry, have been processing a wide range of emotions, including intense grief for victims of abuse, abhorrence at Ravi’s actions, disillusionment, dismay, anger, and uncertainty about the future of the ministry we love and serve.” The ministry is currently undergoing a broad review of culture and structure by the consulting firm Guidepost Solutions. Davis told staff that they can expect layoffs of about 60 percent of staff, starting immediately, as well as leadership changes when the review is finished in four to six months.
According to Religion News Service, Religious presence in the Amazon region in the past year has been a challenge. But between distributing food and lending a friendly ear to those afflicted by unemployment, hunger and despair, the religious women working in Brazil’s Amazonas state have been a driving force, helping the population cope with the dramatic situation of COVID-19 in the region. They have also, however, faced their own anguishes because of social distancing. “I believe our greatest struggle is to know that these people, who live far from cities and [are] isolated, are in desperate need, and we are not being able to help them personally,” said Sr. Roselei Bertoldo, missionary of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who lives in the capital city of Manaus in the middle of the Amazon jungle. “COVID-19 makes you very lonely, especially at night,” said Sr. Maria Aparecida Marques Fernandes, a Franciscan Catechist who has been living in São Gabriel da Cachoeira, known as the most Indigenous city in Brazil, for the past eight years. The city borders Colombia and Venezuela and is home to 23 ethnicities and 18 different Indigenous languages in addition to Portuguese. Fernandes, who has had COVID-19 twice, told Global Sisters Report that the most difficult aspect of the pandemic is the imposed social isolation and the lack of physical contact with people from the community. “Listening is now done over the phone and over the internet,” she said. “We [missionaries] were forced to learn another type of listening, something other than face-to-face communication. Isolation forced us to reformulate, to readapt; we had to pray differently and create new ways of being present.” 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!