PODCAST: Islamist extremists in Uganda murder pastor who led Muslims to faith in Christ (UCNN 5.13.21)

This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to Morning Star News, Muslim extremists in eastern Uganda are suspected in the May 3 killing of a Christian pastor hours after he engaged in a public debate about Christianity and Islam, sources said. Pastor Thomas Chikooma, a resident of Komolo village, Pallisa town, was killed after he was invited to an open-air debate in Pallisa, where he had led 14 people, including six Muslims, to faith in Christ, relatives said. Area Muslims had invited the independent Pentecostal church pastor to participate in the debate at a taxi park in the town where they had been holding public discussions for about a month. After offering a defense of Christianity at the debate using the Bible and the Koran and leading the people to receive Christ, angry Muslims began shouting jihadist slogans, compelling him to rush away from the venue with his son. The pastor’s son said, “Two motorcycles carrying two Muslims each and dressed in Islamic attire speedily bypassed us. When we were 200 meters to reach our house, the two motorcycles stopped at the junction opposite Nalufenya primary school and the road near our house.” The pastor became suspicious and told him to follow at a distance, and he saw his father speaking with the motorcyclists and two other men. “Immediately some commotion began as the men started talking about the open-air debate, and soon one of them slapped my father. I got scared and fled through our cassava plantation and arrived at home.” His mother, Jessica Naikomba, arrived home an hour later, and they returned to the scene with some neighbors but did not find anyone. Naikomba said, “As we continued doing the search, we found my husband in a pool of blood, beheaded and his tongue removed.” Relatives were in shock and tears as they mourned the loss of the pastor, a father of 11 who had planted 50 churches in eastern Uganda. Pastor Chikooma was a well-known evangelist who led St. Martin Church in Ngalwe village.

According to the New York Post, A Buffalo State College student missing since last month may have thrown herself from Niagara Falls after her boyfriend broke up with her, authorities said Thursday. Saniyya Dennis, a 19-year-old sophomore from the Bronx, was last seen leaving her college dorm on April 24. “It appears that this poor girl took her own life,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said at a news conference Thursday morning. The day she disappeared, Dennis had an argument with her boyfriend that led to him breaking up with her. Dennis called her boyfriend, who was in New York City at the time, 59 times in the next several hours, but he didn’t pick up. She then sent a text telling him she planned to kill herself. The text read, “I’m so done with my own life, and living it. I’ve finally had enough.” Flynn said Dennis was “troubled by the breakup” and later contacted another male friend in New York City, also telling him she had planned to commit suicide. The teen spent hours on the phone with Dennis and “talked her down” from her plan at one point, but she apparently followed through on her threat after hopping on a bus to the Niagara Falls Visitor Center. Dennis texted her mother at Niagara Falls, telling her she would call her the next day, but also sent a message to a friend indicating she wouldn’t see him this coming summer, Flynn said. Bloodhounds later picked up the teen’s scent during an April 30 search on and around Goat Island, Flynn said, where she was seen on video early April 25. While authorities have not recovered her body, they believe Dennis died by suicide based on the timeline of her last hours. “There is a possibility … that we may never find a body,” Flynn said, adding that Dennis may gotten caught in the “jagged rocks” near Niagara Falls.

According to Baptist Press, More than half of Americans believe the Bible is “without error,” the American Bible Society said Tuesday (May 11) in its 2021 State of the Bible report. Biblical inerrancy is professed by 55 percent of Americans, with even a greater portion of those surveyed, 71 percent, confessing that Scripture is the Word of God. “Most descriptions of what the Bible actually is still fall within the realm of Christian orthodoxy,” ABS said. Comprising those who believe the Bible is God’s Word are 26 percent of respondents who said the Bible should be “taken literally, word for word,” 29 percent who said “some verses are meant to be symbolic rather than literal,” and 15 percent who said the Bible has “some factual or historical errors.” Nearly a tenth of respondents, 9 percent, said the Bible “was not inspired by God but tells how the writers understood the ways and principles of God,” and 13 percent described the Bible “as just another book of teachings written by people that contains stories and advice.” ABS released the report’s first two chapters, revealing findings on scriptural appreciation and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on society’s biblical engagement during a time period viewed as the “new normal.”

According to ABC7 New York, A 10-year-old boy from New York City is America’s youngest Chess Master at age 10. Tani Adewumi and his family fled Nigeria in 2017. That’s where he first saw his dad’s computer with an app that was simply called “Chess.” In America, he played with his brother “on a real board” after he learned at school. Tani quickly rose to fame after winning the state chess title for his age group in 2019 after only learning how to play chess the year before. His chess coach had set up a GoFundMe following the boy’s win, which got his family into an apartment and out of a homeless shelter. Tani said he felt “relieved” when he “finally” achieved the title of Chess Master. “It feels very wonderful, it feels very good. I’ve been trying to get it for some time now, since the pandemic, so it feels very relieving to finally get the title,” he said.

According to PEOPLE Magazine, Naomi Osaka is lending a helping hand to even more aspiring athletes. The tennis superstar’s Play Academy with Nike and Laureus Sport for Good — which first launched in Japan last summer — is expanding to two new locations: Los Angeles, California, and Haiti. Play Academy provides grants and capacity-building training for community organizations in order to boost girls’ access to and participation in sport. Osaka said, “We believe that all kids — especially girls — deserve a chance to play, no matter where they come from or what they look like. The more we provide girls with opportunities to get active, the more opportunities we are giving them to become leaders in their communities.” In Haiti, Play Academy will be partnering with GOALS Haiti to reach underrepresented youth. Osaka says they’re hoping to “hire more female coaches, and provide girls with education to help build up their confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills.” Play Academy is still seeking community partners in Los Angeles, and aiming to focus on girl athletes from Black, Asian and Latino communities. Both locations have special meaning to the athlete: Los Angeles is where Osaka currently lives and trains, and Haiti is where her father is from.

According to CNN, Former standout college quarterback Colt Brennan died this week in a California hospital. “He had been in a long-term rehab facility,” Brennan’s sister, Carrera Shea, told CNN on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, he relapsed.” Brennan, 37, was pronounced dead at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, according to the Orange County coroner. The Costa Mesa Police Department said that Brennan was taken to the hospital due to an overdose. After a shaky beginning to his college football career, Brennan transferred to the University of Hawaii in 2005, where he was the starting quarterback for three seasons. Brennan set the NCAA record for touchdown passes in a single season with 58 in 2006. That record was eclipsed by LSU’s Joe Burrow in the 2019 season. Despite being a Heisman Trophy candidate in his junior year, Brennan opted to stay at Hawaii for his final year of eligibility. After college, Washington picked Brennan in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Although he performed strongly in preseason appearances, Brennan never played in a regular-season NFL game. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors tweeted tributes to Brennan, with current head coach Todd Graham saying, “The Hawaii football program is deeply saddened by the news of Colt Brennan passing. A great Warrior legend, rest in aloha.”

According to the Christian Post, Hollywood stars, including Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, have rented out movie theaters to show their support for a pastor-led documentary that opened in theatres nationwide Wednesday, “Chicago: America’s Hidden War.” The timely documentary, led by Christian pastor Dimas Salaberrios, landed on this year’s Oscar eligibility list for an Academy Award in the best documentary feature category and has caught the attention of the 66-year-old Washington and his wife, Pauletta, along with other celebrities. The film’s synopsis states, “‘Chicago America’s Hidden War’ pulls back the curtain to expose the pervasive genocidal-like behavior, explain what birthed and contributed to this war and why so little is done to stop it, and ultimately inspires a clear path toward change.” The film features firsthand testimonies from pastors, gangbangers and children who say they only feel safe “in school and in the church” as violence continues to increase. Stars who joined Washington by renting out theaters to screen the film include Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, Charlamagne tha God, Willie Robertson, Darryl Strawberry, Dexter Darden, JoJo, Curtis Martin, Dean and Scott Winters, Angie Stone, BeBe Winans and Clifton Davis.

You can read these stories and more at UrbanChristianNews.com

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!