This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Catholic News Agency, With time running out to rescue civilians fleeing the Taliban, Afghan Christians and others whose names appear on U.S. government lists of qualified evacuees are being turned away at the airport in Kabul, representatives of aid organizations and others told CNA Wednesday. “I was told by contacts from various groups working to rescue those still in danger in Afghanistan—who must remain anonymous — that the State Department at least at a certain point was not implementing the lists that they require the organizations to compile — even though they have sent them multiple times,” Faith McDonnell, director of advocacy at Katartismos Global, an Anglican nonprofit ministry group based in Manassas, Virginia, told CNA Wednesday. “It seems at present as if no one is getting any priority unless they have some sort of special connection inside the airport,” she said. Looming over the deepening humanitarian crisis is a deadline of Friday for civilian evacuation operations at the Kabul airport to give way to the transport of the remaining 5,400 U.S. military personnel out of the country in order to meet a target date of Aug. 31, set months ago by the Biden administration, for a full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. U.S. officials have said the date could be extended if necessary, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
According to CBN, Chinese police arrested 28 people, 10 of them children, after they raided a worship service Sunday at Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Chengdu. Details about the incident were shared on a Facebook prayer page for the church. “On the morning of August 22, 2021, during Sunday worship at Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, police illegally raided the Tashui Small Group as they were meeting offline in Chenghua District. The police claimed to have received a call reporting an illegal gathering there,” the post reads. “Pastoral intern Dai Zhichao asked the police to present a search warrant. The police were rough and wanted to check people’s ID cards. Dai Zhichao’s arm was scratched and his cell phone was taken away.” Following the attack, police notified brother He Shan’s family that he had been placed in administrative detention for 14 days and was fined 1,000 RMB ($154). Dai’s wife was also informed that officers were holding him in detention for 14 days.
According to CBN, A Christian humanitarian group is responding to the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan as tens of thousands of desperate people, including American citizens, try to escape the authoritarian rule of the Taliban. Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian humanitarian group led by Franklin Graham, is responding to the situation in Afghanistan by partnering with other organizations to get men, women, and children out of the country. They are sponsoring flights, which have carried hundreds to safety. The organization says the Islamic extremists stand ready to take the country back to medieval times where Christians, women, anyone who associated with Americans, and others face severe persecution and death. Samaritan’s Purse reports one of their partners made three trips into Afghanistan that brought out 700 people in one day. The Christian group also helped to get 80 missionary families out of the country.
According to Christianity Today, Thomas McKenzie, a popular Nashville priest and author of The Anglican Way, died on Monday alongside his 22-year-old child Charlie McKenzie. They were driving from their home in Tennessee to St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the younger McKenzie was set to start their senior year. The car collided with a tractor trailer near Burns, Tennessee, about 20 minutes west of Nashville, a little before 10 a.m. It was the first day of Thomas McKenzie’s sabbatical. He planned to take his eldest to college, then take his wife to England to celebrate his 50th birthday, and then travel to France to trek the Camino, a medieval pilgrimage trail. He was going to walk from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees mountains to the tomb of St. James the Great on the coast of Spain before rejoining his church on All Saints’ Sunday. “I’m excited about my upcoming travels,” McKenzie wrote on Twitter the day before his death, “but I know I’ll miss my community. I feel sadness and some anxiety as I prepare for this morning’s Eucharists.” As news of his death spread, Anglicans and a broad swath of evangelicals expressed shock and sadness. Several people recounted how McKenzie had generously reached out to them when they were interested in Anglicanism and offered to guide them in the process.
According to Christianity Today, A 23-year-old refugee from Syria was surprised when an aid worker told her that he had a special fund to help her. The Jordanian Christian said he could provide her with more than the mattress, coat, cookstove, and gas bottles that the others got from the local Christian and Missionary Alliance church. Maybe a washing machine. Or even a flat-screen TV. When he came to her home after midnight with a special delivery, she understood the man wanted something in return. “He touched my hand and tried to kiss me,” the woman said in an Arabic statement obtained by Christianity Today. “I pulled back. . . . After that, there was no help from the church.” The Jordanian church’s refugee aid program was given hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for seven years by more than half a dozen international Christian aid agencies and scores of North American churches. Neither the churches nor the aid organizations appear to have ever checked to see whether their local partner had any policies to protect vulnerable women against sexual exploitation. The church did not have a reporting mechanism for abuse complaints, unless refugees wanted to go to the pastor of the church, who is the brother of the accused man. “Leaders at the church had been hearing this for years. Pastors did nothing for years,” an American Christian woman who has worked in the area for more than a decade told CT. She spoke on the condition that her identity be concealed because she works for a Christian organization that hopes to continue partnering with the church. “It got to be common knowledge amongst the Syrians. They would say, ‘If you want help from the church, send your young, pretty girls,’” she said. “There wasn’t one witness. There were like 99 witnesses.” Christian aid organizations have increasingly worked through local churches and ministries in recent decades. Instead of assisting refugees or others in crisis directly, they have funneled funding to those who are already on the ground. The use of “implementing partners” is considered a best practice for aid distribution. It can lower overhead costs and puts more decision-making authority into the communities actually receiving assistance. But adding links to the humanitarian supply chain also adds gaps in accountability.
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!