This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Johnson City Press, A former Orthodox Presbyterian pastor from Georgia who was conducting missionary work in Uganda when he sexually assaulted a girl under the care of his church has pleaded guilty to his crime in federal court. Eric Tuininga, 44, of Milledgeville, pleaded guilty to engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places before Chief U.S. District Judge Marc T. Treadwell. Upon entry of his guilty plea, Tuininga was taken into custody pending his sentencing. Tuininga faces a maximum 30 years in prison, to be followed by a term of supervised release up to life and a maximum $250,000 fine. In addition, Tuininga will have to register as a sex offender upon his release from federal prison. There is no parole in the federal system. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 3, 2022. “Eric Tuininga used his trusted position as a pastor to sexually assault a young Ugandan girl in his care,” U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said. “This was a challenging case, but law enforcement worked diligently to ensure that Tuininga did not escape justice for his crime overseas. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with our national and international law enforcement partners, will do everything in our power to catch child predators and hold them accountable for their crimes.” “Tuininga was supposed to be someone that could be trusted, but instead he abused that trust and victimized a child,” Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama, said. “HSI and its law enforcement partners will continue to utilize every resource available to identify, arrest and prosecute those who prey upon children.”
According to the AP, Retired Pope Benedict XVI asked forgiveness Tuesday for any “grievous faults” in his handling of clergy sex abuse cases, but denied any personal or specific wrongdoing after an independent report criticized his actions in four cases while he was archbishop of Munich, Germany. “I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church. All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate,” the retired pope said. But Benedict’s lack of a personal apology or any admission of guilt was likely to rile survivors and further complicate efforts by German bishops re-establish credibility with the faithful. Demands for accountability have only increased as the church has come to terms with decades of sexual abuse by priests and cover-up by their bishops. Benedict, 94, was responding to a Jan. 20 report from a German law firm that had been commissioned by the German Catholic Church to look into how cases of sexual abuse were handled in the Munich archdiocese between 1945 and 2019. Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, headed the archdiocese from 1977 to 1982. The report faulted Benedict’s handling of four cases during his time as archbishop, accusing him of misconduct for having failed to restrict the ministry of the priests in the cases even after they had been convicted criminally. The report also faulted his predecessors and successors, estimating there had been at least 497 abuse victims over the decades and at least 235 suspected perpetrators. The Vatican on Tuesday released a letter that Benedict wrote to respond to the allegations, alongside a more technical reply from his lawyers who had provided an initial 82-page response to the law firm about his nearly five-year tenure in Munich.
According to Christianity Today, When he heard the first boom, Feʻilaokitau Kaho Tevi was in line to get his car washed in Tonga’s capital city of Nukuʻalofa. He returned home quickly. Others sat in traffic as over the course of January 15 a volcano erupted in the island kingdom—one that NASA scientists later claimed was hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The blast dumped a layer of ash several inches thick onto buildings, cars, plants, and trees and generated waves that reached estimated heights of 50 feet, sweeping away coastline villages and resorts. Rushing water pushed boulders and debris onto roads. The undersea telecommunications cable connecting the South Pacific nation of 105,000 residents with the rest of the world snapped. And yet, “We feel that we have been the subject of the prayers of the worldwide Christian community,” said Tevi, the former general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches who has previously helped lead Tearfund natural disaster relief efforts in the region. He’s right. Anxious about the fate of their loved ones, many in Tonga’s 150,000-person diaspora have held all-night prayer marathons, organized vigils, and used social media to implore fellow believers to plead to God for the safety and protection of their loved ones. “These were sleepless nights for me and many Tongans around the globe,” said Sela Finau, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Taylor, near Austin, Texas. “We were desperately waiting to hear any word of life from the kingdom. While our communication line was down with family and the people of Tonga, we leaned onto our faith. We knew that our communication line with God was always open and that we could petition for God’s mercy and protection.”
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!