Praise & Prayer

Praise: With Help From Americans, Sudanese Priest Who Refused to Destroy Church Goes Free, Keeps Building-Six weeks after a Sudanese court jailed an Episcopal priest for refusing to tear down his church building, Samuel Dobai Amum has been set free. The legal process was also set in motion for his parish church to obtain official ownership of its land. Amum was sent to Soba Prison in April for an "indefinite sentence" until he either demolished the mud-brick St. Matthew's Parish on the outskirts of Khartoum or paid 7 million Sudanese dinars (about $2,700) to purchase the land on which he had built it 11years ago. He was released May 21, after a small Christian delegation visiting Sudan from the U.S. added 4.4 million dinars to funds already raised by local Sudanese Christians and negotiated Amum's release. Two days after his release, Amum's congregation packed into St. Matthew's for Friday worship-a service that lasted five hours. Compass via MissionNet

Praise & Pray: Fire-Walking Ceremony Becomes Opportunity for Evangelism-Evangelist Joel Marandi of the Brethren in Christ Church in the northern Indian village of Purnea says a pagan fire-walking ceremony became an opportunity to share the gospel. "The Safa Hor are a group within the Santal people living in Mohini village in the Araria District," he explained. "They worship the Hindu god Rama and celebrate a fire-walking ceremony each year. They dig a pit in which they set afire, and then walk across the burning coals without burning their feet. I had been evangelizing in this village for two years without visible result. I realized that this fire-walking ritual was demonic, and the reason why I was not making progress. This year I called some Christian colleagues to help. Together we walked around the place where the ceremony was to be held, praying that God would break the power of all demonic idols in the village. Only a few villagers showed up for the ceremony. One tried to walk on the fire, but burned his legs. I then told the people about Jesus, the true God. Friday Fax via Mission Net

Praise & Pray: Persecution in India Only Helps Spread Gospel-Increased persecution against Christians is having a positive impact on evangelism in India, says BCM International India Director Sthyabal Vallab. "It is a blessing in disguise for us because it helps us to keep the church awake. The persecution is bringing the people to the realization that we need to know the Lord more seriously." Vallab says as government leaders harass Christians, people are becoming more curious. Many are asking Christians about their faith. He says the violence isn't stopping their Bible club program. "There are about 14,000 Bible clubs. We have about 25to 30 percent of the children coming to Christ. We definitely need a lot of support to keep going so that their ministry would be a blessing without having to concentrate on their financial struggles." Mission Network News

Pray: Sudanese Girl Punished for Not Wearing Socks-Aziza Salih Adam, 15, was sentenced to 30 lashes by a Sudanese court on June 1for failing to cover her feet with socks. The sentence, handed down by the District Court in Western Darfour, was carried out the same day. The girl, who works as an assistant to a street vendor selling tea in Nyala, was arrested on the street where she was working near a local police station. Regulations mandate that all female street vendors-especially those selling food-must wear socks. In her defense, Adam explained that she could not afford to purchase socks. The Sudan Organization Against Torture expressed concern about this kind of punishment, which is becoming increasingly common in the country. "Punishments such as whippings and amputations constitute cruel, inhumane and degrading punishments according to the UN Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights," the organization stated in an e-mail report. Sudan Organization Against Torture via MissionNet

Pray: Religious Activity Rises While Personal Faith Wanes-A Barna Research Group study of U.S. churches in the last year indicates that while religious activity is on the rise, personal involvement in practical faith remains mainly unchanged. American Missionary Fellowship's Lee Iseley says that describes the ministry's most difficult dilemma in outreach. "Our greatest challenge, in terms of recruitment, is finding people who are willing to commit themselves to the task of full-time evangelism. As we find the need growing in America, we find our need for people in America to reach America, to be our No. 1 challenge." Iseley says once that challenge is met; there is another to be met through prayer and vision. "Pray for open doors of opportunity, that there would be the opportunity in various communities to go in and establish Bible-learning communities; and secondly, for personnel to be going through those open doors and reaching people for Christ." Mission Network News

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