This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, spotlights a new sponsor and a new name for the "Day of Truth", a call to responsibility on Orphan Sunday last week, and reflections on Christian persecution in light of the President's Asian trip.
3 - Focus on the Family picks up "Day of Truth"
For a number of years, Christian students have been participating in the "Day of Truth", which is a response to the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) observance known as the "Day of Silence", where gay students and gay sympathizers are encouraged to remain silent as a reaction to what they perceive is cruel treatment. The Alliance Defense Fund initiated the "Day of Truth", encouraging Christian students to speak out, and to speak the truth about sexuality according to God's word. The responsibility for that day transferred to Exodus International, which is a Christian advocacy group that is involved in helping people who depart from homosexuality. Now, Focus on the Family has picked up the sponsorship, and has renamed it the "Day of Dialogue", emphasizing the importance of engaging in communication about the truth found in God's word regarding the freedom that Christ offers. A piece from Focus on the Family explains the new arrangement for the April 18 observance.
2 - "Orphan Sunday" encourages Christians to follow Biblical instruction
The Bible plainly tells believers in Christ to care for the widow and the orphan. There are millions of orphans around the world, and we as Christians have a distinct responsibility for getting involved in the lives of these children. In fact, indications are that there are well over 100 million orphans worldwide.
Many orphans live in substandard facilities after being either abandoned by the their parents, or perhaps becoming wards of the state because of the death of parents. And, in many areas, once those orphans become recognized as "adults", then they are turned out on the streets, and many become involved in trafficking and prostitution.
So, it is not surprising that a number of organizations have become involved in care for the orphans and promoting the adoption of children from countries around the world who face a bleak future. This past Sunday, November 7th, was designated as "Orphan Sunday", calling attention to the plight of orphans worldwide. Special events were held, and topic of care for orphans was encouraged to be addressed in churches. For more information, you can visit the website at http://www.orphansunday.org/.
1 - President's trip to Asia highlights areas of religious tensions
President Obama has completed his Asian trip, and perhaps the stop of most interest to many Christians concerned about religious persecution is the visit to the nation of Indonesia, the nation with the world's largest Muslim population, where the President spent a portion of his childhood. And, as has been the case when Obama has visited countries with Islamic governments, he went out of his way to extol the virtues of that religion and leaders who embrace it and/or govern by it. Perhaps one of the most intriguing comments that Obama made was that, referring to the situation in Indonesia, "Islam flourishes, but so do other faiths." Here is a general news story from CBN News.
But could Christianity be considered as one of those other faiths? Christians in Indonesia might not think so. While the Christian population is apparently growing, the government is not allowing very many new churches to be built. Meanwhile, a national decree which has limited the growth of house churches has stifled the Christian church population. Here is a report from CBN News on the state of Christians in Indonesia. The actions of militant Muslims have become a real threat to Christians, who worship in many cases at their own risk.
So, while the President continues his outreach to Muslim governments, it is disappointing that he is not calling for these governments to pursue a greater degree of tolerance for Christians who live within their countries.
And, a further note: the President's visit to India can serve to remind us about the persecution of Christians in that nation, especially in the Orissa province. In fact, in that location, Christians are facing fear, as well as pressure to return to Hinduism. Here is the story from Compass Direct News.
Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. And, despite the knowledge of governmental officials in the United States, nations who endorse persecution of Christians, either actively (by supporting anti-Christian activity) or passively (by looking the other way) are seemingly not facing any possibility of being ostracized or sanctioned as a result of their intolerant actions. This is a matter of prayer for those Christians around the world who live under restrictions, fear of violence, and the threat of imprisonment and death.
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