Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini, has met with over 100 Parliamentarians from nearly 50 countries to urge them to sign a letter calling for her husband's release. This week marks Abedini's third anniversary in prison, as well as the 70th session of the General Assembly of the U.N. in New York, which Iran's President Hassan Rouhani will attend.
"We are alarmed by ongoing reports of violations of this fundamental freedom for religious minorities, including Christians and the Bahá'ís. We respectfully ask you to ensure that all individuals in Iran, be they Muslim, Christian, Bahá'í, Atheist, Zoroastrian, Jew or from another faith, can fully enjoy freedom of religion or belief without fear of violence or discrimination," states the letter, which was signed by 67 Parliamentarians following Abedini's speech.
"We are particularly concerned about Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been jailed for nearly three years. We understand he has been held in intolerable conditions for merely peacefully exercising his faith in private homes. We specifically request the release of Mr. Abedini, as well as other Christians," it continues. more >>
NEW YORK — Amy Williams, a half-black, half-Irish youth ministry leader born in Maine, was living in North Carolina when she decided to pack her bags and find a new home in Chicago's Puerto Rican-dominated Humboldt Park, the neighborhood otherwise known as the motherland, or birthplace of the notorious Latin Kings street gang.
But Williams, a certified gang intervention specialist who founded the platform A Hope Dealer for her ministry work, said the decision to move was not so much hers as it was God's.
The transition to a new home came after what Williams said was God speaking to her frustrations about a burden she felt to reach young people in the streets. At the time, she was a youth pastor at her church in North Carolina and was mentoring kids, but that just wasn't enough. more >>
NEW YORK — The children are the future? Well, the future is now, according to Larry Acosta, founder and CEO of the Urban Youth Workers Institute, a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to support and train Christians who are walking with and influencing the next generation of leaders.
The Urban Youth Workers Institute describes itself as "a national nonprofit organization that trains and resources urban youth workers to effectively evangelize and disciple youth in at-risk zip codes throughout the U.S." The UYWI's primary goal is "to engage 75,000 urban youth in life-changing discipleship with local youth workers by 2020."
A big part of moving that initiative along is the recently-unveiled Discipleship Toolkit, a free resource compiled of conversation-starting videos, leader guides and student handouts that include an introduction to the Gospel, discipleship support and apologetics resources. It also helps leaders track the progress of students in the areas of spirituality, self, family, community, and education. more >>
On Wednesday, Howard Stern ended his four seasons with one of the most watched shows worldwide, "America's Got Talent" (AGT).
The show dedicated a segment to one of the favorite judges of all time, and in a video, he appears to be walking around New York City, looking back on the things he experienced, and sharing what he loved most about his role as a judge.
The 61-year-old said, "If I had any dream about this, it's that I could take someone who was struggling and seriously give advice." He also shared how he had a strong connection to contestants who shared the same story with him, recalling how he was told multiple times in the past that he had no talent. more >>
NEW YORK — Christians seeking family-friendly entertainment for their children will be able to do so without commercial interruption in the comfort of their living rooms with the new streaming service, Dove channel.
The platform functions much like Netflix, except it solely focuses on streaming faith-based and family friendly content. It will also give lesser-known filmmakers an outlet to release their movies and shows.
Cinedigm, a leading content distributor in the U.S., has partnered with The Dove Foundation, an organization which has specialized in rating movies for family friendliness for over 25 years, to launch the new service. more >>
NEW YORK — Some Christians are more comfortable being in the church than they are being the Church, and are sometimes fired up about serving but reluctant about sacrificing. These are two things that have to change, especially when it come to discipling youth, according to a director for a national outreach organization that focuses on reaching young people on their turf and in their culture.
"There [are] not that many that are called to this. There's not a line of people waiting to do urban youth ministry, let's keep it real. … Ain't that many people," said Luma Haddad, the Young Life urban area director for San Diego South Bay.
Haddad, who works with Latino, black, and Filipino teenagers in junior high and high school, made those remarks Sept. 12 at the Urban Youth Workers Institute's RELOAD one-day training event held at Bay Ridge Christian Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The event, which included various presentations and workshops from urban ministry leaders, was tailored toward equipping and encouraging those who work with youth. more >>