American pastor and missionary Thomas (Tom) Randall has been imprisoned in Manila, Philippines on allegations that an orphanage he and his wife founded in the country has been operating as a front for human trafficking and that dozens of poor children living at the facility had been suffering sexual abuse for years.
Randall was on a mission trip in the country when state and social welfare authorities apprehended him and two workers on Jan. 12 at the Sankey Samaritan Orphanage in Lucena City, Philippines, reportedly on allegations that he had been negligent regarding alleged abuse and sex trafficking at the facility.
Filipino media reports that Randall was charged with obstruction of justice, while orphanage manager Perfecto "Toto" Luchavez and his son, Mark "Jake" Luchavez, were charged with violating the country's anti-human trafficking laws. Another worker, who reportedly remains at large, Melvin Garcia, was charged with rape, along with Mark Luchavez. The men also allegedly allowed friends to abuse female victims. more >>
Today, people across the United States will remember and pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream of an equal America.
A civil rights icon whose nonviolent resistance helped mainstream the cause of racial equality, Dr. King is a figure much admired in the modern day.
So admired is Dr. King by Americans that many groups invoke him when advancing their respective causes in the public sphere. more >>
Ranked No. 1 on watchdog Open Doors' World Watch List for 12 consecutive years as the worst persecutor of Christians on the globe, North Korea is estimated to have imprisoned between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians for failing to revere their "Dear Leader," the title initiated by previous dictator Kim Jong-il and adopted by his successor and son Kim Jong-un, as a god.
"It is safe to say that nothing has improved for Christians since Kim Jong-un took over power," Open Doors states in its 2014 World Watch List featuring 50 countries where persecution of Christians for religious reasons is most severe. There are an estimated 300,000 Christians in North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Open Doors adds, "The God-like worship of the rulers leaves no room for any other religion. Any reverence not concentrated on the Kim dynasty will be seen as dangerous and state-threatening. Not only will the believers themselves be punished if they are discovered, but likely also their families. Immediate family members, even if they aren't Christians themselves, will serve a sentence in a re-education camp. Christians are sent to political labor camps, from which there is no release possible." more >>
An established executive in branding and marketing in the retail world, Sam Smith realized the need for compassionate, yet professional business acumen within ministry leadership and coined the term "Optimizing Ministry."
Sam used that focus to achieve record results in fundraising and volunteer support as the CEO at Mercy Ships. He was then approached by Medical Ministry International (www.mmint.org) and is now able to make an even larger impact on the poor as CEO of that global organization. MMI has staff and programs in more than 22 countries that utilize health centers, residency training, and medical teams to serve the poor using Jesus as their guide. Sam is the author of the book, "When Love Heals" and blogs at sam-smith.net. Recently, I interviewed Sam about his insights on leadership and international ministry:
Phil Cooke: You're a nonprofit leader with a long background in business. Has that been a help or hindrance? more >>
A federal appeals court has scheduled arguments on an appeal from a group of churches hoping to erect a temporary cross display on public property in Indiana.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided to hear arguments on an appeal regarding churches, including West Side Christian Church of Evansville, which wanted to create a display with multiple crosses on property in Evansville.
Arguments will be heard on Tuesday, Feb. 18 before the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. more >>
Tony Campolo, conservative Christian preacher and influential social activist, has announced his intent to retire from the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education (EAPE) in June after nearly 40 years of impacting the lives of at-risk youth in the U.S. and abroad.
"Next month I will be 79 years old, and this decision will allow me to retire gracefully as president of EAPE," Campolo shared with supporters in a newsletter this week. "After June 30, 2014, I will go on preaching and teaching from my base at Eastern University. The president of Eastern, Dr. Robert Duffett, has agreed to provide me with the assistance and office space I need to continue the work that I believe God has called me to do."
He added, "Sometimes Christian organizations become self-perpetuating and continue long after they have fulfilled their mission. Not so with us! I, along with the EAPE board, believe in accord with Scripture that 'for everything there is a season,' and that the season has arrived for EAPE to come to an end." more >>