We've compiled the top stories of the week. Here's what you need to know:
John Gray’s Relentless Church served eviction papers; Ron, Hope Carpenter allegedly want church back
An attorney retained by pastor John Gray said in a letter that Hope Carpenter allegedly told members of Relentless Church that Gray is a “shady man” and “dishonest,” and that she and her husband, Ron, will soon be taking back their church.
Carpenter, who co-founded Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina, which was rebranded Relentless Church last year, briefly spoke at a worship service in March where she defended Gray, the congregation’s new pastor, amid a scandal. But in a letter released Thursday, James Welch, a lawyer retained by Gray, revealed that the relationship has now soured.
Welch, in his letter to John R. Devlin, an attorney for the Carpenters, noted that on Nov. 27, Gray was served a 30-day notice of termination for the church building they had apparently been leasing from the Carpenters.
Texas CPS dismisses case after taking 4-year-old boy away from homeschool parents
Child Protective Services in Texas has dropped its five-months long case against homeschooling parents who say their son was unfairly removed from their home by the state based on false allegations of child medical abuse.
On Tuesday, Kaufman County Judge Tracy Gray signed an order that ended the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services' case against the Pardo family. On June 20, Daniel and Ashley Pardo’s 4-year-old son, Drake, was taken from their home on the authority of a court order after the family missed a CPS-facilitated meeting at Dallas Children’s Medical Center that they were not informed about and was hours away from their home.
Although the Pardo family has been reunited, Jeremy Newman, director of public policy for the Texas Home School Coalition, said CPS workers get to walk away from the court agreement without any psychological damage while families are left to deal with the emotional aftermath of such removals.
“This is the end of the Pardo case officially, but this is not the end of it for the family. CPS kind of gets to walk away from this, right? It’s a little bit easier for them. But for the families in these situations, the trauma and the effect of that last.” — Jeremy Newman
Brandt Jean honored by law enforcement group for showing compassion to officer who killed his brother
The Institute for Law Enforcement Administration gave its 2019 Ethical Courage Award to 18-year-old Brandt Jean on Tuesday for publicly forgiving and hugging former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger who killed his older brother, Botham Jean, inside his own apartment in 2018.
In October, a Dallas County jury convicted Guyger, 31, of fatally shooting Botham Jean, 26, in his apartment. She said that she mistook his apartment for her own and thought Jean was a burglar. During the trial, the jury heard testimony from neighbors about how often they got lost and wound up "on the wrong floor of the South Side Flats where Guyger and Jean lived," The Dallas Morning News reported.
“I am grateful for this award for the same reason I was grateful for the opportunity to embrace her after she was convicted of murder in her trial. After being found guilty by a jury of her peers, sentenced under the law, Ms. Guyger needed to be forgiven, and I needed to be free from the burden of unforgiveness.
I am well aware that this agency is responsible for the training of officers in leadership positions around the country. I’ve come to believe that it was a lack of training and poor utilization of proper techniques at the opportune time that caused Amber Guyger to murder my brother. That is the reason that I stand before you today.” — Brandt Jean
Gunmen storm Sunday church service in Burkina Faso
Suspected Muslim extremists launched an attack on a church in eastern Burkina Faso on Sunday morning, killing 14 people and wounding several others. The attack took place in the village of Hantoukoura near the border with Niger in the East region. After spraying bullets into the congregation during the Sunday service, the assailants fled on motorbikes.
According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, such attacks have quadrupled over the last two years in Burkina Faso and left dozens dead this year alone. Additionally, an estimated 500,000 people have been forced from their homes amid the unrest, according to the U.N.
Sunday’s massacre follows a series of attacks by radical Islamist insurgents against Christians in the embattled West African country. The country of 19 million is about two-thirds Muslim, with a Christian minority.
Christians in Burkina Faso following a series of attacks by radical Islamist insurgents
Women in Southeast Asia who are being sold and trafficked or forced into marriages
Northlander: Force of Light (Dec. 6)
Balsam Range: The Gospel Collection (Dec. 6)
From Adam and Israel to the Church by Benjamin L. Gladd (Dec. 3)
Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters by Carmen Joy Imes (Dec. 10)
What’s So Funny About God? by Steve Wilkens (Dec. 31)