With fears of increased targeting, New Tribes Mission quiets its missionaries
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that New Tribes Mission has imposed a media blackout on their operations in the Philippines, "citing security concerns for the rest of the group's 179 missionaries." Guy Sier, an international crisis and emergency coordinator working for New Tribes, says media attention has become a "mini crisis" in itself within the larger crisis of its two kidnapped missionaries, Martin and Gracia Burnham. "The whole media thing became a distraction that was siphoning off from our focus at a crucial time," Sier said.

Fortunately, The Orlando Sentinel got its reporter to the Philippines before the media blackout. On Wednesday, it ran a wonderful profile of the Burnhams and New Tribes' work in the country. "Two wall calendars in Martin and Gracia Burnham's home never made it past the month of May," Sentinel staff writer Pedro Ruz Gutierrez began.

The chatter from a ham radio Gracia Burnham used to communicate with other missionaries around the Philippines has gone quiet. But family pictures and portraits are intact. Books are neatly stacked on shelves. A Nintendo video game sits abandoned beside a TV cart filled with videotapes. Skateboards, bicycles and a custom-made drum set wait to be used again. The May 27 abduction of the Burnhams by Muslim extremists in the southern reaches of this nation of islands has left their home eerily silent, and their village of U.S. missionaries 160 miles north of Manila under a haunting pall.

The article, with several online supplements, is one of the few Weblog has seen to note the Burnham's children, and Gutierrez introduces them at the momemt they found out about their parents' kidnapping:

Mindy, the couple's 11-year-old daughter, was the first one to break down crying, followed by her 14-year-old brother, Jeff. The youngest, 10-year-old Zach, just walked away unsure of what it all meant. … When told they were leaving, Mindy apparently took time to complete a chore her mother had given her: Put items for a baby-gift set in a bag for a Filipino woman who had given birth recently. Mindy gave the present to a fellow missionary child who could pass it on to the new mother.

It's a solid, powerful story that also portrays well the importance of faith both to the Burnhams, their family, and their fellow missionaries.

Meanwhile, keep checking Yahoo's full coverage area and ABS-CBN News over the weekend for developments in the kidnapping.

Jars of Clay finally graduates from Greenville
Christian music breakthrough Jars of Clay helped put Greenville College on the musical map, bringing attention to the school's major in Contemporary Christian Music. But while it was at Greenville that the band members met and won record contracts, one thing they didn't get there was a degree. That changed late last month, as dropouts Dan Haseltine, Charlie Lowell, Steve Mason, and Matt Odmark received honorary Bachelor of Creative Arts degrees. The also played a couple of songs at the school's baccalaureate service.

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  • Hiring for faith-based programs | While people generally support the plan, their most serious concern involves hiring: fear that the groups will discriminate in favor of those with their own beliefs (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)

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