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.
- Cult crackdown called extreme | Scientology tops hit list in France as new legislation against religious sects inches closer (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
- Police find two clues to church blast (The Independent, Bangladesh)
- Put an end to Christian-bashing' | All-India Christian Council and others demand action, say government is supporting harassment (The Hindu)
Church and state:
- Cassadaga journal: Progress and religion clash in Florida county | A Christian pastor has sued Florida's Volusia County claiming that his religious freedom was violated when a county zoning board barred him from building a church near a spiritualist community. (The New York Times)
- Ruling for church in Concord site battle | City wants to block theater conversion (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Court upholds reading of prayer | Parliamentary privilege cited (The Toronto Star)
- California Senate bill allows jail for abortion-clinic blockaders | Opponents say measure violates freedom of speech (Associated Press)
- Bricks land in religious dispute | School unlikely to allow the Ten Commandments (The Miami Herald)
- Christian school plan signals trouble in small town | Many in Sierra Madre fear that the project could bring the first traffic light to a quaint downtown area. (Los Angeles Times)
- Church attendance linked to higher grades | "The more religious you became, the better," says author of study (Education Week)
- Star may be born on Kristin sitcom | Christian faith empowers the fictional Kristin, a nice girl who takes an interim job as a receptionist for a real estate tycoon and shameless playboy (Associated Press)
- England and Australia don't have a prayer | Religion and cricket sometimes overlap—but less often on the island nations (The Guardian, London)
- Pub chain accused of blasphemy to encourage Sunday drinking (Ananova)
- Rap duo wins high praise at fest | Increasingly popular as a form of worship to reach young people, Christian rap has distanced itself from its gangsta cousin (Charles W. Bell, New York Daily News)
- Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers:: "I'd like to be a Christian. I wish I could believe in it." | Imitating Bono? (The Sunday Times)
- Marilyn Manson takes on critics, Columbine fallout | "I really don't find the controversy something to be proud of, or to use to better my career," says shock rocker. Uh-huh. (The Denver Post)
- Also: Manson's right to perform | Protection against evil comes through knowledge and understanding, not denial and avoidance (Matt Henehan, The Denver Post)
- Also: Dying for responsibility | I challenge our community to accept responsibility for the negative message that is coming to town. (Jason Janz , The Denver Post)
- Lutherans oppose leadership | Christ Church in Freemansburg moving toward split with Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. (The Morning Call, Allentown, Pennsylvania)
- Worshipers chase Mexico City bandits | Mass suspended to apprehend thief (Associated Press)
- Atheists given say in women bishops row | Church of England announces that consultation on women in the episcopate is widening beyond churchgoers to include Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and those of no faith (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Fixing leaky church roof no job for faint-hearted | For five years, St Andrew's Anglican Church has employed a bucket brigade. (The New Zealand Herald)
- Appeals panel: Reprimanded prison workers can pursue speech claims in court | But federal judges, reversing lower court ruling, throw out employees' claims that punishment for reading Bible during training session violated their religious liberties (Freedom Forum)
- ACLU Won't Appeal Ohio Decision to Supreme Court | "Potential risk was not worth the gain" says spokesman (Associated Press)
Fallout from guilty verdict in genocide trial:
- Nuns' conviction 'surprises' Vatican | Spokesman for Roman Catholic Church says "all who have sinned during the genocide" must come forward, but don't blame Church itself (Associated Press)
- Church and state: Seeking complicity in a genocide | Catholic clergymen and nuns, as well as pastors of several Protestant churches, were caught up in the ethnic hatred that ripped the country apart, just like everyone else (The New York Times)
- Vatican blasts nuns verdict (New York Post)
- Vatican washes hands of convicted nuns (The Independent, Johannesburg)
- Senate, House mull charitable-choice debate | Religious, political leaders examine whether offering more federal dollars to religious groups offends First Amendment (Freedom Forum)
- 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)
Missions and ministry:
- Church group provides oasis for illegal migrants to U.S. | A wary collaboration has begun between Border Patrol officers and a religious group to help save the lives of people crossing into the United States (The New York Times)
- Habitat for Humanity turns 25: First the world, then Americus | Nonprofit had to build trust elsewhere before being embraced in its hometown (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Demand is rising for clergy as fewer answer the calling | A number of churches and synagogues are finding that filling vacancies takes much longer than it once did, and the pool of candidates has shrunk (The New York Times)
- Bishops to be told: Tighten your belts | No more chauffeur driven cars and first-class travel, palaces may be out too (The Times, London)
- Also: Bishops struggle to make do on £31,000, church report says (The Guardian, London)
- Ministers' wives face challenge | Clergy spouses now turning to their denominations and each other to help cope with their heavy burdens (Associated Press)
Prayer of Jabez:
- Indulgences: Christianity gets easy | Bush is the classic Jabez success story (The New Republic)
- Jabez still chugging along | Sales above 5 million as customers buy book by the dozen (Associated Press)
Other articles of interest:
- Televangelist adds telemarketing to divine calling | Rev. Robert Schuller auto-dials 400,000 homes in a week. Some say it sends a bad message. (Los Angeles Times)
- Adrian Hastings dies at 71 | Theologian, historian, and Africa expert recently edited The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (The Independent, London)
- 'Hitler's wasn't so bad,' Abbot tells teens | "The subject of the Nazi rule is only ever seen from the negative side and not from the positive aspects it brought to the country," says head of Kremsmuenster monnastery in Upper Austria (Ananova)
- Greek monk killed as Arafat meets Tenet | Greek Orthodox monk shot near the army roadblock dividing Jerusalem from the West Bank (Ha'aretz)
- Baltimore mayor drops plan to tax nonprofits | Hospitals, colleges would pay $20 million to city over 4 years; 'I think it's a win-win'; Council delays vote on budget to permit honing of agreement (The Sun, Baltimore)
- Gospel of Mike | One of the TV news greats finds a higher calling (The Nashville Scene)
- Fugitive says he's found God and wants to be baptized | Suspect in Chinese smuggling conspiracy says he just wants to do good works (The Vancouver Sun)
- Financial health improves for National Council of Churches | Ecumenical group still hopes to woo evangelicals, Roman Catholics (Religion News Service/The Dallas Morning News)
- Why is the Old Testament so weird? | What you need to know to wade into the wild waters of the Old Testament (Discipleship Journal) (Thanks to RelapsedCatholic.com for the link)
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