Churches Under Fire

On May 5, JOHN HANFORD, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, announced an agreement with Vietnam and confirmed the release of 12 religious prisoners as part of a special amnesty, Compass Direct reports. Six Hmong Christians and Mennonite church worker LE THI HONG LIEN were among them. The agreement acknowledges recent progress in Vietnam's religious-rights policies, including a pledge to allow hundreds of disbanded churches to reopen. However, Human Rights Watch reported that state security forces continue to force Montagnard Christians to recant their faith.

Supersize Church in China

With government approval, registered Chinese Christians dedicated the LARGEST CHURCH BUILDING in the country on May 5. The 5,000-seat structure is in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, on China's east coast. Last year, authorities sentenced several unregistered house-church leaders from the same city to prison, convicting them of passing on information to foreign journalists about the destruction of illegal church properties.

Messianic Jews in Israel

Immigration from the former Soviet Union has boosted the number of MESSIANIC BELIEVERS in Israel to 10,000, according to the Jerusalem Post. Previous estimates put the number around 6,000.

Millard Fuller Update

Millard Fuller, founder of HABITAT FOR HUMANITY, under a threatened lawsuit by HFH, has announced a changed name for his new housing ministry: the Fuller Center for Housing. Initially, it was called Building Habitat .

Related Elsewhere:

Compass Direct has more information about Vietnam's religious rights agreement. Vietnam's prime minister recently visited the U.S. to much protest:

Vietnam prime minister launches U.S. tour | The first visit to America by a prime ...
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