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Insurgent Blast Ravages Church Building in Iraq

Iraqis inspect the site of a bombing in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Monday (Aug. 15). (AP Images/Emad Matti)

An insurgent blast left a church building in Kirkuk, Iraq, severely damaged on Monday in a second round of attacks against the city’s Christian community in two weeks.

The bombing of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Mar Afram was the only attack against Christian targets amid a wave of violence that swept across Iraq yesterday, hitting 17 cities and claiming about 70 lives, according to The Associated Press.

An explosive device next to one of the church’s walls exploded at 1:20 a.m. on Monday. Photos showed the bricks of one of the side walls strewn across the church floor and furniture, and one of the metal doors twisted open. read more

GFA giving blood

Drunk Flirt Meets Missionary, Finds Jesus

Dhiraj and his wife, Nutan, should have been living happily ever after. They had three children and Dhiraj ran his own small business, working as a silversmith. Like almost everyone else in the village, the family worshipped all the local deities faithfully.

But strife was taking its toll on their marriage. Dhiraj was addicted to alcohol. He also embarrassed himself by flirting with the young women in their village, much to his wife's embarrassment and dismay. Then Dhiraj would come home drunk and yell at his wife over trivial matters. Their marriage was crumbling, and Nutan had reached her breaking point.

One day she decided she couldn't take any more. After a heated argument, she started to drink acid. Dhiraj was able to stop her—but not before she'd already burned her throat. A fearful Dhiraj raced his wife to the hospital. read more


Zachery Tims’ Viewing, Funeral Plans Announced

Zachery Tims’ congregation united on Monday night to mourn their senior pastor as a family. Tims was found dead on Friday at 6 p.m. in a W Hotel room in New York City. The official cause of death is not yet known.

Tims’ wake will be held at New Destiny Christian Center on Aug. 19 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Orlando in Florida.

Zachery and Riva Tims started New Destiny Christian Center in a storefront with just a few members in 1996. The church rapidly grew to a peak of 8,000 members.

Results of the toxicology tests are pending after an autopsy conducted on Saturday did not offer conclusive evidence about Tims’ cause of death.

Tims is survived by four children, Zoelle, Zachery III, Zahira and Zion. read more


Indonesia Mayor Rejects Church Permit

A mayor in West Java who disregarded a Supreme Court ruling to reinstate the building permit of a church in Bogor has now dismissed a recommendation by the National Ombudsman Institute to do so.

Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto rejected the recommendation to reinstate the permit for the Indonesian Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Indonesia, or GKI) Yasmin Bogor Church last month, leaving the congregation to worship on a small strip of land as 15 to 20 Muslim demonstrators taunt them. read more

Zachery and Riva Tims

Zachery Tims' Ex-Wife Speaks Out at Church Service

Riva Tims, the ex-wife of the late Pastor Zachery Tims Jr., addressed more than 2,000 people gathered at New Destiny Christian Center in Orlando, Fla., Monday night. The 42-year-old Zachery Tims was found Friday at 6 p.m. in a W Hotel room in New York City. The official cause of death is not yet known.

Riva Tims, who left the church in 2008 during a scandal and eventual divorce in which Zachery Tims admitted to an “indiscretion,” told the congregation that she, her ex-husband and their four children traveled together to Puerto Rico the week prior to his death.

“God saw it fit that we would have an opportunity to spend a few days together with him,” she said to the crowd who never took their seats while she spoke. “He was able to fellowship with his sons and his daughters. He was able to take pictures with them.” read more

Violent Protests Ignite Prayer Movement in Chile

AP Images/Roberto Candia

Educational strikes in Chile may have lulled in violence, but they are far from over.

One article reports that 20 students from various high schools in Chile are currently on a hunger strike, prepared to forgo their academic year and their health for the cause.

Thousands of high school and university students have been demanding radical changes to the educational system in Chile for the past several months. Over the last two weeks, peaceful protests turned violent as students attempted to takeover a TV station to broadcast their concerns, lit fire to buildings and led police to bring tear gas into crowds to quell protests. According to the BBC News, damages to public and private property have now reached $2 million. read more


Greg Laurie Expects 12,000 Salvations in 2011 Crusades

What do a pastor, a young pro-surfer, and a 94-year-old former Olympian and WW II vet have in common? This past weekend, each one of them—Greg Laurie, Bethany Hamilton, and Louis Zamperini—spoke to crowds gathered at Angel Stadium for the 2011 Anaheim Harvest about their shared faith in Jesus Christ.

Hosted by more than 215 churches, from Riverside to Irvine to Temecula, the Harvest Crusades with Greg Laurie marked its 22nd year of evangelistic outreach in Orange County, Calif. with a three-night event, Friday through Sunday (Aug. 12–14).

The 2011 Anaheim Harvest drew a diverse crowd of 115,000 people from 34 states and 11 countries, all of whom gathered to listen to top Christian music from artists like Kutless, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, Jars of Clay, Red and Phil Wickham, and to hear the faith stories of Hamilton and Zamperini. But most important was the message of salvation presented by Riverside, Calif. pastor and evangelist Laurie each evening. read more


Christian Retailing ReBoot Event Set for California

AP Images

Consumers annually buy about $4.63 billion in Christian products. Christian retail sales account for more than 52 percent of these sales. That means Christian stores sell more Christian products than all the general market stores, discounters, warehouse clubs, and direct sales, according to the CBA.

As industry transition and opportunity collide, Christian Retailing magazine is repeating its popular Retailing ReBoot event this fall.

Retailing ReBoot West is set for Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 17-18 at Cottonwood Church in Los Alamitos, Calif. The event will include presentations, discussions, networking sessions and business meetings to help stores deal with the changes the industry is facing and prepare for the important Christmas season. read more


Missionary Attacked While Preaching Gospel in Asia

 Three Bible college students and a missionary leader were severely beaten in Asia.

Kamik Sandbahor, who serves on the staff of the Gospel for Asia state office, was leading a team of students from a local Bible college as they visited villagers in a rural community. Kamik, Jatrinda, Ajmal and Sanjavin were handing out Christian literature when they were attacked by a gang of about 25 young men wielding iron rods and sticks. read more


Christians Exonerated of Offending Muslims

A court in Bangladesh on Thursday exonerated two Christians along with four Muslim friends accused of “hurting religious sensibility.”

Nurul Islam, another Christian and their Muslim friends were cleared of the charge after police failed to provide documentation of any evidence against them, an attorney said.

In March, Christians under the direction of the Way of Peace movement had arranged a two-day health camp offering free treatment to poor villagers in Damurhuda area in Chuadanga district, some 210 kilometers (126 miles) northwest of Dhaka.

Around 100 villagers attended the camp for free treatment the first day, March 23, and a Japanese doctor treated them. But two of the Christian organizers and their Muslim friends were arrested on March 24 under Section 54 of the penal code, a special power granted to police to arrest anyone on any suspicion. read more


Arizona Court Upholds Common Sense Abortion Regs

The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld new abortion regulations which require any woman seeking an abortion to meet face-to-face with the licensed physician performing the abortion at least 24 hours prior to the abortion.

The law also requires that parental consent forms be notarized in order for a minor to get an abortion. Health care providers, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, may refuse to participate in abortions, provide contraceptives, or give out the "morning after pill" if they have moral or religious objections. The law also prohibits anyone who is not a licensed physician from performing an abortion. read more


American Citizen Kidnapped in Pakistan

An American citizen has been kidnapped from his temporary home in Lahore, Pakistan, according to police officials and the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.

The man, who has been identified as Warren Weinstein, was abducted from his home in an area called Model Town by six masked gunmen on Saturday. Weinstein, who is employed by the Virginia-based consulting firm J.E. Austin Associates, has resided in Pakistan for the past seven years while working on a development project financed by the U.S. government.

The gunmen overpowered the guards who were stationed at the front gate, then stormed into the house and snatched Weinstein from his bedroom. read more


Zachery Tims' Church Meeting May Offer Answers About Pastor's Death

Megachurch Pastor Zachery Tims’ congregation has called a special meeting to address rumors and speculation surrounding his weekend death in a New York City hotel room.

In an email obtained by Charisma News, New Destiny Christian Center staff has asked the congregation to come together on Monday evening:

“Today has been filled with rumors and speculations regarding Pastor Zach. We are having a meeting on tomorrow, Monday, Aug. 15th at 7:00pm. Please join us. We look forward to seeing you there.”

New York City police are probing Tims’ death. The W Hotel’s housekeeping staff found Tims dead on the floor of his hotel room, according to the Orlando Sentinel. It is not clear how long he was dead before the maids discovered his body, or the purpose of his trip to Manhattan. read more


11th Circuit Court Rules ObamaCare Unconstitutional

AP Images

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday declared the individual mandate of ObamaCare, the provision making Americans purchase health insurance, unconstitutional.

The court, in a split decision, found that “the individual mandate contained in the Act exceeds Congress's enumerated commerce power.”

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) applauds the decision. The ACLJ, which is actively challenging ObamaCare, focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C. read more

VIDEO: Pastor Zachery Tims Found Dead

Megachurch pastor Zachery Tims died on August 12 in a New York City hotel room the New York Police Department (NYPD) confirms. He was 42. An NYPD representative says "criminality is not suspected." Watch the latest news report from Orlando's WESH-TV.

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UK Riots

Do UK Riots Reflect Europe's Spiritual Poverty?

Photo by International Mission Board

Rioting across the U.K. last week led to the arrests of over 1,500 people in a matter of days.

The shocking hours of looting and criminal activity erupted out of a peaceful protest on Saturday, Aug. 6. The protest was hijacked by others with a more violent agenda against the police.

According to the Guardian, peaceful protests turned into violent criminal attacks involving petrol bombs, bricks and makeshift weapons.

Violent London riots have been raging since the police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan on Aug. 4. Police were attempting to arrest him in Tottenham, a city with a familiar history of riots. read more


OpEd: A Lesson From 'Sesame Street'

AP Images/Beth A. Keiser

Just when you think things couldn’t get more bizarre, they have. This past week a petition was launched calling for the marriage of two iconic characters from Sesame Street, Bert and Ernie. The petition asks that the marriage be executed in a “tasteful” way in order to “Let us teach tolerance of those that are different.”

The petition was filed on the activist site that has become the equivalent of a national blacklist registry of individuals and organizations who hold to a conservative view on marriage and sexuality. While the site has had some success in intimidating organizations such as Apple and most recently Starbucks to comply with their demands, Sesame Street held strong and stated that Bert and Ernie are best friends and as puppets, they do not have a sexual orientation. read more


Retailers, Suppliers Back Christian Retailing Pledges

Retailers and suppliers have welcomed a Christian Retailing initiative to promote support for and unity in the industry.

They have signed rallying point pledges committing to the ministry of Christian bookselling and helping to ensure that it continues. The effort has spread overseas, with store and publisher representatives in the U.K. promoting the pledges there.

The drive was launched in July by Christian Retailing Publisher Steve Strang, as part of a move to help stores in the face of ongoing changes in the industry, “to encourage and equip and support them as they renew their faith and vision.” read more


Zachery Tims’ Facebook Fans Offer Eulogies

Megachurch Pastor Zachery Tims, 42, of New Destiny Christian Center died in a New York City hotel room on Aug. 12. The rumored death of the Orlando-area pastor set the social media world ablaze this weekend. Now, condolences are pouring in through the same web 2.0 channels that first broadcast the news.

Even as Charisma News works to confirm rumors related to Tims’ cause of death in a W Hotel room in Times Square, support for his family and eulogies are flooding his Facebook page. The medical examiner has not yet announced the cause of death. However, New York City police said there will not be a criminal investigation.

“Words cannot fully express the depth of my sorrow that I feel at this moment in time having lost our shepherd, Dr. Zachary Tims. While I do not question God I am simply perplexed,” writes Travis Warren. “I thank God for using DOC to show me and the world that it was cool to be young, gifted, and be connected with a great Church like New Destiny. RIP DOC, you will be truly missed for an eternity. Thanks for keeping it oh so REAL!” read more

Zachery Tims

Megachurch Pastor Zachery Tims Dies

UPDATED: Megachurch pastor Zachery Tims died on August 12 in a New York City hotel room the New York Police Department (NYPD) confirms. He was 42. An NYPD representative says "criminality is not suspected." Tims was found alone in the W Hotel by hotel security.  

Charisma has confirmed with the New York Medical Examiners Office that a man by that same name was brought in on Friday night at 6 p.m. As of Sunday night, Ellen Borakove, director of public affairs at the New York Chief Medical Examiner’s office could not confirm that it was the same Zachery Tims. She said the family was en route to identify the body.

“A man by that name was brought in Friday, August 12 from The W Hotel in Times Square,” Borakove said. “I cannot confirm that it is the same Zachery Tims from Orlando until the body has been identified.”

The cause of death is unknown. Borakove said an autopsy has been ordered.

Tims pastored New Destiny Christian Center in the Orlando area since 1996. The church has grown to more than 7,500 members. He was survived by his four children. 

Charisma will continue to update this story.

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