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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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.”


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!”

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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VIDEO: Did Prayer Save Boy Who Drowned at Sea?

A youth group's trip to the beach turned into one frightening Friday afternoon. A strong riptide pulled Dale Osterander out to sea, where the young boy later drowned, but the church community back on shore prayed during the 20-minute wait for rescuers. Watch today's daily interest video to see how kneeling on the sand brought forth the Holy Spirit.


Muslim Radicals Kill 10 Christians in Nigeria

Victims of post-election violence at a hospital in Kaduna, Nigeria, in April. Muslim rioters burned homes, churches and police stations after Nigeria's Christian president beat out his closest Muslim opponent. (AP Images/Sunday Alamba)

International Christian Concern has learned that members of a radical Islamic group, Boko Haram, killed at least ten Christians in Maiduguri, Nigeria over the past two months in what a Christian leader is calling a “silent killing” of Christians.

In an interview with ICC, an anonymous local church leader explained: “Boko Haram is seeking to eliminate Christianity because they want Islamic (Sharia) law. They don’t want to see anything Christian in the northern states [of Nigeria]. That is why churches are being persecuted and Muslims who don’t follow the [hardline teachings of] Boko Haram are also persecuted.”

Boko Haram is close to achieving its goal of eliminating Christianity from Maiduguri. Most of the Christians have fled the city in fear of further attacks by the Islamists. Of the churches that remain, some have felt compelled to suspend their services to protect their congregations.


Illinois Megachurch Denies Anti-Gay Stance After Starbucks CEO Cancels

Starbucks CEO pulled out of megachurch event.

An "anti-gay" church controversy that’s been brewing has finally become frothy.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has canceled his speech at an influential megachurch in Illinois. The decision comes as a response to a petition that cast anti-gay aspersions on the congregation. At the same time, a Christian group that opposes homosexuality is also picketing the church.

The petition accused Willow Creek Community Church of “anti-gay persecution” based on its past association with Exodus International, a Christian ministry that works to help gays and lesbians leave homosexuality. Meanwhile, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality is upset because Willow Creek, an evangelical church in South Barrington, Ill., broke ties with Exodus in 2009.

Tottenham Riots

London Riots Spark Prayer Unity Movement

AP Images/Rex Features
Roiling balls of angry flames throb from gutted buildings and shops in north London. Rioting young people with faces masked by dark cloth wrappings clash with London riot police. Charred frames of metal that were once cars litter the streets.

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.

Following Duggan's death, his friends and family gathered for a peaceful protest at the Tottenham police station. But things did not stay peaceful after 300 people joined the protest and violence quickly erupted.


OpEd: How Christians Should Respond to Debt Crisis

By the time many of you receive this, Congress may have found a solution to the current debt-ceiling crisis. The immediate danger may be averted—temporarily.

The real issue, however, isn't the budget, the debt ceiling or anything else, as much as it is a philosophical battle over the direction of the country. This is the root of the intransigence and increasing bitterness exhibited by both parties.

People defend philosophies more vehemently than they do money. It's like defending one's religion as one side against the other claims to be the only source of truth. And make no mistake, politics and political ideology have the force of religion in America.

uganda photo of church attack cropped

Father Tortures Teenage Daughter for Leaving Islam

A 14-year-old girl in western Uganda is still unable to walk 10 months after her father tortured her for leaving Islam and putting her faith in Christ, according to area Christians.

Susan Ithungu of Isango village, Kasese district, has been hospitalized at Kagando Hospital since October 2010 after neighbors with police help rescued her from her father, Beya Baluku. He was arrested shortly afterward but quickly released, sources said.

Susan and her younger brother, Mbusa Baluku, lived alone with their father after he divorced their mother. In March 2010 an evangelist from Bwera Full Gospel Church spoke at Susan’s school, and she decided to trust Christ for her salvation.


Americans Urge Appeals Court to Defund Planned Parenthood

AP Images

In an effort to prevent states' rights from being curtailed by partisan interests, members of Congress and thousands of Americans are speaking out on Planned Parenthood funding.

The American Center for Law and Justice is urging a federal appeals court—on behalf of 41 members of Congress and more than 25,000 Americans—to uphold an Indiana law prohibiting federal funding of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

"Planned Parenthood receives more than $350 million a year in taxpayer funds. Indiana's decision to no longer use federal money to fund the nation's largest abortion provider is not only a constitutionally sound decision, but one we hope is implemented in other states across the country," says Jay Sekulow, ACLJ chief counsel. "Indiana and other states have the constitutional authority to determine how they spend federal funds."


Terrorists Exit, Allow Famine Relief in Mogadishu

AP Images/Santiago Leon

The United Nation Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says the number of Somalis arriving in northeastern Kenya continues to grow, with thousands more arriving each week.

The stream of refugees is the most obvious sign of drought conditions in Somalia. Numbers provided by UN show that almost half of Somalia's population, 3.7 million people, is affected by the current crisis. The Horn of Africa famine could claim an entire generation by the time it's over. Worse, al Shabaab—a militant rebel group—was standing in between the starving people and the food brought in by the international community.

VIDEO: Mike Bickle, God's Greatest Want

Why did God create in Genesis 1? Why did Jesus redeem and give His life? Mike Bickle says the answer lies in the commandment that moves our heart the greatest. Engage with Bickle's teaching as you watch this video excerpt from Saturday's event, The Response.


K-Love Radio Raises $2 Million for Rwanda

AP Images/Brennan Linsley

Amid fears of an economic crisis, listeners of national Christian radio stations K-Love and Air1 donated nearly $2 million in a daylong campaign to provide Compassion’s Water of Life safe water systems to those living in extreme poverty in Rwanda.

K-Love and Air1 focused on the immense need for safe water in Rwanda where 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. More than one-third of the population is without improved drinking water sources and nearly half are without improved sanitation facilities.

“The money raised will provide over 35,000 Compassion children and their families with safe drinking water for the rest of their lives,” says Mark Hanlon, Compassion’s senior vice president for US operations.


Making Disciples, One Click at a Time

Based on John 3:16, uses videos, testimonies and a simple gospel presentation to explain how a person can be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

Although Sue was too depressed to leave her apartment, she mustered enough energy one day to go online and search for encouragement. She found a page that helped her see other people struggle with depression and that Christ could heal the hurt in her heart.

Across the ocean, Emad, who lives in a country where Christianity is not embraced, searched for topics about eternity after his mother passed away. He stumbled on a page explaining how Jesus is the only way to heaven, and how to begin a relationship with Him.

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