Here are some of the top stories making headlines today in religious news:
City church pays off $2.2 million in medical debt for Americans; Turkey wants to restore original caliphate threatening ancient Christian villages; Netanyahu says Israel has “no better friends…than our Christian friends”; Pope Francis urges prayers for Christian victims of violence in Ethiopia
Putting the instructions that are in the Bible to help the poor and the needy into action, The City Church for All Nations in Bloomington, Indiana made a $2.2 million donation to help people around Monroe County who are struggling with unpaid medical bills.
The church made the donation to RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit organization that helps pay off people’s medical debts.
According to the website of RIP Medical Debt, the organization has already “abolished $715 million in medical debt for about 240,000 Americans.”
Many are viewing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as seeking to establish a greater Turkey, as Turkish-backed jihadist forces continue their assault into Northeast Syria. According to a Turkish map, a buffer zone that Erdogan wishes to establish threatens ancient Christian villages, where people speak Aramaic, the same language Jesus spoke. Some people believe that Turkey plans to claim this region as their own.
“Their open intention is to restore the original caliphate which was disbanded in 1924,” Dalton Thomas of Frontier Alliance International said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the Christian Media Summit at the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem on Sunday and praised the support that Christian groups around the world are giving Israel.
“What we have today is the alliance of those who believe in our great Judeo-Christian tradition,” Netanyahu said. “We have no better friends in the world than our Christian friends.”
Netanyahu went on to espouse the “sharing of common values” between Christians and Jews.
“It’s no accident that in Israel that’s the only place in the Middle East where Christians are free to practice their faith, complete religious freedom for all, and especially for Christians who are constantly under attack in the Middle East,” Netanyahu added.
On Sunday, Pope Francis made a plea for Christians worldwide to pray for the victims of violence in Ethiopia amid the unrest there that claimed the lives of 52 Christians in October.
“I am saddened by the violence of which the Christians of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church are victims,” Pope Francis said. “I express my closeness to this Church and to its Patriarch, dear brother Abune Matthias, and I ask you to pray for all the victims of the violence in that land.”