INTERNATIONAL DIGEST: Foreign adoptions by Americans hit 13-year low
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The number of foreign children adopted by Americans has plunged to the lowest level since 1996, in large measure because Guatemala's government shut down that country's thriving but corrupt international adoption industry.
Adoptions from abroad dropped 27 percent in 2009 to 12,753, the U.S. State Department reported Dec. 17, according to the Associated Press. That number was almost 45 percent off the all-time high registered in 2004: 22,884. It was the lowest figure since 1996.
Guatemala's 4,123 adoptions to Americans in 2008 sank to 756 for 2009, before authorities shut down the industry indefinitely while reforms are formulated. International adoptions from China, the leading source in 2009, also dropped substantially as China cuts back on the number of healthy orphans made available for adoptions, the AP reported. Adoptions from Vietnam -- where corruption also has been a problem -- dropped as well.
A leading adoption advocate said he was dismayed by the numbers.
"This drop is not a result of fewer orphans or less interest from American families in adopting children from other countries," Chuck Johnson, chief operating officer of the National Council for Adoption, told the AP. "All of us are very discouraged because we see the suffering taking place. We don't know how to fix it without the U.S. government coming alongside."
Johnson said he wanted the government to encourage more international adoptions, not just monitor the process, and called for Congress to pass a proposed bill, the Families for Orphans Act.
MILITANT HINDU TURNS TO CHRIST -- The leader of a militant Hindu extremist group in Nepal, jailed for bombing a church in 2008, has repented because of the grace Christians in prison have shown him.
Ram Prasad Mainali, 37-year-old head of the Nepal Defense Army, was jailed in September for bombing a church in Kathmandu, the Compass Direct news service reported. A teenager and a new bride were killed and more than a dozen other people were injured.
Mainali began attending a Christian fellowship in Nakkhu Jail after he was transferred there in August. About a third of the prison's 450 inmates attend services at the prison church. He said he began reading the Bible after experiencing the graciousness of prison Christians.
"Although I bombed the church, Christians come to meet me every day," Mainali told Compass Direct. "No rightwing Hindu has come to meet me even once."
The Nepal Defense Army is now inactive, Mainali said, but is believed to also be responsible for the murder of a Catholic priest, John Prakash Moyalan, in June 2008.
Only .5 percent of Nepal's 30 million people are Christian, while more than 80 percent are Hindu.
SUDANESE WOMAN, SON FORCED INTO HIDING -- A Sudanese woman and her son are in hiding in Egypt because she accepted Christ and her family wants to force her to return to Islam.
Howida Ali's ex-husband and brother tracked her to Cairo this past July, where they tried unsuccessfully to seize Ali's 10-year-old son from school, forcing her to flee to a new hiding place, Compass Direct News reported.
"I'm afraid of my brother finding us," the 38-year-old Ali told Compass Direct. "Their aim is to take us back to Sudan, and there they will force us to return to the Islamic faith or sentence us to death according to Islamic law."
Ali said she divorced her husband, Esam El deen Ali, in 2001 because of his drug addiction. She was living with her parents in Khartoum when she began seeing visions of Christ, she said.
"In 2004, I started to see a vision of Christ speaking to me," Ali said. "When I shared it with my friend, who is a Muslim, she said that she used to hear these things from Christians." Ali sought out a Christian friend, who told her about Jesus Christ and prayed with her. "After that time, I begun to see more visions from Christ saying, 'He is Christ the Good Shepherd,'" she recounted.
Ali tried to enter Israel because she was afraid Egyptian authorities might force her to return to Sudan. She was arrested at the border and jailed for two months and her son was put in an Islamic children's home. Although a Muslim family adopted him, Ali was able to regain custody after being released from jail in October. She said she now has no support and is praying she can secure asylum in another country where she would be free to worship.
"We have stopped going out of the apartment or even going to church," Ali told Compass Direct. "My son can no longer go to school daily as before. We cannot live our lives as before. I cannot now participate in the Bible study or fellowships -- I'm now depending only on myself for growing spiritually, and for prayer and Bible study."
MUSLIMS GUN DOWN CHRISTIAN FRIEND -- A young man in Pakistan was shot to death by friends Dec. 3 after he refused to recant his faith in Jesus Christ.
Three friends of Patras Masih accused him of killing a fourth friend and threatened to kill him if Masih did not deny Christ and embrace Islam. When Masih refused, the three shot him multiple times in the chest, according to Masih's father.
On Dec. 1, the four young men had come to Masih's father's house, asking him to help them buy liquor. Pakistani law forbids Muslims from buying or consuming alcohol. Masih went to help them buy alcohol but one of the friends, Anees Mahammad, died two days later from alcohol poisoning. The angry friends accosted Masih and accused him of Mahammad's death.
Patras Masih's father, Gulzar Masih, told Compass Direct his son's three friends arrived at their doorway yelling that he had killed Mahammad, and that they would spare his life only if he converted to Islam. When Patras Masih refused to recite the Islamic conversion creed, the three killed him.
"My son bravely refused to recant Christianity and clung to Christ," Gulzar Masih said. "He bravely embraced martyrdom."
Local police filed murder charges against the three suspects, who reportedly were still at large.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.