Here’s what you need to know in Christian News for Jan. 9:
List Shows Top 50 Countries of Christian Persecution
Open Doors released its latest World Watch List, which ranked the top 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.
“This year, the threshold was higher for a country to make the list, indicating that worldwide levels of persecution have increased,” said Open Doors.
Three countries—Mexico, Turkey, and Azerbaijan—were added to the list this year.
Researchers said that 4,344 Christians were “killed for faith-related reasons” in 2014, as compared to the 2,123 who were killed in 2013.
Jesus to be Played by Muslim Actor in New Film
A Muslim actor who will portray Jesus in an upcoming film said it’s an “honor” to take on the role.
Haaz Sleiman will be in the film Killing Jesus.
“In Islam, we believe Jesus is a prophet and respect him and follow his teachings and put him beside the Prophet Muhammad — a lot of people don’t know that.
“As a person who was raised Muslim, it’s an honour to play that…Personally, I’ve been heavily shaped by his teachings,” he said.
Gay Pastor Officiates 20 Same-Sex Marriages in Florida
Florida pastor Jim Merritt oversaw 20 same-sex marriages on Jan. 6, his birthday and the day a new ruling went into effect.
A federal judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to prohibit same-sex marriages in Florida.
Merritt celebrated the ruling and his birthday by opening the doors of Holy Cross Metropolitan Community Church to perform free ceremonies. He also married his longtime partner, Al Leach.
“It was the best birthday gift I could have gotten,” Merritt told The Huffington Post. “Al and I have been together in a committed relationship for over 20 years… For us to achieve marriage equality at home was a joyful occasion.”
More Missionaries Needed, Says Top Organization
An international mission organization, called SEND, says it needs more missionaries.
According to Christian Today, SEND’s international director Warren Janzen sai:, “There’s a real exciting work opening up eastward across the northern part of Canada, [to] expand our ministry among the native Alaskan and the Inuit people across the north.
“And, we are looking for new people to come and join that effort. They can bring their current skill, or they can join the current team and develop some skills in order to be the presence and bring the message of Jesus,” Jenzen said.