- Focus on the Family Celebrates 25th Anniversary
- 2nd Grader Prohibited from Reading Book about Jesus
- Far East Broadcasting Breaks Through in Russia
- Inmates and CEOs Alike to Attend T. D. Jakes' ManPower Conference
- Third Day Helps Habitat's Jimmy Carter in Africa
Focus on the Family Celebrates 25th Anniversary ... "Focus on the Family" celebrated its 25th anniversary last weekend with a concert and fund-raiser. Christian artists Steve Green, Rebecca St. James and Steve and Annie Chapman were musical guests during a special chapel service. Dr. James Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family, emphasized that the 25th Anniversary is not a time to be self-congratulatory, but rather a time to appreciate God's blessing. "Our purpose here is to give glory to God for what He's done, and we're going to express that love and appreciation for God's faithfulness throughout the next four days," Dobson told the crowd.
Henry Blackaby, author of "Experiencing God," spoke of the challenge of being yoked with Christ in service to God. "Jim and Shirley, for 25 years you've been yoked with Christ," Blackaby told the Dobsons. "You've been seeing what He sees. You've been hearing what He hears."
According to AP, Chuck Colson, a keynote speaker on Saturday night, said of Dobson, "Sometimes he can be a little controversial. If you're going to wrestle with principalities and powers and the forces of evil, of course you're going to be controversial."
2nd Grader Prohibited From Reading Book about Jesus ... The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed a lawsuit July 29 against a Massachusetts school district on behalf of a second grade student whose school refused to let her read about the birth of Jesus to her class. The suit was filed on behalf of Jessie and Robert Greska of Leominster and their 7 year-old daughter, Laura, who attends Northwest Elementary School in the Leominster Public School District in Massachusetts.
The suit contends that when Laura was given an assignment last year to bring a book to class about her Christmas traditions, the teacher stopped Laura from sharing her book entitled "The First Christmas" - a book that focused on the birth of Jesus Christ, the center of the Christmas holiday for Christians. The suit contends that while the school district permitted students to present books covering a wide variety of Christmas traditions, the teacher stopped Laura from reading further saying the book was not permitted because it was "religious."
Laura's parents tried to resolve the issue with the school superintendent, according to the complaint, but were told religious books were not permitted. The suit contends that the actions of the school district violated both the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The ACLJ is asking the court to declare the school district's action invalid and unconstitutional and is requesting the court to permanently enjoin the school district from engaging any further in this type of discriminatory action.
Far East Broadcasting Breaks Through in Russia ... According to a report from Mission Network News, Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) is finally breaking through in ministry in St. Petersburg, Russia. FEBC's Victor Ahkterov says the permit they now have to work gives them license to dream of broadcasting the Gospel in the future. "We already started broadcasting there three hours a day and we're hoping to start a new station there. I'm sure that with God's blessing, and our supporters' blessing too, we'll have a station by the end of the year."
Ahkterov says they just started the outreach two weeks ago, so the effort is in its fledgling stage. He asks people to pray, not only for this work, but also that people would respond. "If it's not the Lord who's doing things, then it's difficult for us. So, pray that God will open doors for us and that by the end of the year, we'll have a full-time station in the northern capital of Russia." FEBC's goal is to take Christ to all of Russia by radio, through local, national, and international broadcasts.
Inmates and CEOs Alike to Attend T. D. Jakes' ManPower Conference ... Thousands of men from more than 40 states and 35 countries will join inmates in 325 prisons nationwide Aug. 8-10 at the Charlotte, N.C. Coliseum, as Bishop T.D. Jakes hosts ManPower. The annual conference is designed to equip men from all walks of life to restore their marriages, increase their confidence, and take on responsibility in their community. Together the men will strive to overcome dysfunctional lifestyles and bottled up pain by finding emotional support from each other. The inmates from three prisons in North Carolina, Washington, and New York will be able to participate in the conference via live satellite.
Known for being pastor to a diverse, multi-ethnic Dallas congregation of 28,000, including top athletes such as Deon Sanders and Emit Smith, CEOs, judges, entrepreneurs, former offenders and the homeless, Jakes has hosted more than 250,000 men from across the United States at previous ManPower conferences. ManPower conferences began in 1993 to help men of all races and backgrounds address specific needs, hurts, and struggles from a biblical perspective. The conference has grown from 2,500 attendees its first year to more than 20,000 men in large cities including Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Third Day Helps Habitat's Jimmy Carter in Africa ... Members of the Gospel Music Association Group of the Year, Third Day, recently returned from Africa after having helped former President Jimmy Carter, his wife, Rosalynn, and 4,000 other volunteers complete the largest home building effort in Habitat history for the 19th annual Jimmy Carter Work Project 2002 (JCWP) in Africa.
Third Day members Tai Anderson and Mark Lee traveled with Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) to Durban, South Africa last month to help JCWP finish the final 100 homes as part of HFHI's work to build 1,000 houses in 18 African countries. As the band's latest and critically acclaimed recording, Come Together, becomes its third RIAA certified Gold album in less than 15-months, Third Day continues its theme to "come together" in a tangible way to help make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action throughout Africa.
A coastal city of more than three million residents on the Indian Ocean, Durban is symbolically significant because in the early sixties thousands of Indians and black Africans were forcibly removed from this area by the Apartheid government. Due largely to ongoing economic conditions, housing patterns that reinforced the separation of the races still exist. Despite the government's substantial efforts to address the housing problem, millions of South Africans still live in temporary, substandard dwellings.
"Their houses were torn down and the area was cleared to enforce racial segregation," noted Third Day member Mark Lee. "Jimmy Carter, Habitat for Humanity and a host of volunteers have symbolically joined to further turn back the wrongs of Apartheid to help deserving families have a decent and affordable place to live."