Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 22, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 22, 2007

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Graham Hospital Stay Expected to be Brief
  • Americans Ignore Bird Flu Threat, World Still Worries
  • Church Puts Sex Offender in the Pulpit
  • Food For The Poor Rushes Aid to the Caribbean

Graham Hospital Stay Expected to be Brief

Baptist Press reports that Billy Graham was recovering in fair condition Monday after he was hospitalized for intestinal bleeding, which doctors do not believe is life-threatening. Officials at Mission Health & Hospitals in Asheville, N.C., said Graham, 88, had an “excellent night” Aug. 19 after having watched the televised worship service at First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., Sunday morning. Doctors said the bleeding may have come from diverticula, small pouches that can form in the lower intestine, which can become irritated and bleed. The evangelist had a similar problem during a crusade in Toronto in 1995, A. Larry Ross, a Graham spokesman, said. An endoscopy and a bleeding scan found no areas of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, the hospital said in a statement. "It stopped as quickly as it began," Ross said Saturday, adding that Graham could be released from the hospital in a couple of days. Franklin Graham and his sister, Gigi, were with their father at the hospital. “He’s doing real well,” Franklin Graham said. “He was sitting up, eating.”

Americans Ignore Bird Flu Threat, World Still Worries

According to ASSIST News Service, while the Bird Flu threat has become a joke to many in the U.S., documentary film producer Don Hughes says the rest of the world is very concerned about an H5N1 pandemic, and they are on high alert. “Sadly, many Christians think that the Bird Flu threat is some kind of hoax,” said Hughes. “They forget that in 1918 an estimated 625,000 Americans died of an influenza pandemic. We think this can’t happen again, but we are just fooling ourselves.” Hughes takes the threat so seriously that he has produced a 48-minute documentary film called, “The Bird Flu Plague: A Survival Strategy for Families and Churches” and is now offering a free Church Preparedness Guide at Hughes said that part of the reason people feel the Bird Flu is a hoax is because it is sensationalized in the news, then is forgotten. “People think they will have plenty of advanced warning, but that’s not true. Once it becomes freely communicable between humans it has the potential to spread like wildfire,” Hughes said. “If Christians are prepared we can protect our families to some degree, and show the love of Christ as Good Samaritans to others. Without preparation we will be in the same sad situation as everyone else. Our government can’t protect us and science can’t save us.”

Church Puts Sex Offender in the Pulpit

A reports in USAToday says, "Jeff Hannah spent five years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing four teenage girls while he was working as a minister at a Southern Baptist church in Illinois. Not long after he was paroled in 2001, the Chicago Sun-Times says another congregation hired the sex offender despite repeated warnings from his successor at Crossroads Church. 'In our church, we believe in forgiveness,' says Del Kirkpatrick, a deacon who was one of the people who decided to hire Hannah as a temporary pastor at the First Baptist Church of Romeoville, Ill. Hannah spent several years preaching at First Baptist. When a full-time pastor was hired, he continued working there as a teacher and music minister, according to the paper. The Sun-Times says Hannah resigned after a reporter started asking questions about his past. 'I just want to live my life,' Hannah tells the paper, which describes the 42-year-old as 'unapologetic about his crimes.'"

Food For The Poor Rushes Aid to the Caribbean

ASSIST News Service reports that Food For The Poor, the largest international relief organization working in the Caribbean, is responding to the needs for assistance in the islands battered by Hurricane Dean. Nine people have been killed, and thousands have been left homeless. Damage in Jamaica, where the 145-mph hurricane passed just to the south, includes collapsed buildings, flooding, landslides, and impassable roads. Food For The Poor staff members are assessing the damage across Jamaica and have encountered many downed power lines and trees blocking the roads. Staff members have successfully reached Portland Cottage, which sustained the worst damage. Susan James, a Food For The Poor staff member on site in Jamaica, said current reports show that Portland Cottage is "worse than after Hurricane Ivan, and Ivan was terrible. The water level was higher than in Hurricane Ivan and three-quarters of the village is gone." Shipments of 120 containers of relief supplies are en route to St. Lucia, Dominica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Supplies will be distributed through Food For The Poor’s extensive network of churches, hospitals, schools and orphanages.