Religion Today Summaries, August 12, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, August 12, 2004

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

  • Preacher Pushes Purity as Best Response to Teen Pregnancy Rates

  • Over 100 Leaders Arrested in China in Latest Mass Arrest

  • LifeWay Christian Resources Sponsors 2004 Christian Short Film Awards

  • World's Largest Book-Ship Ministry Expands With Large Venture

Preacher Pushes Purity as Best Response to Teen Pregnancy Rates
Allie Martin, Jenni Parker, Agape Press

In Mississippi, the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, an evangelist and ministry leader says the Church must stand strong on the message of purity. Recently released statistics reveal that more than 46 percent of all children born in Mississippi in 2001 were born to unmarried women, and one third of those unwed mothers were teenagers. Sad data like this prompts ministers and youth workers to search desperately for ways to reverse these devastating trends. Ministry founder Gary Permenter spends much of his time traveling the United States, sharing the gospel with young people. He says it is essential for churches not only to reinforce God's standards in the hope of avoiding unwanted pregnancies, but also to reach out to young, unwed parents and their children. Permenter adds that Christians "have to look for creative and effective ways that are going to get the message of sexual purity to teenagers. Otherwise the culture will continue to pound them with the message this is acceptable." The Mississippi-based evangelist was a youth minister at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Columbus, Mississippi, for nine years before he founded Gary Permenter Ministries.  Since founding his own ministry, Permenter has conducted revivals, retreats, conferences and camps all across the U.S., and his ministry has grown to include hundreds of speaking dates each year.

Over 100 Leaders Arrested in China in Latest Mass Arrest
Charisma News Service

More than 100 house-church leaders were arrested earlier this month and three other believers were sentenced for exposing persecution. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the Christians were jailed in Kaifeng City, located in the Henan Province on Aug. 6. The house church group was beginning a two-week retreat when more than 200 military police surrounded the home of Xiang Zi, wife of one of the organizers. She was arrested along with their three children, who are between 8 and 11. No warrants were shown during their arrests. CSW national director Stuart Windsor said: "This is the third time we are aware of in recent months that China has arrested a large group of house-church Christians simply for meeting together for their own encouragement. CSW urges the international community to call on China to address the worsening pressure it is placing on unregistered believers and its flagrant violation of basic human rights standards." On the same day of the latest mass arrest, Liu Fenggang, Dr. Xu Yonghai and Zhang Shengqi were sentenced in Hangzhou City, located in Zhejiang Province, between one and three years in prison for giving persecution-related information on a fellow Christian to a foreign magazine.

LifeWay Christian Resources Sponsors 2004 Christian Short Film Awards
Agape Press

LifeWay Christian Resources' streaming media service, eMediaLINK, is sponsoring the 2005 Short Film Awards, a digital filmmaking competition, for which entries are now being accepted. Participants may be experienced or even first-time filmmakers, and are invited to submit their original short films (up to three minutes in length) in any of the four categories: Plan of Salvation, Faith, Hope, or Love. Multiple entries are welcomed, and the prizes are the kind techno-savvy creative types crave: finalists receive a portable DVD player and iLife '04, a multiple media integration package. Meanwhile each of the Best in Category winners gets an Apple iPod and a $100 iTunes gift certificate; and the grand prize winner will be presented with a new Canon XL1S MiniDV Digital Camcorder. Contest guidelines are available from eMediaLINK, a service that lets churches, ministries, and Christian businesses provide high-quality listening and viewing experiences to their Internet visitors through streaming media technology.

World's Largest Book-Ship Ministry Expands With Large Venture
Charisma News Service

A fleet of the world's largest floating bookshops is about to get bigger. Operation Mobilization (OM) recently bought a new ship in an $18 million venture that will enable the England-based missionary organization to expand its ministry distributing Christian literature and helping with community projects in ports around the world. Scheduled to enter ministry service in May 2005, the new ship -- a 10,000-ton ferry that has been renamed Logos Hope -- is the fourth motor vessel to be used by OM since 1970. OM is one of the world's largest missions organizations, with more than 3,000 members from 83 nations. It assists in planting churches, distributing Christian literature and offering humanitarian relief around the world. OM founder George Verwer said that his organization has distributed the gospel to about 1 billion people, 100 million through its ships. In 1970, OM bought the Umanak, which became the Logos, meaning "word" in Greek. Logos was shipwrecked in 1988 and replaced by Logos II. However, Logos II has become too small, and Logos Hope, which is three times its size, will succeed it. All the crew and staff are Christian volunteers, who serve in a variety of roles, from captain to cook, and raise sponsorship to fund their time onboard.