Religion Today Summaries - December 29, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 29, 2004

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

  • Ministry Relief Efforts Reach Out to Tsunami Victims in South Asia

  • Sports World And Christian Community Loses A Great Athlete And Man Of God

  • Prostitutes in Florida Community Find a New Start at 'Heaven's Garden'

  • Ministry Gives Ecuadorian Evangelists Smooth Landing Among Villagers

Ministry Relief Efforts Reach Out to Tsunami Victims in South Asia
Jody Brown, AgapePress

Relief agencies around the world are sending supplies and volunteers to South Asia in the aftermath of one of the world's greatest catastrophes. According to various news reports, the death toll from the tsunami that rolled across the region on Sunday has now risen to nearly 40,000. The earthquake-driven waves struck 10 different countries, leaving behind death, destruction, and discouragement. Sri Lanka and Indonesia were among the hardest hit, with reports of more than 18,000 and 15,000 deaths respectively. Deaths in India are estimated to be as high as 7,000. Other countries hard hit include Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, and Somalia.  The number of deaths is expected to climb in areas where both access and communication are limited. Among the groups offering emergency food and shelter to victims in South Asia are the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention and the organization Food for the Hungry. And United Methodist News Service reports the United Methodist Committee on Relief is joining with other faith-based disaster relief agencies to aid the victims in the area. Millions of people are without food, water, and shelter. Food for the Hungry is coordinating with local-church partners to distribute basic health supplies and care, along with food and clothing to meet the needs as quickly as possible.

Sports World And Christian Community Loses A Great Athlete And Man Of God
Jim Uttley, Assist News Service

The sports world and the Christian community has lost a great athlete and a man of God. Reggie White, 43, died the day after Christmas of what's believed to be respiratory failure as a result of sleep apnea. One week after his 43rd birthday, the man many called "the Minister of Defense," was gone. Reggie was a starring player for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Green Bay Packers and in his last season with the Carolina Panthers, ending his career in 2000. Standing at six feet five inches and weighing 300 pounds, White was famous for attacking opposing quarterbacks. When he retired after 15 seasons, White held the career record for sacks (198). White was a great football player but he was also a Christian who loved the Lord. White also defended the gospel whenever he had opportunity. He wasn't afraid of controversy. While playing for the Eagles, White used to share the gospel with teens on Philadephia inner city streets. He challenged them to stay in school and keep away from drugs. During his career, White was an associate pastor of the Inner City Community Church in Knoxville. He set up a fund to help people who couldn't get funding from other sources.

Prostitutes in Florida Community Find a New Start at 'Heaven's Garden'
Charisma News Service

The compassion of a Florida woman is helping former prostitutes find the gospel -- and a way off the streets. Aida Bowers is on a mission to rid Daytona Beach of prostitutes -- not by sending them to jail, but by rescuing and rehabilitating them. In November 2003, she launched Heaven's Garden -- a nonprofit, community residential home in the heart of Daytona's red-light district -- to provide a sanctuary and training ground for the women she snatches from the street. Hundreds of women are arrested annually for engaging in commercial sex in Daytona. Although never a prostitute herself, the mother of three claims she has a heart for these women. Bowers takes them into the house, feeds them and gives them clothes. She nurses them if they are sick or wounded. Then she offers them the opportunity to stay and participate, at no charge, in the voluntary yearlong program she provides. Throughout the program they receive in-house teaching and counseling from Bowers and representatives of various agencies. In addition, they attend church regularly as well as Bible studies and local home meetings. Bowers hopes to increase her capacity to 100 rooms and expand her facilities to include a crisis unit, a detoxification unit and a learning center for continuing education. (

Ministry Gives Ecuadorian Evangelists Smooth Landing Among Villagers
Allie Martin and Jenni Parker, AgapePress

Leaders of Ecuador's national church have reversed an earlier decision and have opted to allow Mission Aviation Fellowship to assist their evangelists in carrying the gospel to unreached areas of the South American country. Southern California-based Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is a ministry that serves to multiply the effectiveness of the Church worldwide, using aviation and other strategic technologies to overcome barriers in reaching people all over the world for Christ. Serving the needs of the isolated and the poor in some of the world's most inaccessible regions, MAF operates a fleet of 62 aircraft throughout 16 countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eurasia. Earlier this year, leaders of the national Schuar Church in Ecuador decided against using MAF services to get evangelists to remote areas. Church officials said the initial decision was based on financial concerns. The Schuar Church leadership ended up realizing that MAF's services were worth the expense after all. Each year MAF flies some 3.2 million miles to remote regions of the world in support of nearly 600 missions, Christian ministries, and non-government organizations. In addition to providing flight services to isolated areas worldwide, MAF offers these areas communications technology and other resources , including distance education, HF/VHF radios, e-mail, Internet access, and networking solutions.