Religion Today Summaries - December 29, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 29, 2005

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Myanmar Villagers View Christian Movies
  • Orthodox Jews Disrupt Messianic Worship Service in Israel
  • Army Chaplain Calls for New Prayer Guidelines

Myanmar Villagers View Christian Movies
Gospel for Asia
Dozens of villagers sit on the ground, eager to see what will flash across the big screen in front of them. The area is so packed that some people are watching from tree branches. Such scenes are not unusual for Gospel for Asia native missionaries reaching out through the medium of film in Myanmar villages. For people living under the rule of a strict military regime, watching a movie is a refreshing distraction. And at this screening, they are also about to encounter Jesus, the One who longs to bring them true spiritual freedom Waiting for the first show to begin, the people watch as familiar faces suddenly flash across the screen. At first they are surprised--then delighted--to see themselves onscreen. Knowing how enjoyable this "pre-show" is for their village audiences, the missionaries have made it a regular part of their program. During the first film, The Passion of the Christ, many in the audience weep as they watch Christ being beaten before his crucifixion. "Their hearts are deeply touched by Jesus' love and willingness to go through such terrible pain for the sake of another," writes one GFA worker. Then a second film is shown--The Ten Commandments. This movie has a history of being used God to touch hearts in Myanmar. People witness on screen the difference between Pharoah's gods and the living God. When Pharoah and his army are defeated, the audience applauds. Once the program is over, the ministry team distributes Gospel literature throughout the crowd. It requires long days and much work to conduct such outreach events, but for this team it is worth it. They know that the people are hearing about Jesus and the healing balm He offers for this weary land.

Orthodox Jews Disrupt Messianic Worship Service in Israel
Compass Direct
Orthodox Jews disrupted a Messianic congregation’s worship service in the Israeli town of Beersheba on Saturday (December 24). During the service, two young women from the nearby town of Arad in the southern Negev were to have been baptized. As the service was beginning, more than 300 orthodox Jews, including many children, gathered and entered the private property of the Nachalat Yeshua Messianic Congregation. According to the congregation’s pastor, Howard Bass, the orthodox were first welcomed to stay and attend the service. Then they started to move around, dance, sing and overturn chairs and tables. Initially two or three policemen arrived, but “it got out of hand beyond anything they could handle,” Bass said, and they had to call in reinforcements. The agitators struck Messianic believers in the face, back and stomach. Though one received a blow near his eye, no one needed medical attention.

Army Chaplain Calls for New Prayer Guidelines
A pastor and retired Army chaplain says President Bush needs to issue an executive order to permit military chaplains to pray according to their individual faith traditions.  He says such a move would revoke a new set of guidelines in the Air Force which forbid chaplains from praying in the name of Jesus.  That Air Force policy was invoked in August in the wake of complaints of overzealous evangelical proselytizing at the Air Force Academy.  Dr. Billy Baughm, executive director of the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers, explains the ramifications.  "If there is a staff meeting or if there is a gathering of troops, the chaplain no longer can come up pray in Jesus' name, not even at Christmas time," Baughm explains.  "An Air Force chaplain can no longer have prayer with his pilots as they begin to fly their sorties."  And Baughm fears if the president does not act, the Department of Defense might expand the Air Force guidelines to other branches of the service.  "If this interim holds, then the Army and the Navy will inevitably have to follow it, because it will become DOD policy," he says.  "The Navy has been practicing this for years. This is nothing new. What the Navy did not do was put it in writing, so there was no document to say it was ordered."  Baughm adds that as far as he knows, no Muslim chaplain has been denied the right to pray in the name of Allah -- but Christian chaplains cannot invoke the name of Jesus.