Religion Today Summaries - December 7, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 7, 2004

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

  • Modern-Day Apostle Serves as Spiritual Father to Pastors in 85 Nations

  • 'Offensive' Sign Stirs Media Pot, Initiates Press Coverage of Gospel Message

  • Nepal: Maoist Rebel Activity Impacts Christian Ministry

  • Pakistani Christian Mother's Children Abducted by Muslim Ex-Husband

Modern-Day Apostle Serves as Spiritual Father to Pastors in 85 Nations
Charisma News Service

Considered a modern-day apostle, Samuel Lee is training immigrant evangelists to bring new life to Europe's dry spiritual bones. For nearly 20 years, Lee, who immigrated to the Netherlands from his native Iran, has planted 19 churches around the world, mentors 150 pastors in 85 nations and leads a multicultural congregation of 300 in Amsterdam. Many may view Amsterdam as the axis of moral decay in Western Europe, but Lee sees it as a hub of world evangelism in Europe and beyond. He believes that the key to this coming revival is the growing number of Christian immigrants living in Amsterdam and other European cities, working in diverse roles, from diplomats to housecleaners. "When you reach Amsterdam, you reach the world," Lee, a former Muslim, told Ministries Today magazine. The Dutch capital is not the only city that has become a haven for immigrants seeking political asylum, employment or religious freedom. Lee provides guidance for a network of 40 African and Filipino churches in Athens, Greece, leaders in London and Cyprus and countless East Asian and Sri Lankan Christians living and working in Middle Eastern nations where traditional missionaries are forbidden to enter. (http://www.charismanow.com)

'Offensive' Sign Stirs Media Pot, Initiates Press Coverage of Gospel Message
Chad Groening and Jody Brown, AgapePress

An Iranian-born Christian who heads a ministry dedicated to winning Muslims to Christ says the American media goes out of its way to protect other religions at the expense of evangelical Christianity. Rev. Donald Fareed, pastor of San Jose, California-based organization called Persian Ministries International, says he came to that conclusion after witnessing a media uproar over a church sign. The sign in question, which was posted outside a Nazarene church in Sunnyvale, read simply: "Why I Am Not a Muslim."  Two individuals -- one an American and the other an Iranian -- took offense at the sign. Fareed, whose ministry has a vision of reaching more than 100 million Persian-speaking Muslims around the world, says he had hoped the sign would encourage people to hear his sermon.  He adds that he did not realize the complaints of two people would create such a media reaction. "Only two people ... objected to this sign.  [The] media used that to really make a huge controversy out of it -- we were on CBS, NBC," Fareed stated.  Fareed explains that his goal is not to offend Muslims, but to communicate why he converted to Christianity. Islam, he says, does not allow a personal relationship with God. An objective of his ministry is to bridge the gap between Christians and Muslims that has widened in the post-9/11 world. 

Nepal: Maoist Rebel Activity Impacts Christian Ministry
Assist News Service

The Christian Church has existed in Nepal for only 50 years, although attempts were made to bring the Word of God to Nepal in the 19th Century. Nepal is the world's only Hindu state, with 86% of its some 26.5 million people practicing Hinduism. Maoist rebels have been a serious problem since 1996. They are mainly targeting Nepal's political regime, but increasingly Christian churches and organizations are embroiled in the conflict. Maoists reportedly attack Christian schools, orphanages and houses in search of boys as conscripts for their army. Christian work has become more hazardous. Christian Aid recently reported a national missionary team was captured in a remote mountain village, but was later released. Travel for evangelism and to conduct Christian seminars is increasingly dangerous, or paralyzed due to Maoists calling transport strikes or blocking the roads in various places at different times. Some of the first Christians were imprisoned for their faith, which led to more conversions in prison. The Church in Nepal has grown steadily, and by some estimates evangelical Christians are now almost 2% of the population. Though there has been more religious freedom since 1991, proselytizing is still illegal.

Pakistani Christian Mother's Children Abducted by Muslim Ex-Husband
Allie Martin, AgapePress

Open Doors ministry officials report that the five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter of Maria Samar John were kidnapped from a Lahore courtyard in September by their father, a follower of Islam. The children were taken after they had begun a two-hour supervised visitation session with their non-custodial parent. The children's mother and father were divorced last year. Jerry Dykstra with Open Doors says the Pakistani justice system is not very favorable to Christians, and therefore, John, as a believer, is at a decided disadvantage in that society. Dykstra says a believer in Pakistan cannot only expect little assistance from the authorities, but may also find himself or herself the victim of persecution and injustice. The ministry representative says John was abducted and forced to marry her husband when she was 17, and she had two children before she was able to escape her captors several years ago. Now the Christian mother is praying for the safe return of her kidnapped children. According to the U.S. State Department's recently released annual report on religious freedom in Pakistan, instances of both excessive police force and "police inaction" have been documented in cases involving Christians. These facts have been faulted for the Pakistani government's repeated failure to protect members of religious minorities.

 

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