Religion Today Summaries, February 18, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 18, 2004

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

  • Shocking Video Reveals Chinese Government Destroying Church
  • School System Chief Bans Pastoral Visits over Lunch
  • Prayer Tour Seeks to 'Shift' 50 States Toward God
  • Online Resource Fills Void by Training Church's Current, Future Pastors

Shocking Video Reveals Chinese Government Destroying Church
Voice of the Martyrs

A shocking video of the destruction of an unregistered Chinese church has been smuggled out of China to a persecution watchdog group.  The Tu Du Sha Church in Zhejiang Province was bulldozed to the ground June 26.  The church, in Hangzhou City, was founded around 1930 by the group launched in the 19th century by famed missionary Hudson Taylor, China Inland Mission. Weekly attendance had grown to 1,500. Police first arrived before 4 a.m. expecting the church to be empty. Instead, they found 300 Christians gathered for prayer. The police left, but returned just before 8 a.m. with 200 military policemen and more than 40 vehicles. In spite of the protests of church members, the church was completely destroyed. A Chinese Christian covertly videotaped the entire scene, and the video was smuggled out of the country. "In our 36 years of ministry, we've never had a videotape like this," said Tom White, Voice of the Martyr's U.S. director. "This tape shows how the Chinese government treats Christian groups that refuse to register," he said.

School System Chief Bans Pastoral Visits over Lunch
Jim Brown, Agape Press

Christian pastors in Kentucky are protesting a local school administrator's decision to dump a longstanding policy that allowed local ministers to visit students during school hours. Bullitt County Schools superintendent Michael Eberbaugh recently told Ronald Shaver and other pastors they could not meet with students during their lunch break, as they have for the last 17 years. Even though Eberbaugh admits he has seen no worshipping or evangelizing on campus and has received no complaints about the mentoring visits, the schools' chief has put a stop to those visits. Pastor Shaver believes this is a case of blatant discrimination against Christians. He feels schools that are supported by public funds should not be able to deny any student the right and privilege of spending non-instructional free time with a minister-mentor if that is how some students choose to spend their lunch breaks. "They can go to the gym and play basketball, but they can't have lunch with one of their ministers," Shaver says, "and we find that to be appalling and irrational." The pastor insists the arrangement was designed not to proselytize, but to help students. The Bullitt County School Board is scheduled to decide at its Tuesday night meeting whether to maintain the ban. If the board fails to reinstate its prior policy, Shaver says he will file a lawsuit the following day.

Prayer Tour Seeks to 'Shift' 50 States Toward God
Charisma News Service

A movement of targeted intercession has been working its way across the United States as part of an attempt to turn the nation back toward God and prepare for revival. Dubbed the 50-State Prayer Tour, the move has been led by pastor Dutch Sheets of Springs Harvest Fellowship in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Chuck Pierce, president of Glory of Zion International Ministries in Denton, Texas, and head of the U.S. Strategic Prayer Network (USSPN). Pierce is considered by some to be a modern-day apostle and Sheets a prophet. Equipped with historical information about each state, Pierce and Sheets said that they were each impressed to visit the 50 states to mobilize intercessors and "shift" each region into God's purposes. Sheets said the nation was in a pivotal season. "This year, more than any other in recent history, will determine the future of America and the world," Sheets wrote. "We will see either great breakthroughs or great setbacks." The first meetings were held in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arizona. Since those first meetings, the tour has attracted hundreds of intercessors in each state. Through the course of the tour, which had hit 31 states by December and is scheduled to end in April, leaders say they have seen dramatic answers to prayer.

Online Resource Fills Void by Training Church's Current, Future Pastors
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Pastors across the globe now have the opportunity to learn from Christian leaders in the privacy of their own homes. The Global Pastors Network has unveiled a new online university that brings Evangelical Christian leaders and pastors together, offering 116 core courses and 24 electives through the worldwide web.  The Network features representatives from many denominations. GPN president Dr. James Davis says the current number of seminaries and Bible schools will be unable to support the need for pastors in the future. "The Church that started out small two-thousand years ago is now more than a billion people -- and ten years from now, it will be two billion people," Davis says.  "Therefore the training must exponentially multiply.  Somehow we have got to be able to train leaders while they're in ministry." The online educational resource, Davis says, will help fill a void in pastoral training.  “We have got to get real serious about crossing the chasm of the contemporary world and getting the training where's it's so needed: in the hands of men and women while they are ministering," he says.  "And the Internet and the wireless world will provide the avenues to make that happen." The online university is available for a small monthly charge, although scholarships are available.  Global Pastors Network was co-founded by the late Dr. Bill Bright.