Religion Today Summaries - February 4, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 4, 2005

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

  • "Souper Bowl Of Caring" Fights Hunger

  • German Home Educators Face Persecution for Rejecting State Schools - Continued

  • Ukraine Christians Become a Powerful Force in Former Soviet Republic

  • SBC Invites Churches to Rise to Great Commission Challenge

"Souper Bowl Of Caring" Fights Hunger
Erin Curry, Baptist Press

As millions of football fans gather around their TVs to watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX on Sunday, thousands of young people will be playing on the name of the annual event by organizing the "Souper Bowl of Caring" across the nation. The "Souper Bowl of Caring" encourages churches, schools, organizations and individuals interested in combating hunger and poverty to collect dollars in soup pots on or near Super Bowl Sunday. This year, organizers expect teens from 15,000 churches, schools and other organizations to help collect money to feed those in need. The funds will be sent directly from the collection location to its charity of choice, and the dollar amount will be reported to "Souper Bowl of Caring" headquarters. In years past, a number of Southern Baptists, for example, have sent the funds they collected to the World Hunger Fund. "Although the "Souper Bowl of Caring" is a small step in the fight against hunger, it is a way for young people to put God's love into action by developing a heart for helping others," said Brad Smith, founder and executive director of "Souper Bowl of Caring". "The goal is for these young people to see they can make a difference and for them to continue contributing through volunteerism when they reach adulthood." (

German Home Educators Face Persecution for Rejecting State Schools - Continued
Jim Brown and Jenni Parker, AgapePress

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has started a legal organization for home schoolers in Germany called Schulunterricht zu Hause, or "School Instruction at Home." Chris Klicka, Senior Counsel for HSLDA urging U.S. home schoolers to contact the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., to speak up on behalf of their embattled fellow home educators. HSLDA is attempting to work out a compromise with local authorities that will allow seven families in Paderborn to continue home schooling. However, Klicka points out that Germany's compulsory attendance system requires all students to be in public schools. He believes most people in the U.S. would be averse to this patently unfair system. Since Germany does not recognize the right of Christian parents to choose home education, those families that choose to defy the State rather than defy their own consciences often become the victims of government persecution. HSLDA is encouraging individuals and families in the U.S. to get involved in advocating for these persecuted German home schoolers. Klicka says those who write or call on behalf of the German home schoolers should tell the embassy, in their own words, that the families should not be fined or forced to return their children to public school and that the parents' right to direct their children's education should be protected. The ambassador can be e-mailed at the German Embassy website:

Ukraine Christians Become a Powerful Force in Former Soviet Republic
Charisma News Service

Christians in Ukraine are pressing forward for a national transformation in the former Soviet republic, which has been under mafia control for more than a decade. In unison believers recently backed pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko and the freedoms he promised during his runoff presidential election victory over pro-Moscow candidate Viktor Yanukovych. "What is happening here is an answer to prayer," Sunday Adelaja, pastor of the 25,000-member Embassy of God Church in Kiev, told Charisma magazine. "It is unbelievable. The Christians are in unity. The Baptists are standing beside the Orthodox people - which is amazing because the Orthodox hated us before," he added. Religious tension has been high in Ukraine since the nation gained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Then there were only 250,000 evangelical Christians in a country dominated by nominal Orthodox Church adherents. Today there are 3 million evangelicals. "What God is doing in Ukraine is unprecedented," noted Pentecostal theologian Gary Kellner. Yushchenko's victory shows that evangelical churches have become a powerful force in Ukraine. Henry Madava, a Pentecostal from Zimbabwe, said he saw the direct intervention of God in the presidential election. "It used to be that Christians here were passive and intimidated. No more," the pastor said. "Every Christian leader has been in the streets. Now Christians know they have authority." Madava pastors the second-largest congregation in Kiev. (

SBC Invites Churches to Rise to Great Commission Challenge
Allie Martin, AgapePress

The nation's largest evangelical denomination is encouraging its churches to have a plan to take the gospel to the community, state, continent, and the world. The initiative known as the "Acts 1:8 Challenge" takes its inspiration and purpose from Christ's words to his disciples as he commanded them to be his witnesses "to the ends of the Earth." The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention is spearheading this mission challenge to local churches. IMB President Dr. Jerry Rankin says the objective of the initiative is clear and simple: to motivate people to capture Christ's vision of reaching the entire world and be personally engaged in the effort. Through the challenge, the IMB hopes to encourage U.S. churches to increase participation in short and long-term mission trips, take part in church planning, and involve more members in intentional, culturally relevant evangelism. Rankin hopes the initiative will provide a unifying framework in which the church will learn to approach missions with "a servant heart of empowering, enabling and facilitating one another" as well as with a new level of cooperation.