Religion Today Summaries, November 26, 2002

Religion Today Summaries, November 26, 2002

In Today's Edition:

  • Inner City Ministry to Deliver ‘Boxes of Love’ to over 150,000 Families this Thanksgiving
  • Persecution Continues in Former Soviet State, ‘House Church’ Host Goes to Prison
  • Bus Driver Reprimanded for Unknowingly Distributing Bibles
  • Fighting Threatens Congo Peace

Inner City Ministry Delivers ‘Boxes of Love’ to over 150,000 Families this Thanksgiving

Nicknamed "The Crusher" from his days as a bouncer, George Williams is now known for his soft heart. The 53-year-old Atlanta resident and former drug-addict is one of thousands of volunteers who will reach out this Thanksgiving to some 150,000 hungry and poor across the country through "Boxes of Love," a national holiday outreach of urban ministry Here's Life Inner City.  "Boxes of Love" are large, food-filled boxes packed with classic holiday trimmings-ham, stuffing, potatoes, canned vegetables, bread, juice, and desserts-as well as Christian reading materials.  The Boxes, which each feed a family of six, will be distributed through neighborhood churches across the country to feed tens of thousands of families Thanksgiving week in dozens of cities.  "'Boxes of Love' not only helps meet the physical needs of families across the country, but it also helps nourish them emotionally and spiritually," said Ted Gandy, director of New York City-based Here's Life Inner City.  "By connecting families with churches in their communities, the project offers a ray of hope in what otherwise might be a dark time in their lives."  To learn more about the ministry of to sponsor a “Box of Love”, please call (212) 494-0321.

Persecution Continues in Former Soviet State, ‘House Church’ Host Goes to Prison

(Charisma News) A Baptist who recently hosted a small church in his home in the central Uzbek town of Navoi has been sentenced to 10 days in prison after he was found guilty of illegally gathering people without registration, Keston News Service (KNS) reported.  The unregistered church that met in Nikulin's home consisted of only seven people. Under Uzbekistan law, unregistered religious activity is illegal.  Police raided Nikulin's home, taking away and threatening to destroy the group's Christian books.  Elsewhere, leaders of the Mir Presbyterian Church in northwest Uzbekistan have been charged with "participation in the activity of illegal religious organizations" and face up to three years in prison, KNS reported.  "During the raid on our church, the police forced ethnic Karakalpak, Kazakh and Uzbek members of the congregation to write statements indicating the reasons they come to our church," pastor Konstantin Kmit told Keston.  "...As the police took statements only from people of Muslim origin, we can infer that the authorities intend to charge us with proselytism, which is prohibited by Uzbek law."

Bus Driver Reprimanded for Unknowingly Distributing Bibles
Todd Starnes

(Baptist Press) A Florida school bus driver was given a letter of discipline for distributing Bibles to students on her bus, prompting the daily newspaper to address what it called a "Biblephobia boom."  Merrill Road principal Sonita Young said the Bibles were given by a man from The Gideons International.  A school representative said the driver thought the man was with the school and accepted the books.  Students sitting near the driver said they wanted the Bibles and she gave them out.  The Florida Times-Union, in its Sunday editorial, condemned the disciplinary action, noting that "political correctness not only is alive and well, it's thriving on Florida's First Coast.  It turned out that he was with Gideons International, and the books were Bibles, which some seem to think are on a par with anthrax," the editorial stated.  "One certainly doesn't force something on other people by giving them books that they requested. The mystery is why her actions were wrong.  Young people need to read more," the editorial continued. "If parents thought it would harm their offspring to read the Bible, that's a decision they should make themselves. A school bus driver shouldn't be expected to make it for them.”

Fighting Threatens Congo Peace

(World Vision) The tenuous peace in the Congo has begun to waver after new conflict in the eastern region of the country re-ignited panic and sent thousands of Congolese refugees into neighboring Burundi.  Fighting broke out between a militia with past links to the government and the Congolese Rally for Democracy, a Rwandan-supported rebel group.  What has been called "Africa's First World War" appeared to reach an end in July of this year.  In September, Rwandan, Ugandan, Namibian and Zimbabwean troops began leaving the country, an encouraging sign that the peace accord might stick.  However, many observers now fear that Rwanda will rejoin the fighting to guarantee the safety of its borders if peace is not established soon.  "Peace has been a long time coming here, and because so many parties are involved, few are completely satisfied with the terms," said Nigel Marsh, World Vision communication manager in Africa.  "The fighting is a clear demonstration of the need for restraint and goodwill by all the groups that are involved, and a reminder to the rest of the world that this wounded region needs a lot of help to nurture the tiny seed of hope that has been planted."