Religion Today Summaries - October 27, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 27, 2004

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

  • Pat Boone, Others Address 'America For Jesus' Rally

  • Baptist Team Leader: Sunday School Best Small-Group Strategy

  • Outside-the-Church-Box Ministry in Chicago Reaches, Mentors Youth 

  • Sudan: Violence Hinders Foreign Aid, Makes Indigenous Workers More Necessary

Pat Boone, Others Address 'America For Jesus' Rally
Baptist Press

Thousands of Christians gathered on the National Mall Oct. 22 to pray for the United States. The multi-ethnic, interdenominational event, known as "America for Jesus," focused on prayer and fasting for God's protection of the country and repentance for such sins as abortion and prejudice. Though it occurred less than two weeks before the Nov. 2 election, the 16-hour rally was a nonpartisan event, organizers said. The rally was the fourth in a series of prayer events that have been held every eight years, beginning with the Washington for Jesus rally in 1980. Among the speakers were singer Pat Boone, National Association of Evangelicals President Ted Haggard, author Peter Marshall, Exodus International Executive Director Alan Chambers, Pentecostal pastor Rod Parsley and Norma McCorvey, "Jane Roe" in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and now a pro-life Christian. Organizers for the rally estimated the audience on the mall grew to about 25,000 in the evening. The Washington Times estimated the crowd at 5,000. In the morning, the audience was noticeably smaller than the one at the Mayday for Marriage event held in the same location Oct. 15. Estimates for that event ranged from 60,000 to 210,000. Organizers said the rally was telecast to more people internationally than any Christian event in history.

Baptist Team Leader: Sunday School Best Small-Group Strategy
Allie Martin, AgapePress

The nation's largest evangelical denomination is putting a renewed emphasis on Sunday school as an overall strategy rather than just as a weekly event for churches. LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention recently formed a new team that will place a stronger emphasis on helping churches get what they need to grow their Sunday school programs.  The head of that team, David Francis, says Sunday school is still important to churches. "What's unique about Sunday school as it's practiced and operated in most churches is that, in most cases, it meets concurrently with the major worship experience of the weekend," he says, "and therefore folks can have the worship experience together with the large group, then go to a smaller group of people, where the children, the students, the adults all have an age group they can relate to." When executed well, says Francis, Sunday school is a 24/7 network of outreach, assimilation, ministry, and communication.  He maintains that Sunday school is the most effective small-group strategy. "It means that a large number, 80, 90, sometimes 100 percent -- of those who attend worship are also involved in a small group experience," he explains.  "There are no other small-group strategies that can approach those kinds of percentages." Francis has been with LifeWay since 1997.

Outside-the-Church-Box Ministry in Chicago Reaches, Mentors Youth
Charisma News Service

An outside-the-church-box ministry is touching the lives of youth in Chicago and beyond. On any given Saturday night in the suburb of Mount Prospect, more than 400 teenagers and young adults cram into Heart and Soul Café -- home to Souled Out Ministries (SOM), which mixes amped-up worship, powerful preaching, video, dance and more -- all crafted for youth, by youth. There is also a family-oriented service on Sunday mornings. "Youth ministry is our calling. It's what we are all about," Joe Manahan said of himself and the rest of the SOM staff. "We want to equip kids to see their schools as the mission fields that they are," he told Charisma magazine. Equipping means that youth are mentored and in turn mentor others. Ten years ago, God planted a vision in the founders of SOM, Ed and Cathi Basler, to reach youth on an international level. Before 1994, the couple had been working through their church to reach teenagers with the gospel. During a period of prayer and fasting, God gave the couple a major shift in direction. They were to begin a separate youth church with a heartbeat for missions. Within months, Souled Out ( was launched. (

Sudan: Violence Hinders Foreign Aid, Makes Indigenous Workers More Necessary
Christian Aid

As violence escalates in the Darfur region of western Sudan, foreign aid agencies are finding it impossible to take food and water to refugees. Refugees remain desperately in need of help, particularly as the rainy season begins and they are caught with no shelter, clothing or blankets. Many wander for days with no food or clean water, their homes destroyed by marauding bands of Janjaweed militia. Once in a refugee camp, they still face unsanitary conditions and insufficient supplies of food and medicine. Up to 10,000 people are dying in these camps each month. An estimated two million Sudanese will starve to death this year unless they receive food aid. But with no end to fighting in sight and the situation worsening, this aid will be slow in coming from foreign sources due to safety issues. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are moving across the border into neighboring Chad, which borders Sudan on the west. Indigenous Christian ministries there want to help refugees in the name of Christ, but they lack resources. They are eager to distribute aid to these mostly Muslim people. The Africa director for Christian Aid plans to be in Chad next month to provide funds for indigenous missions that are helping the refugees. With these funds, gospel workers can purchase food, water, clothing, blankets and medicines.