Religion Today Summaries - September 8, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 8, 2004

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

  • International Prayer Day For Jerusalem Enlists 50 Million Christians
  • Colombia: Masked Gunmen Slay Evangelical Worshippers
  • Brazil: "Hate Crime" Conviction Reversed for Two Evangelists
  • Jesus: The Way, The Truth, and The Life

International Prayer Day For Jerusalem Enlists 50 Million Christians
Charisma News Service

Christians from around the world are expected to join a massive army of intercessors to pray for Israel next month. Inaugurated by Eagles' Wings ministry based in Clarence, N.Y., the annual Day of Prayer for Jerusalem is slated for Oct. 3. "This is a biblically mandated requirement for all who believe," said Robert Stearns, Eagles' Wings (EW) executive director, at the Jerusalem Prayer Banquet held in New York City on May 20. About 500 Christian and Jewish leaders attended the interdenominational gathering co-chaired by Stearns and Jack Hayford, president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and founding pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif. Many signed a public resolution affirming their commitment to the Day of Prayer. Hayford said the signing was a significant action for the church to the biblical call to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Hayford sees Israel's role in the end times as a turning point for the church because of the prophetic season. Stearns unveiled EW's ambitious plan labeled The Jerusalem Project, which calls for an International Day of Prayer on the first Sunday of October every year until the Messiah returns. EW is seeking to enlist the support of 20,000 U.S. churches and 50 million believers in 70 countries to back the effort. (

Colombia: Masked Gunmen Slay Evangelical Worshippers
David Miller, Compass Direct

Masked gunmen burst into an evening worship service at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Puerto Asis, Colombia, on Saturday and opened fire with automatic weapons, killing three worshippers and injuring 13 more. One of the murder victims was a woman; two children are among the wounded. The pastor of the congregation, Francisco Sevillano, was unhurt in the attack. "Three men wearing black hoods came in shooting," Sevillano told reporters. "People started running around everywhere, not knowing what to do." Colombian army spokesmen blamed the 48th Front the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for the brutal attack, but sources in Puerto Asis told Compass by telephone that the assault did not appear to be aimed at the church body, but rather at an individual who was present at the worship service. Municipal authorities later said the man targeted in the attack is a former police officer and local public official who recently began attending the church. Whatever the motive, Puerto Asis residents registered strong condemnation for the brutal attack, particularly because it occurred in a building dedicated to worship while a public service was in progress. Puerto Asis churches held a united service on Sunday evening, September 5, in the same sanctuary where the killings occurred. Participants committed themselves to aid the victims and their families, and to build peace.

Brazil: "Hate Crime" Conviction Reversed for Two Evangelists
Charisma News Service

An appeals court in Sao Paulo has reversed the conviction last year of two evangelists charged with violating the South American nation's "hate crime" law. The landmark case involving evangelicals and Afro-Brazilian spiritists is the first to test a federal law declaring it a crime to "practice, induce, or incite discrimination" against members of another religion, Compass Direct reported. Umbanda and Candomble spiritist groups brought criminal charges more than two years ago against Baptist pastor Joaquim de Andrade and Anglican Aldo dos Santos, claiming that gospel tracts they distributed at the annual Iemanja festival disparaged the African deity, and therefore violated the federal law. In April 2003, the men were found guilty of the charges, but they refused to pay the fine imposed and appealed the verdict. Andrade hailed the appeals court's recent decision as upholding freedom of speech and their right to conduct personal evangelism in public places. "We can certainly continue evangelistic work on the beaches, in the streets, in plazas and through all communications media in Brazil," Andrade told Compass. "The judges' ruling came out favorably toward us because we are not breaking the law of our country. There has been recognition that we have the right to give our testimony." (

Jesus: The Way, The Truth and The Life
Jim Brown, AgapePress

A conservative Anglican theologian says recent comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding the doctrine of salvation did not compromise the gospel in a pluralistic context. While at the three-day Greenbelt Festival in England, Archbishop Rowan Williams said he believes Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, "but how God leads people through Jesus Christ ... can be quite varied." According to Dr. Kendall Harmon with the American Anglican Council, Williams was very clear about the exclusivity of the Christian message and the need for the cross. "The way in which people get to heaven through Jesus is not something you can box God in about." He said one of the interesting illustrations of this is C.S. Lewis' last book of the Chronicles of Narnia where the author has a cowering soldier who is worshipping a false god and with Aslan in heaven. "The point is," Harmon said, "that even though he is worshipping the wrong god, his heart is actually in a different place. "I think that is what the archbishop is trying to get at."