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Religion Today Summaries, April 1, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, April 1, 2004

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

  • Persecution Ministries Keeping Tabs on Upcoming Elections in India
  • Pentecostals' Pursuit of Higher Education Sees 'Explosive Growth' 
  • Actor, Evangelist Team Teaches Believers How to Share Christ 
  • Muslim Mob Burns Down Churches in North Nigeria

Persecution Ministries Keeping Tabs on Upcoming Elections in India
Chad Groening and Jody Brown, AgapePress

A Christian organization dedicated to helping the persecuted Church says the upcoming national elections in India will be a referendum on how Christians are treated in that country in the future. India is home to more than 40 million Christians.  According to the Voice of the Martyrs, the persecution against Christians has intensified over the past several years because of the efforts of radical Hindu groups that are tied to India's ruling party.  Spokesman Todd Nettleton says next month's elections are very important. "This national election is in some ways a national referendum on these parties that are tied to the radical Hindus," he says.  "It's a national referendum on how Christians will be treated, among other issues." According to Nettleton, many Hindu state-level governments have passed anti-conversion bills, thereby making evangelism much more difficult -- and a big win by the Hindus, he says, could make things worse.  He claims the nation's ruling party has already clamped down on the rights of the millions of Christians in India. Another Christian persecution ministry, International Christian Concern, has posted on its website a petition to President George W. Bush asking him to meet with the Indian ambassador to the U.S. to request that both the violence against Christians and the anti-conversion laws be stopped.

Pentecostals' Pursuit of Higher Education Sees 'Explosive Growth'
Charisma News Service

A growing number of Pentecostals are pursuing higher education to go along with a higher calling. Enrollment at seminaries has increased by 22 percent in the last decade, according to the Association of Theological Schools. Vinson Synan, a well-known Pentecostal historian, says that schools that have a Pentecostal distinctive have seen "explosive growth" in recent years. Synan credits this growth to an increasing number of congregations who have grown beyond their pastors' training. However, Pentecostals harbored distrust for years toward higher education. Some feared education would prove a Trojan horse that would introduce liberal ideas and unbelief into the church; others felt it might quench the Spirit by embracing intellectualism. While misgivings still exist in some, Synan says Pentecostals have largely overcome such objections. "That reticence toward education was misguided in the sense that people could have been much more effective … Pentecostals who understood the Scriptures knew they had nothing to fear from education." Synan notes that: "The Bible says, 'He will guide you into all truth.' So even though we have all these educational systems, colleges and so forth, in the end ... the Holy Spirit is the prime teacher, even in the classroom."

Actor, Evangelist Team Teaches Believers How to Share Christ
Allie Martin, AgapePress

A well-known actor is trying to encourage and equip Christians to share their faith effectively. Kirk Cameron starred in the hit TV series Growing Pains (1985-1992), a family situation comedy. And more recently, Cameron has become known for his starring role in the cinematic thrillers Left Behind. The 33-year-old actor accepted Christ as Lord and Savior when he was 18. But Cameron says he never learned the principles of biblical witnessing -- that is, until he was introduced to evangelist Ray Comfort. Now Cameron and Comfort have teamed up in an evangelism training ministry that produces a course called "The Way of the Master." This training program uses God's law to show people their need for the grace and redemption available in Christ. It helps people to see themselves as sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation. Cameron feels modern Christianity often fails to place enough emphasis on the laws of God, instead allowing "seeker-sensitive" tactics to supplant the basics of Christianity. The Way of the Master ministry offers numerous evangelism and training resources through a television show and an interactive Internet site. Included on the website are audio teaching sessions, a Bible search tool, and other aids for seekers as well as for believers who want to learn how to lead others to Christ.

Muslim Mob Burns Down Churches in North Nigeria
Dan Wooding, ASSIST News Service

Rampaging youths have burnt down three churches and a hotel after one militant youth was remanded in custody for criminal damage to a church in Dutse, Northern Nigeria. According to the Barnabas Fund, Muslims in Jigawa State Northern Nigeria have taken exception to the judicial procedures faced by one of their number who is accused of criminal damage against a church. “On March 17, they reacted against a judge’s decision to refuse bail to Al-Haji Ibrahim Adamu, the accused, by burning down at least three local churches and a hotel,” said a Barnabas Fund news release. “Many Christian families in Dutse to sought refuge at the state police command headquarters. Armed police were drafted to patrol the streets and restore peace.”