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Religion Today Summaries, April 7, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, April 7, 2004

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

  • Zanzibar Churches on Guard Following Attacks
  • Muslims Shocked To Hear Jesus Speak Their Language in “The Passion” 
  • Evangelism Expert Says Soul Winning Begins with Ten Commandments
  • Ex-Robber, Minister Shares God's Redemption with Ex-Offenders

Zanzibar Churches on Guard Following Attacks
Richard Nyberg, Compass Direct

Churchgoers on the tiny, Muslim dominated island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania are aware of a growing threat by Muslim extremists suspected of carrying out recent attacks against church facilities. “There are some people who think they can do away with the Christians, and most of them are coming from outside (the country),” said Father Arbogast Mushi of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Zanzibar. Tensions increased on March 5 when the Islamist group UAMSHO (Revival and Propagation Organization) held an illegal rally despite a government ban imposed after previous demonstrations in which UAMSHO distributed jihad-training videos and literature. The group urged killing secular politicians who refuse to impose sharia, or Islamic law. Five days later, arsonists set fire to a Roman Catholic church in the Jumbi district. The Associated Press quoted police official Hamad Issa describing the attack as “a deliberate act aimed at inciting religious hostilities in ( Zanzibar ).”

Muslims Shocked To Hear Jesus Speak Their Language in “The Passion”
Joan Wilson Carter

“It was like Arabic with an accent” said Dalia Mogahed, outreach program coordinator for the Oakland Mosque. She said she didn’t need to read the subtitles because she understood the Aramaic dialogue. Mogahed, with a group of Muslim youths from the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, commented on the positive results of viewing the film. Many were impressed by the fact that Jesus spoke phrases that were common to the central theme of Islam. One example was Jesus’ statement that he was born to “bear witness to the truth.” “He might as well have been quoting from the Quran,” said Mogahed. Many saw parallels between the persecution of Jesus and the persecution of their revered prophet Muhammad. “God” was one of the words that struck Mogahed as being so close to the way Muslims refer to God. “What amazed her was that the Aramaic word for God sounded just like the Arabic “Allah”, but with a “u” at the end. After all the controversy over whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God, ‘Here is Jesus calling God, essentially, Allah’ she said.” One of the students, a young girl, felt that the movie helped her build bridges. Another saw it as a chance for Muslims to speak about their faith to Christian peers by explaining that Muslims revere Jesus, even though they do not believe he was the divine or that he’s the son of God.

Evangelism Expert Says Soul Winning Begins with Ten Commandments
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A southern California evangelist says when it comes to witnessing, Christians need to follow Christ's example -- starting not with God's love, but with God's law. Ray Comfort has taken to the streets virtually every day for more than a decade, sharing the gospel in public places. And the evangelist says whenever he shares the plan of salvation with someone, he always starts with the Ten Commandments. Comfort says Jesus, as well as the effective evangelists of the early 20th century, used the same method. "They would always preach the moral law before they preached the gospel," the evangelism specialist says, "and by that I mean the Ten Commandments." He explains that the principle is similar to one of the rules of successful farming: "You don't take good seed and cast it on the hard soil," he says, "or you're going to get a disappointing harvest. What you do is you prepare the soil. You break it up and then you cast the seed. Good seed, good soil, good harvest." The evangelist explains that understanding about the law of God is pivotal to a person's conversion. "Scripture says let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity… If there's no regard of the divine law, they'll be no knowledge of sin. If there's no knowledge of sin, there's no repentance," he says.

Ex-Robber, Minister Shares God's Redemption with Ex-Offenders
Charisma News Service

Mark Olds was a criminal for years, but today the Ohio minister uses his testimony to share God's love and redemption with ex-offenders. He seeks to help others turn from lives of crime through his Cleveland-based The Righteous Men Ministries (TRMM). Olds has reached out to hundreds of men and women, helping them find jobs and clothes, and organizing support groups for their families. He also has the distinction of being the first person ever to be ordained a minister while incarcerated. Olds even led a congregation of inmates behind bars. His decision for Christ at the age of 30 marked the end of more than a decade of drug dealing, gambling, bank robbing and even murder. Olds continues to reach out to inmates through his Seven Phases of Change seminars, which help inmates develop the discipline to avoid returning to lives of crime after they are released. He hopes to see TRMM, which he launched in 2002, spread across the country. "There has to be practical mentorship, but it is too much for one church to handle," said Olds, a spirit-filled believer. "Churches in a community must come together and be willing to work to help these people come back in to society ... because without Christ there is no point."