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Religion Today Summaries, August 4, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, August 4, 2004

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

  • Jewish Christians Find Some Muslims Open to Gospel Message
  • Brazil: Court Drops 'Hate Crime' Charges
  • Frightened Christians Flee Iraq as Bomb Rocks Baghdad
  • Pastor's Sermon on Stealing Generates Surprising Returns

Jewish Christians Find Some Muslims Open to Gospel Message
Chad Groening, Agape Press

A Messianic Jewish evangelist says she witnessed to a lot of Muslims in a recent outreach effort in New York City, and quite a few of them wanted to know more about Jesus. Susan Perlman, first assistant to the executive director of Jews for Jesus, was in New York City during the month of July to take part in a massive street evangelism campaign. She says while Jews for Jesus' primary focus is winning the Jewish people for Christ, the missionaries encountered a number of Muslims who expressed a desire to learn more about Jesus Christ. Although Perlman notes that most members of the Islamic faith with whom Jews for Jesus talks reject the gospel, she says the evangelists encounter a select few who are open to the message. "We actually talked to a lot of Muslims on the streets of New York during our witnessing campaign, and also on the streets of other cities," she says, "and some are quite interested to hear from our Jewish-Christian perspective who Jesus is." But while encouraged by the response of a few Muslims to Jews for Jesus' outreach efforts, Perlman acknowledges that in witnessing to both Jews and Muslims in this way, one cannot expect to see a great many conversions.

Brazil: Court Drops 'Hate Crime' Charges
Compass Direct

A court in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has ruled in favor of two Christian evangelists who appealed their conviction last year of violating Brazil's "hate crime" law. The landmark case involving the distribution of gospel tracts to 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. Christians in Brazil hailed the 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," Baptist pastor Joaquim de Andrade, one of the defendants in the case, said. "The judges' ruling came out favorably toward us because we are not breaking the law of our country," Andrade added. "There has been recognition that we have the right to give our testimony."

Frightened Christians Flee Iraq as Bomb Rocks Baghdad
Stefan Bos, ASSIST News Service

A local policeman and another officer were killed Tuesday, August 3, in a roadside bomb blast in Baghdad, where security forces coped with the aftermath of Sunday's terrorist attacks against churches in which up to 15 Christians died and scores of other believers were injured. The latest insurgent attack on Iraq's battered police, who have been pressured to improve the protection of Christians, came after two U.S. soldiers were killed and two others were wounded by a bomb explosion late Monday in Iraq's capital, while an American Marine died in action Tuesday west of Baghdad, The Associated Press quoted the military as saying. Amid the violence, Christians, including survivors and other frightened believers, were planning to flee Iraq and others said they were scared to visit Sunday services. "I am now scared to go to church," the injured Louis Climis, a leader in the Syriac Catholic community, told Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper.

Pastor's Sermon on Stealing Generates Surprising Returns
Charisma News Service

A pastor's sermon on stealing has produced some surprising returns with his Minneapolis suburb congregation. Last week, Derek Rust put up special "amnesty bins" in the aisles of the Hosanna Lutheran Church in Lakeville, encouraging sticky-fingered parishioners to return anything they had swiped. Prompted by his sermon on the eighth commandment, based on a series on the Ten Commandments, Rust was amazed at the response. In the vast 2,000-seat sanctuary, ersatz thieves have been coming in to return stolen loot -- not during worship, but during the week, when they could slink in unnoticed. Items left in the bins include men's shirts, a rubber toy eagle, a soldering iron, CDs, a broom, power drill, Bubble Yum gum, baby clothes and towels pinched from hotels and motels. One woman gave Rust $30, payment for several years worth of snacks, pilfered from a convenience store where she worked. The sermon has drawn applause from Lakeville Police Chief Steve Strachan, who didn't hear the message. Rust believes the impact goes beyond the bins. "The Ten Commandments should be lived," he said. "That's what sermons should be about, applying truth to our lives."