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Religion Today Summaries, December 16, 2003

Compiled and Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, December 16, 2003

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

  • Equipping the Saints to Contend for the Faith 
  • Forced Conversion Continues in Pakistan
  • Pastor Leads Christian Movement Opposing Homosexual Agenda in NC Schools 
  • Another Priest Assassinated in Arauca

Equipping the Saints to Contend for the Faith
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Teaching Christians how to better defend their faith while sharpening witnessing skills -- that's the focus of two-day conferences known as "Worldview Weekends." Several years ago, the American Family Association -- along with several other Christian ministries -- began holding the two-day conferences around the U.S.  The conferences feature prominent speakers who give Christians practical ways to take a stand for righteousness in today's culture. Brannon Howse, founder and director of Worldview Weekend, says the conferences have two primary goals.  He points out that the Book of Hebrews says that without faith, it is impossible to please God; that is why, he says, the conferences attempt to teach people to "contend for the faith" and to defend it.  But "Worldview Weekend isn't just about throwing up intellectual arguments to bring people to Christ," Howse says.  " We want to teach people to lead others to Jesus Christ in a biblical way that creates true converts, not false converts, so that we can learn how to get around the intellectual arguments to coming to Christ." Howse says it is vital for believers -- both young and old -- to know how to take a stand for Christ.  Twenty Worldview Weekends are planned for 2004 in cities like Memphis, Tennessee; Richmond, Virginia; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Rochester, New York.

Forced Conversion Continues in Pakistan
Charisma News Service

A Christian boy, who was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam, recently escaped abduction from militant Muslims. Last month, Zeeshan Gill, 15, was abducted while on his way home after school. He was taken to a Muslim religious school where was harassed, beaten and threatened with death if he ran away or converted back to Christianity. His captors reportedly forced him to fast daily and began training him in the use of weapons in order to send him to Kashmir for "jihad." His mother, Razia, tracked him down and went to court for Zeeshan's release. On Nov. 24, Zeeshan, his mother and a younger brother were able to flee to the home of his aunt. The family contacted the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), which is handling his case. CLAAS director Joseph Francis urged fervent prayer for protection for Zeeshan and his family.  Elsewhere, a believer was arrested Nov. 28 for violating blasphemy laws after a complaint by a Christian convert to Islam was reported. According to "The Pakistan Christian Post," Nasser Ahmed accused Anwar Masih of defiling the name of the prophet Muhammad. Ahmed reportedly incited a Muslim mob in Shadhra to attack Masih's house and a family member.

Pastor Leads Christian Movement Opposing Homosexual Agenda in NC Schools
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A coalition of evangelical Christians has successfully fended off a campaign by homosexual activists in one North Carolina school district. Members of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) have been pressuring the Winston-Salem/Forsyth School Board to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" in the district's nondiscrimination policy. However, the board recently decided not to revise its policy. Pastor Ron Baity of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem led a coalition of Christians that opposed the pro-homosexual effort. He says for a long time homosexual activists, and especially the GLSEN crowd, have been coming to the school board meetings and pushing their agenda, while not a single church in the area came and spoke out against their movement. But Baity says as a result of the coalition speaking out, things started to change immediately. "It's been a real burst of spiritual energy for our people because they've been encouraged to see that if you do get involved, there is a possibility that you can make a change," the coalition leader notes. The pastor contends that the people pushing the homosexual agenda in America are in the minority. Baity believes Christians today are suffering the consequences of having been silent too long on important societal issues.

Another Priest Assassinated in Arauca
Compass Direct

The bullet-riddled body of the second priest murdered in less than three weeks in Colombia 's volatile Arauca department (state) was found November 21 on a street near the community where he ministered. Jose Rubin Rodriguez, 51, was kidnapped at a roadblock November 14, news sources report. Arauca Bishop Carlos German Mesa says that military intelligence and local citizens believe the 10th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia killed him. On November 4, Saulo Carreño, parish priest of Christ the King Church in the town of Saravena, was shot and killed after leaving a hospital where he ministered to sick parishioners. Asked whether he believed the two killings indicate that priests are now military objectives, Bishop Mesa told Compass, "This is what I've been wondering, but what would the reason be? We haven't given anybody a reason to wage war against us. We serve the community and preach the gospel."