Religion Today Summaries, December 23, 2003

Compiled and Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, December 23, 2003

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

  • Muslim Militants Attack Carolers in Indonesia
  • Ministry Partners with Christian Nationals to Reach Northern India with the Gospel
  • Pentacostal Pastor 'Brings' Christmas to the ACLU
  • Christianity Under Attack in Scotland, Too

Muslim Militants Attack Carolers in Indonesia
Charisma News Service 

Muslim militants recently shot six youths singing Christmas carols on the street, wounding two and renewing fears of terrorist acts against Christians. The attack occurred Dec. 5 in the city of Poso, Indonesia as the teens -- two Pentecostals and four from the Reformed Church -- sat playing a guitar and singing Christmas songs in front of the Indonesian Christian Church. Two men on a motorcycle reportedly shot at the youths six times and sped off. Hidayat Guru, 20, and Fifien Rumapar, 16, were treated and released from a hospital. After weeks of increasing religious violence and the circulation of pamphlets calling for the extermination of Christians, the government had increased security, made commitments to crack down on anyone with weapons and brought in extra troops to guard 46 locations where attacks were likely. The beefed up security reportedly made the youths feel safe enough to sing carols in front of the church. In response to the latest attack, authorities are reportedly sending an additional 500 military men to Poso.

Ministry Partners With Christian Nationals to Reach Northern India with the Gospel
Allie Martin, Agape Press

The president of a ministry that works to plant churches and spread the gospel to unreached nations says God is moving powerfully in India. Recently officials with World Help visited the city of Allahabad in northern India, where two years ago 60 million Hindu pilgrims gathered at the Ganges to purify themselves in the sacred river during a massive Hindu festival. But during this last visit, World Help president Vernon Brewer says he saw more than 40 thousand former Hindus singing, praying, and responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He describes the growth of Christianity in the region as "just an unbelievable move of God," and says even though the ministry is helping with resources, prayer, and funding, the visitors from World Help largely just sat on the sidelines and watched the spirit-filled Indian Christians worshiping, praying, and sharing the word of God. "It was led entirely by nationals," Brewer says. The ministry president points out that there is much work to be done in terms of evangelizing in this region. "This is the least reached part of the world," he says. "As few as one in ten thousand are Christians." But Brewer says ministry partners in northern India have a strategic plan to reach 175 million lost people with the gospel and to plant one million house churches throughout northern India. 

Pentacostal Pastor 'Brings' Christmas to the ACLU
Charisma News Service

The pastor of an Assemblies of God church in New Orleans recently took the Christmas story to an unlikely audience - the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). On Dec. 11, Gregory Pembo, who leads Vieux Carre Assembly of God, presented a living nativity scene, featuring a baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and an angel, outside the local ACLU office, where a group of 25 Christians played carols and handed out tracts. Along with three local preachers and a minister from Montgomery, Ala., Pembo also went up to the ACLU's office, delivering a small, porcelain nativity scene to the civil rights group with a letter explaining the gospel. "A few weeks ago, I believe the Lord put in my heart to bring Christmas to the ACLU," Pembo, 49, said. "The Lord convicted me that we battle with them from time to time, but I have never brought them the gospel message." Pembo, who is active in political issues, said he helped lobby against eight pro-homosexual bills promoted by the ACLU, which were all defeated in the Louisiana Legislature this year. "We brought the kingdom of God to the ACLU because we wanted to let them know that we love them and we were praying for them," Pembo said.

Christianity Under Attack in Scotland, Too
Agape Press

It appears the United States is not the only place where efforts are underway to take Christ out of Christmas. By now many Americans have become familiar with several of the various court battles being fought to remove the mention the words Christ and Jesus from Christmas celebrations, especially in the nation's public schools and other government property. Now comes word from Scotland that in the name of religious political correctness, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh has banned a charity Christmas CD from distribution because it mentions the baby Jesus. A hospital spokesman says the ban was enacted because the CD could cause offense to those who are not Christian. The move follows a decision from the Scots Parliament last month to ban traditional Christmas cards due to similar fears of offending people of other religions.