Religion Today Summaries, February 3, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 3, 2004

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

  • Third Annual 'Shockwave' Will Cover Globe with Prayer for Persecuted Church
  • Urban Replanning in Sudan Destroys Churches
  • Believers Urged to 'Affirm God's Intent' for Marriage
  • Eritrean Government Spying on Evangelicals

Third Annual 'Shockwave' Will Cover Globe with Prayer for Persecuted Church
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Millions of Christian youth from different countries are preparing to take part in a special day of prayer for persecuted Christians worldwide. On March 5, Underground, the youth outreach of Open Doors International, will sponsor the third annual "Shockwave," a 24-hour global prayer initiative that will take place at prayer meetings and in Internet chat rooms worldwide. Underground coordinator Jeff Shreve says Shockwave is an opportunity for young people to make a difference. "I know a lot of youth pastors, college groups, and others want to find a way to get involved, to help the persecuted Church," he says, "but many times distance, geography, or whatever it may be, makes it a little bit harder. Shockwave eliminates all of those things." Shreve says Shockwave can be the start of a massive prayer movement. He advises those young people who participate in the event for the first time this year not to let their involvement end there. "Don't just settle for this one event," he says, "but consider this your initial step into the movement of helping persecuted Christians." Shockwave 2004 will start in New Zealand and work its way across the time zones, covering the world in prayer for the estimated 200 million members of the persecuted Church.

Urban Replanning in Sudan Destroys Churches
Charisma News Service

As part of an urban replanning move, Sudanese authorities recently tore down more than 10 churches. Within the last few months, a church-run vocational training center at the sprawling Wad el Bashier camp in West Omdurman was also demolished. According to sources in the capital of Khartoum, makeshift worship centers erected by Christians fleeing two decades of civil war or natural disaster were removed. Some of the centers were affiliated with the Anglican, African Inland and Roman Catholic churches, as well as the Sudan Church of Christ. "These structures have value for the displaced Christians who put them up as places of worship," one source said. "Those who knock them down are tampering with the faith of those believers because the first thing they want to do is put up a house of the Lord." As part of urban planning policies dating back to the early 1990s, poor residential areas in and around the camp, including some squatter regions, are being demolished and residents are slowly being allotted plots of land. But in many cases, they are rendered homeless for several months. An estimated 15,300 households have been affected by demolition in the areas around the camp, the temporary home to some 50,000 Sudanese. The people are given a "deserted piece of land" without water supply, where they put up their own shelter and struggle to find medical care.

Believers Urged to 'Affirm God's Intent' for Marriage
Charisma News Service

Leaders of a campaign to protect traditional marriage want believers on the day after Valentine's Day to recognize "the importance of building strong marriages and protecting marriage from redefinition." On Feb. 15, the Covenant Marriage Movement (CMM) is encouraging churches worldwide to corporately affirm and celebrate marriage as a covenant relationship. CMM is comprised of more than 60 ministries and organizations, as well as 27,000 couples around the world, who have designated the third Sunday of February as Covenant Marriage Sunday. "It is our goal to eventually have 50,000 congregations throughout the Judeo-Christian world affirming marriage as a covenant relationship during their morning worship hour(s)," said CMM executive director Phil Waugh, noting that couples are encouraged to affirm their relationship as a covenant marriage by signing a Couple's Commitment Card. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins added: "As the attempts to redefine and counterfeit the institution of marriage continue, I believe that we as the body of Christ need to strongly affirm God's intent for marriage."

Eritrean Government Spying on Evangelicals
Voice of the Martyrs

Eritrea’s outlawed Protestants confirmed this week that their neighbors are being hired to report to security agents any gatherings of evangelical believers in their communities. Police “spies” are rewarded with special benefits, including exemption from military service and allotments of sugar and flour. Since May 2002, when the government ordered Eritrea’s 12 independent Pentecostal and charismatic churches closed, their 20,000 members have gathered secretly in small groups in private homes. Hundreds have been arrested for holding worship services, possessing Bibles or witnessing about their faith. Currently at least 286 Eritrean evangelicals are known to be imprisoned in nine different locations in the country. Protestant pastors say the Department of Religious Affairs has made no progress toward the official registration of their churches.