Religion Today Summaries, February 6, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 6, 2004

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

  • Gospel Expedition 2004 Goes 'To Russia with Love'
  • Militant Islamic Group to Eradicate Christianity
  • Ministry Pioneer's Widow Carries Evangelistic Legacy Forward
  • Evangelicals Targeted Based on Lies

Gospel Expedition 2004 Goes 'To Russia with Love'
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A massive effort is under way to support and encourage church planters and pastors in Russia.  Teams of pastors, evangelists, church workers, and various support staff set out in December for a seven-month initiative aimed at assisting church planters and pastors in Russia. The effort is called Gospel Expedition 2004 and is spearheaded by the Slavic Gospel Association. Tom McAdam, a spokesman for SGA, says so far response to the project and the volunteers involved has been overwhelming. "Reports have gotten back that they are being very favorably received," he says. The Gospel Expedition 2004 effort includes rotating teams of volunteer church planters who visit and offer support to Russian Church leaders. McAdam says this is the first time many evangelical pastors in Russia have had fellow Christians visit to help them expand their ministry efforts. Even after almost a decade of freedom, the demand for Russian-language Bibles and Christian literature, as well as other training materials, has not decreased in the former Soviet Union, and is in fact on the rise. McAdam says expedition volunteers will be helping to distribute the usual kinds of Christian resources to Russian Christians, along with prayers and encouragement. Gospel Expedition 2004 is the largest outreach to Russian pastors and church planters in the history of the ministry.

Militant Islamic Group to Eradicate Christianity
Voice of the Martyrs News

The latest analysis report prepared by the Jakarta-based International Crisis Group (ICG) released early this week, stated that a radical new Islamic militia had emerged in Indonesia.  The newly established group exists in the Central Sulawesi province, and is highly concentrated in the Poso region, where ‘Kompak,’ an acronym roughly translated as “Action Committee for Crisis Response,” is responsible for a series of attacks against Christians. Their members are highly trained in international militant camps in Mindanao and Afghanistan. ‘Kompak’ is involved in the Muslim/ Christian conflicts in the Moluccas and aggressively seek new recruits. They are ideologically prepared to launch large-scale deadly attacks. Central Sulawesi Police confiscated at least 19 bombs and five hand-made guns in three areas in Poso, and joint security personnel from military troops and a police mobile brigade seized at least 27 bombs, 17 live bullets, and a hand-made machine gun January 19th.

Ministry Pioneer's Widow Carries Evangelistic Legacy Forward
Allie Martin, Agape Press

The widow of Campus Crusade for Christ founder Dr. Bill Bright says her husband's faith never wavered, despite his long battle with a fatal illness. Vonette Bright says when her husband was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis several years ago, he prayed for healing but also saw the incurable disease as an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord. The ministry founder was 81 when he died last July. Vonette says several weeks before Dr. Bright's death she asked him about suffering. She says the evangelist's response was quick and sure: "He said, 'I am not suffering. Jesus suffered.' Today the "founding partner" of the world's largest Christian ministry spends her time carrying on the work her husband began more than half a century ago. Vonette Bright says her husband's desire to bring Christ to the entire world keeps her busy. "Actually I'm chairing a foundation that is called Bright Media Foundation," Vonette says, noting that they are working to get Bright’s unpublished works published. Campus Crusade for Christ is an international ministry working in 190 countries with a staff of 26,000 full time employees. Vonette Bright says much of her work with the ministry today involves promoting her husband's legacy and making sure that people know the resources he left behind to help them in their Christian growth.

Evangelicals Targeted Based on Lies
Voice of the Martyrs

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) actively persecuted evangelicals.  When asked why this is done, their reasons included many fabricated lies, such as, evangelical pastors live well, at the expense of the people, evangelicals take up offerings, but do not have a vision to improve society, evangelicals are agents of U.S. imperialism, and evangelicals organize corrupt political parties.  Armed groups promote an image of the church based on gross ignorance or lies. They charge that the church is just a business; pastors keep tithes for themselves and have parties with the church offerings. Evangelicals, they maintain, are government agents who pacify people to make them submissive to the state. These outrageous notions are used to justify the ongoing persecution against evangelicals in Columbia.