12 Days of Giveaways - Spin & Win! Sign up before Dec. 25th to win daily prizes and a $250 Amazon.com Gift Card. Find out details.

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 9, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 9, 2008

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

  • Church Offers New Year Prayers For Pakistan’s Stability
  • Kenyan Needs Trigger Baptist Ministry
  • 2 Alabama Men Arrested in Church Arsons
  • Max Lucado Launches John 3:16 Movement

Church Offers New Year Prayers For Pakistan’s Stability

ASSIST News Service reports that Pakistani Christians prayed for peace in Pakistan at New Year Masses following the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was killed at a political rally in Rawalpindi, close to Islamabad, on Dec. 27, disrupting the election campaign of the Pakistan People's Party, which she headed. Supporters rioted in the streets of major cities, causing turmoil. According to a story posted on UCA News, New Year's Eve passed quietly in urban centers, where celebrations were postponed, traffic remained thin and no decorations were put up or fireworks set off. The government of President Pervez Musharraf has since postponed the scheduled Jan. 8 election until Feb. 18. UCA News reported that church attendance was low at the traditional New Year's Eve Masses. About 400 Catholics, fewer than usual, attended Mass the next day, Jan. 1, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Hyderabad, 1,040 kilometers south of Islamabad. According to UCA News, Father John Murad, vicar general of Hyderabad diocese, urged worshipers to pray for calm amid the political unrest in the country, especially in Sindh, Bhutto's home province, where his diocese is located.

Kenyan Needs Trigger Baptist Ministry

Southern Baptists are responding to critical hunger needs in Kenya, where an estimated 250,000 people have been driven from their homes by violence that broke out after the controversial results of December's presidential elections were announced, Baptist Press reports. Food packets containing rice, wheat flour, maize meal, beans, vegetable cooking oil and salt will be distributed in seven cities, with the International Mission Board's Baptist Mission of Kenya coordinating the project. Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist international relief and development organization, has approved the release of $25,000 from the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund to support the relief effort. "Many displaced people have congregated at safe locations like police stations, Bible schools, Catholic missions and evangelical churches," said Mark Hatfield, director of Baptist Global Response work in sub-Sahara Africa. "This project will assist 2,500 families in seven cities where Baptists have access to centers of refuge."

2 Alabama Men Arrested ssociated Press

According to the Associated Press, two men who dabbled in satanism have been arrested in connection with a recent rash of arson and vandalism at rural churches in Alabama. Graffiti scrawled at or near some of the east Alabama churches included slogans such as, "Teach children to worship Satan!!" on a Sunday school classroom wall. Geoffrey Parquette and James Clark were arrested Sunday and pleaded not guilty Monday. The 21-year-old suspects "called themselves professed spiritual satanists," Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell said Monday. Fires were set at three churches over four days beginning Jan. 1, destroying one of the buildings.

Max Lucado Launches John 3:16 Movement

The Christian Post reports that John 3:16, believed to be the most popular and arguably the most recited verse in the Bible, and which compelled Max Lucado to write a book entirely on the short passage, now has a major initiative launched around it. Lucado, author of 3:16: The Numbers of Hope, calls the well-known verse "a 26-word parade of hope: beginning with God, ending with life, and urging us to do the same... John 3:16 has always been that one verse that I thought summarizes, encapsulates, [and] carries the heart of the Gospel like no other verse," Lucado said Monday on The 700 Club. The key doctrine, Lucado indicated, is that the invitation to receive eternal life is for "whoever" and the belief has to be in "him" - Jesus Christ. The best-selling author has planned a "3:16 Live" event for Feb. 8 in celebration of the verse, during Women of Faith's 2008 National Conference at the Alamodome in San Antonio. There, Lucado will launch an initiative to reach 316 million people across the globe with the John 3:16 message.