Religion Today Summaries - January 11, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 11, 2005

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

  • Christians Respond With Love In Aftermath Of Tsunami

  • Ministry Joins Tsunami Response, Bringing Physical, Spiritual Aid

  • More Churches Becoming Equipped For Meeting Senior Adult Needs 

  • Church Websites -- Now a Luxury? Perhaps a Necessary Outreach in Near Future

Christians Respond With Love In Aftermath Of Tsunami
Open Doors USA

The tsunamis, sparked by a massive earthquake near the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, affected coastlines in Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Some coastlines and outlying islands on the African continent were also affected. Many of these countries rank among the top 50 persecutors of Christians on the Open Doors World Watch List. For example, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India, the worst affected countries, are known for violent discrimination against Christians. While the Western world reels from the scale of the tragedy - and questions the very existence of a merciful God - persecuted Christians have already come to terms with a God who allows hardship and suffering. Reports from India over the past two weeks show the resilience of faith tested by fire. A day after the tidal wave, Pastor Issac Raju and his small congregation of 25 members in Lothkunta, southern India, rushed to bury bodies and provide food and clothing for survivors. They were spurred on by compassion, despite receiving threats and beatings from their Hindu neighbors in recent months. The tsunamis have provided a window of opportunity for Christians to reach out in love to their former persecutors. Already there are signs that walls of religious prejudice across Southeast Asia have - if momentarily - crumbled under the weight of the tsunami.

Ministry Joins Tsunami Response, Bringing Physical, Spiritual Aid
Chad Groening, AgapePress

A Virginia-based missions ministry has dispatched teams to several of the Asian countries devastated by the December 26th tsunami and is helping to fulfill disaster victims' needs even as it works to fulfill the Great Commission. Advancing Native Missions (ANM), based in Charlottesville, was already doing work in many of the countries hardest hit by the tsunami. Therefore, according to ministry representative Oliver Asher, it was easy to dispatch teams to the affected areas. ANM's Christian workers are among those on the front lines of the disaster response, Asher says, and they have been instrumental in helping to get material aid to people in desperate need of it. Although it is too early to tell just how many people may be led to Jesus through the work of missionaries in devastated South Asia, Asher expects Christians involved in the relief effort will encounter vast numbers of people that are seeking God in the midst of tragedy. He says ANM is striving to meet both the physical and spiritual desperation in the tsunami's wake with a comprehensively Christ-centered response -- not only offering material relief and comfort, but sharing Christ's love with those in need as well.

More Churches Becoming Equipped For Meeting Senior Adult Needs
Brooklyn Noel, Baptist Press

It used to take two vans and a bus to get the 25 members of the Live Longer and Like It band and their equipment to as many as four performances each week. But since August, when Central Baptist Church in Winchester, Ky., purchased a 26-passenger bus through LifeWay Christian Resources, all the band members -- plus their keyboard, guitars, umbrellas, tap shoes and kazoos -- can make the trips together. Providing comfortable transportation is just one way churches can meet the needs of their blossoming senior populations. Assistive and remote listening devices, as well as easily accessible facilities, become more important for churches as their congregants grow older, said Jennie Taylor, a production associate in direct marketing for LifeWay's retail division. As baby boomers begin reaching retirement age, that number will only grow -- a fact that is leading many churches to look seriously at the way they minister to seniors. The band is just one aspect of the senior adult ministry at Central Baptist. As many as 135 seniors get together several times each month for various activities. Central Baptist has operated the Live Longer and Like It ministry for nearly 30 years, but Taylor points out that many churches are getting a better focus on the needs of their seniors.

Church Websites -- Now a Luxury? Perhaps a Necessary Outreach in Near Future
Jody Brown, AgapePress

According to a study just released, the size of a church -- and even the age of its pastor -- factor into how much that church is using the power of the Internet to enhance its ministry efforts. The findings, in many ways, are consistent with a similar survey conducted three years ago by a different group. Ellison Research says its study indicates that 91 percent of Protestant pastors have access to the Internet and use it for church business. A majority of them say the most important aspect of that usage is for conducting research; other aspects of note include building or maintaining a church website, and staying in contact with church members and missionaries via e-mail. But barely half of all the pastors surveyed say their church maintains a website. But as the Ellison study points out, the larger a church's congregation is, the more likely it is to maintain a website. According to Ellison Research, almost 90 percent of churches that typically have 200 or more people attending worship on Sunday morning have a website. That compares with 60 percent of mid-size churches and 28 percent of small churches. Interestingly, the older the church's pastor is, the less likely it is that church will have a website.