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Religion Today Summaries - January 12, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 12, 2005

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

  • Difference of Opinion -- Is It Right to Evangelize During Tsunami Relief Efforts
  • Christian Broadcaster Urges Arab Viewers to Pray and Give
  • The Homeless at Home
  • Magazine Spotlights Subway Evangelists' 'Attention-Getting' Ministry

Difference of Opinion -- Is It Right to Evangelize During Tsunami Relief Efforts?
Fred Jackson, Jody Brown, and Allie Martin, AgapePress

Some of the religious relief agencies involved with helping the tsunami victims are expressing very different views about whether to use the opportunity to share the gospel of Christ. Groups from many denominational backgrounds have sent relief teams to South Asia, where most people are either Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim. But some question whether the relief effort should be used as an opportunity to share the good news of salvation through Jesus. William Headley, deputy executive director for Catholic Relief Services, says no to evangelization. "This is not a time for evangelization," Headley says.  "It's time of anything for Christian witness that if your faith means something, that you're to serve people, then this is a wonderful opportunity to do this." But the president of the group Gospel for Asia (GFA) takes a very different approach. K.P. Yohannon says the deadly tsunami has made people in the region more receptive to the gospel.  "Now when we talk to people about death and eternity and what is to come, I can tell you  -- strike while the iron is hot," Yohannon says. The GFA leader says his group has had missionaries in the area for years, and they are there now to pray and give New Testaments to the tsunami victims, in addition to meeting their physical needs.

Christian Broadcaster Urges Arab Viewers to Pray and Give
Jeremy Reynalds, Assist News Service

Soon after the devastating tsunami that took the lives of more than 150,000 people, an Arabic television service targeting Christians of the Middle East and North Africa began creating TV spots urging the channel's millions of viewers in the Arab World to pray for the suffering in Asia. Three prayers are now airing on the channel. The on- screen messages also encourage viewers to give directly to qualified charities, and specifically mention World Vision, UNICEF, the International Red Cross and MedAir. Terry Ascott, SAT-7 CEO, said the disaster is a hot topic in the Middle East. Speaking in a press release he said, "Many people in the Arab world, of many religions are asking 'Why did some live while so many perished?' Ascott continued, "While we will never fully understand the 'why' until we reach Heaven, we do know we serve a good and loving God. We at SAT-7 pray that God's glory and grace will be revealed in the midst of the Indian Ocean disaster.'" In addition to broadcasting prayers and giving information about charitable giving, SAT-7 is also taping interviews with Middle Eastern survivors of the disaster, and gathering comments from Arabic Christian leaders, theologians and even a Christian geologist about why they believe God allowed these events to occur. Those wanting more information can go to www.sat7.org.

The Homeless at Home
Fred Jackson, Jody Brown, and Allie Martin, AgapePress

An official with a ministry to the homeless is encouraging Christians in America not to forget those without shelter in the U.S. while the worldwide focus seems to be on those devastated by the South Asia earthquake and tsunami. Here's Life Inner City (HLIC) is distributing "Homeless Care Kits" to those without shelter. Tedd Gandy, director of HLIC's national office, says each kit includes a blanket, gloves, cap, scarf, and other basics. Gandy says people should not forget that while the needs are great overseas, the needs are still great in America. "They're out there for a lot of different reasons -- and it's not just men," he tells Mission Network News.  Like the relief workers in South Asia, Gandy says those working with the homeless find opportunity to reach out in Christ's love.  "So often our caregivers go out in the late hours, sometimes at 11:00 at night or midnight, and are able to extend these products that really are needed, but also to communicate the love of Christ to these individuals and try to get them into a more stable situation." HLIC, whose national office is based in New York City, is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.  The ministry to the homeless also has offices in many metropolitan areas.

Magazine Spotlights Subway Evangelists' 'Attention-Getting' Ministry
Charisma News Service

An unconventional evangelistic ministry that sees the New York City subway system as its mission field has garnered the attention of Newsweek magazine. According to a recent issue of the Newsweekly, Mission NYC, a nonprofit Christian group, uses "unique ways to reach straphangers." "You're riding on the New York City D train when Frank Meyer, 41, boards. He's quiet until Darnell Harris, 48, a self-described former burglar turned born-again Christian, starts preaching: "Jesus was a special person for a special mission." Meyer yells for Harris to "shush!" Newsweek observed. Onlookers are poised for an argument, only the two soon reveal that it's all an attention-getting skit: they just want to share Christ. A subway evangelist, Meyer recently began teaching people from New York City and, currently, 15 other states to share the gospel on city trains. Those who don't want to quote Scripture can be "shushers," the Newsweekly reported. Meyer, who works with Mission NYC, has led more than 1,000 churchgoers in subway-evangelism training. Mission NYC's Web site (www.missionnyc.org/subway.html) invites believers to experience subway evangelism. The Web site states: "Step outside the box of conventional evangelism methods. Discover that evangelism can actually be an experience you enjoy. Explore the effectiveness of adding humor and creativity to your witness. Break through fear and intimidation in the safety of a group effort. Be amazed at people's openness to "open-air" evangelism." (http://www.charismanow.com)