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Religion Today Summaries - January 25, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 25, 2005

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

  • Texas Congregation's Tsunami Aid and Evangelism Stirs Concern

  • Unique Campaign To Help Compassion International Raise Funds

  • Eighth Circuit Now Considering Christian's Suit Against Univ. of Arkansas

  • Enraged Muslim Chops off Pakistani Christian's Arm

Texas Congregation's Tsunami Aid and Evangelism Stirs Concern
Charisma News Service

A Texas congregation has come under scrutiny in tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka for aggressive evangelistic appeals. According to The New York Times, members of 2,000-strong Antioch Community Church in Waco have been proselytizing in the predominately Buddhist island nation, one of 12 countries in southern Asia devastated by the tsunami. Besides offering gifts, the group also stage children's plays about Jesus and hold prayer services for the healing of the injured, ill or handicapped. But their ministry efforts have angered local Christian leaders who worry that they could provoke a violent backlash against Christians in Sri Lanka, where Buddhist hard-liners attacked the offices of the World Vision Christian aid group and vandalized or threatened churches and pastors 75 times in 2004. Pat Murphy, 49, a leader of the group denied that the team was trying to convert people. Jimmy Seibert, senior pastor of Antioch Community, told the Times that the church would evaluate whether the group should identify themselves as aid workers. But he said the church believes missionary work and aid work "is one thing, not two separate things. Scattered reports of proselytizing in Sri Lanka; Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim; and India, with large Hindu and Muslim populations, are arousing concerns that the good will spread by the American relief efforts may be undermined by resentment, the Times reported. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Unique Campaign To Help Compassion International Raise Funds
Jeremy Reynalds, Assist News Service

A company's campaign to sell 2 million wristbands to raise $500,000 for Christian child development organization Compassion International is off to a good start. More than 18,000 of the wristbands were sold in the first 10 days of the project's Jan. 3 launch. The "Live For Him" Red Wristband Project is both a witnessing tool and an avenue for its organizers. Kerusso, an apparel and gift company, is donating 25 cents to Compassion for every $1.29 rubber wristband sold. "Every child deserves a hope and a future, and the 'Live for Him' Red Wristband Project makes it possible to reach out to more children in poverty," said Greg Frady, Director of Development for Compassion International in a news release. The half-inch wide wristbands, with the words "Live For Him" etched into the rubber, symbolize the blood of Jesus and the wearers' commitment to live for Him. Proceeds from the "Live For Him" Red Wristband Project will help Compassion to deliver physical, social, economic and spiritual development programs to more impoverished children around the world. Compassion, an evangelical child development ministry, currently serves more than 625,000 children in 23 countries and has been active in the tsunami relief efforts in Southeast Asia. (www.compassion.com)

Eighth Circuit Now Considering Christian's Suit Against Univ. of Arkansas
Jim Brown, AgapePress

The University of Arkansas is being challenged in court over its speech restrictions on an outside Christian speaker. The case involves a man who has shared his faith on the campus since 1998. In October 2003, Gary Bowman sued the school for requiring that he obtain a permit every time he wishes to hand out gospel tracts or hold up a sign on campus. Bowman had been told he could share his faith on campus no more than five times a semester, 15 days out of the year -- and that the school must have notice of his visits three days before they occur. Oral arguments have been heard, and the case is now pending before a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. Bowan's attorney, Nathan Kellum with the Alliance Defense Fund, says the university has egregiously violated his client's free-speech rights. According to Kellum, the university's restriction on outside speakers is unconstitutional. ADF believes that although the University of Arkansas has always required Bowman obtain a permit, it implemented the more restrictive policy primarily to "curb the frequency" of the Christian's speech. The Eighth Circuit's ruling in Gary Bowman v. Dr. John A. White, et al. is expected in the next few months.

Enraged Muslim Chops off Pakistani Christian's Arm
Barbara G. Baker, Compass Direct

A young Christian shopkeeper in Pakistan's Punjab province had his arm chopped off by a Muslim customer who became enraged during a disagreement over a TV rental. Shahbaz Masih, 22, was approached last November by a customer wanting to rent a television set from his video shop in Talwandi, Faisalabad district. When Masih declined the request, his customer, a 26-year-old butcher named Ahmed Ali, became furious, declaring the Christian had insulted him. He returned shortly afterwards, armed with a butcher's ax. Forcing his way into Masih's house, Ali attacked him and chopped off his left arm near the elbow. As he left, he threatened the victim and his widowed mother with even more "dire consequences" for the alleged insult he had endured. Following his discharge from the hospital four days later, Masih was forced to close his shop and leave the village with his mother and go into hiding. Ali was arrested after church officials pressed the case and faces criminal charges. However, local sources say police are under heavy pressure to establish his innocence.