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Religion Today Summaries, July 2, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 2, 2004

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

  • Russian Restrictions Don't Douse Missionaries' Evangelistic Zeal
  • Christian Workers 'Find a Place of Rest' From Hospitality Ministry
  • 'Bibles for Iraq' Project Puts Word Into Welcoming Hands
  • FamilyNet Will Telecast Christian Oscars During Holiday

Russian Restrictions Don't Douse Missionaries' Evangelistic Zeal
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A husband-and-wife mission team serving in Moscow say while there are more freedoms to evangelize in the former communist capital, there is resistance at times to their efforts. Troy and Tina Bush were commissioned by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1999 to serve in Moscow.  The Bushes are primarily involved in planting new churches in the metropolis of 12 million people.  But not everyone is happy they are there.  As Troy explained during the SBC's recent annual meeting, things are starting to change in a negative way for evangelical Christians there. "The Orthodox Church and members of the government are not in favor of Protestant missionaries [being there] -- especially evangelical missionaries," he says.  "At times, there's resistance to our activities and our ability to do things." According to the missionary, such resistance affects more than just them.  "Where that really impacts the local believers is that especially Evangelicals and Baptists at times have a great deal of difficulty renting properties, maintaining legal rights to things," he explains, "and the bureaucracy they're facing and even legal restrictions is increasing now." But those restrictions are not keeping the Bushes and other missionaries from their calling.  Troy says there is a huge interest in the gospel among Muscovites.  Many of them, he says, have not found happiness in capitalism and are searching for the true freedom found in Christ.

Christian Workers 'Find a Place of Rest' From Hospitality Ministry
Charisma News Service

A unique hospitality ministry seeks to give full-time Christian workers some rest and relaxation. The burdens that go along with ministry have inspired innkeepers worldwide to offer their hotels and getaways as a place of refreshing and renewal. They have joined the Christian Hospitality Network (CHN), which within a year has attracted 880 lodging properties that offer a minimum 25 percent midweek discount to ministers. These innkeepers subscribe to the practice of hospitality as a Christian virtue, pointing to the Bible's instruction in Hebrews 13:2 to "eagerly show hospitality to strangers because in so doing some have entertained angels without knowing it." This belief has fueled the early success of the CHN, along with the dedication of its founder, Paul Cowell. "Over 1,800 full-time Christian workers leave the field every month due to the stresses of the ministry," Cowell said. "We [Christian innkeepers] have the opportunity to help pastors, ministers and missionaries find a place to get the rest they need to continue the battle God has called them to," he added. Cowell, who was pastor of Christ Chapel in Knoxville, Tenn., for 25 years, built Whitestone Country Inn, an estate in Kingston, Tenn. Touted as "A Sanctuary for the Soul," the bed and breakfast quickly has earned a reputation for excellence and quality within the hotel industry.

'Bibles for Iraq' Project Puts Word Into Welcoming Hands
Allie Martin and Jenni Parker, Agape Press

A recent visitor to the Middle East says there is a huge need for copies of God's word in the war-torn nation of Iraq. Vernon Brewer, president of World Help, recently met in Cairo, Egypt, with a ministry worker who helps distribute Bibles in Iraq. He says the Egyptian "Bibles for Iraq" project director had just returned from a week in Iraq, where he was overseeing the distribution process of the New Testaments the Word Help ministry is providing. "He told me that their convoy had been fired upon by terrorists," the ministry spokesman says, "thankfully, they were not hit." Brewer notes, "We're networking with 72 churches. We're building a training center in the middle of Baghdad to train pastors and church planters, and we're distributing hundreds of thousands of Bibles. God's moving there, and it's incredible what He's doing." And Brewer says Bibles are in great demand in Iraq. "I've learned that the Iraqi people love to read," he says. "They've asked us for more and more New Testaments, and because it's open right now and there's no oppressive regime, many of them are open [to the gospel]." World Help's president says although the official handover of power to Iraqi officials took place this week, the ministry will still be able to distribute New Testaments in the region because of its network of volunteers in the Middle East.

FamilyNet Will Telecast Christian Oscars During Holiday
Ted Baehr, ASSIST News Service

Family Net, a 24-hour television network broadcasting to 32 million households, or 80 million people, will air the 12th Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry Saturday and Sunday, July 3 and 4. Known as the Christian Oscars, the Awards Gala features the prestigious $25,000 John Templeton Foundation Epiphany Prizes for Most Inspiring Movie and TV Program and the MOVIEGUIDE Teddy BEAR Awards for the Ten Best Family Movies. Sponsored by the Christian Film & Television Commission, the Gala features appearances by Rebecca St. James, Chuck Norris, Lauren Kitchens, Eric Close, Caitlin Wachs, Tracy Melchior, Mickey Rooney, John Ratzenberger, Bianca Lawson, Pat Boone, Jane Russell, and Gavin McLeod. Mark Steines of Entertainment Tonight and Leanza Cornett, former Miss America, will host the awards ceremony. The show will be broadcast 10-11 p.m. Saturday, Eastern Time, July 3, and 12-1 a.m. Sunday evening (or Monday morning), Eastern Time, July 4.