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Religion Today Summaries - July 23, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 23, 2007

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

  • New Roman Catholic Bishop of Beijing Elected
  • Open Doors Campaign Targets 2008 Olympic Games In China
  • Turkish Prosecutor Demands Christians' Acquittal
  • Coffee, Conversation Function as Evangelism Tools in Portugal

New Roman Catholic Bishop of Beijing Elected

ASSIST News Service reports that state-sanctioned Catholic clergy in Beijing has named a new bishop for their diocese - the first appointment since the pope sent a well-received letter to Catholics of China urging them to unite under his authority. The new bishop is Fr. Joseph Li Shan, a pastor who is said to have demonstrated independence from the Patriotic Association [state sanctioned Catholic organization]. Chosen by an “independent” procedure and not appointed by the Pope, still his name was among those with Rome’s approval. "Fr. Giuseppe Li Shan, in fact, is considered across the board as a good and true pastor. A man of faith, capable of relating to both the faithful, and the political authorities," an AsiaNews story reads.

Open Doors Campaign Targets 2008 Olympic Games In China

The eyes of the world will be on China in the year leading up to the Olympic Games which will be held Aug. 8-24, 2008, in Beijing. It’s not too early for Christians in the West to blanket China in prayer while counting down to this historic event. To help believers unite in prayer for their Chinese brothers and sisters in the faith, Open Doors USA is sponsoring a special prayer campaign called “One Minute/One Year/One Country.”  Christians are asked to pray for at least one minute each day; if possible at 8 p.m. Beijing time. The current time in Beijing as well as a countdown clock to the start of the Olympics are featured on the Open Doors USA Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.

Turkish Prosecutor Demands Christians' Acquittal

A Turkish state prosecutor demanded acquittal yesterday for two Turkish Christians on trial for “insulting Turkishness” under the nation’s controversial Article 301, Compass Direct News reports. State Prosecutor Ahmet Demirhuyuk told the Silivri Criminal Court on July 18 that there was “not a single concrete, credible piece of evidence” to support the accusations filed against Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal, former Muslims who converted to Christianity more than a decade ago. The state prosecutor said the accusers have provided no evidence that the two men had cursed Turkey and Islam and then tried to force them to accept Christianity. Rather, the plaintiffs have given contradictory explanations of their claims. “There is absolutely no system or practice to consider it a crime for Christians to learn or spread their religion, or to gather for worship,” Demirhuyuk said. “Exactly the contrary, within the scope of freedom of religion and belief, everyone is guaranteed the right under the Constitution and laws [of Turkey] to live and spread his chosen faith.”

Coffee, Conversation Function as Evangelism Tools in Portugal

What do missionaries do when serving in a self-reliant urban location where the residents have little patience for gospel tracts, EvangeCubes and other traditional forms of evangelism? Baptist Press asks. They find the nearest café, order espresso and a pastry, and spend time getting to know one of the locals. Ideally, the small talk turns to spiritual matters and presents an opportunity to share a personal testimony or even the plan of salvation. But perhaps the conversation simply opens the door to a deeper friendship, growing trust and future occasions to share the Word of God. A team of 14 LifeWay Christian Resources employees received a crash course in this type of relational evangelism during a LifeWay-sponsored mission trip to Lisbon, Portugal in June. "It isn't traditional evangelism – it's just life," said Scott George, team leader for the International Mission Board's Young Lisbon ministry and contact for the LifeWay team. "Our bread and butter is the relationship and reaching the people that the church doesn't reach."