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Religion Today Summaries - June 10, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 10, 2005

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

  • Saudi Arabia Conducts Worst Crackdown On Christians In Decade, Group Reports
  • Seminaries And First Nations' Partnerships Based on 'Appointed Time'
  • Ministry Founder: U.S. Churches Missing Out with Just Short-Term Mission Efforts
  • Nepal: Miraculous Stories from Missionaries on Pioneer Fields

Saudi Arabia Conducts Worst Crackdown On Christians In Decade, Group Reports
Baptist Press

Saudi Arabian police have made a wave of arrests of Christians since May 27, constituting the "largest crackdown" on followers of Christ in the Muslim-dominated country in the last decade, according to a Washington-based human rights organization. International Christian Concern reported it had learned of 46 confirmed arrests in the Middle Eastern country through June 1. The arrests included eight Indian nationals who were taken into custody May 28, according to ICC. It also has confirmed reports of police ransacking the houses of Christians and destroying Bibles, ICC reported. Regular Saudi police and Muttawa religious police have carried out these actions, according to the ICC. Baptist Press requested comment June 3 from the information office of the Saudi embassy in Washington, but none was provided prior to the deadline for this article. Saudi Arabia is listed by the U.S. State Department as one of the world's most severe violators of religious freedom. Last year, the State Department placed Saudi Arabia on its list of "countries of particular concern" for the first time. The CPC designation is reserved for governments that have "engaged in or tolerated systemic and egregious violations of religious freedom." The latest actions by Saudi police came after the United States was accused of desecrating the Koran, Islam's holy book, at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

Seminaries And First Nations' Partnerships Based on 'Appointed Time'
Charisma News Service

Partnerships are forming between North American seminaries and First Nations leaders, as Native Americans move to the forefront of international evangelism. The North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) is a mission-focused institution that mentors and trains aboriginal leaders in contextualized evangelical missions. When NAIITS launched a partnership with Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., part of its ongoing goal was to encourage graduate-level education among native Christian leaders. NAIITS chair Terry LeBlanc, national ministries director of My People International, told Charisma magazine that the partnership is building "a theological foundation for the visioning of new mission paradigms to reach indigenous peoples with the gospel." The students currently in the Asbury program are all involved in mission outreaches in North America and abroad. Darrell Whiteman, Ph.D., dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Missions, said Asbury's commitment to training indigenous church leaders is based on "this being a 'kairos time' in church history and reflects [the school's] willingness to help create genuine partnerships with First Nations leaders as a response to this 'appointed time.'" (www.charismanews.com)

Ministry Founder: U.S. Churches Missing Out with Just Short-Term Mission Efforts
Allie Martin, AgapePress

The founder of Gospel for Asia says most churches in the United States don't have a proper understanding of missions.  For many, he says, mission work is thought of as a necessary evil. K.P. Yohannan started Gospel for Asia more than 30 years ago as a way to support native missionaries in Asia. Now Yohannan travels to churches across America, sharing his vision for U.S. churches raising support for native workers. But it is unfortunate, he says, that many American churches believe missions programs consist only of one- to two-week overseas trips.He laments that lasting change often does not occur in those who limit themselves to the short-term work.  "I think it is good when people go to get an experience and exposure to the reality of the lost world that their heart will be burdened," the mission founder says.  "[But] when they come back they care for nothing in terms of people all around them that do not know the Lord." Yohannan encourages Christians in America to fast and pray at least once a week for unreached people groups. "In the Bible, everything is missions," he exclaims. GFA supports more than 14,000 church planters in the heart of the "10/40 Window."  

Nepal: Miraculous Stories from Missionaries on Pioneer Fields
Christian Aid Mission

A completely unreached country until the 1950s, the Hindu kingdom of Nepal poses a significant challenge for native gospel workers. It remains closed to foreign missionaries from America, and recent political strife has inhibited some gospel work and endangered many Nepalese. But despite obstacles, native missionaries continue to make advances for the cause of Christ. Recent reports sent by an indigenous mission's leader offer only a few examples of the way the Lord is working through native Christians. One young student named Hira came from a rural village to attend Bible school in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu. Throughout his study, he planned to remain in Kathmandu after graduation and carry out ministry. However, at his graduation ceremony, he felt the Lord say to him, "You have to go back to your village." Hira obeyed, returning to a very difficult situation. No professing Christians lived in his home village, and his father was the local shaman, or witchdoctor. When the man discovered that his son had become a practicing Christian, he kicked him out of the family home and cut him off from all support. Homeless yet knowing he was called to stay, Hira began living in a cow shed. While there, he won one person to Christ. The two men began to meet and pray for their village. Gradually their group grew; today, 200 believers gather regularly in this village. Hira has planted three churches and four smaller fellowships in the area. His father, once his persecutor, has also come to the Lord.