Religion Today Summaries - March 13, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 13, 2005

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

  • Prayer: No. 1 Issue In Churches, Survey Of Evangelical Leaders Shows 

  • City Allows Two Day of Prayer Ceremonies After 'Christian-Only' Flap

  • Christian Leader Explains Islam's Appeal to Religious Converts

  • Bangladesh

Prayer: No. 1 Issue In Churches, Survey Of Evangelical Leaders Shows
Baptist Press

A LifeWay Christian Resources survey of more than 1,300 evangelical leaders from around the world revealed that the need for consistent and passionate prayer in church and personal life is the No. 1 issue in today's churches. The April 11 announcement of prayer as the No. 1 issue culminates a LifeWay e-business initiative to ask evangelical ministry leaders from a variety of backgrounds to rank the "Top 10 Issues Facing Today's Church. LifeWay's e-business department began the two-month online research project last November by distributing thousands of e-mails throughout the United States and world asking ministry leaders to cite top concerns in their churches. From the initial list of responses, the 20 most frequently submitted answers were sent back to all the ministry leaders who responded to the first round of e-mails. During December, these leaders used the same Internet survey tool to rank their top 10 from among those 20 issues. The resulting list of 10 issues includes such diverse topics as abortion (no. 10) and evangelism (no. 4). But it was prayer that ministry leaders cited as the most pressing concern in their churches. The LifeWay unit compiled information and multiple resources addressing each issue and has posted the materials online. For the complete survey results and reports addressing all the ranked issues, visit

City Allows Two Day of Prayer Ceremonies After 'Christian-Only' Flap
Charisma News Service

A Michigan community decided to allow a pair of groups to hold a National Day of Prayer (NDP) ceremony next month because some were unhappy that the annual gathering would be restricted to Christians. Last week, the Troy City Council voted 7-0 to permit an interfaith group made up of several different religions, including Hindu, Muslim, Bahai and Jewish, to hold a prayer ceremony from 11 a.m. until noon in front of city hall on May 5 and then allow a Christian prayer ceremony from noon until 1 p.m. on that day, The Detroit News reported. The Christian group asked the city to allow a Christian-only event from noon to 1 p.m. "I'm pleased by the council's decision and this has been our position all along," said Lori Wagner, who requested the Christian-only permit from noon to 1 p.m. The council permitted the event for 10 years, but last month it voted to deny the Christian-only permit for this year's event, the Detroit News reported. "God Shed His Grace on Thee," drawn from Hebrews 4:16, is the theme for this year's NDP. (

Christian Leader Explains Islam's Appeal to Religious Converts
Chad Groening, Agape Press

A former Muslim woman who now heads an evangelical ministry says she understands why an alarming number of Hispanics are embracing Islam. W.L. Cati, president of Zennah Ministries, is a former Muslim woman who says particular groups of people are being actively recruited into her former faith. Cati's belief is that Islam is especially attractive to many Latinos who come from a strongly Catholic background." Her theory is that "religion attracts religion," and a works-oriented faith, as she assesses Islam to be, will appeal to those who want to "work [their] way into heaven." Sadly, she asserts, people in many faith backgrounds prefer the false notion of works righteousness to the truth of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. An earnest recitation of the shahadah, the Islamic creed or declaration of faith one recites in order to profess faith in Islam, once in Arabic, before two Islamic witnesses is all that is required initially for a person to become a Muslim convert. As a former Muslim who found truth and renewed life in Christ, she says she is committed to communicating the truth of the gospel and educating people about the differences between true Christian faith and the Muslim religion.

Charisma News Service

A lay pastor/evangelist was recently beheaded after sharing his faith with several Muslim villagers who became Christians. On March 8, Sarkar, 35, who worked with a local branch of the Bangladesh Free Baptist Church in Jalalpur village, located in the southwest division of Khulna, was attacked and killed by 10 Muslim extremists, Compass Direct reported. His wife, Aruna, immediately filed a case against the killers, and three suspects were arrested. However, local Christians say the remaining seven, who have connections with the Jamaat-e-Islami political party, have tried to bribe the police to get the suspects out of jail. The extremists also threatened Aruna after she filed the police report, forcing her to move from house to house in an effort to protect herself and her three children. Sarkar's slaying was the second beheading in the last six months. On Sept. 18, a gang of assailants decapitated Dr. Abdul Gani, a prominent Christian, as he returned home from work. Bangladesh has suffered from religious disharmony since 1971, when the nation was partitioned from Pakistan. The country is approximately 83 percent Muslim and 16 percent Hindu. Buddhists and Christians make up the remaining 1 percent. Islam was declared the official state religion in 1998. (