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Religion Today Summaries, March 15, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, March 15, 2004

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

  • True Love Waits Fosters Success in Abstinence Pledges, Leaders Say
  • National Christian Council Appeals to Candidates to Eschew Violence
  • Angry Mob Destroys Church in Bolivian Andes
  • Chinese House Church Christians on Trial

True Love Waits Fosters Success in Abstinence Pledges, Leaders Say
Chris Turner, Baptist Press

A teenager’s environment is a key factor in determining whether he or she will stay true to a pledge to abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage, a co-founder of a worldwide abstinence ministry said. “Everything in our culture is geared toward the sexual failure of our teenagers,” said Jimmy Hester, co-founder of True Love Waits and director of youth publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Hester’s comments came in the wake of a study released March 9 of survey data from teenagers ages 12 to 18 who were re-surveyed six years later. Eighty-eight percent of those who had signed a pledge of abstinence indicated they engaged in sexual intercourse before they were married. “True Love Waits was a ministry developed to focus on a specific group of teenagers who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and are motivated to adopt His way of thinking and living,” Hester noted. “But we also understand that teenagers can’t maintain that commitment to abstinence on their own…We believe True Love Waits helps foster a supportive environment.” LifeWay launched True Love Waits 10 years ago. Since 1993, more than 2.4 million young people have signed TLW commitment cards. Weeks of study and discussion precede the public signing ceremony. True Love Waits has proven effective in both the United States and in AIDS-riddled countries such as Uganda, South Africa, Guyana and Kenya where more than 30 True Love Waits clubs have cropped up to support teens in their abstinence decisions.

National Christian Council Appeals to Candidates to Eschew Violence
Voice of the Martyrs News

The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka yesterday appealed to candidates at the forthcoming elections to eschew violence and conduct themselves in a manner that benefits the high office they seek. In a press release, they called upon the people to reject candidates from any political party who engage in violence and election malpractices. "We also request the leaders of political parties to ensure that all those who work for their parties' success strictly adhere to the highest standards," the release added. The release: "The National Christian Council for Sri Lanka calls on all the people of our country to act with wisdom and responsibility at the forthcoming General Election. It is vital that a free, fair and violent free election is held.” A group of candidates has threatened to institute anti conversion laws if elected.

Angry Mob Destroys Church in Bolivian Andes
Compass Direct

An angry mob of Quechua-speaking Indians destroyed an evangelical church in a remote village in the Bolivian Andes on February 28 after beating a congregational elder unconscious. Trouble began among the 140 inhabitants of Chucarasi during the annual Carnaval festival. Animist villagers observe the holiday with veneration of Christo-pagan icons, ritual dances and excessive drinking, customs designed to appease local deities. Families of the Church of God in Chucarasi declined to take part in Carnaval and spent the days of the festival tending their crops. Two days later, a severe hail storm struck, damaging fields and fueling animists’ fears that evil spirits were punishing the community for the evangelicals’ refusal to participate in Carnaval. The following night, ruffians attacked church elder Fortunato Bernal before completely dismantling the Church of God chapel. At press time, an inter-denominational commission was working to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis. “We evangelicals want to establish a precedent in this community, showing that the law protects evangelical Christians as much as anyone else,” said Church of God spokesman Abel Colque. (www.compassdirect.org)

Chinese House Church Christians on Trial
Stefan Bos, ASSIST News Service

Human rights watchdog The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) urged Christians Saturday, to pray for three representatives of China’s rapidly growing house church movement who were due to appear in a Chinese court on charges of "providing intelligence to overseas organizations." VOM said Christians Liu Fenngang, Xu Yonghai and Zhang Shengqi are due to appear in court Monday, March 15, amid concern among human rights workers about a crackdown against active Evangelical groups in the country. "These men were arrested for telling the truth about how their government treats Christians. The government does not want that truth to be known," added spokesman Todd Nettleton. Police detained Liu, who was based in Beijing, in October while he was reportedly researching the persecution of Christian groups in Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan district. Xu and Zhang were active members of Liu’s house church. Authorities detained Xu, a psychiatrist, in Beijing last November while. Zhang, an internet writer, was arrested in Jilin province the same month. "This is reality for most of China’s Christians," explained Nettleton. "The government wants to control religion, while the unregistered churches give their first loyalty to Christ. It’s time for the world to know that religious freedom in China is a myth." (www.assistnews.net)