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Religion Today Summaries - March 16, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 16, 2005

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

  • Ministry Will Distribute 20 Millionth Copy Of 'Most Watched Movie In History' This Easter

  • Church 'Brings Christ Into the World' of Violent Video Game's Players

  • Calif. Mom's Religious Freedom Efforts Have District-Wide Impact

  • India: Lives of Native Missionaries in North Threatened

Ministry Will Distribute 20 Millionth Copy Of 'Most Watched Movie In History' This Easter
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

"JESUS" is the most watched movie in history, translated into 888 languages, shown in 228 countries and viewed almost 6 billion times worldwide. Now, the JESUS Video Project America (JVPA), a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International (CCCI), will distribute its 20 millionth copy of the famous "JESUS" film -- one for every six homes in America -- during communitywide outreach projects Easter week, March 21-25, the ministry has announced. The 20 millionth copy will be distributed in Bozeman, MT, or Canfield, OH. There are approximately 122 million households in the United States, according to JVPA in a press release received by ASSIST News Service (ANS). JESUS Video Project America, founded in 1992 by the late Dr. Bill Bright, identifies Christians with a heart for evangelism and equips them to build teams to use its "saturation evangelism" strategy to distribute copies of the "JESUS" movie in video or DVD to every household in their community, county, region or state. Distribution campaigns are followed by discipleship efforts to connect people to local churches and faith-building resources.  JVPA also provides copies of "JESUS" to churches and ministries for use in personal and neighborhood evangelism. For more information about JESUS Video Project America visit www.jesusvideo.org.

Church 'Brings Christ Into the World' of Violent Video Game's Players
Charisma News Service

A Colorado congregation has an unorthodox outreach that uses a popular but violent video game to share the gospel. With two televisions, eight controllers and two Xboxes to accommodate up to eight video game players at a time, Red Rocks Church in Golden draws white-collar professionals with mortgages, kids with expendable incomes and scruffy-faced teens who come to play Halo 2 (H2), the record-breaking video game that raked in more than $125 million during its first 24 hours on the market in November. Yet while the other gamers are hoping to go on killing sprees or running riots, Scott Bruegman, pastor of Red Rocks Church and an avid video game player himself, is hoping to grow his flock through the Halo outreach, which is currently held on Thursday nights. So why does Bruegman use H2, a first-person shooter game that is rated "M" (for mature) and features blood and gore, violence and even some bad language? "By playing Halo a sense of trust develops and the non-Christian gamers see Christ-like attributes in our lives. As we've become friends they've started asking us about life and God," Bruegman said. For more information on how to use video gaming as a form of evangelism, visit: the-whats-next-collective.org, xboxmission.org, redrockschurch.com. (www.charismanews.com)

Calif. Mom's Religious Freedom Efforts Have District-Wide Impact
Jim Brown, Agape Press

The efforts of one Christian mom have prompted a California school district to begin promoting religious freedom among its 26,000 students. Wendy Kinnear, the concerned parent, decided to talk with the principal of her daughter's school to address her apprehension over the possibility that the children were getting the message that their faith was not welcome at school. Not long ago, Kinnear attended a Gateways for Better Education event. Gateways is a national organization dedicated to helping public school students and educators gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the value and contributions of Christianity to society. Through the event, the Christian mom became equipped with several strategies for promoting religious freedom in her daughter's school. Afterward, Kinnear had an opportunity to address the entire Yorba Linda/Placentia school board with her religious liberty concerns. The response to her talk was subdued and, at first, disheartening. However, eventually the district responded to the address by encouraging all of its schools to celebrate "Religious Freedom Day." As a result of the changed, pro-religious freedom atmosphere that she helped to foster in the school district, Kinnear says her daughter is no longer hesitant to pray or express her faith at school. Also, due to Kinnear's activism, the principal of Lauren's elementary school has asked faculty members to teach the school's 700 students about their religious freedom. The parent-activist is hopeful that this informal directive will find its way into schools throughout the district.

India: Lives of Native Missionaries in North Threatened
Christian Aid Mission

The northern Himalaya regions of India are notoriously closed to the gospel, yet the leader of an indigenous mission there writes that his missionaries have been experiencing heightened persecution and threats on a scale surprising even for North India. One missionary working in a rural village was warned by members of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Hindu nationalist organization) to leave the village and stop missionary work or they would harm him and kidnap his wife. The missionary, who has been married to his wife for only three months, was determined to remain at his post but, after receiving repeated threats on his wife's life, moved to another village for a few weeks to wait out the situation. Another gospel worker says that, in the area where he is working, threats on his life have been increasing each day. He has not left the area and requests prayer. The leader of the ministry writes that reports of such threats are growing among missionaries in Himalaya regions: "After a period of calm the last year following the defeat of the BJP [Hindu nationalist political party], we have now started to see the dirty head of persecution again on the rise in some of our mission stations." He reports that the mission's headquarters building in Uttar Pradesh has been receiving threats from Hindu extremists.