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Religion Today Summaries - March 16, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 16, 2006

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

  • American Hostage Found Dead in Iraq
  • 'Worldview Director' Prepares Christian Students for Culture War
  • Orphaned Girl Sees Hope in Father’s Heart Help
  • Gospel Message Reaches Large Parts of Europe


American Hostage Found Dead in Iraq

The lone American among four Christian peace activists who have been held hostage in Iraq was found dead in Baghdad March 9, multiple news sources reported. A story in The Baptist Standard says the body of Tom Fox, 54, was found in a garbage dump in the western part of the city. His hands were bound, and he had a single gunshot wound to the head. Fox’s kidnappers had demanded the release of all Iraqis detained by U.S. and British forces in exchange for the hostages’ lives. Ironically, Fox and the other activists had opposed the war in Iraq, as well as the detainment of Iraqis who have not been formally charged with crimes. The news came only three days after a videotape showing Fox’s colleagues still alive had buoyed hopes for loved ones and supporters, but Fox’s absence from that video was taken as an ominous sign. Christian Peacemakers leaders released a statement after Fox’s death: “The death of our beloved colleague and friend pierces us with pain... We mourn the loss of Tom Fox, who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.” Fox was abducted Nov. 26 in Baghdad, along with Brit Norman Kember, 74, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32.

'Worldview Director' Prepares Christian Students for Culture War

AgapePress reports that a Christian high school in Texas is offering a special program that equips students to engage the culture on moral and social issues. Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano is "creating culture warriors" through biblical worldview training in its Student Leadership Institute. Headmaster Larry Taylor hired Dan Panetti, a former non-profit attorney dealing with sexual ethics, to become the school's "worldview director." Students are "free to come into his office to discuss issues that run the gamut, from 'same-sex marriage' to personal dating concerns." Panetti says Christian students usually know what is biblically right and wrong, but do not know how to verbalize it. His new position grew out of conceptual discussions as they began to ask the question: "Wouldn't it be neat if there were a full-time position of somebody whose job it was to help equip these kids to not only know the biblical worldview, but how [to] apply what you know so that as you're engaging the culture, you're there and you're being a persuasive force?" Panetti became that resource for students at PCA. Young people in the Student Leadership Institute are being taught to reason from a solid Christian foundation, while not necessarily using that language. The worldview program at PCA also serves as an effort to prevent large numbers of children in Christian homes from leaving the church when they graduate.

Orphaned Girl Sees Hope in Father’s Heart Help

When Getrude Chibwe’s father died a few years ago, the young girl’s life was in ruin. Her mother could not afford to pay her school fees, let alone buy uniform, books and pencils. Forced to drop out of school, Getrude saw little hope for her life at that time. Like many Zambian children who have only one parent, the young girl resorted to helping with house chores and faced the prospects of being married off at a very tender age. Her mother decided to send her to live with an aunt in the poor copper-mining town of Luanshya. The Luanshya mine is only getting back to life after the government privatized it last year. In the village where Getrude now lives on the outskirts of Luanshya, she found a BIGOCA Church and school operated by Father's Heart and BIGOCA. After her enrollment in the school, teachers describe Getrude as the most intelligent student. She is also seen as her family’s beacon of hope after the tragedy of her father’s death. Now in grade five, Gertrude, desires "to become a nurse. I am eager to complete my school and I am happy that I found a school where they not only teach us, but where they also give us free food... I now know I will make it in life." Getrude said her school required more books so that the children could better learn how to read. “We need books and also good shelter in which to learn,” she said. Five out of seven children who took their primary school exams at the BIGOCA-Father’s Heart school in Luanshya in 2005 passed to go on to high school, an indication that children could have their lives changed for the better.

Gospel Message Reaches Large Parts of Europe

Christians in Europe are getting ready for one of the biggest evangelistic outreach programs on the continent, ASSIST News reports. ProChrist will be aired daily from Munich via satellite to 1250 venues in 21 European countries March 19 – 26. The main speaker is Rev. Ulrich Parzany of Kassel, Germany. As he explained to the evangelical news agency “idea”, interest in the campaign is remarkably high in Central and Eastern Europe. ProChrist has 56 venues in Hungary, 55 in Slovakia, 49 in the Czech Republic, 45 in Poland and 31 in Croatia. Churches in Slovenia, Portugal and the Netherlands are participating for the first time. A total of 3,000 local churches are involved in the program. ProChrist started in 1993 from Essen, Germany, with Billy Graham as the main speaker. At the end of his sermon Parzany will invite those who want to make a commitment for Christ to come forward to the platform, where he will offer a prayer. To promote the event in Germany last May, 70 two-seater “Smart” cars displaying the ProChrist logo were sent out as “the smallest church on earth”. Each car was equipped with a bible, a cross and a CD with hymns. The vehicles were driven by Christian volunteers and traveled all over Germany. Drivers offered transport and talked to passengers. More than 60,000 conversations about the Christian faith were registered.