Religion Today Summaries - March 21, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 21, 2005

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

  • President Of Zambia Accepts Christ, Is Baptized At Local Baptist Church 

  • TLW Plans to 'Take the Town' in Nationwide Abstinence Emphasis 

  • School Rounds Up Aspiring Ministers to Take Jesus to 'Western World'

  • 'Clash Of Cultures' Stretches From "Da Vinci Code" To Kabbalah Mysticism

President Of Zambia Accepts Christ, Is Baptized At Local Baptist Church 
Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

The president of Zambia, in acknowledging his faith in Jesus Christ, recently was baptized in a public service, Southern Baptist missionaries report. A crowd clapped and cheered as President Levy Mwanawasa rose from the water in an outdoor baptistery behind a Baptist seminary chapel in Lusaka, Zambia's capital. The event drew hundreds of people, including public officials, leaders and pastors from the area and neighboring countries. On the day of his baptism, Mwanawasa shared his spiritual journey before a packed chapel service. He told listeners he had been "struck" by Jesus -- similar to the Apostle Paul's experience on the road to Damascus. Mwanawasa, a successful lawyer and former vice president, took office in 2002. Respected for his reputation for honesty, he was known as "Mr. Integrity" even by his political opponents before his election. Mwanawasa remembers attending a Baptist school as a boy, but his relationship with Christ began to transform when he started attending Twin Palm Baptist Church in Lusaka in 2003. The president is just one of many spiritual success stories in Zambia. Last year, 116 Baptist churches were started, bringing the total number of churches to 985 -- plus 124 mission congregations. Some missionaries believe Mwanawasa's baptism is an exclamation point on what God is beginning to do in the country.

TLW Plans to 'Take the Town' in Nationwide Abstinence Emphasis
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A Christian abstinence program has launched an initiative designed to help communities find strategies for reclaiming and proclaiming the value of sexual purity among young people. True Love Waits (TLW) is a youth-based international campaign that uses positive peer pressure to encourage teenagers to commit to remain sexually pure until marriage. And now, through its new "Takes the Town" initiative, TLW is encouraging cities around the United States to engage in a unified, community-wide approach to promoting abstinence. Jimmy Hester, a co-founder of TLW, says the new initiative will encourage more of America's communities to embrace abstinence education in a comprehensive way. In this all-encompassing effort, Hester says, the various human elements and corporate entities that make up a city or town ideally "would come together along with churches and the religious community and give a concerted effort to put this message out to the community to challenge teenagers to remain sexually abstinent until marriage." TLW hopes to involve 50 communities during the first year of its "Takes the Town" initiative. The movement's co-founder says the abstinence education initiative will not only challenge those cities and towns, but will also encourage those students who have actively participated in True Love Waits programs and emphases in recent years. Since 1993, an estimated 2.5 to 3 million youth have signed pledge cards, promising to remain sexually abstinent until marriage.

School Rounds Up Aspiring Ministers to Take Jesus to 'Western World'
Charisma News Service

A Texas ministry is training aspiring ministers how to lasso folks with the gospel who bale hay and tend cattle. At the School of Western Ministries (SWM) in Midland, pickup-driving pupils don colorful cowboy shirts, Wrangler jeans and belt buckles with messages such as "Jesus Christ: Champion of Champions," the Associated Press (AP) reported. From Alabama to Australia, students come to West Texas to study how to teach the Bible in places where a barn might double as a sanctuary, and where horse tanks and farm ponds make do as baptisteries. "What we're trying to train these kids to do is what I've done for 30 years, and that is to actually go out in the boondocks where no one cares," said Glenn Smith, 70, whose ministry even prints its own Bibles - a King James version with drawings of cowboys on the front and back. Smith and his wife, Ann, started SWM last year with an inaugural class of 16. Twenty students enrolled for this year's session, which started in January, the AP reported. Each student pays tuition for 17 weeks of instruction geared toward those called to minister in any and every area of the 'Western world'. Students are awarded certificates of completion at the end of their coursework. ( (

'Clash Of Cultures' Stretches From "Da Vinci Code" To Kabbalah Mysticism
James Streicher, Baptist Press

With popular spiritual movements like the Madonna-endorsed Kabbalah, which has its roots in Jewish mysticism, and books like the bestselling "Da Vinci Code," which rekindles attacks on the Bible and the historic Christian faith, the question becomes: How should evangelical Christians respond and defend the faith? Both the Kabbalah and the "Da Vinci Code" were among the new religious movements, cults and religions discussed at the "Clash of Cultures: Christianity in the Marketplace of Religion" conference at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The conference, cosponsored by Midwestern and Evangelical Ministries to New Religions, attracted more than 160 students and Kansas City-area residents and 20-plus apologists from across the nation to address a broad range of religions and spiritual movements impacting the Christian faith in America. Through five plenary sessions and more than 35 workshops, conference attendees were briefed on Islam, Hinduism and Mormonism as well as religious movements and influences such as astrology and channeling, the Nation of Islam and black liberal theology, and postmodern influences on the church. Midwestern Seminary has hosted numerous workshops and conferences to assist Christian believers in defending their faith and ministering to followers of other religions or religious movements -- from New Age practitioners and followers of Islam and Mormonism. An upcoming spring workshop will focus on issues raised by the "Da Vinci Code" book on March 21-22 at the Kansas City campus.