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Religion Today Summaries -- March 29, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries -- March 29, 2004

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

  • Injured Turkish Christian’s Trial Postponed for 15 Months
  • Back from Iraq, Pastor Describes Near Miss, Laments U.S. Missionary Deaths
  • Christians Leading Relief Efforts in Iraq with Bible Gifts
  • Secular Skills an Asset in Ever-Broadening Mission Field

Injured Turkish Christian’s Trial Postponed for 15 Months
Barbara G. Baker, Compass Direct

Last week a criminal court in northwestern Turkey postponed trial hearings against ultra-nationalists accused of severely injuring a Protestant Christian for distributing New Testaments and doing "missionary propaganda." In a cursory 15-minute hearing, the judge of the Orhangazi Criminal Court confirmed that Yakup Cindilli had been given physical and psychological tests by official medical examiners, as ordered. However, according to forensic results, the only way to determine whether Cindilli will fully recover from his injuries is to wait for another 15 months and re-test him. Accordingly, the judge set the next trial hearing for June 18, 2005. Five months ago, three members of the Nationalist Movement Party attacked Cindilli, 32, and injured him so severely that the Turkish convert spent two months in a coma under intensive hospital care. Ismail Kulakcioglu, pastor of the Bursa Protestant Church, submitted a written intervention plea to the court, stating that other members of his church had suffered "similar attacks, threats and insults." Defense lawyers promptly rejected the implications that Cindilli’s injuries were life-threatening, and the prosecutor recommended that the church’s intervention plea be rejected.

Back from Iraq, Pastor Describes Near Miss, Laments U.S. Missionary Deaths
Chad Groening, Agape Press

A Canadian pastor who recently returned from Iraq says his team was supposed to be in Mosul the very same day four Baptist missionaries from the U.S. were murdered there. Jeff Christopher is pastor of the Sanctuary Church of Oakville, Ontario, a Baptist church just outside of Toronto. He has just returned from a two-week trip to Iraq, where he visited with missionaries providing food to the Iraqis. The pastor says even though his team was Canadian rather than American, it could easily have been they that went to be with the Lord that day. "To the terrorists it makes no difference; you look Western, you're the target. So security is an issue for sure," he says. Christopher points out that his team had five members, just as there were five Baptists missionaries in the American group that was attacked. "All the word coming out back home was that there were five Baptist workers," he says, "so our families were pretty concerned. But we feel so bad for the families [of those] that were killed there."

Christians Leading Relief Efforts in Iraq with Bible Gifts
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

Christians are heading to Iraq providing relief, and more than 900,000 Bibles in Arabic have already been sent in aid, The Los Angeles Times reports. Despite the growing concern for safety for missionaries traveling to Iraq, the distribution effort by Cook Communications Ministries International (CCMI) of Colorado Springs, has been met with enthusiasm -- a development that is a surprise to those who are involved in spearheading the actual delivery of the Bibles to the almost exclusively Muslim nation. CCMI is leading in the effort by providing its classic perennial bestseller Picture Bible for free distribution to the children of Iraq. CCMI’s gift to the people of Iraq has been an evangelism catalyst promoting the spread of the gospel throughout the country. Since the distribution began, there has been a request for 50,000 additional copies of the Picture Bible that will be distributed to the Kurdish people in the area that they currently occupy. "We are so excited to see how God is using this ministry effort in Iraq," said Tim Gunsolley, Vice President of Development, Bible Literature International at CCMI.

Secular Skills an Asset in Ever-Broadening Mission Field
Allie Martin, AgapePress

The president of an international mission agency says there are now more opportunities than ever before for Christians to enter the mission field on either a short-term or long-term basis. Dr. Hans Finzel is president of Colorado-based CB International, a mission organization with evangelism, church planting, and leadership development ministries in 65 areas worldwide. He says while there are extreme dangers for missionaries in many parts of the world, there are also numerous opportunities. "Yes, we have more open doors.," Finzel says, "The Iron Curtain's gone, the Berlin Wall's gone, China is opening up -- [there are] incredible opportunities." The mission agency leader says many professionals are finding that the skills they acquired in the secular workplace can be a big benefit when it comes to taking part in missions work. Many Christians with a background in business are now serving on the mission field, he says. "The people we need the most [today] are what we call people who have marketplace skills or secular skills -- whether they are teachers, or business administrators, or computer experts, or doctors, nurses. Those are the kind of people that we are successfully placing around the world, especially in restricted access nations," he says.