Religion Today Summaries, March 3, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, March 3, 2004

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

  • Atlanta-Based Ministry Trains, Equips Emerging Leaders in Iraqi Church
  • Court Date Set in Nepali Missionary Case
  • Growth in Religious Activity Do Not Take Place in Church
  • 'New Generation' Youth Evangelizes Schools in Scandinavia

Atlanta-Based Ministry Trains, Equips Emerging Leaders in Iraqi Church
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Iraq's newfound freedom of religion has created an urgent need in the Middle East nation's emerging underground Church. While the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime has given Iraq's people religious freedom, a lack of church leaders and available resources could hinder the growth of the Church in that country. That has prompted EQUIP, an Atlanta-based organization founded by John Maxwell, to provide leadership training for church leaders and pastors in the war-torn nation. Pastor Jule, who can only be identified by his first name for security reasons, says more training for Christians is desperately needed. "The Lord has given us a big vision, and we really feel that we can't fulfill this vision without a big base of leadership within the Church," he says. In the capital city of Baghdad, there are currently only a dozen pastors for five-million residents. EQUIP is partnering with other U.S. ministries in hopes of assisting the exploding Church in Iraq. Jule says this kind of support for believers in the region is both essential and extremely significant. In 2002, the ministry's board of directors approved the launch of a six-year global initiative called the "Million Leaders Mandate," with the objective of training a million international Christians leaders and equipping them with ministry resources by the year 2008. Currently the organization is training more than 235,000 leaders worldwide.

Growth in Religious Activity Do Not Take Place in Church
Charisma News Service

A new study has found that more adults are reading their Bible, participating in small religious groups and praying, but church-related involvement has remained flat over the past decade. According to the latest study by the Barna Research Group (BRG), which has conducted an annual survey of the nation's religious behavior for 20 years, there was significant change related to the three behaviors. Released Monday, the survey discovered that 44 percent read from the Bible during the past week, up from 37 percent in 1994. Another shift was in participating in small religious groups that meet during the week. In 1994, just 12 percent of adults engaged in those activities, but 20 percent of adults do so in 2004. The final area of growth concerned prayer. Eighty-three percent of adults prayed to God during the past week in 2004, up from 77 percent. Despite these growths, there was no change over the past decade in four other religious behaviors measured: church attendance, volunteering to help a church, attending adult Sunday school classes, and sharing Christ with non-believers. BRG president George Barna said, "The church-oriented endeavors showed no movement. This may be an early warning sign that we are entering a new era of spiritual experience - one that is more tribal or individualized than congregational in nature."

Court Date Set in Nepali Missionary Case
Gospel for Asia

On March 18, the case of Manja, a Gospel for Asia (GFA) missionary, will be heard before a full panel of judges in the Supreme Court of Nepal. Last year the wrongfully imprisoned Nepali missionary had two unsuccessful appeal hearings before the Supreme Court. “Please continue to pray with us for quick release and justice for our brother Manja,” a GFA field leader writes. After judges deciding Manja’s verdict came to different conclusions last November, this dear brother continued to wait patiently in his prison cell, shining the light of Christ to the people around him. Now Manja, who had started a growing church in an unreached community, could very soon hear whether he is to be released or must serve the remainder of his 20-year sentence for false murder charges. Like Manja, his wife remains joyful in Christ and is reaching out with His love to other Nepali women and children. Their children study in a local school and are doing well. Even in this trial Manja and his wife remain focused on what God has laid on their hearts —the millions in Nepal who have yet to hear of Jesus and His love for them.

'New Generation' Youth Evangelizes Schools in Scandinavia
Charisma News Service

An energetic band of young Christians is aggressively evangelizing students in Scandinavian schools to counter an increasingly secular Europe. Started at Oslo University in 1996, New Generation has more than 10,000 participants in schools throughout Norway and Sweden Young students are viewing their schools as their mission field. Generally, each principal determines how much evangelistic freedom students are given, though invitations for salvation must be done one-on-one. Students have been able to lead outreach events and hold prayer meetings on their campuses because they are part of the school milieu. New Generation students seek creative ways of evangelizing. Swedish national leader Joakim Lundqvist said that one team raised more than $12,000 in just three weeks - enough to purchase Bibles as Christmas gifts for all their schoolmates. Not content to just hand out Bibles, the group wrapped each Bible and included a personal greeting. "Our goal in Sweden is to present Jesus to every student, every year," Lundqvist said, "School is where everyone is; the whole coming society is there. We want to see New Generation in every school." The first New Generation International Conference - scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 3 in Gothenburg, Sweden - may fire even global interest.