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Religion Today Summaries - March 3, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 3, 2005

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

  • First Former Muslim To Become Dean Of An Evangelical Seminary In U.S.

  • Mongolia: "The Need for Christ Is Enormous"

  • Open Doors Announces Worldwide Youth Prayer Initiative 

  • Indonesia

First Former Muslim To Become Dean Of An Evangelical Seminary In U.S.
Jenni Parker, AgapePress

Earlier this month Dr. Jerry Falwell announced that Dr. Ergun Caner, a converted Sunni Muslim and son of a Muslim scholar, was to become the dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS). Falwell noted that this appointment makes the 38-year-old Caner the first former Muslim to become dean of an evangelical seminary in the United States. The Turkish immigrant, who converted to Christianity in 1982, has a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as well as a Master and Doctor of Theology degree from Southeastern and the University of South Africa, respectively. Prior to joining the faculty of Liberty University as Professor of Theology and Church History in 2003, Dr. Caner taught for two years at the Criswell College in the same field. He came to national attention in 2002, when his book "Unveiling Islam" (Kregel Publications) became a best-seller and eventually a Christian Booksellers Association Gold Medallion Award winner. In describing his vision for LBTS, the newly appointed dean says, "We will develop the seminary into the leading evangelical institution for training Christians for a new generation." Caner says he is committed to seeing the seminary set the standard for global apologetics.

Mongolia: "The Need for Christ Is Enormous"
Christian Aid Mission

Though no longer under oppressive communist rule, the landlocked country of Mongolia is still plagued by poverty and spiritual darkness. Gospel workers feel the urgency of the need to break through this darkness with the light of the Lord. Currently, Christians make up less than one percent of the population of Mongolia. The dominant, and the only officially recognized, religions are Buddhism, Islam and Shamanism. The country's pantheon of Shamanistic deities comprises 99 altogether. According to one of Christian Aid's contacts in Mongolia, this worship of many gods is the pivotal religion for most Mongolians. Recent estimates indicate that nearly half of Mongolian adults are addicted to alcohol. Crime and domestic abuse are on the rise, as is prostitution. Gospel workers assisted by Christian Aid are taking positive action to spread the gospel in Mongolia. One of the most vital aspects of their ministry is Bible distribution and translation. A complete Mongolian translation of the Bible was produced years ago. Gospel workers have also published Braille Bibles for the blind and record Scripture on CD's and tapes for those who cannot read. Gospel workers' efforts are producing fruit as hunger for the Word of God grows among some Mongolian tribes.There are an estimated 25,000 believers in Mongolia today. As more Mongolians come to Christ, many are beginning to reach their own people for the Lord.

Open Doors Announces Worldwide Youth Prayer Initiative
Allie Martin, AgapePress

Young Christians worldwide are being encouraged to take part in a massive prayer effort for the persecuted Church. On March 4 and 5, Underground, the youth outreach of Open Doors, will sponsor Shockwave, a 48-hour prayer event that will take place in special chat rooms and prayer meetings around the world. Jeff Shreve, Underground coordinator says this global prayer meeting presents a unique opportunity for young people to show their concern for others and commitment to Christ. Shockwave will begin in New Zealand and work its way across the time zones, covering the globe with prayer for the estimated 200 million people in the persecuted Church worldwide. The 24-hour prayer chain is meant to spark interest and raise awareness about these believers in oppressed nations who lack religious freedom face anti-Christian hostility and persecution for their religious beliefs. The Underground coordinator says people can take part in the scheduled global intercession either individually or in groups. Participants can access the Shockwave message board and chat area by going to www.ODShockwave.org. Specific prayer requests from suffering believers will be posted on the Underground website.

Charisma News Service

More than 30 churches in West Java are still searching for approved worship facilities after objections from Muslim neighbors forced them to close last year. Recently, two churches were forced to close after applying for permits to hold Christmas services in private homes, Compass Direct reported. Jawadi Hutapea, who belongs to one of the churches, said many churches in West Java were afraid because of threats received in recent months. Local laws require approval from the surrounding community before a permit is granted to build a church or to hold church services in an existing building. Since West Java is a Muslim-majority area, permits for church construction are seldom granted. Recently, the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant Betania Church was forced to close after attempting to hold a Christmas Day service in a private home. The church met in Rancaekek Wetan village, where officials had already forced 12 churches to cease meeting in September, Compass reported. Meanwhile, police banned Christmas services for a church in Cirebon and asked them to suspend all future services. "We asked the local police for a permit to hold the Christmas service," said pastor Pietrs Hallatu. "However, on the day before the service ... the police asked us to cancel our plans, saying they couldn't protect us if something happened during the service." (www.charismanow.com)