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Religion Today Summaries - March 8, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 8, 2005

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

  • Adrian Rogers, Retiring At Bellevue, Honored By Friends From Near & Far
  • Temple U. Faces Suit After Trying to Have Christian Student Committed
  • Middle East: Donkeys Become Bible Couriers
  • Persecuted Church's Bible Smuggler 'Places Strong Emphasis on People'

Adrian Rogers, Retiring At Bellevue, Honored By Friends From Near & Far
Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

Over the weekend, Bellevue said an emotional goodbye to its pastor after 32 years of service. When Rogers became Bellevue's pastor, the church had 8,739 members. Today it has more than 29,000 members. Rogers is heard in more than 150 countries on more than 12,000 television stations and 2,000 radio stations on his weekly program, "Love Worth Finding." He is a widely published author and has been a key leader in the Southern Baptist Convention's conservative resurgence. Rogers served as SBC president for three terms at a time when conservative Southern Baptists needed their most capable leader. But Rogers also is a spiritual leader outside Southern Baptist circles. He has visited with U.S. presidents and other leaders. Thousands on Friday night celebrated Rogers' pastorate at Bellevue. Thousands more on Sunday morning heard Rogers preach his last sermon as pastor of the Memphis-area congregation. And on Sunday night, the throngs gathered to bid a final farewell to their beloved leader. They honored Rogers for being a good shepherd, a faithful preacher and a wise servant of God. They honored him for his devotion to his family and as a denominational statesman. And they honored him for his tireless efforts which have helped Bellevue become one of the largest churches in the world.

Temple U. Faces Suit After Trying to Have Christian Student Committed
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Jury selection began March 7 in a federal trial in which a public university in Pennsylvania is being sued because school officials tried to have a Christian student involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. Back in 1999 Temple University sponsored the controversial and blasphemous play Corpus Christi, in which Christ is portrayed as a homosexual. Michael Marcavage, then a Christian student at the Philadelphia school, complained to administrators. Temple officials eventually tried to have Marcavage committed to a mental institution because of his opposition to the play. Steve Crampton, an attorney with the AFA Center for Law & Policy, says the AFA Law Center is expecting and hoping the jury will recognize the 1999 incident for what it is. The complaint filed on the former Temple student's behalf alleges that two university officials "unlawfully and intentionally assaulted and forcibly restrained" Marcavage on November 2, 1999, and then unlawfully ordered police to handcuff and transport him to the university hospital, where he was involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation. Crampton believes the Pennsylvania school tried to muzzle Marcavage's religious viewpoint, ignoring his First Amendment rights in the process. The AFA Law Center spokesman feels the university must be held accountable for the actions it took against its student for simply speaking out against a school-sponsored theatrical production. The trial is expected to last through this week.

Middle East: Donkeys Become Bible Couriers
Christian Aid Mission

In many closed Arab countries, all Christian literature and distribution outlets have been banned. Despite such restrictions, believers in some of these countries number in the thousands. Very few have access to Bibles; those who do are forced to use smuggled copies. Helping provide them with these in creative ways are native missionaries. Gospel workers based in freer countries neighboring closed ones are using herded animals, such as donkeys, as secret Bible couriers. Workers attach bundles of Christian literature to animals and send them across the border to a water hole. Waiting accomplices secretly unload the literature and send the animals back across the border to where they came from. This simple procedure has put Bibles into the hands of hundreds of Christians. A growing number of these Christians are from Muslim backgrounds. Wearied or disillusioned by their oppressive environments, many Arab Muslims have shown great openness to Christ. Please remember the brave Arab Christians who risk great consequences as they spread the gospel in countries where proselytism is forbidden. Pray for protection and strength for the hundreds of Muslims coming to the Lord.

Persecuted Church's Bible Smuggler 'Places Strong Emphasis on People'
Charisma News Service

Dutch evangelist Andrew van der Bijl was told by doctors 50 years ago that he was "too weak to travel" because he suffered from chronic back pain. This veteran preacher, known as Brother Andrew by his adoring supporters worldwide, has done nothing but travel since his outreach to the persecuted church began in 1955. His courage has inspired millions since then. He has visited 125 countries and logged an estimated 1 million miles since his first missionary trip. In the 1950s and 1960s, he successfully transported thousands of Bibles into communist countries, and a 1967 book about his adventures, "God's Smuggler," gave his ministry the worldwide support he needed to expand. In 1981, during an ambitious effort called "Project Pearl", Open Doors delivered a shipment of 1 million Bibles to China by way of a huge sailing vessel. He is now 76, and the organization he founded, Open Doors With Brother Andrew, has 27 offices around the world, 350 full-time employees and an army of volunteers. They smuggle 1 million Bibles to China annually and distribute tons more to 45 other countries. No one really knows how many Bibles Brother Andrew and his organization have smuggled into closed countries. As long as his health is good and the suffering church needs Bibles and face-to-face encouragement, Brother Andrew said he must go. (www.charismanow.com)