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Religion Today Summaries, May 19, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, May 19, 2003

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

  • Chinese Who Haven't Heard Gospel Focus of June 8 Prayer Intercession
  • Report: Teens in Religiously Active Families Have Stronger Family Ties
  • Principal Criticized for Prayer Directive
  • Labor Department Teams With World Vision to Combat Child Soldiers


Chinese Who Haven't Heard Gospel Focus of June 8 Prayer Intercession
Ashley Haygood, Baptist Press



RICHMOND, Va. -- On June 8, Southern Baptists will take on an enormous task: praying and fasting for the more than 1 billion Chinese who have yet to hear of the love and saving power of Jesus Christ.  "Praying for so many people may seem daunting, but the power of united prayer is immeasurable," said Randy Sprinkle, director of the International Mission Board's prayer strategy office.  Scattered throughout the world, from China, to Malaysia, to Mexico, and even Paris, the Chinese represent distinct ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Fifty-five million Chinese live outside China in countries across the globe.  In China, a passion for God's kingdom is burning in the hearts of Chinese Christians. With the world's fastest Christian growth, China is seeing a dynamic working of the Holy Spirit and is home to many of the world's church-planting movements.  The largest people group in the world, the Han reside in China and number 1.16 billion. The Han make up 20 percent of the world's population, yet less than 5 percent are Christians.  With a request only God can answer, prayers for the Chinese will be going up in mass on June 8, the Day of Prayer and Fasting for World Evangelization.


Report: Teens in Religiously Active Families Have Stronger Family Ties

Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Teens who are members of religiously involved families are likely to have stronger family relationships than teens in families that are not religiously active, a new report shows.  The findings come from a report by the National Study of Youth and Religion, a four-year research project based at the University of North
at Chapel Hill.  "All three dimensions of family and parental religious involvement analyzed here (family religious activity, parental religious service attendance and parental prayer) tend to be associated significantly with positive family relationship characteristics," reads the executive summary of the report.  Looking specifically at youth ages 12 to 14, the report found that those in families heavily involved in religious activities are more likely to have strong relationships with their parents and participate in family activities and less likely to run away from home.  Eleven percent of youth fit into this category, where religious activity such as attending church, praying or reading Scriptures together takes place five or more days a week. In comparison, 36 percent of youth are part of families that do not engage in religious activities.  The findings are based on analysis of data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth that involved almost 9,000 students. 


Principal Criticized for Prayer Directive

Charisma News Service


A Christian elementary school principal in Kansas has come under fire for urging teachers to stand next to their students' desks and pray during the National Day of Prayer (NDP). The teachers union in Sylvia is considering action over a memo written by Fairfield West Elementary Principal Ellen Green, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said her action was at least inappropriate if not illegal, the Associated Press (AP) reported.  In a weekly agenda sent to teachers shortly before the May 1 prayer day, Green said they should "take a few minutes to stand beside each student's desk and pray for that student, their family and their needs." She also wrote: "God honors those who honor Him and seek His will. I plan to make this a day of prayer and fasting. I would welcome your joining me in seeking God's favor and direction."  Superintendent Chris Manning said he doesn't believe Green violated any laws. "I'm all for prayer," said Manning, noting that Green regularly quotes the Bible in her weekly memos, the AP reported. "I don't think there's a problem with quoting ... Scripture. It goes to teachers." 


Labor Department Teams With World Vision to Combat Child Soldiers

Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Labor is teaming with World Vision to combat the plight of child soldiers.  Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao unveiled a $13 million initiative to offer education and rehabilitation for former child soldiers.   "The plight of child soldiers offends the world's sense of decency and the code of conduct of civilized nations," Chao said.  An estimated 300,000 children are currently fighting in more than 34 conflicts around the world, according to World Vision. In the past 10 years, the agency estimates that 2 million children have been killed in armed conflicts, 6 million have been disabled and 20 million have been left homeless.  Children are often recruited or abducted against their wills to fight, serve as spies or guards, lay or clear land mines, or work in prostitution rings. Some children are as young as 7 or 8, while most are between 10 and 15 years old.   "The atrocities these children have seen -- and many have been forced to commit -- are nothing short of appalling," said Bruce Wilkinson, World Vision's vice president for international programs.