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Religion Today Summaries, May 20, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, May 20, 2004

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

  • Ministry Takes Christian Compassion, Critical Aid to Russian Region 
  • Churches Urged to Take Part in 'Battle for Marriage' Simulcast 
  • Religious Freedom Defender Wants Equal Treatment for Christian Student Club
  • Native Americans to Host Third Major Missions Symposium

Ministry Takes Christian Compassion, Critical Aid to Russian Region
Allie Martin, Agape Press

An ongoing Christian outreach to the people of the former Soviet Union is about to kick into high gear. This summer hundreds of U.S. mission volunteers will head to various parts of Russia as part of Operation Carelift, an outreach of Josh McDowell Ministries. Operation Carelift is a subsidiary ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International. Each winter and summer, Operation Carelift volunteers spend two weeks in Russia and surrounding republics delivering humanitarian aid to children in places of need such as orphanages, boarding schools, hospitals and youth prisons. Operation Carelift president Duane Zook says there are special missions planned for Russia's street children. He says the outreach "gives them hope. It gives them somebody who can hug them." Zook explains that most of the children targeted by the initiative do not come from stable and loving environments. Operation Carelift's president says there is a great openness to the gospel among the people of the former Soviet Union. In many cases, tremendous need has created initial inroads for believers to show compassion and to share the love of Christ with the people. For instance, Zook says, "In Belarus, we've been asked, by not only the churches but some political and government officials I've met with as well, to come in and minister to needy families and children in institutions like orphanages in the area that was affected by that horrible Chernobyl accident 18 years ago."

Churches Urged to Take Part in 'Battle for Marriage' Simulcast
Charisma News Service

In response to the legalization this week of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, a leading evangelical group is hosting a "Battle for Marriage" live, nationwide simulcast on Sunday night to rally congregations. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is urging churches across the country to sign up for the broadcast, which will feature prominent Christian leaders, including James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Bishop Wellington Boone and Ted Haggard. "The goal is to educate churches about what must be done to protect marriage and how they can get involved," Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said. "The more churches airing the simulcast, the more troops we'll have for this battle. It is not only a battle for marriage, but for our very culture." Hggard, president of the NAE, which represents more than 43,000 congregations, said prayer will be a key part of the event. "Following the speakers, we will spend 30 minutes praying for our nation at this critical juncture, asking God to defend His institutions of marriage and family," he said. "Battle for Marriage" can be viewed via computer and is available to churches through a satellite feed. For more information on the event, visit www.nae.net.

Religious Freedom Defender Wants Equal Treatment for Christian Student Club
Jim Brown, AgapePress

The threat of a federal lawsuit has prompted a New Hampshire high school to permit a Christian student club on campus. However, an attorney representing the Christian group says the school may still be engaging in viewpoint discrimination. When officials at Spaulding High School in Rochester denied student Jessica Meserve's requests to form a Christian club, the sophomore contacted the Thomas More Law Center, a law firm dedicated to defending the religious freedom of Christians. Center attorney Rob Muise then sent out a letter to the school, demanding that Meserve be given the same rights and privileges afforded to the school's other student groups. Shortly after receiving the demand letter, the school had a change of heart and decided it will no longer bar the Christian student from starting an on-campus club for believing students. But Muise says the school is not out of the woods yet. The Thomas More lawyer says Spaulding High School still appears to be giving clubs such as the Straight and Gay Alliance special treatment while denying Meserve's group the same consideration. Because of this, he says the legal group is taking a "wait and see" approach to the case.

Native Americans to Host Third Major Missions Symposium
Jim Uttley, ASSIST News Service

The North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) will bring together leaders of mission organizations, theological institutions and North America’s indigenous leaders to seek to provide mentoring and training of aboriginal leaders in the area of contextualized evangelical missions. The Third Missiological Symposium is to be held at The Salvation Army’s Crestmont College in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, September 23-25, 2004. This year’s theme is “Education: Credentials, Competence, Learning for Understanding.” The symposium is designed to address topics of present concern in Native North American ministry, mission and theology related to evangelism, discipleship, and leadership development, is clearly evangelical yet fully contextual in its approach.  NAIITS is an international institute dedicated to the development of an increased capacity in the Aboriginal evangelical community to research, develop, articulate, educate and write about mission and theology from a Native North American perspective. A mission-focused institution, NAIITS is seeking to provide for the mentoring and training of aboriginal leaders in the area of contextualized evangelical missions. Terry LeBlanc states that NAIITS desires to create "a training approach to theology and biblical study that comports more clearly with Native learning styles and world-views, and develops theological partnerships with the other cultural communities of Christian faith.” This is in the hopes that these partnerships will "ensure the voice of Christ is heard in all ways and ensure biblically faithful praxis in all things."