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Religion Today Summaries - May 25, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 25, 2005

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

  • Prayer Method Used to Control Pain

  • Christian Humanitarian Group's Restructuring to Boost Disaster Response

  • Schools Challenged to Protect Graduation Speakers Religious Liberty 

  • Subway Evangelist's Unique Methods 'Breaks Through The Noise'

Prayer Method Used to Control Pain
Agape Press

A recent survey by USA Today, ABC News, and the Stanford University Medical Center discovered that a majority of respondents use prayer as a way to control pain, and those who do say it really works. Dr. Michael Augustson is a family practice physician in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, but he also works at a clinic for the poor and uninsured. He says he is not surprised by the findings of the survey and even sees that method employed successfully at the clinic. "It uses a faith-based approach to care," the doctor explains, "and we see patients with a physician, a nurse, and a pastor. In James, it talks about how we are called upon to pray and call upon the elders to pray for us; and this is a biblical truth -- how Christians can respond to pain or [stress] or to other sicknesses. I just think it's very important for us to be obedient to what scripture calls us to do." Augustson says the USA Today/ABC News/Stanford survey should give not only Christian physicians but all doctors reason to approach the topic of faith with their patients as a means to more thorough and comprehensive medical care. Augustson says adding prayer to a patients' treatment plan provides more complete care because it involves the mind and spirit in healing.

Christian Humanitarian Group's Restructuring to Boost Disaster Response
Charisma News Service

World Relief recently appointed a former General Motors executive as its president in a move that is part of a major reorganizing campaign aimed at positioning the Christian humanitarian organization to be a leading advocate for the world's poor and needy. Last month, Sammy Mah was installed as head of World Relief, ending a leadership search that began last year after the resignation of former president Clive Calver. Calver is credited with having raised the visibility of World Relief and crystallizing its vision of "helping churches help the poor" during his seven-year tenure. "We all credit Clive with polishing off the vision we were founded [on]," acting president Tim Ziemer, who was to step down April 18, told Charisma magazine. The son of Chinese immigrants, Mah earned an MBA from the University of Michigan and spent 27 years as an executive at General Motors. He and his family have been active in youth ministry and have participated in missions trips to various parts of the world. Board chairman Gordon MacDonald said World Relief has been restructured to make the humanitarian-assistance arm a leader in addressing such issues as refugee resettlement, the AIDS epidemic, micro-enterprise and food development, and child mortality. (www.charismanews.com)

Schools Challenged to Protect Graduation Speakers Religious Liberty
Allie Martin and Jenni Parker, Agape Press

A Florida law firm that specializes in protecting the constitutional rights of citizens has once again unveiled its annual "Friend or Foe Graduation Campaign." For the third year in a row, Liberty Counsel is putting high schools across the U.S. on notice about respecting students' religious freedom at commencement exercises. The Orlando-based law firm says it will be a friend to those schools that take a neutral position regarding messages presented by students at graduation ceremonies. However, the firm promises to be a foe of those schools that censor the religious viewpoints or content of student speakers. Liberty Counsel president Mat Staver says students and other speakers do not lose their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or free exercise of religion when they step onto the graduation podium. Liberty Counsel is prepared to file lawsuits against schools that violate any student commencement speaker's rights under the Constitution of the United States. The Liberty Counsel spokesman says the purpose of the Friend or Foe Graduation Campaign is to let schools know that they can face possible legal action for restricting or forbidding a student's religious speech in a graduation prayer or public address. Staver says the Supreme Court has never banned religious speech and prayer from public school graduations and only prohibited "school-sponsored prayer."

Subway Evangelist's Unique Methods 'Breaks Through The Noise'
Charisma News Service

A New York City evangelist has found an unlikely pulpit in the Big Apple's subways. Frank Meyer is used to facing rejection, weird stares and insults, while preaching and staging evangelistic skits on crowded, noisy commuter trains. "The Holy Spirit gives me courage," Meyer, 42, told Charisma magazine. He usually opens with a song before jumping into a mini-sermon or leading a team in an attention-grabbing skit. He earned his evangelistic spurs in 1990 serving a one-year internship at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan while attending Dallas Theological Seminary. Searching for a strategy to share the gospel with city dwellers, he took a leap of faith into the subway. He began by singing hymns while commuters waited for trains.Feeling crushed from a barrage of negative jibes, he recovered his confidence when a man urged, "Don't ever stop what you're doing." Besides weekly subway runs, Meyer trains church groups in evangelism under the umbrella of Mission NYC (www.missionnyc.org), an evangelical ministry that sponsors short-term missions programs. Mission NYC will train 60 to 100 teams totaling 2,000 to 3,000 people this year, reported Executive Director Rick Camacho. He endorses Meyer's style of initiative evangelism. "Frank offers a vehicle that is unique and breaks through the noise," he said. Mission NYC's unconventional evangelistic methods were featured in Newsweek magazine earlier this year. (www.charismanews.com)