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Religion Today Summaries - May 31, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 31, 2006

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

  • Anglican Evangelicals Told: Don’t Leave the Church -– Yet
  • Family in India Driven from Village for Embracing Christ
  • Re-Awakening Evangelism in Asia
  • Forty-Five Percent of America Born Again

Anglican Evangelicals Told: Don’t Leave the Church -– Yet

Anglican (Episcopal) evangelicals gave clear signs that they want to start making their presence and their beliefs count more on the New Zealand scene when some 350 of them met at a national conference in Christchurch. It was the first such gathering for many years, prompted by deep concern over the crisis gripping the mother church in New Zealand and internationally. Conference chairman Rev. Wally Behan told those attending: “Many are feeling nervous, even let down by their leaders’ decisions and views on recent issues.” The key speaker over the two days was the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, whose visit sparked controversy because of his opposition to homosexual marriage and the ordination of women. During the conference he gave a strong defense of his stand on same-sex relationships, but acknowledged there could be genuine disagreement over women clergy. At the forefront of everybody’s mind was the question; has the crisis in the church become so bad that evangelicals should leave? Mr. Behan answered that straight up in his introductory speech, when he said there is no need to leave the Anglican Church. “There is no need to change your orthodox biblical beliefs. There is no need to feel as if you don’t belong, as if you’re the one who is intolerant because you believe as you do.”

Family in India Driven from Village for Embracing Christ

Animist worshipers of nature in a village in Jharkhand state this week humiliated and drove out a local family for becoming Christians. Santosh Karmali, 42, on Sunday (May 21) was forced to sign an agreement with followers of the Sarna religion in Dubalia village, Ranchi district, forfeiting his family’s land. Sarna is the collective name for animist tribal religions. Karmali’s wife, Shiva Devi, was then tonsured and had lime powder applied to her face. Villagers paraded her around the village and chased the family out of the village. The family has been barred from town so that they do not “pollute the atmosphere of the village any more,” sources told Compass Direct.

Re-Awakening Evangelism in Asia

The training and equipping of evangelists is largely absent today and so evangelists have to develop their skills and ministries without any training, GoodNews Evangelistic Association (GNEA) President Dr. Kumar Abraham wrote in a World Evangelism & Missions report featured in the Lausanne World Pulse. The Christian Post reports that GNEA is cooperating with the Billy Graham Center and Luis Palau's Next Generation Alliance to enlighten currently practicing evangelists from across Asia and the South Pacific. The Second Asian Advanced Institute for Evangelists is slated to open this weekend and run for 15 days in the Philippines to intensify the passion of the mission workers for the harvest of souls. "While there may be thousands of books related to pastoral ministry, theology, counseling and education, books on evangelism lag far behind in numbers produced,” Dr. Abraham wrote, citing a lack of vision for evangelists who are not given equal priority in the church to pastors, theologians, teachers or other ministers. "Evangelists became an expendable commodity to the point that we find them today on the brink of extinction," stated Kumar. In response, the world-renowned evangelistic ministries are bringing experienced teachers in the evangelism field to address the attendants on the life and ministry of the evangelist.

Forty-Five Percent of America Born Again

Family News in Focus reports a surprising statistic: 45-percent of Americans say they have a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, have confessed their sins and accepted Christ as Savior according to The Barna Group. But even survey author George Barna agrees that not all born again Christians are bearing fruit. “What we’re finding is that there’s still a lot of superficiality related to the fact that a lot of people have recognized that the spiritual dimension of their life is important.” National Association of Evangelicals President Ted Haggard says, “Born again means that you’re spiritually born again, you’re transformed on the inside. Old things have passed away. All things have become new. And if 45 percent of Americans were living that reality, we’d know it" via an impact on "divorce rates, teen pregnancy rates, a desire to commit crime or be on alcohol [or] drugs.” Barna finds that 36-percent of Americans are what he calls Notional Christians, they describe themselves as Christians but do not meet the born again definition.