Religion Today Summaries - November 29, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 29, 2004

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

  • Group Equips Christian Women in Media, Arts for Cultural Impact

  • Georgia: Baptist Leader Makes Friends With His Foe

  • Vietnam: Hmong Christians Arrested, Tortured

  • GFA Missionary Severely Beaten

Group Equips Christian Women in Media, Arts for Cultural Impact
Mary Rettig, AgapePress

The editor-in-chief of SHINE Magazine, a Christian women's publication, has launched a new endeavor to encourage women in her field of work. Michelle Borquez is the founder of Christian Women in Media and Arts. CWMA is an organization that is intended to empower Christian women and give them a united voice in the culture war, Borquez notes. She says it is time to take the fight for values into the boardrooms, newsrooms, and production houses of America's cultural centers, and she wants women who work in media and entertainment to be able to reach out and change their world from where they are. The group's founder points out that, all too often, women are put in the position of having to respond to needs without having been equipped for the task at hand. Borquez believes that knowledge itself is empowering, which is why she says one of the things CWMA is focusing on is helping women acquire more know-how. And it is why, she says, The organization's stated purpose is to encourage, equip, and challenge women to rise up and seek position within their society and to use their gifts and skills to influence the heart of the culture itself.

Georgia: Baptist Leader Makes Friends With His Foe
Wolfgang Polzer, ASSIST News Service

The Baptist Bishop of Georgia, Malkhaz Songulashvili, has made friends with his worst foe - the defrocked former Orthodox Priest Basil Mkalasvishvili. He was responsible for burning Bibles in front of a Baptist church in Tbilisi in February 2002 and for several attacks on Baptist worshippers in 2003. Mkalasvishvili was indicted for these criminal activities together with nine of his adherents. During the court proceedings Bishop Songulashvili was called as a witness. He took the opportunity of explaining the Gospel message of reconciliation. He called for leniency and the release of the defendants. As a sign of forgiveness Songulashvili offered his hand to the defendants through the bars of the steel cage, in which the prisoners were following the proceedings. The Bishop said he wanted no compensation for the material damage. But he expected Mkalasvishvili to bring a bottle of wine to a reunion after his release from jail, said Songulashvili accompanied by applause from the courtroom audience. Mkalasvishvili accepted the gesture. When Songulashvili celebrated the tenth anniversary of his Bishop's office, his former adversary sent a cake and two icons. These were his most treasured presents, said the Bishop. Most of the 5.5 million inhabitants of Georgia are orthodox. The 5.000 Baptists form the biggest Protestant church in the South East European country.

Vietnam: Hmong Christians Arrested, Tortured
Christian Aid

Christian Aid has been monitoring the situation of seventeen Christian leaders, all members of the Hmong tribe of northern Vietnam, who were arrested in October while meeting secretly in southern Vietnam for ministry training. After several days of brutal beatings by police, they were made to sign documents claiming they renounced faith in Christ. Only then were they released. The leaders were sent back to northern Vietnam and have taken refuge in a church, where other native Christian leaders are offering guidance and encouragement, helping the men know how to proceed with ministry after such a devastating ordeal and forced false confession. Their future safety remains in jeopardy. The government will ruthlessly monitor the leaders and remind them of the documents they were made to sign. Future arrests could lead to more severe torture, possibly resulting in death, as has been the case with other Hmong Christians. At least two Hmong Christians have been killed because of their faith in the past year, according to reports received by Christian Aid. Hundreds have been arrested. The Hmong tribe is particularly targeted by Vietnam's communist authorities, in part because members have been so receptive of the Christian faith. Despite this environment of opposition, hundreds of tribal people are coming to the Lord through the work of native missionaries.

Missionary Severely Beaten
Gospel For Asia

A GFA missionary Budhudas in North India was severely beaten by a mob of anti-Christians who stormed his house and dragged him outside, in front of his 9-year-old son. Budhudas knows he could face persecution at any moment, but it is unlikely he expected it as he was getting his son ready for school that morning. While the mob mercilessly beat and kicked Budhudas, others ransacked his home and burned more than 200 New Testaments, other ministry-related literature and his son's schoolbooks. They also stole money from the family. A local police official's son tried to stop the mob, but was beaten as well. His father rushed to the area and stopped the beatings. But under pressure from the mob, he had to ask Budhudas to leave the village at once. Joined by his wife and children, Budhudas fled the area for shelter. Like many of our missionaries who suffer persecution, Budhudas is seeing souls won for Christ. Through his ministry in the area, a thriving church fellowship has been established. Fourteen committed believers meet for worship. As you sit down to eat Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, please remember this precious family as they suffer for Jesus' sake. Your prayers for Budhudas, his wife and children will mean so much to them.