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Religion Today Summaries - October 26, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 26, 2004

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

  • Flourishing Congregation 'Creates' Ministries Outside of Church Setting

  • Russia: Christians Seek to Help Victims of Beslan Terrorist Attack 

  • Venezuelan Couple Arrested For Scamming Churches Around U.S.

  • Jordanian Custody Case Hinges On Conflicting Testimonies

Flourishing Congregation 'Creates' Ministries Outside of Church Setting
Charisma News Service

With auto mechanics on staff and its own funeral home, an Assemblies of God congregation in Washington state is redefining how a church can reach a community. Under Joe Fuiten, Pastor of Cedar Park Church, located in the Seattle area, the role of his congregation in the community has been stretched. It includes auto maintenance, counseling, retailing, education, funeral and cemetery services, and music productions. It's all aimed at meeting the needs of local people, not just on Sunday, but also from Monday to Saturday. "What I want is the church to be the center of the community," Fuiten told Charisma magazine.  At Cedar Park, it's church 24/7, and the evidence of it is all around in a variety of forms. No matter the ministry, it's all aimed at linking the church with the community to provide connections for sharing Christ while solving people's day-to-day problems. "We create ministries outside of the church setting," Fuiten said. In what is considered one of the most unchurched states in the country, Cedar Park continues to flourish, growing in attendance while neighboring mainline Protestant churches decline. Counting Spanish- and Japanese-language services, a private school and seven satellite campuses where services are held, more than 5,000 people regularly attend Cedar Park. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Russia: Christians Seek to Help Victims of Beslan Terrorist Attack
Christian Aid

A few weeks ago, Christian Aid published the story of two Christian brothers, Sergey and Taymuraz Totiev, who both lost children in the terrorist attack in Beslan. Instead of turning their grief into anger, the Totievs set an example in their community by showing Christian love and forgiveness in the midst of tragedy. Now, Christians in Beslan are uniting to spread this gospel of peace, making plans to establish a Christian Comfort and Reconciliation Center. Native Christian leaders saw that the suffering of hundreds of families in Beslan had the potential to lead either to hatred and violence or to redemption and reconciliation. They want to point despairing families towards God in their time of need. The proposed Center would accomplish this through three means: first, by providing medical help to those still recovering from injuries. Secondly, the Center would give food and clothing to poor families and to those who suddenly find themselves without income after the death of a parent. Most importantly, the Center would provide Christian counseling to the hundreds of people reeling from depression and confusion. Please pray for native Christian leaders in Beslan as they bring the hope of Christ to the suffering.

Venezuelan Couple Arrested For Scamming Churches Around U.S.

A native Venezuelan couple has been arrested in Ohio on charges of scamming churches around the United States. Ohio detectives say the couple pilfered hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting churches throughout the country, but eventually a paper trail of the crimes led the authorities to the couple. In one case an Indiana pastor had wired $800 to help a woman who claimed she and her five children were stranded, only to find out later that he was a victim of a scam. Meanwhile, in New York, a jury has found two women guilty of bilking more than a thousand investors out of almost two million dollars. According to an Associated Press news story, Roberta Dupre and Beverly Stambaugh have been convicted of cheating investors with a faith-based scam. The wire-fraud trial is unusual, AP reports, because many victims still believe Dupre's claim that she was using their money to free billions of dollars from a secret bank account belonging to the late Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. However, prosecutors say the bank account does not exist and Dupre was living in a posh Manhattan hotel and using the investors "like a personal ATM machine." The two women will be sentenced in January and could face up to 20 years.

Jordanian Custody Case Hinges On Conflicting Testimonies
Barbara G. Baker, Compass Direct

A Jordanian judge heard opposing testimony from Christian widow Siham Qandah last week, calling her to the witness stand on October 21 over the disputed use of her children's trust funds by their Muslim guardian. Abdullah al-Muhtadi had testified in court to Judge Mahmud Zghul on October 10 that his massive withdrawals of more than $17,000 from the children's orphan trust funds were legitimate. "I told the judge that I had never received any money from the guardian," Siham told Compass. "He has never even visited our family for the past 10 years," Qandah said. "I told the judge that I don't care about the trust fund ... I don't want it or anything else, just my children." Al-Muhtadi, Qandah's estranged brother who converted to Islam as a teenager, has been trying to gain custody of her two minor children through Jordan 's Islamic court system. When the guardian failed to appear in court on October 21, Judge Zghul heard Qandah's testimony and then set November 9 for a final hearing on the case.