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Religion Today Summaries - October 29, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 29, 2004

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

  • Evangelist's Primetime TV Special Calls Nation to Prayer For Elections

  • Uzbek Authorities Raid Baptist Church

  • Internet Ministry By Ex-Witch Helps Pagans, Witches Find Jesus

  • Relief Ministry Expands Afghanistan Operations

Evangelist's Primetime TV Special Calls Nation to Prayer For Elections
Charisma News Service

International evangelist Morris Cerullo is taking his prayer initiative for the United States to the small screen just days before the Nov. 2 elections. As part of his "Save America Now"(SAN) campaign (www.save-america-now.com), Cerullo will host a one-hour, primetime TV special that will air from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 on nearly 200 stations nationwide, including CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox affiliates and Christian stations. "Our nation is at a major crossroad," Cerullo said. "It is time for God's people to unite together in prayer as never before as we go to the polling booths on Nov. 2. The Save America Now television special will call the nation to strategic prayer for God's will in the election of our next president. It is time to cry out, 'God, turn America back to you!'" Cerullo is calling on Christians and leaders nationwide to join him for a three-day "Esther Fast," beginning Oct. 31 through Nov. 2. Morris Cerullo Ministries (MCM) spokesman Greg Mauro said since SAN was launched in January, more than 1,700 congregations have registered their prayer support for the initiative. MCM has also placed full-page ads in USA Today, The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as the top 27 major daily newspapers in the country. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Uzbek Authorities Raid Baptist Church
Barbara G. Baker, Compass Direct

Police in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent raided the Bethany Baptist Church during Sunday worship on October 17, declaring the service an "illegal religious meeting" and demanding the pastor promise to stop all the church's activities. Pastor Nikolai Shevchenko declined to do so. After confiscating samples of literature found in the church sanctuary and classrooms, the officers left, telling the pastor and eight members that they would be called to answer in court over the case. A member of the Baptist Union, Shevchenko's church has been seeking official registration in vain for the past eight years. In repeated attempts to gain legal registration, the Bethany Church congregation has provided the required list of 100 founding members and three pastoral leaders, paid a large registration fee and even secured the written approval of local community leaders and neighbors. In a straightforward plea to be heard, the church sent a letter in March 2001 to President Islam Karimov, attaching 18 documents confirming the history of the church's attempt to register itself legally. Despite a three-year lull in police actions against their activities, the church remains caught in an apparent standoff between local city regulations and the government's restrictive registration laws instituted in 1998.

Internet Ministry By Ex-Witch Helps Pagans, Witches Find Jesus
Charisma News Service 

A Web-based ministry is helping pagans and witches find Christ. Kathi Sharpe once offered incantations as a witch and her soul to false deities. Now she offers Jesus to many of her former cohorts of the occult through her Internet-based ministry. The conversations center on Jesus at ExWitch.org, although many of the visitors have pledged themselves to false gods. The ministry's site is comprised of a series of public and private message board forums. Since its March 2002 inception, ExWitch has processed more than 100,000 postings. "It's amazing to me that witches come on and talk all day long about Jesus. It's just phenomenal," Sharpe said. Mark Bishop of Denton, Texas, one of five site administrators, said what is different about ExWitch is that people listen to the visitors.  "We don't water down the gospel. But we present it in truth and love. ... I don't know of many ministries trying to reach [witches]. There are many out there that have written them off," said Bishop, a former pagan. Sharpe's evangelism efforts go beyond the Internet. She also has invited witches and pagans to her church. Her pastor said he usually counsels a new Christian not to have any contact with his or her occult past because that has caused many to be lured back into it. But Sharpe has been the exception, he said.

Relief Ministry Expands Afghanistan Operations
Allie Martin, AgapePress

International Aid, a Christian relief and development organization, began work in Afghanistan nearly two years ago after U.S. and coalition forces toppled the Taliban-led government. Now the Michigan-based ministry is expanding its outreach in Afghanistan with the encouragement of the nation's interim government. Myles Fish, president of International Aid, says working through the local church in the Middle Eastern country has its challenges. The ministry spokesman, who made his comments on Mission Network News, says Afghanistan's interim government has asked the ministry to expand its services in their nation. For almost two years, he notes, International Aid has operated a health clinic in Taingi Saidan, a village of about 12,000 inhabitants, where the ministry has been providing primary health care for the region ever since the defeat of the Taliban. International Aid's president says the Christian relief and development ministry provides health care services and does other outreach as a means of demonstrating the love of God and articulating Christian faith. The ministry has sent volunteer medical teams to Taingi Saidan to help with treatment of patients and training of local physicians in family medicine, and International Aid continues to seek medical services personnel for future trips.