Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 3, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 3, 2008

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

  • Relief Organizations on the Ground after Gustav
  • China: Communist Leaders Threaten Darker Days
  • Nigeria: Muslim Extremists Burn Church Building
  • Report: How to Transition from Seminary to Ministry

Relief Organizations on the Ground after Gustav

Hurricane Gustav blustered past New Orleans without the ferocity of Katrina, but left its mark on Louisiana’s southeastern and central coast, according to the Christian Post. Relief organizations have begun to distribute food and supplies as evacuees begin to trickle home, though many will stay in shelters until damages are assessed and urgent repairs can be made. Almost 780,000 people remain without power. Operation Blessing International reported that its team and kitchen is operational in Hattisburg, Miss. and Baton Rouge, while World Vision is working among evacuated families in Dallas and Jackson by distributing immediate essentials and toiletries. Christian Reformed World Relief Committee has extended its help beyond Louisiana to reach hard-hit Cuba as well. "It's heartbreaking to see people who haven't been able to afford to finish repairing their homes face another massive storm," said Audrey Black, General Manager of World Vision's Storehouse in Picayune, Mississippi. "People are still living in temporary trailer parks in this area, and there isn't a sense of normalcy yet. Now families are going through the experience again."

China: Communist Leaders Threaten Darker Days

Baptist Press reports that the future of the persecuted church in China will be "darker before it becomes brighter," Bob Fu, president of China Aid Association, told Baptist Press as the Olympics drew to a close in Beijing. "Given the increased persecution before and even during the Olympic Games in spite of international attention, we can only expect persecution to increase in severity in the year following the Olympic Games," Fu said. Incidents of suppression during the Olympics, "combined with the harsh rhetoric of Zhou Yongkang, the leader of the Central Political and Legislative Committee within the Communist Party, who has called for 'extraordinary measures to be taken against house churches,' leaves no doubt China has no intention of easing persecution against believers," Fu said. "If anything, the Olympic Games have given China a bolder stance in solidifying their communist and socialist agenda." Fu said.

Nigeria: Muslim Extremists Burn Church Building

Compass Direct News reports that Muslim extremists on Sunday (Aug. 31) set ablaze a Christ Apostolic Church building in the Baboko area of this city in central Nigeria’s Kwara state. The Rev. Samuel Ogowole told Compass that area Muslims had complained that the church building was located near a mosque. Compass found that the church building was 500 meters from the Baboko mosque, but to appease the Muslim community the Kwara state government had offered church leaders 3 million naira (US$25,580) and ordered the congregation to relocate. Church leaders rejected the order, saying they had spent nearly seven times that much to construct the church building. Rev. Ogowole told Compass that Muslims initially applied pressure on town planning authorities in 2005. “This ultimately resulted in a relocation notice asking us to relocate the church out of the area in seven days,” he said. The church is appealing the order.

Report: How to Transition from Seminary to Ministry

The transition from academic study to active ministry remains a tough one, and a new report from the Alban Institute shows that a new strategy may be gaining ground. The report focuses on a set of recent experiments conducted by the Fund for Theological Education's Transition into Ministry Program (TiM). Began in 1999 through funding from Lilly Foundation Inc., the TiM initiative seeks to reshape the preparation of pastors for the challenges of 21sth century ministry by supplementing the seminary training received in the M.Div. program with a focused apprenticeship in a "community of practice." Participants were encouraged to become "reflective participants" in a local community of practice, challenging the assumption that pastoral work begins upon graduation from seminary.