Religion Today Summaries - September 13, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 13, 2004

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

  • God Raises Ministry from Ashes of 9-11 Attack on Pentagon

  • Vietnam: In Face of Persecution, Creative Evangelism

  • India: Tribal People Reached Despite Hindu Opposition

  • Police Detain 80 Iranian Evangelicals

God Raises Ministry from Ashes of 9-11 Attack on Pentagon
Allie Martin and Bill Fancher, AgapePress

A survivor of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon three years ago says his story is proof that God can bring triumph out of a tragedy. This past Saturday marked the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC.  Retired Lieutenant Colonel Brian Birdwell was in his Pentagon office the morning of September 11, 2001, when he received word of two commercial jetliners ramming the World Trade Center towers.  Birdwell stepped out to go to the men's restroom [and] told two co-workers he'd be back in a moment -- and those would be the last words he spoke to the two ladies. Flight 77 crashed into the building and Birdwell was thrown to the ground and engulfed in flames. Of the burns that covered 60 percent of his body, nearly half were third-degree burns. The former Army officer says his unwavering faith saw him through dark days of recovery and physical therapy. In the aftermath of the tragedy, God has given the Birdwells a new ministry called "Face the Fire Ministries". The focus of the ministry assists burn and wounded survivors, and provides encouragement and financial assistance to family members who are going through a significant physical and emotional challenge. Birdwell was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries he received in the terrorist attack.

Vietnam: In Face of Persecution, Creative Evangelism
Christian Aid Mission

Believers in Vietnam find unique ways to spread the gospel. One indigenous ministry operates a "Good News Boat" that carries missionaries into the deepest parts of the country on a river. The boat provides a valuable source of transportation, going where there are no roads. In one district where authorities ordered believers not to spread or practice Christianity at threat of fines or imprisonment, Christians go into the paddy fields or meet at night to encourage one another. Outreaches to children are especially fruitful. In another part of the country, police forced their way into a Christian family's home and slaughtered a pig and chicken to offer in pagan worship of their ancestors. They tried to force the family to join the feast, but the believers refused. As a result of this incident, some Christian families in the area have stopped raising livestock, giving officials no opportunity to use animals for ancestor worship. One man turned a time of trial into an opportunity to preach Christ. Authorities forced him to confess that he had organized an "illegal gathering." Before he began the falsified review, the man lifted his voice and gave thanks to God. The name of the Lord was glorified in this public place in a way it never could have been otherwise.

Christian Ministry Doing Hurricane Relief Digs In For Long Haul
Allie Martin, AgapePress

Workers with the Samaritan's Purse ( ministry are having to reassess their relief efforts for Florida residents in the wake of Hurricane Frances. Two disaster relief units from Samaritan's Purse had already been working in southwestern Florida for the past three weeks when Frances made landfall. Now one of two tractor-trailers loaded with emergency supplies and tools will be moved to the East Coast to equip relief worker crews there. The Christian organization works closely with local churches to minister to those whose lives have been adversely affected by the storms. The coordinated effort is designed to meet not only the material needs of disaster victims, but also to address their emotional and spiritual needs. The church volunteers are an essential part of the disaster response.  Luther Harrison, relief coordinator, says the local churches will have many opportunities for follow-up ministry and outreach across the coming weeks and months. Harrison says many of the hurricane victims have a long and difficult road ahead of them, including dealing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the insurance companies, and sorting through all of the many trying issues involved in the process of recovery from a disaster. Harrison estimates that the Samaritan's Purse staff and volunteer workers will be spending several more months in Florida, sharing Christ with hurricane victims through word and deed.

Police Detain 80 Iranian Evangelicals
Compass Direct

Iranian police invaded the annual general conference of Iran's Assemblies of God Church last Thursday, arresting at least 80 church leaders gathered at the church's denominational center in Karaj. Without warning, a large number of policemen surrounded the church's garden property, bursting in to arrest all the men and women present at the first day of their annual meetings. The detained Christians were driven around blindfolded for several hours so they would be unable to understand where they were being taken. Reportedly each individual was questioned separately by security officials. The interrogation revealed that the authorities had very precise information about each person, including his or her activities, relatives and other personal data. By evening, the authorities had released all the arrested Christians except for the 10 pastors among them. The location of these 10 men is unknown, and their families have not been allowed any contact with them. All the evangelicals released were forbidden to attend church services, the weekly day of rest in Iran when most churches meet for worship. As the world's only theocracy, Iran has strictly proscribed the activities of its evangelical Christian citizens, closing down their churches and arresting known converts to Christianity. Under Islamic law, apostates who leave Islam are subject to the death penalty.