April News

Virginia’s Episcopal Bishop Supports Bush on Iraq

The Episcopal bishop of Virginia, whose diocese includes the Pentagon and counts Secretary of State Colin Powell as a member, said the United States has a right to “name the threats to peace and to participate in removing them.” Bishop Peter Lee, in an address Jan. 31 to his diocesan convention in Reston, Va., emerged as one of many mainline Protestant religious leaders to support President Bush’s war plans in Iraq. “In a fallen world, we understand that one of the responsibilities of international leadership is to name the threats to peace and to participate in removing them—first by diplomacy, and if necessary, by measured, necessary force as a last resort,” Lee said. He asked for prayers for Powell, a member at St. John’s Church in McLean, and for “faithful members of our diocese whose work for peace is to assure the strength of our diplomacy through their active military service.”

Religious News Service via Religion Today Summaries

Mass Grave in Sudan Horrifies Investigators

Church-backed human rights organizations have appealed for an investigation of a mass grave in Sudan they say includes “fields littered with human remains, many of them from young children.” Voice of the Martyrs, Servant’s Heart and Freedom Quest International made their appeal after human rights investigators discovered the remains were those of victims of an unprovoked attack.

The violence was directed against the “unarmed civilian villages” of Liang, Dengaji, Kawaji and Yawaji in southern Sudan’s Upper Nile Province in late April, 2002. Nearly half of the original 6,000 Christians and other non-Muslims living in the region were killed in the attack, the organizations said in a statement. The Center for Religious Freedom reported that Sudanese government soldiers struck in the early morning, killing villagers and burning their houses while they slept.

“In a video-taped interview, Tunya Jok described his horror as he witnessed his 4-year-old daughter shot and killed as she fled from the government soldiers,” the center reported. “Then his 6-year-old son was captured and beheaded by the soldiers.”

Assist News Service via HCJB World Radio

Gospel Breakthrough in Northern India

In the midst of hostile Hindu rhetoric and persecution, one indigenous ministry working in northern India reports “a tremendous breakthrough” in the north India state of Uttar Pradesh and in the region. The ministry focused on training Christians in 12 states of northern India last year. Some were trained in the group’s “Great Commission Training Centers” and others in church-based video Bible schools. “As a result, thousands of new house churches were established,” said a local church leader.

The group now has 700 missionaries on the field and has trained more than 3,000 lay workers. Together they have established at least 9,000 worshiping groups (including 7,000 house churches) in 12 states of northern India. The group operates a number of balwadis (informal schools) and primary schools in two major cities of North India. Many non-Christians attended the Christmas programs put on by these schools, and some have opened their homes for fellowship and learning. One of the schools in Kashmir attracted 1,000 people, including 400 pupils. Many of those attending heard the gospel for the first time.

Missions Insider via HCJB World Radio

“Deadly Dozen” Should Choose Religion or Abortion

A Roman Catholic bishop has called on California Gov. Gray Davis to choose between supporting abortion and taking communion. A similar challenge has been posed to Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew who is a Connecticut senator and announced presidential candidate. The American Life League (ALL) called for all bishops and priests to refuse communion to public officials “whose unrepentant support for the killing of babies in the womb defiles the [Mass] and the body of Christ.” In a full-page ad in the Jan. 22 issue of the Washington Times, ALL placed the names and photos of what it called “The Deadly Dozen” in the U.S. Senate, telling the senators they could not be both Catholic and pro-abortion. The 12 senators consisted of 11 Democrats and one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. The Democrats were Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate minority leader, and Sens. John Kerry, an announced presidential candidate, and fellow Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy; Joseph Biden of Delaware; Patrick Leahy of Vermont; Christopher Dodd of Connecticut; Tom Harkin of Iowa; Jack Reed of Rhode Island; Mary Landrieu of Louisiana; Patty Murray of Washington; and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.

Baptist Press via Religion Today Summaries

Indonesian Court Frees Terrorist, Jails 3 Christians

According to BBC News, a court in Indonesia has cleared the leader of a former Islamic militia of inciting violence between Muslims and Christians. Jafar Umar Thalib was accused of the offence while he led the Laskar Jihad militia on the religiously divided Moluccan Islands. The acquittal came two days after two Christian leaders were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for subversion during the violence in which thousands of people were killed. The cleric was arrested May 4 following a speech in which he reportedly implored Muslims to “prepare our bombs, and ready our guns.” Two days later, 13 people were massacred in the Christian village of Soya.

Voice of the Martyrs via Religion Today Summaries

Homosexual Group Wants God Out of European Constitution

Citing the “increased secularization of morality and public life” in Europe, a British homosexual group is demanding that all references to God be left out of the preamble to a new European Union constitution. “We are not opposed to a clause that would establish the freedom to practice religion,” said spokesman Terry Sanderson. “What we don’t want to see is religion moving out of the area of freedom and becoming predominant right there in the beginning of the constitution. To include references to God or ‘our Christian heritage’ would be to start turning back on our 500-year journey from the Enlightenment,” the group wrote. “Instead, we should be proud of our progress, and growing humanity.”

Religion Today via HCJB World Radio

Ministry Plans to Film Entire Bible

A U.S.-based ministry has set an ambitious goal to film the entire story of the Bible in digital format. The project, called “Film the Bible,” will cover Genesis to Revelation at an estimated cost of $660 million—$10 million per book. The ministry, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., hopes to produce the film in multiple languages “to reach as many people as possible with the gospel.” The project is the vision of Tim Donoho, who began a successful business career as a teenager in Japan in 1975. Filming is expected to start in 2005 and take about three years to complete, depending on financing. The finished product will take between 150 and 200 hours to view.

Mission Network News/Film the Bible via HCJB World Radio

Keeping Scot Kids Quiet During Services

The Scottish Episcopal Church has launched the country’s first coloring book specially designed for use by restless children during communion services. Called My Holy Communion Book, it takes children through the words of a typical Sunday-morning service, illustrating key moments in the ceremony with bright, multi-colored illustrations. In addition, children can participate in the service by writing special notes and prayers at the end of the books.

“As soon as we started using the books, I knew they were working because the noise levels dropped right down,” said Pastor Steve Butler of Leith, who commissioned the book. “Children now run for the books at the start of a service. They really engage with the service. The books become theirs because they have written and drawn in them.”

Episcopal News Service via HCJB World Radio

President’s Emphasis on Battling AIDS Lauded

Christian leaders are applauding President George W. Bush’s renewed emphasis on battling the AIDS epidemic, especially in Africa and the Caribbean. During his State of the Union address, Bush proposed a $15-billion emergency plan for AIDS relief. World Vision’s Ken Casey says this could be key to involving more Americans. “Getting involved starts with presidential leadership, and I think [Bush] expressed that. The next challenge is for Congress to follow up and approve the proposals that he sends to them.”

Bush said nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus in Africa alone, including 3 million children under the age 15. “There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection,” he said. “The plan could prevent 7 million new AIDS infections, treat at least 2 million people with life-extending drugs, and provide care for millions of people suffering from AIDS and for children orphaned by AIDS.”

Mission Network News/BWA via HCJB World Radio

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