Praise and Prayer

Pray: Sonograms Not Always Enough to Stop Abortion-Sonograms showing babies active in their wombs apparently are convincing more American mothers they are carrying live human beings-but some don't seem to care, when it comes to opting for abortion. World magazine (Aug. 7 issue) notes that polls show "nearly half of all Americans agree that life begins at conception-yet as many as two-thirds of Americans believe abortion should be legal through the first three months." World quoted a mother who wrote in the New York Times, describing how she selected one of three babies growing in her womb, after viewing them on a sonogram, and had an abortion-provider kill the other two-because she only wanted one child to raise. "I'll never leave my house because I'll have to care for these children. I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise," she offered in explanation.

Based on "Hearts of Stone" by
Gene Edward Veith

Pray/Praise: Continual Persecution Fails to Dampen Tribal Christians' Faith-Christian congregations within the Bru tribe of Laos have remained faithful to Christ despite continual persecution from authorities. A Bru pastor, who asked not to be named, testified of the ordeal he has faced since leaving his animistic beliefs and committing his life to Christ through a native missionary in 1990. "Immediately following my conversion I was imprisoned by authorities for my faith but released two years later," he said. "The next year we were one of 30 families whose homes, barns, and food supplies were burned to the ground by our persecutors. When I attempted to rebuild a shed and begin farming again for survival, authorities grew angry. They saw that they had not destroyed the Christians. So in March, 1993, I was arrested again and taken to prison along with eight other believers. In prison the other believers and I were chained together by the ankles for seven months. One day angry officials beat and tortured me until I almost died. Praise God that He sustained me through this terrible time. After a year of painful suffering, the other believers and I were finally released." The pastors and the other Bru Christians then enjoyed four years of freedom, but then they were arrested yet again. "We were tortured because we would not forsake the name of Christ," he said. "In one effort to persuade us, the assistant provincial chief reduced our daily rations to a handful. This went on for five months. When we still didn't give in, our rations were reduced to nothing but water for 13 days. We were finally released in May, 2000, so we could return to our wives and children." Despite such treatment, Bru churches continue to grow and prosper.

Missions Insider via MissionNet

Praise: "Youth Mall" Poised to Reach Teens for Christ-A Wisconsin-based ministry is set to launch the nation's first "youth mall." Organizers say the shopping and activity center in Appleton, Wis., will help 34 churches reach out to teens in their community. In 1954 the nation's first fully enclosed shopping mall opened in Appleton. Today, 50 years later, the Valley Fair Mall is getting a major makeover thanks to the nonprofit organization YouthFutures. The ministry is spearheading the pending purchase of the dying mall. "There are 94,000 teens in this four-county region, and like a lot of other communities there's not that much for them to do," said Greg Books, YouthFutures chief executive officer. "What we want to create is a venue where there are a plethora of entertainment choices-a skate park, theater, paintball area, stores, food court, places to sit, a comedy house-none of which will get you into trouble." The "youth mall" concept won't end in Appleton, Books said. "There are literally hundreds of cities that have that same combination of a dead or dying mall, a teen population with nothing to do, and a strong, vibrant faith community."

Religion Today/Charisma New Service via MissionNet

Praise: Pastor's Sermon on Stealing Generates Surprising Returns-A pastor's sermon on stealing has produced some surprising returns with his Minneapolis suburb congregation. Recently, Derek Rust put up special "amnesty bins" in the aisles of the Hosanna Lutheran Church in Lakeville, encouraging sticky-fingered parishioners to return anything they had swiped. Prompted by his sermon on the eighth commandment, based on a series on the Ten Commandments, Rust was amazed at the response. In the vast 2,000-seat sanctuary, ersatz thieves have been coming in to return stolen loot-not during worship, but during the week, when they could slink in unnoticed. Items left in the bins include men's shirts, a rubber toy eagle, a soldering iron, CDs, a broom, power drill, Bubble Yum gum, baby clothes and towels pinched from hotels and motels. One woman gave Rust $30, payment for several years worth of snacks, pilfered from a convenience store where she worked. The sermon has drawn applause from Lakeville Police Chief Steve Strachan, who didn't hear the message. Rust believes the impact goes beyond the bins. "The Ten Commandments should be lived," he said. "That's what sermons should be about, applying truth to our lives."

Charisma News Service via Religion Today Summaries

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