News Update

Jesus Film at 25
Is Most-Watched Film in History

Almost anywhere you find the gospel-and people are hungry for it across much of the world-you'll find the Jesus film. It's by far the most-watched and most-translated movie in history. It's also one of the church's most potent evangelism tools. The film, which first appeared in theaters in 1979, is marking the 25th year of its amazing run. The Jesus Film Project, an arm of Campus Crusade for Christ, distributes various versions worldwide. A few statistics (updated Oct. 1) will give you a feel for its global reach:

‑Cumulative viewing/listening audience (includes multiple viewings) since 1979: more than 5.8 billion.

‑Languages with Jesus film/audio translations: 874, with 229 more in the works.

‑Countries where the film has been shown: 228.

‑Countries where the film has been broadcast on television: 176.

Jesus film prints, videocassettes, DVDs and VCDs in circulation: more than 510 million.

‑Personal decisions to follow Christ at public film showings: more than 197 million.

There's no slowing down on the horizon. In addition to its availability in tailored versions for various formats and age groups, Jesus just made its Internet debut. In October the entire film became accessible online-in more than 300 languages, via streaming video at www.JesusFilm.org.

Baptist Press

Falwell Resurrects "Moral Majority"

Jerry Falwell has announced the formation of a new group that will try to take advantage of the success of the "values vote" in the November election. Falwell was the driving force behind the formation of the "Moral Majority," which was largely credited in the late 1970s with helping get Ronald Reagan into the White House, and for increasing the profile of conservative Christianity in the nation's capital. Now, in the wake of George W. Bush's decisive victory, Falwell has announced he is starting a new group called "The Faith and Values Coalition" (TFVC).

According to Associated Press, he sees it as the spearhead of an "evangelical revolution." It has several missions: to see that court vacancies are filled with pro-life conservatives to support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex "marriages," and to elect another "George Bush-type" conservative in 2008. "One of our primary commitments is to help make President Bush's second term the most successful in American history," Falwell stated.

Agape Press
via Religion Today Summaries

Many English Churches Close

While England currently allows religious freedom, that may be changing in the minds of those who live there. Jack Shiflett is with the Association of Baptist for World Evangelism (ABWE). He says in some cities Asians make up about 75% of the population. Shiflett says that's evident in the landscape. "It's not uncommon in East London or in other places to see former churches that are now mosques or temples." It's also more risky to preach the gospel. "There's a risk of being threatened and beaten up and then turned over to the police after the fact. So, it is a serious situation already in England even though there is freedom of religion on every hand." Shiflett says with the influx of foreign religions and unhealthy churches, evangelicalism is slowly dying. "ABWE's ministry there is to come along side local churches and to strengthen them." That involves discipleship and evangelism training, he said.

Mission Network News

Church for Youths Attracts Hundreds

An outside-the-box church ministry is touching the lives of youth in Chicago and beyond. Each Saturday night in the suburb of Mount Prospect, more than 400 teenagers and young adults cram into Heart and Soul Café-home to Souled Out Ministries (SOM) which mixes such things as upbeat music, powerful preaching, video and dance-all crafted for youth, by youth. There is also a family-oriented service on Sunday mornings. "Youth ministry is our calling. It's what we are all about," said staff member Joe Manahan. "We want to equip kids to see their schools as the mission fields that they are." Equipping means that youths are mentored and in turn mentor others. Ten years ago God gave SOM founders Ed and Cathi Basler a vision to reach young people on an international level. Before 1994 the couple had been working through their church to reach teenagers with the gospel. During a period of prayer and fasting, God prompted the couple to make a major shift in direction. They felt led to begin a separate youth church with a heartbeat for missions. Within months they had launched SOM.

Religion Today/Charisma News Service via MissionNet

EU Constitution Ignores Christian Heritage

When 25 European Union leaders signed the first EU Constitution, any reference to the continent's Christian roots was omitted, despite requests from the Vatican. The constitution, which consolidates past European Union treaties into a single document, was signed Oct. 29 in Rome but is largely viewed as ceremonial because national parliaments from member countries still must ratify it.

"What religious sense that remains [in Europe] is little more than a residue of history," Darrell Bock, a New Testament studies professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, observed in a Dallas Morning News column. "Europe is post-Christian, almost completely secular," wrote Bock. "Fewer than 5% of Europeans go to church or synagogue, a great contrast to the 40% to 50% in the United States." Bock added that more Muslims in England attend weekly worship services than do Anglicans.

Other examples of Europe's growing secularism abound. The Roman Catholic Italian minister who was nominated as the union's justice minister withdrew his candidacy after drawing criticism for his conservative views. During his confirmation hearings before the European Parliament, Rocco Buttiglione called homosexuality a sin and said women are better off married and at home. The candidate who has replaced Buttiglione favors homosexual unions.

Baptist Press

Miracles Draw Many To Christ
in
Laos

Despite Communist authorities' strongest efforts, hundreds are coming to Christ in Laos, many after witnessing the Lord's miraculous healing power. Authorities in Laos have closed church buildings and forbidden believers from reentering them. Some brave Christians continue to meet together in closed buildings, knowing they could be arrested at any time. Officials threaten believers with imprisonment and heavy fines if they tell others about Christ. Some Laotians are too fearful of government threats to listen to gospel workers. Despite these hindrances, one missionary wrote, "God has been using illness to bring people to Himself. In the past few months, we've had many people show interest in the things of God because they were suffering from a physical ailment. Many unsaved Laotians who could not be helped by doctors or hospitals have turned to our churches for healing prayers. God has shown His power by healing many." As God uses miracles like these to open people's hearts, churches in Laos are growing in a way Christians have not seen for many years and even the fiercest government threats cannot stop it.

Christian Aid Mission via MissionNet

Belarus Can't Stop Spread of Gospel

Even as the government of Belarus begins to look more and more like the former Soviet regime in its repression of religious groups, evangelical churches are growing faster than ever. Slavik Radchuk, Christian Aid's field director for the former Soviet Union, reports that indigenous ministries in Belarus are seeing many more people come to the Lord than they have in a long time.

This news is encouraging, particularly as reports emerge from Belarus that government leadership is becoming ever more dictatorial in nature. In October, 2002, Belarus passed the most repressive religion law in Europe. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has enforced the law throughout his two terms. A questionable October 17 election, which several international watch agencies have agreed failed to be truly democratic, has ensured that his repressive policies will continue during a 3rd term. These policies include severe restrictions on evangelical churches. All religious groups are required to register with the government, yet the registration process is so difficult that only Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Jewish groups are eligible.

Via MissionNet

Kevorkian Loses Bid for Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by assisted-suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian Nov. 1, shutting down his attempts to convince the judiciary to overturn a murder conviction that resulted in a prison sentence of 10 to 25 years. The high court announced without comment it would not review Kevorkian v. Warren on appeal from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kevorkian contended he was ineffectively represented in his 1999 trial, but a lower court and the Sixth Circuit rejected his argument. Kevorkian, who has served five years of his sentence, has one hope remaining for early release-a pardon or commutation from Gov. Jennifer Granholm. He would be eligible for parole in June 2007.

Baptist Press

Couple on Cross-Country Prayer Campaign

An elderly Christian couple has embarked on a 17,000-mile, year-long prayer journey that will take them to the steps of every state capitol in the country. Phillip Epperson, who recently turned 65, and his wife of 38 years, Vicki, began their Prayer Across America campaign Sept. 11 in Springfield, Ill., the Assemblies of God News reported. The two will conclude their odyssey Sept. 11, 2005, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. In between, they will be praying from 1-2 p.m. every Thursday afternoon as they travel from Augusta, Maine, to Honolulu, Hawaii, and from Tallahassee, Fla., to Juneau, Alaska. The Eppersons hope Christians will meet them at the capitols of their states each week, to sing patriotic songs and pray.

MissionNet

 

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