Union University Rebounding from Tornado Devastation

Union University broke ground for a new student residence complex Feb. 22, and work site preparation commenced Feb. 25, followed in early March by contractors beginning to build the new facilities. The complex is to replace the former student housing complex, which was totally wrecked by the E4 tornado which slashed through the college campus on Feb. 5. Those buildings were demolished the week of Feb. 11.

The complex, which will occupy the same location as the old, will house more than 700 students when it is completed. Initial plans call for half of the housing to be complete by Sept. 1. Union officials expect the second half of the complex to be complete by the spring, 2009, semester. Total cost for the project is estimated to exceed $30 million.

Meanwhile, classes resumed on Feb. 20, with revised schedules and, in some cases, relocated classrooms and offices. Although almost miraculously, no student deaths were caused by the tornado, two students remained hospitalized from their injuries. One observer commented that the damage to the former housing complex seemed worse than the bomb damage to the Murtagh Federal Building in Omaha.

Help and offers of help have poured in from across the country-including offers and aid from more than 80 colleges and universities.

Compiled from Baptist Press reports


'Earth Worship' Said On the Rise among Young Evangelicals reports that Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America is saying that many young people in evangelical churches disturbingly are experimenting with Wicca. Crouse warns that Christian parents and leaders must be ready to counter that growing interest. Wicca involves nature worship and stresses moral autonomy, which are appealing tenets to many of today's youths. Crouse cites an article in Religion Journal which said youth pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention were worried about large numbers of evangelicals taking part in Wicca. "They don't want the church telling them that there are boundaries, [that] there are things that they can't do," Crouse explains. She believes interest in Wicca can be traced to recent books featuring witchcraft and similar topics.

Religion Today Summaries


Explorers Claim Material Evidence Of Noah's Ark

The Peninsula, a Qatar English-print publication, has reported that for the first time in the seven decade-long history of the search for Noah's Ark, a Turkish-Hong Kong exploration team on Tuesday, Feb. 12, came out with "material evidence" to prove that the Ark was nestled on Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest mountain peak bordering Iran and Armenia. The report states that "a panel of experts, comprising Turkish authorities, veteran mountaineers, archaeologists, geologists, and members of Hong Kong-based Noah's Ark Ministries International, also displayed an almost one-meter-long piece of petrified wood before the media and specially invited international experts." The wood is reportedly part of a long structure they unearthed during their February-August 2007 exploration. The report states, "It is the first time in the history of the Ark search that an exploration team is getting a material evidence and graphic documentation. This makes it not only a significant breakthrough in the Ark-search, but one that is supported with the most substantial evidence in recent history." Panel members said: "The structure was discovered in the interiors of an unusual cave" after the team removed thick layers of volcanic ash.

Breaking Christian News, The Peninsula via MissionNet


Harsh Afghan Winter Leaves Hundreds Dead From Exposure

Afghanistan has experienced its harshest winter in 15 years, and hundreds of men, women, and children have died of exposure. With temperatures dropping to
-20 degrees F, thousands of cattle have also died. Many villages were isolated in mid-February. One of the hardest hit regions was Herat Province in western Afghanistan, according to a report from the Christian relief and development agency Shelter Now. The German branch started a winter relief initiative even before Christmas, which was originally focused on the hundreds of refugees returning from Iran, who often found their houses and fields ruined.

But as Udo Stolte, director of the German Shelter Now branch said, many more Afghans were suffering from the extreme cold. In Herat and the region around the capital Kabul, Shelter Now has handed out survival kits to more than 1,000 families. In the village of Kuh Khag, 150 families lost at least 1,000 of their 6,000 sheep, and several shepherds were missing in the hills. Many villagers were running out of food and fuel. Shelter Now provided rations of flour, beans, sugar, tea, cooking oil, blankets, charcoal and warm children's clothing.

Assist News Service via MissionNet


Muslim Nation Qatar Set to Allow First Christian Church

A bitter debate continued in Qatar on Feb. 20, about the construction of the first Christian church in this Muslim nation. The Roman Catholic church is scheduled to open in March, with more to follow. Conservative Muslims are furious, but the emir of Qatar has refused to prevent the church inauguration in time for Resurrection Day services. Construction of other churches, including an Anglican church, will begin in May, according to Qatar's Anglican priest William Schwarz. Construction has already begun on a Greek Orthodox Church and another for Coptic Christians. Since coming to power in 1995, Prince Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thanihas made clear he wanted to promote the tolerant face of Islam and to accommodate the new Christian minority in his oil-rich country. The majority of the expected parishioners are from the Philippines, India and Lebanon.

BosNewsLife via MissionNet


1.5 Million Chinese Said Losing Homes For Olympic Sites

It is estimated that at least 1.5 million people have been driven out of their homes, in order to demolish the houses and create grandiose, futuristic structures for the Olympics in Beijing and in the other cities that will host the games, like Shanghai, Qingda, Shenyang, and Qinhuangdao. Hundreds of thousands have not received a replacement home or other damages, and have been reduced to poverty. The non-governmental organization Citizens' Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW) denounces the actions in Beijing and in the district of Chaoyang, in the villages of Wali and Datun, where the local government is reported to have forcibly destroyed homes without just compensation.

In order to protect the image of clean and orderly cities, the government is also reported to have stepped up the arrest and forcible removal of beggars and homeless, many of whom have been sent to labor camps. Many people have been arrested simply because they have presented petitions to the central government. The ambulatory vendors have been driven away, or have suffered the confiscation of their goods.

AsiaNews/Agencies via


Top 10 Movies of 2007 Announced at Christian Oscars'

The Christian Post reports that Ratatouille, Bella and Amazing Grace were among the top movies of 2007 named at a recent ceremony honoring films that increase people's understanding and love of God. The best 10 movies in the families and mature audiences categories were announced Feb. 12 at the 16th Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala. Winners were selected by the Christian Film & Television Commission, which awards movies based on biblical principles and positive family values. Amazing Grace, which tells the story of antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce and his long fight to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire, won the Epiphany prize in the film category and was named the Most Inspiring Movie of 2007. Ratatouille, the animated film from Walt Disney Pictures, was named number one on the list of the 10 best family films of 2007.

Religion Today Summaries

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