World News Items for October 2002

Muslim Terrorists Rampage in Eastern Indonesia

The Poso Watch Network of Indonesia has reported that on the evening of Monday, Aug. 12, the village of Sepe (seven miles from Poso) was attacked. This village of 1,250 had just been rebuilt after being burned down by Muslim extremists from the Laskar Jihad in December, 2001. The villagers fled, with some of the men remaining behind in a futile attempt to defend their village with machetes, sickles, and sharpened bamboo poles, while the attackers brandished automatic weapons. The men who attempted to make a stand were forced to abandon their village as they witnessed their houses being looted and burned.

Vence Waani, pastor of the Pentecostal church in Sepe, said the situation was menacing. "The sounds of automatic weapons were coming from all directions, mixed with the hysterical shouting of mothers, the weeping and shrieking of children, and the glow and flames of fire from the burning houses, all blending into one scene of horror." Waani and his family fled to Kawua. After terrorists destroyed Sepe, they advanced to the village of Silancar where they continued their campaign of terror, shooting, plundering and burning.

International Christian Concern via HCJB World Radio



Massive Starvation Closer in Sub-Saharan Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa the threat of famine is turning into more of a reality. World Concern's Kelly Miller just returned from a fact-finding trip where he says up to 15 million people could go hungry within two or three months. Many people in rural areas have sold their livestock in order to raise money to buy food, he said. "People have gone through all those coping mechanisms, and they're down to a meal or less per day." "They're eating grass. They're foraging for wild bananas," he added. People are hoping to hang on until the next growing season begins in March.

Mission Network News



"Worship War 'Silly,' Harmful"

Christian musical artist Kyle Matthews says the battle over praise and worship raging in local churches is a "silly war," with dire consequences, according to an Associated Baptist Press report. Speaking at a seminar during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly this past summer, Matthews said the war is unnecessary and damaging. "If anybody wins, we all lose."

For example, he said, defenders of traditional worship can be guilty of failing to reach out to a non-churched culture. At the same time, however, advocates for contemporary worship might ignore the value of tradition and lessons of church history.

Matthews, who often leads worship in as many as three churches in a weekend, said too many churches are being torn apart over worship style and that the war is "unwinnable." He cited religion researcher George Barna, who has said that culture "reinvents itself" every three to five years. That means that by the time a church or worship leader decides that a particular style is best or most effective, it is already on the way to being out of date, Matthews said.

Religion Today Summaries



Pakistani Christians Fear Further Attacks

Christians in Pakistan fear for their lives after at least three nurses died Friday, Aug. 9, when attackers hurled grenades at a chapel in a missionary hospital in Taxila, about 25 miles west of Islamabad, church officials said. Investigators said that the attackers may have been from an outlawed Islamic militant group. At least two of the attackers escaped, and one of the suspects was killed. In addition to the deaths of the three nurses, about 20 people were injured in this second attack against a Christian target in Pakistan within a week. Samuel Azariah, the presiding bishop of the Church of Pakistan, suggested that the latest developments were part of an attempt by Muslim extremists to undermine the U.S.-led war against terrorism in the region. "Whatever decision you take in the West has an effect on the Christian community here," he told the British Broadcasting Corporation, referring to growing violence against Christians. Friday's attack came just four days after six Pakistanis were shot dead at a missionary school for foreigners in the town of Murree, also near Islamabad. Shahbaz Bhatti, who heads the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, said the country's Christians are paying the price for being allied with the West. "I think now it will be a complete genocide of the non-Muslims here if the Islamic militant forces are not checked," he told reporters.

Assist News Service via



Christianity Losing Ground in Europe, Gaining in Africa, Latin America

The Christian world will change dramatically within the next decades, according to a report from idea news agency. While Christianity is losing ground in the West, it is making fast progress in the Southern hemisphere.

As the dean of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Paul Rajashekar, pointed out in a lecture at the University of Leipzig, Europe is turning into a post-Christian society. One hundred years ago, more than half of the world's Christians lived in Europe; today only a quarter.

By comparison, Africa and Latin America constituted only 12% of Christianity around the turn of the 20th century. Today they make up 40% of the two billion or so Christians. In the year 2025, Europe will account for one fifth of the world's Christians, Africa and Latin America for more than half.

Rajashekar believes one of the main reasons for this development is the difference in understanding the Bible. While Western theology had removed the mystery from the "Book of Books," Christians in Africa and Latin America did not simply see it as a historic document but as God's living word. They have no problems with miracles or apocalyptic statements in the Bible.

idea, via Religion Today Summaries



Catholics Vow to Break Bishops' Grip on Finances

According to Reuters news service, close to 4,000 Roman Catholics recently traveled to Boston "to hear speeches and devise strategy in the largest organized move to break the grip of U.S. bishops on church finances and power." The one-day event was hosted by Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic lay group.

"We have to gain financial power in this church," said Jim Muller, a founder of the group. "We're 99.9 percent of the church and 100 percent of the money." The group handed out envelopes with a goal of raising $500,000 to add paid staff to its organization. Group leaders also are looking at ways "to bypass traditional church fund-raising so parish collections don't go straight to U.S. bishops," said Reuters.

Voice of the Faithful used the Internet to build a following, and now counts nearly 20,000 members throughout the United States and in several countries. The group aims to "bring democracy to church operations, which rely heavily on everyday Catholics to fund such things as charity programs and parish schools," according to Reuters. Part of Voice of the Faithful's mission statement is to support the sexually abused.

Religion Today Summaries



Gallup Poll Finds Low Trust in Religion

Despite interest in spiritual matters being sparked by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans' confidence in religious institutions is at a 30-year low. According to an annual Gallup Poll, just 45 percent expressed trust in organized religion. While the Protestant confidence rate of 59 percent is about the same as a year ago, Catholic trust plummeted to 42 percent, which is largely blamed on the sex-abuse scandal. For this year's Gallup survey on 16 kinds of institutions, religion ranked sixth. First was the U.S. military, with 79 percent of respondents saying they had a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence. In contrast, only 26 percent of respondents had a great deal of confidence, and just 9 percent had quite a lot of confidence in organized religion. By contrast, religion ranked the highest of all institutions in confidence ratings between 1973 and the mid-1980s, the Washington Times reported. The poll, which interviewed 1,020 adults, found religion lagged behind the police (59 percent), the president (58 percent), the U.S. Supreme Court (50 percent) and banks (47 percent) on the confidence scale, the Times reported.

Charisma News Service via MissionNet



17,000 British Young People Gather for Prayer

More than 17,000 mainly young Christians gathered in a stadium in Reading, England, July 13 to pray that God would change their nation, says Roland Worton of Prayer for the Nations, which organized the event. The prayer assemblage was a spin-off from an American gathering in Washington, D.C. in September of last year, at which many of the 400,000 youths attending committed themselves before God to bring change in America. Christians in England gathered this year for a similar event. Some 15,000 of the young people stood up to declare that they would abstain from drug consumption and premarital sex-not because someone told them to, but because they have an intimate relationship with God and are hungry for the freedom for which Jesus died.

Friday Fax via HCJB World Radio



Many Come to Christ Via Chatrooms

"Achmed," an ex-Muslim turned Christian, meets Muslims from around the world every day in Internet chatrooms," says Mark Buchanan of Derek Prince Ministries. Achmed and his friends say that Muslims are increasingly open to the gospel, especially since the events of Sept. 11. Achmed recently shared the gospel with three Muslims from Sweden, Kuwait, and Canada in a chatroom. The Swedish man decided to follow Jesus, and only a few days later boarded a plane to personally meet Achmed. Some 50 Muslims take part in the discussions each day and have the opportunity to work through Prince's Arabic Bible course. Buchanan estimates that up to 80 Muslims will come to Christ daily as these Internet forums continue to increase.

Friday Fax via HCJB World Radio