September News

“Unborn Mother Research Must Be Stopped”

Human embryo experiments like those recently revealed at a European fertility conference demonstrate a need for regulations on research, a Christian bioethicist says.

Criticism greeted two reports in particular at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Madrid. Researchers suggested eggs could be created from the ovaries of aborted female babies to help infertile women, possibly leading to the birth of a child whose biological mother was never born. Another group of researchers reported on the creation of “she-males”—embryos with both male and female cells.

“Researchers are creating a ‘grotesquery’ in their effort to see if they can manipulate human embryos,” said Ben Mitchell, a consultant for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Unless we mandate ethical responsibility in research through regulation, we can expect daily horrors. The technocrats have run amok, and their so-called science knows no limits.”

Israeli and Dutch researchers reported they had been able to keep alive for four weeks ovarian tissue taken from aborted babies, according to the Independent, a London newspaper. The researchers theorize the ovaries can be stimulated in a test tube to develop eventually into mature eggs, the newspaper reported.

Researchers from Chicago reported they had injected male cells into female embryos in experiments they hope will produce cures for genetic disorders, Reuters news service reported.

“Intentionally confusing the gender of embryos and then destroying them in research adds insult to injury,” said Mitchell. “Human embryos do not exist for our pleasure or for Frankensteinian research. They are nascent human beings who deserve respect and ought not be harmed.”

Baptist Press

800 Evangelists to Prepare for 2004 Olympics

Evangelists are preparing for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, not to compete for medals, but for hearts and minds. AMG International’s Paul Jenks said the “More Than Gold Outreach” is sponsoring an October event in Athens to prepare for the influx of athletes to the Games. “We’re anticipating 800 delegates will be in Athens from at least 215 countries planning outreach—not only in Greece but in their host countries around the world, using sports themes to do evangelism at the time of the Olympic Games.” Jenks said the ministry is preparing new materials that cater specifically to athletes. “There’ll be a special edition of the New Testament with a Greek cover, an Olympic theme, with testimonies that will be distributed to athletes and visitors. There’ll be newspaper evangelism that will take place in Greece as well as other countries around the world.” He asked believers to pray that AMG would be allowed to move forward on a sports complex that will house workers and leaders during the Olympics.

Mission Network News

Faith Is Costly for New Believers in India

Anti-Christian violence incidents in India are on the rise. This comes as no surprise to those counting the states adopting anti-conversion laws. For Trans World Radio’s (TWR) International President David Tucker, it’s a cause for prayer. TWR broadcasts into India from outside, but for new believers, their new faith is costly. “When they want to come to the point of baptism and church membership, we take them to a lawyer and we get them to stamp that they are prepared to convert to Christianity. That’s the way we’ve done it for many, many years. We’ve planted over 600 churches in India in that way.” Tucker says a church begins with a listening community, and, “...when the community builds to about 100 people, we will probably build a community center. It will be for educational work during the day, we do baptisms there, and it will give clean water for the village. So, there will be a development within the village itself. This isn’t an outside force coming in, these are the Indians doing their own evangelism.”

Mission Network News

President Plugs Abstinence in Africa

Christians working with the True Love Waits program in East Africa are encouraged following President George W. Bush’s commitment to U.S. support of abstinence-based programs in the war on AIDS.

Such programs headed the president’s list as he outlined a strategy for battling the spread of the AIDS virus in Africa and around the world. “We will work with governments and private groups and faith-based organizations to put in place a comprehensive system to prevent, to diagnose, and to treat AIDS,” Bush told an audience of about 100 during his visit to Uganda July 11 as part of a five-country visit to Africa.

“We will support abstinence-based education for young people in schools and churches and community centers.”

The president commended Uganda as a model for AIDS treatment across the continent, noting the success of its triple emphasis on abstinence, marital fidelity, and the use of condoms. More than 30 million people in Africa live with the AIDS virus, but in Uganda the infection rate of the disease has fallen from 30% to 5% since the early  1990s.

Baptist Press

Anti-Subversion Law Worries Hong Kong Christians

On July 1, people poured onto the streets of Hong Kong in angry but peaceful demonstrations against new laws banning treason, subversion and sedition. The imposition of harsh anti-subversion laws has serious implications for Hong Kong’s large Christian community. Many foreign mission organizations still operate freely in Hong Kong, while churches in the autonomous region continue their quiet support of Chinese believers on the mainland. All this could change if the new laws are strictly enforced.

Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Zen has taken the lead in Christian circles against the new legislation. Born in Shanghai, Zen taught at a Catholic seminary on the mainland for seven years before battles with the authorities regarding religious freedom led to his eviction. “It’s just that the system is evil,” Zen said after studying the draft legislation. “I realized I couldn’t just keep quiet. I was in a position to understand this legislation as I knew the situation in China.”

Religion Today via MissionNet

Religion a Factor in U.S.-European Relations

As the European Union struggles over whether to reference God and Christianity in its constitution, experts on U.S.-European relations said stark divisions between the United States and Europe over the importance of religion may contribute to the rift over foreign policy. At the July 10th conference, experts said conflicting opinions over the separation of church and state, the use of religious language by politicians, and the prominence of faith in the public sphere have accentuated the diplomatic split between Europe and America.

Whereas Americans equate freedom with the ability to practice religion openly, Europeans believe freedom is gained by confining religion to the private sphere. Experts also cited President Bush’s frequent invocations of God as a major source of diplomatic tension. The president’s use of religious rhetoric in articulating his administration’s policy toward Iraq, Iran, and North Korea shocked Europeans and reinforced the stereotype of America as a religiously zealous nation. The stereotype may, in part, be true, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which found nearly 60% of Americans said religion was important to them, compared to just 11% in France and 21% in Germany.

RNS via Religion Today Summaries

Wycliffe Shortfall Hurts Bible Translations

Bible translation projects are in danger of being canceled or postponed due to a lack of funds. Officials with Wycliffe Bible Translators say gifts to fund projects have declined significantly. As a result, training programs and translation projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are in danger of being canceled or postponed. Wycliffe is facing a $1.5-million shortfall.

Mission Network News

350,000 Mark 1,000 Years of Christianity in Hungary

Hungarians are showing unprecedented interest in the life of a king who introduced Christianity to the country more than 1,000 years ago. Thousands of Hungarians traveled to neighboring Romania the weekend of July 5 where up to 350,000 people attended an open-air performance of the rock opera, “Stephen the King,” in Sumuleu, Transylvania. Written by Levente Szorenyi and Janos Brody, the rock opera premiered in Budapest in 1983 when the country was still a Soviet satellite state and occupied by Russian forces. Szorenyi told reporters that “although King Stephen had not started Hungary’s change in regime, it had been an incredibly brave venture for many.” Stephen accepted Christian values around the year 1000.

Assist News Service via MissionNet

Believers Disagree on Nigeria’s Christian President

Nigeria’s Christian president was re-elected earlier this year instead of a Muslim, but believers in the West African nation are divided in their support of Olusegun Obasanjo, reported Charisma News Service. Some Christians say Obasanjo was just as corrupt as his Muslim opponent while others view Obasanjo as a military stooge.

What irks many Christians is that Nigeria’s problems have not been addressed since Obasanjo came to power. In fact, they contend that poverty and corruption have worsened. Many think he failed during his first term by allowing states in northern Nigeria to adopt Islamic law, leading to widespread Christian persecution.

Other leaders in Lagos take a more tempered view. An official with the Christian Association of Nigeria said the president’s recent conversion simply hasn’t affected all his political views yet. Nevertheless, the president does not hide his faith from public view in a nation where Muslims and Christians compete for dominance. Praying daily, he surrounds himself with Baptist and Pentecostal aides and seeks counsel from pastors of the nation.

Religion Today via MissionNet

Myanmar Christians Cleared of “Child Selling”

Five Christian prisoners, including pastor Run Hesh Ling in Myanmar (formerly Burma), were released following their trial on Monday, July 7. The charges arose from a dispute with the government regarding the confiscation of orphanages for military use. The five were arrested in Kalemyo on June 14 on charges of “selling children.” They faced possible sentences of either life imprisonment or death if convicted.

Voice of the Martyrs via MissionNet

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