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Christians Respond to Devastation in Asia

In the wake of the huge fatality count and devastation which swept across countries from Sri Lanka to Thailand in the aftermath of a giant earthquake in late December, millions of dollars of aid is on its way.

Gospel for Asia's 1.5 million-member Believers Church in India is rallying support and deploying its leadership and members to minister to those suffering so horribly-both physically and spiritually. "In times like these, we know that God opens the hearts of those who suffer, and we pray that as our workers demonstrate God's love to them, many of them will come to know for the first time that real security comes only through Him," Brother K.P. Yohannan said. "We ask that our brothers and sisters in the West take the time today to pray for these millions of victims, that they will feel God's presence and grace in a special way.  And please pray for our workers, that they will be given strength to serve in these horribly difficult circumstances."

AMG International, which ministers, in almost every country throughout Asia that was affected by this disaster, is accepting donations to help with immediate needs, such as food, water and medicine. It was reported that as of Jan. 3, more than 700 victim-families in India had already been assisted.

"When you donate to AMG, 100% of your donation is used for disaster relief. Nothing is held back for administrative expenses," said Lori Overcash, assistant manager of Development.

A sampling of Christian relief agencies desperately striving to ameliorate suffering in the stricken flood zone:

AMG International, 6815 Shallowford Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37421; ph. 800-251-7206; www.amginternational.org

Catholic Relief Services: www.catholicrelief.org.

Food for the Hungry: 1224 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85034; ph. 800-2-HUNGERS www.fh.org

Gospel for Asia: 1800 Golden Trail Court, Carrollton, TX 75010; ph. 800-946-2742 or 972-300-7777 www.gfa.org

International Aid: 17011 W. Hickory, Spring Lake, MI 49456-9712; ph. 800-968-7490 www.internationalaid.org

Mission India: P.O. Box 141312, Grand Rapids, MI 49514-1312; ph. 866-570-0606;  www.missionindia.org/contribute.

New Directions Int.: P.O. Box 2347, Burlington, NC 27216, Ph: 888-PRAY-NDI.

Northwest Medical Teams Int.: P..O. Box 10, Portland, OR 97207-0010; email: supplies@nwmti.org; ph. 800-959-HEAL.

Red Cross: ph. 800-HELP-NOW; www.redcross.org/donate.

Samaritan's Purse: P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607; ph. 828-262-1980; www.SamaritansPurse.org.

World Vision: P.O. Box 9716, Dept W, Federal Way, WA 98063-9716; ph.: 888-511-6598, www.WorldVision.org.

Terri Schiavo Case Could Set Future of Euthanasia in U.S.

In a case pro-life advocates say may decide the future of euthanasia in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court may have the final say as to whether Terri Schiavo, a disabled woman in Pinellas Park, Fla., lives or dies. Lawyers for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush filed an appeal with the high court Dec. 1, asking the justices to overturn a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that could lead to her death.

Terri Schiavo, now 41, has been in what some doctors consider a "persistent vegetative state" since 1990, when she collapsed in her home. Her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo—who has fathered two children with his live-in girlfriend—has sought the removal of his wife's feeding tube for nearly a decade. Florida courts have twice ordered that she be starved to death. Her visits with her family are limited and she is not allowed to be involved in any kind of rehabilitation.

Angel Watson, who works with the Caring & Sharing Center for Independent Living in Tampa, shared her story about being disabled after a skiing accident which resulted in her being considered in a "persistent vegetative state." "We need to get Terri out of the one little room that she's stuck in," Watson said. "Each and every one of you are her voice. Use it!"

Baptist Press

Teen Sexual Activity Parallels True Love Waits

Richard Ross sees something quite interesting about new data that sexual activity declined significantly for girls ages 15-17 and boys ages 15-18 between 1995 and 2002. Ross, professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the founders of the True Love Waits (TLW) abstinence movement, noted: "In many ways, the history of the decline in teenage sexual activity is the history of TLW." The new CDC study analyzes the years from 1995 to 2002; the first TLW promises were made by one youth group in 1993. By 1995, national attention on TLW fueled the establishment of scores of abstinence organizations, and soon after came government support for those organizations.

The new data, reported by the Centers for Disease Control's national statistics office, compares new findings from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth with the previous survey conducted in 1995.

The federal survey also found that the most common reason among teens for delaying sexual relations is because it is "against [their] religion or moral values."

Baptist Press

Court Clears Way for Same-Sex Marriage Law in Canada

Canada may become the third country—following Belgium and the Netherlands— to legalize same-sex  "marriage" after its Supreme Court ruled Dec. 9 that Parliament has the authority to change the nation's marriage laws. Same-sex "marriage" already is legal in five of the 10 provinces and in one territory, but the federal government—ruled by the Liberal Party—is moving to legalize it nationwide. The Supreme Court ruling in essence is an advisory opinion.

Parliament will now debate the bill, which redefines marriage to mean the "lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others."

The vote in Parliament could be close. In 2003 a non-binding motion defending the traditional definition of marriage was narrowly defeated in Parliament, 137-132. Approximately 50 members of the Liberal Party voted for the motion, and around 30 members of Parliament did not vote at all. But there has since been an election, muddying any headcount.

Baptist Press

Ministry Launches Relief Efforts for Refugee Sudanese

World Vision has started major relief efforts in the rebel-controlled areas of western Sudan's Darfur Province. Humanitarian aid was previously unable to reach the internally-displaced people living in squalid camps there because of inaccessibility. In Darfur, more than 1.8 million people have been displaced by the country's war, and many are in urgent need of food and medical attention. The small town of Khor Abeche, about 75 miles north of Nyala, came to life as World Vision teams arrived to start food aid registration and distribute non-food items such as plastic sheeting, buckets, blankets, clothing, and soap. About 25,000 refugees live in Khor Abeche which is controlled by the Sudan Liberation Army. World Vision is distributing food to more than 150,000 people each month and running primary healthcare and supplementary feeding clinics in four camps in Nyala. In addition, World Vision water and sanitation teams are making plans to build latrines in five camps north of Nyala. Through a partnership with the World Food Program, World Vision is targeting 250,000 people for food distributions in addition to other humanitarian aid efforts.

World Vision via MissionNet

Low-Tech Tracts Have High Impact

Even in today's high-tech age, the lowly gospel tract still delivers a powerful message. Since they began in the late 1700s, millions of tracts in dozens of languages have reached even the remotest, most unlikely locations. One of the most common criticisms of tract evangelism is that it's too confrontational. "But Jesus was the most in-your-face evangelist ever," tract evangelist Ray Comfort, founder of Southern California-based Living Waters Publications, told Charisma magazine. Christians hand out millions of tracts every year. In July, Jews for Jesus planned to hand out 1 million tracts in New York City alone. Globally, its workers have passed out more than 40 million tracts. Jews for Jesus Director David Brickner believes few other methods of evangelism are as powerful as passing out tracts. Veteran tract writer Jack Chick's cartoon-style booklets have become icons and are in the Smithsonian Institution as symbols of American religious pop culture. Only about 2% of American Christians regularly share their faith.

Religion Today/Charisma News Service via MissionNet

German Churches Lose Ground

Church membership in Germany continues to decline, dropping by more than 1% in 2003, indicate statistics published by the headquarters of the mainline Protestant churches in Hanover and the Roman Catholic Church in Bonn. The losses are mainly due to the aging church population, as the number of deaths continues to exceed the number of infant baptisms. But there are also significant numbers of dissatisfied or nominal church members who cancel their membership—mainly to avoid paying a church tax. In 2003 the Protestant churches suffered membership losses of 1.6 percent, dropping by 375,000 to 25.8 million. The Catholic Church shrunk by 1.1 percent to 26.2 million. In addition to these major churches, Orthodox churches have 1.1 million citizens on their registers. About 900,000 inhabitants belong to evangelical and charismatic churches such as Baptists, Methodists, and Pentecostals. About a third of Germany's 82.5 million inhabitants are Protestant and a third are Catholic. The rest belo­ng to other religions or are unaffiliated. Church affiliation has dwindled significantly since the reunification of Germany in 1990.

 IDEA via MissionNet<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

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