June News

Creationists Herald Dinosaur Tissue Discovery as Proof of Young Earth

Paleontologists are eager to extract biological data from the remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex discovered in Montana, while creationists are heralding the discovery as further evidence that the earth is just a few thousand years old rather than millions.

In an article published March 25 in the journal Science, a research team revealed that a dinosaur bone discovered in 2003 yielded soft tissues, including blood vessels and possibly cells that "retain some of their original flexibility, elasticity and resilience," according to the New York Times.

Scientists, led by Mary H. Schweitzer of North Carolina State University, found the tissue when the thigh bone they were excavating was too long to fit in a helicopter and had to be broken into two pieces. They then realized fossilization was not complete and that this could possibly lead to understanding more about the mysterious creatures.

A creationist group based in northern Kentucky, Answers in Genesis, responded to the discovery by declaring that it offers "immensely powerful support to the idea that dinosaur fossils are not millions of years old at all, but were mostly fossilized under catastrophic conditions a few thousand years ago at most."

But Carl Wieland, head of Answers in Genesis-Australia, said he expects evolutionists to simply modify their paradigm rather than discard it, based on the new evidence. He recalled Schweitzer's discovery a few years ago of what appeared to be blood cells in a Tyrannosaurus rex specimen. An Answers in Genesis news release March 26 recounted Schweitzer as saying, "It was exactly like looking at a slice of modern bone. But, of course, I couldn't believe it.... The bones, after all, are 65 million years old. How could blood cells survive that long?"

Baptist Press
Barna Sees Challenges Ahead for Church

An annual survey from the Barna Group finds little change in faith-related beliefs, behaviors, and perspectives among Americans over the last 15 years. Lead researcher George Barna says these most recent results, however, indicate there are many challenges facing pastors and church leaders. "The State of the Church: 2005" survey examined nearly four dozen religious measures including church attendance, the percentage of unchurched people, prayer, donating to churches, and core beliefs. 

Among the findings, says the report, were a small increase in Bible reading, while the percentage of evangelical Christians in America remains at just 7% of the population. That number has not changed since the Barna Group began measuring the size of the Evangelical public more than a decade ago. In addition, the survey indicates decreases in church attendance, Sunday school involvement, and the number of people who have a biblical view of God's character. 

Overall, the survey discovered that more than nine out of ten American adults take part in some sort of faith-related practice during a typical week. The survey also found increases in the number of born-again Christians who share their faith with non-Christians. Data reported in the summary was based on phone interviews with a nationwide, random sample of more than 1,000 adults.

Agape Press via Religion Today Summaries
Irish Christian Taxi Idled After Attack

Liberty Taxis, a Christian firm in the Shankill area of Belfast, Northern Ireland, has closed its doors following an attack on a local pastor's home, reported the British Broadcasting Corporation. The leadership of New Life Fellowship, along with the taxi drivers, decided to discontinue the service because of "further concerns expressed by the policeand for the sake of our drivers and their families." The leadership of loyalist paramilitary groups had sanctioned attacks on the drivers, which brought on the police concern.

Pastor Jack McKee said several men attacked his home at about 3:30 a.m. on April 14. "It was a frightening experience, especially for Kathleen, but we are okay. Please continue to pray," he said.  McKee, who established the taxi firm earlier this year, believes the bombing was linked to the fact that the company brought jobs to the area. Despite the attack, McKee said the church will "continue to promote and practice the Christian message of love and forgiveness and to pray for all who live and work within the [area]."

Assist News Service via MissionNet
Deadly Virus Brings Opening for Witness

Missionaries and relief workers in Angola are concerned about the deadly Marburg virus, says John Yale of World Vision. Some 233 cases have been reported, and of those, 210 have died. Since Angola is a remote country, it's difficult to ascertain the seriousness of the situation. However, it's known that even health workers have suffered and died from the contagious disease after coming into contact with victims. There is no cure for the virus, which causes fever and circulatory collapse. This is the worst outbreak of the virus ever recorded, and victims aren't responding to treatment.

Yale said believers have the opportunity to help in more ways than just the physical. The hopelessness of the situation gives Christians a chance to share their faith, and churches can be involved and assist. However, since the disease is so contagious, "it's very difficult for people to engage," he said.

Mission Network News
Graham's Last NYC Crusade to Be Outside

Due to the high level of expected attendance, evangelist Billy Graham's final crusade in the New York area, on June 24-26, has been moved from Madison Square Garden to Flushing Meadows Park. "I am delighted by the decision to move the crusade meetings to Flushing Meadows," said Graham. "I'm told that the surrounding neighborhood is the most international community in the country, with 130 language groups within walking distance of the park." Crusade Director Art Bailey said the outdoor venue was chosen to accommodate the anticipated crowds.

This will be Graham's seventh campaign in the New York City area—the first since 1991. Graham's first crusade in New York City in 1957 was initially planned to last for six weeks but was extended to 16 weeks and was attended by more than 2 million people. More than 1,000 churches are participating in this year's crusade preparations. Graham has not yet decided whether this will be his final crusade.

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association via MissionNet
Family Movies Out-Earn R-Rated

A five-year study of the top 250 movies at the box office shows that films rated G and PG earn two to three times as much money as R-rated movies. The study, conducted by Movieguide, shows that R-rated movies in the past five years (2000 to 2004) earned less than $20 million on average, but G and PG movies averaged $41 to $53 million. "The major media conglomerates and their stockholders are losing tens of millions of dollars at the box office by making too many ultra-violent, sexually promiscuous R-rated movies," said Movieguide Publisher Ted Baehr. "Hollywood needs to make more movies like The Incredibles, Princess Diaries,  and Remember the Titans."

Assist News Service via MissionNet
Iraqi Christians Are Hopeful of President

With Saddam Hussein watching a television broadcast from his jail cell, Iraq's newly-elected National Assembly named Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader, as the country's interim president. He became the first non-Arab president of an Arab country and Iraq's first democratically elected president in more than 50 years. "The interesting thing about this is that Kurds are one of the minority groups in Iraq—not one of the majority groups like the Muslim groups (Shiites and Sunnis). Hopefully what this means is that Iraq's minority peoples are going to be given freedom [and they will be] given a voice," said Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs USA. He added that the Aug. 15 deadline to have the country's constitution written remains a question mark. "As they are forming that constitution, I think it will be very important for us to watch and see, particularly in the area of religious freedom, how the constitution will treat minority faith groups, including Christians." Believers say the time is now to grow churches while the doors are open. Nettleton says Iraqis appear to be ready to listen. "There is a great openness to the gospel. I saw a video from one of our teams handing out Bibles on the street, and people were flocking to them. In times of war, in times of upheaval, people are asking questions of an eternal nature."

Mission Network News/Associated Press/Reuters
Aussie Churches Urge Dumping Hatred Law

A campaign to dump a religious hatred law in Australia is winning growing support from churches—including some whose opinion on the law has shifted since two Christians were found guilty of "vilifying Muslims." Mainstream church leaders are adding their voices to other Christians asking Victoria state's Labor government to rescind the legislation, saying it poses a danger to freedom of speech. Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act made headlines around the world after Muslims took two pastors before a tribunal, complaining about a post-9/11 seminar designed to explain Islam to a Christian audience. The case made waves in Britain where the government had been trying to enact a similar proposal. Since the judgment went against them last December, pastors Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot have been awaiting the tribunal judge's decision as to what penalties they will face. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for early May, and the two also planned to appeal the verdict. The case against the pair was the first to be brought under the law, which was passed by the Victorian government despite concerns raised by Christian groups that it could stifle evangelism or end the right to question the validity of other faiths. The law passed and took effect in January, 2002.

WorldWide Religious News/AFP
Innovative Website Helps Visitors Answer Question: "Who Is Jesus?"

Back to the Bible International has launched an innovative Website, WhosJesus.com, that uses three-dimensional murals to present the gospel. "It's a Website that allows you to go the site and look at a scene that scrolls in front of you," explains spokesman Dave Hansen. "As you're looking at that scene you see something happen or see someone pictured in that scene that relates to your life. When you click on that, it takes you into the thought process of that individual." He adds that the Website points visitors to local churches. "We had to make sure that was part of the Website—a way that this interested individual or this person who just came to know Jesus Christ becomes in contact with believers. Our prayer [is that the person will] become involved in the local church in that part of the world."

Mission Network News

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12,000-Seat Church/Arena Is Built in Islamic Country

A pastor has built a church the size of a stadium in Indonesia, the world's largest Islamic country. Petrus Agung leads Jemaat Kristen Indonesia, translated Gospel of the Kingdom Church, which he launched in February, 1991, with his wife, a handful of musicians, and some friends. Despite a traditional law that forbids any group from building a facility larger than the city's grand mosque, the congregation, located in Semarang, the capital city of Central Java, is building a 12,000-seat arena dubbed the "Holy Stadium," scheduled to open this spring.

Though the largest mosque in Semarang seats 3,000, Jemaat Kristen Indonesia, which has grown from 25 people to 6,000, received a permit for construction of its stadium in record time. Agung said obedience to God is at the heart of the church's growth. Though the congregation, whose average age is 21, earns an average of less than $300 a month, they have sacrificially given jewelry, bikes, homes and land to build the new facility. Agung and his wife gave their car, money, and all her heirloom jewelry, including her wedding rings, to the project. But the couple is convinced they can't out-give God. Today, the ministry is debt-free, and the Holy Stadium is more than 80% paid for, even though construction is not complete.

Charisma News Service via Religion Today Summaries

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"Anti-Christian Spirit Is Invading Europe"

An "anti-Christian spirit" is spreading throughout Europe, says one of Germany's best-known evangelical theologians. Professor Peter Beyerhaus regards the proposed anti-discrimination laws in several European countries as only one example for such "threatening tendencies." Speaking at the Theological Convention of the Conference of Confessing Churches, which took place in Neuendettelsau near Nuremberg, March 31-April 2, Beyerhaus said this "mild form of persecution" is taking place in the European Union. One victim, he said, was Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione. The Catholic philosopher was nominated last year as EU commissioner, but Social Democrats, Greens, and Liberals in the European Parliament rejected him because of his ethical and religious convictions. Buttiglione called homosexuality a sin, but emphasized that this was his personal conviction as a Christian and that he would respect European law and not discriminate against homosexuals. To counteract such anti-Christian developments, Beyerhaus believes Christians should form alliances across denominational and confessional borders.

Assist News Service via MissionNet
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"Disabled Threatened By Schiavo Case"

Following Terry Schiavo's death on March 31, both Joni Eareckson Tada and Diane Coleman said the brain-damaged Florida woman's death and the events leading to it do not bode well for other severely disabled people unless some changes are implemented. The death of Terri Schiavo will adversely impact literally thousands of Americans who have severe mental incapabilities, whose legal guardians might not have their best wishes at heart," Tada said on the April 1 radio broadcast of Focus on the Family.

Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet, told Baptist Press, "[W]hat we are seeing here is the dismantling of the constitutional rights of people in guardianship. No longer will there be the presumption for life. The social presumption that [Schiavo] would be better off dead appears to have influenced the decisions in the case," Coleman said. "We feel threatened by this, almost as if there is a cognitive test for personhood under the law."

Baptist Press

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Children a Voice for the Gospel

Many indigenous missions reach out to India's millions of desperately poor children, providing food, medicines, clothing and schooling. For many of these children, the kindness of native missionaries is their first exposure to the love of Christ. This love has made children throughout India into His messengers. In the North Indian State of Uttarkashi, a ministry leader tells the story of a little boy who one day woke up feeling ill. His mother told him to stay home while she called a doctor, yet her believing son insisted he go to school. "My teacher will pray for me," he said, "and my Jesus will heal me!" The Lord did touch the little boy, and his whole family was able to witness the saving power of Christ. As certain Hindus step up opposition to the gospel, the faith of children has stood in their way. Missionaries going to a remote village in Maharashtra State to conduct a children's Sunday school class were met by an angry local man who tried to chase them away. Yet the children pleaded with the missionaries not to leave. At their insistence, gospel workers gathered in a local believer's house behind locked doors to share the gospel with the children. Though a group of extremists surrounded the house and shouted threats to those inside, the meeting went on safely.

Christian Aid Mission via Religion Today Summaries

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