01: The mentoring program Kids Hope USA is a leading example of the new partnerships developing between faith groups and public schools.
The organization was started in 1994 and it is now active in 100 schools across 18 states, reaching more than 1,600 children. The program, headed by Virgil Gulker, is simple in operation: congregations — usually evangelical Protestant — target elementary schools in their neighborhoods, pairing volunteers with at-risk students an hour a week. Whether helping children study or just talking and playing with them, volunteers try to become a source of encouragement in their lives.
Church-state separationists have criticized the group, which prompted the group to issue national guidelines for congregations involved in public classrooms stipulating that evangelism be avoided on school grounds. Kids Hope USA volunteers are entering new schools at an average of nearly two per week.
(Source: Wall Street Journal, April 21)
02: In a major but underpublicized development, world evangelical leaders have made explicit their once-latent commitment to a ‘holistic’ ministry.
Some 70 church and missionary agency leaders from more than 70 nations met in Larnaca, Cyprus, Feb.21-24 to discuss the future of their ministry. Under the auspices of World Evangelical Fellowship, the delegates addressed such current issues as postmodernism, poverty, AIDS, abuse of women, the Internet and globalization.
They gave more attention to such social issues as these, calling their new interest ‘holistic’ ministry. Earlier many such agencies had carried on evangelism programs in isolation from the growing crises facing developing countries globally.
(Source: Christianity Today, April 24)
— By Erling Jorstad