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FIRST-PERSON: Poignancy at the cineplex, 2003

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (BP)--As a film reviewer, I sit through about 200 movies a year. That's a lot of Jujubees! Overall, this year was decidedly disappointing. Even when films were artistically rewarding ("Lost in Translation") or attempted affirmative life lessons ("Big Fish"), there was so much negative content that I had to be careful that my readers didn't misconstrue any praise as an endorsement.

SPORTS: Significant & interesting

MULKEYTOWN, Ill. (BP)--If you read many sports sections or sports websites at this time of year, you'll see a lot of lists of top sports stories from 2003.

FIRST-PERSON: Questions for a new year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)-Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

India’s Christian & Muslim ‘untouchables’ continue rights quest

NEW DELHI, India (BP)--The government of India has rejected a demand that social benefits be extended to Dalit Christians and Muslims, compounding the problems faced by the most downtrodden social class in India, Compass Direct news service reported Dec. 30.

Devastated Iranian city: Baptist team’s destination

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The former calm
The historic city of Bam, Iran, in less tragic days. An earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale devastated the city and surrounding region Dec. 26. Southern Baptist volunteers are headed to Bam to help meet the physical needs of the survivors.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)-Responding to an earthquake that killed thousands in the historic city of Bam, Iran, an initial team of Southern Baptist men is headed there to help meet physical needs.

The relief volunteers are no strangers to working in crisis situations. Most of them have served together in locations as distant as Venezuela and as close to home as Ground Zero in New York City.

FIRST-PERSON: Honest answers

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)--Only those who live in a dream world, unencumbered by the daily tragedies and challenges of the real world, would flippantly comment, "I know of no one with a drug problem." Our telephones ring constantly, our mailboxes are full and there is no shortage of individuals who seek help and hope for their loved ones who hurt.

N.J. ‘cloning’ bill likely to reignite national debate

TRENTON, N.J. (BP)-New Jersey politicians appear ready to reignite the nation's cloning debate.

Democrat Gov. Jim McGreevey has promised to sign a bill sanctioning stem-cell research which cleared the state legislature Dec. 15.

Vietnam steps up persecution targeting Hmong Christians

WASHINGTON (BP)--Vietnamese authorities have stepped up their campaign of persecution of minority Christians, in some instances threatening to murder their spiritual leaders, Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom in Washington reported Dec. 30.

Freedom House recounted that sources in Vietnam reported that 19 police agents destroyed Hmong Christian house churches in mid-December in four villages in Ta Tong Commune, located in the Muong Te District of Lai Chau Province.

Navajo outreach unfolds from 7 youth in Bible study & prayer

FT. WINGATE, N.M. (BP)--When Durk Lynch started a Bible study in the dorms at Wingate High School in 1992, he had no idea that God would use his ministry to bring the message of Christ to thousands of Native American youth.

What started out as a group of seven boys meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer has developed into a network of Christians who hope to transform the Navajo Nation with the Gospel.

But Lynch has seen that ministry to the Navajo people can prove difficult. Through more than a decade of ministry in New Mexico and Arizona, Lynch and his wife, Phyllis, who serve with Southern Baptists' North American Mission Board as Mission Service Corps volunteers, at times have met fierce resistance to Christianity in various Native American communities.

As church knocks on doors, baptisms & attendance soar

MADILL, Okla. (BP)--How many church members would be more willing to go out and share the Gospel if they knew people were sitting in their homes just waiting for a visit?