By Melissa Wuske
The Healing Power of Music
Saginaw, Michigan, has been hit hard by the collapse of the car industry. As a result, poverty and crime are high. But residents John and Katrina Vowell are seeking to make a difference. They started Major Chords for Minors, a free program for kids that offers music lessons and instruments.
The Vowells are motivated by their healing experiences with music as young people. “I was a loner. I felt nobody liked me. I could get lost in my music,” said Katrina. “When [my father] drank,” John said, “he turned into a monster,” but music helped. Major Chords for Minors also comes from the Vowells’ own need for a fresh start, as both are recovering alcoholics.
Church Plants Attract New Believers
LifeWay Research studied 843 churches started since 2008. The study found that 42 percent of attenders did not go to church prior to attending these church plants. “In winning new converts to Christ, church plants are light years ahead of the average church because of their focus on reaching the unchurched,” said LifeWay Research’s executive director Ed Stetzer.
The report also found four common themes among successful church plants. First, they meet in public spaces; congregations that meet in schools have greater attendance, more people commit to Christ for the first time, and are more likely to be financially self-supporting. Second, they focus on reaching out through sports, social events, and events for kids. Third, they focus on planting additional churches right from the start. Finally, they support their leaders; adequate compensation for church planters corresponds with higher attendance.
“Healthy new churches have an outward focus from day one, communicating every month that the goal is to be a multiplying church,” Stetzer said.
Solution to Air Pollution?
As air quality worsens in northern China, citizens are turning to an offbeat idea from Canada in hopes of a solution: bottled air.
Vitality Air began as a sort of social experiment by Moses Lam: “We wanted to do something fun and disruptive so we decided to see if we could sell air,” so Lam sold a plastic bag of air on eBay. Now Lam goes to the Rocky Mountain town of Banff to bottle the clean air. “It’s time-consuming because every one of these bottles is hand bottled. We’re dealing with fresh air, we want it to be fresh and we don’t want to run it through machines which are oiled and greased.”
For people in China facing polluted air, Vitality Air seems like a possible solution, and Lam is seeing a growing number of orders. Will it help? Wallace Leung, of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, knows the problem is too large for bottled air: “We need to filter out the particles, the invisible killers, from the air. . . . One bottle of air wouldn’t help.”
Are Violent People Truly Part of the Religions They Claim?
The Public Religion Research Institute asked Americans, “When people commit acts of violence in the name of a religion, do you believe they are really members of that religion?” If the person committing the violence is a Christian, about 20 percent said yes, and more than 70 percent said no. But if the person committing the violence is a Muslim almost 40 percent said yes, and about 50 percent said no.
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).