In The World—January 31, 2016

January 31, 2016 No Comments »
In The World—January 31, 2016

By Melissa Wuske

Divorce and the Church

“The vast majority of churches do not have an effective marriage ministry,” said Greg Smalley, vice president of Focus on the Family. For many church members and ministers, that statement stings; but a new study conducted by LifeWay Research and sponsored by Focus on the Family, found areas for concern. 

The study found that it can be challenging for ministers and church leaders to recognize that a couple is in trouble because involvement in small groups and church functions is nearly the same for happily married couples as it is for couples in the months leading up to divorce. 

Additionally, the study found varying opinions about whether church was a safe place to talk about marital difficulties: 94 percent of ministers agree, 5 percent disagree, 1 percent are not sure; 79 percent of happily married people agree, 10 percent disagree, 11 percent are not sure; of churchgoers who’ve divorced, 77 percent agree, 15 percent disagree, 8 percent are not sure.

There’s also a discrepancy in the perception of what help is available, with ministers responding much more strongly than the other two groups. For example, when asked if their church provided marriage counseling, 87 percent of ministers said yes, but only 62 percent of happily married people and 45 percent of divorced people were aware of such help. “There are clearly gaps in communication when people don’t even know help exists,” said Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research vice president.

Sight for the Blind

“I used to get around by crawling,” said Thuli Maya, a Nepali woman once blinded by cataracts, “and now I can get up and walk.” Her renewed sight is thanks to a simple, affordable, yet groundbreaking method developed by Dr. Sanduk Ruit, an ophthalmologist in Nepal.

In a few minutes time, Ruit can make an incision in the eye, remove the cataract, and insert a new lens—all for about $25. It’s a much simpler procedure than what’s used in many more developed parts of the world, and the success rate is 98 percent after six months. 

Blindness affects about 39 million people worldwide, and about half is caused by cataracts. Ruit is working to take his technique to other poor countries around the world: “If we can do this in Nepal, it can be done anywhere in the world,” he said.

Adidas Helps End Racially Offensive Mascots

About 2,000 high schools in the United States have mascots that are potentially offensive to Native American communities. Adidas is offering support, in the form of funding and design resources, to schools that want to change their team names and mascots. 

Adidas executive board member Eric Liedtke explained the company’s reasoning: “Sports have the power to change lives. Sports give young people limitless potential. Young athletes have hope, they have desire, and they have a will to win. Importantly, sports must be inclusive. Today we are harnessing the influence of sports in our culture to lead change for our communities.”

Dogs & Penguins: Unusual Allies

Middle Island, part of Victoria State in Australia, is the native home to a species of penguins called the little penguin. For decades, these small, flightless birds were picked off by foxes. Foxes were brought to the continent for sport hunting by European settlers in the late 1800s. In 2005, the penguin population of hundreds had dwindled to only ten. But a local chicken farmer, Allan “Swampy” Marsh, proposed a solution that has the population back on the rise. The solution is Maremmas, a particularly territorial breed of sheep dog. The dogs are trained to defend the areas where the penguins live. 

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).

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