YouVersion's Bible app surpasses 100 million downloads. (Icon courtesy YouVersion.com)
International (MNN) -- Have you downloaded the YouVersion Bible app? If so, you might be one of the 100 million downloads that puts this app among the ranks of brands like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
"What we're trying to do is create those opportunities for the Holy Spirit to use God's Word, the inspired Word of God, to change people's lives," says Bob Creson of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA.
People that speak lesser-known languages, like Hawaiian Pidgin, can read Scripture on YouVersion's app, thanks to Wycliffe.
"We upload to the digital Bible library, created by Every Tribe, Every Nation, and then YouVersion pulls those texts out using their platform," Creson explains.
"Most people, when they think of YouVersion, they think of some of the larger languages like English, Portuguese, Mandarin, and even Korean. Wycliffe's contribution actually is for some of the smaller, minority language communities."
Hawaiian Pidgin is a form of Creole spoken by 600 000 people, according to 1986 measurements. Creson says it's the minority translation used most on YouVersion's Bible app.
"While you wouldn't think that people have access, via their smartphones, in some of these smaller language communities," states Creson, "the truth is that more and more people have that technology."
Pray that lives will change as people read the Gospel in their heart languages.
In addition, a survey found that YouVersion's Bible app isn't just changing how people access Scripture: it's changing the overall Bible experience.
According to the survey, over 77% of respondents read the Bible more frequently because they have it on their mobile device. And, over 67% switch between Bible versions.
In response to data indicating high social use of the app, YouVersion is adding a new social feature of the Bible app. Last year, there were over 31 million shares of Bible verses via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and text.
The Bible app's new social feature will allow readers to form a close group of friends and interact with them about Scripture.
"Statistically we know that when people are engaged with Scripture, it changes their lives," says Creson.
Pray that the Great Commission will be furthered through this technology. Pray that as people gain access to the Gospel, it will transform them into the image of Christ.
Learn more about what God is doing through Wycliffe here.
Paul Tokarchuk with kids in Mongolia.
Mongolia (MNN) -- Next generation church leaders from Russia got out of their comfort zones to help next generation church leaders in Mongolia.
Moscow Director of Russian Ministries Paul Tokarchuk, speaking from Mongolia, was a part of the team. "They had a short-term mission trip here to Mongolia from Siberia. They came here to hold five Bible camps."
These leaders were all trained at Russian Ministries School without Walls leadership training. Tokarchuk says they teamed up young people going through similar training in Mongolia. "We have two places where we're holding School without Walls seminars. We have about 50 students."
20 ethnic Mongolian Christians help organize these five camps, receiving assistance from Russian Christians. Tokarchuk says 450 Mongolian kids participated in the five camps. "All of them heard the Gospel. Part of the program every day [included] Bible classes, Bible lessons. Everyone got the basics of the Gospel in their language. Some of them came to Christ."
Tokarchuk says even a translator was affected. "One young lady said, 'I've never been at that kind of camp. I want to become a Christian. I want to go to church after all I have heard.'"
Tokarchuk says School Without Walls programs helps provide personnel to run these camp ministries and other outreach events. "Through all of this training that we have every month for more than 2,300 students, they are trained and motivated to be actively working and ministering in their areas."
There is a concern. Tokarchuk says the lack of male leadership. "There is a lack of men here in the churches. My wish and my prayer through School Without Walls, through this program, is that more men will come to the church."
Russian Ministries needs support for the School Without Walls program to train even more people. It costs $48 a month to provide training to each student. That's not only an investment into their lives, but the lives of the many people they'll share the Gospel with during that year and the rest of their lives.
Five GFA-supported missionaries attacked in Andhra Pradesh. (Image courtesy GFA)
India (GFA) -- Five Gospel for Asia women missionaries were beaten recently while sharing the love of Christ in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
In the late morning, Bansari, Jaladhi, Kuyil, Sunita, and Viveka visited a marketplace about four miles from the GFA administrative office where they serve.
While the women were offering literature to shopkeepers and bystanders, a young man asked Jaladhi what they were doing. When Jaladhi said they were sharing about Christ’s love, the young man slapped her in the face.
As Sunita, Viveka, and Bansari rushed to Jaladhi, the man attacked them also, hitting their necks, faces, ears, and heads. Meanwhile, Kuyil, who stood in another part of the marketplace, escaped five men who had surrounded her.
Passersby watched the situation but did nothing to stop the attack.
Due to blows, the missionaries suffered from pain and swelling. They immediately reported the incident to their leaders after returning to the office. They say they rejoice that God’s name will be honored through their suffering.
“We rejoice in the Lord, though beaten up,” Bansari said. “May the Lord change their hearts.”
Learn more about women missionaries who lay down their lives to reach some of the most desperate women in Asia.
Ask the Lord to protect missionaries as they continue to share Christ's love in Andhra Pradesh. Pray for transformation in the hearts of the men who attacked these women.
(Story photo courtesy of Koda Kagfa)
Egypt (MNN) -- The Egyptian military is stepping up their hold.
They gave the Muslim Brotherhood 48 hours to evacuate their strongholds--primarily at the Mosque in Wadi and in front of Cairo University, according to IN Network’s contacts. That time period ended sometime Saturday.
“The fear among the Christians and Egyptians at large is that it will definitely be an escalation, and it could get very, very bloody,” says Rody Rodeheaver with IN Network.
Furthermore, the first official judicial statements have come against ousted President Mohammed Morsi. He is being held under allegations of connection with Palestine’s Hamas militants.
According to the state-run Mena news organization, the accusations state Morsi collaborated with Hamas for a jailbreak in January 2011, “setting fire to one prison and enabling inmates to flee, including himself, as well as premeditated killing of officers, soldiers, and prisoners".
Rodeheaver says, “The pronouncements here against Morsi are one more step in the chain and the escalation of events. The army has been calling for the people who support them to come out in the streets to show their support. Our people feel that is done in order to show the army has the support of the people of Egypt to step in.”
The expected clashes mean new danger for citizens in the crossfire. “Anybody who is out in the streets can become a target because people in these kinds of situations don’t wear uniforms except for the army,” says Rodeheaver. “So it’s very hard once, the battle is engaged, to know the difference. A lot of innocent people can be affected.”
Contacts with IN Network say they’ve seen an influx of foreigners connected with militant groups like Hamas. “[They are] making their way into the major cities in Egypt to support the Muslim Brothers,” Rodeheaver shares. “They are gaining strength in numbers as they face this impending showdown with the Egyptian military.”
According to Rodeheaver, Christians may become targets in this situation “because there is a sense that the Church is behind the army and behind some of these moves, and all kinds of rumors have been circulated to that effect.”
IN Network’s national staff and contacts have gone into hiding because of this. “It’s hard for us who have staff: we have nationals there who are in the middle of this,” Rodeheaver shares heavily. “It’s very hard to get them off your mind.”
It’s too dangerous at this time for many churches in Egypt to meet, but Rodeheaver says they’ve gone to their knees in prayer.
Pray for protection of Christians and the citizens of Egypt. Pray for peace and for the name of Christ to give hope in the midst of chaos.
Iraq (MNN/ODM) -- July has seen the deaths of over 750 people in Iraq.
The bloodshed continued with bombings and shootings, including the devastating car bomb in a busy market near Baghdad that killed 14.
According to Reuters, security is also deteriorating in Iraq as evidenced by a mass jailbreak last Sunday near the capital. Around 500 inmates escaped, including senior al-Qaeda militants.
But for all the terrorism and attacks continuing in Iraq, there is positive change giving hope to refugees in Iraq, including Christians.
From a one-room apartment with three kids to a big house full of children, Aswad and his family are one of the many Christian families in Iraq helped by a micro credit from Open Doors USA. They now run a successful kindergarten. It’s happy chaos in the kindergarten: kids are running around, throwing balls, and sitting on little swings.
How many kids exactly? Aswad puts his hands in the air and starts smiling from ear to ear: “I don’t know.” Then he looks at his wife Eshal for help: “We have about 60 children from different ages now,” she adds.
Aswad is visibly proud to be to owner of this joyful place. It’s hard to imagine that only five years ago, he and his family were living in a one-room apartment, broke and unemployed. Like many Christian refugees in Kurdish North Iraq, Aswad’s family fled the violence in the Baghdad area.
The Kurdish area is a relatively safe place for the Christian minority, but it also has disadvantages, explains Open Doors fieldworker William: “Most Christians don’t speak Kurdish, the local language. This makes it very hard to find a job.”
Most of the Kurdish workers have a job at the government, but for the Arabic speaking Christian refugees, working at the government is impossible. For Aswad, this was no different. He couldn’t find a job and was desperately searching for a way to feed his family.
“One of the few possibilities to make a living as a refugee is to start your own business,” says William. “But you can’t start a business if you don’t have money. That’s why Open Doors is giving out micro credits.”
It’s a simple procedure: the refugee hands in a business plan, and if it’s approved, he receives a small starting budget. Right after his business starts running, he starts paying off his debt. “Most of them pay off their debt in a short period of time,” says William. “We have helped many people starting taxi services, hair salons, and mini-markets.”
Open Doors exists to “strengthen and equip the Body of Christ living under or facing restriction and persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and to encourage their involvement in world evangelism,” according to their Web site. Iraqi Christians are often targets of violence, but this micro credit program allows them to flourish as the Church in Iraq. You can support there ministry here.
Please pray for the safety of citizens and Christians in Iraq. Pray for Open Doors as they continue to minister to refugee families.