Zambian kids stand in front of the new container of playground equipment. (Photo courtesy of KAI)
Zambia (MNN) -- What's a good way to keep kids entertained? Take them to a playground!
And new playgrounds are just what kids in western Zambia are getting.
A 3,483 pound shipment container from Kids Alive International (KAI) recently arrived in Mongu, located in western Zambia, with the equipment to build three playgrounds for orphans in KAI schools and children’s homes. The container also had chairs, clothing, books, shoes, and a laptop.
Two mission teams with KAI will be sent over to Zambia to set up the playgrounds. The first team will go in mid-June.
KAI was especially thankful for this container delivery since, in the past, many of their aid containers have gotten delayed by red tape, and the mission teams have barely had time to distribute the contents. But this container for Zambia flew through customs in less than a day!
New playgrounds nearly always get kids pumped. But for Zambian children, a playground holds so much more than just the entertainment factor.
Pastor Lubinda Sikufele with KAI in Zambia says, “[The playgrounds will] take them away from the mischievous activities…so this play equipment is a blessing.”
There are no other safe, nice playgrounds for kids to enjoy in Mongu. Often, children who are taken in by KAI children’s homes and schools come from rough backgrounds.
According to Sikufele, “I must confess [the children] are really blessed to be with Kids Alive International…they provide the education. Kids Alive also provides the food, the clothing, the love, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Ministering the Gospel message in everything is what KAI is all about. “For most of these children, where they come from, their families do not believe in the God we believe in,” says Sikufele. “So usually when they come into our care, into our schools, and into our homes, they are introduced to the transforming power of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The playgrounds will be built for Kids Alive Lilato Children’s Home housing 65 orphans and abandoned kids, as well as Kids Alive Emmanuel School and Kids Alive Jerusalem School where 400 of the poorest area children attend.
Pray for safety of the teams as they head to Zambia next month and for KAI’s ministry in Christ to the orphaned and needy.
Often, kids have to walk for miles just to get water, and they end up missing school.
USA (MNN) -- For some students, world geography class can be a drag just staring at maps and coordinates all day.
But for ninth-grade students at Bellaire High School, the things they learned in world geography class moved them to action.
World geography teacher, Bryan Berry, taught his students about the disastrous results of not having clean water in developing countries. The statistics sparked something.
“It’s something we take for granted,” says student Daniela Fuentes, “but many people don’t have [clean drinking water]. There are kids who don’t go to school because they have to walk miles to get water.”
For Berry, his heart for those without clean drinking water is leading him and his wife to join Living Water International on a short-term mission trip to El Salvador this summer. There, they will help drill a well.
When Berry suggested the idea of a fundraiser for clean water, he was pleasantly surprised by the way his students picked up the idea and ran with it.
“A lot of these kids may get into trouble, but it is amazing to see how generous they are when they really care,” says Berry.
Starting last November, students from Berry’s class began fundraising to provide either a sub-Saharan or Indian village with well water. Many of Living Water International’s statistics and information about the need for clean drinking water were used by students to promote the cause.
Fundraising activities included selling bottled water, and sponsored pledges by students to drink only water for 10 days. Some students even gave a part of their Christmas money.
One activity even had students donating money for a chance to challenge a teacher to eat a mystery jelly bean. Some jelly bean flavors were innocent, but some got as bad as “skunk spray” or “moldy cheese.”
Over the past six months, Bellaire High School students raised $2,600 for a well. Next year, Berry hopes to raise enough money for two wells and already has several students ready to take another plunge for the cause.
Living Water International exists to “be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving the poorest of the poor,” according to their Web site. By drilling wells and providing life-sustaining water, they put the love of Christ into action and live out the Gospel to others.
Pray for raised awareness of the need of clean drinking water, and that the Lord would continue to raise up people who will bring aid with the Good News all over the world.
Jordan (MNN) -- When crisis hits in places like Syria or Iraq, it's easy to wonder why families don't just flee. But for those who do leave, life can sometimes be just as hard.
It's not at all uncommon for refugees in the Middle East to flee to Jordan as they try and escape ruthless situations. When they arrive in Jordan, though, they can be met with multiple barriers. For instance, Iraqis do not qualify for refugee status in Jordan. So for any Iraqis trying to begin again in Jordan, once their initial three-month visa runs out, they are in the country illegally.
Being an illegal immigrant has implications in Jordan as it does in any other nation. People in the country illegally cannot work. If they do find work, they risk deportation. Their children often cannot go to school. Finding housing is near impossible, and when housing is attained, it's often at exorbitant prices.
On top of the economic woes that face these refugees, social circles hold no place for them. Jordanians who are struggling to eke out a living for their own families often resent outsiders trying to live off the same land. Depending on where they are from, refugees can be more or less treated like dogs.
Yet in the midst of this bleak social and economic landscape, there is hope. The Southern Baptist International Mission Board says an evangelical church in Amman, Jordan has been reaching out to refugees and others who cannot afford medical services with its Hope Clinic. For refugees in particular, with food and housing hard to come by, healthcare is often the last thing they can afford.
When nervous refugees shuffle into the clinic, they are greeted with something they may never have seen before: kindness. IMB reports that one Iraqi woman who recently came into the clinic was so surprised to be greeted with a smile that she hesitantly asked, "Is there something wrong?"
The clinic's all-volunteer staff says that when patients discover they are going to be treated like human beings loved by God, they often say, "You are the only people who have ever treated us as something more than dogs."
Most patients who come into the clinic have chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, says one volunteer doctor. "Having our clinic provide the necessary medicines is life saving for many of the people we see," she says.
Hope Clinic started in 1991 to offer medical care to Iraqis fleeing the Gulf War. Today, Jordanians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Yemenis, Sudanese, Somalis, Ethiopians, and other North Africans receive outpatient family medicine, optometry, physical therapy, and prenatal care. In approximately 3,600 patient visits a year, clinic staff members help refugees and other people in need experience firsthand the love of God that brings hope for new life.
Ultimately, the purpose is to be the hands and feet of Christ to people who have experienced very little love. Many soak up this new-found love and respond in gratitude to God. Staff members say Christians and Muslims alike come to the clinic just to ask for prayer.
This clinic is a part of Kingdom building in Jordan. You can help by donating to the Refugee Fund of the Southern Baptist relief group Baptist Global Response.
Haiti (MNN) -- It's been more than two years since the devastating earthquake crippled Haiti. It not only killed thousands, but it displaced millions from the capital, Port-au-Prince. Today, thousands continue to be homeless. Medical Teams International is doing what they can to help ease the suffering.
Ministry President Bas Vanderzalm says Medical Teams is working with a local partner. "We're working in one of the largest camps outside of Port-au-Prince where people have moved to resettle because their homes were destroyed. There are about 120,000 people now."
It's called Canaan, or The Promised Land. But Vanderzalm says it wasn't very promising. The camp had no clinics, schools, churches or infrastructure. So, Christians decided to do something about it. "Haiti Christians have felt led to move into the area and begin churches, to reach out to the people who are there. We have gone with them and are providing a clinic and health care alongside these churches."
Working with the local church is vital. "People not only receive physical help, but they also are offered opportunities for people to pray with them; many of them do engage with the churches as well."
This kind of disaster tends to encourage people to look for guidance. "People need spiritual care and support. Many of the questions they're asking, I think, can only be answered in the context of faith in God. At the same time, if all we do is address the spiritual needs and aren't concerned about the physical needs that people have, I think it's an incomplete concern and compassion for people."
According to Vanderzalm, there's a reason they're working through local partners. "By doing that, we're building the church structure in Haiti itself. Then, when we're finally through, hopefully the work we do will continue on and will have long-standing Kingdom implications because what we've done has been invest in churches and believers on the ground who will continue to do this work for years to come."
For as little as $30, you can help an entire family with medical care. In doing so, you're providing the tools Christians need to begin talking about the Gospel. If you'd like to have Kingdom impact, click here to invest.
(Story photo by Alex Zizka/ Cover photo by Cyril Attias)
Ukraine (MNN) -- New stadiums, screaming fans, and quality soccer matches are all integral elements of the makeup of the upcoming Euro Cup. But behind the mask lies a darker sort of game.
Forced prostitution is common in Ukraine, where some of the Euro Cup games will be played. Ukraine is one of the largest source nations for trafficked prostitutes in the world. It has seen at least 400,000 women and children trafficked out of the country in the last 10 years. Many women, children, men and even families are coerced out by the promise of better jobs and richer lives, only to find a life of slavery in a foreign land.
Come June 8, though, Ukraine will not be a source but a destination for human trafficking.
Ukraine has been sprucing up its streets and buildings for the coming international event, but EFCA ReachGlobal missionary Amy Richey says the facade can only hide so much.
"While they're very busy working on the outside embellishments, there are a lot of hurting people both here in Ukraine and, unfortunately, people that will be brought into Ukraine against their will that will live a nightmare because of the game."
It's hard to know just how many people will be brought into Ukraine or how many have been prepped within the nation for this large event. But past international -- and even national -- sporting events have proved that the numbers of prostitutes in Kiev will skyrocket.
At the 2010 World Cup, many innocent victims were abducted, misled and otherwise forced into labor and sex slavery. (Read about it here.) Richey says the number of ads for prostitution in the five-months preceding the January 2012 U.S. Super Bowl shot up by 1,000%, indicating that the number of prostitutes and trafficking victims exploded there also.
Richey expects nothing different for the Euro Cup. And the Ukrainian government agrees.
Although Ukraine has been sheepish in its reports of trafficking in the past, a week ago the Ukrainian government made its first statement about the issue surrounding the Euro Cup. Richey says, "They recognize that there is a potential problem, that there are challenges, and that we need people to get involved."
Richey is more than willing to oblige. She has been training Ukrainian churches for the last two years how to look for, speak up about, and prevent human trafficking. Because street children and orphans are at such a high risk of being trafficked (that's the fate for 50-60% of them), Richey often helps churches get involved with outreach to orphans.
In further preparation for the games, Richey has attended trainings for hotel staffs to learn how to spot forced prostitution, she and will also be partnering with the Salvation Army during the games themselves. The Salvation Army booth at the games will function practically to give out water, maps and directions, but on a deeper level, their presence serves to let soccer fans know the signs of trafficking and that engaging in it will not be tolerated.
The most imperative movement to prevent trafficking at the games will be prayer: prayer for fans to guard their hearts, for victims to be safe, and for Christ's light to shine in a dark place. Ultimately, Richey hopes that each step of involvement will mean spiritual chains broken for enslaved girls.
"There are places that we live, and there are places that we go [in which] Satan has a stronghold, and that he prepares his people, and that he gets ready for," Richey notes. "But we need to get ready for it, and we need to shine Christ's love and Christ's light in these dark places."
To get a prayer guide for the June 8-July 1 games, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sudan (MNN) -- African Union-brokered talks are set to resume tomorrow between Sudan and South Sudan. Leaders hope to end the tensions that have teetered Sudan and fledging South Sudan on war. Issues include the oil-rich border areas and ethnic conflicts. The talks will be held in Ethiopia.
Words of Hope broadcasts Christian programming into the region. The ministry's Vice President Lee DeYoung tells us top Sudanese leaders have been outright hostile in their rhetoric. "There are literally hundreds of thousands of Christians of South Sudanese origins who have lived their entire lives in north Sudan, particularly around Khartoum. For many years there was at least some kind of tolerance of those people, but intolerance is mounting."
The intolerance, says DeYoung, has gone even further. "There's talk about cleansing the north of the stain of Christianity. Some official statements refer to Southern Sudanese as insects, a plague that needs to be eradicated from Sudan."
Many have attempted to leave the north, says DeYoung, but they can't. "On one hand the government of Sudan says you must leave. And yet, when they try to leave, they say, 'you need to have papers from South Sudan in order to leave, which seems to be a real catch 22 because many of these people have never lived in South Sudan."
This political tug-o-war is causing major problems. DeYoung continues, "There are literally thousands of refugees trying to leave the north, but are unable to cross the border into the south because of the fact that there is armed conflict that's been escalating there, but also just seemingly bureaucratic opposition to their leaving at the same time they're being treated so badly."
While the political conflict has been heavy, so have the internal issues. "The cost of living has increased since the separation of South Sudan from Sudan. Once the independence became official the supply lines to the north were cut off."
That means fuel, food, and other necessities will be more expensive.
Despite this, Words of Hope will continue broadcasting into the region. DeYoung is asking you to pray that, "[the] cessation of tension and hostility and violence between South Sudan and Sudan. Prayers that the church would be successful -- and other Christian groups -- in providing the hope of the Gospel to help to ease tensions between the ethnic groups in South Sudan."
Supporting Words of Hope's broadcast in Sudan will help accomplish this. To do that, click here .
(Photo courtesy of Orphan's Heart)
Haiti (MNN) -- The devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 reduced many buildings to rubble, including the Foundation Foyer des Enfants Demunies orphanage in Bon Repos.
Because of this, 54 orphans were displaced; most of these kids still live in tents or temporary foster homes.
But now, Orphan’s Heart has stepped in to follow the call of Christ to look after orphans. Construction of a new orphanage in Bon Repos is finally underway.
With the help of two mission teams, work on Phase One of the new orphanage building has come a long way.
A third team arrived last Saturday, May 26.
The completed orphanage should hold around 90 kids, but it is being built in phases to start housing orphans as soon as possible. This first phase should be able to take around 30 kids.
In this new orphanage, children will find the physical security of a roof over their heads, food, and clean facilities, but they will also be in a loving environment where they’ll hear about the Gospel.
Orphan’s Heart is working with Pastor Edmond Fenelon, the Bon Repos orphanage director, to coordinate construction of the building. Pastor Fenelon opens up his home to teams that come down to help.
Mission teams that already went to Haiti visited Pastor Fenelon’s church and interacted with other believers in the community. They also spent time with the orphan kids and visited nearby Port-Au-Prince.
More teams are scheduled to go, and additional volunteers are needed.
Ron Gunter, Vice President of International Childcare at Orphan’s Heart, asks, “Please pray for the children…and that more teams will come and donations will be made to care for them as God intends.”
To find out more about Orphan’s Heart’s short-term mission trips, click here.
Get Never Forsaken by Charles Billingsley when you help MNN with a fiscal year-end gift.
USA (MNN) -- We know that you're always looking for tools to help you refocus on Christ. Mission Network News has offered books, prayer guides, and other resources to help you do that. This month we're offering a CD of music that will point you to Christ.
The worship leader at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, Charles Billingsley, has produced a new project called, Never Forsaken. "This is my first project in eight years, with original studio material. We went back to the studio and actually did an artist project."
This is more than just another music project, though. Billingsley, the former lead singer of Newsong, says this project was borne out of his brokenness following a mission trip to Guatemala with his family. "I came back and started working on this project. And one thing I wanted to do was to open the eyes of the church and remind us all that we are here not for ourselves, but we're here to reach others for Him and to glorify Him through giving and helping others who don't have what we have."
One of the songs, Use Me, was written by Jennie Lee Riddle who wrote Revelation Song. "I think that song, more than anything, puts into context exactly what I'm talking about. You and I are called to do something with our lives, not just exist. I don't believe any Christian -- any child of God -- is called to just sit here and exist. We're called to change the world."
When Billingsley returned home from Guatemala, the secular song, Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins, came to mind. "I decided I wanted to make a remake of that song. They were gracious enough to give us permission to do it. Now, it's one of the favorites in concert. We use a video with it. It's really cool."
You're probably wondering how you can get a copy of the project, right? The fiscal year for Mission Network News ends May 31, and we need your help to finish the year strong financially. With your gift of any amount, we're making the Charles Billingsley CD Never Forsaken available to you. Be as generous as you can. Your gift of $10, $20, $50, $100 or even $1,000 will help Mission Network News continue providing news that will encourage Christians to do something for God.
To get your copy, click on the link above, or click here. You can also watch this video and hear a sample of some of the songs.
These two boys received an education because of their community's support and FFH's ministry. (Photo courtesy of FFH)
Kenya (MNN) -- Can you imagine having to pick up and move four times a year? Every year?
For some, this is a reality in their immediate family. But for the people of Parkishon, a small rural community in Northern Kenya, it’s part of the culture.
The dry season in Kenya lasts from January to March and July to October. Every dry season period, the families of Parkishon pack up and go where the water is.
Unfortunately, this hurts the education for the kids in these families. Regular schooling with the constant moves is almost impossible.
Now, however, Food for the Hungry (FFH) recently released an update on their work with the community of Parkishon and how it’s been affecting the people.
When FFH entered the scene of Parkishon nine years ago, they partnered with churches, leaders, and families to better the community. Improvements included clean water, physical health, and equipping the local church to meet the people’s needs.
One other needed improvement was a strengthening of the local schools and increasing the community’s value of education.
According to FFH field colleagues in Parkishon, “God is indeed transforming the mindset of this community.”
It’s been a slow transformation, but FFH says they place great emphasis on education since poverty only continues through the generations without it. FFH sees education as one of poverty’s long-term solutions.
Because of FFH’s influence in Parkishon, the church community has been coming together now to raise money for their children’s school fees. Even in the face of drought and lack of resources, they appreciate the value of education enough to make the sacrifices for the next generation.
One case involved two young boys who were ready to re-enter high school and had excelled at the entrance exam. The church community came together and raised $625 for the boys’ education.
This was a big deal considering the average monthly income in a Parkishon household is $50. $625 represents just over a year’s wages for one household.
Pray that the Lord continues to transform this small Northern Kenyan community through the ministry of Food for the Hungry as they are the hands of feet of Christ.
(Photo courtesy of Orphan Outreach)
USA (MNN) – Say the word “underwear,” and you’re sure to get a few giggles.
But for Orphan Outreach, underwear is the main focus of an orphan ministry program!
And the spotlight is on this program today with their underwear roundup event called the "Undie 500" -- purposefully coinciding with the Indy 500.
According to Tiffany Taylor with Orphan Outreach, there are over 163 million orphans across the globe. “They all have so many needs,” says Taylor, “but one really basic need is the need for underwear and socks.”
Taylor explains, “Any of us who have children know how quickly kids outgrow their underwear and socks. Being able to provide new underwear and socks [is important]; it’s a hygiene issue, and it’s also just a practicality issue: it lets [orphans] know that they’re not forgotten.”
Just a six-pack of kid’s underwear can cost around $5. It’s easy to donate and definitely has a lasting impact.
Hundreds of volunteers go out year-round to pass out underwear and socks that were donated. Both the orphans and their caretakers are touched.
“Anytime you can meet those orphanage caregivers with something that they really need, they’re just so thankful that people really care about their children…The needs are so overwhelming, and they can be so overwhelmed themselves.”
In all of Orphan Outreach’s ministry trips, they bring aid in one hand and the Gospel message in the other.
According to Taylor, “Everything we do at Orphan Outreach is rooted in letting these children know that they are deeply loved by their Lord and helping them develop a personal relationship with Christ.”
Churches can get involved to run collections for this unique ministry! Just e-mail Orphan Outreach saying you want to join in the "Undie 500" ministry, and they’ll send you promotional posters and logos to help out.
“We have churches doing it through their youth program, through their Vacation Bible School program, and it just allows them to let kids also know what a difference they can make by donating underwear.”
A packing event will take place in early June as volunteers in Texas prepare to send teams all over the world with underwear for orphan kids.
Taylor sums it up well. “It’s a little funny: a pair of underwear! But it’s something that’s so needed.”