Eritrea (MNN) -- Believers have been arrested again in Eritrea as the UN raises a red flag over human rights violations.
"The government of Eritrea denies that there's any religious persecution; we know it's not true," says Greg Musselman, a spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).
A UN expert recently called international attention to the "extremely concerning" human rights situation in Eritrea.
"The current human rights picture is very bleak," the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, stated last week. "People feel trapped in a long, hopeless situation as they see no end to it, to the point that they take the irreversible decision to flee, forcing them on the road to exile."
Around 3,000 people flee Eritrea every month, despite a "shoot to kill" policy targeting escapees. Earlier this month, two boats carrying refugees sank off the coast of Italy. One was carrying around 500 people, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, when it went down.
Some 30,100 asylum-seekers arrived on Italy's coastline between January and the end of September. According to a BBC report, 7,500 of them were Eritrean.
Release International, a VOMC partner in Eritrea, says 185 believers gathered recently to pray about the exodus. Suddenly, police broke into the house and arrested them all. Church leaders fear this may be a sign of things to come.
"They're [afraid] that the government's going to become even more intense in terms of the persecution," Musselman explains.
But there's a silver lining.
"In spite of all this persecution [and] imprisonment, people are still coming to know Jesus, and the Gospel is moving forward."
For the safety of their partners and staff, Musselman isn't able to share details of VOMC's work in Eritrea. However, he shared briefly the plight of one imprisoned pastor, *Abraham, and his family.
Abraham's daughter began a Christian fellowship at her school. When Eritrean officials began tracking her movements, Abraham's wife felt their family was no longer safe and that it was time to flee the country, though it meant leaving Abraham behind. When her letter reached him in prison, Abraham's response was simple yet powerful.
"He said, 'No matter where you go, keep our children in the Church'," recounts Musselman. "'I don't want to pay the price for nothing'."
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"Christmas is a time that families come together, and here we go again in Eritrea where families will be separated [at Christmastime]," states Musselman.
"There are many Eritreans living in Canada and the United States. If you have contacts…know Eritreans, just reach out to them, and maybe you can help them as they help their families."
See how you can help Eritrean prisoners through VOMC.
"You know, I think it always comes back to the most important thing we can do, and that's pray," Musselman adds. "We need to remember our brothers and sisters as if we were in prison with them."
Pray for Christians in prison, especially those being held in metal shipping containers. Ask God to encourage and strengthen them as they endure horrendous conditions. Pray for those who manage to escape Eritrea. Pray that their stories will inspire Christians to pray for this small African nation.
India (MNN/GFA) -- Since Cyclone Phailin hit the eastern shores of India, the people living in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh have been hit in the face with devastation once again. Heavy rainfall last week has flooded many villages and destroyed hundreds of thousands acres of crops.
Local officials fear the death toll will continue to rise if the rainfall doesn’t cease. Fourteen have already been killed from rain-related incidents.
Many villages in lower-elevated areas have been evacuated and brought to emergency relief camps.
With the flooding, roads and railways remain submerged. Cyclone relief efforts in many areas have slowed.
GFA pastors and Bridge of Hope children are also among those needing aid. In one region, around 78 pastors and over 1000 families of believers have been affected by the rain. In other areas, about 30 homes of Bridge to Hope are destroyed, damaged, or underwater.
Gospel for Asia Compassion Service teams continue to press on to provide relief despite these challenges.
Pray for the rain to stop and the waters to recede. Pray that relief efforts can continue strong with no obstacles. Pray that homes can be restored. Pray that no waterborne illnesses will occur. Especially pray for relief teams as they minister and provide people with much-needed aid.
USA (MNN) -- What if there were an organization that identified people who were already leaders in their community for evangelism training? What if there were an organization that provided the training for free, as long as these individuals could get away for 25 days to get that training? Would you pray and support them?
Well, guess what? There is such an organization and it's called the Haggai Institute.
But there is a problem.
Haggai Institute multiplies the impact of Christians worldwide by carefully selecting proven, credentialed leaders and giving them unparalleled training that equips them to impact their world with the message of Jesus.
Magda Van Der Walt is a trainer with the Haggai Institute. "We bring them to venues here in the U.S. and other places. We train them for 25 days. And the rationale behind that is really bringing them out of their comfort zones."
Van Der Walt says that as leaders are trained with other key leaders from around the world in evangelism, "These people go back [with] a commitment to train 100 others in their countries with influence."
What types of people are getting involved in the training? Van Der Walt says, "We have judges, attorneys, we have kings and queens. It's very important for us that the people we influence are people with influential impact. Back in their countries, they're already proven leaders."
What's the problem? There is a waiting list. Van Der Walt says, "There are some who wait 4-8 years. There are those where the process is just much easier and the visas are available; and if funds are there, they can come for immediate training. Right now we have a pool for 9,000 who are ready. We just need to be able to accommodate them."
The $12,000 needed for training is well worth it, says Van Der Walt. "It's for the 100 [people] he's going to teach, or she's going to train, and the 100 they will be training. Many of our alumni have trained 5,000 to 7,000 people."
Van Der Walt says those being trained are strategically selected. "We have alumni in countries that some people at this time cannot go, which are really closed. However, we have alumni there who came for training and are currently working and duplicating their training in their countries. There are people who have paid with their lives."
Click here to support Haggai Institute with a generous donation that will allow a key leader to be trained in evangelism.
Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) -- Jesus describes the Kingdom of God
as a tiny mustard seed. This small seed doesn't stop as a plant or a bush, as
one might assume from the size, but it grows into a tall tree.
The concept of small, humble beginnings turning into
something great is similar to a program launched in the Democratic Republic of
the Congo. Tiny tree seedlings contain the potential to save and nurture lives
of whole communities.
Food for the Hungry has instituted
a food for work program. Families who choose to join the program will be paid
in food to work at an agriculture station. The seedlings they raise will be
planted in an effort to reforest their community.
Marcelline Maniema is a mother of
eight. She and her husband once could not provide enough food for their family.
They were always hungry.
In August of 2012, FH began working in in Marcelline's
community, and she along with her husband soon joined their program. Before the
induction of that program, their Congo village was burdened with malnutrition. The land
was bad for farming. Any crops that were produced were usually ruined by the
flooding from the Rugamba river. This created a food deficit.
But that is all turning around now. Working at the
agricultural station, Marcelline and her husband received food and also
learned valuable information about farming. Other community members have joined
this work, learning what plants benefit the soil and how to maximize the
success of their farming efforts.
Knowledge learned about one subject can often lead to
knowledge in another. Marcelline is also a part of her community's care group
where she learns about health and hygiene practices. This knowledge she brings
to the rest of the community.
Marcelline and her husband can now feed all of their
children because of the payment they receive for their work. FH's program not
only benefits the community immediately with food, but also long term by their
reforestation efforts and the farming skills taught. When the trees begin producing fruits, the members of the
community will know how to best market the produce to benefit their community.
When Christians go out of their way to aid a hurting people,
the impact is more than just physical, emotional, or mental. It can be
spiritual, too. Acts of kindness like this one can be a gateway to share the
Gospel with those who are unsaved because the Gospel has already been
exemplified before them.
Praise God for the hope that He has brought this small
village. Pray that this community will continue to learn how they can support
themselves and earn income. Pray that they could keep fighting malnutrition and
other health issues that are rampant with their children. Pray that Christian
organizations would use the blessings they have from God to share the Gospel in
a loving and effective way. To give seeds
or seedlings to communities
like this one, click the respective links.