CBI completion certificates are highly valued by employers. (Image courtesy CBI)
Papua New Guinea (MNN/CBI) -- When Crossroad Bible Institute expanded their prison ministry in Papua New Guinea, they expected to break ground. But they didn't expect to break records.
In 2012, prison officials saw the success of CBI's program and wanted to extend those benefits to other institutions. The Buimo Jail in Lae, Papua New Guinea, is one such institution.
The response from women prisoners at Buimo marked a historic first for CBI: fieldworker Terry West reported that 100% of the women who qualified for the program (which requires basic English literacy) chose to enroll.
The next day, West introduced the CBI program in the juvenile, remand, and men’s facilities at Buimo. In each of the facilities, he witnessed the same astonishing response: 100% of qualifying prisoners signed up for the program.
The incarcerated were not the only ones to show an enthusiastic response: five corrections officers also enrolled in CBI’s Bible study program. In all, a total of 150 Papua New Guineans became CBI students, and CBI Australia is optimistic that enrollment numbers will continue to grow.
“Other inmates who have seen what is going on with the students doing their lessons also want to start the program,” said CBI Australia co-director Ray Hoekzema.
In establishing the CBI program at Buimo, the ministry received support from a delegation of prison officials and the assistant commissioner of corrective services, Michael Mosiri. Mosiri helped CBI launch the program at Bomana Prison in Port Moresby last year.
CBI’s discipleship courses have been very popular in Papua New Guinea, and prison officials have encouraged CBI to establish the program in additional facilities because of the positive effects on students. Furthermore, Papua New Guinean students have benefited materially from CBI’s courses, as the certificates of completion are highly valued by local employers.
But high enrollment numbers are only the beginning in Papua New Guinea. CBI Australia seeks to lead the many new students to an understanding of the Gospel that will change their lives.
“Please continue to pray for the ministry in Buimo Prison,” West requested. “[Pray] that the students will come into a rich relationship with our Lord and Savior."
Learn more about CBI and its work around the world.
Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. (Photo courtesy of Assist News)
Somalia (ODM) -- Somali and international leaders condemned the July 27 suicide attack at a compound housing Turkish embassy staff in the Hodan district of Mogadishu.
The attack killed a Turkish guard and a Somali bystander while wounding others, according to Open Doors USA.
Somali rebel group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in which a car laden with explosives crashed into the gates of the Turkish residence. Three al-Shabaab militants, including the car bomber, were also killed.
Just prior to the attack, al-Shabaab promised in a series of Twitter messages to step up what they called their "Ramadan Offensive" in the second half of the Muslim month of fasting that ends August 7.
"Ramadan is a month of Jihad and sacrifice. It's time for observing the most righteous deeds and offering gratitude to Allah for His blessings," one message said. "And what better way to observe Ramadan and offer gratitude to Allah than striking the necks of the invaders and destroying their might!"
The group said in the first half of the fast, its fighters carried out over 100 attacks, mostly in and around the capital Mogadishu. These allegedly included 57 explosions and grenade attacks, 41 direct confrontations and ambushes, 9 targeted assassinations, and a suicide attack against an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy in Mogadishu on July 12 in which they claim to have wounded American intelligence officials.
"Please remember to pray for the handful of secret Christians in Somalia," said an Open Doors worker. "Although al-Shabaab threatens the society in general, these secret Christians are at particular risk. During Ramadan they face additional pressures, not only from al-Shabaab but from the society in general as zealous Muslims spy on neighbors to see what level of participation they have to the Ramadan fast. Being suspected of leaving the Islamic fold has dire consequences. It is our prayer that in the midst of these challenges, God will be at work in the lives of Somali people and that many will come to Him in faith. We pray that God will establish in Somalia a strong and vibrant testimony for Him."
Click here to get prayer updates from Open Doors.
Your prayers and support are needed for flood victims in Andhra Pradesh. (Image courtesy India Partners)
India (MNN) -- India is seeing another round of worse-than-normal flooding. This time it's in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
There are reportedly 100 relief camps operating across the state. In addition, over 4,000 people were reportedly moved to a safer location last week because of flooding.
Donna Glass with India Partners says they're sending aid to 26 villages in the northern region of Andhra Pradesh, providing basic supplies for more than 1,400 families.
"With the flood waters, the villages are cut off, and so the only transportation--in or out--is by boat," says Glass. "We have not gotten a report before, of so many villages being completely cut-off."
Early flooding in India's northern Uttarakhand state killed thousands and erased the livelihood of tens of thousands. According to India's meteorological department, monsoon rains that led to this flooding were 440% over the annual average.
Some in India are saying the record "cloudburst" isn't completely to blame for severe flooding in Uttarakhand and now Andhra Pradesh.
In a report featured by The Guardian, writer Kavitha Rao says India's environmentalists claim "the region has been slowly eroded by rampant development." Devinder Sharma of the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security told CNN a massive road-building project is only making it harder to cope with the region's annual monsoon rains.
While parties debate the cause, the government and some NGOs are dropping relief packages to flood victims in Andhra Pradesh from a helicopter.
"The government has indicated that they are going to be bringing in rice and cooking oil, but the people need more than that," Glass states. "They need the hope of Christ."
India Partners' cohort in northern Andhra Pradesh is bringing them that hope, along with daily staples like rice, cooking oil, dahl, vegetables, and soap.
Earlier this month, an India Partners team visited Andhra Pradesh to hold Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) training. Villagers are putting into practice what they learned, bringing help to flood victims.
"They wanted to bring in soap as part of their relief packages because they felt the importance of the hygiene portion of our training," says Glass.
"One of the big issues, when you have standing water, is the spread of waterborne diseases."
Glass says their partners are hoping the soap will lead to an opportunity to hold WASH training in affected areas, thereby reducing the spread of disease. Since WASH training is built on biblical principles, it also creates a platform to share Christ.
"It definitely has an opportunity to open up more for the Gospel to come in," Glass states.
Less than $20 can help a family; click here to get connected.
Pray for long-term opportunities to share Christ with flood victims. Pray that flood relief will arrive quickly.
Twin girls stand outside temporary tents in the aftermath of China's 6.6 magnitude earthquake. (Photo courtesy of Ahsan/Twitter)
China (MNN) -- The 6.6 magnitude earthquake sent tremors through northwest China last Monday morning, but not in the news headlines.
94 were killed and 1,001 injured by the earthquake in Gansu province.
123,000 people were affected and around 31,600 fled to temporary shelters, according to the provincial earthquake administration.
Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global Response (BGR) explains why the earthquake didn’t have the same impact in the news. “It’s a very remote area and a little bit of a security concern area for the government of China.... And because of everything else that’s been happening in the news, it’s just kind of one of those things that’s been off the radar.”
China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs has sent relief materials including 20,000 tents, 10,000 folding beds, and 30,000 cotton quilts.
The security issue concerns restrictions on foreigners coming in and giving aid to this devastated people group.
Palmer says it’s because China sees this people group as living on the outskirts of society. “[These are] people groups that are not main people groups within the Chinese world. There [are] some of the Muslim folks that are in the area and relationship issues that are there. So part of the security is outsiders' or foreigners' access to the area.”
This hasn’t stopped BGR from helping, however. “One of the neat things that we’ve been able to do is work through local partners who help us get over that barrier of foreigners going into the area…. So we don’t have to deal with the hang-ups, and we can get the necessary lifeline items to those that are in need,” says Palmer.
BGR partners have trained crews who are distributing aid like food, water, shelter, and healthcare items. The Chinese Christians responding to the disaster have gained positive attention from their government.
Palmer says, “Because of the fact of the earthquakes that have happened there before, and because of the response we’ve done with these partners, they’ve gained a lot of credibility even though they are followers of Christ. Within many countries like China, there’s some suspicion of that. But at the same time, these folks have demonstrated in deed and what they’ve done in a way that has really opened up doors.”
These are incredible opportunities for the Gospel. “Maybe for the first time ever, many of these people who are in crisis mode who have been affected and devastated by the earthquake are coming in contact with followers of Jesus Christ,” Palmer shares.
Please pray for BGR partners distributing aid. Pray for conversations that will lead to witnessing about Jesus Christ. Pray for hope and healing for earthquake victims.
You can help BGR’s efforts by donating to their General Disaster Fund here.
(Cover image courtesy Compass Direct News/Story photo courtesy Flickr/Creative Commons/GovernmentZA)
Nigeria (MNN) -- No one has officially taken credit for the bombings Monday night in the city of Kano, Nigeria. Spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA Todd Nettleton says one doesn't have to go far to find a group that's capable and willing. The attacks hit a Christian neighborhood. "It bears all the hallmarks of a Boko Haram attack. In fact, this same Christian area had previously been bombed by Boko Haram in March." Police and hospital reports have the death toll at 24 people.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on May 14 in six northeastern states covering one-sixth of the country. It was an effort to control the Islamic uprising by extremists based mainly in the northeast.
Nettleton is quick to note that although Kano city and state are not part of that emergency, everyone is affected by the attacks. "There are Muslims who are affected in these bombings as well, but it does seem that the target was Christians, because this part of the city is identified as a Christian area."
The main group behind the violence is the Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language means "Western education is forbidden." The militant group boldly proclaims intent to impose Islamic law in all of Nigeria. The nation of more than 160 million is divided almost equally between Christians, who live mainly in the south, and Muslims, who dominate the north.
Lately, the Boko Haram has begun to include Muslim political and religious leaders who preach against their extreme form of Islam. In addition to churches and Christian leaders, they've also started targeting schools, killing scores of students and some teachers. Their network is blamed for more than 1,600 deaths since 2010.
The pattern of persecution in Nigeria has become complex. Conversion is dangerous, and Muslim-background believers are most at risk. Persecution levels vary across the country and are underlined by terrorist action and an unpredictable environment, which leaves Christians living in fear. However, Nettleton says, "Our ministry in Nigeria includes a ministry of encouragement and really connecting with believers; just one of the very simple things is letting them know ‘you're not forgotten. There are people who are praying for you. There are people who are remembering you.'"
The Voice of the Martyrs also opened a prosthetics clinic for attack survivors and provides scholarships for the children who've lost parents to the Boko Haram's murderous rampage. The other part of that help is training, says Nettleton. "We also provide Bibles, we provide other Christian materials, and we're helping to train people to reach out to Muslims. Some of the most effective people who are doing that are former Muslims."
Training brings a confidence that responds to the fear being planted by the Boko Haram. "Our call is to be salt and light, and share the Gospel. That's obviously a lot harder when even the simple act of going to church could result in your death."
The Islamist agenda for Nigeria is to bring the whole country under the House of Islam. Many Christians fear the new elections in 2015. The future does not look bright, with emerging links between al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and Boko Haram making more violent persecution likely.
What can you do? "The first thing that you can do is pray," says Nettleton, adding, "Particularly, when we're talking about a bombing just last night (Monday night), we're praying for the Lord to heal. We're praying for the wounded. We're praying for the families who've lost loved ones."
There's trauma involved, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, he explains. "Pray for the strengthening of our Nigerian brothers and sisters that something like this won't take away their courage or won't take away their sense that God is still at work in their country." Pray that many members of Boko Haram will come to a saving knowledge of Christ.