Banner

Christian Headlines rss

     < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > View by date Most popular (last 2 weeks)

Vital training for such a time as this   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-15 - 14 days ago
(Image courtesy Haggai Institute) Philippines (HGA/MNN) -- You've probably heard the phrase "for such a time as this." It's the ultimate leadership-training story of Esther, at a critical time when she's encouraged to take a stand. Her cousin Mordecai helps her realize that God placed her in such a way as to influence a king and prevent the slaughter of a nation. It brings two points to the forefront: the only way you're going to hear that call is if you listen, and the only way you can do that is by getting alone and spending some quiet time with God. This is what the Haggai Institute does. The training sessions they offer help prepare leaders to obey the Great Commission and influence the world. Sound a little grandiose? Not really, when you consider the scope of their vision. They're not talking leaders (with a lower case l). They're talking about the Leaders of a country (with a capital L). Here's how they're succeeding. Last month, we told you about presidential candidate Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, who is the Leader of Opposition in Malawi's Parliament. Dr. Chakwera is also a Haggai Institute alumnus. (Photo courtesy Wikipedia) This month, we're looking at two candidates for the Associate Justice of the (15-person) Supreme Court in The Philippines. Two of the names that are on the shortlist of four candidates recently presented to President Aquino are those of Haggai Institute alumni: Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and Judge Reynaldo Daway. When asked about marrying his job and faith together, Reyes answered, "Whenever I perform my tasks, I always rely on the guidance and inspiration and the wisdom provided by God, especially in matters pertaining to human life, protection of the environment, protection of human rights." After all, Reyes adds, being an advocate for justice means you have to know what grace is, too. "I take my job seriously so God should always be my help. He is the most powerful, yet full of mercy, so I always pray to God whenever I perform my tasks." Justice Reyes continues his involvement with the HI ministry and was part of their first Asia Pacific Summit held in the Philippines. Why? "It's an institution for the evangelization of leaders." In other words, you can change a nation from the top down. "As one of those fortunate ones to be invited by Haggai, I learned in Haggai that leaders must be God-fearing and must be prayerful. In other words, we must lead by example." He has been serving as Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals since his appointment in 2003. "I believe that I became a better Christian after that training. And I continue to remember the things that I have learned in Haggai." The Haggai Institute training, he asserts, helped him gain a good track record as a public servant who has served the Judiciary for 27 years with integrity and dedicated service. (Photo Appeals Court, Philippines courtesy Wikipedia) One of his favorite topics is stewardship. It's easy to apply his training and his faith in the cases he gets, whether its financial stewardship or resource stewardship. That also opens doors for relationship, explains Reyes, with people who can get on board with decisions that involve environmental causes. "I became more and more involved in evangelization and trying to reach out, especially to the court employees by leading by example and bringing God to them and bring them to God." Specifically, after Haggai training, Reyes began a Christian Life Program under the government's Moral Recovery Program; he is fondly called “bishop” by his colleagues because of his insistence on praying in every situation. The other nominee, alumnus Reynaldo B. Daway, is presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City apart from being its Specialized Intellectual Property (IP) and Commercial Law judge. Haggai Institute inspired him to take time out of his hectic work schedule to step up his ministry endeavors by conducting more Bible studies (his passion) and “to build a closer personal relationship with my family” and also “to build better relationships with fellow Christians.” An important part of his life is the close communication he maintains with his Haggai Institute session mates who--through the e-group prolifically maintained--have prayed him through the entire nomination process. He shared with them that if he has any desire in this promotion, “it is for His glory alone.” Please pray about the decision for Supreme Court appointment, which will be coming soon. The last judge who held the seat retired on 29 May. The President has to announce a replacement within 90 days, which would put the deadline at the end of August.

Chhattisgarh persecution makes Odisha workers nervous   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-15 - 14 days ago
The Hindu Heartland is a loosely-defined region in North and Central India where varieties of Hindi are widely spoken, either as primary or secondary languages.(Map, caption courtesy Wikipedia) India (MNN) -- Fears are coming true in the Hindu Heartland of India. Local authorities now have the power to make the rules and say "No" to Christians. Recent Chhattisgarh persecution is making Christians in Odisha nervous, according to contacts with India Partners. "The State Government of Chhattisgarh must act to protect constitutional rights," stated the Evangelical Fellowship of India in a press release shared with India Partners. "The decisions of a number of village Panchayats in the Bastar region banning the entry of Christian workers could lead to the large scale persecution of the minority community by aggressive groups. "The government must reverse the decisions of these Panchayats immediately to restore the confidence of the Christian community in Chhattisgarh, which is under considerable stress in recent days. There seems to be well thought-out pattern and sinister design behind these actions." A "panchayat" is a local governing body, explains India Partners' CEO and President, John Sparks. "The state is trying to give some of the local administrative bodies more [authority]," he states. "Whoever has the power makes the rules, and that is the fear [of Christian workers]." According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India, more than 50 panchayats have passed laws forbidding "all non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers, and speeches in the villages." "In addition to this, there seems to be a social boycott of Christian villagers, some of whom have also been denied basic amenities including rations," the group adds in its press release. "If someone comes and tries to share the Gospel, they'll get beat up and thrown in prison," says Sparks. "If they [local leaders] can do this in a few villages, and no one in the state government or central government takes any action, then it empowers the local people [in other states] to say 'No Christians' and throw the Christians out of the village." Why Hindu nationalist and current Prime Minister Nahendra Modi might not step in. Odisha state shares a border with Chhattisgarh. Christian workers in Odisha (formerly Orissa) state have a multitude of ministries that would be directly impacted if this "legal persecution" spread outside Chhattisgarh's borders. Reaching Hand Society, a ministry helped by India Partners, shares Christ through medical missions in hundreds of tribal villages. Learn more about their work here. Please keep this situation in your prayers. "Pray for peace," Sparks requests. "Pray for the leaders, that they would allow the Gospel to go forward." More stories from India's Hindu Heartland here.

Israel under attack: Prayer Alert   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-15 - 14 days ago
(Image courtesy Slavic Gospel Association) Israel (SGA) -- Israel says nearly 1,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza since last Tuesday. Thousands of people have fled homes in northern Gaza after an Israeli warning. Meanwhile, Israel has amassed thousands of troops on the border. The current wave of violence followed the killing of three Israeli teenagers in June and the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem. Slavic Gospel Association president Bob Provost issued a call for prayer in light of the rocket attacks on Israel: (edited) As I write this, the nation of Israel is once again under sustained rocket attack by radical Islamic terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli people--Arab and Jewish alike, as well as the Russian-speaking Christian congregations that SGA serves--are in serious personal danger. I am asking you to join the SGA family in sustained intercessory prayer for their safety and for peace to return. Terrorists have even aimed rocket fire at Jerusalem, Israel’s historic capital and location of holy sites important to all faiths: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim. Pray for peace! The Gaza militants thus far have fired more than 225 rockets since the latest round of fighting intensified this past week. The cities of Ashkelon, Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Hadera, Ashdod, and even Jerusalem, have been under fire. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have responded by carrying out more than 160 airstrikes in Gaza to try and stop the rocket attacks. The death toll is some 27 people killed, with more than 130 wounded. Of the 225 rockets fired at Israel, the country’s “Iron Dome” defense system was able to intercept about 40 of them. The Israeli Navy has joined in the operation and has begun to implement a tight circle around Gaza from the sea. Reports say that Hamas commandos attempted an amphibious assault near Ashkelon, but the IDF stopped them. I received a brief report from SGA’s director of Bible training in Israel, and he asks that we continue to pray about this grave situation. He said, "The rockets are falling sometimes close to our apartment building, but we are safe in God’s hands. The sirens go off about 15 seconds before the rockets fall. When I was returning from a visit to Netanya, the train was not allowed to proceed to Ashkelon (the target of many rockets). Our building is shaking from the rockets landing, and my wife was nearly hit today while shopping for an elderly friend. We know that many want us to relocate to a safer place, but we want to stay here in Israel. Our children, grandchildren, and our ministry are here. Two days ago, we began a new Bible school close to the border with Lebanon. Thank you for helping us, and for your prayers." This situation truly grieves our hearts, yet we know that our Sovereign God has His divine, eternal purpose in what He allows. We also know that He has commanded us to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6). I trust you will join us in doing so. In the United States, we have little notion these days of what it is like to hear the frightening, eerie sound of an air raid siren, and realizing that a bomb may be falling from the sky in mere seconds.. For many of us, even the childhood memory of school Cold War nuclear attack drills are a distant memory. I have become aware of some electronic resources that can illustrate just what the Israeli people face routinely. If you are on Twitter, you can follow an account called @Alarmdarom. It sends out a tweet each time a rocket is launched at Israel and the air raid sirens sound. There is also a free app for iPhone and iPad called “Red Alert: Israel” that posts a notice when an attack is taking place. Besides the crisis-monitoring and illustrative capability, these unique resources can also remind us to pray continually for the safety of our brothers and sisters. Thank you in advance for interceding in prayer. For updates and more, click here.

U.S. donors help widows in need   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-15 - 14 days ago
Persita stands in front of her new home that was reconstructed by members of several local churches.(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid) Philippines (CAM/MNN) -- Filipino widows are getting their homes back just in the nick of time, thanks to the help of U.S. donors and Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions. When Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines last year, already-vulnerable widows lost the little they had. Many of these women still live exposed to the sun and storms nine months after the typhoon blew their houses away. Already living hand-to-mouth, there was no one to care for them. But this scenario changed recently for Persita Evangelista, a 69-year-old widow who lives with her only son in a fishing village on the shores of Bugtong Bay. Evangelista said she has suffered through many storms, but none like Haiyan. “It was the strongest typhoon I’ve ever experienced. It just lifted the roof right off my house!” “I thank all the Christians who gave help to me, especially those in the United States,” she said. “Without this help, I would still be living in the open!” Evangelista’s house was rebuilt with the help of community volunteers from several local churches that joined together to replace the roof and walls of her home. The American aid, used to buy sheet metal roofing, prompted the churches of Busuanga to add their “sweat equity” to the project. The project couldn't have "crossed the finish line" at a better time. Every August, massive hurricanes begin to form in the Pacific, and several usually make it through Luzon and Leyte to the more sheltered islands of Palawan. Evangelista and her son will be safe and dry as the storms pound ashore in the coming weeks. Pray for supernatural speed so workers can complete more homes before storms begin. Like many fishermen in their storm-tossed coastal village, Persita’s son was eager to return to work.(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid) Palawan is in many ways a tropical paradise. The cluster islands are sheltered west of Leyte and the city of Tacloban. They were practically wiped off the map by the intense winds and flooding from Haiyan. Tacloban and the surrounding province grabbed most of the news media attention and the lion’s share of the aid which poured into the Philippines. But with the help of indigenous pastors and ministry workers, Christian Aid is sending support to overlooked areas like Palawan. You can help Filipino believers rebuild more homes destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan here.

US donors help widows in need   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-15 - 14 days ago
Persita stands in front of her new home that was reconstructed by members of several local churches.(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid) Philippines (CAM/MNN) -- Filipino widows are getting their homes back just in the nick of time, thanks to the help of U.S. donors and Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions. When Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines last year, already-vulnerable widows lost the little they had. Many of these women still live exposed to the sun and storms nine months after the typhoon blew their houses away. Already living hand-to-mouth, there was no one to care for them. But this scenario changed recently for Persita Evangelista, a 69-year-old widow who lives with her only son in a fishing village on the shores of Bugtong Bay. Evangelista said she has suffered through many storms, but none like Haiyan. “It was the strongest typhoon I’ve ever experienced. It just lifted the roof right off my house!” “I thank all the Christians who gave help to me, especially those in the United States,” she said. “Without this help, I would still be living in the open!” Evangelista’s house was rebuilt with the help of community volunteers from several local churches that joined together to replace the roof and walls of her home. The American aid, used to buy sheet metal roofing, prompted the churches of Busuanga to add their “sweat equity” to the project. The project couldn't have "crossed the finish line" at a better time. Every August, massive hurricanes begin to form in the Pacific, and several usually make it through Luzon and Leyte to the more sheltered islands of Palawan. Evangelista and her son will be safe and dry as the storms pound ashore in the coming weeks. Pray for supernatural speed so workers can complete more homes before storms begin. Like many fishermen in their storm-tossed coastal village, Persita’s son was eager to return to work.(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid) Palawan is in many ways a tropical paradise. The cluster islands are sheltered west of Leyte and the city of Tacloban. They were practically wiped off the map by the intense winds and flooding from Haiyan. Tacloban and the surrounding province grabbed most of the news media attention and the lion’s share of the aid which poured into the Philippines. But with the help of indigenous pastors and ministry workers, Christian Aid is sending support to overlooked areas like Palawan. You can help Filipino believers rebuild more homes destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan here.

Anti-Christian violence not hindering ministry   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-15 - 14 days ago
(Image courtesy Far Corners Missions) India (MNN) -- Andhra Pradesh has been nicknamed an "emerging hotbed of anti-Christian violence" by World Watch Monitor. Far Corners Missions ministers in the area. Today it is the state with the highest anti-Christian incident rate in India. These attacks often target pastors and their families. Andhra Pradesh is also neighbored by many states enforcing "anti-conversion" laws. And there's no telling how long Andhra Pradesh will remain operating without a similar law. However, growing violence and opposition isn't stunting the growth of Christianity in India. Quite the opposite, in fact. Far Corners Missions began their Vision 25 campaign earlier this year. Their goal is to reach 1250 unreached villages on the Central East Coast of India with the Gospel by 2025. To do this, Far Corners needs to have the ability to train more pastors at their Word of Life Bible Training Center. In order to train more pastors, they needed more room to house them. So in January, Far Corners began raising funds to build another floor on their student dormitories. Gary Bishop of Far Corners shares, "Within a few months, we had all the money that was needed to completely pay for the dorm expansion, so God blessed that step of faith and the desire to plant those churches in an amazing way." The ministry is now down to the finishing touches. Word of Life focuses on training men to plant churches and engage a village in practical ways. Their curriculum is very similar to Bible courses in the West. However, the students in India also have the opportunity to practice their preaching at churches in the evenings. Bishop says, "This is preparation for these young men to go to unreached villages. That is a village where there are no known Christians and no one is planning to plant a church there." The students are given helpful courses to equip them with useful skills. The classes teach first aid, small appliance repair, electrical wiring, and driving. Bishop says, "Almost 100% of the villages that our guys go to will be villages without any kind of medical help at all." He continues to explain that in the poorest villages, anyone who has a broken appliance will throw it away rather than try to repair it. Learning electrical wiring will help pastors set up solar-powered lighting that will allow for more working, studying, and security in the daily lives of the villagers. "These four courses give them a step in the direction of credibility in a village where they're going, where it will be largely Hindu people," Bishop says. Before Vision 25, Word of Life could only train 50 men, 25 each from the freshmen and sophomore classes. But this fall, Word of Life will be able to welcome 15 more men to learn how to plant churches. "We have some additional young men ready to go, and we're excited for what that means for the Kingdom in India," Bishop says. Far Corners Missions provides for all the needs of the students while they take classes. For the low cost of $65 a month, all their expenses are covered. Click here and select “India – Teach” to help this project financially, or call 800-550-0035. When you partner with a student at Word of Life, Bishop says, "It's a really personal connection." You have the opportunity to be a prayer partner with him, and you will receive updates on how he is doing every quarter of the school year. Bishop asks for your prayers that Word of Life will be able to handle the extra students as they continue to grow. Also ask God to strengthen His servants in India despite the hardships they face on a daily basis.

Meeting special needs   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-14 - 15 days ago
The Blessed School (Photo by SAT-7) Lebanon (SAT-7/MNN) -- ISIS continues to grow in its threats, and now it is looking to Lebanon. The following story is about brothers and sisters who need our prayer. In February, the Lebanon studio of SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, received a visit from The Blessed School. Students at The Blessed School have special needs such as autism, Down syndrome, and learning disabilities. (Photo by SAT-7) At the studio, the children were inspired by a behind-the-scenes look at the broadcasting industry. After meeting studio employees, one little boy said, "I want to become a singer like Marianne." Another said, "I want to be a director like Elie." (Photo by SAT-7) At the end of the visit, the kids said they enjoyed the day "more than anything in the world." The school director thanked SAT-7, and the group prayed together. The students know Bible stories and enjoy watching SAT-7 KIDS. They are fans of The Naji Show and Let's Sing Together, and they want to compete in the game shows filmed in Egypt. On March, Mother’s Day in Lebanon, a SAT-7 team visited The Blessed School to film a performance the kids put on for their mothers. One little girl is a talented singer. In spite of severe epilepsy and hallucinations, she has learned Christian songs and sings them on key, word-for-word. Another girl is a promising sketch-artist. Her parents cannot afford to send her to a specialized school, but her teacher at The Blessed School hopes to develop her skills. "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms" (1 Peter 4:10). (Photo by SAT-7) Before leaving, SAT-7 donated and installed a satellite dish and receiver so the children can watch SAT-7 KIDS. Cathia Shaheen (pictured right), Administration and Personnel Officer for SAT-7 Lebanon, believes the visit made a lasting impression on the children. She says, "They were thrilled and kept looking at me and the camera, proud that SAT-7 is interested in their performances…They need to see new faces, to feel that they are loved." SAT-7 hopes to have more opportunities to share Christ’s love with the local community. Praise God for the wonderful blessing He's given through mutual encouragement in his name. Pray for these Christians in Lebanon to be a light to the rest of their country even as tensions rise and threats close in from ISIS. Want to make a difference? Your gift today of $10 reaches 10 viewers for one year. Click here to give now!

Central African Republic crisis becomes a waiting game   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-14 - 15 days ago
Refugees in Bangui(Photo credit: Staff Sgt Ryan Crane) Central African Republic (MNN) -- The Central African Republic crisis has become a "waiting game" as French forces try to prevent even more conflict from breaking loose in Bambari. "They're keeping the Muslims and the anti-balaka (Christian militants) separated," explains Jim Hocking of Water for Good, an in-country partner of Living Water International and Reach Beyond. "They've been crossing the bridge and getting into each other's neighborhoods, killing people [and] hurting some people, and then going back home and hiding out in their village." Last Monday, Muslim Seleka forces and armed civilians attacked St. Joseph's Catholic Cathedral in Bambari. It was supposedly a "retaliatory" attack. Several days prior, anti-balaka militants initiated violence in a Muslim neighborhood, killing a civilian. The church was sheltering thousands of people displaced by Muslim-Christian violence when fighters reportedly broke in and started shooting at random. Assailants also razed buildings and burnt cars belonging to the church's bishop. The attack left 26 dead and dozens more wounded. Three days of national mourning for the victims began on Thursday. Keeping the Peace Following the attack on St. Joseph's Catholic Cathedral, French peacekeeping troops sprang into action. There is a long bridge that people have to cross to enter Bambari, Hocking explains. The French are blocking access to the bridge to prevent communities from attacking each other. "It will probably have to continue until we have large enough forces in the CAR: mainly, the UN forces that are coming in, probably 12,000 troops, in September," he says. "The multinational forces are a help, but the European Union and the UN troops that are coming into the country are really going to make the difference." Interim CAR president Catherine Samba-Panza In a separate development last week, human rights watchdog Amnesty International released this report identifying government and militia leaders involved in the Central African Republic crisis. It called on Catherine Samba-Panza, the country's interim President, to take action. "Her hands are tied," notes Hocking. "She has no security forces…so it's very difficult for her to be able to implement anything." For now, everyone waits for September. Ministry continues Gospel workers aren't waiting for UN and EU troops to arrive, though. Water and radio ministries are continuing. Hocking spoke with ministry leaders last week following the attack on St. Joseph's Cathedral, ensuring safety and monitoring progress. Leaders told Hocking that one of Water for Good's teams was hard at work drilling wells in refugee camps surrounding Bangui. Other teams were out repairing wells and performing maintenance calls. Well maintenance teams have made over 650 service visits to water pumps so far in 2014.(Image, caption courtesy Water For Good) "We are trying to get more security help in that area; [we're] trying to get (bulletproof) vests, [satellite] phones [to] be able to get in touch with our teams when they're out in the bush," explains Hocking. Extra security measures will certainly add to Water for Good's expenses, but "we're able to continue our work, and we thank the Lord for that." Support the water ministry here, or help the radio team send Gospel messages of reconciliation here. "They all need help," shares Hocking. "They all need your prayers, because this is not going to be easy. Taking time every day to be praying is going to be very important. "Your prayers are going to strengthen and encourage the nationals that are working toward peace." See additional ways the Central African Republic crisis is affecting ministry here.

Day of Prayer for religious freedom in American universities   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-14 - 15 days ago
(Photo Kendall Administration Hall at California StateUniversity, Chico, courtesy Wikipedia) USA (ICF/MNN) -- While college students across the country are enjoying a break from classes this summer, some Christian students at the largest four-year public university system in the country are wondering if they will be allowed religious freedom when they return to campus. Greg Jao with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is National Field Director for the Northeast. He says, "The California State University system decided a year and a half ago that religious groups were no longer permitted to use religious criteria in leadership selection. That meant that InterVarsity and other religious groups couldn't require that the worship leader be a Christian or that the Bible study leaders be Christian." In 2012, the outgoing chancellor of the California State University system issued a new policy that requires recognized student groups to accept all students as potential leaders. Last August, the new chancellor, Timothy White, graciously granted religious groups a one-year exemption for the 2013-14 school year. That time period is rapidly coming to a close. Jao says, "We went back to the university and said that 'we know that you want to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere on campus for all students. But by choosing this course of action, we think you're actually undercutting your goals. To be a welcoming, inclusive place means that you take religious groups seriously as religious groups and that means their leaders need to be religious.'" Greg Jao is a National Field director forInterVarsity Christian Fellowship.(Photo Courtesy of InterVarsity) During the dialogue, Jao says, they offered a compromise. It's not unlike other compromises InterVarsity has been offered at other campuses. "They've all suggested, 'Can't you just have a knowledge based test? Do a Bible quiz?' We said, 'You can know a lot about Scripture without actually committing yourself to know and serving the God that gives us the Scripture.' It's that belief commitment that's important to us." The California State University system is the largest four-year public university system in the United States. InterVarsity has chapters on 19 of the 23 Cal State campuses. The potential for influence is huge. What's more, Jao explains, "As our culture becomes looser and looser about what it defines to be Christian, it helps us to have something that anchors us so that we're faithful to who we've been in the past and we can be faith messengers of the Gospel in the future. Because we have that in our constitution, the universities have decided that is impermissible." Under the religious leadership criteria scrutiny, are student groups that are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or atheist held to the same standard? Not always. InterVarsity is much more bold in its purpose at the outset. "The other religious groups often have not caught scrutiny in part because as one Muslim student leader told me, 'It didn't occur to us that we had to specify that the Muslim student association had to be a Muslim, but maybe we do, now.'" For 70 years, God has enabled InterVarsity toengage students and faculty with the Gospel.(Photo courtesy of InterVarsity) "Ultimately, this is a spiritual issue, and therefore, in part, a spiritual battle," Jao notes. That's why "InterVarsity's president, Alec Hill, has invited everybody concerned about campus ministry and access to campuses to spend some time on July 14, Monday, in concerted prayer about the campus access situation--particularly at California State University, but really, in all of the universities." The staff remains focused. "Inter Varsity student leaders are busy at work right now, preparing Bible studies, designing new student outreach activities, and preparing to do ministry on campus. So, we're praying that they be encouraged. God is sovereign. While losing easy access to campus is discouraging, it will not stop what God is doing on campus." Jao explains, "Part of what InterVarsity is doing is listening and planning thoughtfully and prayerfully to determine that if we can't get access to campus through traditional means, how will we still be a witnessing presence on the campus afterwards?" Pray that dialogue remains open with the administration. "Pray that the Holy Spirit would work in the administrators and change their minds. We don't think of the administrators as our enemies: these are people who are part of our mission field. We would love for them to meet Jesus as part of this." For more information on how to pray for this situation, please click here, or for details on InterVarsity's call for a Day of Prayer, click here.

Blessings and roadblocks in Bulgaria   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-14 - 15 days ago
(Photo courtesy of SEND International) Bulgaria (MNN) -- How many times have you been faithfully pursuing a calling from God when all of a sudden, there's a road block? Gisli and Nora Jonsson of SEND International can both certainly understand your frustration. Their efforts for the last five years in Sofia, Bulgaria, have not been in vain, but they had little support. Gisli is a Christian counselor to anyone who needs help, whether Christian or not. He wakes up early each day to spend time with God, and then begins his work at nine, meeting with up to six clients a day, five days a week. Many of these clients are victims of sex-trafficking. Others are having difficulty in marriage, some are struggling with the pain of sexual abuse or rape, and others are children with behavioral issues. They are helping people going through all sorts of trials. In the short time in Bulgaria, Gisli says they've met with people from 15-18 different nationalities. Nora is a teacher currently going through two courses for trafficking victims. They are courses about anger and self-image. She also teaches English as a second language and meets with four clients a week, focusing on women and children. Between the two of them, they're ministering to nearly 30 people a week. Not only are they helping people tackle deep questions, but they're finding a way to share the Gospel too. Nora says, "For me, [the Gospel is] kind of the basis of it, without it being overt, because we actually deal with Christians and non-Christians. And some Christians are having issues in their relationship with God. It's kind of important not to make it a barrier before they come in." She continues saying, "Gisli [and I] are actually both very aware that God is...behind all that we do. So we feed on Him in the morning, and then we ask the Holy Spirit to lead the counseling sessions." Many of the people Nora meets with are unmarried and bitter with God because of it. In this case, Nora is more open about the role God should be taking in these women's lives. "Really, counseling is all about trying to enable the other person to sort out where they are in whatever relationship," she says. Gisli says, "Possibly about 60% of my clients are Christians, so it's easy to share the Gospel and bring the Biblical truths into their lives. However, when any non-Christian comes to counseling, I try more to live the Gospel out myself." Either way, their ministry is effective. After meeting with some trafficking victims for two years, Gisli says nearly all of them are attending church. "Bit-by-bit, we can kind of feed them gently with God's presence, God's love, God's forgiveness, and God's patience with their lives. Often, these people are extremely broken. It isn't just the trafficking: it's also their past because they're also coming from very broken backgrounds." Many of them are touched by the help they receive from the Jonssons, even while they find it difficult to understand why anyone is helping them without asking anything in return. Bulgaria has extreme alcoholism and abuse problems. Nora explains that while this is true of many other countries as well, Bulgaria does not have much help for those issues. One challenge the couple faces is within the culture itself. However, this is why they believe their ministry is necessary in Bulgaria. In the communist way of thinking, there is no reason to be different, to be progressive, or to have initiative. There is also an expectation that they should be told what to do, that they even need an authority figure telling them how to think. "The Bulgarians are great people, but their individuality or their ingenuity has been stamped out. It's a very fearful nation. They're all afraid of betrayal--suspicious," Nora explains. Because of that way of thinking, the church in Bulgaria does not encourage followers to ask deep questions. Many feel the need to hide their struggles because they are under the impression that either their relationship with God is perfect, or they're not a Christian at all. Nora and Gisli are teaching them that they can discuss deep questions and that it's okay to think through things for themselves. Nora says, "We've just allowed people: 'Come with your deep questions, your deep fears, your deep insecurity with God.' "I believe the whole culture so definitely and desperately needs this kind of ministry." While at first many pastors were resistant to the Jonsson's ministry, thinking it competition for the church, Gisli now receives regular visits from 5 pastors. While the news is spreading and the Jonssons are seeing very positive results, they haven't had much support from the outside. While they've pushed this far, they are forced to take a 9-12 month break. "We're so excited about what we do here," Nora says. "And there was so much disappointment when people heard we were going back. We said, 'Look, we have to. We can't keep going with less oil in the car. We need some more oil. We need support; we need help. We can't be doing this on our own.'" During this break from Bulgaria, the couple is trusting God to help them raise the spiritual and financial support they need to continue and grow their ministry. Nora says, "Sometimes it's actually very heavy and dark, the stuff we deal with." She asks that you lift them up to God. They depend on "people continuing to remember us in prayer, that we would be so attuned with what the Holy Spirit is doing." Along with that, the Jonssons desperately need financial help to keep their ministry going. Their goal is to grow the ministry by training nationals how to counsel. Click here to give to their work. Once more Gisli reminds us, "We definitely need more prayer because the spiritual battle is huge, and it's sometimes very difficult to actually deal with these issues."

GAiN USA CEO Al Goff reports from the field   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-14 - 15 days ago
(Image courtesy GAiN) Iraq (MNN) -- Do you run headlong into danger, or find the fastest route of escape? For one Global Aid Network (GAiN) USA leader, the choice was clear. GAiN USA CEO Al Goff is sharing firsthand reports this week as he assesses the needs of families displaced by violence. "Personally, I'm deeply grieved for these people. This war is so much worse than what I've seen via television in the States," Goff shares in a recent blog. "Most have witnessed killing and live in terror of being next. "Fear is the operative word here. It is palpable." A week ago today, Goff left the U.S. for Iraq and was taken straight into the field. Goff has been helping local ministry leaders distribute much-needed medical supplies over the past few days and is continuing to share the hope of Christ with refugees. Read the latest update on GAiN USA's Web site. After living in the same place all their lives, Goff reports, many Sunni Iraqis are forced from their homes with no hope of return. In addition, Islamic State (IS) extremists who were formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are demanding all Sunni property owners in Iraq to pay up. "If not paid, [IS] will confiscate the land and sell it. The displaced Iraqis who fear for their lives know the national government will not protect them," Goff writes. "So, they face an impossible choice: risk returning home to pay the tax and face the very real possibility of being killed, or flee for their lives and lose everything." "We need to keep working to help. There is no lackof need and opportunity for God to show Hisgreatness if His people respond."(Image, quote courtesy GAiN) Refugee camps run rampant with fear that IS will find and kill those who've fled. Despite this, Goff is confident that your help has a potential impact for the Gospel like never before. Goff shares three urgent needs: Medicine and supplies for clinics in the refugee camps Swamp coolers: a type of fan designed to blow across a water-soaked fabric for maximum cooling effect Three wells for Christian villages near Mosul Help GAiN USA meet needs and advance the Gospel in Iraq here. "They are overrun with IDPs, and the risk of disease grows each day," writes Goff regarding the Christian villages near Mosul. "Imagine the impact these Christian Iraqis could have by helping their neighbors who are fleeing for their lives!" More Iraq updates here.

Christians in Indonesia ponder retaliation, self control   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-11 - 18 days ago
(Image courtesy Wikipedia) Indonesia (ODM) -- An Open Doors colleague who recently spoke at a Standing Strong Through the Storm seminar in Indonesia shared an unexpected message. (Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs Canada) Most of the 800 pastors attending were victims of attacks by Muslims on the island of Ambon. They had lost homes, churches, and even family members during these attacks. They were hurt, devastated, and needed answers to the challenges they faced. As soon as the Open Doors colleague began preaching, one pastor stood up and interrupted, “Must we accept the persecution from the Muslims, or should we retaliate? We are tired of forgiving just to be attacked again. We believe it is time to defend the honor of God and retaliate. What must we do?” Then another pastor interrupted, “No, Pastor, tell this brother he is wrong. The Bible tells us to accept our suffering. We will dishonor God if we retaliate. Seventy times seven we need to forgive. Isn’t this true?” (Photo courtesy AMG International)“The Bible is clear,” said the speaker. “You MUST retaliate!” The group was stunned into silence; division filled the room. “Wait, brothers!” the speaker continued. “Let me finish my sentence. Luke 6 teaches us clearly to retaliate, but in doing so, we need to choose our weapons. When someone curses you, you don’t just accept it. You retaliate by blessing him. When someone mistreats you and persecutes you, you don’t just accept it. You retaliate by praying for him. When someone slaps you in the face, don’t stand for it. Retaliate! Turn your other cheek.” Register to receive the daily e-devotional Standing Strong Through the Storm, offered by Open Doors. Click here to get started. “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous will stand firm forever.” Proverbs 11:25 Ask God to strengthen Christians living in Islamic nations to retaliate in incomprehensible ways, not with angry words or guns, but with the love of Christ and prayer.

Iraqi Kurds accused of helping terrorists   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-11 - 18 days ago
(Image courtesy ALBAZ via Flickr) Iraq (MNN) -- Things are going from bad to worse in Iraq. The country's Prime Minister is accusing Iraqi Kurds of helping Islamic State (IS) terrorists. Steve Van Valkenburg of Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, says that spells even more trouble for Christians. "For a number of years now, Christians have gone to the Kurdish area, and they appreciate the freedoms they've had there. The Kurds have been welcoming to the Christians, for the most part," he shares. Iraqi Kurds have long wanted official independence, but outsider resistance is growing stronger. Right now they have a roughly-defined territorial region called "Kurdistan" that includes areas of four countries: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. While the Iraqi portion of Kurdistan first became autonomous in 1970, President of the Iraqi Kurds, Massoud Barzani, is pressing for full independence. Both Iraq and U.S. have expressed apprehension toward the Kurdish split in recent days. Midweek, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Barzani and emphasized the need to form a central government involving all groups: Sunnis, Shi'as, and Kurds. "Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq's future," said U.S. President Barack Obama during a June 19 press conference. "National unity meetings have to go forward to build consensus across Iraq's difference communities." Kurdistan territory covers four nations: Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.(Map courtesy CIA) However, U.S. leaders seem divided about how to handle the Iraqi crisis. On one hand, they promote unity. On the other, leaders like U.S. Vice President Joe Biden have been advocating a divided approach since 2006. Using Bosnia as their example, Biden and New York Times writer Leslie Gelb formed a plan for splitting Iraq into three separate regions, each ruled by a different party. Baghdad, under the Biden/Gelb plan, was to be a federal city, "belonging to no one region." "The Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite regions would each be responsible for their own domestic laws, administration and internal security," the plan outlined. "The central government would control border defense, foreign affairs, and oil revenues." A seemingly-obvious question arises from this proposition: where would that leave Iraq's Christians? Sunni, Shia, Kurds…Christians? Christians might not have their own region, but it might not be that bad. "Off the top of my head, I would say that would be a good option for Christians," says Van Valkenburg. "That is a good scenario for Christians because at least there's one place in the country where they can go to." Christians would most likely flock to the Kurdish region, Van Valkenburg explains. "The Kurds are Sunni Muslims, but at the same time, their Kurdish nationality…is more important to them then their religion," he adds. "[Iraqi Kurds are] banding together because of their desire for freedom for the Kurdish people, whereas the other two parts--the Sunni and Shia--would both band together for religious purposes." While they can, indigenous ministries are doing what they can to tell others about Jesus. "They're doing what God has called them to do," says Van Valkenburg. "They don't really have much in terms of food, or clothing, housing, things like that; still, they have the hope in Christ they can share." Iraqi believers face an uncertain future.(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid) In fact, indigenous missionaries working in one part of the Kurdish region have planted three house churches. Two of the house churches present the Gospel in the Kurdish language, while the third preaches and teaches in Arabic. Earlier this week, the ministry leader told Van Valkenburg via e-mail that they have about 65 new believers between the three churches. "They're developing Christ's Kingdom in that area by reaching out and reaching people with the Gospel," Van Valkenburg notes. They're not stopping, he adds, even though Iraq continues to fall apart around them. "They're going to be continuing to reach people with the Gospel. When the Muslims are in turmoil and they're fleeing for their lives, there's great openness there. So it's a great opportunity for the Christians to reach out." Click here to support the efforts of indigenous missionaries and to see why Muslim-background believers in Iraq are in special need of prayer. "The only thing that's going to solve the problems [in Iraq] is when people hear the Gospel and begin believing in Christ, and have their lives totally transformed," Van Valkenburg observes. Latest developments in the Iraqi crisis here.

Feed Their Future kicks off for 2014   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-11 - 18 days ago
Nairobi Slums (Image courtesy of Bright Hope) Kenya (MNN) -- There are many differences between the West and developing countries in the world. For instance, while education is taken for granted and often seen as a pain for students in developed countries, children in poorer areas view education as the unobtainable key to a better future. Bright Hope International is working, along with many partners, to make this key more accessible to those stuck in the rut of poverty. (Image courtesy of Bright Hope) Earlier this week, the 2014 "Feed Their Future" campaign kicked off. Last year, the campaign raised nearly $200,000--an amount that provided thousands of children an education and a steady source of food. These children are located in one of the oldest and largest slums in Nairobi Kenya, called Mathare Valley. Bright Hope says there are an estimated 600,000 people living in this one square mile. (Image courtesy of Bright Hope) The feeding program has enabled children for seven years to break the cycle of poverty in their family. While being educated, they are fed two hot meals a day, and many graduate with a degree that provides them with a liveable wage. This year, Bright Hope has set a larger goal of $250,000. If this goal is met, $140,000 will feed and educate 1400 children for one year, $60,000 will provide 30 vocational scholarships to high-performing secondary school graduates, and $50,000 will provide benefits for the school teachers so they can continue teaching. Similar to many other ministries, some of the proceeds from "Feed Their Future" goes toward sustainability initiatives. Justin Masterson(Photo Courtesy of Bright Hope) Once again, Justin Masterson, a baseball player for the Cleveland Indians, is partnering with Bright Hope along with Moody Radio Cleveland and many other partners. You can find out more about that here. Watch this informational video to learn more about the Mathare Valley slums and how Bright Hope and their national partners are finding opportunities to share the hope of the Gospel. Want to help? Click here to give to the "Feed Their Future" effort.

Sustainable children’s home a foundation for a better future   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-11 - 18 days ago
Int'l (MNN) -- Exponential impact is just one of the benefits of self-sufficient ministries. Vision Beyond Borders is working with a home in Burma to establish more self-sufficient programs as part of their Vision for Children program. Every child in the Vision for Children program is matched with a sponsor. (Photo by VBB) Dyann Romeijn of VBB says self-sufficiency for their ministry is a must in case they are forced to leave the country. "As we've gotten into countries like Burma where we don't have diplomatic relations, it's always been a concern of ours: what would happen if we were kicked out, if we were not allowed?" She says that in cases where the programs are dependent on those outside ministries, it would actually leave the people worse off than when the program was started. While VBB has established many children's homes in India, Nepal, and Burma, they know getting kicked out is always a possibility. "We always want to make sure that the people we're serving would still be able to continue to function if that were to happen. So one of the ways that we've been looking at trying to do that is to allow these children's homes to become a little more self-sustaining," Romeijn says. The home in Burma has the opportunity to develop seven acres of property. This will make it possible for the home to provide all the necessary food for the children, as well as provide an income to provide their school supplies and other educational needs. Eventually VBB wants to establish Tilapia ponds, orchards, and various other crops. For just over $4,300, the home can begin a fish pond, buy goats, chickens and pigs, clear the land for three acres of rice paddies, and two acres of additional crops. With these resources, the children's homes will be self-sufficient. Romeijn says, "It shouldn't ever be our goal to make somebody dependent on us, but more a way for us to help them help themselves, to actually improve their countries. And then once you get a home that's self-sustaining, then you can actually look at starting additional homes, and they can continue to take care of themselves." Many of the homes VBB works with care for around 1000 kids. Many of the children VBB serves have been found on the streets after being abandoned, or they were left at the orphanages because their parents were too poor to feed them. (Photo by VBB) Romeijn explains that the work VBB is doing goes along with God's call to take care of the widows and orphans. Along the way, these children get to experience the love of Christ, hear His truth, and choose to follow Him. "I just truly believe that the more we can help them be able to take care of themselves, and as they grow up to be able to teach other people to do the same thing, these children will learn a lot of life skills. They'll be able to apply them as they grow, so it truly will make a difference for generations," says Romeijn. She requests that you pray for wisdom and guidance for those working at the homes, for the children to learn quickly what God wants them to learn, and that the work of their hands will prosper and see a return and multiplication of their efforts. You can contribute to the land development here (please use my funds for: Children's Home land development-Burma), or sponsor a child here.

ISIS to spread terror in Lebanon   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-11 - 18 days ago
(Photo courtesy Kids Alive International) Lebanon (MNN) -- The success of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has emboldened like-minded militants in Lebanon who believe they can copy it. The Islamic State has declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria in an effort to redraw the borders of the Middle East. Jed Hamoud with Kids Alive International says there is a growing concern that the militant Sunni group could try to make a grab for Lebanon. "It's surrounded by conflict--be it in Iraq, in Syria, or all around in Lebanon. It's bound to impact the ministry and what Kids Alive is trying to do in Lebanon." In fact, Lebanon's Interior ministry confirms the presence of the militant Sunni group in Beirut. According to a report from Al-Monitor, Lebanese armed forces beefed up their presence along the border and inside the country, and Hezbollah did the same along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Speculating what potentially may or may not occur in the Middle East is not easy. One thing they can depend on, says Hamoud: "Those conflicts produce one thing: more displaced people, more kids at risk, more that become orphaned as a result of the conflict." Any acts of violence and armed conflict by any group in Lebanon will seriously impact the ministry of Kids Alive. Hamoud noted in a Skype conversation that "at the moment, we are blessed for each minute of stability we have in Lebanon." However, tensions are high, and that produces a unique fatigue. "The staff gets stressed out. The burden is heavier than they can meet. Their hearts are big. They want to help every single child." Kids Alive staff are praying for continued stability, as shaky as it is, because it is better than the alternative. Right now, Hamoud says the bigger issue is: "How to be effective in reaching out to the increasing number of kids at risk and kids that are being orphaned. Lebanon has been reported by the United Nations as having 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country, and that's a country of under four million." (Photo courtesy Kids Alive International) Many of the refugee children have suffered emotional and physical trauma. Many of these displaced people have ended up in makeshift camps, with very limited access to shelter, food, water, shoes, and clothing. Their funds won't stretch to meet all the needs. They need your help. "We have limited means to meet the large needs around us. So, the prayer is that the Lord will supply the needs, the Lord will give discernment to the teams and that the Lord will bring the neediest to our doorstep." "Right now we need to expand the space to have more classrooms, to have more teachers, to have more school supplies, those are all needs that we could use help with," explains Hamoud. Kids Alive is helping Syrian refugees in two ways. They are providing an education, food, and daily care to almost children in their school and care center programs. They are also working with other partners in Lebanon to provide support to refugee families that urgently need help. (Photo courtesy Kids Alive International) As well as a growing number of Syrians, there are also many Palestinian refugees in the country, along with other displaced people from Sudan, Iraq, and other places. The foundation of their programs, which are run in partnership with two other local organizations, is the desire to be share the love of Christ with these families and encourage them to come to know Him in their own lives. That focus makes them a target to groups like IS. Hamoud says they need prayer support, too. "The deepest need is for safety, that no one out there will see us as a target because we are a Christian ministry. [Pray] that the Lord will keep the ministry safe."

Donetsk Christian University falls to separatists   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-10 - 19 days ago
Staff apartments are being used to house rebel militia.(Image courtesy Overseas Council) Ukraine (MNN) -- Pro-Russian separatists have taken over Donetsk Christian University, trapping more than 20 staff members and their families inside. The school is one of many public buildings the separatists are occupying in a desperate attempt to solidify their hold on the city. "This place is so dear to m. It's so close to me, and I know the people that are there," shares Russian Ministries president Sergey Rakhuba. Until last spring, Rakhuba was a member of Donetsk Christian University's Board of Trustees. He's been in close contact with the school's president about the situation. "The concern is that when the Ukrainian army sees that insurgents [have] taken over the building and turned it into their stronghold…. Ukrainian army then starts going after [it] with military action," says Rakhuba. Taking over buildings like the Donetsk Christian University puts innocent people right in the line of fire. Along with the school, separatists have reportedly seized several businesses. Separatists appear to be "digging in their heels" and preparing for a showdown with Ukrainian government forces, who warned rebels yesterday of a plan to re-take the city. "I cannot comprehend the magnitude of that tragedy that will happen" if urban warfare breaks loose in Donetsk, Rakhuba says. Russian Ministries and their in-country cohorts are hoping and praying the situation will not escalate further. At the same time, though, "We are prepared, and we want your listeners to stand with us." It's an urgent situation that needs your help. First of all, pray! "I want your listeners to pray for the leaders of this Bible School that are there now dealing with this crisis, so that God supernaturally would intervene and protect them all," says Rakhuba. Items received through "I Care" Refugee Program distributed in eastern Ukraine.(Image courtesy Russian Ministries) Pray that the Lord will continue to work mightily in Ukraine through Russian Ministries. Their "I Care" Refugee Assistance program helps churches in eastern Ukraine care for refugees displaced by current violence. Along with relief aid like food and personal care items, churches are equipped with counseling resources and pastoral training. Click here to put your faith into action by supporting Ukrainian believers. School Without Walls students have been sent with resources in-hand to cities that were previously occupied by pro-Russian separatists. "There are thousands of people that recently were liberated by the Ukrainian Army," Rakhuba shares. "People [in occupied cities] were not able to have water for weeks, they did not have electricity; everything was paralyzed." Listen to the interview for more details on this situation.

Ministry in Haiti struggling to recover from Great Recession   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-10 - 19 days ago
(Photo courtesy For Haiti With Love) Haiti (MNN) -- Food insecurity and hunger are chronic issues in Haiti--the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the second most-densely populated. When things were obviously getting worse, industry wasn't returning, and there were no jobs developing, it became necessary to start feeding people to keep them alive. For Haiti With Love has been supporting the poorest of the poor in Cap Haitien for 22 years. Through those two decades, the team developed a food program, medical clinic, construction assistance, and more ways to meet the physical needs that are always present in the area. Everything is done as a gift from God through His people; every recipient is very aware that they thank God for their help. With each touch point, there's an opportunity to talk about why people are helping each other, and that always leads to the story of Jesus. So far, so good, right? The economic collapse of 2008 hurt a lot of non-profit groups and charities because giving fell off. For Haiti With Love continued on. They were careful with what they had, and they managed. However, co-founder Eva DeHart says, "2014 is the first time we're starting to feel that impact. I guess what other people have been talking about is finally catching up with us." (Photo courtesy For Haiti With Love) Smaller Non-Government Organizations like FHWL can't absorb big shocks like funding loss. DeHart explains, "We're down a good 30% in overall giving, and it isn't because they don’t want to help. It's because they're being impacted in this country to the point where they can't." That's a problem since they're just now getting the Food Program back on its feet. "The Food Program itself tends to be focused on the elderly, the disabled, and the orphans who cannot fend for themselves." Donations from Feed My Starving Children dried up. By the end of 2013, DeHart was alarmed by the abundance of space in the warehouse. By the beginning of 2014, she was frantic. "When we don't keep that program going--and we did (the first of this year) totally run out of food and had to stop the program, people die because they don’t have any other place to turn for food." After finally communicating the emergency to Feed My Starving Children, food started to fill the pipeline. Each pallet of food contains 7,128 meals. It was then an issue of getting the food shipped to the docks where it would be sent to Haiti and from Haiti, to the warehouse…all of which costs thousands of dollars…which weren't coming in. DeHart shared the dilemma with MNN listeners, faithful donors, ministry partners, and really, anyone who would listen and pray. In this month's report, she says the ministry received and cleared the first container of food for the year and restarted the food program. They also had extra help, in addition to more than 40,000 pounds of food packets, which enabled them to ship an extra 2,000 pounds of supplies in this month's container. That means there were medical supplies for the clinic, clothing for adults and children, as well as hundreds of school uniforms that had been donated. Looking back over an emotionally wrung out winter and spring, DeHart summed up her thoughts on patience and hope by citing a portion of Romans 8:28 in her last missive: "And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."

Taunted Christians attacked by mob   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-10 - 19 days ago
(Image courtesy Voice of the Martyrs Canada) Sri Lanka (VCM) -- Although religious freedom is enshrined in Sri Lanka’s laws, the appearance since July 2012 of nationalistic and religious supremacist groups has increased pressure on all religious minorities. Voice of the Martyrs Canada reports on a May attack on a pastor and his family. Although the original incident is several weeks past, the case made it before a judge six weeks ago. Surprisingly, the decision came down in favor of justice. Authorities are responding to the judgment after the magistrate reprimanded police and called for the suspects to be detained. The original case: a pastor and his family filed a complaint with police on behalf of four Christians who were threatened at a prayer meeting held at their home. The four believers were confronted on May 11 by about 30 people who warned them that they would be assaulted if they came back to the village for future prayer meetings. The next morning, the pastor went to the police station to file a complaint and was asked to meet with police at his home later that day at 4 p.m. The police also asked the four Christians who were accosted to attend the meeting. While the Christians were waiting for the police to arrive at the pastor's home, approximately 150 people surrounded the house and began shouting out slurs. The family immediately called the police who told them that they were on their way. At around 5:30 p.m., roughly 40 people from the mob broke through the security fence surrounding the house. Taking poles from the fence, they smashed the pastor's van while others poured into the home and attacked those inside. The pastor was knocked unconscious after receiving a harsh blow to the back of his neck with a pole. Afraid that they had killed him, the crowd immediately fled. The police, having finally arrived 10 minutes after the crowd dispersed, took the Christians to the police station. The believers were then held for questioning for seven hours, while their attackers were neither questioned nor arrested. The pastor spent four days in the hospital recovering, and three others were hospitalized for two days. Ask God to grant physical and emotional healing to all who were injured. Pray that God would encourage them in their faith so that they will not give in to fear or discouragement but rather entrust themselves fully to Him. Also remember the perpetrators of this violent assault, praying that the Holy Spirit will work mightily in their hearts and lead them to salvation in Jesus Christ.

Cross country bike trip for charity: Tour De Meals   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-10 - 19 days ago
Tony Fritz (Photo from Tourdemeals.org, Tony Fritz) USA (MNN) -- When Tony Fritz answered his cell phone earlier this week, it was clear he had planned on doing his interview while riding his bike. Talk about multi-tasking! He patiently asked to hear the questions again whenever roaring semis or screeching tires drowned them out. Fritz, a retired math teacher and the Food Process Manager for Global Aid Network, is currently riding his bike from the ministry headquarters in Plano, Texas to their distribution center in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. The trip in total will be around 1600 miles. When we spoke with Fritz, he had just crossed over into Missouri and was headed towards Kennett, then to Cairo, IL where he'll cross the Mississippi and head towards Indianapolis. Then he will be on the final stretch. So, why is Fritz riding 4-5 hours a day? He says, "I just thought this would be a great way to use my love of biking and create awareness for a worldwide problem." The bike ride is a pledge-per-mile fund-raiser called Tour De Meals, which is simultaneously raising awareness for worldwide hunger. Fritz, who has done long rides in the past, thought Tour De Meals would be a great way to combine his passions for ministry and biking. Since he was heading to Texas anyway to celebrate his grandchildren's birthdays, he thought, "Why not?" In June, GAIN USA had several hundred volunteers daily for a week prepare supplies to go out around the world. They are one of very few organizations that sees the process through from donation to shipping and distribution (read more about that here). This includes packing rice and beans off to refugees in Syria, Northern Iraq, and to Guatemala and several African countries. When asked what drove him to sacrifice all this time and energy outside of the work he already does, Fritz replied, "You know, if we had one child in America that died of hunger, it would make the national news instantly. And yet, here's a problem that's worldwide: it happens thousands of times per day and just becomes a statistic and not very impactful. So anything that I can do to bring awareness to this problem and get people to pitch in, it's just a real plus." Fritz attributes much of his passion for this ministry to how he was raised. He says, "I think it's kind of part of my DNA--you know, probably the way I was raised, the way I was nurtured in the Church." Providing food for people in need is Fritz' application of helping the less fortunate. "We're not looking necessarily just to give a hand out on a long-term basis; that doesn't do a lot for people's self-esteem. But in emergency situations, which is where we [operate], it can be very beneficial because there's a short-term need." Fritz explains that while many are dying from lack of nutrition in emergency situations, there isn't necessarily a lack of the resources themselves. "It's a matter of distribution. I mean, we have resources that could be shared, SHOULD be shared." Emergency relief comes way before the process of sustainable development, Fritz explains. "These people are in dire straits through, in most cases, no fault of their own." Followers of Christ are called to live like Christ. Part of that includes helping those in need. But the response looks very different from person to person. Fritz shares a story of a grateful king who declares everyone should be a firefighter after a fireman saves his burning castle. What kingdom would function if everyone had the same occupation? It is the same idea as far as Christian ministry goes. "Every person has to decide for himself," Fritz says. "There are a lot of good causes out there, a lot of things to pour your life into, and this is one of them. I don't think everybody needs to do this, but everybody needs to have awareness of it." Over the winter, Fritz trained at least an hour five days a week, inside. Once spring hit, he began to hit the road outside. A month and a half before he started this trip, Fritz was doing several long bike rides (up to 80 miles) a week. He calls the last bit a "short-term cram session." "The long miles don’t seem to be the major problem," Fritz explains. He says that rest, proper hydration. and nutrition with attention to electrolytes are the keys to success on a ride like this. He believes anyone who can stay on top of those things can go for such a long bike ride. If you have a passion for helping hungry people, or for people in need, Fritz is making it very simple for you to participate. Along with raising awareness, Tour De Meals is a pledge-per-mile fundraiser. "A penny a mile is $15, [which] feeds a child for a month," Fritz says. Click here for the pledge page. He asks for prayer that he would use caution in preparation and in riding. Also, he requests prayer for his wife. Jennifer Fritz has planned the route and does her best to meet her husband every 10-15 miles. Sometimes those rendezvous don't work due to weather and other complications. Also, pray for Fritz' safety and perseverance. He fell recently, and he says, "There are accidents kind of waiting around the corner." Fritz is grateful for all of the support he has received. For the first 650 miles, the only bikers Fritz met were Christians. They were very excited about Tour De Meals and offered their support. "I'm just thankful to have this opportunity. We have a great team. There are a lot of people behind the scenes that you don't see in this process," Fritz says. This team consists of people updating his blog, promoting Tour De Meals, creating the Web site, etc. One woman even orchestrated a note-making station during the packing event last month, and now Fritz' wife parcels out the notes to encourage him daily. "I am just kind of overwhelmed with the number of people that pitched in and made this thing come together," Fritz says. "It's been fantastic, really. There's no other way to describe it." GAIN USA encourages you to support Fritz' efforts: "Your gift today will change a life. Because you chose to support Global Aid Network, more people will receive tangible confirmation that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them. Thank you for expressing the love of Jesus Christ in this meaningful way!" You can keep updated on Fritz' progress at his blog here. Tour De Meals route (Photo from Tourdemeals.org, Tony Fritz)

Flood gets volunteers out of pews and into the mud   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-10 - 19 days ago
Serbia (MNN) -- While many in the West spend their summer vacations on beaches, in amusement parks, or traveling to other exotic locations, a handful of Southern Baptists are spending their time knee-deep in mud and muck helping rebuild lives that were destroyed by flood waters. Flooding in Serbia (Photo courtesy BGR) This summer, unusual amounts of rain in the Balkan region of Europe--specifically in Bosnia and Serbia--have caused devastating floods, leaving thousands homeless and wondering about how to begin rebuilding their lives. Their stories of how flood waters broke through local dams, leaving residents with only minutes to evacuate, are tragic and heartbreaking. Today these flood victims spend their days sorting through the remnants of their lives, searching for anything that can be salvaged. “It was devastating,” said Marina through her tears. “When I got here and saw what remained of my house, my whole world collapsed. I could not believe it. I had a nice house and a nice life, but now I am left with nothing.” A widow with two teenage boys, Marina represents just one of dozens of families in an area outside of Belgrade where Baptist Global Response (BGR) volunteers, alongside International Mission Board (IMB) workers, who are helping people to salvage and rebuild their lives following this natural disaster. IMB worker Jim Andrews has helped to coordinate much of the cleanup and recovery work in the area. “People here are at a point of desperation,” he said. “They are grabbing at straws, or whatever they can, for hope.” Andrews says that is where the work of BGR comes in: providing not just money and resources, but helping to activate and coordinate volunteers who are trained in disaster response to come to the field on short notice. Jim and Samantha Barrow, a father-daughter team from Longville, Louisiana, said they heard about the need for volunteers while they were attending a wedding for a friend. “In the middle of the wedding, we both got an e-mail that came to our phones,” Sam said. “So when we were on the way to the reception, I looked at Dad and said, ‘So, are we going?’” Before the wedding was over, they decided they would commit to go. The pair had less than two weeks to raise funding before flying to Serbia. Gary Capshaw, a veteran of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief efforts, served as team leader for the BGR volunteer team. “If you want to see the church come alive, come and do disaster relief,” he said. “If you don’t get off your pew and get out into the field, then you will never know how alive the church is.” Capshaw and the Barrows were joined by David and Joanne Hendon of Jasper, Alabama. The pair recently retired and decided they would go on mission trips as a couple. Joanne said she has always felt her spiritual gift was to serve others. “When I found out about this need, I knew that I was supposed to be the hands of feet of Jesus,” she said. Andrews said the group spent a week in less-than-ideal conditions as they helped numerous families. “When the flood waters came, they also overflowed the sewage system,” he said. “So it was not just the water that came into people’s homes: it was sewage, too. There was almost nothing that could be salvaged because of that. “I had never really been part of a mud-out project like this before,” Andrews added. “So, I really did not know what to expect. These folks who came had to do some really disgusting stuff. And yet, they did it with a smile on their faces.” Marina and others whom the teams have helped said they have trouble understanding why a group of Americans would want to come to Serbia to help them. Yet, they are grateful for the assistance. “I don’t know what we would have done if they had not come,” Marina said. “I will always remember the day the Americans showed up to help.” Andrews said that disaster relief plays an important part of missions work. “Some of these people feel like they don’t really have a place on the mission field,” he said. “But they can open doors that we would never have had access to without these folks who are just willing to come and get their hands dirty.” Capshaw challenges other Southern Baptists to join him in disaster relief. “Don’t stay in the church! Get out here and work!” he said. “This is fun. If you can’t have fun serving the Lord, then just stay home.” To help this cause financially, click here. To watch a video of this disaster, click here.

Typhoon pounds Japanese Islands   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-09 - 20 days ago
(Image courtesy NASA) Japan (MNN) -- Typhoon Neoguri was downgraded from "super typhoon" status but still socked Japan with a powerful punch. Neoguri (which means raccoon in Korean) left a destructive trail throughout the Okinawa island chain with strong winds, heavy rain, and large waves. Even so, Takeshi Takazawa with Asian Access says, "We are relieved even though 50,000 people in the city [were] all evacuated to the evacuation centers; 500,000 people have been warned to leave their house." The Japan Meteorological Agency said the storm could be one of the strongest to hit Japan in decades, with waves up to 46 feet high. Takazawa says, even for those who are used to weathering typhoons, "It's very early to have this huge, strong typhoon around this season. Normally, it would be toward the latter part of the summer that we receive typhoons, but this is really early to receive this kind of typhoon." Plus, on Tuesday around 10pm local time, "In Hokkaido Island, which is the opposite side, northern island, we had quite a strong earthquake. People are wondering about the disaster happening, earthquake happening, typhoon." The Japan Meteorological Agency noted the temblor was 3.0 magnitude, but it was enough to create fear, says Takazawa. "People are wondering, 'What's happening to us? Things are not normal. We cannot bear any more natural disasters.' That's the concern people have." (Photo courtesy Asian Access, 2011) The nature of the storm plus the quake re-awakened recent painful memories. Takazawa says their leaders are ready to respond. "The triple disaster that happened in 2011 helped us to minister to the local people with both hands and hearts--words and deeds, together." The obliteration of Japan that resulted from the quake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster provided opportunities unlike any before. In what was a closed society, "We could come alongside people who are struggling and provide aid, at the same time sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ." Hope became the mainstay for the work of Asian Access work throughout Japan. Disaster sometimes changes focus in ways that nothing else can. Takazawa says church leaders have a fixed focal point, but he asks that you pray for safety in the week ahead. Also, "Pray that the small Church of Japan will stand up, stand in the gap, and communicate the love of Christ in a devastating situation."

Slavic Gospel Association shares update from eastern Ukraine   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-09 - 20 days ago
Please continue to pray for Ukraine.(Image courtesy Sergey Rakhuba via Facebook) Ukraine (MNN) -- If you thought fighting was over in eastern Ukraine, you might want to read this report. Vice President of Ministry for Slavic Gospel Association (SGA), Eric Mock, just returned from the region. "There's a tremendous amount of scary, difficult military action going on that people have to endure every night," Mock shares. "We're hearing stories of people venturing out to just get food and being held at machine gun-point with a revolver next to their ear." Though government troops took back key cities over the weekend, rebels reportedly regrouped in the city of Donetsk. With nearly 1 million residents, Donetsk is the region's largest city. Innocent lives en masse would be on the line if a government-rebel showdown took place here. "80% of the population of these towns [in eastern Ukraine] have left for fear of their lives. A lot of the buildings are bullet-ridden," Mock reports. Nonetheless, Ukrainian pastors supported by SGA are hanging tough and staying put. "They are still there when 80% of their church is gone," says Mock. The U.S. pastor says his cohorts in Ukraine remind him of a description of Jesus as the "Good Shepherd" in John 10:11-13: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep." "The men we work with have not left their churches," Mock states. "What an amazing thing to see, how these men are faithful to declare the Gospel." By clicking here, you can help Slavic Gospel Association. Send them much-needed resources through the Crisis Evangelism Fund. Please keep Ukraine in your prayers. (File photo courtesy Flickr/Creative Commons/Christiaan Triebert) "The first prayer request is that the Ukrainian believers would remain resolute and unified," says Mock. "They are inundated with both Russian and Ukrainian propaganda. It's very easy to be nationalistic and choose sides." Pray that Russian and Ukrainian believers look beyond nationalistic boundaries and hold to the nation of Christ, he requests. "Number two: in the middle of these hard times, when people are suffering, often God uses those difficult times for the sake of the Gospel," notes Mock. "Pray that hearts would be softened and the Gospel would go forth." More details in the audio version of this report.

ISIS threatens Lebanon; presidential candidates talk faith   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-09 - 20 days ago
Lebanon (MNN/SAT-7) -- A television program is looking to promote peace and prayer in a country where tensions are growing rapidly. SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, is airing a series called Wars and Faith, featuring many presidential candidates. (Photo Courtesy of SAT-7) Earlier this month, the seventh election event failed to see full participation from lawmakers. The eighth session is scheduled for July 23. The indecision in Parliament is made worse by growing threats to the country from Lebanon. Last month, ISIS claimed responsibility for a string of suicide bombings, according to the Associated Press. On Monday, a Lebanese military prosecutor charged 28 people for belonging to ISIS and planning attacks within the country. ISIS reportedly has vowed to take over Lebanon. The Daily Star says that leaked documents indicate that ISIS is planning more attacks in the country. Iran is offering to help Lebanon fight against the threats of ISIS. Meanwhile, the country is having difficulty selecting a new president, with resistance on all sorts of fronts. Marking the occasion of Lebanon’s presidential elections, SAT-7 produced and is airing Wars and Faith (in Arabic, Haroob wa Iman). The powerful 10-episode series features interviews with presidential candidates. Presenter Hiam Abou Chedid, a renowned actress and TV presenter, asks the politicians about their experiences living and leading in the war-torn country. (Photo Courtesy of SAT-7) Wars and Faith takes viewers beyond politics, to the personal aspects of candidates’ lives. They discuss everything from childhood memories to marriage, and how they see their relationship with God in the future. Each episode includes a confession segment, allowing guests to admit mistakes they have made. Production Manager Maroun Bou Rached says, “The series will promote peace and show that there is a second chance with God. It lets Christians see that leaders also need Jesus; He’s not just a Savior for ordinary people. Everybody needs Jesus.” Guests included: Dr. Samir Geagea (leader of Lebanese Forces Party) General Michel Aoun (former Lebanese Army Commander, Prime Minister, and leader of the Free Patriotic Movement) Sleiman Frangieh (leader of the Marada Movement and former President) Dory Chamoun (son of a former president and leader of the National Liberal Party) Amine Gemayel (former President) (Photo courtesy of SAT-7) Two interviews, in particular, recounted life-changing experiences. Dr. Samir Geagea, the former leader of a Christian militia, shared that his 11-year prison sentence was what led him to consider spiritual issues and think about eternal life. It was only after the Syrian Army entered Lebanon and imprisoned Geagea that he started reading the Bible and growing closer to Jesus. Another guest, Sleiman Frangieh, lost his entire family during the civil war. He testified that he has now forgiven his family’s killers and even ordered the release of the person who killed his sister. Wars and Faith quickly attracted the attention of local industry leader, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC). LBC purchased and aired the groundbreaking series on its own network, multiplying its reach to a wider audience. Lebanon’s National Assembly will elect the next president for a 6-year term. Elections began on April 23, 2014, but thus far, no candidate has secured the 86 votes required for victory. Another vote is expected to take place this month. Want to make a difference? Your gift today of $10 reaches 10 viewers for one year. Click here to give now! Here are some more stories about SAT-7.

Christmas in August?   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-09 - 20 days ago
Photo courtesy of Orphan Outreach USA (MNN) -- If someone wishes you Merry Christmas next month, chances are that person is part of For Haiti With Love’s fundraiser program known as Christmas in August. For more than thirty years now, FHWL has held a Christmas party for children in Haiti. The kids have a chance to receive a full hot meal that includes dessert, which in itself is a rare treat, as well as participate in a program that tells the story of Christ and His miraculous birth. They will even get a chance to sing Christmas carols in their native language, Haitian Creole. In addition, what’s a Christmas party without gifts? The children will receive toys and other presents during the event, making this one of the only times they receive something they want. Food and clothes are important, true, but only a few times a year are the kids actually allowed to enjoy themselves. At the party they receive coloring books, dolls, cars, card games, and more. In fact, FHWL even produces a special coloring book written in Creole that tells the story of the Messiah’s birth. Even the adults receive a few gifts. Guests to the Christmas in August dinner can donate watches, sewing kits, toiletries, and more, and teenagers can receive soccer balls and school supplies as well. However, on a lighter note, they won’t accept blunt scissors; the Haitians think they’re funny and won’t ever use them! FHWL needs a way to fund the party, raising money to purchase food and toys for the event. So, every year, they throw an event called Christmas in August. This takes place in Florida and consists of a dinner and an auction. Guests are updated on FHWL’s activity in Haiti, learning about the struggles and triumphs of working with the Haitians, then are given a chance to give to the cause of the Christmas party. They can also donate gifts for the children to receive, as well as money to fund the program. Sadly, FHWL has had some struggles with their food supplies. In fact, the normally well-stocked food warehouse ran completely dry in February. The empty stores forced FHWL to shut down their food program temporarily, which in turn meant some Haitians died from starvation. However, FHWL’s Eva DeHart thinks the crisis won’t have a serious impact on the Christmas program. According to her, “At the Christmas party they know there will be food, and they know they’ll get gifts.” Kids really look forward to the party, she adds. “The children are really excited to come and celebrate Jesus’ birthday with us.” DeHart wants to be careful to keep Jesus as the center of attention. “It’s important to not only give them something to look forward to. It’s the hope, the all-encompassing hope.” According to her, the party draws people that may not have any other contact with the Gospel. “They’re over and above our food program, over and above our clinic outreach. This is a poor segment of Haiti that doesn’t get the opportunity to hear Jesus’ message, and we invite them to come and learn about Him and celebrate His birthday with us.” Click here for Christmas in August details!
     < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > View by date Most popular (last 2 weeks)
 
Stay connected - download the GodRev community toolbar!