Your support can help FH's innovative work in entire communities. (Courtesy of Food for the Hungry)
USA (MNN) -- If you're an American, you've probably just
barely finished Thanksgiving dinner. In
fact, you've still got leftovers crowding the shelves in the fridge.
Stores opened early Thursday, so maybe you joined in the shopping marathon
that spilled over to Black Friday, taking advantage of all the holiday deals. Then, there's Cyber Monday...the online
retailers' version of Black Friday (a day when retailers hope to go into the
black in their accounting books).
Feel over-commercialized yet? How about
participating in Giving Tuesday? Non-profit charities like Food for the Hungry are
participating in the second annual #GivingTuesday event today.
What is it? 03 December
is a day where charities and individuals can come together to celebrate the act
of giving. The hope is that #GivingTuesday will become a nationally-recognized
day similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
It will kick off the season of giving that already exists
with Christmas. Here, however, the focus will be on people in need instead of
When charities participate, they have the opportunity not
only to celebrate giving, but also to raise awareness for what they do. You
could call it "a day of extra giving."
Any non-profit charity or entity backing a non-profit
charity can partner with #GT by committing to a project for the day. The
charities are then supposed to advertise what they're doing on social media
This is especially crucial for Christians who want to obey
God's command to reach out to the lost. Many of these partners are Christian
charities who are able to share the Gospel while demonstrating God's love. The giving
movement of #GivingTuesday raises opportunities to share the love of Jesus with
entire communities who would otherwise never know it.
One ministry devoted to sharing the Gospel is Food for the
Hungry. By partnering with the #GT movement, they can create a bigger impact on
the world in the name of God. One way
they do this is by helping communities escape harsh lifestyles.
They are a ministry that utilizes innovative techniques in
order to help more people long-term. Their projects bring innovation to
impoverished people, helping break the cycle of poverty. Some of their projects
include building wells and schools, and teaching farming practices and healthy
habits. All these things teach the needy how to be self-sustaining and to break
out of a harsh lifestyle. Your help could impact entire communities for the
So how can you help? Start by posting about #GT on your social
media sites. You can always pray that many would feel led to give today and
hereafter, and the impact would be felt on a physical and spiritual level.
Check out #GivingTuesday's
site to see what charities are participating. Click here to find out how you can give
to Food for the Hungry.
Thousands protest Ukraine's president.
Ukraine (MNN) -- About a million protestors took to the streets yesterday in Ukraine, as protests continue against President Viktor Yanukovich. Last week Yanukovich refused to sign an agreement allowing free trade with the European Union, but rather signed a similar agreement with Russia.
That resulted in peaceful protests, but that changed quickly after the Duma passed a resolution making it illegal to protest in the square so they could decorate for Christmas. Police went in and beat the protestors who remained.
Amy Richey with
EFCA Reach Global works in Ukraine. "This shifted everything in Ukraine from being a protest about not signing the EU agreement, to 'we have a government who is abusing its power and who are beating members of our society.'"
Richey says the violence has triggered an avalanche of unrest. "We've seen reports and pictures and twitter feeds of well over 700,000 in the streets of the old area of Kiev that are just standing up and saying, 'This is not the Ukraine that we want to live in.'"
The number or protestors have climbed steadily since last week. The government has more or less given in to the protestors at the landmark plaza in Kiev. According to reports, thousands of people demonstrated at the Cabinet Ministry demanding the government step down.
Richey says many Christians are concerned about the country's alignment with Russia. "If Ukraine becomes more and more aligned with Russia, their laws will mirror many of Russia's laws as well. They have some very rigid promises when it comes to what they can and cannot do religiously in their country."
Meanwhile, Parliamentary leaders have been meeting to talk about the country's future. Because of the decisions the president's support is fracturing. Some are even suggesting a coup is possible. Yanukovich faced a similar situation in 2004 during the Orange Revolution which ultimately ousted Yanukovich from power.
According to Richey, they could see even more violence ahead. "President Yanukovich is scheduled to go to Moscow and sign the trade agreement with Moscow, so it will be interesting to see how his actions and his decisions regarding that will determine how Ukrainians will respond."
Ultimately, Richey is asking you to pray. "We want peaceful resolutions. We want the Gospel to be openly talked about in Ukraine. We don't want people to be threatened. We don't want people's health and livelihood to be threatened because of their beliefs and because of taking a stand for the Gospel."
(Photo courtesy Faith Comes By Hearing)
USA (MNN) -- They walk among us. They are the gadget junkies who are always
trading in their widget-things for the smallest, thinnest, fastest, latest
upgrade of a modern day Batman utility belt.
Yet, have you ever considered that "they" might be missionaries? How do smart phones and digital media players
translate to the Great Commission?
The world is getting smaller by the minute because of how
the internet has created a new marketplace of ideas. It's a brave new world of information, and the
Christian community is trying to figure out how to respond to a brand-new
medium that is unlike any other in the history of man.
Bill Lohr, a spokesman with Faith Comes By Hearing, says offering
every person on the planet equal access to the Bible requires meeting the
unique needs of generations, technical societies, and fast-paced lifestyles.
One way to do that is through digital technology. At one time, getting the Gospel into people's
hands required boots on the ground. Bibles were passed hand to hand. Then audio technology allowed for cassettes to cover more people. Radio allowed for the Gospel to bypass closed
borders and lack of access to equipment. With the advent of Web browsing came the explosion of users engaging in
Scripture use. For example, Lohr notes, "The Web site bible.is, you can read and you can listen to that and you can read
right there on the site. We've had
streaming widgets which means people can go right on a Web site, click on their language and start listening right through the Web site; podcasts: we're talking in the
millions that people are downloading these podcasts; i-Tunes store, Amazon
store, which means they can go in there and get these things for free."
All of the translation work of the last 40 years means
access now, Lohr adds. "They can do that
on i-Tunes radio; we're on Spotify, we're on X-Box Music, we're on Rhapsody, we're
on e-Music, and it's just incredible. In just the last year, just on those
streams, we've seen 35-million streams. It's just incredible the access that we're
allowed through technology."
In countries where Bible distribution is illegal, the governments want to encourage progress, so
often they won't stop technology, particularly with smart phones and mobile devices,
Lohr notes. "That technology is fine coming in. It's once people get that technology, then
they have access to the apps, to the streaming, that sort of thing."
Lohr goes on to say that satellite television has been a huge
help to their quest of meeting the biblical
needs of a complex world through modern technology. "We have a new partner with SAT-7, who is the
largest Christian satellite broadcaster into the Middle East and North Africa. Now
we're on satellite TV, and it's a 24-hour stream in Arabic, and we're looking
at including Dari, Farsi, and Turkish." What that means, Lohr explains, is that people
have access to God's Word immediately, in the privacy of their own homes.
What that means is Truth has multiple avenues to reach
people. What's the problem? Technology costs money. It costs in terms of ideas, time, and other
resources. To make sure that Scripture can get to the part of the world where
people can't/won't/don't read, someone has to pave the way. Lohr says, "Folks in North America, we really
would like them to be ambassadors, to let people know that this exists."
Is this a thinly-veiled ask for funds? No, and here's why: "We want to cover the
world with God's Word, that it will be available 24/7, it will be available on multiple
platforms," says Lohr, adding, "It
really is the body of Christ. It's the Church coming together. Not all of us
can go to other countries and actually travel there. Not all of us are translators,
not all of us do recording. Not all of us build apps and software. We have to
find where we can be part of this team."
When you engage with Scripture and come alongside Faith
Comes By Hearing, you may find yourself among the they who walk among us with a message to share. Click here for ways you can help.
(Photo courtesy Mission Aviation Fellowship)
USA(MAF) -- Today,
non-profits around the U.S. are joining the #GivingTuesday movement and
challenging individuals, families, churches, and businesses to give and
#GivingTuesday was launched in 2012 as a more compassionate alternative to the "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday"
shopping days. It celebrates and encourages activities that support
nonprofit organizations. The #GivingTuesday Web site touts the day as "a
call to action to celebrate giving and encourage more, better, and
smarter giving during the holiday season. It's an organizing principle
to encourage the creativity and energy of Americans to work together for
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has answered this call. The aviation ministry is challenging believers to change a life in a day
by supporting the MAF's Christian and relief work in isolated parts
of the world. MAF operates a fleet of small aircraft that reach remote
corners of Africa, Asia, Indonesia, and Latin America. The organization
transports doctors, missionaries, relief workers, the sick and injured,
and others, helping those who are otherwise cut off from the outside
"MAF's mission is unique
in the non-profit world," said John Boyd, MAF president and CEO. "MAF
uses aviation and technology to share the Gospel and make life better
for isolated people."
On #GivingTuesday, MAF hopes to raise $24,000 in 24 hours. That's enough to fund 20 relief flights. "MAF
airplanes carry food to the hungry and medicine to the sick. We
transport Bibles, vaccines, and water purification systems," said Boyd.
"We respond to disasters. In fact, we currently have staff doing relief
work in the Philippines."
To learn more about #GivingTuesday and how a gift to MAF can change a life in a day click here.
Share Nagmeh's prayer for Saeed Abedini on Facebook. (Image courtesy 8thirty8 via Facebook)
Iran (MNN) -- Nukes and sanctions are just the tip of the iceberg in Iran. E3 Partners Middle East expert, Tom Doyle, says a spiritual war is underway in the Shi'ite Muslim-led nation.
"There's the external: they want to go after Israel. There's the internal: they want to wipe out the Church. And, I just think Satan is behind this because it's a massive spiritual war," Doyle explains.
"He is going after Israel, the chosen people, and Jesus' beloved bride, the Church -- all through one nation."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed last week to a six-month restriction on his country's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions totaling approximately $7 billion USD. Touted a historical victory by Iranian and U.S. leaders, the deal was deemed a "historic mistake" by U.S.-ally Israel.
"Iran, we believe, with this new peace pact, will probably be accelerated in their march to getting nuclear weapons that they've promised to use against Israel," notes Doyle.
Iran has long stood in vehement opposition of Israel, culminated in a 2005 speech by then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) captured Ahmadinejad's comments to thousands of Iranian students in an online news article.
"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," Ahmadinejad stated, supposedly referencing Iran's founder, Ayatollah Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini.
Key to the suppression of Iran's nuclear development and activity, U.S. and U.N. restrictions have been in place for over a decade. Measures enacted in 2010 and 2012 heavily limit the country's access to oil profits.
The crippling effect of these restrictions on Iran's economy and Rouhani's appointment to national leadership both contributed to the country's current willingness to "strike a deal" with the West.
Obama and fellow U.S. leaders also received criticism for refusing to make the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini a prerequisite in last week's nuclear discussions.
"President Obama and Secretary of State [John] Kerry turned their backs on a U.S. citizen by refusing to secure his freedom before reaching an agreement with Iran," said American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, in a release.
"It is outrageous and a betrayal of American Pastor Saeed Abedini who has spent more than a year in an Iranian prison simply because of his Christian faith."
Sanctions and silence release pressure
Doyle says Obama's silence regarding Abedini's release could speak volumes to Iran's leadership. In recent years, Iran has been responding to international pressure.
"When there's no international pressure," Doyle notes, "then they just have a free pass to do what they want."
Abedini's wife, Nagmeh, recently shared a prayer for her husband on the 8thirty8 Facebook page. Doyle says she is highly concerned for Saeed's well-being.
"Saeed has been transferred to another facility that has even more hardened criminals there, appears to be less supervision; there's more of a chance for him to be hurt there," Doyle explains.
According to Nagmeh, Saeed is enduring "extreme persecution" and needs your prayers.
"It's so difficult, but he's standing firm; he has a great love for Jesus," says Doyle. "We are so thankful for this brother. He is in the midst of that, sharing his faith in this prison."
Leaders like Abedini--and the Iranian Church in general--personify a paradox faced by persecuted Christians worldwide.
"Where the Church is being persecuted is where it's effective," explains Doyle. "Where it's being left alone, like in Europe and largely in America, we're very much marginalized and often not taken seriously."
Efforts to combat or block the Gospel are backfiring, Doyle adds, especially in Iran.
"Anything the government gives their endorsement to, 'This is bad'-- the people of Iran want to check out. That's one of the reasons the Gospel has been making such an impact on Iran," he explains.
"In the places where the Church is under fire--North Korea, Egypt, Iran, that's where God is moving powerfully. We want the persecution to pull back, but we want the Church to keep accelerating."
How can you help?
The first and most important step is prayer.
"We must pray," Doyle says. "We're praying that there's no nuclear conflict, but we're also praying for God to intervene for the Church, because these are dark and difficult days for them."
Secondly, you can set your clock for 8:38 pm. The 8thirty8 initiative is a reminder to pray for believers around the world who are either in prison, persecution, or danger.
It's based on Romans 8:38 and 39, which reads, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Doyle expounds, "We want our brothers and sisters in Christ in North Korea, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria to know that the Body of Christ stands with them, and they're fervent for their deliverance and for their safety."
Finally, go here for specific ways you can get involved in Middle East ministry through E3.
"God's moving in the midst of persecution; only He could do this," says Doyle.
"Most people would want to give up and say, 'Forget it', but the Church is triumphant and actually moves forward in a more powerful way in the midst of persecution."