Satellite imagery of Cyclone Mahasen as it progresses toward Burma and Bangladesh. (Image courtesy ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organization)
Burma (MNN) -- There's bad news on the horizon for Burma.
A "severe cyclonic storm" is headed straight for the western coast of Burma, where approximately 140,000 Rohingya are hiding from Burma's government.
Most don't even have a plastic tarp for shelter, says Oddny Gumaer of Partners Relief and Development.
"It's pretty certain that many of them will end up dying, sadly. But I think that's being very realistic," Gumaer states.
According to the UK Met Office--the United Kingdom's national weather service, Cyclone Mahasen is the result of two cloud masses gathering on either side of the equator, effectively feeding off each other.
"Over time, these cloud masses have consolidated and started to rotate to produce twin tropical storms," the Met Office said in a statement. It's the first time since 2009 that cyclone twins have developed in the Indian Ocean, the statement adds.
Only one of the twin storms--Mahasen--is expected to make landfall tomorrow. Bay of Bengal coastlines in both Burma and Bangladesh will be affected.
800,000 to one million Muslim Rohingyas ended up along Burma's coastline after fleeing religious persecution from Arakanese Buddhists and governmental discrimination. They have been described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
Since violence broke out in Arakan State in June 2012 between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims—aided by state security forces, at least 140,000 Rohingyas have taken refuge in displacement camps after their villages were destroyed. Tens of thousands of others have fled the country by sea, risking death.
"They've already suffered terribly by having to flee violence; many of them have seen their loved ones get killed in a very brutal way. And then, they've ended up in these makeshift camps that are some of the worst living conditions I have ever seen," describes Gumaer.
"The majority of the people are actually living in nothing. Some of them don't even have a plastic tarp to cover themselves with."
Gumaer's husband is currently in Burma and described his observations to her in a recent phone conversation.
"These people are desperate. They're afraid, they are hopeless, and they feel forgotten by the world," Gumaer recalls.
Partners is meeting some of the Rohingya's basic needs and helping them move to higher ground. They've stood by the Rohingya through ongoing violence and persecution. Now, as storm clouds gather on the horizon, Partners is moving as the hands and feet of Christ.
"Our approach has been to try to meet them at the level where they are. And sometimes, we are not really able to talk about our faith, but we are able to show it with our love, with our actions," says Gumaer.
Because their Muslim faith is part of the Rohingya's identity, Gumaer says it's not always easy to share the Gospel. Simply sitting with the Rohingya and showing them they matter can be enough to break the ice.
As trust begins to build, Gumaer tells them, "I believe in a God that is greater than this. And [i believe] that there is love in the world; you may not believe that now, but there is.
"Just the fact that I am here with you is a proof that God does love you."
She says the Rohingya are only asking for one thing as Partners helps them prepare for the oncoming cyclone: "They'll try to save their plastic tarps," Gumaer says, "but if we could help them afterward, to get bamboo so that they can build a structure, that would be the best."
To learn more about how you can come alongside the Rohingya, click here. You could also share this story on Facebook to speak up for those who have no voice.
"A lot of people think that the situation in Burma is great now, and that since all these reforms have happened, there are no longer any problems in the country," Gumaer explains.
"Well, that is not the truth at all. For many people, the situation has gotten worse in the last couple of years."
Find this story on our Facebook page and hit "Share" to spread the news. Above all else, pray.
"There's still time to pray that the cyclone will turn and blow back into the ocean; that would be the best," says Gumaer. "But also, pray for these people.
"These are wonderful people who deserve a destiny much better than the one they have been given, and so pray for them."
(Image courtesy Mission Aviation Fellowship)
International (MAF) -- The Learning Technologies department of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a global ministry based in Nampa, Idaho, is offering a workshop on presenting the Gospel using storytelling.
The training will be held June 4-8 at The Riverside Hotel in Boise, Idaho. Three-day and five-day sessions are available.
"Seventy-five percent of the Bible is in story form. This is the way Jesus, the Master Storyteller, chose to teach--both the uneducated and the religious leaders alike," says Regina Manley, MAF oral communications specialist and certified Simply the Story (STS) senior instructor. "Oral Strategies skills enhance communication of Bible stories and truths across generations (from grandchildren to grandparents) and naturally encompass a wide range of abilities (from the highly educated to including non-literate villagers). Don't miss it!"
According to Manley, over 80% of the world's populations prefer learning by oral communication methods over print. This includes listening to TV, radio, or movies, and especially interaction with friends. Workshop participants will learn to:
• Tell fun, accurate Bible stories
• Lead interactive discussions
• Teach following Jesus' model
• Energize their ministry - at home, church, or on the mission field
Those who attend the three-day session, held evenings and Saturday, will become certified Story Practitioners. Participants in the five-day Leadership Workshop will have added opportunities to practice and develop their skills, and complete the first step to becoming an MAF certified Oral Communications Advocate.
The three-day session costs $50, and the five-day session costs $150. There is a discount for early registration by May 30 for the three-day session. The fees cover materials as well as meals and snacks during the all-day sessions.
Last year, 96 Edgers filled 25 teams in 22 countries. (Image courtesy PIONEERS)
International (MNN) -- What are you doing this summer? College kids around the world will be 'living on The Edge'.
The Edge is a PIONEERS program that gives young people a taste of life on the missions field. Participants are called 'Edgers', and they spend eight to 10 weeks serving alongside a PIONEERS missionary.
Together with a peer leader and Field Mentor, young adults spend part of their summer learning a new language and culture, as well as growing in their understanding of God's call on their life.
The Edge service locations can be anywhere from Serbia to Japan. All three Edge tracks begin on June 2, with Track 1 going until July 11th, Track 2 until July 25, and Track 3 going all the way to August 8. Click on each Track above to see which teams have openings.
For the first three days of The Edge, participants meet their team members and learn about security, cross-cultural evangelism and the biblical foundation of missions. 'Edgers' spend the majority of their eight to 10 weeks in the mission field, building relationships with unreached peoples that have no access to the Gospel.
The journey concludes with two days of debriefing, giving participants a chance to reflect and share what God has been doing in and through them. They also learn about 'next step' opportunities.
Pray God will prepare the way for participants and help leaders continue to ramp up for the training and logistics. Ask the Lord to be their strength.
Christian Aid Mission supports Gospel work in Egypt.
Egypt (MNN) -- The sounds of firing guns and the accompanying shouts and screams have become commonplace background noise for a ministry leader and his wife supported by Christian Aid Mission.
"We just dream of peace and a stable situation, but each day is worse than the day before," reports the leader. "People die each day in our blood-covered streets. We try to distract our children from the noise of gunshots that constantly ring out."
Though they, along with their missionary coworkers, have been spared from harm thus far, they live and work with the idea that every day could be their last.
"They want to get rid of us Christians in any way possible. Maybe tomorrow they will burn our home, or kidnap, or attack us."
Throughout the horror that has unfolded since the election of the Muslim Brotherhood and the new Islamist-backed constitution in December 2012, the ministry leader has provided glimpses into his world, turned completely upside-down.
Brittany Tedesco, Africa Director of Christian Aid--your link to indigenous missions, says attacks against Christians are unprecedented. "They're very brazen. We're talking women being raped in broad daylight, men being attacked, or the homes of Christians being ransacked. And really, they have no recourse."
Tedesco says even the police, who work for the Muslim Brotherhood, are part of the persecution effort against believers. Often it is the victim of an attack who is arrested.
As part of the Islamic regime's radical control of Egypt, nearly all independent media outlets have been shut down, and concerted efforts are being made to essentially dispose of the judiciary system.
As their country darkens, tens of thousands of Egyptian Christians have fled the nation. Yet the ministry leader and his co-workers are determined to remain, taking every opportunity to share Christ with the hurting and confused masses.
Attending the frequent political gatherings and protests in Egypt's public squares, the missionaries start conversations and distribute gospel literature. They have successfully attracted university students to the discipleship and missions training sessions they hold two to three times per year, depending upon financial resources.
In addition, the ministry's evangelical parties have proven highly effective in attracting Copts (nominal Orthodox Christians) to hear the true gospel message.
Beginning as an outreach to Muslims and Copts in 2005, the ministry has continued to expand its outreach with help from Christian Aid. To date, these native missionaries have led more than a thousand Egyptians to Christ, taking care to provide solid discipleship to new believers. Dozens of home churches have formed each year since the ministry's inception due to the consistent effort of these gospel workers to build God's kingdom in Egypt.
• Pray for protection for the ministry workers and their families.
• Pray for wisdom, guidance, and increased opportunities for the workers to share Christ with the lost in Egypt.
• Pray for financial resources to cover the increasing costs of personal and ministry expenses in a country suffering from rampant inflation.
Christian Aid Mission has a missionary sponsorship program. Tadesco says, "Sponsorships start at $50 a month. To get behind them financially would just be a huge encouragement to their work."
Click here to support their work.
(Story photo courtesy World Watch Monitor)
Nigeria (ODM/MNN) -- Open Doors USA has issued an urgent appeal for prayer after receiving news that suspected Boko Haram terrorists attacked the predominantly Nigerian Christian village of Zangan in southern Kaduna around midnight on Monday.It was the latest in a string of attacks that prompted a State of Emergency.
Open Doors spokesman Jerry Dykstra says they're still trying to determine the details of what happened, but so far, "Open Doors says it understands an ‘entire village' has been destroyed: burnt down, many people are fleeing after the attack."
The village chief's residence was reportedly burnt to the ground, and the village chief's whereabouts remains unknown after he fled Zangan. Churches and homes were among the buildings destroyed in the attack.
Dykstra says this attack came after an earlier threat and days of uncertainty. "The report that we got from Open Doors in Africa said that they had been threatened before by the Boko Haram. They were living in fear almost daily. In that area, many schools have been closed down because of that."
"We do not have any more details at this stage, but we understand that this area saw a similar attack about four weeks ago. Open Doors urges prayer for the people of southern Kaduna state and Zangan village in particular." Police say 19 people died in that earlier attack.
Open Doors has been active in Nigeria since 1997. Over the last few years, "The Boko Haram actually wants to take over the whole country and put into effect Sharia Law," explains Dykstra. Their attacks--which are estimated to have cost 3,600 lives since 2009--have included suicide blasts as well as coordinated gun and bomb assaults on houses of worship, Christian centers, security forces, schools and other symbols of authority. All that means the Open Doors response teams have seen dramatic growth in the outreach they do.
With the Boko Haram targeting church leaders and Christian adults, that leaves an untold number of orphans and widows. Open Doors projects target schooling for the children, as well as socio-economic projects for widows of Christian leaders who have been killed. Dykstra adds, "We support the Christians there in emergency situations with trauma counseling. We do a lot of care for Muslim-Background Believers, distribution of Bibles, Sunday school training, assistance to Christians in Sharia-controlled States in the North."
Nigeria is ranked No. 13 on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List (www.worldwatchlist.us ) of the worst persecutors of Christians in the world.
It's unlikely that this pattern will change much. Aside from the physical help, Dyskstra says Nigerian believers are asking for wisdom in their response. "I think we need to pray for Christians not to strike back. The Christian leaders are urging--especially the youth--not to retaliate. That would kind of just recycle this pattern of violence."
(Image courtesy of BGR)
Zimbabwe (MNN) -- Extreme Makeover: Sanyati needs your help.
In 2008, hyperinflation in Zimbabwe led to severe economic hardship; from 2007 to 2008, the Zimbabwean dollar lost more than 99.9 percent of its value. The currency officially collapsed in early 2009, and a multicurrency system was established.
As a result of the economic crisis, many hospitals shut down. However, Baptist Global Response began a five-year renovation of the Sanyati Baptist Hospital in 2010 to keep shining the light of Christ.
Three years down the road, BGR has made some major progress. The hospital's water system has been upgraded, the roofs on 12 buildings have been replaced and interior repairs have also taken place. Last year, they installed solar panels to keep buildings lit during the evening hours.
While the project has progressed, a lot of work remains. Several wards and units still need major renovations, and labs are still lacking cabinetry, plumbing and electricity.
Click here to financially support Extreme Makeover: Sanyati.
Pray the Lord will provide resources to finish these renovations.