(Photo credit Asian Access)
USA (MNN) -- When you're at a missions conference, you're bound to run into someone you know. That's what keeps happening at the Missio Nexus Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Many MNN friends are here: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, The Mission Society, Asian Access, Living Water International, World Mission, to name a few. And there's a plethora of churches and Christian universities attending the conference as well.
Noel Becchetti, Vice President for Leader Development for Asian Access, is here with A2 President Joe Handley. Becchetti took a moment to discuss ministry challenges in two countries where Christianity is growing the fastest.
According to The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, both countries are located in Asia. These countries, which cannot be identified for security purposes, also happen to be places where A2-supported pastors are sharing the Good News of Christ and making disciples.
"They're both oppressed situations," explains Becchetti. "In other words, the governments in those countries to some degree actively work against religious freedom, even though they would technically say they're all for it."
Despite the persecution, and sometimes because of it, the Gospel is spreading like wildfire.
(Photo credit Asian Access)
"When people become believers here," a pastor in one of the fastest-growing countries told Becchetti recently, "you have to be 'for real' because you know you're going to get pressured."
By coming alongside leaders who serve Christ on the front-lines, you can encourage and equip them to weather the deep challenges they face.
"We've had leaders in Asia just go, 'Look, the biggest thing you guys can do is just come over here and love on us, 'cuz that's a new thing in our cultures'" shares Becchetti.
Support a leader through A2's Persecuted Pastors Fund here.
Pray for persecuted Gospel workers as they carry God's message of hope to the spiritually-hungry people of Asia.
More Missio Nexus stories here.
Liberia (EFCA) -- Editor's Note: many villagers are suspicious of official attempts to combat Ebola. Sierra Leone has just emerged from a controversial three-day curfew to try to stop the spread of the disease.
Although the following blog post focuses on work in Liberia and was written a month ago, author Jordan Mogck highlights several of the challenges facing Ebola Response Teams anywhere they work.
Given the recent attacks on Red Cross workers in Guinea as well as the eight murders of an Ebola health team, this article can help you understand what medical workers confront as well as how you can help.
(Photo courtesy of ReachGlobal)
The EFCWA Ebola Response Team (EERT) is a national church-based response out of the rising needs seen by the leaders of the Evangelical Free Churches of West Africa in response to the deadly Ebola Virus disease that has claimed over 1,000 lives in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
This fast-growing church movement with membership in the three countries agreed together with the leadership of ReachGlobal to responds to this national catastrophe. As reported from EFCWA leadership and the Ebola Response Team coordinator, these are the top three challenges they are faced with in their efforts:
Many people in villages and communities that we are reaching cannot read and write. The few educated cannot read comprehensively, and their messages are widely respected by the majority. The need for the church to engage in quality education with partners more intentionally after the Ebola crisis is of great need. Many are dying because of the lack of knowledge.
Diverse religious perceptions
Diverse religious perception of the cause of Ebola in Liberia and their proposed religious solution have served to confuse and frustrate many. Many religious clergy consider the outbreak either as “a curse on Liberia because the president’s son and others are promoting homosexuality,” or “This is the end times, and there’s nothing we can do about it because God said it will happen.”
Others are promoting religiously-conceived hygiene methods at the expense of sound medical advice. For example, one church is calling on people to use salt for their protection. They are buying it at the expense of their life, which actively undermines our efforts. After three days of national fasting, Liberians woke up to the calls of relatives in Monrovia to “bathe with salt placed in hot water before 6 a.m. This will bring the spread of Ebola to a complete halt.” This rumor went wide across the country, and many participated.
Our inability to travel at our convenience and desire due to fear of riding in congested vehicles that ply the roads around Liberia. This will hinder our ability to educate and train the churches to respond as most of our own EFCWA pastors cannot adequately develop their positions for the battle against Ebola, and they live in remote villages that rental cars cannot go.
How you can help
Be in prayer for the teams as they educate people about the virus, assist them in protocols, and teach prevention. Pray for Gospel opportunities.
Central Asia (OM/MNN) -- God can use any situation, timing, or tool to advance the truth of His Gospel. The following story from Beth, a missionary with Operation Mobilization illustrates this truth.
Our neighbours came and asked for our coffee table.
Not a spare, unused coffee table sitting in a corner somewhere, but our only coffee table, covered with the kids’ drinks and snacks as they watched a movie and with books and magazines on the shelf below.
Our neighbors said that they had guests coming and they didn’t have a table, so they needed ours. Logical right? Not to my western cultural mindset still trying to adjust to living in Central Asia!
Back home, I might ask my neighbor for an egg or cup of sugar IF I knew them really well and IF I couldn’t get to a shop in time. But to ask for furniture that they are obviously using? Definitely not!
Here in Central Asia, the guests are of the ultimate importance. Huge time and effort is put into preparing and serving the guests. And why? Because one’s honor is at stake. Not treating a guest properly would be shameful. A sign of how good a host you are is how much food is placed on the table for your guest and how much food is left over at the end of the meal.
(Photo courtesy of Operation Mobilization)
It makes my reading of the story in Luke 11 so much more meaningful. I don’t doubt that if our neighbors’ guests had arrived unexpectedly at midnight and all the shops were closed and they had no bread, that they would have come to knock at our door, and they would not have given up until we had answered them and given them bread for their guests.
So what did we do when our neighbors asked for our coffee table? We cleared it of all the drinks and snacks and books and magazines, and carried it to their house for them! After all, their honor was at stake, But more than that, an opportunity to deepen our friendship with them was at stake, as well.
Praise God for the amazing ways He provides for His people when they are serving him. Pray that this missionary couple will continue to be able to engage their community effectively for God. Also, ask God to protect Operation Mobilization and to lead them according to His will.
(Photo courtesy FEBC/CC/WikimediaMstyslavChernov)
Ukraine (MNN) -- The Internally Displaced Persons from the Ukraine-Russia conflict number more than 300,000. That's the official figure, but UNHCR officials believe the real number is two to three times higher. Many simply find shelter with relatives or friends and don't alert anyone.
Despite a ceasefire, the numbers keep rising. Meanwhile, rapidly-falling temperatures are causing increasing hardship for the many IDPs who fled with few possessions, thousands of whom are currently housed in temporary facilities that are ill equipped for winter conditions.
The Special Rapporteur called for the urgent adoption of an IDP law based on international human rights standards, as a vital element “to enable all actors to respond effectively to their needs with budgets in place.” He insisted that adoption of a draft law, scheduled for 14 October, must not be further delayed and that other normative measures should be taken in the interim period.
Churches and civil groups have been stepping up to the plate to meet these needs as best they can in light of a government that can't afford uniforms or helmets for its army. It's a herculean effort, considering many of these churches and ministries have experienced severe losses of their own.
(Photo courtesy CC/WikimediaCommons)
Victor Akhterov, director of FEBC Russian Ministries, explains that four months ago, "Our studios were robbed. We are grateful to God that our studios are still basically intact. We just have to replace some equipment, but the tower went down and the transmitter with it." Then, last month, "Four people were killed, who were helping us, by the pro-Russian Separatists. The people who were killing them were screaming, 'You evangelicals! We don't need to hear [this] on our land!'"
It was a devastating blow. Akhterov says most of the Christians they work with in the region are less than ten years old. "Pray for the Church. This is what usually is not said: many of them are on the verge of losing their faith, especially the new Christians. They were hoping that God would protect them, and then they see the pastor's kids being murdered. We need to pray for this young church in Ukraine."
While this station is currently offline due to sustained damage, there is good news. "We actually recovered the transmitter from the rubble there, and [we] hope that it's still in working condition. We are now restoring the studio." Plus, Akhterov adds, they're building a new tower. They're hoping to be back on the air soon, "hopefully in October. And I'm speaking by faith, of course, because the war is still going. They have a so-called 'peace agreement,' but people are still shooting each other. We don't know what's going to happen next."
(Photo courtesy FEBC/CC/Wikimedia Commons/Dasjo)
Things are changing moment to moment in this area. Ukraine is at a critical crossroads. Although a serious setback, the incident hasn't silenced FEBC in Ukraine. Akhterov confirms this. "Of course in Western Ukraine, we are still broadcasting, covering roughly half of the country in the West. We are buying time in strategic cities." Keep praying. Akhterov stresses this as an essential need. "We are also working on several projects opening stations in different cities in Ukraine. Ukraine is obviously in deep need of the Good News."
U.S. and coalition forces continue bombing Syria and Iraq.
Syria (MNN) -- As the U.S. and coalition forces continue bombing ISIS inside Syria, an amazing Good-News story is emerging. Yesterday, U.S. officials told us five additional strikes on ISIS targets in both Iraq and Syria were launched in an attempt to stop the terrorist organization.
Despite the attacks and widespread destruction in Syria, Alexsa MacDowall with E3 Partners says, "Right now, as the airstrikes are going on, we're seeing and hearing a lot of the believers and Muslim-background believers are trying to get their families together and flee to neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and even Turkey as time rolls on. Some of them are staying, but for the most part, most of them are trying to leave."
MacDowall says over one million refugees are in Jordan alone. More are expected in other countries as the Syrian bombing intensifies.
In years past, sharing the Gospel was difficult at best, and openness was limited. But with this unrest, she says, "They're actually way more open to the Gospel. There are different reasons for that. One is: Jesus is appearing to them in dreams and visions. At the same time, in this time of difficulty, they're seeing the faith that these believers have is carrying them through this."
When they see this, they begin asking questions. "When they see the peace that believers have, they want to know about it. They're searching. They've very open."
This pastor and his family are still in Syria sharing Jesus.
MacDowall collects prayer request from believers on the ground for their 8thirty8 Facebook page. She's in contact with a pastor in Syria, and there's good news: "What's interesting is that in the midst of this turmoil, a lot of Muslims are starting to stream into the churches. About half of his small house church was composed of Muslim background believers."
E3 Partners is coming alongside Christians in Jordan to help them reach out in Jesus' name. "We're pouring prayer, resources, and training into believers there to help them open up their homes [to the refugees], to help them start house churches as well as meet the needs in their communities."
There are some tangible ways you can help. First, "PRAY...not that the Lord would take them out of the difficulty, but that He would give them strength and endurance and hope, as well as peace, knowing that God has them in this situation for a reason. Because of the conflict, the nations are coming to know God."
You can also GIVE financially here. "Every single dollar that's given to that will go directly to the Christians that are working in Jordan and the surrounding nations." Money is used for humanitarian supplies, Bibles, and more.
Then, you can also GO, and help physically. "E3 also takes trips to the Middle East. So, if you're interested in serving on a medical trip, you can get more information at our Web site."
If you'd like to sign up to get daily prayer updates from persecuted Christians around the world, go to their 8thirty8 Facebook page.
(Photo courtesy Flickr/CC/UK Department for International Development)
South Sudan (MNN) -- The crisis in South Sudan is being drowned out by coverage of airstrikes in Syria, ISIS advances, the conflict in Gaza, and the Ebola outbreak.
Here is the upshot: South Sudan is in trouble. Matt Parker of Kids Alive International explains, "South Sudan is already one of the poorest countries in the world. There's already a lack of facilities and infrastructure in the country." When you add war and a food shortage, you get a manmade disaster. The conflict between the government and the rebel group has displaced nearly two million people. "There's talk of around 50,000 children really being at-risk of starvation over the coming months, so it's a very serious issue. One of the problems was because of the fighting, farmers were not able to get out into their fields." Plus, food and fuel still available have nearly doubled in cost in some areas.
Some of the worst-hit areas are also the hardest to reach because they're remote and have few roads to get there. It's made worse because the government reportedly banned foreigners, including aid workers, and Non-Government Organizations.
Once this crisis re-emerges on the international scene, it could be in the form of a famine, warns the United Nations. "The fact that people have been unable to plant crops, the fact that more than 1.8 million people have been displaced as a result of the fighting," says Parker, "has added to this [problem] very significantly."
Peace talks resumed 21 September in Ethiopia, even as mop-up operations continued in Unity state from last week's clashes. Negotiations have been on hold since late August, when President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar inked the fourth "peace" deal in nine months. This time, they agreed to forge a unity government by October 9. Will it work? Parker hopes so. "There needs to be real accountability. There needs to be efforts made to address corruption, which is rife, even if the unity government comes into place."
(Photo courtesy Kids Alive International)
As families move to get away from the fighting, there's a corresponding rise in the number of street children, observes child advocates. Kids Alive's focus is on the entire child. Their work in Wau hasn't been disrupted, even though there have been a couple of violent outbursts. While that's good news, Parker says their staff is keeping a close eye on things. "There's been a lot of concern, a lot of fear in the area, and the real risk that fighting could break out at any time."
The contingency plan for Kids Alive is to continue their work. Some of the street children are in their Children's Homes, and others are coming to ministry sites. The influx means growth. Parker notes, "Over the next few months, we'll be doing some construction work so that we can build more facilities and...get more children off the streets. We're concerned. We're monitoring the situation very carefully."
(Photo courtesy Kids Alive International)
Kids Alive staff focus on meeting the physical, emotional, AND spiritual needs of each child. "We want to see the kids that we work with come to know Jesus in their lives. We want to see them discipled, we want to see them serving Him. We want to see these kids really making an impact for Christ in their communities."
However, rising costs, growing communities, and fewer dollars means they have to ask for help. Funds now help lay the groundwork for future later. "It's a core part of everything that we do: teaching these kids the Gospel message, teaching them the hope that they have in Christ, and helping them to grow in that faith."
As Kids Alive continues their work among street kids and in the communities, Parker asks: "Pray that we would be successful in helping kids break the cycle of poverty, get off the streets, have a loving home, have a promising future, and come to Jesus Christ in their lives."
(Graphic cred: Missio Nexus)
USA (MNN) -- You probably pray for mission projects, but how often do you pray for mission leaders? Right now, the CEOs and other top executives of U.S. and Canadian mission groups are attending the Missio Nexus Leadership Conference.
Jim Ramsay, VP of Missions for The Mission Society, says the "ripple effect" is one reason why mission leaders need your prayers.
"The global context is changing so rapidly; it's impacting missions. All of us have got to keep our eyes and our hearts open to what God is doing and how we need to shift our own thinking, our own practice, to react to the changing context," Ramsay states.
None of us live or work in a bubble; whether you realize it or not, even something like the Ebola crisis in West Africa affects you in one way or another. The same applies to missions.
For example, as Tom Lin pointed out yesterday, the world is becoming much smaller; more and more people are moving across borders, whether by choice or not. For InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, that means a greater number of international students to reach out to.
(Photo credit Sergiu Bacioiu via Wikimedia Commons)
The "ripple effect" can also trigger negative reactions. Take the economy of "sending nations," for example, like the United States. Hard economic downfalls, increased government spending, and massive federal reforms over the past several years have left most families with less money in their pockets. This often translates to less funding for missionaries and missions projects.
All of this makes your prayers a top priority. Between now and Sunday, will you pray for missions leaders who are attending the Missio Nexus conference?
Pray that God opens the eyes and hearts of group and project leaders.
Pray that He gives mission leaders discernment.
Pray that God will connect the groups and leaders who need to collaborate to further His Kingdom.
That last point, collaboration, is partly why The Mission Society sends its leaders to this conference.
"Networking is probably the primary reason that we attend. I expect that's true for most of the attendees," notes Ramsay. "It used to be a little more proprietary, a little more guarded: 'This is my turf, my mission, my ministry.'
(Graphic credit The Mission Society via Facebook)
"[Now] there's much more of a 'Kingdom attitude' happening."
Building connections is a key part of The Mission Society's ministry. Since 1984, they've been involved in recruiting, training, and sending missionaries both overseas and within the United States. The Mission Society currently supports more than 200 missionaries who minister in over 40 nations worldwide.
Learn more about their work here.
Middle East (MNN) -- Where does our faith come from? It comes from God, right?
And if you've been keeping up with the story of Mariam Ibraheem, then you know what a testimony her story is to God's providence in times of need.
But Ibraheem's story isn't over, and neither is yours. The following is a letter from the executive director of Women for Middle East HOPE, an international initiative of SAT-7, a Christian Satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa.
(Photo courtesy of SAT-7)
If you happened to see the television interview last week with Mariam Ibraheem, you witnessed a riveting, powerful testimony of one woman’s great faith and courage! (If you missed it, don’t worry—you can catch it on YouTube through our Women for Middle HOPE Web site.)
Mariam was interviewed by Fox News host Megyn Kelly for the first time since her release from prison in Sudan. We have been following Mariam’s story and praying for her ever since we learned that she was jailed solely because of her Christian faith. Mariam, the mother of a toddler, gave birth to her second child while in prison—with her ankles chained. When word of her mistreatment got out, Christians around the world rallied and prayed and called for her release. Finally, in June, a Sudanese Appeals Court made the decision to set her free!
Now living in New Hampshire with her husband--an American citizen since 2005--and their two children, Mariam still has a heart for the people of her homeland, especially the women and children. She is a strong advocate for freedom to follow the religion of one’s own choice and points out that she is not the only woman to suffer from this problem. She says, “There are many Mariams in Sudan and throughout the world. It’s not just me.”
While in prison, Mariam was heavily pressured to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam. She refused to do that, saying, “I have always been a Christian… I had my trust in God. My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations… Faith means life. If you don’t have faith, you are not alive.”
Mariam embodies the need, the purpose, and the spirit of Women for Middle East HOPE! At the end of the interview, she thanked the Fox News audience for their support and then told Megyn Kelly, “I still need support--I need prayer!”
Mariam and her Christian sisters around the world will be lifted up in prayer on Sunday, November 2, 2014, as SAT-7 and Women for Middle East HOPE co-sponsor a Worldwide Day of Prayer, specifically focused on the women and girls of the Middle East and North Africa. I hope you will partner with us in this Day of Prayer and that you will encourage your church or your small group to get involved, as well. See the links provided below.
Women for Middle East HOPE
Click HERE to see Mariam’s powerful interview.
Click HERE to join Women for Middle East HOPE if you have not already done so.
A roadside church in Bor, South Sudan.(Photo courtesy of Food for the Hungry)
International (FFH/MNN) -- There is so much to do. In your house, in your community, your church. There are responsibilities to uphold at school, at your job, with your family. As soon as you overlook something, or fail at one task, it feels like the entire tapestry of your day-to-day life unravels.
And then you turn on your TV or pick up a newspaper, or scroll through a news Web site--maybe this Web site. You see there is so much to do all over the world. There are innumerable humanitarian crises. And suddenly you feel hopeless.
The following thoughts are from Alex Mwaura of Food for the Hungry. He reminds us that it is overwhelming and that we can't fix it. But God can. And according to His plan, He will.
For encouragement, read on:
As an aid worker, I am often tempted to throw in the towel when I am faced with humanitarian situations that seem irreparable. When I visit communities and interact with hopelessness, suffering, pain, lost dreams as a result of war, disease, and mostly bad governance, I often find myself sighing: “It’s too broken. It cannot be fixed.”
Allow me to illustrate what I mean. Let’s consider some of the current, key humanitarian crises around the world.
In Syria, 3 million people have fled as refugees to neighboring countries. It’s estimated that more than 13 million people in Syria need immediate humanitarian aid; 6.5 million are internally displaced. The situation in Syria is probably the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.
When Typhoon Haiyan descended on the Philippines, it left grand destruction of property and with no doubt a jolt to the economy with 10% of the population affected, at the time. Millions continue to bear the brunt of the disaster.
On December 15, 2013, fighting broke out in South Sudan plunging the world’s newest country into the dark days when it hosted Africa’s longest running civil war. Everybody hoped and called for the fighting to stop. But it didn’t. Instead, the inevitable happened. Close to one million people have been internally displaced. This means 1 in every 8 people do not have a home. Even worse, the claws of famine are quickly gripping the country, and 1.25 million children face malnutrition. A recent report by the BBC mentioned that residents of a village had resorted to eating water lilies because there was no food available. UNICEF estimates that up to 50,000 children could die of malnutrition by the end of the year if they do not receive help. The stats are grim.
The deadly Ebola virus is now rapidly spreading in a number of countries in West Africa and has, to date, claimed the lives of more than 2,200 people. The current outbreak has been termed as “the deadliest” since the virus was discovered in 1976.
So now everything seems blurry — what next?
With stats like these, it seems like we’re losing ground in the fight against poverty, disease, and suffering around the world.
In photography, before taking an image, we point the camera to the subject prior to releasing the shutter. If you look through your viewfinder at that moment, the image is often blurry and out-of-focus. But if you press the shutter button halfway, the image sets into focus, and you can click to take your picture. Note that even though blurry, the good image was always there. I think God is calling us to press our shutter buttons halfway and refocus our hope on Him. In John 16:33, Jesus encouraged His disciples who were sad that He was leaving them, saying,
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
As I finish writing, my shutter button is pressed halfway. I am now able to see beyond the engulfing suffering in the world and focus on being part of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. I cannot afford to throw my hands in the air and give up! We are called to press on until physical and spiritual hungers are ended worldwide. So if you are like me, almost giving up the fight, take heart and join us in our work, for He has overcome the world!
Take a moment to pray for the needs mentioned. Remember that prayer is a very good way to focus on what God has for you to do. It serves as reminder that HE is in control.
If you'd like to partner with FH, click here.
Here are some more stories about what FH is doing around the world.
Russian Ministries has delivered thousands of Gospels of Luke to Ukrainian soldiers.
Ukraine (MNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is causing tension between Russia and Ukraine to increase. Yesterday, Putin warned Ukraine that if they moved forward on a European Union trade deal, there would be a price to pay.
According to reports, Putin says Russia will put restrictions on Ukrainian exports bound for Russia, which would create even more economic turmoil for this beleaguered nation. Months of unrest have closed businesses, forced people out of some cities, and created a poverty unseen in recent years.
While troops continue to amass along the border, Christians are sharing a message of hope and reconciliation.
Wally Kulakof with Russian Ministries says they're handing out copies of the Gospel of John. "Hundreds of thousands of soldiers have received Scriptures in the Ukrainian language or the Russian language."
This soldier is taking Scripture to his enemies.
What is that distribution doing for the Kingdom?
Russian Ministries reports a soldier saved. Kulakof says, "One young man received the Gospel of Luke, read it, read it again, and read it a third time." That soldier came to Christ. But it didn't end there.
He was intrigued by the "love your enemy message." Kulakof says the soldier reported, "Here I am on the front. I can see my enemy...the Russian soldiers or the Russian separatists. He shared with his captain: 'Listen, this piece of Scripture has transformed my life. I have found Christ. I would like to get it to the Russian soldiers."
The captain wondered how this soldier was going to do that. The soldier told him he had been watching the Russian troops. Each night at midnight, the Russians would arrive at a particular tree stump to monitor the Ukrainian soldiers. "I'd like to go there during the day and leave the Gospel of Luke on the stump for the Russian soldiers."
He did it successfully. He returned the next day, reporting that he "found cigarette butts, found places where they were resting, but the two Gospels of Luke were gone."
It's all part of the Russian Ministries "I Care" program. $50 provides a Gospel of Luke along with important information about salvation. It also provides clothing, counseling, and enough food for a family for one week.
This program is having a profound impact on eastern Ukraine. If you feel God leading you to help Russian Ministries, please click here.
(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response/Internationl Mission board)
Syria (MNN/IMB) -- U.S. military airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria began late Monday.
The strikes hit nearly two dozen targets in parts of Syria controlled by Islamic militants. Roughly two thirds of ISIS fighters are based in Syria, with the remainder in Iraq.
The Defense Department said aircraft from Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates assisted in the attacks.
Many of the refugee camps are already overcrowded. Mark Kelly with Baptist Global Response explains, "Just over the past three days, at least 130,000 new refugees poured out of Syria into Turkey because of an Islamic State offensive there. Now, in the past 24 hours, we've seen airstrikes beginning in northern Syria, and that's bound to increase the flood of refugees even more." In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was making contingency plans for all 400,000 residents of the region to flee onto Turkish territory to escape the militant advance.
As the crisis continues in its fourth year, Christian workers persevere in bringing spiritual and physical aid to the refugees and call on the church to keep praying and keep giving to these efforts. Kelly says, "We feel like the crisis in Syria is a God-given moment in history. The real question is whether we're going to be cowards and shrink back, or whether we're going to step up and play the role that God is calling us to play in this situation."
As the numbers of Syrian refugees continue to rise, workers keep their focus on the individual people around them, sharing the Gospel as they meet physical needs. Even as workers tell their stories, the scope of this conflict is sometimes overwhelming.
(Photo courtesy International Mission Board)
Kelly noted in an earlier statement that "it's easy for Americans to sit back and watch the evening news, without ever thinking about the horror being faced by innocent civilians in a far-off place."
While multiple stories of war and disease may blur together, the onus is undeniable on followers of Christ. "Jesus came to seek the lost and to bring healing to people who are hurting. As we continue to reach out to refugees, our desire continues to be to reach out to one person at a time and make a difference in that person's life."
It takes courage to come alongside the Christian relief workers and national believers who are putting their lives on the line to help refugees in Syria and neighboring countries, Kelly says. Why? "It takes courage to stand against the attitudes many Americans have toward Arabs and feelings they have about the crisis in the Middle East." It takes courage to be a voice for the voiceless and keep telling their stories to people who are distracted.
Being informed means being responsible. BGR can't do this alone. People who want to help can donate $10 by texting REFUGEE to 80888. Donations in other amounts can be made at the Baptist Global Response Web site, www.gobgr.org.
This is unquestionably a spiritual battle. Pray for BGR and its partners as they respond to this window of opportunity. "The ability to share the Good News of God's love is only magnified when you have people in crisis and you have the opportunity to bring to them food and water and other kinds of supplies that are critical for them, especially as the cold winter temperatures are just around the corner."
(Photo credit Hugo.arg & Viktorija O. via Wikimedia Commons)
USA (GHR/MNN) -- It's that time of year again in the United States: nights are getting chillier, and moms nationwide are starting to plan the big Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. It's also when Southern Baptists draw attention to the global hunger crisis.
One-sixth of the world's population is undernourished, and nearly 16,000 children die every day from hunger-related causes: that's one kid every five seconds. In the U.S., an estimated 35% of poor families are forced to choose between buying food and paying their rent. One of every four people in a major U.S. city soup kitchen line is a child.
Through their Global Hunger Relief initiative, Southern Baptists are mobilizing churches nationwide to end hunger in the U.S. and overseas through partners like International Mission Board (IMB) and Baptist Global Response (BGR). All projects supported by this initiative focus on sharing God's love through word and deed.
Global Hunger Relief's "Hunger Happens Everywhere" theme shows how people can help meet specific hunger needs in Syria and Appalachia.
Global Hunger Relief: Syria
(Photo credit GHR)
Recent ISIS advances in Syria forced another 130,000 thousand people to flee the war-torn country. Approximately 9.3 million Syrians are displaced, both inside the country and outside.
Using Global Hunger Relief funds, IMB and BGR are providing food parcels and hygiene kits to Syrian refugee families in need.
Global Hunger Relief: Appalachia
(Photo credit GHR)
Chronic hunger is a major problem in the Mississippi River Valley and the Appalachian Mountains. Impoverished children in these regions suffer the most, and their malnourishment leads to difficulty in school.
Southern Baptists have made neglected communities in the greater Appalachia area the focus of their LoveLoud outreach. Besides food items provided with Global Hunger Relief funds, believers provide "Christmas backpacks" filled with school supplies, hygiene items, and small toys.
Global Hunger Relief and you
Southern Baptists aren't sharing these projects just to inform you; being part of the Great Commission means taking action.
First of all, pray. Pray that the hunger needs of people in the U.S. and overseas are alleviated through this initiative. Pray that hearts become receptive to Christ and His message of hope when basic needs are met.
(Photo credit GHR)
Secondly, advocate. With a Global Hunger Relief kit, you can add a global perspective to your church's Fall Festival or "Trunk or Treat" event. On the flip-side, if your congregation already focuses on global hunger with World Hunger Sunday or a similar event, the kit can help promote a local food drive component.
Thirdly, give. Beyond prayer and spreading awareness of global hunger, you can take action by giving to Southern Baptist ministries. Support Syrian refugees through BGR, or fight U.S. hunger through the North American Mission Board.
Read more stories about global hunger relief here.
(Photo from wicker_man, Flickr. http://goo.gl/EkUZa7)
International (MNN) -- There's always a lot of hype when the next generation of the iPhone comes out.
Sometimes the excitement builds to a Black-Friday-like insanity: people waiting in line for weeks so they can be one of the first to get the new phone.
In the craze to get the new and improved version of the iPhone, there is something consumers are likely to overlook: their old phone.
Some will sell their old phone for a fraction of what they paid for it, and others will put it in their junk drawer and forget about it. Some even will toss the phone to avoid the hassle of reselling or recycling.
If you fall into one of those categories, Compassion International asks you to consider giving it to them. Through their partnership with iDonate, Compassion receives money from your old "stuff."
According to a survey done in 2012 by Lookout, a mobile security company, 62% of those surveyed have at least one phone they're not using. 11% say they have four mobile phones not in use.
When asked why they kept their old phone, almost one third of survey participants replied that they didn't know what to do with their old phones. Almost 52% of those surveyed said they would be willing to donate the phone to a charity.
What about you?
Do you have old phones sitting around your house? Would you be willing to give them away for a good cause? If your answer is "yes" to both questions, keep reading. If you don't want to give away your old phone, keep reading. There are other options as well.
How it works:
Compassion partners with iDonate who takes in your old phones, sells them, and sends the money to Compassion. This money is an important part of keeping Compassion in operation.
And this is the most important part: the money from your old phone not only helps children escape poverty all around the world, but it also helps teach children about the true compassion of Jesus. Many of these children come from difficult backgrounds that don't present a lot of hope.
The hope of the Gospel is the most important gift these children can ever receive. If something as simple as an old cell phone could do that, who wouldn't want to help?
More than cell phones
Your old vehicle, jewelry, electronics, etc. can also be given to iDonate. Does anything come to mind? Click here to get connected.
If you are intrigued by the work of Compassion but don't have anything to donate, consider child sponsorship. Click here for more information.
(Graphic credit Missio Nexus)
USA (MNN) -- Industry conferences usually have a "boring" feel. Who wants to listen to lectures and talk about your job for hours on-end? But the industry conference Missio Nexus puts on every year is "transforming".
The Missio Nexus Leadership Conference kicks off tomorrow in the southern U.S. city of Atlanta, Georgia. Around 1,000 missions leaders from the U.S. and Canada are expected to attend, according to Missio Nexus Board Member and the Director of Missions at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Tom Lin.
"The leadership conference brings some of the most important topics to the North American missions community that are happening around the world. This year, our focus will be on the movement of peoples," Lin explains.
It's also a chance for mission groups to collaborate and help each other reach the world for Christ.
"To go to one place and connect with a missions pastor who's struggling with the same issue that my missions organization is tackling: that's a great connection to make."
Listen to the full interview to hear why this industry conference is important to InterVarsity.
(Graphic cred: Shutterstock.com)
Each year, Missio Nexus brings the most relevant missions-related topics to the table for discussion. The 2014 industry conference is focusing on four topics related to the movement of people: Immigration and Migration, Globalization, Urbanization, and Exploitation.
"The context in which we work with missions has significantly changed," notes Lin. "While we still send missionaries [and] church planters to other places in the world, we also recognize that many places around the world are sending people…across borders."
Each main topic will be touched on in "General Sessions" for all participants to attend. Then, smaller, individualized workshops will address issues as they appear in a more familiar context.
"There's a variety of seminars that tackle subset issues of each of [the main topics]," Lin explains.
"For example, related to immigration and migration: 'How, as a local church, can you reach out to refugee communities in your neighborhood?'"
(Photo credit UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Wikimedia Commons)
While sessions and workshops provide informational value, roundtables and networking forums provide social value.
"A lot of learning happens in those relationships," shares Lin. "I think people meet others who are asking the same questions, or perhaps are further down the line in engaging with a certain issue."
As missions leaders and groups are connecting at this industry conference, there's a role for you to play, too. First, pray for the conference speakers.
"The effectiveness of the speakers in connecting with the audience is significant," says Lin. "The room is quite diverse; we've got different types of organizations with different 'goals', you might say, [related to the main topics]."
Pray also for "divine appointments."
"[Pray] that the folks at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the folks that should meet InterVarsity Christian Fellowship would be able to connect at the conference," Lin requests.
"We really are hoping for those 'divine appointments' to happen and that the Lord would lead us to talk to the people we're supposed to talk to."
Find all Missio Nexus updates here.
Before/After battle map of the Jobar District.(Image credit @Karim Faour via Syrian Perspective Facebook page)
Syria (MNN) -- ISIS advances over the weekend are putting Syria back into the international spotlight. According to BBC News, ISIS advances that began a week ago brought terrorists within six miles of Kobane, a Kurdish town in northern Syria, on Sunday.
ISIS advances last week resulted in another 60 Syrian villages falling to the renowned black flag. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Kurdish forces withdrew and 39 villages fell to ISIS on Friday alone. Between 130,000 and 200,000 Syrian refugees fled from Kobane into Turkey as ISIS militants approached their community.
Most Syrian Kurds crossed the border when Turkey created an opening stretching 19 miles; however, by Monday, Syria's neighbor had closed all but two border posts.
Turkey already houses over 1.5 million Syrian refugees. This weekend's influx, the biggest since Syria's conflict began 3 1/2 years ago, added thousands more.
According to CNN, the recent release of 49 Turkish hostages--captured when ISIS took over Mosul this summer--has freed up Turkey to join an international coalition to combat ISIS. However, underlying tensions between Turkey and Kurdistan are being inflamed by the sudden addition of Syrian Kurdish refugees.
Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, has been partnering with indigenous ministries in the Middle East to provide physical and spiritual assistance to refugees since the start of Syria's crisis.
(Photo credit Christian Aid)
With financial support from Christian Aid, local believers are providing food, blankets, clothing, milk for children, and shelter to needy refugee families. They are also praying with refugees and listening to their heartbreaking stories, as well as sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The need is immense and Christian Aid’s network of indigenous ministries in adjoining countries, as well as within Syria itself, is poised to respond with more emergency relief. They are pleading for Christians around the world to assist them through prayers and financial support.
Help missionaries share God's love with Syrian refugees here.
Will you pray for indigenous missionaries in Turkey as they care for even more Syrian refugees?
Pray for peace in Syria and in its neighboring countries, and for comfort to those who have been traumatized by their experiences. Pray that the love of Jesus as demonstrated by Christian workers will open doors to share the Gospel with refugee families. Ask the Lord to encourage Syrian believers and provide reassurance that they have not been forgotten.
More Middle East stories here.
Carl Moeller named Biblica CEO.
USA (MNN) -- Biblica announced Monday that its Board of Directors, by unanimous vote, has appointed Dr. Carl A. Moeller as its Chief Executive Officer, effective October 14, 2014.
Since 2000, Dr. Moeller served three years as a pastor at Saddleback Church, then nine years as president and CEO for Open Doors, USA, before founding Sequoia Global Resources in 2012. He will replace Doug Lockhart, who announced last March that he would transition from his role as Biblica’s CEO by early 2015.
As president of Open Doors, Dr. Moeller helped awaken churches in the West to the ongoing persecution of Christians in other parts of the world. During his time with Sequoia Global Resources, he helped cultivate philanthropic partnerships to address some of the most intractable global needs, including poverty, autism, education, and more. He has worked in more than 75 countries around the world and is an ordained minister with the Evangelical Free Church.
"Throughout our search, we have been careful to seek God’s wisdom and direction as we make this important selection. We feel confident that Carl is the right person to lead Biblica into our next season of ministry," said Rob Gluskin, chair of Biblica's Board of Directors. "His unique combination of global experience, organizational leadership, and ministry-mindedness is exactly what we need as we help millions of people around the world connect more deeply with the Scriptures."
"I am grateful that Carl answered the call to become the next leader of Biblica," said outgoing CEO Doug Lockhart. “Biblica is an amazing ministry, and I believe God will continue to bless its work under Carl’s leadership."
Mission Network News caught up with Moeller after the announcement was made. He talked about how his experience with Open Doors has prepared him for his work at Biblica, "knowing brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer--even lose their lives to obtain a copy of God's Word. So to work with an organization that serves the persecuted church, providing Bibles resources for more than 100 million people around the world, is a perfect fit."
What's the commonality? "Biblica is a natural partner with organizations like Open Doors who serve persecuted Christians, because we're able to let them focus on the things that they do best, while we focus on the things that we do best, which is the Bible and getting a readable translation of God's Word into people's hands and into their hearts."
Moeller says while Americans can get Bibles, there's a problem in the USA. "Are we getting the Bible into our hearts? Are we reading it well? And are we engaging with it? I believe this is another call on Biblica. We must make that challenge as well, not just taking Bibles across the globe."
Dr. Moeller will assume the role of CEO on October 14, 2014. "Biblica has been doing Kingdom work for over 200 years: providing Bibles for those who don’t have any and helping those who do to experience them more deeply," he said. "I am so thrilled to be joining this incredible global ministry."
Moeller will helm a global leadership team consisting of Scott Bolinder, Executive Vice President; Bob Dinolfo, Chief Financial Officer; Ken Norwood, Vice President of Philanthropy and Major Relations; Munengi Mulandi, Area Executive Director for Africa; Stephen Cave, Area Executive Director for Europe; Esteban Fernandez, Area Executive Director for Latin America; and Richard Loh, Area Executive Director for East Asia Pacific.
(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)
Pakistan (MNN/VOM) -- In Pakistan, believers marked the one-year anniversary of the All Saints Church bombing in Peshawar.
On 22 September 2013, two suicide bombers attacked, killing 98 people. Over 150 were injured. Though regarded as the worst attack on a church in the country's history, Christians and other religious minorities remain vulnerable, despite government efforts to quell extremist persecution.
At the same time, the country's blasphemy laws remain firmly in place. The message this sends to the Christian community is, "You don't matter." Blasphemy laws are often wielded as a weapon against Christians, placing the burden of proof on the accused, rather than on the accuser.
Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, says abuse of the law is rampant. "If you have a property dispute, if you have some kind of a relational dispute, you can simply accuse somebody of blasphemy and they get locked up for years even if there's no evidence, even if there's no case against them."
The figurehead for that issue is Asia Bibi. In June 2009, she was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women became angry at her for drinking the same water as they drank.
One of the women accused her of blasphemy, and Asia was arrested and imprisoned. Nettleton says, "When that kind of a conversation can lead to five years in prison, you can imagine that any Christian thinks twice about sharing their faith. They think twice about sharing Jesus with their Muslim neighbors and co-workers and friends."
Asia was convicted in 2009 of blasphemy against the prophet Mohamed, sentenced to death, but appealed immediately. Nettleton says, "That appeal was a couple of years ago, and she's been waiting ever since for the High Court to hear her appeal. We've had six times now where they've announced a hearing and said, Yes, we're going to have a hearing,' and they have delayed for some reason or another."
(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)
According to the Voice of the Martyrs, last week's court hearing was postponed again, but this time reportedly at the request of her husband, Ashiq Masih. "The judge has said that this going to be the last time. The hearing is now scheduled for October 16. Basically the judge has said, 'We are going to have that hearing one way or another.'"
Nettleton goes on to say that even if things go Bibi's way in the appeal, it's still not over. "Even if the court dismisses the charges and she walks out of the courtroom a free woman, she's not a safe woman at that point. There have been threats against her. What we hope for is justice and that will mean that she's set free. But then, at that point, she becomes a marked woman on the outside of prison."
(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs)
A demand for change would go deep, says Nettleton. "Really, the injustice of the blasphemy laws is something that needs to be addressed by the Pakistani government, and it's something that so far they haven't addressed in the main due to the pressure from radicals in Pakistan who don't want the laws to change."
Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi, as well as for her husband, Ashiq, and their daughters. "Pray for justice. We pray for a fair hearing. We pray for the judges to rule fairly and correctly. And I think we need to pray for the safety in the process. The judges in her case have been threatened."
For the Church at large in Pakistan, "Pray for encouragement, that they won't be overcome by fear, but that they can march boldly forward and can be bold witnesses for Christ in spite of the risk that that entails."
You can also voice your support for Asia's release by signing the online petition at www.CallForMercy.com and by writing letters to her in prison at www.PrisonerAlert.com.
Photo courtesy of MCFBO Sweden facebook.
Kenya (MNN) -- What's kept you from signing up for a 5k? Is it because you're not in running shape? Are you too busy? Or do you just hate running?
Well, these are not excuses anymore! Madeleine school, a ministry partner of Orphan Outreach, is hosting a 5k tomorrow in Kenya. And here's the best part-- you sign up, but somebody else runs.
But this is more than a race. It is an effort to transform the lives of an entire community.
Background of Orphan Outreach partnership
Tiffany Taylor of Orphan Outreach says, "When Orphan Outreach was looking for partners in Kenya, we came across the Madeleine school which is in the Bungoma region. And we were just so moved by what the locals were trying to do there by educating these children who are truly some of the most vulnerable children in really desperate need."
According to Orphan Outreach, 71% of the population of 40 million people live below the poverty line. 1.2 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and many more die because of Malaria. Children, especially girls, have little chance of being educated.
Madeleine school was started in 2006. The school is located in a farming district in western Kenya and serves around 130 children. Many of the children who attend Madeleine school come from poor families with lots of kids. Often they are orphans living with relatives.
It isn't an easy life. Madeleine school provides these children with a meal every day on top of their education. The work done at Madeleine school is run by nationals of a local church.
Taylor explains this is a key element when choosing partners. "We really want to come alongside nationals in all the countries where we serve because those nationals understand the culture of their country and the needs. And we partner with Christian ministries whose goal is to bring the Gospel to the children."
Orphan Outreach assists with these efforts and also provides an agricultural program and monthly sponsorships for the children.
Right now they also have a medical ministry team in Kenya. Some of the team will be running the "Run for Life" 5k.
The bibs cost $15, a low price compared to many races in the United States. This 5k provides money for the school to continue operation and for the Kenyans running in it. Oprhan Outreach is excited to be a part of this race because it is a good way to reach out to the community and raise awareness about Madeleine school.
Those hosting the race did not expect to get the participation they did this year. They are over their limit of 200 printed bibs.
But don't worry! You can still buy a bib to be worn at next year's event and the money will still help.
For more information on the event, visit Orphan Outreach's Facebook page here.
"It's really been a blessing to have this race as a unique way to make a difference for the school," Taylor says.
Why should you get involved?
"We feel really strongly that God has called everyone to make a difference in his word for widows and orphans and their need. And this is a perfect example of a project where we are reaching out to children that are very vulnerable," Taylor explains.
She says providing education for these children is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in their region.
If you would like to support Orphan Outreach by sponsoring a child, click here.
In the meantime, pray for their mission team serving there right now. Pray for them to bring the hope of the Gospel into their everyday conversations and interactions with the people of that community. Pray for the school to flourish, and for the staff to remain steadfast.
Read more stories about Orphan Outreach here.
(Photo credit U.S. Dept. of Defense)
Iraq (MNN) -- According to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Europe is edging closer to war.
Blair warns that airstrikes won't be enough to stop Islamic State terrorists and says "boots on the ground" may be necessary. Meanwhile, Iraqi seminary students helped by Open Doors USA are fighting a battle of their own.
War on ISIS?
On Sunday, Blair spoke with CNN about British involvement in the fight against ISIS.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"It's now very obvious--from Syria, from Libya, from everything that's happening in the world--that this problem isn't going away," Blair told CNN's Candy Crowley.
"You certainly need to fight groups like ISIS on the ground. It is possible that those people who are there locally and who have the most immediate interest in fighting ISIS can carry on the ground offensive against them…. But I think there will undoubtedly be, over time, a need to hit ISIS not simply through an aerial campaign, but also on the ground.
"And the question will be, 'Can those people--if they're supported locally--do that job, or will we have to supplement that?"
On-the-ground in Iraq, ministry workers are waging war of a different kind. A few months before ISIS began its campaign of terror in Iraq, Martin* and Daniel* took an online pastoral course offered by Open Doors. Practical application would soon follow in the form of ISIS invasion.
ISIS took Martin and Daniel's village over the summer when its Kurdish defenders took flight. The seminary students also ran for their lives and are taking refuge in Kurdish city. With help from the Lord and their brothers and sisters in Christ, these pastors-in-training are making the most of their situation.
"Everything that I've learned at school and in the pastoral course I can now use to serve these people," says Martin about the refugee families he shepherds. Open Doors sends relief aid to Martin's church. and Martin helps deliver it to his fellow refugees.
(Photo credit Open Doors)
As they care for spiritual and physical needs of ISIS refugees, Gospel workers like Martin and Daniel often feel abandoned. But letters of encouragement, prayers, and support from the worldwide Church help these believers find a second wind.
"When I read the words of encouragement, I wanted to cry," said Daniel. "When you're in such a situation, you think that the world has forgotten about us. But now I see that our brothers and sisters are thinking about us and praying for us."
Send words of encouragement to a persecuted Christian here.
Rebel in northern CAR.(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Central African Republic (MNN) -- Anyone informed about the situation in Central African Republic most likely associates the country with war, violence, starvation. These words are so different from "transformation."
Yet, The JESUS Film Project (JFP) is seeing transformation among the Sango-speaking people, due to the Sango "JESUS" film. A group was recently baptized, and six churches have been planted so far.
"The people were so hungry for the teaching found in Walking With Jesus: after the fifth episode finished, they asked to watch the series again!" the ministry reports.
According to the Joshua Project, there are approximately 442,000 Sango people in CAR, and 49% are evangelical believers. They have many Scripture resources available to them in their heart language, including the JESUS film.
(Photo credit JFP)
Pray for the Gospel to continue to heal CAR through the JESUS film.
JFP distributes the film JESUS, a two-hour docudrama about the life of Christ based on the Gospel of Luke. The film has been seen in every country of the world and translated into hundreds of languages since its initial release in 1979.
As a result, more than 200 million people have indicated decisions to accept Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
The JESUS Film Project is a ministry of Cru, an interdenominational Christian evangelism and discipleship ministry committed to giving people everywhere the opportunity to know and experience God's love and plan for their lives.
Learn more about their work by visiting JFP's Web site.
Slum well in Mumbai.(Photo credit MNN/Katey Hearth)
South Asia (MNN) -- One in nine people worldwide has no access to clean water. What those individuals do have access to looks and smells like something you'd find in a dirty fishbowl.
This month, Gospel for Asia (GFA) is highlighting the need for clean water in South Asia. They're praying for enough funding to dig 5,000 more Jesus Wells which will bring clean water and the Gospel to poor villages.
GFA-supported Gospel workers who dig Jesus Wells don't limit their clean water to Christian families. Entire communities are invited to use the well, regardless of religious background. As Christ's love is demonstrated to nonbelievers through the provision for basic needs, hearts soften and become receptive to the Gospel.
So far, GFA has raised 68% of their financial goal. If you can help them cross the finish line before 2014 comes to a close, click here.
Pray for enough funding to dig 5,000 Jesus Wells. Pray that the provision of clean water will improve health and open doors in communities to share the Gospel.
(Map credit YourMiddleEast.com)
Iraq (MNN) -- According to Reuters, ISIS has formed a new religious police squad in Nineveh, and Iraq's Shi'ite leader says their country needs international help to fight what he calls "black terrorism."
Citing a militant Islamic Web site, Reuters reports Nineveh's Islamic State police force was created to "implement the orders of the religious judiciary." However, other sources within the province told Reuters these new authorities were mainly focused on capturing "people they consider opposed to their cause."
The horrific acts of ISIS, from beheadings captured on video to a rape campaign in Iraq, are meant to invoke widespread terror and dread. While seemingly too intense for a modern era, ISIS terror tactics are nothing new: ancient Assyrians, known for their cruelty, used fear to expand their territory.
Steve VanValkenburg of Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, says the viciousness of ISIS underscores why national Gospel workers are so effective.
Flag used by Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shabaab in Somalia.
"When you have people who are from that area, they know best how to handle themselves, even though outwardly, you would think there's no way they can have a ministry," states VanValkenburg.
Christian Aid supports pastors who have stayed in Mosul to minister to Muslims, and church planters who are caring for refugees in Kurdistan. The church planters report a great spiritual harvest among Iraqi refugees. Find more details in the full report.
"As they [church planters] go around and provide food and supplies, they also provide the Gospel and New Testaments. People are becoming Christians, and so the logical place to meet would be whatever tent [they] are living in," VanValkenburg says.
"As people congregate in tents and they begin to sing, it attracts other people that want to come and hear what's happening."
You can help Iraqi missionaries reach more refugees here.
With financial support, Iraqi missionaries can care for refugees' physical and spiritual needs. Along with practical supplies like food, shelter, mattresses, and medicine, missionaries are also handing out complete Bibles, New Testaments, tracts, and Bible-based coloring books for children.
In the Kurdish area of Iraq, where people ofdifferent beliefs fled atrocities of theIslamic State, the Iraqi ministry teamsupported by Christian Aid Mission foundpeople in need of water, food and medicine.(Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid)
"They've got some good, strong, healthy churches, so they've got plenty of manpower and plenty of ability to reach out," VanValkenburg shares. "They just need resources."
VanValkenburg explains how Christian Aid helps indigenous missionaries in the full interview.
As always, prayer is the biggest need--even more so at a time like this. Pray for unity among world leaders as they try to overcome ISIS. Pray for an end to Islamic State terrorism. Pray for God's grace to be upon aid workers and indigenous missionaries as they reach out in Christ's name.
More Iraq updates here.
(Photo courtesy Russian Ministries)
Ukraine (MNN) -- Air and anti-tank defense perimeters are being tightened. Shells regularly fall. Gunfire can be heard often.
Sounds like a battle, right? This conflict is nearly a year old. Yet, says Russian Ministries president Sergey Rakhuba, "Nobody wants to recognize it yet, but this is a war between Russia and Ukraine. My family reports that their neighbors are going to help to dig trenches around my hometown, Zaporozhye."
Front-line towns like Zaporozhye are trying to protect themselves, because Ukraine can't. Rakhuba says, "Ukraine is a bankrupt country. Now, the global community starts kind of helping them to rebuild their economy and their life. But the Ukraine is a very poor country." Refugees are flooding into the region only to find a grim situation. "The government failed those people. There's no support for refugees on behalf of the Ukrainian government."
Last week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked for help before a joint session of Congress and from President Obama in the Oval Office. Poroshenko left with a promise of $7 million in an aid package, but without the specific help requested.
(Photo courtesy Russia Ministries)
This is where the Church comes in. Their "field headquarters is based in Ukraine, in Kiev. Our families and our training centers spread throughout Ukraine are caught right in the middle of that crisis that we've been watching growing since last fall," says Rakhuba. It also means they're in the right place at the right time to catch those falling through the cracks. "Churches are getting involved, helping Ukrainian soldiers with even, sometimes, uniforms, to buy helmets, to help them to protect, to be safe in the fight."
More specifically, "The Church brings spiritual, emotional relief. They bring the word of encouragement. We call it a word of 'hope.' The Church fills the gap that the government cannot do even materially."
How? Rakhuba shares one of dozens of similar stories trickling out of the region. "People who managed to escape that area with the bombs and shelling--where the fight is going on--come to the outskirts of Zaporozhye, get out of the car, and start knocking on the doors of homes: 'Would you be able to provide shelter for us for one or two days until we figure out something more permanent?'
"They come to a Christian home, and the guy takes them to church. The church surrounds this family, they provide food and shelter, and they provide all the resources they need. They provide medicine for them, and they were with three little kids."
(Photo courtesy Russian Ministries)
Wherever they are, the Christians have been working on improving living conditions. "We see the Church has started growing because of the refugees that are looking for places. The government does not support them, but the Church steps in. They fulfill their responsibility to be the 'salt and the light' in the midst of crisis."
With thousands of displaced seeking refuge, resources are being stretched thin. Prayer helps a lot. $25 helps. $50 helps. Rakhuba says these believers are our family. It's our duty to respond. "Through our 'I Care' program, there is a wonderful opportunity to advance the Gospel through providing food packages and Scripture to these needy families. $50 will provide enough food for an entire week, for a family of three to five people, but it also provides a copy of Scripture."
Click here to get started.
(Photo courtesy World Mission/Greg Kelley)
Nepal (MNN) -- This seems like a dismissible number -- .6% out of 1000.
But before you dismiss it, consider this: according to the Joshua Project, .6% of Nepal's nearly 30 million people are Christian. Out of 337 people groups, 328 have never heard about Jesus. That totals around 28,694,000 out of 28,922,000 people. Joshua Project says 82.2% of the population are Hindu and 10.2% are Buddhist.
That's a lot of people who don't know Christ and who have never heard about Him.
But thanks to work done by World Mission, the number of people who have heard about God is growing.
Greg Kelley of World Mission is in Nepal where they are distributing digital audio players of the Bible called The Treasure.
He says, "I'm standing here in the mountains of Nepal just literally in awe of the natural beauty of this place-- it's amazing. And yet I think of the spiritual condition, and the contrast is so alarming.
(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
"Most people who do research say that nine out of ten Nepali have never heard the name of Jesus. And on this recent trip with World Mission, we had the opportunity to meet people who through the influence of The Treasure became followers of Jesus and have even planted a church here, all in the last twelve months. And so, it's exciting to see God moving in Nepal."
World Mission believes in the guiding power of prayer. Will you pray for God to lead them to people whose hearts are ready to receive the Gospel?
If you'd like to partner with World Mission, click here.
Group photo after getting-to-know-you games conclude.(Photo, caption courtesy Haggai)
International (MNN) -- What would our world look like if leaders used their sphere of influence to further God's Kingdom? That's the driving force behind the Haggai Institute, which trains Christian leaders to share their faith at the workplace.
Haggai's VP of International Training, Arthur Dhanaraj, says they're currently training leaders from 20 countries at one of their international centers.
"You name any profession, we have it. These people come with a great commitment of making a difference in their nation," shares Dhanaraj. "We have all kinds of 'spheres of influence.'"
Haggai is training leaders who are judges, medical professionals, lawyers, professors, scientists, retired army personnel, architects, university principals, financial consultants, bankers, human resources professionals, hotel owners; "and the list goes on and on," Dhanaraj states.
At the current training session, "70% of the participants are from Asia, 15% Africa, 15% Latin America, and a few of them are from former Soviet Union countries."
(Photo credit Haggai)
Haggai training lasts from 15 to 30 days. Haggai alumni lead the training sessions and teach leaders how to effectively share their faith at the workplace. Since each alumnus develops his or her own course materials, lessons aren't based on Western thinking.
"We have leadership subjects like confronting, leadership, communication, and how to pass on the training that they have received," says Dhanaraj. "These people are committing themselves to go back and train at least 100 others in the next two years."
This commitment results in a multiplication effect: thousands of people in places Western believers can't reach get to hear the Gospel in a context they can understand.
However, the process can't begin without your help.
"When you support this ministry, you support a missionary for a lifetime," Dhanaraj says, explaining that sponsorship provides the financial support leaders need to attend training sessions.
Send a national leader to the next Haggai training session.
Most importantly, surround the current training session and its participants in prayer. Pray for understanding so each lesson will "sink in" and be put into practice. Pray for softened hearts to receive the Gospel. Pray that people who don't know Jesus will come to know Him through the words and actions of Haggai alumni.
"These nations will be reached, and they are being reached," concludes Dhanaraj.