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Political uncertainty adds to Ukrainian problems   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-28 - 26 days ago
Speaker Turchinov speaking at a church in Ukraine. Ukraine (MNN) -- Ukraine's Prime Minister added to the country's uncertainty Friday when Arseny Yatseniuk abruptly resigned his post. Yatsenyuk, one of the leaders of the Maidan protests, was admired by Ukrainians as a safe, mild-mannered, intellectual leader with new vision. However, that mild-mannered man became outraged as lawmakers refused to pass legislation that would allow Ukraine to finance its army and war efforts, and regulate the country's energy situation. "History will not forgive us," he told parliament. "Our government now has no answer to the questions: how are we to pay wages, how are we tomorrow morning going to send fuel for armored vehicles, how will we pay those families who have lost soldiers, to look after the army?" reported The Guardian. The newly-elected president, Petro Poroshenko, welcomed the move which will lead to new elections, saying: "Society wants a full reset of state authorities." In the midst of a myriad of Ukrainian problems, the question for evangelical Christians is how with this "rest" affects the work of evangelical outreach in Ukraine. President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba says, "As violence continues to plague eastern Ukraine, and when the country is in such deep crisis, politicians in Kiev still try to sort out issues." He added, "This raises quite a bit of concern in the country, especially who will be the new prime minister in such a critical time. National churches call on to their congregations to pray more earnestly for God to intervene because a lot is at stake with regard to who the new prime minister will be, and who takes the majority when new elections take place." Will this uncertainty affect evangelical outreach? Rakhuba says, "I don't personally see it negatively impacting evangelicals. One thing though: [Oleksander] Turchinov, [speaker of the parliament], may lose his influence in the parliament since Yatsenuk is his strongest ally." Turchinov is an evangelical Christian. In the meantime, Russian Ministries continues helping Ukrainians displaced by the fighting through the local church-initiated I Care program. $50 purchases a week's supply of relief aid and the Gospel of Luke. To support the program, click here. 

Ebola outbreak impacts ministry   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-28 - 26 days ago
Color-enhanced electron micrograph of Ebola virus particles. Liberia (MNN) -- The Ebola outbreak is claiming the lives of pastors, leaving many churches without a leader. Tony Weedor with Advancing Native Missions, originally from Liberia, says missionary pastors are often called to lay hands on sick villagers and pray for them. "They'll go there and do it without knowing this person is carrying the virus, and by the time they realize it, it's too late," Weedor explains. 90% of people who are infected with Ebola are killed by the virus; however, early detection has reportedly brought that rate down to 60% in this outbreak. Symptoms include headache, fever, and fatigue, but they don't appear immediately. Once symptoms do appear, victims usually have about 10 days before massive internal bleeding occurs. "By the time it's realized, it's too late; maybe two, three, or five people are already infected," says Weedor. The risk of infection doesn't stop there. Contact with the body of an infected person can spread the disease, and that's where another problem arises. "Burial is very, very important in Africa," Weedor explains. "They have to bathe the body, wash the body before they bury it; all that includes touching." Health workers taking a dead body from the ELWA hospital.(Image, caption courtesy ANM) The Ebola outbreak has killed over 600 people in West Africa so far. According to the latest WHO update, Liberia accounts for 224 of those deaths. Weedor says the true amount could be much higher. "Those are the ones that have come to hospital, but what about those in the villages who have just died without [visiting a] hospital?" he questions. "[We have] very few hospitals in Liberia." In fact, health workers are abandoning their posts at one of the country's largest hospitals, Weedor reports. "They're abandoning their duties and leaving the hospital, literally running away from the hospital." ANM missionaries are trying to teach villagers how to stop the disease from spreading, but they need transportation. Can you help? Click here to contact ANM, and ask how you can contribute to the Ebola outbreak response. "Any little help...in terms of funding and what-have-you, we would really appreciate," says Weedor. Here's how you can intercede for the people of Liberia: Ask the Lord to protect pastors and native missionaries from infection. Pray for health workers who are responding to the crisis will not be infected. Pray that the food crisis caused by the Ebola outbreak will not worsen. "Drivers are afraid to drive or move around," explains Weedor. This means rural villages aren't getting the food or supplies they need. More ANM stories can be found here.

Social media buzz over FGM rumors   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-25 - 29 days ago
(Image courtesy Maryland GovPics via Flickr) Iraq (MNN) -- IS (formerly ISIS) terrorists are ordering all women and girls near the city of Mosul, Iraq to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). Or are they? There's plenty of social media buzz surrounding Muslim culture, extremists, and FGM lately. To bring you up to speed, a top UN official sounded the alarm yesterday and claimed IS was ordering all women and girls near Mosul to undergo FGM, an order that would potentially affect 4 million people. Skeptics quickly took to social media outlets like Twitter to refute the claim. Television reporter for an Arabic channel, Jenan Moussa, posted the following on her Twitter account: "My contacts in #Mosul have NOT heard that 'Islamic State' ordered FGM for all females in their city," followed by a link to an article from The Guardian. "Without any evidence (so far, none), I'd say UN may have fallen victim to politically-motivated info from #Iraq. Doesn't fit IS model," tweeted researcher Charles Lister, a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. While rumors circulate, the staggering truth of Iraq's humanitarian crisis remains. Global Aid Network USA is sending prayer and answers to prayer--namely food--to churches who are helping refugees. Earlier this month, GAIN CEO Al Goff visited the war-torn country to deliver supplies and find more ways his group could help. (Image courtesy GAiN) "Just before we leave, I join the team in praying over the camp. We pray that the people seeking refuge in these tents will also find refuge in God's redeeming, forgiving love," writes Goff in his final report from the field. "It is my additional prayer that, somehow, Global Aid Network will have the privilege of being part of God's answer. I am confident we will do more." Contact GAIN USA to join in their efforts. Ask the Lord to comfort and guide Iraqi Christians. Pray that the love they're sharing at this time speaks volumes to nonbelievers. Pray that all of the resources needed to help displaced families will be provided.

Meriam Ibrahim freed, meets Pope   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-25 - 29 days ago
Italy (MNN) -- A Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death for apostasy has finally been released and allowed to leave the country. The 27-year-old mother of two, Meriam Ibrahim, and her American husband traveled to Italy yesterday, meeting with Pope Francis after landing. Advocacy Director for Open Doors USA Kristin Wright says, "Today is certainly a day of celebration for this courageous woman." Ibrahim's release was an answer to many prayers and a lot of hard work. Wright says, "The Italian government was very instrumental in bringing Meriam's ordeal to an end and bringing her out of Sudan. She'll be spending a little time there. We don't really know when she'll be arriving here in the United States." Ibrahim actually was released from prison last month after giving birth to her second child in prison. This, her first release, was attributed to international outcry over her sentence of execution. Her father was Muslim, but he abandoned her as a baby, and she grew up in a Christian home. Her paternal family members were the ones leveling the apostasy charges. "She's faced substantial persecution from her own family. That's been an ongoing issue from the beginning. Then, additional extremists were threatening her life while she was in prison and after her release," Wright says. Even though Ibrahim was released last month, she was re-arrested over false document charges while trying to leave Sudan for the United States. Those allegations were denied. Wright says, "It's a tremendous relief that she was able to leave the country.... Many people were worried that the longer that she remained in Sudan, the greater the risk of her life and the lives of her family." While not all cases like this end the way Meriam's did, Wright says, "Your letters, your phone calls, your actions can really make a difference. Meriam's case stands as an incredible example of the power of advocacy and the power of speaking out." Dr. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA says, "The challenge is to eliminate violence against individuals for their faith." Open Doors has been supporting the persecuted church around the world for almost 60 years. Not just with advocacy, says Wright. "We continue to work and support them with practical aid" such as food, clothing, medicine, and shelter, as well as Christian materials and Bibles. Sudan ranks #11 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. You can find the complete list at http://www.WorldWatchList.us. If you'd like to support Open Doors and their work with the persecuted church, click here.

3 reasons why child sponsorship matters   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-25 - 29 days ago
(Photo courtesy Katey Hearth, GFA) India (MNN) -- Some people wonder why child sponsorship is such a big deal. There are certainly many questions surrounding the topic: What's the money used for? Am I the only person helping this child? How do you know your support is being used to help children and not for other purposes? "Why do we need to do this? Does it make a difference? Well, absolutely," responds Gary Bishop, CEO of Far Corners Missions. Here are 3 reasons why child sponsorship matters: 1) Child sponsorship rewrites the future for children living in poverty. According to UNICEF estimates, 80 million children around the world live on the streets. About 72% of these children are between the ages of 6 and 12 years old, while 13% are under the age of 6. "Keyshor" was one of them. "[He was] left to grow up on his own, needed a place to live, needed the safety and security and love of people that would care for him," recounts Bishop. If left on the streets, "his whole orientation in life would've been what a kid on the street learns: to survive at any cost. However you have to get something is okay, [even if it means stealing]." These are just some of the street kids taken in by the Sydney family.(Image courtesy Far Corners) But, thanks to the kindness of Far Corners' India Field Director, Aseesh Sidney, Keyshor found a new future. "Today, he is the Regional Director for the Braun appliance company in India," states Bishop proudly, adding that several thousands of workers report to Keyshor. Currently, Sidney and his wife are housing 39 former street kids, in addition to their own family. 2) Child sponsorship opens doors for the Gospel. While living with the Sidneys, Keyshor heard the Gospel and learned about God's love for him. He accepted Jesus as his Savior. Now he speaks in churches from time-to-time about the importance of child sponsorship. "Not only is he a successful businessman, but he is a man of God," notes Bishop. "He grew up with values; he was cared for and loved. He did not have to try to learn to survive on his wits. "All of that made a huge difference in his view of God and the compassion and the love that God has for the people that He's created." 3) Child sponsorship prevents street kids from becoming statistics. Living on the streets is dangerous. It's even more risky for street kids in India. There's no one to protect them, so traffickers find them to be easy prey. Eating is necessary for living, and working is necessary for eating, so some sort of employment is a must. UNICEF estimates that India has the world's biggest workforce under the age of 14 years old. Little girl walks alone in the busy streets of Mumbai.(Photo courtesy Katey Hearth) Add to these risks frequent child abuse--police view street kids as annoying pests--and organ harvesting. The black market for organ transplants is huge in India, and the healthy organs of children are a prized find. "Keyshor could've ended up in human trafficking, he could've been siphoned off and forced to become a drug mule," Bishop says. The same possibilities face millions of India's street kids today, but you can save them from becoming a statistic. Eight kids need sponsors; click here to make a difference for a boy like Keyshor. "He had a right view of God as opposed to a made-up view of God, and that changed his life completely," concludes Bishop. Listen to the full conversation here.

Have you forgotten the refugees?   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-25 - 29 days ago
Why are these children pulling a longerwork day than most adults?(Photo courtesy of IMB students) Syria (MNN) -- The situation in Syria isn't improving. It's only been overshadowed by other events in the Middle East, and largely forgotten by the public. According to the Washington Post, 700 people were killed in a clash between ISIS and Syrian troops. Syria is trying to regain a gas field seized by the Islamic State. Meanwhile, millions of Syrian refugees are taking up residence in Lebanon and other countries. IMB Students, an offshoot of the International Mission Board, is one group that hasn't forgotten. In fact, if you visit their webpage, their passion for hurting people bleeds through their personal accounts, prayer requests, and innovative projects. This is encouraging to see in a world where it's easy to be distracted by education, jobs, technology, and the next best thing. One worker with IMB Students shares her experience in Lebanon among the refugees. The article addresses the children who wander the streets from morning until night to sell small items in order to survive. The student is honest: it's hard to know what to do that will help these people long term. But she begs readers, as followers of Christ, to never stop asking themselves each day how they can help. IMB Students presents a very helpful action-driven program called OneLife. It is "an initiative committed to Jesus Christ and His global mission. OneLife advocates using their time, money, energy, skills, education, career, influence, and every resource to share Christ and serve those in spiritual and physical need. OneLife gives missions a name, a face, and a place" (as stated on their Web site). OneLife says that out of the 10 million Syrians displeaced because of the war, four million are children, many of whom are at risk for starvation. Syrians are largely Muslim and do not know the hope of Jesus. Do you like to be involved with missions? OneLife offers you many opportunities to help. Visit this page to see all of ways that you can aid the Syrian refugees. $39 buys a family food for one week, for instance. Don't be part of the world that forgets the needs in other countries. Be the voice speaking up for those who have no voice in your country.

A silversmith and teacher shedding light in Paraguay   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-25 - 29 days ago
Donald and Carol Paige family(Photo courtesy of The Mission Society) Paraguay (MNN) -- If you've ever had a time in your life where you can clearly see where God is guiding you, you know what a blessing that can be. And if you've ever been guided to minister to a not-very-responsive people, you can probably relate to this story. Carol Paige and her husband Donald are missionaries with The Mission Society in Paraguay. They have two children, a daughter in 4th grade and a son who is three years old. Why Paraguay? Because the country is very spiritually blind to the life that Jesus has called His followers to. Carol says, "My husband and I are involved in two very different ministries during the day. I teach English in a bilingual Christian school." Her husband, on the other hand, has quite an interesting job that played a key role in their ministry and how they got there. Carol says, "My husband [is] a silversmith. And he is involved in a friendship ministry with silversmiths in our local city where we live. He goes and visits them and spends time with them." When do you ever here about silversmiths? Well, when you're in Luque, Paraguay, it's not as odd as you might think. Carol explains, "In Paraguay there are towns that specialize in different things, and the town where we live specializes in making silver jewelry and guitars." Donald Paige trained as a silversmith for 14 years in Colonial Williamsburg. And it wasn't that the Paiges picked Luque because of the specialization in silversmithing. It was God's providence. God's not-so-hidden guidance Carol explains, "When we came to Paraguay, we weren't sure where silversmiths were. It ended up that the home that we rented ended up being in the only town in Paraguay where they do silversmithing." Along with his ministry to the other silversmiths, Donald is learning how to do Filigranas, a type of Paraguayan jewelry. Along with their day jobs, the couple co-pastors at a small Methodist church. Even with all of the things the family is involved in, and while living in a foreign country, Carol feels that her kids are growing up similar to how they might in America--but with a bigger worldview. "One thing about being on the mission field, however, is that our children are given an opportunity to view differences: different cultures, different ways of life that maybe they wouldn't experience in the states," she says. She wants them to understand that there are no differences between people. They all have needs. One of the greatest needs in the culture of Paraguay is their ability to understand their need for Jesus. Carol says, "When the people say that they're Catholic, they're nominally Catholic. That means that they're Catholic because their father is Catholic or that their grandfather is Catholic. The majority do not have a real knowledge of Jesus Christ and what it is like to have a relationship with Jesus Christ." She describes their mission field as people living in spiritual poverty, partially due to a reliance on tradition and culture. Carol wants to emphasize, "We're not here to bring about American culture, and we're not here either to conform to Paraguayan culture. But what we're trying to bring about is a Kingdom culture where there are Kingdom citizens." She says this is one of the biggest challenges they have: to let people know it's not about earthly cultures at all. She also says it is difficult to help people realize that what they have is not a relationship with God, and to help them see they need to be reaching out and helping their neighbors in love. While this area of the country is complacent and missing the Gospel, to the east is another menacing situation in a different way. Where the border meets up with Argentina and Brazil is an area of heavy drug cartel and smuggling activity. BBC News reports that this is home to a large Arab community as well. There are rumors that this activity is funding Islamic militant groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, though all three countries deny the claim. With things blowing up in Israel, it is an interesting connection. Carol says she has heard some of these allegations but lives too far away to know very much about it. The Paiges are up against many challenges in their own community. But Carol explains she is passionate about their work. She is amazed to see the children understand what it means to love others and what it means to love God. She is amazed to see them put this love into action. "That's what my passion is: being able to help transmit that love of Christ to others and seeing them sharing that with the others around them," she says. How can you help Paraguay encounter Christ? "Our biggest prayer request is that the spiritual darkness that is over Paraguay would be broken. I think there is really a spiritual dimension with spiritual warfare here. We need prayer warriors who'll continue to pray that that darkness will be broken and lifted," Carol says. She also asks for your prayers for the family's strength and faithfulness to what God has called them to even when they face difficulties. "Sometimes it feels like the work is slow and we see very little progress. We don't always see the fruit of the seeds that we're planting," she says. Pray that they would not grow discouraged. You can give to the couple financially by clicking here.

Growing possibilities in La Gonave   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-24 - 1 month ago
Haiti (MNN) -- Have you ever been a part of a team where everything clicked so well, it seemed almost supernatural? MNN spoke with Starfysh about their partnership with organizations in Haiti. It becomes apparent that what makes their teamwork successful is supernatural. Their shared vision to pursue God's will has led them to begin an agricultural ministry on the island of La Gonave. Partners in Missions Steve Edmondson, founder of Starfysh, says, "The National Wesleyan Church of Haiti and also the organization WISH [West Indies Self-help], and Starfysh have come together in collaboration and we have made the steps forward to develop an agricultural research and training, teaching gardens right there on the island of La Gonave. "We have established where that would be, we have our site all paced out, and we are developing plans for putting that together." Banana plants (Photo courtesy of Katey Hearth) Agriculture has always been in the plans for Starfysh since their beginning in 2010. Edmondson says, "It's no secret, certainly, in Haiti that agriculture has to be part of the formula for any meaningful development and transformation of that land." Agriculture on La Gonave has declined in the past several years because of deforestation and loss of topsoil. Starfysh, in the partnership, plans to bring in various plants and seeds to see what grows best in the Island's soil, and pass that knowledge along to the nationals. The land they're looking at will house that research. "It will also be an area where we can teach farming techniques, soil reclamation, composting techniques, water harvesting and catchment, irrigation techniques, techniques for gardening in places where you would never think a garden could exist," Edmondson explains. Agriculture potential in Haiti Photo courtesy of Katey Hearth So, what's the point of teaching people agricultural skills? Edmondson says, "The vision would be that agriculture would thrive, that La Gonave, instead of being a place where the soil is thin and the trees are sparse, that it could be green again. And instead of being a land that reminds you of a desert, it would be a land that is reminiscent of a tropical Caribbean island that it used to be." Another benefit of focusing on gardening is that growing food in-country on the island will reduce costs for the residents of La Gonave. "Economics is a part of the equation for agriculture or any other thing you do. Economics provides the sustainable structures to see something have a long-term success," Edmondson says. Starfysh hopes to be able to encourage the people of La Gonave to purchase locally-grown produce as opposed to out of country products. He says that even though it may be more expensive in the beginning, it would be worthwhile in the end. It would help prop up the beginnings of prosperous business in La Gonave, including exportation to other islands and countries. He mentions that mango trees are a crop that grows particularly well on La Gonave--a place to start. But more important than growing food, Edmondson is adamant that there needs to be another type of growth: "The Gospel, of course, is engrained in everything we do. The Gospel, of course must be proclaimed. "We must proclaim in all we do that Jesus is Lord and He is the source of a true transforming of our individual lives and of the culture and of a country. "And so, in all we do, we must proclaim Him to be the source of all that is good and all that is redeeming." Edmondson explains that the agricultural instruction that aids everyday physical needs serves as a platform, a context, for Starfysh and their partners to speak into the lives of people. "The Gospel is everything that we do," Edmondson says again, "We don't want people to come to the end of their days warm and well fed, but not knowing the Christ who can give them eternal life. And if we stop short of conveying that message, then we've fallen short of our goal." Photo courtesy of Katey Hearth Are you excited about agriculture in the missions context? Get involved! Edmondson says, "I think the biggest thing that people can do right now is to pray that we would follow the Lord's leading in what we do and be discerning of His direction for this new venture in our ministry." Pray that the new agriculturist would fit into their plan to follow God's lead. Also, pray that Starfysh, WISH, and the National Wesleyan Church of Haiti would continue to work together well. To support financially, follow this link (specify "Agriculture and Farming" in comments box).

Christian TV brings hope to Middle East   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-24 - 1 month ago
SAT-7 offers hope for the hopeless in Iraq and around the Middle East and North Africa (SAT-7 photo). Iraq (MNN) -- More than 3,000 Christian families are now homeless, as the Islamic State told them to convert, pay a tax, or die. They decided to leave their homes. When they did, ISIS members also robbed them and forced them to escape with just the clothes on their backs. SAT-7, Christian Satellite Television in the Middle East and North Africa, is providing hope for these believers and others in a hopeless situation. President of SAT-7 USA Rex Rogers says this isn't just a Christian issue. "Other Arabs who are moderate in their religious persuasion [are] also seeing that extremism is also dangerous to them. They see the destruction of a minority group like Christians, they begin to question their own religious perspectives, and they're open to new ideas." Hopelessness is a widespread feeling in this region of the world. Rogers says, "When you give up hope, you lose in faith in any kind of justice or peace. You lose faith in who God is. There are more and more individuals in the Middle East and North Africa, Iraq included, who have turned to atheism." SAT-7 reports that nearly all Iraqi families, regardless of religious loyalties, are afraid. We have read about the atrocities they witness first-hand every day. Millions in Iraq have met their limit; the violence is too much. A reported 32% of Iraqis have rejected their religious ties (mostly young adults), and some are embracing atheism. SAT-7 is viewed by more than 15 million people throughout the region. Rogers says their programming is providing hope to people who are 98% non-Christian. "The preacher here in one sense can be Satellite television because it penetrates. Everybody has hook-ups. It's free to air, once in there. They get Christian truth from outside. It can't be censored and can't be effectively jammed." With so many watching, Rogers says SAT-7 is an effective ministry in which to invest. "One dollar will provide Christian truth, Christian programing, for one person for an entire year. There's almost no return on investment anywhere with that kind of ratio." If you'd like to support SAT-7's work in the region, click here to give.

Village mothers learn about teenage generation gap   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-24 - 1 month ago
Egypt (ODM/MNN) -- If there’s any place the proverbial generation gap between parents and their children seems particularly difficult to resolve, rural Upper Egypt may top the list. Open Doors USA shares some exciting results from their Women's Ministry. Imagine for a moment the dilemma of an illiterate Christian mother raising her teenage girl in the village where she herself grew up, just a few decades ago. In contrast to her mother, the daughter was fortunate enough to be allowed by her family to go to the village’s public school and can read and write; she also has a more expanded worldview through the rare opportunities she gets when she is given space and time to sit at the church’s computer and surf the internet. There are helpful books and media programs in Arabic to help Christian parents in developing influential relationships with their children, but this simple mother has no way to access them. (Photo courtesy of World Watch List) How is such an uneducated parent able to learn how to relate and communicate with her daughter, who easily becomes rebellious when her mother tries to guide her relationships and activities? In worst-case scenarios, when mothers fail to build trust with their daughters, the relationship is disconnected, so in some cases teenage girls actually run away from home, lured by the illusion of falling in love with Muslim neighbor boys. For their part, sons can easily link up with the wrong friends in the neighborhood, cutting ties with their parents and getting involved in violence and crime. Even in better situations, the children in these rural families often grow up with hurts and emotional scars. This can result in an estrangement caused by their random upbringing based only on folk knowledge and inherited traditions and customs, rather than biblical principles. (Photo courtesy of World Watch List) Since the Women's Ministry was newly started in one of the southern Egyptians cities six months ago, it has helped 1,000 rural Christian women between the ages of 20-45 years old to become better mothers who can bring up their children in the fear of God. Recently, 150 women attended a one-day conference to learn more about how to deal with their teenage children and how to pray with and for them. They learned about this phase in their children's life to better understand their physical, mental, and psychological development needs, along with practical tips to encourage a healthy relationship with them. "I learned the importance of encouragement and love, rather than punishment and yelling all the time. I will surely try this," said Om Romani,* the mother of two teenage children. When the Women’s Ministry in that city was first starting, many of the women were overwhelmed with their work at home and in the fields or markets. They felt that they had no time or energy for any more obligations. However, as they started to experience the difference the teaching was making in their homes, they began to realize that attending these one-day seminars was the best use of their time. "We need more of such important teachings that are new to our community to deal with the new challenges and dangers that are facing our families," said a local pastor in one of the villages. The Women’s Ministry aims at building up the mothers spiritually in order to influence and lead, as well as give them basics of child development and best practices for raising children. Pray for the Mothers in Egypt to learn Biblical ways to raise their children. Look at your own life: are you responding in love to your children? Read more Open Doors news here. *Not their real names due to security concerns

Childhood games and Small Group Ministry   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-24 - 1 month ago
"Rock-paper-scissors" by Enzoklop - Own work. China (MNN) -- "Rock, Paper, Scissors." It's one of those beloved childhood games taught and played on a seemingly-worldwide scale. Did you know it's also a successful teaching method? China Partner ministry leaders kicked off their summer in China's Hubei Province with training seminars on Pastoral Care, Homiletics, and Small Group Ministry. The group conducts these seminars for Christian leaders in partnership with registered Bible schools and churches, under the auspices of the China Christian Council. Although many lay pastors and church leaders in China understand the concept of Small Group studies, they don't know how to use them for discipleship training. But thanks to childhood games and practical application, 120 leaders are now ready to put what they've learned into action. “This training was a very big help," wrote one participant in his evaluation. "We will establish small group meetings...and we would like, through this [training], to operate well. If God permits, we can do it.” China Partner trainers didn't just teach church leaders about Small Group Ministry. They let pastors and leaders experience the concepts for themselves. Small Group Ministry training.(Image courtesy China Partner) In groups of eight, "students" performed team-bonding activities and small group discussions throughout each training session. They began to see how their congregations can grow toward God, build godly relationships with one another, and reach nonbelievers through this model. See how Jolly Ranchers candy fits into the mix. “Rock, Paper, Scissors” in this setting is more than a childhood game. It is a tool that helps church leaders grasp the power of the small group model. In the same way, your prayers and financial support for these leaders is more than words and money. They are tools to empower these Chinese leaders to reach their part of the world with the life-changing message of Christ. If God has laid it on your heart to give to China Partner, click here. Pray that the China Partners training sinks in and helps the leaders turn nominal Christians into disciples. China Partner also requests prayer for the following: Pray for Linda as she serves at an English Camp in Zigong, Sichuan province, July 26 - Aug 10. Pray for a good team spirit, for safety during the trip and most importantly, for God to draw young Chinese students to Himself during the camp. Pray for Daniel Hsu, Director of Training, as he makes final preparations for an upcoming pastoral training ministry trip in October. Pray for Sherry Koller as she continues to serve in the China Partner office taking care of many important details which allow for effective ministry in China. More stories from the field here.

Egyptian Christians, al-Sisi and the Muslim Brotherhood   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-24 - 1 month ago
(Photo courtesy Flickr/Globovision) Egypt (MNN) -- From June 2012 to late 2013, Egyptian Christians suffered greatly under the rise and subsequent fall of former President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood: death threats, street fights, church burnings, vandalism and cold-blood murder. "Morsi and his group, they are [obeying] God. He obeyed what Qur'an said: to fight, to kill unbeliever from family of Bible, meaning Jews and Christians," explains Ahkmed*, an Egyptian Muslim-background believer helped by Advancing Native Missions. Signs are pointing toward a repeat of that dark chapter. Last year, it seemed a new day was rising with the military overthrow of Morsi led by former army chief and current Egyptian President, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. Hopes quickly dimmed, though, when the path began clearing for al-Sisi to take the helm. "Even though he overthrew a government dominated by Islamists," warned Naval Professor Robert Springborg in a 2013 article published by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, "there is reason to suspect that Sisi's true goal might not be the establishment of a…democracy but rather a military-led resurrection and reformation of the Islamist project that the [Muslim] Brotherhood so abysmally mishandled." Referencing Sisi's only published work--a thesis written in 2006, Springborg builds a case for the leader's possible plans for Egypt: "a hybrid regime that would combine Islamism with militarism." He continues the argument in a May 2014 article, citing more examples of Sisi's dedication to conservative Islamism. "Sisi's Egypt, in sum," writes Springborg, "will be one in which religion will reinforce military authoritarianism and serve to justify repression of opponents." (Image courtesy SAT-7) In other words, Islam would be used as an excuse to persecute "opponents," namely Egyptian Christians. Whether Sisi's rule follows the Muslim Brotherhood's example: seeking to destroy Christians because they're Christians, or, falls in the pattern set by Hosni Mubarak: widespread oppression of religious freedom, ministry will continue. With help from ANM, Ahkmed's ministry introduces Muslims to the Truth of God's Word. He engages Muslims in conversation about Islam, then reveals why Jesus Christ is more than a prophet. "Islam is spirit of deception. God gives us wisdom to destroy this spirit," Ahkmed explains. See how you can pray for Ahkmed and his fellow native missionaries. (Photo credit 8thirty8 Facebook page) "Pray for Egypt and for Muslims," requests Ahkmed. "Pray that God helps us, gives us [bold] witness to speak [to] Muslims. "Pray for people here in America that lose their time in front of Facebook, in front of TV…. Pray for Christian people in America. When America becomes strong in faith, they will change all [the] world." More updates from Egypt here. * Name changed for security reasons.

Keys for Kids look ahead to bright future   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-23 - 1 month ago
Photo courtesy of Keys for Kids USA  (MNN) -- In a world of constant innovation and technology advancements, any business, organization, etc. has to be flexible to survive. Sometimes that's as simple as switching buildings to make work more efficient. About two years ago, Keys for Kids Ministries, formally Children's Bible Hour, began looking to downsize their building. They bought a new building this past April and began moving in the first part of June. But, Keys for Kids is still in the transitional period. Dave Malin of Keys for Kids says, "We're actually remodeling and making it adaptable for our staff here for the production work that we do with the devotional books, our internet ministry as well as the radio ministry we have with Keys for Kids Radio." The new building is a huge blessing. It will decrease their month-to-month overhead cost. "We've designed it more efficiently for the way we work as an organization," Malin says. Even though they are downsizing their building, Keys for Kids is in no way downsizing their world impact. What Keys for Kids does: Malin says that Keys for Kids has been around for 72 years under the name Children's Bible Hour. They have a passion for teaching children about Jesus and the Christian life. The name changed in March to reflect their published book they send out. Malin explains, "We not only do the devotional book which we send out about 60,000 copies around the world quarterly, we have that on the internet, we have a large internet ministry with much of our printed as well as our audio materials." Earlier this year, Keys for Kids acquired His Kids Radio. They hope to have the re-branded internet radio program running by Fall. Are you a fan of Keys for Kids? You can support their work in this way: Malin explains that during the summer, donations from supporters drop significantly. If you want to help them overcome the summertime slump, click here. Also pray that the organization will stay adequately funded so they can continue to reach children with truths about God. Pray that the transition will continue smoothly and that moving back to the permanent office space will be a positive experience. "Pray that it all goes well and that God continues to bless us in the work that we do around the world," Malin says. Find out more about Keys for Kids and the materials they offer by following this link. Read more about these recent changes here.

Summer of Hope 2014   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-23 - 1 month ago
Entrance to the Zuni Indian Reservation in New Mexico. USA (MNN) -- Native American reservations can be a source of controversy within the U.S. But during Summer of Hope 2014, they're the mission field of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries' On Eagles' Wings team. Ron Hutchcraft says two constants apply to each tribal land they visit: "It's a very hard place to grow up, [and] we will be bringing the hope of Jesus there." Learn more about the reservations Summer of Hope 2014 visits. A team of 54 Native young people are sharing Christ with their peers on 10 different reservations. Under the Summer of Hope 2014 banner, teens are telling other Native youth how Christ has delivered them from spiritual strongholds. Here's what's happened so far: Sulphur Springs Reservation -- One out of every three people who attended Summer of Hope events came to know Jesus as Savior. Gemstone Reservation -- An OEW alumnus is commissioned to lead a new generation of believers. Beaver Lake Reservation -- A simple phrase sums it up: "I feel like we're watching something from the Book of Acts." Today, the OEW team is about halfway through their Summer of Hope journey. Hutchcraft says your prayers are needed more than ever. "Because we are attacking strongholds, there is a counter-attack from the dark side, so that prayer for the covering of the blood of Jesus will be huge," he states. For example, on the first reservation they visited, one of the OEW team members led five of his peers to Christ. An attack came quickly on the heels of this spiritual victory. "The next morning, he awoke to receive a text that his very best friend [that he knew since kindergarten] back home had been shot to death," Hutchcraft shares. A young man shares his "Hope Story" with fellow Native youth.(Image courtesy RHM) Pray for strength for this young OEW warrior as he grapples with the loss of his dear friend. "Prayer is not supplemental: it is fundamental to breaking through. Honestly, these strongholds can only be broken if prayer warriors have gone ahead of us." Along with prayer, your help is needed financially, too. Only about 80% of the funding has come in. "Believe it or not, as we are out here on the battlefield, some of the financial ammunition for this Summer of Hope is still needed," says Hutchcraft. "If God's given you a heart for Native America or First Nations peoples, and you want to invest in something that is working and that is truly changing Native lives, we'd love to have you participate on that level, too." Click here to lend a hand. "When we call this a 'Summer of Hope,' that's not just a cute little name. This is all about hope where hope has been so hard to find. What you'll be hearing is almost like Book of Acts stuff that's going on as God powerfully works through these young people," Hutchcraft states. Check the RHM profile for more updates as Summer of Hope 2014 enters the homestretch.

MH17 crisis: Day Six   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-23 - 1 month ago
Congregations across Ukraine are praying for an end to the bloodshed in their country. (Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid) Ukraine (MNN) -- It's been six days since the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 crisis began in eastern Ukraine. Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, urges you not to forget the families who lost loved ones in this disaster. While the plane held 298 passengers from 10 nations, a majority of the souls aboard Flight MH17 -- 193, to be exact -- hailed from the Netherlands. Many were significant AIDS researchers on their way to a conference in Malaysia. See who was aboard Flight MH17 so you can pray for their families. “We are weeping,” says a Christian Aid ministry friend from Ukraine. “The church leaders I talked to are in tears over what happened to the plane. People from Europe, Asia, Australia, and America have died. This is crazy.” On July 17, Flight MH17 was struck by what officials believe was a surface-to-air missile. The plane crashed 25 miles from the Russian border in a separatist-controlled area near Donetsk. Western nations say there's growing proof that rebels shot down the plane using a missile supplied by Russia. Leaders are pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence on separatist rebels for more cooperation with investigators. Thus far, rebels have allowed remains to be taken from the crash site, as well as the plane's black box. However, there are concerns that rebels are altering evidence. Meanwhile, fighting has intensified this summer as pro-Russian militants battle Ukrainian government forces for control of the eastern half of the country. Separatist violence “We need peace in Ukraine. We are a peaceful people,” says Christian Aid's ministry friend. Although the exact death toll is unknown, estimates vary from several hundred people to thousands since the start of the conflict in April. Many of the dead are civilians. As the conflict rages, Ukrainian churches have stepped up efforts to minister to the hurting and to boldly share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Read about their work on Christian Aid's Web site. “People are afraid. They don’t know when they will breathe their last breath,” he said. “We want to bring hope to people, especially during these uncertain times. Whatever happens, we want them to experience the peace that only Christ can give them.” Christian Aid's ministry friend requests the following: Pray for grief-stricken families of the 298 individuals who were aboard flight MH17. Pray for an end to violence and that peace will be restored in Ukraine. Pray for encouragement for pastors and their congregations who are caught in the crossfire. Pray that believers will have an opportunity to share Christ with those who don't know Him. More Ukraine updates here.

Evangelicals persecuted in Ukraine   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-23 - 1 month ago
Ukraine (MNN) -- The recovered bodies and flight recorders of Malaysia Flight 17 have been turned over to the proper authorities, but the propaganda wars continue. Ukrainian government officials blame Russia for shooting down the commercial flight, while Russia blames Ukraine. This unusual war in Eastern Ukraine is also having other consequences: the evangelical community is being targeted. (Photo courtesy Russian Ministries) President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba says, "They believe that evangelical churches are their enemies. In one of the towns, they even raised the Orthodox flag and said they would fight any heretic, any protestant, anyone who represents any western immoral values." Many evangelicals have been attacked, including four men who were killed a few weeks ago. Rakhuba says a childhood friend was targeted Monday when Russian Separatists stopped his car in Donetsk. "When they found a notebook that he was a believer, a leader in the local church, that's when they started creating more pressure, put him against the wall and said, You represent all this pro-western, anti-eastern Ukraine, anti-Russian networks. If you don't tell us all that you do against us, we will just shoot you right now.'" Fortunately, Ukrainian forces trying to regain control of Donetsk began engaging the separatists, and Rakhuba's friend was able to get away. While many people living in Eastern Ukraine are displaced, Rakhuba says some evangelicals pastors are still in the region. One pastor told him, "'I'm staying here because I cannot abandon my flock. I cannot abandon those who are trapped here.' There are hundreds of pastors that are doing the same thing." The situation is desperate in these areas. "People are trying in Lugansk or Donetsk and those areas to find a safe area where they can hide from flying bullets, from bomb-shells that fall in their backyard." A young boy is helping distribute I Care boxes in Eastern Ukraine. (Photo courtesy Russian Ministries) The economy is in shambles. Many can't work because of the fighting. Grocery stories are closed. People are desperate. Russian Ministries is lending aid through their I Care food distribution program. "We are raising money for 5,000 food packs, $50 each, which will provide food for one refugee family for an entire week." Scripture is also distributed with the food packs. Rakhuba says evangelicals are making a difference. Those they're serving say, "We thought you were a foreign sect. And now, we see that you're truly God's church. You're truly the messengers, the ambassadors of God in our community." Many are turning to Christ and joining evangelical churches. Help Russian Ministries reach out through a link here.

Permission to leave Sudan remains unclear   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-23 - 1 month ago
(Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani, courtesy Daniel Wani) Sudan (WWM/MNN) -- Conflicting reports have emerged regarding the current status of Sudan’s "death-row mother" Meriam Ibrahim’s lack of freedom to leave Khartoum for a new life with her husband and children in America. On July 17, Reuters reported that the lawsuit brought by Ibrahim’s Sudanese Muslim father was dropped. The lawyer handling the case said this move could allow her to depart for the United States, where her husband Daniel Wani is a dual U.S. citizen. Then Sudan Tribune reported on July 18 that Ibrahim's family filed another lawsuit, this time seeking to annul her marriage to her Christian husband. This is a another attempt to keep her from leaving Sudan, and an annulment of Wani and Ibrahim's marriage would also mean the children would not be legally recognized as Wani's children. Early last week, Ibrahim’s family filed a lawsuit seeking to prove the biological link between Ibrahim and her Muslim father, but the suit was dropped without explanation by the family. A lawyer, Abdel Rahman Malek, acting on their behalf told Reuters news agency: "We are no longer proceeding with the lawsuit," but he declined to give any reason. The first scheduled hearing of the case would have been Thursday July 17 at the Khartoum Family Court. The U.S. Department of State told World Watch Monitor that "the Government of Sudan has assured us of the family’s continued safety. It went on to say in an e-mail, 'The Department of Homeland Security has informed us that Ms. Ishag [Meriam Ibrahim] and her children have all the documents they need to enter the United States as soon as the Government of Sudan allows them to exit the country.'" Relatives of Meriam originally accused her of adultery by marrying a Christian. WWM has several times reported the story of her death sentence from the court in Khartoum and its world-wide condemnation; we have also highlighted the general plight of Sudan’s Christians. Ibrahim’s harrowing journey began with arrest in September 2013 before being found guilty of apostasy, sentenced to hang, and then giving birth to her second child while imprisoned. She was finally freed on 26 June 2014 and is now staying at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. Meriam and her family are living in a makeshift home sleeping on four camp beds in the Embassy’s library. Despite these cramped conditions, her stay has prevented the Sudanese court serving papers, which could have contributed to the breakdown of the latest case against her. The Sudanese government does not appear to have formally dropped its accusation of "incorrect travel documents." Ibrahim is a Sudanese citizen, but the U.S. Embassy assisted her efforts to try to leave Khartoum using South Sudanese travel papers. Ibrahim was allowed to leave police custody after a brief detention on June 26 over the alleged ‘"forged" papers. Further good news for Meriam’s family was recently reported by the UK’s Daily Mail: her baby girl was not injured, despite being born while her mother was shackled to the floor. Meriam, herself a doctor, feared that being constrained during birth could cause irreparable damage to her daughter, Maya. It was feared that, like her father, Daniel, who has muscular dystrophy, she might not be able to walk. An ultrasound in the coming weeks is hoped to give Maya the all clear. New to this story? Read previous stories here Pray for Meriam's new family with her Christian husband, as well as for her Muslim family.

Mosul Christians forced out, robbed   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-22 - 1 month ago
Iraq (MNN) -- Picture this. You're a Christian. An official knocks on your door and tells you that since you're a Christian you have to:convert to Islam, pay a tax, or leave your city. If you don't, you'll be killed. While you're wrestling with that decision, you hear reports that suggest these people only want you dead. That's exactly what's happening in Mosul, Iraq. Dr. David Curry condemns the removal ofChristians from Mosul, Iraq. Dr. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, has condemned the latest action of Islamic State militants who ordered all Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul to leave the city over the weekend or face execution. "The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times," he says. "This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it’s likely nothing else can." Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, adds: "Too many of us thought that forced conversions and expulsions of entire religious communities were part of a distant, medieval past. There was little that we could do to stop this horrible episode. "It is not too late to realize that many others--Christians today, but certainly Jews, Baha'i, Hindus, Muslims, and others--are mortally endangered by a potent religious fanaticism that threatens tens of millions, and which still can be resisted." According to Open Doors, the Islamic State gave Christians an ultimatum over the weekend: (1) stay and convert to Islam, (2) pay Islamic tax (which is too much for most families to pay), or  (3) leave Mosul taking nothing but their clothes. Christians who stayed would be executed. Most Christians have left Mosul now. At the checkpoints of ISIS, Christians had to leave everything behind (cars, gold, money, mobile phones). The only possessions they could keep were their clothes. They had to walk to safer places, mostly in northern Iraq, while traveling in blistering heat. A World Watch Monitor source in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, said a Christian family in Mosul reported by phone that explosions were heard during the night last Thursday in Mosul. On Friday, as the family attempted to pass through a Mosul checkpoint, ISIS agents forced them out of their car and confiscated their belongings and put them in a separate vehicle. Then the militants drove them several minutes down the road, and ultimately forced them out to continue their journey on foot, according to the source. Open Doors reports that some churches, many in partnership with Open Doors, have been helping the Mosul refugees. One Open Doors field worker said: "The exodus has stopped. There are no more Christians in Mosul anymore. We now need to pray that they might return one day." Earlier last week, the Islamic State marked houses belonging to members of minority communities, including Christians, with the phrase "property of the Islamic State," including inhabited houses. While you may not think you can make a difference, you can. Support the Open Doors emergency fund. "We're trying to raise $1.5 million just for the immediate surge to help these refugees. There [are] 3,000 Christian families from Mosul who are on the run." Iraq is ranked No. 4 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. For more information on the list, go to www.WorldWatchList.us. For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians in the areas of Bible and gospel development, women and children's advancement, and Christian community restoration. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535), or go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.

Forgotten Missionaries International: reaching the Muslim world for Christ   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-22 - 1 month ago
Students at Grace Bible College & Theological Seminary in Bangladesh take one of their daily exams.(Image, caption courtesy FMI) Asia (MNN) -- What do the people of Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan have in common? "95% or more are Muslim, and most of those have never heard the Gospel," shares Bruce Allen* of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI). Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan hold a combined population of 580 million people. That means one of every 12 people in the world lives in one of these three countries. Furthermore, two-thirds of the world's Muslims live in 10 countries: Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, and Morocco. Simply put, ministries operating in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan have a significant opportunity to reach the Muslim world for Christ. Enter: Forgotten Missionaries International. Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) FMI exists to support indigenous pastors in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan who are telling unreached people groups about Christ and planting churches in these communities. They empower national missionaries instead of sending missionaries from Western nations. "We find the guys who are trained, who are passionate about God's Word, and want to reach their own countrymen with the Gospel," explains Allen. "Pioneer evangelists have gone in, done the evangelism and the outreach; [the men] we're partnering with are literally the 'forgotten' missionaries." With financial support from FMI, pastors are able to stay in ministry. This support is especially important during the early years of church planting, when congregations are often too small and too poor to support their pastor. "Rather than have them get discouraged in those years, our partners here in the U.S. say, 'We will support you financially so that you don't leave the ministry in order to feed your family,'" Allen says. See how you can support a pastor and his family. Ramadan Throughout the Muslim world, Ramadan is a significant holiday. It's also a great opportunity for indigenous believers to teach Muslims about Jesus. Muslim workers pause for a few minutes along an alleyway in the afternoon to offer their ritual prayers.(Image, caption courtesy FMI) "It's a time of heightened awareness…because the Muslims at this time are praying about connecting with God and trying to 'revitalize' any sense of spirituality," explains Allen. "Muslims are more open to spiritual conversations, especially if relationships have already been built." As the last week of Ramadan begins, pray that missionary pastors will have a chance to introduce Muslims to Christ.

Iraq crisis: Christians need your help   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-22 - 1 month ago
Seal of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.(Image courtesy Wikipedia) Iraq (MNN) -- The Iraq crisis and Islamic State (formerly ISIS) terrorists have reached a new low. "For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians," Patriarch Louis Sako told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency. Before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Mosul boasted a Christian population of approximately 60,000. A majority of believers had left by June 2014, but the Remnant was driven out by the Islamic State this weekend. On Saturday, the following update was posted on the 8thirty8 Facebook page: "The Remaining Christians in Mosul, Iraq (Ancient Ninevah) left today under threat of death from the 'Islamic State' terrorists. An Iraqi pastor just called and said that each Christian family departed with the clothes on their back. Their houses were spray painted with signs: 'This House is Now Property of the Islamic State.' "This announcement was then made over Mosque loudspeakers: 'Today is the day you must choose to convert, pay the jizah tax, or die.' "Mothers were not allowed to take diapers or formula. Everything was left behind. They headed for Kurdish controlled areas like the city of Erbil." IS terrorists issued the same ultimatum in Syria earlier this year, and it was threatened in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. E3 Partners Middle East/Central Asia ministry is looking for ways to send help to the displaced Iraqi families. Click here to support their efforts financially. Middle East governments are very strict when it comes to sending in funds, making it extremely difficult to support ministry partners in this region. Will you stand with E3 in prayer? Pray for the Lord's blessing upon resources and aid being sent to Iraqi families. Pray that governments will not hinder the supplies and that they will reach believers quickly. Pray that the Iraq crisis will serve to underscore the eternal hope Christ offers. For the latest Iraq crisis updates, follow 8thirty8 on Facebook.

A path we all must walk   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-22 - 1 month ago
For some people, the cemetery is a place of sadness.For others, it's a place of hope.(Photo by New Tribes Mission) Mexico (NTM/MNN) -- There aren't many who relish the thought of death. It marks the beginning of something we've never really known before, and the end of what we've always known. New Tribes Mission works with a tribe in Mexico, the Nahuatl people. They are translating the Bible into their language and constructing a literacy program to teach the people how to read. The following story about the Nahuatl by NTM's Ian Fallis is a story that all of us can relate to. It is also a story that can inspire followers of Christ to make a difference in the world around them. Dark is the path that leads past the little Nahuatl village to the cemetery. “It’s a path we all must walk,” said the father of a little boy crushed to death under a truck when a jack slipped. He shrugged, and walked on.  A shadowy path Word of the boy's death reached missionaries Peter and Liesl Hypki on a Saturday. They also heard why it happened: magia negra, the villagers said without a hint of doubt: black magic. Two days later, the boy's coffin was at the head of the procession ambling down the shadowy path. The moment the coffin began to be lowered into the grave, his father turned his back on the boy and faced east. His family followed his example, and then the whole crowd turned away. They had to: the Nahuatl people believe that if you do not, the deceased person will take your soul. “To me, it’s the saddest part,” Peter said. “The imagery is stark.” A path we walk with hope It also reminds Peter of another Son who died: of Christ, rejected, dying to conquer death and bring us eternal, abundant life, and to give us hope. This is why Peter, Liesl, and their co-workers, Rachel Chapman and Katie Moore, are there: to share this hope. In order to share God's message clearly, they must understand how the Nahuatl people think. This is the grid through which the people will understand everything that is said about God.  The walk to the cemetery is indeed a path we all must walk. But, Peter added, "For those who know Christ, it is a path we walk with hope.” (Photo courtesy of NTM) You can help Peter and Liesl share with the Nahuatl people the truth and security that exists in a relationship with Christ. Support Peter and Liesl by clicking here, or NTM translation efforts here. Pray for the spiritual blindness to be lifted from this village.

Why are the seven deadly sins deadly? A television drama to answer   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-22 - 1 month ago
Turkey (MNN) -- Think about the last time you turned on your TV. What do you remember? (Photo courtesy of SAT-7 TURK) A new television drama series of SAT-7 TURK, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, addresses the dangers that lurk within the content you're viewing. Start with commercials. It's no secret people trying to sell you something have to make you desire it, out of need or want. But how often is that desire created out of the pre-existing desires of fallen human nature? Do they ever use any of the seven deadly sins--lust, envy, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, or gluttony--to draw you in? If you think this is a ridiculous question, consider what the commercials are partitioning. Your favorite TV show, for instance. At any point, does the show use one of the seven deadly sins to get your attention, drag the plot along, and entertain you? Maybe not your show, but you see how many programs are advertised using these themes. The fact is, all too often these and other sins are used as entertainment value. They are glorified, commercialized, and underrated. What's the problem? Have you ever thought about why the seven deadly sins are called "deadly?" They seem pretty harmless, after all. That's just it. These sins don't come with the bright orange warning label like murder, robbery, and alcoholism do. They're easy to reason with, easy to hide, and easy to fall into without noticing before they've significantly impacted your life. The consequences permeate many areas of your life without you being able to put a name from their cause. SAT-7 is doing something about it SAT-7 TURK is getting ready to release Seven, a drama series that addresses the implications of sin, re-sensitizing it's viewers to the seriousness and offensiveness of sin. It also serves as a platform for discussion between viewers, regardless of their religion. *A SAT-7 TURK worker says, "It's an excellent medium for bringing up opportunity [to] further the discussion and [get] responses from people." The audience participates in an honest, yet meaningful, conversation through a collection of texts, Facebook posts, Twitter, etc. "That's one of the great advantages of television in Turkey," says the TURK worker: "It's popular. And people are quite open about speaking about their beliefs and their understanding about things, so that's not a problem as long as it's done, obviously, with respect in a way that doesn't attack peoples' belief." SAT-7 TURK seeks to present discussions for the breadth and depth of the Christian life by covering many different topics. Seven is just one of many examples of how they present these themes, and a good one, too: "It's a format that uses television really well. And because we're a television ministry, we think it's important to develop good drama, as I mentioned, that's written by people who understand their faith well and their culture well. I think it's a great way to communicate with our audience regarding the Christian faith," the worker says. SAT-7 is a way to connect, comfort, and guide believers wherever they are around the world. As the TURK worker explains, "The Church in Turkey really benefits from this. The Church in Turkey is very small. Many Christians are living in isolated situations where it's difficult to meet with other believers. "Television ministry really is a key, strategic way of helping the Church." Your support will reach all the way to the Middle East! You can help support this programming financially here. The TURK worker says that the main way you can help is by talking to God. "As we broadcast day-by-day different programs and try to reflect Christian life in all its fullness, pray that those programs would be helpful to all of the different churches in Turkey, in all of the different aspects in their life and their witness." You can also pray for SAT-7 TURK's application for a Turkish broadcast license to be accepted. It will allow SAT-7 TURK to broadcast on the best satellite for a Turkish audience. Pray also for the Turkish people to look to God for guidance amid the turmoil and unrest taking place all around them in the Middle East. *Unidentified for security reasons

More than ten-cent prayers   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-21 - 1 month ago
Paradise Bound Ministry Team in Tonajuyo(Photo courtesy of Paradise Bound) Guatemala (MNN) -- Ten cents isn't much of an investment. In fact, it's an expenditure easily forgotten in the fast-paced, high-cost world we live in. It's the same with prayer. Paradise Bound Ministries reminds us of the saying, "Don't expect a million dollar answer to a ten-cent prayer." How often are our prayers ten-cent prayers? Easily forgotten investments of time and feeling that we throw around here and there, hoping we're making a difference but forgetting the cause. There is a battle being fought all over the world and one that's particularly evident in one Guatemalan village. It is the fight against a cold religion that threatens to replace a warm relationship with Jesus. Paradise Bound firmly believes in the power, importance, and reverence of prayer. They're asking for your heartfelt and engaged prayer for that village in Guatemala. Last week, a team with Paradise Bound began the 90-home building project in Tonajuyu. The five homes this particular group is building is for the following five families that you can be in prayer for. (List by Paradise Bound Ministries) Be praying also for the team members to be faithful witnesses of God's love for His people. Pray for their safety as they finish up their trip today. Continue to pray for the village of Tonajuyu as residents continue to encounter the workers of Paradise Bound. Ask God to open their eyes to eternity, even as they're earthly homes are built.

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 not the only big headline   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-21 - 1 month ago
Airbus A380-841, Malaysia Airlines(Image courtesy Alex Beltyukov via Wikimedia Commons) Ukraine (BGR/MNN) -- Though it's been dominating world news headlines, last week's Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 crash isn't the only big thing happening in Ukraine. Baptist Global Response partners say between 30 and 40 new refugees are arriving daily at a church in Kharkov, Ukraine from towns taken over by separatists. Earlier this month, the United Nations reported that at least 42,000 people have been internally displaced by violence in eastern Ukraine. Another 18,650 Ukrainians were reportedly living in temporary housing in Russia, and 7,000 had been transferred to cities away from the border. Many displaced families left eastern Ukraine with only the clothes on their backs. Churches and local believers are doing what they can to provide food, shelter ,and most importantly, the hope of Christ. BGR and its humanitarian partners in the region are coming alongside those churches to provide desperately-needed resources. Using $1,000 from Global Hunger Relief and $4,000 in Southern Baptist general relief funds, they are providing food, baby products, toiletries, bedding, cots/beds, and in some cases, refrigerators, where churches have no way to keep food stores cold. In the initial stages of the relief effort, BGR will work with a group organized from local churches to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of displaced families as they come to churches for assistance, the BGR partner in Ukraine said. Workers also will seek to identify other resources available from the government or local community. The BGR partner asks people who care about this situation to pray: “Intercede for those who are trying to find safe passage from areas of conflict to other regions of the country, for the love of Christ to compel believers throughout the Kharkov region to give sacrificially to provide for those fleeing their homes,” the partner said. “Pray for the Lord's provision to meet the needs of those who have left their homes and jobs to protect their families. Pray for hearts to be drawn into a personal relationship with Jesus as His love is displayed through His people in the Kharkov region.” Click here to come alongside believers in Ukraine. (Map courtesy Wikimedia Commons) Churches in Kharkov are uniting their efforts to try to help meet refugee needs, but many of those churches exhausted their limited financial resources in the first month of relief efforts. No one knows how long the crisis might last, and churches may need to assist some displaced families until the conflict ends or those families are able to move on. If the crisis extends into winter, the needs will be magnified. See the latest Ukraine updates here.

How important is prayer?   (Open in a new window)

Source: https: | 2014-07-21 - 1 month ago
(Image courtesy VOM Canada) International (MNN) -- No matter how long you've been a Christian, there are likely times when you've wondered: how important is prayer? God knows our every thought; He knows them even before we do. So, why is prayer important? Well, for starters, prayer is mentioned more than 250 times in Scripture. Prayer is important to the Lord for a multitude of reasons and should therefore be a priority for us as His followers. It would make sense, then, that prayer is also the best way to help missionaries. However, money is often the first thing that comes to mind. "When people think about missions, a lot of times they think about the resources, the finances, the personnel. But the request we get the most is for prayer," says Advancing Native Missions (ANM) CEO Oliver Asher. That's why ANM has created a daily Prayer Guide with 31 different ways you can pray for native missionaries. Native missionaries, or indigenous missionaries, are believers who stay in their own country to tell people about Christ instead of going overseas to share the Gospel. "Prayer is a way of life around here, so it only made sense that we should emphasize prayer and make sure that people don't forget the importance of prayer," adds Asher. "Any great awakening, any great spiritual movement, any opening to the Gospel always begins with prayer." (Image courtesy Vision Beyond Borders) ANM is highlighting the 31 Ways to Pray for Native Missionaries Prayer Guide on their Web site during the month of July. But, Asher says this resource can be used year-round to intercede for native missionaries. Download a free copy of the prayer guide here. Would you take time to pray for a native missionary today? Pray that God would bless native missionaries and their families with every resource they may need. Listen to the conversation with Oliver Asher about the importance of prayer.
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