(Photo courtesy Flickr/CC/Soul Motor)
International (MNN) -- If you walk into a store right now in the United States, you see evidence of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all mishmashed together.
The retail creep on the buying seasons for gift-giving opportunities is so prevalent that people are starting to look for more meaningful alternatives.
One of those alternatives is charity gift catalogs. The items shown in these catalogs give shoppers the chance to buy a sheep for a family or to educate a girl instead of buying a Cuisinart or an iPhone. Gift catalogs are attractive because they're almost always "gifts in action." People want to see exactly how their gift will effect change.
Far Corners Missions President Gary Bishop explains that that desire for connection is normal. "One of the questions people ask is, 'What's the greatest gift that's ever been given?' People say, 'It's life itself, it's (one thing or another).' But I think all believers would agree that the greatest gift that's ever been given is Jesus."
When put into that context, sharing that gift becomes part of a mandate because it's all about the Gospel. "It's the same thing that Jesus would do: loving and caring for people. That's what the Giving Book does. It gives people the chance to do a specific thing for [people] on the other side of the world that have no way to provide for themselves, to give them an important gift."
(Photo Giving Book 2013, courtesy Far Corners Missions)
Through national partners, Far Corners is able to resource nine different countries: China, England, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, and Thailand. Bishop uses India as an example of what a difference a single gift can make. "You can give a Telagu Bible to somebody in India for $4. But you can also give them a water buffalo, and that costs $1300." Or for $6, someone could ensure that a daycare child gets meals for a month. Bishop observes, "If we go to McDonald's, we would spend almost $6 per person. You can feed a daycare child in India for a whole month for that $6. Or for $6, you can give a widow a 5kg bag of rice."
From health care to job training to spiritual equipping, Far Corners has a variety of ways to immediately impact lives. "Other people pass by them every day and don't concern themselves with them, or would do anything to avoid contact with these people. And so their very natural question is, 'Why are doing this for us?'" That question allows the local believer to turn the discussion to the hope of Christ. "That gives us the great opportunity to say, 'It is only because of Jesus' love,' and that allows us to tell them the story of Jesus."
(Photo courtesy Far Corners Missions)
The community at large sees transformation through feeding programs, medical outreaches, rescue operations, and educational programs, along with evangelical activities like church plants and pastoral training. It all goes toward investing in relationships, both now and in the future. "They know that the Church in India is the conduit through which all that comes to them. That's really what we want them to know: God's Church in India is responsible for getting that help to them."
All you have to do to get started is request a copy of The Giving Book.
(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)
Pakistan (MNN) -- Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five children, lost her appeal with the Lahore High Court in Pakistan on Thursday. It means her death sentence on a blasphemy conviction stands.
The Voice of the Martyrs USA says her lawyers now have 30 days to file an appeal with Pakistan's Supreme Court in Islamabad, the highest court in the land. It starts into motion a long appeal process that is expected to take years of more waiting.
During the hearing, nearly 2,000 mullahs gathered outside the court to put pressure on the judges. When she learned the outcome, Asia Bibi told VOM contacts, “Please do something. It’s been so long, and I want to be with my children.” Many humanitarian advocates warn that even if the court should rule in Bibi's favor, she may be made an assassination target for Muslim extremists.
Bibi has been convicted of blasphemy for drinking from the same bowl of water as Muslims and making derogatory comments about the prophet Muhammad. According to the original VOM report:
On Friday, June 19, 2009, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith.
The Muslim women told Asia about Islam. Asia responded by telling them about her faith in Christ. Asia told the Muslim women Christ had died on the cross for sins, then asked them what Mohammad had done for them, according to VOM sources. She told them that Jesus is alive, but Mohammad is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them, “and yours is not true.”
She was beaten and later taken into custody, then charged under the blasphemy law.
Found guilty of blasphemy in November 2010, this wife and mother has been on death row for almost four years. The court process has been agonizingly slow. Thursday's decision was delayed five times this year.
Pray that Asia will not lose heart but would continue to look to Jesus for daily strength and grace. May her worried family members and other loved ones be granted much patience and peace as they support this dear sister in Christ during her time of trial.
Pray that God will be present in every detail of preparation for the upcoming hearing so it may go smoothly and result in Asia's freedom from prison.
Finally, please also pray for the many other Christians in Pakistan who are facing blasphemy charges or other false allegations because of their love for Jesus Christ.
India (MNN) -- Short-term missions are a great tool and opportunity to get involved in spreading the Gospel globally. However, it is important to begin this venture with the right attitude and the right expectations. Otherwise, the entire point of the trip could be missed.
India Partners is an organization that ministers to widows and vulnerable people in India. They assist in church planting, establish long-term and self-sustaining micro loan projects, and share the truth of Jesus Christ even in prisons.
(Photo Courtesy of India Partners)
Remo Paul is a national partner of India Partners who works with short-term mission teams on a regular basis. He gets to see the blessings of the trips but also recognizes there are things every person should consider before going on a mission trip.
"The success of your short-term teams depend on how and what your expectations are. More often than not, it tends to run into issues when expectations are not right."
Sometimes it's what teams don't expect that will catch them off guard and make their trip less effective than what they originally hoped.
India Partners has a variety of teams help them.
Paul says, "Most often when teams come, they're either dental teams, eye teams, health teams, or there are training teams for pastors that need training in various issues and various aspects of life and ministry."
Paul explains that there are three major benefits to short-term mission trips.
First, he says, "When a team comes to visit us, it's a huge encouragement for us. I don't find words in my vocabulary that explain how that blesses us and encourages us, uplifts us. That would be the primary benefit."
The second benefit is that short-term missions are mutually beneficial.
"Ministry is a two-way street, so it also [in] reverse blesses the team that comes," Paul explains.
The third benefit is that these teams bring in expertise that many long-term missionaries don't have.
Dentistry is an extremely important expertise in some parts of India. Many times, villages are hours and hours away from the nearest dentist. Even if the dentist were closer, most people very likely could not afford treatment.
Since often whatever ails them is not life-threatening, they'll deal with the pain and forgo medical care.
Having a short-term mission dentist will provide these people in need with the care that they would otherwise never get. They might have waited years more for a dentist to establish himself in their village.
While mission trips can often be an eye-opening experience for Christians, there are better and worse ways to prepare for one. One way is to look at how you've engaged your own community right where you are now.
"Any mission starts where you are. So if you are planning on going on a mission trip, you should actually be involved in missions at your local church," Paul says.
If your heart is already prepared for missions, then it's likely to show up in your activity with your home church.
Paul explains that mission work is not dependent on location. "It's in the realm of spirituality that the mission trip actually happens."
Starting at a local level will prepare you for more intense challenges you might meet on the field.
Paul explains that local mission work "gives you the ability to understand how the evil one would try and stop any work."
While not all of India is hostile to the Gospel, many places are. It's important to be prepared for that.
If you know that God is calling you to go with India Partners and that He has prepared your heart for this, click here to contact them.
If you would like to partner with India Partners through prayer or financial giving, click here.
Central African Republic (MNN) -- Six more people were killed late last week, relief groups are stymied, and transportation is at a standstill in the Central African Republic (CAR). While the country has a transitional government, Anti-Balaka rebels continues to seek revenge in the wake of the March 2013 coup by Muslim Seleka rebels.
Internally displaced in Central African Republic(UNHCR photo)
Abuses marred their rule, prompting a backlash from the non-Muslim Anti-Balaka militia and their supporters. That backlash forced Seleka leader Michel Djotodia into exile in January. Catherine Samba Panza was appointed as interim president in the transitional government. However, the revenge killing by Anti-Balaka militia fighters continue, forcing minority Muslims and others into safe havens and refugee camps by the thousands.
The recent attacks have forced taxi service to cease, says Jim Hocking, Founder and President of Water for Good, a partner with Living Water International and Reach Beyond in the CAR. "The [political] temperature of the country is taken by the taxis. When taxis are running, there are problems, but you can [probably] handle it. When the taxis quit running," the situation is dangerous.
That caused difficulties for Water for Good workers. Hocking says, "We had been confined, basically, to the residence in the country. The embassy recommended we don't travel."
Water for Good not only provides water for the people of the CAR as a way to hear the Gospel, but also operates a radio station to help the public.
While their radio station continues operating, the water drill work has all but stopped. "For a little while now, we've had to lay off most of our staff; [we're] just waiting to gain more contracts to drill more water wells. We're still maintaining the water wells, but they do have to be very, very careful."
Water for Life also provides water to a refugee camp near Bangui. However, that work has been turned over to the UN because of the unrest, even they weren't able to provide water for a few days. It's needed now more than ever. Hocking says, "The refugee camp climbed from about 30,000 people to about 40,000 in about two days because of this latest conflict."
The conflict is dangerous for everyone. says Hocking. "There are many Christians, almost on a nightly basis, being robbed and hurt. The whole time I was there, almost every night we would hear of something happening to someone in one of the churches."
Hocking is asking you to pray. "There are people who are really continuing to seek answers. Our Christian leaders need support. They're still being associated Anti-Balaka are non-Muslims. So, it's really a conflict between Muslim and non-Muslim."
When it was time to leave the CAR, Water for Good needed a UN escort. All were able to leave safely.
If you'd like to support Water for Good, Living Water International, or Reach Beyond click on the organization's name.
(Photo courtesy Reach Global)
Liberia (MNN) -- The cost of Liberia's Ebola crisis goes beyond the health emergency. Peggy Maynard, Global Fingerprints Liberia Coordinator, says, "Because the borders are closed, the markets are closed. Food is becoming scarce and very expensive, so it's hard for people to even get enough food to eat. Also, many of the health clinics are closed because people are afraid of Ebola patients coming in.
"We are really focusing on providing our children and our staff with food and healthcare--that's our first priority," Maynard explains. They've made a commitment to the children, plus, keeping the staff healthy means they can focus on priority #2, which she says is "reaching out to the newly-created Ebola orphans."
A recent UNICEF assessment indicates Ebola orphans could double before the end of the month. Recent government data suggests that the average Liberian household had three children, and you can see the dilemma. Maynard clarifies, "The immediate problem is that people are afraid to even go near these children because of Ebola. Then of course, the long-term problem is finding housing and care for these children in a country that has been ravaged by civil war, and now ravaged by this disease."
Kids are emerging as the most vulnerable group in the Ebola crisis in three ways: they're at risk of contracting the disease, being orphaned by it, or losing their options for a future/education. Maynard says that's why they set up the Ebola Crisis Response Fund. "We partner with the Evangelical Free Church of West Africa, which is based in Monrovia, but they reach out across Liberia and even into the neighboring countries. They have seized this opportunity to reach out into new communities with information about Ebola, with sanitation supplies and with hope."
Why the Church? Maynard muses, "Crisis brings out the needs in people. People, I think, are more responsive to the Gospel in a time when they are in fear for their lives." Because of the compassion that comes with the Great Commission, Christians are eager to share their hope in Christ. "They see this as an opportunity to actually plant churches. They are looking at this as an opportunity for ministry rather than a tragedy."
(Photo courtesy Reach Global)
How do they do this? "We are reaching out to people's needs--their physical needs, but at the same time, we are reaching out to them with the Gospel and trying to meet their eternal needs. We feel that we can do both. It doesn't have to be one or the other."
In this time of crisis, sponsorship makes a huge difference. It provides for a child’s daily meals, medical attention, and an education. "We are in the process now of finding those orphans [and] entering them into our Global Fingerprints system so that people can sponsor them for $35 a month."
This is the message a sponsorship sends: "You are cared for, and you belong.” Maynard says it could be the most important response the Church takes in this crisis. "This is our long-term solution to the problem: to get those children into homes and make sure that their needs are met, and at the same time making sure that they hear the Gospel and that they're getting into a local church."
Pray for wisdom: Global Fingerprints Liberian staff members are dealing directly with Ebola families. "We're just praying for an end to Ebola. God can work miracles. He can do anything. He was not surprised by this. We were surprised by it, but He wasn't surprised by it."
Donations to the EFCA Ebola Crisis Response fund and child sponsorships in Liberia provide both the short-term and the long-term response to the emergency.
(Logo credit IFES)
International (MNN) -- Today is World Student Day. If you're not sure exactly what that means, keep reading.
"It's a great opportunity to pray for future world leaders and church shapers," explains Andy Moore of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), a ministry partner of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
"Many [university] students go on to hold positions of influence in politics and business and church, and the wider society."
Not only does the Body of Christ pray for its next generation on World Student Day, but Christian college students worldwide pray for one another. Over 3,500 students have signed up to pray via e-mail and Facebook.
"It's a great opportunity for students and staff to hear from one another about the various challenges that face them in their contexts," Moore adds.
(Photo credit IFES)
"This year, we have a multilingual chat site, so people can come along and speak in either English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, or Chinese, and the chat room will automatically translate whatever they type into the other languages. [It's] a bit like the early chapters of Acts, where all of the hearers could hear the disciples speaking in their own language."
Technology plays a key role in minimizing language barriers, getting students to engage in conversation, and facilitating prayer.
"In the past, we've had Google Hangouts that connect people in different countries with one another to pray for one another," says Moore.
"We try to facilitate some things; but equally, it's great to see the creativity of students as they think about how they can connect with their [Christian] brothers and sisters in different parts of the world."
Meeting fellow collegiate believers and commiserating about the struggles and challenges that come with bearing the name of Christ on campus builds a special bond among Next Generation believers.
(Photo credit IFES)
"I think [students'] faith is enriched as they engage with students from other cultures, particularly as we get to pray together. There's a unique unity that's expressed in prayer," Moore shares.
Learn more about World Student Day and find prayer needs here.
"We can keep people in contact with the prayers that have been prayed and the answers to prayer."
Brazil (MNN) -- Brazil is considered to be a developing country. Yet, in the last few decades, Southeast Brazil has prospered. This wealthy side of Brazil is what the rest of the world knows. So why is it a developing country?
Northeast Brazil is very poor. In some ways, it's a different country altogether.
We spoke with Jose Carrasco, the director of South America for Compassion International.
"The Northeast of Brazil is definitely not like the Southeast," Carrasco says.
"The problem with Brazil is disparity, and also the amount of people that are not part of the success of the economy Brazil has had in the last decades."
Far from the big cities, extremely poor communities exist, similar to the poorest places of Africa and Asia.
"The poverty is really, really amazing," Carrasco says. "The people don't have running water, they have disease, they have infant mortality that is really, really high. And if you compare that with a city like Sao Paulo in the southeast of Brazil, it's like night and day."
This area of Brazil presents no opportunities--educational, economical or otherwise--to its residents. According to Compassion, northeast Brazil has a higher concentration of murders than New York City, Detroit, and Chicago combined. "Poverty brings a lot of bad behaviors," Carrasco says, explaining that years of oppression have stunted opportunity.
The people of this region have very little hope for a better future and a very little sense of worth. Their living conditions have received little attention, and there has been little help. Carrasco says, "Very few people in the southeast of Brazil--which is the Brazil that most of the world knows--understand this and know about this."
These people live in spiritual darkness, as well. One city in which Compassion is working, Codó, is the center of the African black magic religion, Macumba. Carrasco says it is very similar to voodoo in Haiti.
"Black magic happens all over that area, and it's very, very strong. We have brought the Gospel there, and to our amazement (I imagine God had it all planned that way), we have been able to present the Gospel openly.
"It hasn't been resisted...from the different communities. They've been open to the Gospel. We have opened many projects throughout, and we're focusing on bringing the Gospel to them through our projects."
These projects--child development centers--are made possible through partnerships with the local churches. The passion for these people is strong from both Compassion and the churches. Because the churches are small, however, they do not have means to implement the same programs that Compassion has in other areas.
Despite this, the childhood development centers address the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of the children. Parents send their children here because of the opportunities, not caring that the Gospel will be shared. Often times, the children bring back the Gospel to their homes and share it with their families.
Compassion wants to spread the news about this part of Brazil so that they can offer the communities more opportunities for a better life.
Soon they want to start providing programs for children 3-5 years old.
Carrasco says he recently presented the needs of northeast Brazil to churches in the United States and the UK.
This advocacy is key to expanding the ministry in northeast Brazil. "We have done all this and, obviously, I will say that you should do the same--presenting this to more audiences so they will understand the needs of Brazil."
Make Brazil your priority along with Compassion. Click here to find more information and learn how you can help through prayer, giving, and advocacy. Pray that the Gospel will take root and transform individuals, families, and entire communities.
(Photo courtesy of SAT-7)
Iraq (MNN) -- “They’re not going to school. They’ve been uprooted from their homes. They don’t know maybe where their parents are. They don’t have any sense if they’re even alive.” Speaking of children, Dr. Rex Rogers, President of SAT-7 USA, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, says they are the ones most affected by ISIS attacks.
More than ever, children--and their parents--need a message of peace. This message is being aired on SAT-7 24 hours a day, on 6 different channels, in three different languages: Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish. SAT-7 programming is produced by Middle Easterners, for Middle Easterners.
Rogers says, “We broadcast who we are. We share Christ and Christianity. We talk about human rights, like liberty and respect for property, respect for religious worship for all people. And we try to reinforce values of peace or dealing with conflict in a different way other than violence.
In the Middle East, watching television is a family event. “All of our channels use every kind of television program or genre that you can think of that are legitimate--game shows or drama or movies.”
SAT-7 KIDS programs creatively touch the hearts of children through sing-a-longs, puppet shows, and bedtime stories. Children and their families learn the truth of Christ as presented in the simplicity and animation of children’s programs.
SAT-7 is completely funded through donations. If you would like to help, click here.
Pray that SAT-7 will continue helping families and providing hope across the Middle East.
India (MNN) -- The fire stole their church altar, a Bible, chairs, rugs, and several other items, but they didn’t lose faith.
On September 26, 2014, a church in Madhya Pradesh, India was burned. Police are still searching for the person or persons who started the fire.
Gospel for Asia Pastor R. says that in his ten years of serving in the area, this was the first act of vandalism he has seen.
Two days after the fire occurred, believers and Pastor R., gathered outside the charred church for their Sunday service. Despite the incident, they remained hopeful and encouraged about what God is doing in their lives. Locals have stood by believers and Pastor R. offering support.
Villagers have been working hard to repair the church. They have cleaned, repainted, and restored the church altar.
A GFA field correspondent says, “The work of the church is so good for the villagers, and they have positive views about the church. They even said good things about our church to the police officials.”
During the restoration, authorities guarded the church and purchased the needed resources for it.
On October 9, 2014, the church reopened its doors with around 300 believers ready to worship and rededicate it.
Pray that villagers will remain strong in their faith and stay encouraged despite the fire.
International (FH/MNN) -- The following is a reflection on life for child refugees. Does children have a childhood in a refugee camp? What does the word "home" even mean?
Food for the Hungry reports:
There is a longing inside each one of us to go home. Whether it is a child away at camp or visiting grandma, or an adult on vacation or away on business, or a young soldier off to serve at a distant post, our hearts long to return to home.
While we all feel that tug on our heart strings, most people who read this have a reasonable hope of returning home, either at the end of the day, the end of the trip, or the end of the assignment.
(Photo courtesy of Food for the Hungry)
Worldwide, more than 3 million people are homeless at some time during any given year. The UN High Commission for Refugees reported in June 2014 that the number of people worldwide who will not get to go home at night has exceeded 50 million for the first time since World War II. Over 51.2 million people are refugees, people seeking asylum, or internally displaced persons (IDP).
The conflict in Syria alone has created a situation where 9 million people have little hope of going home in the foreseeable future. In just five years, Syria has gone from being the country hosting the second-largest number of refugees to producing the second-largest number of them. Imagine, if you will, millions of children crying in their mothers’ arms at night, “Mommy, when can we go home?” But all those mothers can do is tenderly hold their children and ask the same question silently in their own hearts.
Counting refugees only, Syria and Afghanistan have produced 5 million combined, with Iraq adding another 400,000. Keep in mind that the UN report was published prior to the rise of ISIS in Iraq. By now, the refugee count is well over 6 million. So, where have they gone?
They have crossed borders into the neighboring Middle East countries, with hundreds of thousands escaping to camps in Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen, Egypt, and other countries that are, themselves, ill-equipped to shelter, feed, and provide the basis necessities of life for so many.
Like the 6.5 million IDPs, the 6 million refugees have escaped one desperate situation only to find themselves in another. We want to believe that people who have become refugees are safe. They are not. They may have escaped the scourge of the fighting, but now they face the test of surviving, often living in tents or other makeshift structures and having no source of providing for themselves. They must place themselves at the mercy of the countries that have taken them in, while millions of children cry, “Mommy, when can we go home?” And still, there is no answer.
There is a huge gap between what the host countries can do for the burgeoning numbers of refugees and what those refugees need to survive. That’s why Food for the Hungry (FH) and many other NGOs and faith-based organizations exist. We can fill that void by reaching out in a Christ-like manner, showing compassion, and providing essentials the rest of the world takes for granted. By providing assistance like education for refugee children, we can give them a sense of structure in their lives and prevent the long-term crisis of another generation of uneducated adults. Perhaps, by doing what we do, we can help some of these refugee children feel enough sense of security to feel at home with their parents at night, instead of crying in their arms, asking, “Mommy, when can we go home?”
Through their local NGO, FH is actively providing ongoing relief to refugee families in Syria and Lebanon. Would you consider praying for these families and for FH, and helping them to provide for their needs? Read Press Release. Advocate. Give.
(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA/Assyrian International News Agency)
(Pakistan) -- The influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is spreading.
It has now reached Pakistan, as evidenced by a move by a half dozen leading figures of the Taliban there. Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA explains, "They have said that they will come under the authority of the Caliph of the Muslims Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is the leader of ISIS. So basically they have said, 'We see ISIS as the banner carrier for the Islamic World, for at least the Sunni Islamic world.'"
ISIS declared the creation of an Islamic State in June. Their decision could impact Pakistan's borders where the leaders are based, because of their proximity to Afghanistan. "If they join hands with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, if they start working together on taking more territory, if they start working together on terrorist attacks around the world, that becomes a pretty scary scenario to think about," says Nettleton.
A notable uptick in activity from like-minded groups in Somalia, Kenya, and Nigeria followed the ISIS sweep. "When you talk about Boko Haram or you talk about radical Muslims in the Philippines, they look at that and they say, 'Those guys succeeded, and that's what we're trying to do.' The natural process is then, 'How did they do it? How can we be like them? What better way than if we work together?'" It would be a logical step, based on similar goals and ideologies. Nettleton says, "Radical Muslims around the world look at what ISIS [has] done, they look at the fact that they're controlling territory, they're setting up government structures and really ruling the areas that they control."
The Voice of the Martyrs comes alongside the persecuted Church in these areas. However, Nettleton acknowledges, "The challenge is even to be present in the areas that are controlled by groups like ISIS because they force the Christians to leave." He continues, "When you think about spreading the Gospel, the first question is: 'If all the Christians are gone, who's going to be there to spread the Gospel?' The other group of Christians that is affected by ISIS is Muslim converts. They don't have the opportunity to leave alive with the clothes on their back. They have the opportunity to come back to Islam or be killed."
Flag used by Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shabaab in Somalia.
And yet, the light hasn't gone out entirely. "We believe that there are some Muslim converts still in ISIS-controlled areas. I am certain that they are being very cautious, but that is really how the Gospel is going to have to be spread: by those who are boldly staying in spite of the risk."
VOM is serving Iraqi Christians by providing them with daily necessities and assessing their future needs. Many of these believers fled with only the clothes on their backs. VOM is also serving those who choose to stay behind. One thing we can do is reinforce them with prayer. "Pray for encouragement, that they really will sense the Lord's presence, [that] they'll know the blessing of His presence...and His hand on them, and see Him at work through them."
One other thought: Saul was one of the most zealous persecutors of the Church until God changed his heart. Then he became one of the most zealous followers of God's heart. Nettleton says, "We need to pray that God will raise up Pauls out of the Sauls of ISIS, that some of these who are now persecuting our brothers and sisters will come to faith in Christ."
(Photo credit Leo Reynolds via Flickr)
USA (MNN) -- Two decades of commitment is a big milestone, whether in marriage or ministry. In marriage, the occasion is celebrated with gifts of china, platinum, or emerald.
World Mission is celebrating 20 years of global ministry with friends over dinner.
"One of our national partners from the country of Myanmar, formerly Burma, will be joining us and sharing a testimony right from the field of how God is using The Treasure to bring Buddhists to know Jesus Christ," shares Executive Director Greg Kelley.
Celebrating 20 years
As World Mission celebrates their 20th anniversary, they're looking at the past with praise and to the future with hope.
"This year, our 20th year in existence, we will be distributing the 100,000th Treasure, which is our solar-powered audio Bible," Kelley shares, adding the landmark Treasure will be distributed in northern Nigeria.
A man listens to The Treasure in Nigeria.(Photo credit World Mission)
"That's really by design; it's symbolic to us because northern Nigeria has endured some of the harshest, most relentless persecution over the last three years because of the terrorist group Boko Haram."
If you're close to West Michigan, you can meet World Mission staff and invest in the ministry's future at the 20-year celebration dinner on Monday, October 27.
Better hurry to secure a spot, though; the RSVP deadline is tomorrow. You can RSVP by calling the World Mission office at 616-534-5689 or sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
"To distribute 100,000 [Treasures], we feel, is a great accomplishment, and we just thank the Lord for that," adds Kelley.
World Mission's ministry isn't stopping at the 20-year mark, though.
Since its founding in 1994, World Mission has been dedicated to bringing the Gospel to unreached people groups. While that mission has been accomplished in different ways over the years, the end result remains the same: introducing lost people to the hope of Jesus Christ.
The Treasure is designed to be used in a group listening setting.(Photo credit World Mission)
Partnerships are a key component to World Mission's ministry, and one of their newest efforts involves joining hands with Bible League International. The Illinois-based group has asked World Mission to transfer their print New Testaments into audio.
"Right now, World Mission is in the process of recording New Testaments so that we can get the Word of God out into areas where the Gospel's not been heard because of the number of illiterate people," Kelley explains.
"They give us the printed translation, and World Mission then records it with an indigenous individual, and then we load them on the Treasures, and we distribute them."
See how you can partner with World Mission here.
Pray for this new partnership to bear much spiritual fruit among the world's unreached people groups. Pray also for many new supporters to come alongside World Mission in the coming year.
More World Mission reports here.
A village in Iraq destroyed by ISIS.(Image courtesy ANM)
Iraq (MNN) -- Do you ever feel completely helpless about what's going on in the Middle East? Well, that's why we bring you stories like this one. Advancing Native Missions says their partners in Iraq are helping people displaced by ISIS.
But, with winter quickly approaching, they're in need of your help.
As this recent article from the Wall Street Journal explains, families are on the move daily in Iraq. Islamic State advances have essentially divided Iraq and its displaced people into three regions: one controlled by the Kurds, one controlled by ISIS, and another held by Iraq's Shiite army.
In some cases, such as the plight highlighted in the WSJ article, families are forced to cross newly-drawn borders to get daily essentials like food or medicine. At other times, as in the case of many Iraqi Christians, families are forced to flee their homes permanently.
ANM recently shared an example on their blog:
(Photo credit ANM)
There was a knock, then Ammar’s wife opened the door to find a man and his son standing there. The man explained that they had escaped from Mosul and were looking for a place to stay. Ammar’s wife told him, “We are Christians.” Bursting into tears, the man responded, “I and my family love Christ.” The couple invited them in and prayed with them. Then the man left to get the rest of his family. For Ammar and his wife, strangers at the door had been revealed as family in Christ. For the family from Mosul, the Lord had provided shelter and hospitality in a time of desperate need.
Christians throughout Iraq, like the couple mentioned in this story, are opening their homes to people displaced by ISIS. ANM's national partners are helping these believers put Christ's love into action by providing daily supplies for the refugees: things like shampoo, towels, diapers, first aid kits, and more.
(Photo credit ANM)
With northern Iraq's harsh winter quickly approaching, the need for more supplies is growing dire. ANM is collecting supplies for a container they hope to fill and send to their partners in Iraq by the end of October.
Take action and share Christ's love with Iraqi refugees by helping ANM here.
Most importantly, please continue to pray for the situation in Iraq and Syria. Pray that ISIS terrorists will somehow be contained. Pray that more supplies are gathered and sent to refugee families.
More Middle East stories here.
(Photo courtesy of For Haiti with Love)
Haiti (MNN) -- Hunger in Haiti is on the heart of many. This is evidenced by the amount of donations given to For Haiti with Love recently to address the many needs in Haiti.
For Haiti with Love runs a burn clinic and a food program for residents in need.
Recently they had the opportunity to buy burn supplies in bulk for an entire year, significantly reducing the overall cost but demanding a higher up-front cost.
For Haiti has the unique opportunity ofministering to burn victims.(Photo courtesy of For Haiti)
Eva DeHart of For Haiti says, "People have answered the plea for the money to actually pay for the burn cream. And the reason we needed so much is that we had the opportunity of getting the burn cream in bulk."
People have been sending food and other supplies to For Haiti with Love as well. The challenge now is getting those supplies to location for distribution.
"As with everything else that you [purchase], it has to be shipped across the United States and then by sea into Haiti," DeHart explains.
Even the burn cream will cost $1000 to get to Haiti. And a full container of food can cost about $10,000. Altogether it is a big number, but the spiritual and physical impact is worth it.
"Jesus was all about feeding the hungry. In all of His ministry settings...feeding the poor and the hungry was a very important part of the Lord's ministry," DeHart says, "When their tummies are growling, they can't hear you talking about God. But satisfy the physical hunger, and it opens the door to satisfying spiritual hunger."
DeHart wants supporters of this ministry to remember that they're not only serving people in need in Haiti. "We want them to remember that when you're looking into the eyes of the poor, you're looking into the eyes of Jesus. They are partnering with us and they are literally feeding the hungry themselves. We're just the conduits that get the product to help deliver the message."
Want to help? Get connected here. Pray for God to provide the means for these supplies to get to Haiti. Ask Him to provide places for discussion about the Gospel among the people of Haiti.
Cyclone Hudhud(Image credit NASA.gov)
India (MNN) -- In India, Prime Minister Nahendra Modi just returned from surveying the damage left behind by Cyclone Hudhud. Some officials say it could cost over $1 billion USD.
Making landfall exactly one year to the day as Cyclone Phailin, Cyclone Hudhud tore through Andhra Pradesh and Orissa on Sunday. At least 400,000 people have been affected by Hudhud, and 24 people are known to have died as a result of the storm.
Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India hasn't been able to reach their partners yet because of damage to communication lines. Recently-appointed President and CEO of Mission India Todd VanEk asks you to pray that they'll hear from their partners soon.
Also pray that the Lord will give Mission India guidance as they support partners throughout the country.
"Our greatest challenge will continue to be keeping up with the Indian Church. People are coming to faith in Christ at a rate in India that I just don't think has been experienced by many people here," VanEk notes.
It's one of the observations VanEk made during his first trip to India as the ministry's president.
Todd VanEk is Mission India's new USA President.(Photo credit Mission India)
"I was officially in my role for two weeks, and I jumped on a plane and traveled to India," VanEk shares, adding that the visit had a two-fold purpose. "One [purpose] was to 'Meet Todd, our new president' and to continue to foster the great relationships that we have.
"The other purpose [was] just allowing the Holy Spirit to lead my thoughts and my mind, in terms of the work that is being done there."
During the trip, God's Spirit affirmed a calling VanEk felt to serve as Mission India's new leader.
"I just cannot think of anything I would rather do with my time and the leadership gifts that God has given to me, than to further the Kingdom of God in India," he shares.
While VanEk had taken several trips to South Asia as a Mission India donor, this was his first visit as the ministry's leader.
"Mission India and our family have a relationship that goes back 10 years," explains VanEk.
"I think that was very strategic in the Lord's working of my life, bringing me to this point, because as I went in [this time], I've already established a relationship with many of the key leaders that we work with in India."
As VanEk met with different leaders and visited partner locations, he became increasingly aware of the spiritual battle being waged in India.
In India, violence against Christian believers is on the rise. Pray for their safety!(Photo, caption courtesy Mission India)
"This is, ultimately, not just a strategy that we're about. This is a spiritual battle that we're involved in," states VanEk. "Probably one of the most surprising things was that there's an area in the northeast that's probably 50-60% Christian, and there was some persecution there.
"A church was burned, and that sent the message to us that, even in very strong Christian centers, there is [spiritual] work countering the work that we're doing."
Learn more about Mission India's work by visiting their Web site. Then, add Mission India and their indigenous ministry partners to your prayer list.
International (ORO) -- Editor's Note: In answering the question, "Do Child Sponsorships really work?" we thought we'd share a post by Orphan Outreach staffer Julie Cramer. She shares the impact of her sponsorship on a little girl and children like her.
(Photo courtesy Orphan Outreach)
I pray for Shraddha when I open the refrigerator for milk. I close the door to bins stocked full of fruits and vegetables, and again I see her picture tacked there with a magnet. I have more than enough, but at times I wonder if the $36 a month I contribute to her care through Orphan Outreach’s sponsorship program is really making a difference in her life. How could so little do so much?
A group of economists and researchers gave me a compelling answer.
In 2013, Bruce Wydick (University of San Francisco), Paul Glewwe (University of Minnesota), and Laine Rutledge (a student at the University of Washington) presented their findings on the impact of international child sponsorships. They studied the adult lives of children who had been sponsored in comparison to their siblings that were too old to have been sponsored.
The study is the first of its kind to measure the long-term impact of such sponsorships--and critical considering they estimate 9 million children are sponsored globally each year, with contributions mirroring that of U.S. foreign aid to developing nations, exceeding $3 billion annually.
The researchers gathered data from 10,144 adults over 2 years that had received sponsorships through Compassion International from 6 countries. At the time, only children 12 years of age or younger were eligible for the program. A few of the team’s findings in the Journal of Political Economy offered solid evidence to the value of such programs:
• Child sponsorship raised a child’s education level by three years
• The probability of formal employment increased from 55% to 72%
• The probability of white collar employment increased from 19% to 31%
• Teen marriage and childbearing decreased
• Community and church leadership increased
• Basic necessities such as sturdier homes, clean drinking water, and use of mosquito nets
were more likely
• Positive lifestyle choices increased
“You could beat this data senseless, and it was incapable of showing anything other than extremely large and statistically significant impacts on educational outcomes for sponsored children,” Bruce Wydick told Christianity Today. “The key to ending poverty resides in the capacity of human beings--and their view of their own capacity--to facilitate positive change.”
Orphan Outreach’s emphasis on the spiritual and emotional development of children leads to this type of positive change. And by involving local churches to mentor the children, Orphan Outreach is helping to build the children’s networks of support.
“All projects include Christian discipleship of the children,” the program’s coordinator Beth Galway said. “The children receive so many benefits, which often include their only meal of the day, a Christian education in most cases, and loving caregivers.” At times, sponsors can travel on mission trips and meet their child face to face.
“Of course, having all of the sponsors and mission trip participants keeping these children in their prayers is probably the most important benefit,” Beth said. “Just this morning, I had a new sponsor ask if he could help his sponsored child forever! We are constantly trying to ensure that sponsors feel connected to the child and the program. As a new program, there is still a learning curve. We struggle with how to keep non-sponsored children from feeling left out.”
For Orphan Outreach, 369 children remain to be sponsored, which would equate to an additional $16,000 monthly. Such consistent financial support enables the agency "to build quality into each program and allows them to have financial security," said Tiffany Taylor Wines, director of marketing for Orphan Outreach. Sponsorships extend benefits to all children, however, by freeing up other dollars to be directed toward overall operational costs.
So, for the cost of some milk and other groceries, Shraddha--and children like her--can curl up in bed at night knowing there will be breakfast in the morning … and, thankfully, school.
(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Syria (MNN) -- Seven days ago, Arab World Ministries (a ministry of Pioneers) tweeted this ominous statement: "One of ours just wrote in to say the black flag is now flying above the town of Kobani (Syria)."
The situation is fluid. On October 14, the U.S.-led coalition launched airstrikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the region. A Kurdish official says between fierce fighting and the air support, they managed to take down the black flag of jihad.
Yet, both sides are grappling for control of the northern Syrian town near the Turkish border. Because of that, the UN's refugee agency estimates more than 170,000 people fled to Turkey or sought shelter in parts of Syria or in northern Iraq.
The extremist group has carved out a vast stretch of territory from northern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad and imposed a harsh version of Islamic rule. ISIS also has multiple battlefronts throughout the land it controls, where fighting sets off fresh waves of displacement.
(Image courtesy Pioneers)
On top of fending off ISIS, the civil war continues within Syria's tattered borders. All this means 10 to 12 million people are on the move. With winter's approach, the UN has been sharing its alarm at not having enough resources to keep the refugees sheltered or fed.
Denny Spitters, Vice President of Church Partnerships for Pioneers, says there's another way to look at this story. "A lot of people, I think, would tend to think the worst is happening, and that there's very little good that's coming out of this. We're seeing the exact opposite, for the most part."
Pioneers workers overseas have been meeting physical needs through aid support, as well as the emotional needs, through counseling. Children's outreach includes sports camp. While there are details on specific work teams, Spitters can't get into them. "Their security is a big deal. They're having to be careful about that and be very wise in how they're working, how they're interacting with the local populace."
One thing they are saying is common is that the local populace is upset and disillusioned. "This huge outgrowth of refugees creates the opportunity for them to really look outward and say, 'I have questions. I have things I want to know. I see what Islam is doing here. I don't want this caliphate. Is there something else? What about Jesus?'"
(Photo courtesy Pioneers/Arab World Ministries)
This curiosity and openness is unprecedented. According to one of their newsletters, work teams started 27 Bible studies with Syrian Muslims. Twelve families have put their faith in Christ. And many have experienced healings and other miracles. Why? Spitters explains, "We have often heard things like, 'You're the only ones that have come to listen to me, to hear my story, and have offered something.'"
This is what happens when you take the time to listen. A Pioneers team leader recounts this story:
We hosted a Bible study with a Syrian family recently. While some were interested, Moussa, the head of the household, was argumentative and critical the entire time. At the end of the study, we offered to pray for them.
Moussa took this opportunity to share that his father-in-law was detained in a Syrian prison over two and a half years ago, and no one had seen him since. He asked for God to release him from prison.
Soon after, I received an exciting phone call from Moussa: "He is out of prison and living with us now. God answered our prayers! When can you visit again?"
When we saw Moussa a few days later, he showed a definite change of heart. He asked if we could read another Bible story, and if we could continue to pray for him and his family.
What this means is that Christians are choosing to stay in the dangerous areas, risking their lives, to answer the questions that are being asked. "They're remaining there as teachers, as physicians. They care, and they are really seeking to minister there through their efforts." Plus, Arab World Media continues to broadcast into the region with the kind of content that offers a hope of peace. Spitters says, "The number of responses and inquiries that we have had over the Web through broadcasts of Arab World Media throughout the Middle East, from Syrian refugees especially, they're up 30,000-40,000 that they're trying to follow up on."
Noting the slow response from the international community toward refugee funds, Spitters acknowledges that the situation is hard to wrap your brain around. "I think we're overwhelmed. We hear so much every day that we feel 'there's nothing that I can really do about it.' We feel guilty and don't know where to go with it."
For followers of Christ, it boils down to three things: pray, give, or go. First, "One of the greatest weapons in warfare that we have is prayer: to really lift up at this time and pray for the conflicts that are going on here, and pray for peace and pray that God will use the people that He has to reach out."
Then, give: resources like, time, or funds.
And lastly, go. While it's not the safest place to be right now, even talking about the stories of these survivors, educating yourself more about the situation, and checking out ministry Web sites is a direction more than doing nothing. What's your next step?
(Photo by Bibles for China)
China (MNN) – Bibles seem to be extremely abundant, yet receiving one could mean the world to someone in a distant village in China.
Bibles for China is preparing for their next Bible distribution this November. A group of seven will be split into two teams and will verify the delivery of 16,000 Bibles to believers in rural China.
There are over 1.5 billion people in China and 100 million believers. The only access the people have to the Bible is a few pages that they have copied down by hand, verses committed to memory, or worn-down Bibles that are shared throughout the village.
BFC reports that people living in rural China have very limited income that hardly covers their basic needs. Most people live on as little as $500 a year. Villages are so remote that traveling outside of their community is difficult and rare; receiving a Bible of their own would be like receiving an exotic and precious gift.
A former Bible distribution member wrote, “Even if the means of transportation were available, it would not be affordable. What Satan had intended to use as shackles, however, God used for inspiration. He used for hope. I witnessed a faith so strong, a hope so deep, so inspiring, that it sent shock waves through me, changing my expectations, realigning my priorities. and redefining my relationships.”
The group of seven will be leaving for China in less than a month, and they ask for prayer that all the Bibles will be distributed without interference.
Another group will be journeying to China the spring of 2015. Over the next two months, Bibles for China will be collecting donations for Bibles. One Bible costs just $5. Click here to help.
(Photo credit Micky Aldridge via Flickr)
International (MNN) -- There's a controversy afoot. MNN asked President and CEO of The Mission Society, Max Wilkins, for insight.
"There are many who are starting to say that the season for Western missionaries in the rest of the world has passed, and that it's the day of the indigenous missionaries," shares Wilkins.
"I think that fails to take into consideration several different dynamics."
The Great Commission
Prime among those dynamics is Christ's command to His disciples in Matthew 28:16-20, otherwise known as the Great Commission: "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
"The Lord has given us all a call to 'go' and to make disciples of all the nations. It's not an either/or thing; we all have this global mandate."(Photo credit The Mission Society)
"The Lord has given us all a call to 'go' and to make disciples of all the nations," notes Wilkins. "It's not an either/or thing; we all have this global mandate."
In addition, many countries that were previously "receiving countries" only--meaning they needed missionaries and teachers to bring them the Good News--are now sending their own missionaries to the Western world.
"Jesus is alive and well and working [in] just about every place on the planet today," says Wilkins. "The world has changed, and the needs of the global Church have changed."
However, "While the [world] landscape may have changed, the need still exists for both indigenous missionaries and missionaries from more developed Church countries."
Global missions challenges
As a "sending" agency, The Mission Society recruits, trains, and sends what they call "cross-cultural witnesses," or missionaries.
Wilkins says missionary recruitment is becoming more challenging as the world changes, but "we're still seeing significant numbers of men and women who sense the call of the Lord to give their lives and use their lives and their skill set and their training as full-time overseas missionaries."
(Photo credit The Mission Society)
Another change Wilkins has observed is that many churches are becoming "sending" agencies. Congregations throughout the United States, parts of East and West Africa, and South America have begun actively supporting and sending their own missionaries to unreached and least-reached communities, both within their own nations and beyond.
"I think that's really exciting and has a lot of possibilities for the future," Wilkins states.
What it means for you
At the end of the day, the global need for people to hear about Christ and His salvation remains the same. The need for your prayers remains the same, too.
(Photo credit The Mission Society)
"There's a lot of things that we have a tendency to want to pray about: strength and safety, and all of those things, but the people in the field all have a similar prayer desire, which is that they would be fruitful," Wilkins shares.
"There's no greater joy, I think, than for our missionaries to see fruitfulness, to see people coming to faith and being discipled and begin to get a Kingdom vision for the world. There's great value in the Body of Christ praying for that reality."
Find more prayer needs here.
(Photo courtesy Kids Alive International)
Lebanon (MNN) -- Nearly three million Syrian children are not attending school due to the civil war raging in their homeland.
The future of the nation is at stake. Jed Hamoud, Vice President of Operations at Kids Alive International, notes that this crisis has been 10 years in the making. "The fear is that the Syrian people are going to be faced with a generation of kids that are not educated. That would have a massive impact on the society as a whole."
Hamoud continues, "Many of those kids have been out of school for a year or two. They have missed a lot of schooling, so what we're really calling it is a literacy/education program."
Think of the doctors, businessmen, entrepreneurs, educators, scientists, writers in a single generation. In other words, "When the current generation passes and the new generation is coming in, they're going to have a tremendous shortage of educated people."
Yet, hundreds of thousands of displaced children are struggling to enroll for school in their host countries and in Syria. In Syria, many of the school buildings are filled with Internally Displaced Peoples or the military. For others, high school fees and working to survive are the main reasons kids aren't in school.
In Lebanon, it's all of the above for the Syrian refugees. In fact, as Lebanon has no official refugee camps, Syrian families regularly go into debt to cover costs like housing, healthcare, and education. Plus, the education system is simply overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of child refugees.
According to a recent Save The Children report, 4 out of 5 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon don't attend school. Although there is a plan to teach Syrian refugee children in an informal educational setting in Lebanon, the strategy is still in the works. But most kids can't afford to wait, says Hamoud.
(Photo courtesy Kids Alive International)
Kids Alive Lebanon looked at the available space they had and converted a workshop into classroom space. "The goal is to try to help those children come up to speed, so that we can streamline them and transition them with the standard school curriculum," Hamoud explains, adding, "We're expanding it to the maximum of the facility that we have today, and we will be having about 60 children that we'll be taking in to schooling."
One of three new classrooms will provide a safe environment for these refugee children to get what they can't get at a normal "school," says Hamoud. "We do provide education. We actually will be providing meals to the children. We're providing transportation, but at the heart of it, we will be teaching the kids the Scriptures, the value that Christ has bought us. So it is at the very core of our ministry here in Lebanon."
The children's desks will arrive next week, and the new "Syrian Oasis" will open its doors on November 3. There's still a lot to do. "We've hired one teacher. We need to hire at least two more teachers to help out. And we need to buy the supplies. We have some desks, but we are going to need a lot more because we weren't counting on taking in that many children."
Please pray that God would do amazing things in the lives of the needy kids Kids Alive will be serving.
USA (MNN) -- The International Day of Prayer for the persecuted Church, or IDOP, is approaching quickly on November 2.
IDOP is a day in which Christians worldwide unite together to pray for over 100 million fellow Christians stretched across the globe. These Christians are persecuted consistently.
More than half a million churches in 150 countries participate in IDOP.
Open Doors USA, a ministry dedicated to supporting persecuted Christians, is providing free resources, downloads, and special Webcasts in honor of IDOP.
They are including kits for churches, small groups, families, and schools, which include a leader’s guide, DVDs, information on how to order “One With Them” wristbands and how to participate in their live webcasts, which will be held Saturday November 1 at 8 pm.
An exclusive Webcast will be held for churches and small groups on Sunday, November 2, at 7 pm.
The Webcast will be hosted by Open Doors President and CEO Dr. David Curry.
Curry says “This year has been unusual in every way. You see stories throughout the news about what’s happening to Christians. We need to care. The world, the media--the mainstream media--will not care more than you.”
He invites people to join IDOP and sign up for their Webcast, which will feature several speakers.
Pastor David Platt, president of the International Mission Board and the author of the best selling book, Radical, will be speaking about how Americans can do their part for the persecuted church.
Author of The Insanity of God, Nik Ripken, will tell his story about what is happening in Somalia and other countries.
Also the award-winning group Selah and several persecuted Christians will be featured.
For an IDOP kit and information about the Open Doors Web cast, click here.
Also watch for information about an upcoming Mission Network News special IDOP broadcast.
India (MNN/MNI) -- Within 48 hours, two churches in India burned. Grand Rapids-based Mission India shared details in a Facebook post.
The first reported fire took place in a small village. It remains a mystery how the fire started, and police are still investigating. A few families woke up to the smell of smoke and went outside to investigate.
Villagers were able to save someof this partially-burned church.(Mission India photo)
They found the church going up in flames. Alarmed, they doused the fire with water. Thankfully only part of the church was burned in the fire. They were able to replace the damaged roof with a temporary blue tarp to keep out rain and dew.
A pastor named Yamar and his wife have been sharing about Jesus in the community for 10 years. He says, "It's very heartbreaking, but we trust in the Lord that there's something better ahead for us."
1,500 miles away from that site in east India, a second church was also burned.
The following morning after the fire, nothing remained of the building but bits of wood, ashes, carpet rags, and the rubble of what used to be musical instruments.
The pastor of this church oversees a class of Mission India Church Planters who are doing outreach among the families living on the nearby hills.
As violence against Christians is on the rise in India, pray for their safety.
(Photo courtesy of Wade Kusack of Mission Eurasia)
Ukraine (MNN) -- One room, 50 people. A bunk bed as a family's "home." This is an example of a refugee camp in Ukraine as described by Wade Kusack of Mission Eurasia (formerly Russian Ministries).
In East Ukraine, there have been several reports of Russian troops moving out of conflict zones. CNN speculates that tensions are relaxing between Russia and Ukraine. Despite this news, conditions for refugees continue to look grim.
As winter approaches, many are wondering how refugees will survive brutal temperatures. In the camp mentioned above, there are no heaters in the building. The amount of people crammed into a small space means if one person gets sick, everyone else does, too. Sleeping is hard when small children cry during the night.
(Image courtesy of Wade Kusack of Mission Eurasia)
In another area, Sergey Rakhuba of Mission Eurasia reports: "We're in the town of Slavyansk in Eastern Ukraine, and we're in one of those temporarily-organized places where refugees or internally displaced people from all the regions where the war is taking place, where Ukrainian forces fight with the pro-Russian terrorists here, are trying to survive with their families."
This city received heavy damage from being under siege for about three months. While many churches have been burned and many hospitals bombed, Mission Eurasia has seen the church step up and lead Slavyansk toward healing.
(Image courtesy of Mission Eurasia)
In a video report from Slavyansk, a group of young refugees interact behind Rakhuba. He says, "And you see those kids in the background? They're here for a few weeks, but the winter is coming. And we see how enormous [is] the need of warm clothing and shelter and food and medicine."
Early on, Mission Eurasia reacted to this need by forming the "I Care" program. This was a response to a set of standards defined by a group of pastors and mission leaders who met earlier this year. Mission Eurasia says it was conclusive that:
Christians should not have a detached, uncaring attitude toward war, because God calls His people to engage in their communities to promote healing and forgiveness.
Christians must serve and defend the suffering and dying--those who are victims of the conflict.
Christians must pursue and encourage reconciliation, reconstruction, and forgiveness so that God’s love and power is proclaimed, even in times of tragedy.
Rakhuba explains this program seeks to meet the many-faceted needs of the refugees: "With our I Care program, we're trying to provide, first of all, food for these families, then we provide counseling, encouragement. We provide training for pastors."
You can help support this work by clicking here.
And if you already have come alongside Mission Eurasia, they are thankful for your help. Rakhuba says, "We're so grateful when you continue supporting Mission Eurasia that supports local churches to provide all that these families need here. Thank you all, and God bless you all."
(Photo credit Bgrajçevci via WIkimedia Commons)
International (MNN) -- The world is constantly in flux. Urbanization and migration are some of the biggest issues today's global Church must confront, especially given the rise of conflict and disease. Traditional evangelism techniques and strategies don't always work in a changing landscape.
Global Frontier Missions (GFM) is one of the many ministries taking advantage of urbanization and migration to further the Great Commission.
"Anytime in our lives we're in transition, or we're in a different situation, we tend to be more open to different things," says one GFM worker, speaking about humanity in general.
"We've seen a lot [of people], especially the refugee groups, that are so willing to listen to us because they're needing hope, they're needing a friend."
Approximately half of humanity lives in an urban area, and Asia holds the top five most-populated cities: Tokyo, Jakarta, Delhi, Seoul, and Manila. By 2030, the UN says nearly 5 billion people will be living in a city setting, with most urban growth concentrated in Africa and Asia.
(Photo credit Global Frontier Missions)
When foreigners find fellow immigrants who hail from the same country or village, they quickly form communities that remind them of home. These communities become front-door mission fields for ministries and believers with eyes to see.
"We know our country," the worker says of herself and fellow GFM workers, "and we have a special opportunity, as hosts, to make [foreigners] feel loved. And through that, [we] share how God in His Word says He loves the immigrant, He loves the refugee."
Migration is one of the primary factors fueling today's massive urbanization trend.
(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)
Two types of migration, international and internal, define the movement of people. Internal migration--the movement of people within a country--largely consists of people moving from rural to urban areas. On the world stage, around 232 million people migrated across borders in 2013, according to UN figures.
Michael Pocock, one of the Evangelical Missiological Society (EMS) speakers at this year's Missio Nexus Leadership Conference, referenced the Gospel opportunity presented by migration.
"Around the world, Christians are waking up to the reality that the massive movement of peoples in migration presents an unprecedented opportunity for spreading the Gospel," penned Pocock.
Mission trends and you
Urbanization and migration aren't just theoretical trends for mission leaders to consider. They directly affect you and your role in the Great Commission.
"If you're wondering where to start," the GFM worker says, "I would recommend a great site called PeopleGroups.info."
(Photo credit InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)
Using information from this Web site, you can dive into the mission field around you.
"Spread the love of God and start having global eyes to see where immigrants are among you," says the GFM worker.
"Become close with these immigrants and, you know, invite them to your house. Don't be afraid to go to the temple and ask silly questions. They would be happy that you talked to them and 'invited' them into your country."
You can also "reach the unreached" through GFM in multiple ways: missionary apprenticeships, short-term mission trips, and summer internships, to name a few. Visit GFM's Web site to learn more about their ministry and how you can come alongside their efforts.
Many children were orphaned by the 2010 earthquake.(Image courtesy EFCA)
Haiti (MNN) -- It's easy to see the amount of physical need in Haiti: it's the Western hemisphere's poorest country, healthcare is lacking, and many villages don't even have clean water.
But saving Haiti will take more than money. The problems of Haiti's people stretch beyond limited resources. Starfysh founder Steve Edmondson says the battle is spiritual.
"We put a lot of stock, and need to put a lot of stock, in the power of God," Edmondson notes.
On the Haitian island of La Gonave, Starfysh empowers people with a two-fold approach. While caring for physical needs like clean water and healthcare, Starfysh workers establish and cultivate friendships. These lead to conversations about Jesus and His salvation.
"When people just pray in general, and pray consistently, the things we do day-to-day are made more effective because God is in it," says Edmondson.
"I can give you examples of how things have happened that we cannot explain by human terms."
The latest example took place just a few weeks ago. A shipping container full of supplies needed for Starfysh ministry on La Gonave had been detained by the infamously corrupt Haitian customs officers. Using word-of-mouth and social media, ministry leaders mobilized people to pray for the quick release of the container.
"Within a week or two, that container was released from the [Haitian] customs that had pretty much hijacked it for months," Edmonson shares.
"Praying is a practical thing that people can do. If we can move the hand of God through prayer, as God invites us to do, that is practical."
You can receive the latest prayer needs and join the Starfysh prayer force by following the ministry on Facebook.