WORLD MISSION NEWSBYTES

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May/June 2014nepali man100dpi

IN THIS ISSUE:
1. BELGIUM PASSES CHILD EUTHANASIA LAW
2. MUDSLIDES IN AFGHANISTAN
3. BIBLES FOR FALKLAND ISLANDS
4. PALAUS IMPACT ARGENTINA
5. REACHING INDONESIA
6. ZANZIBAR: BOMB BLASTS
7. EXTREMISTS KIDNAP GIRLS IN NIGERIA
8. BIBLE TRANSLATION EFFORTS FOR ANGOLA
9. CHRISTIAN MOTHER IN SUDAN SENTENCED TO DEATH
10. TRAINING NEPALIS FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP & MISSIONS
11. REACHING INDIA’S EUNUCH POPULATION
12. NEW INDIA CHRISTIAN PARTY STANDS FOR DALITS’ RIGHTS
13. KYRGYZSTAN: GROWTH OF ARAB CULTURE
14. COLUMBIA: CHRISTIAN LEADER ACCUSED OF MONEY LAUNDERING
15. CEF’S GOOD NEWS ACROSS ROMANIA
16. UK: JESUS THROUGH ASIAN EYES
17. AFRICA MERCY
18. IN FACT: PEOPLE GROUPS WITHOUT THE GOSPEL

RESOURCES:
*Mission Assist (UK) * ‘Veil of Tears’ Kit for Churches * Born2Fly Project * Aids for Mission Trippers

1. BELGIUM PASSES CHILD EUTHANASIA LAW
Belgium has become the first country in the world to allow child euthanasia without any age limit. The parliament passed a bill by a wide majority in mid-February. Protests immediately erupted within the country and the bill is being opposed via a petition by people all across Europe. However, Belgian King Philippe signed the bill into law in early March. Defenders of the law say that it ‘requires’ the consent of parents, doctors and psychiatrists. The protest petition can still be signed on: http://www.citizengo.org/en/4158-not-sign-legalisation-child-euthanasia [MISC. REPORTS]

2. MUDSLIDES IN AFGHANISTAN
Twin landslides triggered by heavy rains buried over 2,000 people in a remote village in northeastern Afghanistan on 2 May. Hundreds of homes are also underneath 300 feet of mud, and 4,000 people in Ab Barak have nowhere to live, forced to shelter in tents from aid agencies. Villagers spoke of their grief at losing husbands, wives and children as their homes were destroyed in moments. Andrew Morris, chief of UNICEF for the Northern Region of Afghanistan said, ‘The whole area has been declared a burial ground; our staff described it in some places to be as deep as 50 metres of mud. Our first priority is getting water supplies going and we are urgently looking at sanitation. Baptist Global Response is among the Christian groups providing practical help. [THE GUARDIAN, 2 May; MISSION NETWORK NEWS, 6 May]

3. BIBLES FOR FALKLAND ISLANDS
Hundreds of international sailors and fishermen each year visit the Lighthouse Seamen’s Centre in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, and the Bible Society Port Missioner, Betty Turner, says they are desperate to receive Scriptures in their own languages. “I could give away an endless number of Bibles,” she reports. “Many are committed Christians but come from poor countries and can’t afford their own.” Betty says that many of the seafarers, who travel to the Falkland Islands from more than 40 different countries, have been at sea for between four and 12 months when they get there. Thanks to donations, more than 100 Bibles and New Testaments in over 6 languages have now been sent to seafarers visiting the Falklands. [BIBLE SOCIETY, 25 Feb.]

4. PALAUS IMPACT ARGENTINA
International evangelist Luis Palau’s inaugural visit to northwest Argentina for an evangelistic campaign in April resulted in tens of thousands of people reached with the Good News and nearly 10,000 documented decisions for Jesus Christ. Joined by his son and fellow evangelist, Andrew Palau, the duo were able to fan across the region, gathering churches, encouraging unity, training believers, and coordinating more than 20 evangelistic gatherings across three cities. The festival in Salta that culminated their work on April 25-26 was broadcast to more than 48 countries via live streaming video and TV. [CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE, 9 May]

5. REACHING INDONESIA
One year after nearly 1,000 people made commitments to follow Christ at revival gatherings in Jakarta’s Istora Stadium last May, Leading The Way ministry is continuing to impact the world’s largest Muslim nation. A team of 100 Christian leaders is following up with each person who committed their life to Christ at the 2013 meetings, and on 1 March satellite TV broadcasts were launched in the Indonesian language. Now Leading The Way is planning to distribute 10,000 solar-powered Navigator devices pre-loaded with Biblical messages in a dual-language format, which will enable the ministry to target over 20 language groups. Countless testimonies have already been received from people receiving these Navigator ‘pocket missionaries’. [ASSIST, 13 May]

6. ZANZIBAR: INCREASING VIOLENCE
In Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, which is 97 per cent Muslim, arsonists burned the Evangelical Church of Siloam on February 19, two days after gunmen killed a Catholic priest, Father Evaristus Mushi. Earlier that month, an Assemblies of God minister, Pastor Mathayo Kachili, was hacked to death. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that church leaders began to receive text messages from a group calling itself ‘Muslim Renewal’ which claimed responsibility for these murders, adding the killers were ‘trained in Somalia’. The BBC reported in April that police used tear gas to disperse about 200 Christian rioters attempting to set fire to a mosque. Tension has been growing between Muslims and Christians for the past few years. [WORLD WATCH MONITOR, 10 May]
7. EXTREMISTS KIDNAP GIRLS IN NIGERIA
Nigeria continues to struggle with the abduction of 270+ Christian schoolgirls in April and May. The leader of the extremist Muslim group Boko Haram admitted: ‘I abducted your girls. Allah commands me to sell them in the market.’ President Goodluck Jonathan and international groups are calling for more efforts to rescue the girls, who may have been smuggled to nearby countries for forced conversion and marriage. Boko Haram’s strategy is ‘marry the girls and kill the men’, demonstrating the impunity with which they have been running their terrorist activities for years. [CHRISTIAN POST, 5 May & MISC. REPORTS]

8. BIBLE TRANSLATION EFFORTS FOR ANGOLA
Wycliffe Associates (WA), which focuses on translating the Gospel into every language, plans to take Bible translation efforts to the Southern African nation of Angola despite the fact that hidden land mines cover a vast area of the country, making travel extremely dangerous. WA is currently working with linguistic experts to launch their initiative after discovering that 50 groups in the country do not have Bibles. The group’s CEO, Bruce Smith, calls Angola ‘a place that is ripe for the gospel’ since the nation has continued to suffer since a 27-year brutal civil war that ended in 2002. The UN says over 80,000 residents have been reportedly injured by land mines, and an estimated 10 million more devices still lie buried. [CHRISTIAN POST, 11 May]

9. CHRISTIAN MOTHER IN SUDAN SENTENCED TO DEATH
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a Christian from a Muslim background living in Sudan, was arrested and charged with adultery and apostasy. Meriam is married to a Christian of South Sudanese origin but the government does not recognise the couple’s marriage, hence the adultery charge. The couple have a young son who is with Meriam in prison and she is carrying their second child, due to be born this month. The woman was given 3 days to recant but at a 15 May hearing she calmly stated that she remains a Christian. The judge accordingly confirmed the sentence for apostasy of death by hanging. He also sentenced Meriam to 100 lashes for adultery. The death sentence is to be carried out two years after she gives birth to their second child this month. Her lawyer is preparing an appeal. [MIDDLE EAST CONCERN, 15 May]

10. TRAINING NEPALIS FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP & MISSIONS
What started as a series of short training sessions in 1988 for Nepali believers has now developed into a full-fledged college degree program. Most students complete their 96 credits of course work in 3 years. Students spend 9 months each year taking classes, including foundational classes in Biblical studies, church history, and world religions, with a focus on church administration, evangelism and church planting, and discipleship training. The other 3 months are spent in the field where they work under the mentorship of a village pastor and go to an unreached area to preach and establish house churches. Each student must plant 3 church fellowships (approximately 15 people per fellowship) as a graduation requirement. 300 men and women from all over Nepal have done just that and have since become pastors and Sunday school teachers or missionaries to different tribal groups, planting more churches and discipling new believers. [CHRISTIAN AID, 8 May]

11. REACHING INDIA’S EUNUCH POPULATION
India has about 1 million eunuchs or castrated males who are ignored by society and form their own communities. Scriptures in Use is a ministry that has successfully used storytelling to reach non-literate or oral learners, like eunuchs, with the gospel. National workers in Orissa State who have used Bible-based storytelling report that one group they have been working with all wanted to accept the Lord: “We’re seeing some significant changes in them personally, and then this desire to begin, in some way, to share their faith with fellow eunuchs and their families.” [MISSION NETWORK NEWS, 11 April]

12. NEW INDIA CHRISTIAN PARTY STANDS FOR DALITS’ RIGHTS
During India’s national election the country’s low-caste and outcast citizens took a sizable step into politics with the formation of the India Christian Secular Party. Although the constitution bans discrimination based on caste, prejudice and discrimination toward Dalits is still rampant. The majority have menial jobs such as scavenging, and they live segregated from people in upper castes. The maltreatment is especially prevalent among Christians, who are denied the free education and quotas for government jobs and seats in legislatures allowed Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Dalits. Because of this many thousands of Christians hide their identity. The new party is an attempt to fight discrimination by securing seats in a new state assembly. The next prime minister is expected to represent the extremist Hindu nationalist party. [WORLD WATCH MONITOR, 12 May]

13. KYRGYZSTAN: GROWTH OF ARAB CULTURE
At a recent Defence Council meeting, Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev criticized the growth of ‘Arab culture’ at the cost of ‘native ethnic culture’. Atambayev complained that ‘there are many people with long beards on our streets now. They force our girls to dress in black instead of light and colourful clothing. This is what widows usually wear here.’ Critics believe his words indicate a shifting official position on religion. Bishkek religious commentator Kadyr Malikov says, ‘The words of the president show the government has its ear to the ground and is about to become a more active agent in religious affairs.’ About 80% of Kyrgyzstan’s population are Sunni Muslims and 17% are Russian Orthodox. [www.win1040.com]

14. COLUMBIA: CHRISTIAN LEADER ACCUSED OF MONEY LAUNDERING
The head of an international ‘neo-Pentecostal’ church is accused of money laundering and possibly murder. Colombian native María Luisa Piraquive, with a total of 805 churches in 42 countries including the US, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, has been accused of using the church to launder money for drug cartels in Colombia and Argentina, according to Colombian and Argentine media reports. Piraquive and her late husband are part of a highly connected religious and political family in Colombia. They started the Iglesia de Dios Ministerial de Jesucristo Internacional (the Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International) in Bogotá in 1972. Their daughter co-founded a Colombian political party and is currently a senator. Church members claim the allegations are part of a global smear campaign by political rivals to discredit them. [WORLDWIDE RELIGIOUS NEWS, 24 April]

15. CEF’S GOOD NEWS ACROSS ROMANIA
This July, Child Evangelism Fellowship, the largest Christian ministry to children in the world, will hold its fifth annual Good News Across Romania Campaign, which targets a different county of Romania every year with evangelistic clubs. Last year, 4250 children heard the gospel in 5-Day Clubs held in Arad county, with the help of 65 churches and 300 volunteers. Clubs might be held in parks, community centres, or private backyards and are a wonderful mix of learning and fun. CEF Romania is hoping for even more clubs and children in the county of Prahova this summer. [CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE, 1 May]

16. UK: JESUS THROUGH ASIAN EYES
The Evangelical Alliance has launched a new outreach programme specifically targeted at the UK’s growing Asian population. The 8-week ‘Discovering Jesus through Asian eyes’ course is aimed at presenting the Gospel in a way that addresses many of the issues and questions that Asian people may have about Christianity. The course, initially available to churches and Christian organisations in the UK, US, Canada and Australia, was trialled in churches last year before being officially launched in London this May. The South Asian Forum (SAF) of the Evangelical Alliance is also offering training to allow people to get the most out of these new resources. [CHRISTIAN TODAY, 15 May]

17. AFRICA MERCY
The world’s largest charity hospital ship, Africa Mercy, would not be able to deliver healthcare services without its crew of volunteer nurses. For the past ten months, while the ship was tied up in the Republic of Congo, more than 360 nurses volunteered their critical expertise and caring skills. Operating room nurses assisted surgeons in more than 2400 surgeries in 5 state-of-the-art operating rooms. For over 35 years Mercy Ships have used hospital ships to deliver free health care services and more to those without access in the developing world. Staff on board have also trained local health-care professionals in anesthesiology, orthopedic and reconstructive surgery, midwifery and eye surgery. [ASSIST, 11 May; www.mercyships.org]

18. IN FACT: 2,700 people groups in the world have neither Scripture portions or audio recordings available in their primary language, comprising 214,000,000 individuals. [THE JOSHUA PROJECT]

RESOURCES
• Mission Assist serves the work of Christian mission through the provision of a range of services to those who have been sent out from their home churches in the UK to work abroad. See https://primary.missionassist.org.uk/

• ‘Veil of Tears,’ an award-winning film that shows the oppression of millions of women in South Asia, is now available as a free “Movie Night” Kit for churches and small groups in the US and Canada. Order by visiting www.veiloftearsmovie.com/kit.

• The Born2Fly Project to stop child trafficking is a strategic community awareness campaign that educates at-risk children and their parents about the dangers of child trafficking. More than 460 organizations in 65+ countries have registered to download the free anti-trafficking curriculum and other materials at https://born2fly.org/.

• Are you or your group taking a mission trip? Check out the helpful resources at http://www.missionsresources.com/features/Missions_Trip_Training.asp that include Mission Trip Prep, Mission Trip Devotionals, Trip Debrief and Outreach Resources.

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INDIAgirlApril/May 2014

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IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. CHILE SHAKEN BY MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE
  2. THE CRIMEA’S TATAR PEOPLE
  3. AFGHANISTAN VOTES
  4. VICAR IN IRAQ REFUSES TO LEAVE
  5. SYRIAN CHRISTIANS & THE DISABLED
  6. TURKEY: CONFESSED KILLERS OF CHRISTIANS FREED
  7. SHADOWS OVER KENYA
  8. DEADLY EBOLA OUTBREAK IN WEST AFRICA
  9. USA: NATIVE AMERICAN CHRISTIAN TV
  10. LIFTING UP JESUS AT EASTER (UK)
  11. NON-TRADITIONAL CHURCHES IN RUSSIA FACE INTERFERENCE
  12. CHINA OFFICIALS THREATEN CHRISTIAN CARE CENTRE, NEW CHURCH
  13. PEACE ACCORD IN PHILIPPINES
  14. MORE BLASPHEMY CHARGES IN PAKISTAN
  15. INDIA BEGINS WORLD’S BIGGEST GENERAL ELECTION
  16. OPENING BLIND EYES IN INDIA
  17. A VOICE FOR THE BLIND (INTERNATIONAL)
  18. IN FACT: 10 WORST COUNTRIES FOR ACCURATE REPORTING
  19. RESOURCES:  * Jesus.com * Year of Prayer for Nigeria * Prayer Guides for Different Countries and Subjects * John Piper on Mission Video

1. CHILE SHAKEN BY MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE

A powerful 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit near northern Chile’s coast on 2 April, generating tsunami alerts that caused the evacuation of almost a million people along the coast to higher ground. Strong aftershocks have caused further alarm. Although the death toll of around 6 is surprisingly low, the urgent needs for survivors range from basic essentials like food and clothing to the reconstruction and repair of houses and livelihoods. Many fishermen lost their boats. Chile’s President Michele Bachelet has declared several regions as disaster areas. Over 88% of this country’s population is identified as Christian, of which 62% are Catholic. Churches and Christian organisations on the ground are mobilising to help meet critical needs. [MISC. REPORTS]

2. THE CRIMEA’S TATAR PEOPLE

The Tatar people make up a mere 12% or 305,000 of the population, and they have been uneasy ever since Russia stepped up military presence in the peninsula and then annexed it, claiming it was defending Crimea’s ethnic Russian population. Back in the 1700s many Tatars, who have a distinctly different culture and religion, were killed or exiled to Siberia as Russian colonisation spread into Crimea. After the Bolshevik Revolution Communist policies contributed to the starvation of an estimated 100,000 Tatars, while tens of thousands fled to Turkey or Romania. In 1944 the entire Tatar population still residing in Crimea were forcibly expelled to Central Asia and beyond. Over 40% of those cast out died of malnutrition and disease. Although the Tatars people still consider Crimea their homeland, they fear a repetition of oppression under Russia and hundreds have already fled. Most are Sunni Muslim, with some ancestral spirit worship mixed into their celebrations. One reason the Tatars have not welcomed Christianity is the attempts at forced conversion by the Russian Orthodox Church in the 19th century. The New Testament was completed in the Tatar language in 2001, however, and ministries are now seeing some response among these people. [CHRISTIAN AID, 27 March]

3. AFGHANISTAN VOTES

Sixty per cent of Afghanistan’s population turned out to vote during the hotly-contested presidential election on April 5, in spite of the Taliban’s efforts to derail the country’s first-ever democratic transfer of power. Although it is certain that Hamid Karzai will stand down after 12 years, no announcement has yet been made of who will take his place. Some fear that delay will give an opportunity to the Taliban’s 30,000 fighters, who await the final withdrawal of US troops. On 28 March, Taliban gunmen stormed a Kabul compound they thought was being used as a Christian-run day care centre. Instead they got the guesthouse next door, used by a US-based landmine-removal group. Four foreigners were held hostage until the attackers were killed by Afghan security forces. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan does not recognise any Afghan citizens as being Christians, nor are Afghan citizens legally permitted to convert to Christianity. However, an underground church exists and fellowships of Afghan Christians are flourishing in several other countries. [MISC. REPORTS]

4. VICAR IN IRAQ REFUSES TO LEAVE

Canon Andrew White, known as the “Vicar of Baghdad”, has asked for urgent prayer for the church in Iraq amid intense violence. With frequent bombings and shootings in cities such as Baghdad and Mosul, monthly death tolls have soared recently. January’s toll of 1,000 dead was the highest for almost six years. Canon Andrew who leads St George’s Church, reports that some of his young people have been among those killed. School-aged children are also being recruited and radicalised by terrorists. Christian friends are leaving and begging White to leave too. “Hundreds of our people have left the church because they have left the country,” he says. “The hundreds left are those who cannot afford to leave, so the poverty and needs seem greater than ever. I honestly cannot tell you how terrible things are. We are in more than a desperate crisis. We need your prayers.” But he remains resolute. “I will not leave my people here, however bad it is. I am not leaving, and neither is God.” Open Doors’ World Watch List puts Iraq in 4th place for the worst persecution of Christians worldwide. [RELEASE INTL., 13 Feb.]

5. SYRIAN CHRISTIANS & THE DISABLED

Aid workers remain concerned over dozens of mainly elderly Christians in north-west Syria, after Islamic militants overran the Christian town of Kessab, killing some 80 people, and forcing some 3,000 Armenian Christian residents to flee for their lives to neighbouring towns. At least 13 Christians were beheaded, churches were desecrated and homes looted, said the Barnabas Fund, which supports Christians in heavily Islamic nations. They added, “a dozen or so families with members too elderly to leave remained in Kessab and were subsequently taken hostage”. Of those who fled, some relatives were reportedly staying with relatives and friends, but many Christians were seen sheltering in over-crowded church buildings. New research just published by Handicap International and HelpAge International shows that older, disabled and injured Syrian refugees are the “hidden casualties”of the conflict, often bypassed by humanitarian efforts. [PRAYER ALERT 13-2014; RELIEF WEB]

6. TURKEY: CONFESSED KILLERS OF CHRISTIANS FREED

A new Turkish law reducing the period of pre-trial detention has allowed 5 Muslims who were arrested for the Zirve Publishing House massacre in Malatya, and who confessed their actions, to be released from jail after years of delays by their defence teams. But because of public pressure, authorities have now placed them under house arrest by electronic monitoring. Two of the 3 Christians who were tortured and killed in April 2007 were Turkish converts from Islam; the third man was a German national. Their killers, apprehended as they fled the scene, said they were defending their country and religion. [MORNING STAR NEWS, 17 March]

7. SHADOWS OVER KENYA

Kenya’s government is worried that a wave of small-scale bomb and gunfire attacks indicates a large-scale terrorist assault may be imminent, and have made over 650 arrests. A spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton agrees: “It seems like radical Islam is definitely targeting Kenya….” Threatening messages to church leaders and a deadly church shooting in Mombasa two weeks ago, killing 6 and injuring 21, on top of a couple of other foiled plots in and around churches scattered throughout the country has Christians fearful. They are particularly concerned over what may happen during Easter celebrations. Meanwhile, Kenya’s Parliament passed a bill last month that will allow men to marry as many women as they see fit. Churches and women activists are opposing the polygamy bill as the president contemplates signing it into law. [MISSION NETWORK NEWS, 7 April]

8. DEADLY EBOLA OUTBREAK IN WEST AFRICA

International relief organisations MAP International and Samaritan’s Purse is responding to what is being called the worst Ebola outbreak in seven years. In the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, there have been at least 157 reported cases with 96 Ebola-related deaths. Ebola is one of the most lethal viruses known to humans. Currently there is no cure or vaccine. Samaritan’s Purse is working with the Government of Liberia’s Ministry of Health, conducting public awareness campaigns and providing emergency medical supplies to its partner, ELWA Hospital located just outside of Monrovia. They are also transporting medical personnel and critically needed medical supplies to various parts of the country with an airplane and helicopter. Samaritan’s Purse has been working in Liberia since 2003, providing aid in the name of Jesus. MAP International’s mission is to “serve the servants”, aiding healthcare workers. [ASSIST, 5 April, CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE, 9 April]

9. USA: NATIVE AMERICAN CHRISTIAN TV

There are 580 Native Nations in North America, according to Dr. Negiel Bigpond, founder of Two Rivers Native American Training Center—believed to be the only Native-founded, Native-led, culturally sensitive ministry training on the North American continent. Bigpond has just launched a new television network for Native American Christians called the “Native Waves Network”. The US Center for World Missions states that there are at least 200 Native Nations that have not been reached with the gospel and over 95% of the 3.5 million Native Americans in the United States have not accepted the gospel message. [GODREPORTS; MISSIONS CATALYST, 5 March]

10. LIFTING UP JESUS AT EASTER (UK)

The story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection was again performed in the open air this Easter—complete with a live donkey and horses—in several British cities. The Passion of Jesus play is sponsored by Bible Society and has grown enormously over the years. It now attracts up to 20,000 people for each of its two performances in Trafalgar Square on Good Friday. It also takes place in Guildford and in Staines on Easter Saturday. The Passion is free and big screens are used so all the audience can see and hear the play clearly. [BIBLE SOCIETY, 10 April]

11. NON-TRADITIONAL CHURCHES IN RUSSIA FACE INTERFERENCE

Churches and Christian organisations in Russia that are engaged in educational, social and charitable work are facing harassment from the authorities. One church has been liquidated for alleged illegal non-religious educational activity. St Petersburg’s Harvest Pentecostal Church’s appeal against its closure was rejected by Russia’s Supreme Court. The court upheld a ruling that the church had been conducting general (non-religious) educational work, which, as a religious organisation, it was not licensed to do. The Prosecutor’s Office said the church’s premises were “equipped as classrooms with school desks and chairs and shelves with educational literature”. Elsewhere in Russia, church-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres are facing state harassment, including raids and fines, which appears intended to close them down. [BARNABAS FUND, 1 April]

12. CHINA OFFICIALS THREATEN CHRISTIAN CARE CENTRE, NEW CHURCH

In March, authorities threatened to shut down a house church-run care centre for the homeless, disabled, orphaned and elderly in China’s southern province of Guangdong, claiming the centre was housed in a building that was not legally registered. The Huizhou Loving Care Centre, a branch of the original Christian care centre in Shenzhen which was established in February 2011, said they had signed a 5-year lease. Christians come from various places in China to help provide care for people from socially vulnerable groups, [CHINA AID, 26 March] Meanwhile, thousands of Chinese Christians formed a human wall on 4 April to protect the newly built Sanjiang Christian Church in Zhejiang province from government plans to demolish it because, they said, it violated building codes. The Protestant church cost an estimated US$4.6 million to build over a 6-year period in the city of Wenzhou, which has one of China’s largest Christian populations. Believers are encamped and holding prayer vigils outside the church. [CHRISTIAN POST, 7 April]

13. PEACE ACCORD IN PHILIPPINES

The Philippine government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), have signed a peace accord to end decades of violence that has left more than 120,000 dead, including Christians and foreign missionaries who were often targeted. Under the deal, MILF will give up its weapons in exchange for greater political autonomy in the mainly Muslim areas of the southern Mindanao region. However, one MILF splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, has promised to keep fighting the government until full independence is achieved, and Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamist group said to have ties to Al-Qaida, also operates in the area. Christians remain seriously concerned that Islamic law may be increasingly applied in Mindanao, eroding their rights and promoting discrimination against them. [VOICE OF AMERICA, 27 March; INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN]

14. MORE BLASPHEMY CHARGES IN PAKISTAN

A Christian couple in Punjab Province incapable of writing proper Urdu has been sentenced to death for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages, bringing the number of Christians on death row in Pakistan to four. Condemned are Shafqat Emmanuel, who is confined to a wheelchair, and his wife, a cleaner at a local missionary school and mother to 4 young children. The couple’s lawyer said the judge had succumbed to Islamists’ pressure and handed down the death sentence even though there was no concrete evidence. Eight days before, another Christian, Sawan Masih, was given a death penalty for allegedly insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Christian mother Asia Bibi has languished under a death sentence since Nov. 2010. Rights groups have declared that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often misused to persecute minorities and to settle personal scores. [ASSIST, 5 April]

15. INDIA BEGINS WORLD’S BIGGEST GENERAL ELECTION

815 million voters are registered in India, and the first phase of the 2014 India elections, scheduled to take place from April 7 to May 12, show the Hindu nationalist BJP party in the lead. This has church leaders concerned, as the BJP is a wing of the RSS which advocates hindutva and the transformation of India into a strictly-Hindu nation. Their Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, is tainted by accusations that he failed to stop or even encouraged anti-Muslim riots in 2002 in the state of Gujarat, where he is chief minister. At least 1,000 people died in the violence, most of them Muslims. Christianity constitutes the second largest religious minority. Nearly 80% of the Church is from Dalit and tribal backgrounds, the most marginalised groups in society. Many of the attacks on Christians are backed by the RSS and BJP. [MISSION NETWORK NEWS & MISC. REPORTS]

16. OPENING BLIND EYES IN INDIA

Among India’s total population of 1.2 billion people are an estimated 15 million blind, with an additional 52 million visually impaired, according to CurableBlindness.org. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness. In the northern part of Karnataka State a medical ministry team supported by Christian Aid reaches out to the poorest people, helping to bring ostracised lepers into a community and give their children a home, food, clothing, medical treatment and spiritual nurture. This team also reaches out to the poor through eye camps. Around 10,000 patients are screened annually in about 50 eye camps, and about 2,000 receive cataract surgery.  Patients stay overnight, receive a meal, hear the gospel and take home a Bible—which reveals the true Light as they regain their sight. About 50% come to faith in Christ. [CHRISTIAN AID, 10 April]

17. A VOICE FOR THE BLIND (INTERNATIONAL)

Of the world’s 600 million blind, visually impaired and poor-sighted, very few have access to God’s Word in their own heart language and in a convenient and usable form. Whilst Braille was invented in 1821, most of the world’s languages still do not have a Braille Bible, or even a portion of it. Of those that do exist the cost is prohibitive. Now MegaVoice International has brought out a compact, hand-held and inexpensive Bible for all mankind, especially the blind. Built to withstand the harshest of conditions, the new audio “Envoy”Bible is solar powered so there are no running costs and no batteries to be purchased. MegaVoice has been operating 25 years with the slogan, “Breaking the Silence, Finishing the Task”. [http://www.megavoice.com; ASSIST, 31 March]

18. IN FACT: The ten worst countries to be in if you want to release accurate reports to the world are: Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, Somalia, Iran, China, Vietnam, Cuba and Sudan. [2013 PRESS FREEDOM INDEX, REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS]

19. RESOURCES

  • http://Y-Jesus.com: A good site for unbelieving friends, the facts about Jesus presented by scholars. Includes downloadable materials.
  •  A year of prayer has been declared for Nigeria to focus on corruption, cultism and years of violence under the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. See http://www.pray4nigeria.org/ for information and resources.
  •  Check out this list of excellent prayer guides for all sorts of topics, ranging from specific countries and regions to special groups, like “The 31 Day Prayer Guide to Praying for Mothers” and “How to Pray for Missionaries”: http://www.justinlong.org/prayer-guides/
  •  Use this quick John Piper video on missions, only 1.5 minutes, to awaken your church or youth group to the facts!– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmLdbgGyxl0

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Bosniagirl

FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014

IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. UKRAINE: HEALING THE DIVIDE
  2. RUSSIA: ISLAMISTS THREATEN OLYMPICS WHILE CHURCHES DO EVANGELISM
  3. SYRIA TALKS BRING NO REPRIEVE
  4. NEW CONSTITUTIONS FOR TUNISIA & EGYPT
  5. NEW BIBLE FOR IRAN
  6. 4,000 CHRISTIANS IN INDIA ATTACKED IN 2013
  7. SRI LANKA’S CHRISTIANS PROTEST TREATMENT
  8. BURMA: RAPE OF CHRISTIAN MINORITY WOMEN
  9. GUNS FOR BIBLES IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
  10. SUDAN’S NUBA MOUNTAINS
  11. MISSION INITIATIVES FOR UK
  12. MOVE TO SEPARATE CHURCH & STATE IN FINLAND
  13. BILLY GRAHAM’S “MY HOPE AMERICA” CAMPAIGN
  14. FAITH INITIATIVE FOR ITALY
  15. JESUS FILM RE-RELEASED
  16. IN FACT: THE WORLD’S WORST PASSPORTS

RESOURCES

* International Christian Concern Petitions * The Refugee Project * Mu Kappa for US Missionary Kids * She Is Safe website * Course for Better Communication to Muslims

1. UKRAINE: HEALING THE DIVIDE

Ukraine verges on civil war as protestors continue to demand the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych. Demonstrations began when the pro-Russia leader rejected an agreement with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia. Thousands on the streets have defied the government’s ban on demonstrations and two were killed by police fire. The Church is also divided in this divided nation. Since many church leaders have already taken a stand, it will be difficult to find someone who has no political agenda to bring about healing. Russian Ministries have given out 100,000 Gospels of John but say this is just a “drop in the bucket”–that in a time of trouble, people are a lot more open to receiving the gospel. [MISSION NETWORK NEWS, 31 Jan.]

2. RUSSIA: ISLAMISTS THREATEN OLYMPICS WHILE CHURCHES DO EVANGELISM

An Islamist group from Russia’s north Caucasus has threatened to attack the Sochi Winter Olympics. In a warning to President Vladimir Putin published in an online video, the group said it was singling out both hosts and visitors as targets. Russian police in Sochi are hunting for a woman they fear may be planning to carry out a suicide bomb attack. Meanwhile, SOAR International Ministries has been invited by local evangelical churches in Sochi to assist them in a major outreach and evangelism effort primarily targeting the local Russian community during the 2014 Winter Olympics. EngageSochi.org is another initiative that aims to plant new churches. [AL JAZEERA & MISC. REPORTS]

3. SYRIA TALKS BRING NO REPRIEVE

Peace talks in Geneva were meant to open a corridor for aid efforts and establish arrangements for a transitional administration to govern Syria if President al-Assad was persuaded to leave. However, the talks have broken down, the violence has increased and cold temperatures have added to the misery. During the 3 year civil war more than 100,000 men, women and children have died and 6.5 millions are displaced within the country, 2.5 outside the country. An average of 6,000 flee the country every day. Syrian Christians are sometimes targeted by both rebel and government forces: 600,000 have died or sought refuge in neighbouring countries. On 20 January, a young Christian man was beheaded by Islamist militants when they noticed the cross he wore around his neck. [MISC. REPORTS]

 

4. NEW CONSTITUTIONS FOR TUNISIA & EGYPT

After 2 years Tunisia has drafted a new Constitution that has won the support of both the Islamist party and secular opposition. It has been hailed as one of the most liberal constitutions in an Arab nation, enshrining universal freedoms and rights and calling for parity for women in elected bodies. Though the country remains divided over the role of religion in public life, those divisions were set aside in order to guarantee freedoms and prevent a return to dictatorial rule overthrown at the start of the Arab Spring. Meanwhile, Egypt Christians are rejoicing following the passage of a new constitution that replaces the 2012 Islamist-sponsored code and strengthens their rights and freedoms.  [NEW YORK TIMES, 15 Jan.; BARNABAS FUND, 23 Jan.]

5. NEW BIBLE FOR IRAN

After 18 years of work, the translation of the Bible into a modern version of Persian was completed in December. Translators checked every word with the original languages, working alongside some of the best Hebrew and Greek consultants in the world. Finalising files for printing and typesetting is underway. The plan is to print and distribute 100,000 copies. Iranian church leaders believe that millions can be added to the church in the next few years—such is the spiritual hunger in Iran. Elam Ministries’ “Iran 30” on its website, http://www.elam.com, provides the latest prayer updates for Iran and the Iranian church.  [ELAM MINISTRIES]

6. 4,000 CHRISTIANS IN INDIA ATTACKED IN 2013

On January 11, an Indian pastor in Andhra Pradesh was lured from his home by suspected Hindu radicals who said they wanted to pray with him, then stabbed and brutally beat him. He died 2 days later. Pastor Sanjeevulu’s wife, who rushed to help him, was also stabbed, but survived. Although police said they would investigate, the only people arrested to date are Christians who protested the attack outside the offices of the Chief Minister. Around 4,000 Christians in India (including 1,000 women and 500 children) were targeted in acts of violence in 2013, according to a new report by several bodies including the Evangelical Fellowship of India. The state of Karnataka tops the list of anti-Christian incidents. [AsiaNews, 14 Jan.; INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN; BARNABAS FUND]

7. SRI LANKA’S CHRISTIANS PROTEST TREATMENT

More than 2,000 Christians gathered in Colombo on 26 January to protest against a lack of religious freedom in Sri Lanka, following recent attacks on two churches and a Christian prayer centre on 12 Jan. Buddhist mobs claimed they were illegal and aimed at taking Buddhists away from their religion. The prayer centre, belonging to the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Pitipana, near Colombo, was set alight on the same day as attacks on the Assemblies of God Church and Calvary Free Church in the southern coastal town of Hikkaduwa. Both churches suffered extensive damage. Sri Lanka is dominated by Buddhists, the Christian (approximately 7%) and Muslim (10%) minorities have long complained of discrimination and attacks. On a more positive note, evangelist Will Graham shared the grace and hope of Jesus Christ with 33,100 people in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, during a 3-day-day Celebration of Grace on 7-9 Feb. [WORLD WATCH MONITOR, ASSIST 13 Feb.]

8. BURMA: RAPE OF CHRISTIAN MINORITY WOMEN

A report released by the Women’s League of Burma mentions at least l00 reported cases between 2010 and 2013 of the Burmese military still using rape and sexual abuse as a “weapon of war”. Forty-seven of the documented incidents were gang rapes and in 28 cases, the victims were either killed or died as a result of their injuries. These attacks are concentrated in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities like the Shan and Kachin people, many of whom are Christians. Victims have been as young as 8 years old. The violence is largely linked to military offensives, but the government denies charges. [AsiaNews, 15 Jan.; INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN]

9. GUNS FOR BIBLES IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Evangelical churches throughout Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic partnered with local authorities recently to exchange gang members’ illegal weapons for Bibles in an attempt to reduce the country’s crime rate. Over 1,300 guns, knives and machetes were recovered during the month-long initiative that prompted church leaders to go into the city’s most corrupt and violent neighbourhoods and take the opportunity to evangelise gangsters and other criminals. One church member reported that many confessed that they had been plotting violent crimes with the same weapons they gave up. The government may consider making this crime prevention plan a nationwide strategy. [CHRISTIAN POST, 6 Dec, PRAYER ALERT 03-2014]

10. SUDAN’S NUBA MOUNTAINS

Christians and Muslims use to live peacefully side by side, but for the past 25 years Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has waged a war against the people of Sudan’s Nuba Mountain region. Though many believe the war ended several years ago, it has been escalating as both Muslims and Christians have resisted the president’s efforts to “Arabise and Islamise” them. “Every day there’s air bombardment, destroying the schools, even the facilities-health centers, churches, and everything,” reports Sudanese Christian and activist Nahmia Ibrahim Shaloka. Religious freedom advocate Tina Ramirez, with the non-profit group Hardwired, explains “The conflict is not between Muslims and Christians,” she explained. “It’s between Bashir and his [extremely oppressive] version of Islam,” pitting groups against each other.[CBN, INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN, 5 Feb.]

11. MISSION INITIATIVES FOR UK

A Passion for Life (APFL) is a move by the UK’s gospel churches nationwide in the build up to Easter 2014. Chair of APFL John Stevens says, “We are encouraging churches to pray and push the boundaries…connecting with groups or communities that have not previously been touched.” Examples are Muslims and Chinese, Eastern Europeans and international students as well as people in social housing. See more at www.apassionforlife.org.uk/.

Meanwhile, a Crossing London initiative aims to connect Christians across London and the Home Counties, encouraging them to work together and supporting them in sharing their faith in their communities. Churches of all denominations are partnering with over a dozen Christian agencies like United Christian Broadcasters, Scripture Union, HOPE Generation and Youth for Christ. “Sharing Jesus” training courses will be held during March and a number of events will take place throughout 2014 including a London-wide week of intercession and outreach July 7-13, with a 120-mile prayer walk around the edge of the city. See http://www.crossinglondon.co.uk for more information.

12. MOVE TO SEPARATE CHURCH & STATE IN FINLAND

The secular Finnish Citizen’s Initiative website is collecting ‘statements of support’ for a plan to introduce legislation that will abolish a millennium of privileged position of the State church. Under constitutional rules, if 50,000 signatures from Finnish voters are gathered within 6 months, legislation on the matter must be discussed in Parliament. If passed, this law would mean the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Orthodox Church of Finland would lose their status as public corporations, ending their inclusion in public administration. The churches are currently able to levy taxes on the population which are collected through the State, and public holidays laid out in a law known as ‘the Church Act’ cannot be altered without permission from the state church’s General Synod. [CHRISTIAN TODAY, 22 Jan., PRAYER ALERT, 04-2014]

13. BILLY GRAHAM’S “MY HOPE AMERICA” CAMPAIGN

To-date, more than 110,000 people have indicated making a commitment to Jesus Christ during the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s My Hope America campaign in 2013. As a result, plans are underway to continue My Hope in 2014. More than 26,000 churches participated in the project, which reached a pinnacle last November as over 4 million households tuned in for Graham’s 95th birthday broadcast called “The Cross”. Millions of others connected online through the website, YouTube, Facebook and other avenues. In addition, it was shown in churches, living rooms, bookstores, coffee shops, prisons, rescue missions, and even drive-in theaters and aboard cruise ships. Churches now plan to host viewings of “The Cross” video message this Easter. [ASSIST, 3 Feb.]

14. FAITH INITIATIVE FOR ITALY

Less than 1% of people in Italy have a true relationship with Jesus Christ, according to Jonathan Shibley of Global Advance (GA). But, he adds, there is “a young emerging group of next-generation Christian leaders that are passionate for God”. In late January GA connected with these leaders by hosting a first Marketplace Leader’s Conference in Italy, “Most of these leaders are actually in business–have businesses of their own [or] work for larger companies, and they want to see their work as a form of worship and as a witness of the light of Christ in the marketplace.” The conference appears to have made a big impact. GA will soon be holding another Marketplace Initiative in Germany. [MISSION NETWORK NEWS, 13 Feb.]

15. JESUS FILM RE-RELEASED

The most-watched film in history, the Jesus Film, has been viewed six million times all over the globe. Now it has been re-mastered in HD and is set to be re-released in select theatres around the US. The motion picture, now celebrating its 35th anniversary, depicts the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ faithfully in line with the Gospel of Luke. The re-release of the Jesus Film, both in selected cinemas and on Blu-ray, will feature a new musical score and is set to join a number of biblically-based movies rumoured to be in the pipeline this season. Many therefore are referring to 2014 as Hollywood’s “Year of the Bible”. [PRAYER ALERT, 05-2014]

16. IN FACT: THE WORLD’S WORST PASSPORTS to travel with because of visa restrictions are: (1) Afghanistan followed by Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Eritrea, Nepal, Sudan, Sri Lanka and (10) Lebanon. Finland, Sweden and the UK share first place for the best passports, their owners allowed to access 173 countries in the world without applying for a visa. [Global consulting firm Henley and Partners, cited in http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/02/visa-restriction-index_n_4030655.html

RESOURCES

  • Raise your voice for the voiceless by signing active petitions on behalf of persecuted Christians: See the International Christian Concern website: http://www.persecution.org/advocacy/active-petition
  • THE REFUGEE PROJECT is a very helpful interactive map that shows where the majority of refugees are coming from and where they are going: http://www.therefugeeproject.org
  • MU KAPPA exists to help returning missionary kids transition into US universities, including dealing with obtaining driver’s licenses and finding places to store belongings. Most of all it’s a support network between cultures, providing another family away from home. http://www.mukappa.org/
  • Excellent organisation “She Is Safe” works to prevent, rescue and restore women and girls from abuse and exploitation in high risk places around the world. See: http://sheissafe.org/
  • The Al Massira course is an excellent resource produced to help Christians share their faith with people particularly from the Middle East (but also other regions of the world).  http://almassira.org/
———————————
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

TongafaceIN THIS ISSUE:

  1. WORLD WATCH LIST 2014 (INTERNATIONAL)
  2. EUROPE HOLDS MISSION-NET CONGRESS
  3. CHRISTMAS DAY BOMB TARGETS IRAQ’S CHRISTIANS
  4. SOUTH SUDAN: CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS CLASH
  5. CHAOS IN CENTRAL AFRICA REPUBLIC
  6. VIENNA CHURCHES REACH OUT TO RED LIGHT DISTRICT
  7. CHRISTMAS OPPORTUNITIES IN BURMA
  8. COLOMBIA CELEBRATES, SEEKS FREEDOM FROM REBELS
  9. POLICE IN BRAZIL STUDYING THE BIBLE
  10. HAITI: FOUR YEARS ON
  11. CHILDREN FOR SALE: INDIA
  12. MV FLYING ANGEL (UAE)
  13. MALAYSIAN AUTHORITIES SEIZE BIBLES
  14. HUMAN RIGHTS IN SRI LANKA
  15. HOPE FOR SYRIA
  16. HEAVY CONTROL OF KAZAKH CHRISTIANS
  17. HOMES FOR VULNERABLE BRITISH CHILDREN
  18. TOOLS WITH A MISSION (INTERNATIONAL)
  19. IN FACT: LIVING WITH POVERTY

 RESOURCES:

* Free Evangelistic Tracts and E-books * Single Mission * Teddies for Tragedies * 2014 Calendar of Mission Events *

 1. WORLD WATCH LIST 2014 (INTERNATIONAL)

Twice as many Christians died for their faith in 2013 than in 2012 according to Open Doors, which has published its annual World Watch List that ranks countries where it is most difficult to follow Christ. North Korea once again takes first place, followed by Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen in the top 10. Data for the list is based on private, family, community, national and church life; plus a sixth consideration of the degree of violence. For a complete ranking of the top 50 countries and snapshots of each, see: http://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/country_profiles.php?src=banner1.

 2. EUROPE HOLDS MISSION-NET CONGRESS

Between 28 December and 2 January, more than 2,700 young people from across Europe met in Offenburg, Germany, for a bi-annual Mission-Net conference. Primarily aimed at people ages between 16 and 30, the conference and its network encourage a Christian missional lifestyle that links expressions of faith with practical action. Mission-Net is commissioned and supported by the European Evangelical Mission Association and the European Evangelical Alliance. The theme of the five-day conference was ‘Work in Progress’. Around 75 theologians and speakers shared through large-scale meetings as well as interactive seminars.  [CHRISTIAN TODAY, 13 Jan.]

 3. CHRISTMAS DAY BOMB TARGETS IRAQ’S CHRISTIANS

The US Embassy in Iraq condemned the “deliberate and senseless” targeting of Christians after three bombs killed 37 people and injured many others in Baghdad on Christmas Day. The blasts occurred outside the St. John Catholic Church and near a market. No-one has yet admitted carrying out the attacks, which came at the end of what has been the deadliest year in Iraq since at least 2008, leaving some 8,000 dead. Iraq’s ancient Christian community has more than halved in recent years. [NBC NEWS, 25 Dec., INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN]

 4. SOUTH SUDAN: CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS CLASH

South Sudan was founded on Christians praying for freedom from Muslim-governed North Sudan. However, independence with a shattered infrastructure–in spite of potential oil wealth–has meant dismal living conditions. Along with ongoing conflicts along the border with the North, ethnic violence has now erupted between two largest tribes, the Dinka (mainly nominal Christian) and the Nuer people. An estimated 10,000 people have been killed since December and 200,000 driven from their homes. 20,000 currently shelter in the UN mission in the capital, Juba. Thousands more roam the bush without the necessities of life. A chief mediator involved in peace talks said on 10 January he is optimistic about a ceasefire in the near future. [WIN1040.COM & MISC. REPORTS]

 5. CHAOS IN CENTRAL AFRICA REPUBLIC

The Central African Republic’s first Muslim President Michel Djotodia stepped down on 10 January in a bid to calm the tensions that are ripping the nation apart. There is no viable leader to take his place, however, and even as Djotodia fled to Benin, widespread violence and looting broke out in the capital, Bangui. The Bangui Evangelical School of Theology is currently housing in excess of 700 people who are displaced and looking for a place of refuge. Numerous churches have also opened their doors. At least one million are displaced and over 1,000 died in the last month, with killing by both Muslims and Christians, neighbour against neighbour. With ongoing violence and the threat of cholera and typhoid in camps, no quick solution is in sight.  [MISSION NETWORK NEWS, 14 Jan. & MISC. REPORTS]

 6. VIENNA CHURCHES REACH OUT TO RED LIGHT DISTRICT

In the weeks preceding Christmas, over 800 gifts were given out to women in Vienna, Austria, who are caught in prostitution. Church members who have worked as a team for several years in the red light district, in partnership with another organisation, went into brothels and onto the streets with Christmas biscuits and wall calendars in 11 different languages. The women are familiar with the calendars from previous years and they expressed eagerness to receive them. For each month there is a Bible verse and for some women this is the first time they are coming into contact with God’s Word. Says a team member, “Our prayer is that as we befriend and show genuine care, the women will see Jesus reflected in us and in time would come to know Him.” [OM FIELD REPORT]

 7. CHRISTMAS OPPORTUNITIES IN BURMA

The Christmas season offered Christians in Burma (Myanmar) a prime opportunity to tell their Buddhist and animist neighbours about the Saviour. Myanmar Center for Church Planting (MCCP), assisted by Christian Aid Mission, held celebrations in six villages in three regions, plus an orphanage. The programmes included gospel presentations, gift-giving, and a traditional Burmese meal. The blankets were particularly welcome in cold regions. For many it was their first time to hear the message of Christ. Over 1,350 children, as well as hundreds of adults, attended the events, sparking impetus for long-term evangelistic outreach in these communities: [CHRISTIAN AID, 9 Jan.]

 8. COLOMBIA CELEBRATES, SEEKS FREEDOM FROM REBELS

An annual worship gathering of Colombian Christians in Bogotá at the end of December is said to be one of the largest such Christian celebrations in all of South America. Over a million met to thank God and ask His blessing on the coming year. At the same time, Christians in southern Colombia face constant danger from a guerrilla army that has banned worship services in rural areas under its control. An estimated 150 churches have been forced to close since July. Only congregations that have express permission from the rebel group are allowed to hold services without fear of retaliation. At greatest risk are the members of house churches and the itinerant evangelists who serve them. [CHRISTIAN TODAY, 30 Dec., MISSONS CATALYST, 8 Jan.]

 9. POLICE IN BRAZIL STUDYING THE BIBLE

Brazil’s Police are under increased pressure to restrain their heavy-handed tactics after this year’s massive anti-government protests over political corruption and the excessive amount of public funds invested in the construction of the World Cup and Olympic venues. Now Brazilian police officers are taking Bible study classes during their working hours to help them deal with stress and improve their personal and family lives. 70 officers in Brasilia have been selected to attend the trial two-hour weekly sessions. Critics argue this is inappropriate for Brazil as a secular State but chaplain Gisleno Farias said authorities see this course as a tool that can help officers. [Revivalmedia.org]

 10. HAITI: FOUR YEARS ON

On 12 January 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and took the lives of 300,000 men, women and children. In spite of a massive world response, some quake survivors are still living in tiny shanties with only the clothes on their backs. The “Starfysh” ministry continues to work on bringing sustainable development to the many who live on La Gonave, an island near the quake’s epicentre. Global Aid Network, which shipped a million meals to Haiti just after the quake, is still rebuilding homes and attending medical needs. Baptist Haiti Mission’s ministry centres around training and equipping people to support themselves financially. Remember the many agencies like these that are combining practical help with sharing the gospel and making disciples of Jesus. [MNN, 14 Jan.]

 11. CHILDREN FOR SALE: INDIA

Siloam Christian Ministries and Childcare Worldwide are partnering to combat some of the fast-growing business of exploiting vulnerable children in Chennai, India. In 2011 Almost 35,000 children were officially reported missing in India, and it is thought only 30% of cases are reported. Selling children brings profit to traffickers, factory owners and brothels. Chennai is especially notorious for trafficking, including children’s brothels. The children who are targeted are often homeless through major disasters or unwanted girls. Dedicated workers in the city are helping children avoid being trapped in slavery through protective hostel care. [CHRISTIAN TODAY, 12 Jan.; REDRESS ONLINE]

 12. MV FLYING ANGEL (UAE)

Fujairah, on the east coast of United Arab Emirates, has the second largest bunker anchorage in the world. Every year over 10,500 ships drop anchor, and 100 to150 vessels are anchored off at any given time. Many seamen do not get ashore. In 2006 the Mission to Seafarers launched an Angel Appeal to build and equip the first seafarer support boat of its kind in the world. Operating seven days/week, the MV FLYING ANGEL provides e-mail and telephone facilities, a shop, book and DVD library and a chaplain. [http://www.missiontoseafarers.org/, CHRISTIANITY IN THE UAE by Andrew Thompson]

 13. MALAYSIAN AUTHORITIES SEIZE BIBLES

Islamic authorities have seized 321 Bibles from the Malaysian Bible Society because they used the word Allah to refer to God. The raid comes after a Malaysian court ruled last October that the Arabic word was exclusive to Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Malays, the largest ethnic group in the country alongside sizeable Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities. The Bible Society said authority officials escorted two of its officials to a police station to make statements, after which they were released on bail. Christians from Malaysia’s rural states of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo have used the word Allah for centuries. [REUTERS, 2 Jan.]

 14. HUMAN RIGHTS IN SRI LANKA

Human rights violations against the minority Tamil people of Sri Lanka overshadowed Commonwealth leaders meetings last November. One example is the sterilisations of Tamil women. Last 31 August more than 50 women were told their children were going to get check-ups at the district hospital in Kilinochchi. After they and their children transported there, government population controllers told the women that unless they accepted a hormonal contraceptive insert, they would not be allowed any future treatments at the hospital. Also, their husbands would be brought in for vasectomies. The already-pregnant Manjula Satheeskumar was among the women coercively sterilised. Manjula managed to have her implant removed, but not after contracting a serious infection which caused her death at the end of November. There are many strong Christian churches among the Tamil, which have suffered strong opposition from the Buddhist majority. [CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE, 8 Jan.]

 15. HOPE FOR SYRIA

TWR’s “Hope for Syria” is a live weekly broadcast, aired with other media partners in the region, aimed at helping traumatised Syrians. The programme includes devotions, prayer, Bible readings and counsel, and the interactive format allows listeners to call in. The strength of the transmitter provides coverage of the whole Middle East. There are plans to visit refugee camps and distribute hundreds of radios to encourage people to listen to the broadcasts. [InfoServe, Winter 2013]

 16. HEAVY CONTROL OF KAZAKH CHRISTIANS

Christians in the Central Asia country of Kazakhstan experienced freedom 20 years ago with the fall of Communism. Since a new “Religion Law” came into effect in October 2012, however, all Christian activity is heavily monitored and every meeting must be registered with the government. A church must have at least 50 members willing to register, which invites secret police surveillance into their daily lives. Of the original 1,900 churches with original government registration, only 500 have received approval to continue. Police regularly enter services to video the crowd and believers are often then arrested and “disappear.” Pastors say it is like a return to Communism. [PERSECUTION MAGAZINE, January]

 17. HOMES FOR VULNERABLE BRITISH CHILDREN

Home for Good is a church-based fostering and adoption campaign in the UK, a joint initiative of the Evangelical Alliance (EA), Care for the Family, and The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service. A network of churches across the UK is encouraging and supporting Christian families to consider adoption. Currently 4,600 children are waiting to be adopted in England alone, something the EA’s mission director Krish Kandiah calls a “scandal”. Krish and his wife have themselves fostered a total of 16 children and adopted one. Krish is passionate about the Home for Good campaign and hopes more Christians will be encouraged to open up their homes to children who don’t have a family of their own. “The Bible is really clear that God cares about vulnerable children,” he notes. “That’s what drives our campaign.” [CHRISTIAN TODAY, 13 Jan.]

 18. TOOLS WITH A MISSION (INTERNATIONAL)

Whether it’s sewing machines or computers, power or manual tools for carpenters, plumbers or others in need, Tools With A Mission (TWAM), based in the UK, has for 29 years been enabling people across the world to earn a living and support themselves. TWAM collects and refurbishes tools and equipment no longer used and sends them to countries where they are needed. Just one of their projects is furnishing full motor mechanics kits to students in Zambia. For a list of other projects and items needed by TWAM see http://www.twam.co.uk/.

 19. IN FACT: LIVING WITH POVERTY. Countries with the largest population living below the poverty line, according to latest available data, is, first. Zambia, followed by Zimbabwe, Chad, Haiti, Gaza Strip and Liberia all tied for second place; then Sierra Leone. [NationMaster]

 RESOURCES

  • Free download of beautifully designed brochures for outreach are available in a variety of languages in PDF format, from OM East. A few of the titles are “A Woman Called Esther,” The Pearl,” and “He is Risen.” Country/people profiles also available: http://east.om.org/resources and e-books: http://east.om.org/ebooks
  • I don’t often plug books because there are too many good ones out there, but I’ll make an exception for SINGLE MISSION by Hawker and Herbert, with contributions from over 30 women and men from six different continents. This resource fills a gap by helping both mission committees and potential missionaries understand the dynamics of missions for single people. http://www.globalconnections.org.uk/shop/single-mission
  •  Teddies for Tragedies invites knitters and sewers to help alleviate the stress children feel when caught in major traumas. Chapters exist in several countries. For patterns and further information see http://www.teddiesfortragedies.org/
  • Missions Catalyst compiles an online calendar of mission related events in the US and around the world. For a list of 2014 conferences, seminars, classes, retreats, and more, see: http://missionscatalyst.net/?page_id=596

———————————————————————–

DECEMBER 2013 – JANUARY 2014

IN THIS ISSUE:tajjeremyvanhillphotoboyrelief

  1. SOUTH SUDAN: REFUGEE CHRISTMAS
  2. DISPLACED SYRIANS NEED MORE SHELTER IN EUROPE
  3. UKRAINE: READY FOR SPIRITUAL CHANGE?
  4. EGYPT PRAYS
  5. IN PRISON THIS CHRISTMAS
  6. GROWING A CHURCH IN BURKINA FASO
  7. BURMA: SETTING CAPTIVES FREE
  8. JAPANESE DISASTER HAS BROKEN DOWN BARRIERS
  9. CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN FOR TWO WORKERS (LIBYA & CAR)
  10. CHRISTMAS FOR PRISONERS’ CHILDREN (US)
  11. HELP FOR THE HUNGRY
  12. CREATIVE STORYTELLING MINISTRY TOOL (EAST ASIA)
  13. OPENING THE BIBLE IN BRITAIN
  14. US: A PRECIOUS GIFT
  15. “GIVING TUESDAY” (INTERNATIONAL)
  16. CANADA: LOVING STUDENTS AT CHRISTMAS
  17. PUSHING THE FRONTIERS (INTERNATIONAL)
  18. IN FACT: GLOBAL BIBLE DISTRIBUTION
  19. RESOURCES:
    * Writing Christmas Letters to Prisoners * Mission-Net * Online Prayer for the Persecuted * Missiographics * Bible stories in Farsi and Arabic

1. SOUTH SUDAN: REFUGEE CHRISTMAS

“Peace on earth” was a faraway dream last Christmas for 55,000 people in a refugee camp in South Sudan. Later the numbers swelled to 70,000. Most worried about relatives left behind, and struggled with basic survival in shacks made of sticks, grass and plastic sheeting. When the camp opened, an overwhelming majority were adherents of the dominant religion. Since then more than 20 Christian congregations have sprung up as people have experienced the love of Jesus Christ. Churches pastored by refugees are full, and embrace Bible storytelling and trauma healing workshops to bring hope and healing. This Christmas there are groups in the camp practicing songs and brightening their surroundings with scraps of coloured cloth. While peace on earth is still unknown to many refugees, some of these once-hopeless people have met the One who has forever changed their outlook. [SEEDLINKS, Nov.]

2. DISPLACED SYRIANS NEED MORE SHELTER IN EUROPE

The Council of European Churches (CEC) appealed to European governments to offer asylum to more refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict. Six million have been displaced and over 2.2 million Syrians are either registered or awaiting registration in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and parts of North Africa. The CEC said the resources of neighbouring countries are at “breaking point” and the EU needs to make it easier for suffering refugees to come to member countries. An overwhelming humanitarian crisis unfolds as refugees struggle on a daily basis to access shelter, health, water, sanitation and primary education. From the start of the conflict in 2011 up until August 2013, there have been approximately 53,000 applications for asylum from Syrian nations to European countries, most of these to Sweden or Germany. Pray for God’s solution for Syria as peace talks are scheduled for January 22, 2014. [CHRISTIAN TODAY, 9 Dec.]

3. UKRAINE: READY FOR SPIRITUAL CHANGE?

As a million street protestors continue seeking the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych after he refused to strengthen ties with the EU, Christians believe the country could be poised for a spiritual renewal. Amy Richey with EFCA ReachGlobal in Ukraine says a prayer tent has been erected in the centre of the protests in Kiev. She says that when riot police started tearing down the barricades, the bells of St. Michael’s Church started ringing as a cry for help. As people prayed the police started moving back, and one young man said it was this that made him believe in God. Russian Ministries have been asked to print 100,000 Gospels of John for street distribution. About 20% of Ukraine’s 46 million people are non-religious, although the evangelical church is growing. [MISSION NETWORK NEWS, 13 Dec.]

4. EGYPT PRAYS

Last October about 10,000 Christian young people gathered in the desert from all across Egypt for 3 days to worship the Lord and seek His blessing for their country. Another 2 million followed the event on Internet and live satellite transmission. This November 29th another 6,000 Egyptian Christians gathered for a National Day of Prayer. Hundreds of thousands more participated through a live television broadcast on the SAT-7 ARABIC channel from 10 am to 5 pm. The event was held in a convention centre midway between Cairo and Alexandria, with some people travelling all the way from Aswan in southern Egypt to join in prayer. In the last year the Church has experienced some of its fiercest ever opposition in a wave of church burnings and attacks on individuals, homes and properties. [OPEN DOORS/PRAYER ALERT, 12 Dec.]

5. IN PRISON THIS CHRISTMAS

Let’s not forget those who will be separated from their loved ones this Christmas because they are following Jesus. Here are just a few: Asia Bibi in Pakistan, mother of 5, under sentence of death. This is her fifth Christmas behind bars. Pastor Behnam Irani in Iran is serving a six-year jail sentence. He has suffered serious health problems in prison and needs proper medical treatment. So does Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini, condemned to a notoriously harsh prison. He has been tortured and his condition is deteriorating. Pastor Zhang Shaojie of China was detained last month along with more than 20 believers from his church. Currently the whereabouts of most of the detained are unknown. Mallikarjun Shingoli and Nagesh Naik are two pastors in India who, with three other Christians, were brutally beaten by Hindu extremists. The pastors were then detained by police and charged with “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion”. [RELEASE INTL., 11 Dec. & MISC. REPORTS]

6. GROWING A CHURCH IN BURKINA FASO

In 2002 three missionary families moved to Burkina Faso in West Africa and settled among an unreached people group to learn the language. By 2004 they were welcomed into three Dagara communities and met under trees. As news of the gatherings spread, people walked miles to participate in worship and prayer. They asked for similar groups in their own villages. New Dagara believers became teachers themselves. In 2006 the first church planted by a new Dagara believer led to over 30 churches by 2010. Many health problems among the people were caused by unsafe water until a new missionary family led a well rehab outreach. Now, in 2013, 80-plus churches are now entirely Dagara-run with outreach increasing. 1,000 believers were baptised last Easter. [GOD REPORTS, LIVING WATER INTL., 8 Nov.]

7. BURMA: SETTING CAPTIVES FREE

Terror of vengeful spirits is common among the Asho Chin people of Burma (Myanmar). They offer animal sacrifices in hopes the spirits will not curse them. Three years ago a woman who villagers claimed was demon-possessed beheaded her own daughter, and later that same day killed two boys. When the woman “came to her senses” and realised what she had done, she took her own life. Missionaries with Myanmar Indigenous Ministries (MIM) travel to hard-to-reach Asho Chin settlements in the central region of the country. A church was constructed in the village where the woman had died, also a preschool, and now there are 45 believers providing a strong Christian witness there. So far MIM church planters have established flourishing fellowships in 11 Asho Chin communities, and some 250 former animists have committed their hearts to Christ. [CHRISTIAN AID, 5 Dec.]

8. JAPANESE DISASTER HAS BROKEN DOWN BARRIERS

Some 99.5% of Japanese are not Christians, and prior to the 2011 tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan that took 20,000 lives, local churches were relatively unknown by most people. However, because churches and Christian volunteers stepped up to provide relief supplies and other assistance, they earned a tremendous reputation throughout the country. The disaster also caused denominations to set aside differences, banding together to meet needs in their communities. Third, the wall between Japan and the world was breached as the Japanese saw Christian foreigners continue to give, come, and serve. According to an SIM report, the destruction of the above metaphorical walls coincides with a spiritual openness among Japanese people unseen since the end of World War II. [MISSION CATALYST, 4 Dec.]

9. CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN FOR TWO WORKERS (LIBYA & CAR)

American Christian teacher Ronnie Smith was gunned down during his morning jog near the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on 5 Dec. His wife and young son had gone ahead of him to the US for a Christmas break. One of Smith’s students called him “the best teacher I ever had.” Islamist militants had called for the kidnapping of US citizens in Libya last October.

Elisée Zama, a Bible translator in war-ravaged Central African Republic (CAR) was also shot and killed the first week of December as he was transporting family members to the relative safety of a hospital compound in Bangui, according to Wycliffe Bible Translators. Zama served as a translator with ACATBA, Wycliffe’s partner organisation in the CAR. Reprisals against Christians in 1particular have been of great concern and thousands have been reported seeking refuge on the airstrip of the international airport. [RELIGION TODAY, 9 Dec.; ASSIST NEWS, 8 Dec.]

10. CHRISTMAS FOR PRISONERS’ CHILDREN (US)

Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree programme in the US is the only nationwide, year-round effort that specifically reaches out to the 2.7 million innocent children who carry the heavy burden of their parents’ incarceration. At Christmastime, Angel Tree delivers a gift and introduces the gospel on behalf of an imprisoned parent. Angel Tree also provides ministry to the children through its summer camping programme, and promotes family reconciliation through discipleship and mentoring. [http://www.prisonfellowship.org/programs/angel-tree]

11. HELP FOR THE HUNGRY

Food for the Hungry (FH) has 2,000 workers who have been alleviating physical and spiritual hunger for 40 years in more than 26 countries. Part of their solution is to teach the poor how to create sustainable food and clean water sources and develop communities with schools and churches. FH’s Emergency Response Unit responds to world disasters and a sponsorship programme gives hope to hundreds of children. FH was among the first to reach Philippine typhoon survivors. With winter storms and subzero temperatures now hitting Syria, FH is helping to supply blankets and mattresses, rent support, food and safe places for children to play.  [http://fh.org]

12. CREATIVE STORYTELLING MINISTRY TOOL (EAST ASIA)

The worker smiles and fans out a deck of 52 playing cards, as he invites a random person in the audience to pick a card. This unique deck depicts Old Testament Scripture. Another deck in his pocket has 52 stories from the New Testament. Together, the two decks of cards are a pocket-size pictorial Bible, covering everything from creation to Christ. The pictures on this unique wordless Bible were drawn by the Christian worker’s two teenage daughters and a friend. Now the cards are being reproduced and used in many places worldwide where people cannot read or do not like to read. Churches and individuals can order the cards at http://www.123goshare.com. Profits go to the Southern Baptist Church’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which for 125 years has gone to support missionaries. [MISSION NETWORK NEWS, 27 Nov.]

13. OPENING THE BIBLE IN BRITAIN

The Bible television drama was watched by nearly two million people in the UK on 1 December, over 5per cent of the total viewing audience. Christians seemed divided on the content and how accurately it depicted the Bible. The five-part series covering Genesis to Revelation had phenomenal success in the US with more than 100 million viewers. On the back of The Bible series, the British Bible Society placed adverts in the Daily Telegraph and The Sun to encourage people to either engage with or re-read the Bible. [NEWSWATCH, 6 Dec.]

14. US: A PRECIOUS GIFT

A tiny congregation of less than 20 people in a Texas, USA, church decided they wanted to do something significant for God. Pastor John Young suggested giving God’s Word to a people group that did not have Scriptures in their language. With the Christmas spirit in their hearts, the church members began raising money. Some sold items on eBay, others held garage or bake sales. The pastor discovered a project in Timor that needed $1,175 to complete funding the whole New Testament, and that’s what the people managed to raise. The tiny church with a mega heart helped give the Lole people of Timor a mega eternal gift! If your church would like to make a similar New Year’s resolution, check out The Seed Company’s interactive website at www.endbiblepoverty.org/.

15. “GIVING TUESDAY” (INTERNATIONAL)

For the second year, 10,000 partner organisations in 40 countries worldwide came together to create an “opening day” for the giving season. On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the goal was to focus on giving time, talents and resources. The organisations created online fundraising and awareness campaigns as well as events on the ground that included clothing and food drives, volunteer opportunities, summits exploring and encouraging philanthropic activity and fundraising parties designed to help charities. Residents of a homeless shelter in Chico, California, for instance, partnered with local businesses to do clean-up projects in Downtown Chico, including curb painting, trash pick-up, downtown park clean-up and more. The United Methodist Church, raised $6.5 million in donations from donors in 24 countries to support their missions and ministries. [PR WEB, 4 Dec.]

 16. CANADA: LOVING STUDENTS AT CHRISTMAS

Love Ottawa is organising its second annual Christmas outreach for international students. The interdenominational ministry is calling on Christian families in the national capital region to hold a special Christmas dinner for international students. Says Jevin Maltais, a member of the planning committee for the “Friends for Dinner” project, “Our hope is that there will be an opportunity to talk about the real meaning of the season, and that the student would be invited to other fun activities by the family.” Maltais says most international students never have the opportunity to visit a Canadian home, and Christmas breaks often leave them feeling lonely. International Student Ministries Canada is also holding Christmas dinners for students in various cities. [CHRISTIAN WEEK, 12 Dec./ISMC]

17. PUSHING THE FRONTIERS (INTERNATIONAL)

Global Mobilization Consultation 2013 was held this 3-7 December in Indonesia, in conjunction with Perspectives Global. This five day event is the fifth such consultation and gathered over 100 mission mobilisers from 30 countries, representing mission agencies and churches. Among the objectives were exploring the frontiers, identifying strategic cities, and identifying and equipping national mobilisers. The desire was that Jesus Christ would use the event to accelerate the mobilisation of His Church for His glory among the nations. [www.perspectives.org]

18. IN FACT: GLOBAL BIBLE DISTRIBUTION. Bible Societies around the world reported a rise in Scripture distribution to more than 405 million in 2012, including one million whole Bibles. Surprisingly, the highest increase of distribution was in Syria, through a network of church volunteers. [CHRISTIAN TODAY, 25 Nov.]

 RESOURCES

  • It’s not too late to get involved in a 132-year-old ministry of writing letters to prisoners this Christmas. Check out http://www.christmasletters.plus.com/ for more information.
  •  MISSION-NET takes place this December 28 to January 2 in Offenburg, Germany. This biennial congress gathers 16 to 30-year-old Christians across Europe who are passionate about transforming their world and plugs them into mission possibilities: http://mission-net.org/
  •  A new online prayer initiative launched by Voice of the Martyrs is http://www.icommittopray.com/. Read prayer requests from around the world and post your own prayers for the persecuted Christians highlighted on the site each week.
  • Get free missiographics to help tell the story of global mission. See www.missiographics.com
  •  New drafts of Bible stories in Farsi and Arabic are now available for free, for use for evangelism and discipleship through text, audio, video and mobile phone. A translation in Mandarin is also underway. See http://distantshoresmedia.org/openbiblestories

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