Help Hurricane Florence Victims

We know you care about the people affected by Hurricane Florence. Millions of North and South Carolina residents remain in the dark after being ravaged first by the hurricane and then by the tropical storm.

“The flood waters are still raging across parts of our state — and the risk to life is rising with the angry waters . . . The water is rising fast. Everywhere. Even in places that don’t typically flood . . . [we are seeing] epic amounts of rainfall,” Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina said at a news conference. He continued, “The storm has never been more dangerous than it is right now. Wherever you live in North Carolina, be alert for sudden flooding.”

People’s lives were changed in moments, and Global Aid Network® (GAiN®), the humanitarian partner of Cru®, is responding. We invite you to partner with us to equip disaster relief teams now.

Sustaining Help for Those Displaced

GAiN team members are in places like Wilmington, North Carolina, where many local residences and community buildings have one to two feet of standing water. Teams are ready with trucks filled with disaster relief supplies. As initial damage assessments are complete, these teams will respond with supplies and the kindness of Jesus. Your gift will provide basic hygiene products, select food items, and water filters for hurricane and flood victims.

Rebuilding and Restoring

In a second phase of our work, GAiN will partner with local organizations, Cru’s campus ministry, and other Cru ministries. During this time of response, your gift will provide university student teams with disaster recovery supplies, coaching, and training to help families rebuild their lives once the water recedes. The students and hurricane victims can spend valuable time together, giving students an opening to share the love of Jesus while fulfilling an urgent and tangible need.

You Can Help Victims of Hurricane Florence

You have an opportunity to provide basic necessities that will help victims in the hurricane-ravaged area by first providing immediate aid for the displaced and then by helping them rebuild their lives. Because we deliver the aid with trained ministry teams, relationships are built, and at the proper time conversations about the eternal hope of Jesus can take place.

Consider a gift today to support the GAiN Emergency Relief initiative and meet people at their point of need with crucial supplies when emergencies hit.

Thank you for expressing the kindness of Jesus through humanitarian aid — many people will be helped because of your generosity. To make a donation click here.

As the humanitarian partner of Cru®Global Aid Network® (GAiN®) expresses the kindness of Jesus to people living in the toughest places on earth by relieving suffering, restoring dignity, and revealing hope.

We accomplish our mission, in partnership with international Cru ministries, through three programs: food and agriculture, clean water, and critical aid. Our partners at Cru work in more than 191 countries in the world.

Over the course of 25 years of ministry, GAiN has leveraged strategic global partnerships and the service of dedicated volunteers to relieve suffering for people through humanitarian assistance.

On MissionFinder, we have over 1,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Does your church or organization need help organizing mission trips? Check out our partner site, Their easy-to-use software will help you manage all the details for your short-term mission trips and team members online. Unlimited Trips. Unlimited team members. Easy online fundraising for your team members. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.


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Top 5 ways to raise a generous child at any age

I have a toddler. So naturally, we’re working on teaching her about kindness and sharing. But I also want her to become a kind, empathetic, generous child who grows up caring about others.

Beside the fact that the Bible tells us to be compassionate and generous to those in poverty, there’s also scientific research that shows how generosity releases happiness endorphins to our brain, reduces stress, and extends our life.

How do I teach the joy of giving in a culture that says having more stuff is what makes us happy?

I asked other moms, a teacher, a children’s minister, and a school psychologist for advice on how to raise a kind, generous child, and three themes emerged.

  1. Do it yourself – Children will watch and copy what you do.
  2. Talk about it – Point out when others are generous, and explain how God is generous with us, and therefore, we should be generous with others.
  3. Encourage it – Look for opportunities to help your children practice being generous and doing things for others.

Check out the age-appropriate strategies below. Many of these ideas were formative and influential for me as a child and teen, and my husband and I plan on trying them out with our family.

As a kid, earning an allowance and using the save/spend/give jars gave me a good foundation for my understanding of money.

My parents also explained to me that my money wasn’t really “my” money — it’s God’s money, and I have to steward it well (like in the parable of the talents in Matthew 5).

My family always had a sponsored child through World Vision, and as soon as I had a regular income after college, I began sponsoring children on my own. My parents modeled generosity in many ways, and giving became a habit of mine.

As soon as my daughter is old enough to understand, we’ll explain that there are children around the world, who, through sponsorship, are part of our family — just like through Jesus, we’re all part of God’s family.

Raising a generous preschooler (ages 3 to 5)

Preschool children are little sponges, and they’re keen observers. Developmentally, preschoolers are ready to understand the concept of sharing and are learning how to do things for themselves: getting dressed, tying their shoes, riding a bike. Learning autonomy and initiative is key at this developmental stage. Look for ways to help your children practice becoming a cheerful giver on their own.

  1. Model generosity by being kind and generous to those in need. Idea: Keep granola bars in your car or bag to give out to the homeless, or take a meal to a sick neighbor. I have early memories of my mom stopping to be kind to people in need. She taught me a lot, just by being a generous person.
  2. Talk about generosity and point out when you see others being generous. “Oh, look how Madison is sharing her cookies. How generous of her.”
  3. Practice giving: When there’s a gift to give, have your child help select, wrap, and give it.
  4. Practice hospitality by welcoming other children into your home, so your kids get practice sharing their space and their toys with others.
  5. Don’t force generosity or giving, which could backfire. Instead, give positive reinforcement when you see your child sharing, giving, or being generous. Tip: School psychologist Whitney Hutcheson recommends using “I statements” to help children build awareness about how their behavior impacts others. For example, “When I saw you sharing your favorite toy with your friend, that made me feel happy.” It also works when addressing negative behavior. “When you hit your sister, that hurt my heart.”

Raising a generous school-age child (ages 5 to 11)

Developmentally, school age children need to develop life skills and learn competence at tasks and social interactions. Whitney recommends helping children learn how to be functional members of a community by taking on age-appropriate chores, like setting the table, putting away their laundry, clearing plates, etc.

  1. Facilitate generosity by giving your child an allowance (or have them earn the allowance by doing chores) and have them keep the money in labeled jars: save, spend, and give. My parents taught me this method when I was little, and that money-management mentality has stuck with me to this day.
  2. Consider “adopting” a family or child through an angel tree charity at Christmas. This way your child can help shop for someone else, instead of just focusing on what they want to receive.
  3. Make it their own. Have your children go through their toys and set aside the ones they don’t want to keep. Then either: Sell the toys at a garage sale and give away all or some of the proceeds to a charity, or, have your kids go with you to donate the toys to a charity.
  4. Sponsor a child in a developing country and keep the photo on the refrigerator. Involve your child in the relationship by reading and writing letters together. Learning about what life is like for children in developing countries helps put things in perspective.
  5. Find age-appropriate volunteer opportunities that you can do together as a family, such as collecting winter coats for homeless shelters, cleaning up trash at a local park, or helping an elderly neighbor with yard work.

Raising a generous teen (ages 12 to 19)

At this stage, adolescents are developing a sense of identity and often look to parents, friends, teachers, pastors, and coaches to help them answer the question, “Who am I?” Encouraging initiative to care for others can help teens develop generosity as part of their identity.

  1. Model good household finances by explaining how you prioritize charitable giving in your monthly/yearly budget.
  2. Continue (or start) encouraging your teen to use the save/spend/give model for managing their money.
  3. If you support charities or missionaries, explain this to your teens, and involve them. Read their newsletters together. Go to fundraiser events together.
  4. Be generous together. Take your teens and some of their friends to serve at a local homeless shelter, do a service project, or even go on a mission trip. Let your teens see you being kind and generous to those in need. For example, this family traveled the world to visit their sponsored children together. What a life-changing experience! But something simple and low-cost, would be to go share a meal with the homeless, like my family did regularly when I was a pre-teen. These two families, the Rothermels and the Daytons, have found ways to encourage their children that are also low-cost.
  5. Make it their own. Ask your teen if there is a cause or issue that stirs their heart. Help them come up with ways to do something about it by serving, volunteering, or fundraising.

Top 5 ways to raise a generous child - hands with heart

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Interview: Francis Chan: Stop Treating the Book of Acts Like Hyperbole

The former megachurch pastor asks today’s churches to measure their practices against the New Testament standard.

Eight years ago, Francis Chan resigned as senior pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California—the church he helped grow from 30 people gathered in a living room to a multimillion-dollar ministry. He wasn’t burned out. There was no disqualifying moral failure. He’d simply grown convicted over his challenges in steering a large ministry in accordance with biblical values.

Chan sold his house and spent a year traveling through Southeast Asia, visiting churches and interacting with church leaders. Returning to California, he began planting churches in his home and the homes of others in his San Francisco neighborhood. His latest book, Letters to the Church, is a pastoral call for American churches to consider whether their values and practices are consistent with Scripture. Writer and fellow Bay-area resident Rachael Starke spoke with Chan about the blessings that come from recommitting to church life as God designed it.

Your book exhorts churches to recommit to Acts 2 practices like extended prayer, radical love and service, and intimate fellowship within the home. But many of these run counter to the digitized lives we live today, especially in places like San Francisco. How have revolutions in technology influenced American church practices and habits?

Technology is really about speed: doing everything faster and with less effort. We’re tempted to want the church to be the same way—let me accomplish what I want in as little time as possible. But the blessing is going to come from the work itself, from the hard work you do to love and serve one another. What could be greater than that?

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Christians mobilizing aid for Hurricane Florence victims

USA (MNN) — Hurricane Florence was downgraded from Category 4 to Category 1 as it made landfall last weekend in the Carolinas. Even so, the storm dumped nearly 36 inches of rain and claimed the lives of at least 32 people.

Marshall Shepherd, a meteorology professor at the University of Georgia, told USA Today, “The concept of saying ‘downgraded’ or ‘weakened’ should be forever banished. With Florence, I felt it was more dangerous after it was lowered to Category 2.”

Hurricane Florence (Photo courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr under Creative Commons:

Storm surges and heavy flooding from hurricanes are formidable foes, even without Category 4 winds. More than 320,000 homes in North Carolina had no power as of Tuesday and tens of thousands of homes are damaged. Property damage from Hurricane Florence is estimated to reach between $17 billion to $22 billion, according to Moody’s Analytics.

As communities across the Carolinas wait for flood waters to recede, ministries like Food for the Hungry are already starting to respond.

Alice Zhang, content strategist with Food for the Hungry, explains, “While Food for the Hungry works primarily internationally to graduate communities from extreme poverty, as an organization we are also called to respond to human suffering, especially when that comes to disaster relief.”

FH is currently raising funds to mobilize a church partner just outside Charlotte, North Carolina for emergency relief.

“They are providing food and emergency supplies to the people there,” says Zhang. “They have also partnered with the local foster system to provide housing through local hotels to foster families right now who have no place to live.

“They are also planning that when roads are reopened, they are going to head over to the coastal areas that are hardest hit and send over a rapid response team as well to help with food, water, and emergency supplies.”

pray for hurricane florence

(Image courtesy of Food for the Hungry)

If you would like to donate to FH’s Emergency Relief for Victims of Hurricane Florence fund, click here!

Zhang also encourages, “Continue to keep the Carolinas in your prayers, that God would continue to protect the residents there as well as all the emergency responders who are going out and helping with relocation and some of the flood mitigation techniques. Also, just [pray] for a sense of peace despite the chaos, and that the flooding from the hurricane would subside.”



(Header photo courtesy of The National Guard via Flickr under Creative Commons:

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Spiritual warfare conference aims to provide answers and hope

USA (MNN) — As we established yesterday, spiritual warfare isn’t an oft-studied topic. Speakers Karl Payne and Marcus Warner want believers to find answers and biblical truth at Set Free Ministries‘ upcoming spiritual warfare conference.

“Do we have to teach people how to have a Bible study?” asks Payne. “Yes. How to …. share the Gospel? Yes… How about when they’re involved in demonic attacks, or attacks from the world, or the flesh? Yes. It just becomes one more arrow [in your quiver]. When you need it, you pull it out.

“But, to deny that [a] battle goes on means that, when a person finds themselves in the middle of that battle, they don’t have an arrow to pull out. That’s just irresponsible.”

Christians often acknowledge the “war within,” he continues, but hesitate to recognize spiritual realities.

“When the Bible says — like in James 4:7 and 8 — we’re to resist the devil and he’ll flee from us… all of a sudden we want to go, ‘Yeah, that’s metaphorical, I guess,’” says Payne.

“Why? Why would we say one of them is literal and the other is metaphorical?”

Payne will answer this question and more as he teaches about spiritual warfare with fellow speaker, Marcus Warner. Get tickets and more information here.

Flesh vs. spirit – where’s the line?

If the spiritual realm is to be acknowledged, how do you differentiate between battles of “the flesh” and battles of a spiritual nature? Payne says it’s not always an easy distinction to make.

(Photo courtesy Pixabay via Pexels)

“It’s not a ‘one size thought’ fits everything,” he notes. “If we don’t take enough time to… read our Bible to see how the playbook works, then we get beat up.

“You’ve got to learn to recognize, ‘where’s the hit coming from?’ so you know how to respond.”

Warner agrees, recalling a woman he knew who suffered from a severe, unrelenting headache.

“In Western culture, you treat the symptoms…. take Tylenol, go to doctor, go to Mayo clinic and all the specialty clinics, etc.,” says Warner. “She did all of that. Went to all those places and for 12 years she had a pounding headache.”

Then, the woman met with a missionary who discovered that she had gone on a mission trip to Machu Pichu. A ritual knife she purchased as a souvenir had been dedicated to demons.

“They renounced the claims on that and destroyed the knife, and instantly her headaches went away and never returned,” Warner recalls.

“You can say it’s all psychological, but in reality, it’s a warfare issue that wasn’t resolved until you dealt with it in a warfare way.”

Payne and Warner both have plenty of experience engaging in spiritual warfare, but they came to the “frontlines” on completely different paths.

Different experiences, same war

Payne says his experience mirrors that of many U.S. pastors. “I did not come into this willingly,” he explains. “I did not come into this understanding anything about it.

sfm_spiritual warfare seminar

(Graphic courtesy Set Free Ministries)

“In fact, [my thoughts about spiritual warfare] would’ve been more negative. [I thought] this was just ‘silliness’ that is usually on at 3 o’clock in the morning, with people that are fleecing people for money.”

Then, Payne graduated from seminar and started pastoring churches. He realized the materials and concepts he learned weren’t making a practical different in real-life situations.

“Natural resolutions to supernatural problems just won’t work,” he concludes.

Spiritual warfare was an everyday reality for Warner, whose parents were missionaries in Sierra Leone.

“I grew up around this most of my life,” explains Warner, “and have seen all kinds of people get set free from things that they would never have gotten help for any other way.

“Unfortunately, too many people [try] to deal with warfare problems by means that don’t take the spiritual world seriously. As a result of that, they’re not getting the breakthrough that they’re looking for.”

Today, Warner leads Deeper Waters International, a training and resource ministry that addresses emotional healing with a special focus on spiritual warfare.

Meet Payne and Warner when you sign up for Set Free’s spiritual warfare conference.


Header image courtesy Scripture Confident Living.

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New Church growth in Arabian Peninsula

Arabian Peninsula (MNN) — You don’t often hear “good news for believers” coming from the Muslim-dominated Arabian Peninsula, or AP.

Christians face extremely high levels of persecution in the seven countries of the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Converting from Islam to Christianity is forbidden and even carries the death penalty in some AP nations.

The AP is also a hotbed for Islamic extremism. Church growth seems extremely unlikely in conditions like these. But that’s exactly what’s happening according to Chris*, a believer whose organization supports persecuted AP Christians.



“20 years ago, [there were] no believers,” he says. Today, God is raising up Christian leaders in the region through Chris’s organization.

“I think that’s incredible, what God is doing…I want to tell you in order to get more engagement, to have you praying and…standing with us to reach out to the local believers.”

Some AP citizens spend their summer holidays in Europe, where believers reach them with the Good News. Others encounter Christ through dreams and visions. Media ministries reach yet another group of people.

In Yemen, the “[Holy] Spirit is working more ‘forcefully’; we see fruit and a lot of believers coming together,” Chris shares.

Praise God with us for this development, and please continue circling the Arabian Peninsula in prayer. The number of believers in the Arabian Peninsula is still very small, and they often get discouraged by their minuteness.

“Pray that God will open the gates,” Chris requests. “Although we are thankful for the believers that God is bringing, my prayer is that God will open the gates a little bit wider so that we could see 10 to 15 in one place coming to faith.”

Pray also for Christian women, as they experience isolation to an even further degree.

“[It’s a challenge for] ladies…to come out of their houses, even. That’s just the way that society has built itself,” explains Chris.

Ask the Lord to connect Chris and his organization with nonbelievers who’re seeking to truly know God. Pray strength and encouragement for the small but growing number of AP believers.

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The only one who can stop you from serving the Lord is you

International (MNN) — When Jesus tells His people to “go and make disciples of all nations” in Matthew 28:18-20, it can sound like a task for the highly gifted. However, this command — also known as the Great Commission — is not reserved for evangelists and missionaries.

Joshua Harrison with Audio Scripture Ministries reflects, “We have realized and seen that there is a place for everyone in God’s Great Commission. There is one Body with many different members. We’re all on the same team, but we may have different roles on that team.”

Get Creative With Your Gifts

ASM has seen this truth carried out in profound ways. Their ministry gives people access to God’s Word in the form of audio Bibles. To do that, they have a whole force of volunteers and staff with many different giftings.

“For example,” says Harrison, “we have Don Lang who is a retired electrical engineer. He travels and shares the stories and the needs for God’s Word in audio in Mozambique and the many other places where we serve. He visits different conferences and shares that all across the US.

A faithful group of volunteers from Hamilton Reformed Church serve at the ASM office. (Photo, caption courtesy of Audio Scripture Ministries)

“[There are] others we have who have been painting and gardening and keeping our facilities in good running order here in the Holland, Michigan office. We’ve had groups from local churches who come a few times a year to stuff praise and prayer guides or help send out newsletters for mailing to our supporters.”

There is also no age limit to how God can use you! One of ASM’s volunteers named Lena is a great example of what it looks like to creatively serve the Lord.

“She is 93-years-old but she recently took the time to knit dozens of hats that we were able to bring to our compassionate care patients in Mozambique!

“Old and young alike, they fight many different kinds of illnesses and chronic diseases, so they struggle to maintain proper body temperature. But to see the joy on their faces when we brought these beautiful hats that someone cared enough to make…for them, [it was] just confirming the message of the Gospel that we’re bringing them with our weekly visits.

ASM’s Compassionate Care Team preparing hats. (Photo courtesy of Audio Scripture Ministries)

“One of our patients,…as she put the hat on, she said, ‘This is so pretty, I feel like I’m going to church now every day!’”

Harrison shares, “I hope and pray for you and me that at 93, that you and I are still diligently using whatever skills we can to connect people to God’s Word and to share His love for them.”

What about you? Are you skilled at crafting or writing or music? Maybe you excel in hospitality or encouragement. There are several opportunities to be involved in the Great Commission by getting creative with how God has gifted you.

ASM even has an opportunity right now for an accounting coordinator to join their ministry!

“We’re looking for someone right now who is good with numbers and loves Jesus and has a passion for global missions!… Maybe you are interested in joining the team here as accounting coordinator or maybe you know someone who fits that or wants to volunteer in some way. Contact us! We would love to talk with you.”

Look For Opportunities

Another aspect of involvement in the Great Commission is simply looking for opportunities.

(Photo courtesy of Crista Ballard Photography)

Harrison suggests, “Do you know a friend or a neighbor or a colleague who speaks a different language than you? Have you considered bringing them an audio Bible [and] perhaps connecting them to God’s Word in their own heart language? Or maybe, do you know someone who is sick or shut-in? Could God’s Word in audio bring comfort and hope to them?”

You can get audio Bibles from ASM to give to friends and family who you think would be encouraged by God’s Word in audio!

“Recently, we had a distribution partner report they brought an audio Bible to someone who was shut-in. He had had degenerative eye surgery just done and he was facing a long recovery time. He was so excited to receive an audio Bible and the joy it brought to his heart was so amazing!”

Earlier this month, we even shared a call for more recordists to join ASM’s team in Mexico. The recordist job is not for the faint of heart since it requires someone who can get outside their comfort zone to live in rugged conditions while recording Scripture translations.

But someone saw the opportunity to serve in ASM’s recordist position and stepped up!

Harrison shares, “We are praising God for Luis who has been involved with his father in prison ministry before and preaching the Gospel. Now, he is excited to join the team as a recordist! So, thank you so much for your prayers, and let’s keep praying for more laborers for the harvest field of our Lord.”

Ask God to show you how you can get involved in the Great Commission by creatively using your time, talents, and treasure for His glory.

To find more ways you can serve with ASM, click here!


(Header photo courtesy of Audio Scripture Ministries)

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Spiritual warfare seminar coming to West Michigan

USA (MNN) — Audiences flocked to theaters recently to watch horror movies “The Devil’s Candy” and “A Dark Song”, which collectively grossed nearly $1 million in ticket sales. Do filmmakers know more about the spirit world than pastors?

Demons and spiritual oppression show up in Scripture, too, but Dean Vander Mey of Set Free Ministries says those topics aren’t being taught in many of today’s churches. That’s why they’re hosting a spiritual warfare seminar next month.

“We really want awareness for the people of West Michigan,” says Vander Mey, referencing the region’s large evangelical Christian population.

“Truth is truth. If God said our battle’s not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, rulers and authorities, then that’s it. That’s how it really is, and we have to get into that reality.”

Raising awareness

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Set Free Ministries is a Christian counseling ministry that helps people deal with issues like depression, suicide, addiction, and more. Learn more about their work here.

Set Free began in the mid-90’s as a church-based ministry. Its goal was to “set individuals free from spiritual and emotional bondage through God’s Word, love, and prayer” using a model developed by Dr. Neil Anderson. Over the years, Set Free staff and leaders started realizing that very few people understand the concept of spiritual warfare.

“A lot of pastors and seminaries around here don’t teach on spiritual warfare [but] spiritual warfare is part of our reality according to Scripture,” Vander Mey explains. “We do not battle against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, rulers, and authorities.”

sfm_spiritual warfare seminar

(Graphic courtesy Set Free Ministries)

Pastor and discipleship trainer Karl Payne agrees.

“The schools I attended – good Bible school, good seminary – didn’t just not talk about [spiritual warfare], it was ridiculed. So, we left school not knowing anything more about spiritual warfare than we entered.”

Next month, Payne and Deeper Waters International President Marcus Warner will address the topic at Set Free Ministries’ two-day seminar.

Engaging in spiritual warfare

Set Free’s spiritual warfare seminar will be held October 19th and 20th in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Learn more and get tickets here.

“I’m watching WAY too many houses in the Christian community collapse and they are not equipped for the fight they’re in,” states Vander Mey, referencing Christ’s words in Matthew 7.

“This is all a part of walking in the truth of Scriptures and actually believing what it says, and then doing it.”

Join us tomorrow as speakers Karl Payne and Marcus Warner discuss the upcoming spiritual warfare seminar in further detail.


Header photo courtesy Pixabay via Pexels.

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Scripture translation in Indonesia

Indonesia (MNN) – 87 percent of Indonesia’s population is Muslim. Though there are 24 million Christians in the island nation, believers only make up about 10 percent of the population.

Here, believers face discrimination and persecution because of their faith.

Over the years, there have been reports of Church bombings, beatings, and believers who have been killed.

Encouraged Believers in Indonesia

However, Wycliffe Associates’ Bruce Smith says the persecution in the nation hasn’t deterred believers’ faith. If anything, it’s rallied them.

“It’s essentially galvanized them and inspired them to be bolder and to be more committed and effective in their own proclamation of the Gospel and their commitment to Bible translation. It is by no means discouraging them,” Smith says.

“It is encouraging them because it’s a reminder to them daily that, really, the only thing that’s going to drive the darkness out of their country is the light of God’s Word.”

This encouragement and reminder have essentially motivated believers and their communities to get involved in Wycliffe Associates’ Bible translations so they can have scripture in their minority languages.

Scripture Translation with Locals

In Indonesia, there are more than 700 languages that are spoken on major and minor scales. The urgency to translate scriptures into them is high – this is why Wycliffe Associates sees the benefits of working hand in hand with local communities at a fast pace.

“They have a sense of urgency and they see the impact that the darkness has had on their people for generations, and they’re so thirsty and they’re so ready for that light of God’s Word to be clear and understandable, and accessible to their people, that they’re willing and ready to work an extraordinary level of investment in order to make this happen.”

Along with the sense of urgency among the people, Smith says working with local communities rather than bringing in foreign support helps to speed the translation process significantly.

“It eliminates the entire learning curve of trying to bring somebody from outside that language and culture up to speed in order to do the translation,” Smith says.

“[The people] know it. They’re steeped in it. They live in it every day and they’re fully knowledgeable about how to do that translation work. They’re also multi-lingual. So, they’re able to look at scripture in a major language for example and make the translation leap from that major language to their minority language much easier than we are.”

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates)

Further, Wycliffe Associates brings the whole community together as a ‘crowdsource’ approach. Bringing the community together, Smith says, helps to rally people in the work and encourage one another as they solve translation problems and details.

Quality Assurance

While these translations are exceedingly faster than bringing in outside workers, quality doesn’t fall through the cracks.

Rather, because the communities who are working on the translations are so familiar with their language and are passionate about receiving scripture in their own language, quality assurance is woven throughout the process.

Smith says these are people who are going to live and die with the quality of the translation.

“This is a sober process that the Church leaders enter into with great humility and a great sense of responsibility.”

The translation projects scattered throughout the nation have caught the interest of Church leaders and Smith says Wycliffe Associates is seeing an explosion for wanting translations across the country.

Right now, Wycliffe Associates has 30 Bible translation projects going. While this may seem high, Smith says this was only a short-term goal.

“The reality is that the thirst for God’s Word and the readiness to step up and start translation is at an all-time high, and the potential exists to start between one and two hundred new translations in Indonesia within the coming year.”

Get Involved

Hundreds of languages have yet to be translated into scripture in Indonesia.

Despite the persecution believers face, Wycliffe Associates sees the boldness in their faith and the desire to see the Bible translated into their languages.

Smith says the stories of persecution in the news should be a prompting to believers everywhere to pray.

“Be in prayer for the Christian work that’s going on in that country and for the Christian brothers and sisters, the leaders in the Church in Indonesia who are facing these kinds of threats and nevertheless, persevering.”

Come alongside Wycliffe Associates as they help equip and empower local communities in Indonesia to translate scripture. Help fund tablets, which are essential to the translating process. Click here for more information.

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Super Typhoon Mangkhut slams into the Philippines

Philippines (MNN) — Super Typhoon Mangkhut hit the northern Philippines early on Saturday morning before moving on to hit southern China as Sunday turned into Monday. The super typhoon has affected an estimated 5.7 million people in the Philippines.

Reports say the typhoon ripped trees out of the ground, took roofs off houses, and drowned farmers’ unharvested fields as it headed towards China. The storm also triggered a landslide in the Filipino town of Itogon. Over 60 people are confirmed dead in the country.

Typhoon Season in the Philippines

Typhoons aren’t unusual in Southeast Asia. AMG International’s Bill Passons says the Filipino people are resilient, but this storm left its mark.

(Photo credit: Katey Hearth)

“It’s definitely a devastating storm in that there has been a loss of life and lots of damage,” Passon shares. “It’s an ongoing situation.”

Since the Philippines are accustomed to the typhoon season, Passons says their response is usually well-coordinated. However, the storm hit in an area where AMG is not currently present. In a few days, the ministry will finish assessing whether or not it can help offer long-term aid or not. With that said, AMG projects, which are in the southern Philippines, were not affected by the storm.

“The devastating parts of these storms, yes, are the loss of property and of course anytime lives are lost, that’s obviously hugely devastating to the families in the communities. But, the lasting impact is the fact that livelihoods have been destroyed,” Passons explains.

Paralyzing Loss

Farmers’ unharvested crops have been flooded, forfeiting a year’s worth of profit. It’ll be another year before these farmers can get back on a productive cycle of planting and reaping. Passons says some of the farmers affected may have borrowed money to be able to plant this year’s crops. Now, without the expected harvest, these farmers are left in debt without their livelihood. This same situation applies to more than just farmers though. People, like fishermen, have also suffered debilitating damages to their trades.

Still, even in the face of the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut, there is still hope. Passons explains that if AMG does offer aid, the ministry will encounter people who are curious as to why strangers would want to help. AMG’s answer to this question is the compassion and love of Christ.

Pray for those whose lives have been devastated. Pray for physical needs to be met, but also the spiritual ones following this natural disaster. Ask God to give wisdom and discernment to AMG as it assesses how to help. Finally, pray for the broken-hearted that they would be comforted and in time healed.

Learn more about AMG International here.


(Header photo satellite imagery courtesy of NASA)

*Header photo is representational only. 

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2012 Hurricane Sandy: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest hurricane of 2012 and one of the most destructive hurricanes in history to hit the United States. Toward the end of October 2012, Hurricane Sandy plowed through the Caribbean — killing 75 people before heading north. As it approached the East Coast, it produced the highest waves ever recorded in the western Atlantic, causing devastating storm surge and floods throughout coastal New York and New Jersey. At one point, Sandy engulfed a swath of 800 miles between the East Coast and the Great Lakes region.

Also called Superstorm Sandy, it caused $70.2 billion worth of damage, left 8.5 million people without power, destroyed 650,000 homes, and was responsible for the deaths of at least 72 Americans.

Hurricane Sandy timeline

October 22, 2012: Sandy begins as a tropical storm in the Caribbean Sea.

October 24, 2012: Sandy develops into a Category 1 hurricane and hits Jamaica with winds of 80 mph.

October 25, 2012: Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in Cuba as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, then travels to Haiti and the Bahamas, killing 54 people in Haiti, 11 people in the Dominican Republic, and two people in the Bahamas.

October 26 to 27, 2012: Hurricane Sandy alternates between a Category 1 hurricane and a tropical storm, then returns to a Category 1 hurricane.

October 28, 2012: Still a Category 1, Hurricane Sandy moves parallel to Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

October 29, 2012: Hurricane Sandy approaches the East Coast of the United States as a Category 2, then weakens to a post-tropical cyclone.

  • 12:30 p.m.: Sandy brings high winds and drenching rain from Washington, D.C., northward.
  • 8 p.m.: Sandy comes ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey, with hurricane-force winds of 90 mph. In combination with a full moon and high tide, a 14-foot wave surge in New York Harbor tops the seawall in lower Manhattan and floods parts of New York’s subway system and a crucial tunnel. It downs power lines, uproots trees, inundates Manhattan, and causes extensive damage in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Heavy wind and rain continue all night through three tidal cycles.

October 30, 2012: Sandy moves away from New York, toward Pennsylvania, but is still drenching the Northeast.

October 31, 2012: Sandy dissipates over western Pennsylvania, leaving heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains.

FAQs: What you need to know about Hurricane Sandy, and learn how you can help

Explore frequently asked questions about Hurricane Sandy, and learn how you can help families impacted by hurricanes.

Fast facts: Hurricane Sandy

  • 147 people died
  • $70.2 billion worth of damage
  • 8.5 million people lost power
  • 650,000 homes destroyed
  • Record-breaking storm surges flooded New York and New Jersey


How did Hurricane Sandy develop?

On Oct. 22, 2012, over tropical ocean waters off the coast of Nicaragua, Hurricane Sandy began from a tropical wave that developed into a tropical depression, then quickly into a tropical cyclone. Two days later it became a Category 1 hurricane with winds stronger than 74 mph.


Where and when did Sandy make landfall?

Hurricane Sandy first made landfall in Jamaica as a Category 1 hurricane on October 24, 2012. The next day, it wreaked a path of destruction through Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.

On Oct. 29, 2012, Sandy made landfall over the U.S. near Atlantic City, New Jersey, with hurricane-force winds of 90 mph.


How many people died from Sandy?

The number of deaths from Hurricane Sandy, such as drowning in storm surges or flooding, is counted at 147, according to the National Hurricane Center. Death counts in the U.S. totaled 72. Haiti was the second-most affected country with 54 deaths.


What was the damage from Hurricane Sandy? Is it one of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history?

Hurricane Sandy is now the fourth-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, damaging at least 650,000 houses and causing $70.2 billion worth of damage. When Sandy made landfall in 2012, it was the second-costliest hurricane to hit the United States since 1900, with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 being the costliest. Both Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Hurricane Irma in 2017 have since topped Sandy.


How can I help children and families affected by disasters?


What was World Vision’s response to Hurricane Sandy?

Haiti: In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, World Vision staff in Haiti distributed nearly 6,000 tarpaulins, 5,000 jerry cans, and 2,500 hygiene kits in Port-au-Prince. In the far south of the island nation, 100 families received T-shirts, sleeping mats, and blankets. Hot meals were also provided to 200 families in shelters in La Gonave.

United States: As Hurricane Sandy moved away from the East Coast, World Vision sent relief teams to assess the damage. Teams surveyed areas in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

World Vision targeted the most impoverished and vulnerable communities in each state and supported local partners — such as churches and community groups — to facilitate clean-up efforts.

World Vision had pre-positioned emergency supplies to help with the relief effort, including flood clean-up kits, food kits, and hygiene kits. Additional supplies were trucked from World Vision’s domestic disaster warehouse in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Initiatives and accomplishments of World Vision’s Hurricane Sandy response included:

  • 49,335 people served
  • $2.49 million worth of relief supplies and materials distributed
  • 1,534 volunteers hours
  • 9,904 blankets distributed
  • 9,001 hygiene kits distributed
  • 1,700 flood clean-up kits distributed
  • 5,168 students and 398 teachers provided school supplies through a mobile Teacher Resource Center


The post 2012 Hurricane Sandy: Facts, FAQs, and how to help appeared first on World Vision.

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Post-CityFest West Michigan means discipleship and community

United States (MNN) — CityFest has come and gone in West Michigan. But, in a region heavily influenced by the Church, was CityFest a challenge or a breeze?

“I think every city is hard and easy in its own way. For West Michigan, I think people are open to God, to talking about God, to talking about the Church. But our heart is to get beyond that. Our heart is really to remind people of the intimate relationship they can have with Jesus Christ, with the God of the universe,” Wendy Palau with the Luis Palau Association says.

“West Michigan might have this unique, Christianized culture, but West Michigan is made up of millions of people who are trying to figure out, trying to understand who is God—what is my relationship with Him? And we are simply calling them to walk with Him, to be in true honest relationship with Him.”

CityFest’s Foundations in Personal Evangelism

Palau spoke at the CityFest women’s luncheon in Grand Rapids, MI. The women’s luncheon was one of many events to make up CityFest West Michigan. These various events provide opportunities for people from all backgrounds and personalities to interact with CityFest and hear the Gospel message.

Wendy Palau speaks at the City Fest Women’s Luncheon in Grand Rapids, MI on September 5, 2018. (Header photo and photo courtesy of Mission Network News)

However, these events work because of local church involvement. For example, local Christian women had the opportunity to be a table host at the women’s luncheon. Hosts could then invite nine women to take a seat at their table during the event. These women could be friends, family, or that girl you always run into at the gym.

CityFest partnered with 435 churches in West Michigan. Palau acknowledges the local Christian community’s joint efforts to bring CityFest to West Michigan are not sustainable. CityFest is structured mostly around personal evangelism instead of mass evangelism for this reason.

“All we do is in, through, and for the local church. Because the local church[es] are the disciplers. The women’s Bible study groups, they’re the disciplers,” Palau shares.

“The table hosts today who have invited nine women to sit are their table, they’re the ones who are going to get the response cards. They are going to receive an email saying this person responded, now you follow up, invite them. The women who respond will also be referred to a local church in their area.”

Be Prayerful, Be Active

Palau explains how discipleship is a necessity for the Christian walk. It is also vital for evangelism. CityFest acts as a catalyst to jump-start the opportunities for discipleship. The event isn’t the end game, though.

Please pray for the people who began their relationship with Christ during CityFest West Michigan. Ask God to strengthen and lead West Michigan Christians in personal evangelism and discipleship. Pray local Christians would reach out into their communities and build relationships for discipleship daily.

To learn more about CityFest West Michigan, click here.

Check out the Luis Palau organization here.

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Thousands of Nicaraguans to leave United States

USA (MNN) – There have been many changes for immigrants and asylum-seekers in the United States, and now, there’s another.

“Along with some other countries, the administration is ending the temporary status for Nicaraguans,” Bethany Christian Services’ Bruce Mossburg says.

Protests and Violence in Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, “there are some uprisings, there’s some conflict that may be leading to civil war. The Trump Administration has sanctioned the Nicaraguan government for human rights abuses.”

Tensions have been building in Nicaragua for years due to President Daniel Ortega’s manipulation to continue holding power.

But when the government announced cuts to the social security benefits, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Protests and rioting started breaking out in Nicaragua in April 2018

While students and citizens with pensions started peaceful protests, security forces violently attacked them. Since April, at least 322 Nicaraguans have been killed.

Now, The Week reported, paramilitaries are detaining citizens every day. Citizens have been tortured after being accused of terrorism, organized crime, possession of weapons, and other crimes.

(Photo by Randy Colas on Unsplash)

The violence has heightened so dramatically that the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Nicaragua is traveling down the same path as Syria.

Like Syria, Nicaragua’s citizens have already started fleeing their nation and requesting asylum in other countries.

Fleeing to Costa Rica

Costa Rica has seen a massive influx of asylum requests from Nicaraguans. The Washington Post reports that 24,400 Nicaraguans are intending to apply for asylum in Costa Rica this year. Last year, from January to August, only 58 Nicaraguans applied for asylum in Costa Rica.

Many who intend to apply for asylum are already living in Costa Rica. However, last month, NPR reported that 200 Nicaraguans are seeking asylum every day in Costa Rica and tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have already fled to Costa Rica over the past few months.

“There’s been over the years, a lot of Nicaraguans that have fled to Costa Rica, but this influx is, of course, not typical,” Mossburg says. “I think it’s overwhelming Costa Rica’s infrastructure as well. It’s difficult for them.”

Splitting Families

Mossburg says as the U.S. is ending temporary status for Nicaraguans, it doesn’t seem there will be any change or decrease in those fleeing to Costa Rica. Instead, it looks like the small nation will continue receiving waves of refugees.

CNN reports that on January 5, about 5,300 Nicaraguans living in the U.S. will lose their protected status.

They’ll either be forced to return home or become refugees.

“A lot of them are targeted. A lot of them are afraid to go back because [of the] instability,” Mossburg says. “So, a lot of them feel like it would be risking their lives to go back.”

Further, many of these Nicaraguans have lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years. They’ve built up their lives. They have jobs, houses, and started families.

“Many of them have since had children. Actually, with all the TPS [Temporary Protected Status] grantees, there are about 250,000 children that have, in this country, that have at least one parent that’s somebody that has TPS… People will have to make decisions about what to do with their families, and I think folks will have to leave families behind potentially.”

Mossburg says Bethany believes welcoming refugees is biblical and a large part of their ministry is preserving families.

“We really believe in the integrity of the family and protecting families, but that’s our focus. I think in this instance, this will be tearing families apart.”

TPS for Nicaraguans has been extended by every president since 1999 when Hurricane Mitch devastated the nation.

Bethany asks for your prayer now for humanitarian immigration reform. Pray for the families that could be split. Pray for wisdom of the U.S., Nicaraguan, and Costa Rican governments.

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Burned by tragedy after tragedy, Sierra Leone desperately needs Jesus

Sierra Leone (MNN) — Sierra Leone is already not the most stable block in the Jenga pile. Its recent history has been marred by some shocking tragedies, and one more might just topple it.

First, the world’s worst Ebola outbreak struck the coastal West African nation in 2014 and killed over 11,000 people. Then, last year, Sierra Leone suffered catastrophic floods and landslides that left 3,000 homeless and killed another 1,141 people.

These devastations have compounded instability in the already struggling nation. According to the CIA World Factbook, high unemployment and low pay mean Sierra Leone’s mostly young population is restless. And now, people are on edge once again as a new Ebola strain was recently identified in the country.

Members of the Mission Cry team with a shipment of used Christian books and Bibles headed to Sierra Leone. (Image screenshot courtesy of Mission Cry)

In this context, Mission Cry is sharing hope and truth with Sierra Leoneans. Just a few weeks ago, Mission Cry sent a shipment of used Bibles and Christian books to Sierra Leone!

Jason Woolford with Mission Cry says they are confident that God’s Word will not return void. “When we’re sending the Word of God and Christian books, we’re changing cultures. We’re changing the way that people look at money, we’re changing the way that a father treats a son, a mother treats a daughter, [and] how a husband and wife change. I mean, you talk about culture change; there is nothing that does it better than the Word of God.”

Sierra Leone is overwhelmingly Muslim — 78.6 percent. Christians in the country only account for 20.8 percent of the population.

Although Sierra Leonean believers are vastly outnumbered, Mission Cry aims to equip local Christians with free biblical literature. These used Christian books and Bibles serve to encourage the Church and enable outreach efforts.

“We’re doing that in these areas where there [are] Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists and we’re giving…the people that are trying to minister to them the opportunity to understand who God is in and through His Word.”

Mission Cry team members pray over a shipment of used Christian books and Bibles headed to Sierra Leone. (Image screenshot courtesy of Mission Cry)

Mission Cry has been in ministry for more than 60 years. During that time, they have sent at least $330 million-worth of Christian books and Bibles to over 171 countries. Each shipment is carefully organized from generous donations and prayed over before being sent out.

Woolford urges, “I want those that are listening to understand that our time is short here on this earth. Whether Jesus is coming tomorrow or should He tarry, He has given us a charge to be missions-minded…. You and I have the opportunity to send the Word — Jesus — in the form of the Bible, the Living Word of God, to people.”

If you have any used Bibles or Christian books to donate to Mission Cry, click here to find out next steps!

Meanwhile, please lift up Sierra Leone in prayer — both for this latest Ebola strain to be quelled and for the shipment of biblical literature to change the lives of those it reaches.

sierra leone, kids, children

Children in Sierra Leone (Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash)

“Whenever you look at any sort of outbreak or anything, I understand that we live in a fallen world…but I also understand that there is a very real Devil who really hates God and hates God’s people. So we definitely need to lift them up in prayer.”

Woolford also asks, “Pray for our ministry. The Devil hates what we’re doing. We’re giving the Word that doesn’t return void.”

Learn more about Mission Cry and ways you can get involved!



(Header photo courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash)

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Winter corn chowder: A recipe for friends and refugees

Last spring, Patricia Heaton visited and helped cook for South Sudanese refugees as they arrived on their long journey from war-torn South Sudan into Northern Uganda. Inspired by her trip and providing that first warm meal to welcome the newcomers, Patricia guest blogs about a recipe for winter corn chowder.

*     *     *

When was the last time you cooked for a group? Maybe you hosted a dinner party with eight or 10 close friends. Maybe it was a bigger celebration — like Christmas with family or a graduation. Or maybe even a baby shower or a wedding reception.

How many people have you cooked for all at once?

The most people I have ever helped cook for was this past April when I traveled with World Vision to visit the refugee settlements in Uganda.

When new refugees cross the border from South Sudan into northern Uganda, they are first taken by bus to the reception center at Imvepi settlement, where they are registered as refugees and given what for many is the first hot meal they’ve had in a long time. World Vision is leading this food provision for more than 1 million refugees, both distributing monthly food items to the people living there and providing this first meal upon arrival, all in partnership with the United Nation’s World Food Program.

This first hot meal is a massive undertaking! The team there prepares food for hundreds — some days, thousands — of refugees. On the day I visited, there were about 600 people coming through, getting registered, and being served a meal.

And so my friend and co-star, Jen Ray, and I helped cook for 600 people. People who for the first time had just become refugees, many traveling for days on foot, and arrived with next to nothing at a place they would call home for who knew how long.

It was not easy.

The meal itself was simple and designed to provide an energy boost to tired refugees who have not had a proper meal in days. Before we got there, I had expected to find a recipe focused on nutrition. South Sudan and the East Africa region around the country have been experiencing a hunger crisis for the past year and a half, driven by drought and the conflict these refugees are fleeing. I had thought this first meal would address possible malnutrition right away, but I learned there would be time for that. For now, this meal packed a carb and protein boost to replenish the energy the new refugees had expended on their grueling journey walking a long distance to cross the border. They were exhausted.

The recipe we cooked had simply two ingredients: maize flour and a kind of bean. The maize was basically cornmeal, and the beans looked like kidney or pinto beans. We prepared this meal in an outdoor kitchen under an awning, cooking these two ingredients with water heated in a massive pot. And as everything heated, it thickened. Jen and I helped to stir the mixture as it thickened and thickened and became very sticky and heavy!

When it was ready, we also helped serve the line of refugees as they came through, filling up plates and bowls with big, heavy scoops for each person or family.

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I’m so happy to have brought a part of my The Middle family Jen Ray to visit refugees in #Uganda to shine a light and give their families a chance at a brighter future. Join us in learning more about World Vision USA and their mission to bring hope to #refugee children:

Posted by Patricia Heaton on Tuesday, April 24, 2018


It was like no cooking I’ve ever done before. But all cooking, all hosting, and all hospitality have certain things in common. Food brings us together, and a meal shared — whether out of celebration or necessity — is always a beautiful occasion. Cooking for and serving a meal to new refugees may not have been a celebration the way you would expect from a holiday with family, but there was a different kind of feeling there — one of hope. After a long, difficult journey into another country, these refugees had survived and could breathe a sigh of relief because they were now safe. And we were there to welcome them and comfort them with a warm meal.

This wonderful experience makes me think of a favorite warming recipe from my new cookbook, Patricia Heaton’s Food for Family and Friends. Winter corn chowder is made with corn, like the maize porridge we cooked for the refugees (though not nearly as thick), and it is a wonderful warm recipe for bringing people together.

Patricia Heaton helped cook for South Sudanese refugees as they arrived South Sudan into Northern Uganda. Inspired by her trip and providing that first warm meal to welcome the newcomers, Patricia guest blogs about a recipe for winter corn chowder.
Winter corn chowder. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Matthew Brennan)

Here’s the recipe for winter corn chowder from my book:

Winter corn chowder

Makes four to six servings

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen corn
  • Heavy cream, to serve
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Line a dish with paper towels. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the paper towel-lined dish.
  2. Add the onion to the saucepan and sauté until fragrant and softened, two to three minutes. Add the corn, season with salt and pepper, and sauté two minutes, until softened.
  3. Add the potato and broth. Increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the potato is tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.
  4. Spoon half of the soup into a blender and pulse until smooth. Stir the puree back into the saucepan with the remaining soup. Ladle the soup into bowls and swirl a bit of cream on top of each. Sprinkle the parsley and reserved bacon over the soup.

I highly recommend this chowder when hosting friends or just with your family on a cold winter evening.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to provide a little hospitality to people becoming refugees for the first time. To give them energy and sustenance after their long journey and a warm welcome to a place they will call home for who knows how long.

Refugees from South Sudan like the ones I met, and millions more all around the world, flee the places they’ve called home and bring almost nothing with them. Every little bit we can provide means so much to them.

World Vision is working to provide refugees with food as well as access to healthcare, shelter, clean water, protection, and more. Donate today to World Vision’s refugee crisis fund and bring hope to refugee children.

Check out the recipes that these food bloggers have crafted, inspired by World Vision!

Lindsay Cotter, of Cotter Crunch: “Almond flour loaf cake”

Taylor Kiser, of Food Faith Fitness: “Goat cheese cheesecake with honey cinnamon apples”

Chef Billy Parisi: “Huevos rancheros”

Laura Sandford, of Joy Food Sunshine: “Carrot zucchini muffins”

The post Winter corn chowder: A recipe for friends and refugees appeared first on World Vision.

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Sharing the Gospel in post-CityFest West Michigan

United States (MNN) — Barbara Palacios, the 1986 Miss Universe, was a part of the recent CityFest West Michigan. Palacios had the opportunity to speak at the Wednesday Women’s Luncheon in Grand Rapids, Michigan. West Michigan has a reputation for having a church on nearly every corner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean sharing the Gospel is easy.

Barbara Palacios speaks at the City Fest Women’s Luncheon in Grand Rapids, MI on September 5, 2018. (Header and photo courtesy of Mission Network News)

“I think for each one of us that tries to…deliver the message, [it] is always a hard thing because…sometimes people…have been through so many difficult times or crisis in their life,” Palacios explains.

“Sometimes when you try to explain to them the message of God, probably they don’t want to hear [it]. And the first response, they want to close their heart and say, ‘No, I don’t want to hear anything’.”

However, despite challenges in sharing the Gospel, Palacios says if people know evangelism is their purpose in life, things get a little easier. What can be complicated is finding places where people will listen to or can hear God’s Word.

For Palacios, the place where people listened to her became the global stage during her journey to become Miss Universe. Growing up, Palacios had an unhappy family, but she also had a relationship with Christ. This shared family experience helped offer her connection points to share the Gospel with teenagers.

Opportunity for Ministry

In the 32 years since winning the Miss Universe title, Palacios has used her platform for ministry. She started the Barbara Palacios Network. Sometimes, people will come to her events because they are curious who the 1986 Miss Universe is today. At events like Luis Palau, instead of just seeing the Miss Universe of 1986, people also get the Gospel message.

Mary Sterenberg prays at the City Fest Women’s Luncheon in Grand Rapids, MI on September 5, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Mission Network News)

During CityFest West Michigan, 39,000 people came to the weekend festivities. Of that number, 1,833 people made decisions to follow Christ. However, what about the people who didn’t attend?

“So many people are in their homes, in their own lives, having suffering…Or they just lost members of their family or they just been with different tragedies. I think this is the moment that if we pray for them, they will come. We don’t know how, but they will be in the right place to listen to these [Gospel-centered] words.”

Ask God to open hearts and bring opportunities for people to come into a relationship with Him. Pray that God would heal West Michigan for the glory of His name.

Learn more about Palacios and her Barbara Palacios Network here!

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