Changing religious restrictions in China pushes change for ministry work

China (MNN) — With the changing of religious restrictions in China, organizations serving believers have had to change their work to comply with Chinese law.

A Shift for Bibles for China

Bibles for China’s (BFC) Kurt Rovenstine says the ministry has experienced some difficulties in recent years, but they continue to see God opening doors for them even as they modify their plans.

“Our paradigm has shifted a bit in terms of how we go about partnering with folks in China that God has put us in touch with,” Rovenstine says.

There is now, “less personal touch from folks in the West. That seems to be one of the roadblocks, is foreigners into China. And so, we try to respect that and the law of the land and the requests of our partners there.”

BFC has also changed some of their materials, including their study Bibles, which are helping to empower leaders in rural China.

“We started out with a Bible that was smaller print and requests came in for larger print Bibles for those who had difficulty seeing the smaller print, and then, we have requests for Bibles that could be used in worship with the hymns and some of the liturgy included. And so, because different needs were presented, we kind of shifted a little bit of what we did.”

However, as BFC addresses different needs and makes appropriate changes to their materials, they ensure that scripture is unchanged, still completely accurate, and still completely God’s Word.

Ensuring Accuracy

BFC is working with Amity Press in China, purchasing the Gospel from them inside the nation. They are collaborating with Amity Press and with partners to ensure the scriptures have remained the same, despite the nation’s changes.

“With the partners that we have in several of the provinces, trusting them to keep us in the know as to the veracity of the Scripture, that they had integrity, that there haven’t been changes,” Rovenstine says.

“I would suppose if something happened to where we didn’t feel like the scriptures that were being distributed were pure, we would have to find another way to do what we do.”

Rovenstine encourages you to pray for believers in China.

For underground believers, it is growing increasingly more difficult. Some Christians have even emigrated to Kenya so they can worship more freely.

(Photo courtesy of Bibles for China via Facebook)

BFC works with the registered Church. Pray the Chinese government would not place further restrictions and that believers would still be able to worship and fully grow in their faith in Christ. Pray that God’s work will be done and flourish in the nation, and pray for the work of Bibles for China and for their partners.

“Those partnerships are really important, especially now as things become more difficult to be able to go back and equip and work with specific areas that are really responding and give us opportunities, and still are meeting a vital need.”

You can supply believers in China with Bibles by giving to BFC here.

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Bibles for China via Facebook.

Eagle’s Carson Wentz Brings Hope to Haiti’s Youth

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is working to bring life transformation to thousands of kids in Haiti through the Mission of Hope Haiti Sports Complex.

Wentz is raising funds for the project through his AO1 Foundation at The Giving Back Fund and says he will personally match every dollar, up to $500,000. The 60-acre sports complex will host sports leagues for 15,000 kids annually and provide programs focused on character development, education, and discipline.

“I believe the sports complex will bring joy, hope, and dignity to thousands of kids and help inspire and develop character in the next generation of leaders in Haiti,” said Wentz.

The partnership with Mission of Hope was forged last year during a trip Wentz made to Haiti with his church. During that visit, Carson learned about Mission of Hope’s plan to impact the community through the Haiti Sports Complex and was inspired to get involved. Wentz returned to Haiti this past April, bringing Eagles team members with him to help with Phase I construction of the complex.

“The vision behind the Mission of Hope sports complex lines up with our foundation’s mission to demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need,” said Wentz.

The sports complex will include 10 soccer fields, basketball courts, a stadium, a community park, and a mess hall. Children will also have access to educational tutoring, nutritious meals, and a safe place to study when they are not in the classroom.

By impacting over 15,000 children per year, the Sports Complex will provide the opportunity for children to develop positive character traits and life values.Through mentorship, children will learn the importance of teamwork, perseverance, discipline, and how to become men and women of integrity. Sports create a foundation to develop important characteristics that these children will carry with them the rest of their lives.

“We are grateful for Carson Wentz and the AO1 Foundation’s efforts to help provide athletic training and character development to thousands of kids throughout the country,” says Mission of Hope Haiti president, Brad Johnson. “This is the beginning of building sustainable sports programming that will foster national pride and help change a nation.”

To learn more or make a donation to the Mission of Hope Haiti Sports Complex, visit here.

The AO1 Foundation’s mission is to demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need. Similar to Carson’s life motto and the tattoo on the underside of his right wrist, Carson’s foundation stands for “Audience of One.” No matter what he does in life, Carson is living for an Audience of One—Jesus. For more information, please visit here.

Mission of Hope, Haiti exists to bring life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti. By partnering with local churches and indigenous organizations throughout Haiti, Mission of Hope feeds over 91,000 children daily, impacts over 10,000 students through education, trains over 1,700 farmers, and provides medical care to over 30,000 patients annually. For more information about how Mission of Hope is working to transform a nation, visit www.mohhaiti.org.

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, MissionMinder.com. 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 pages. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.

The post Eagle’s Carson Wentz Brings Hope to Haiti’s Youth appeared first on Mission Finder.

Teen suicide: there’s more to it than “13 Reasons Why”

USA (MNN) — This new study shows a spike in U.S. teen suicide following the 2017 release of 13 Reasons Why,” a Netflix series now entering its third season. Suicides among 10- to 17-year olds increased by nearly 30-percent, mostly among boys.

Researchers did not establish a direct causal link between “13 Reasons Why” and the suicide spike, AFP reports. However, incidents like this seem to imply a connection between the show’s contents and suicidal ideation.

Based on a book, “13 Reasons Why” follows the story of a teenage girl who took her own life. Critics claim it puts vulnerable youth at risk by glamorizing suicide and self-harm.

Set Free Ministries’ Glenn Dunn says many teens can identify with the show’s themes. Young people encounter tough issues like bullying, sexual harassment, self-harm, and suicidal ideation on a regular basis.

“These teens, unfortunately, believe that [suicide] may be the way out for their pain. And, unfortunately, in many cases, [they] act upon that.”

However, the scope of America’s teen suicide crisis goes far beyond this specific show. “13 Reasons Why” and similar content are like the tip of an iceberg: they’re part of the bigger problem, but not the whole.

Teen suicide: a clear and present danger

(Photo courtesy istock via ICTMN.com)

As noted here, 38-percent of young people surveyed by the CDC in 2017 had either seriously thought about taking their own life, made a plan, or attempted to commit suicide. Suicide remains the second-leading cause of death for young people between 10- and 24-years old.

Risk factors vary, but Dunn says media consumption plays a significant role in the cases they encounter at Set Free. “There’s tremendous pressure to live through a lens of social media, which isn’t accurate,” he explains.

“[Social media] only presents, quite frankly, a lie in many cases of what the real world is all about… when they (teens) don’t measure up to that, they have tremendous anxiety that oftentimes then leads to depression.”

Like a deadly downward spiral, depression – when left untreated – often leads to suicidal thoughts. When teens act on those thoughts, entire families are forever changed.

Suicide is a complex and multi-faceted issue, but that doesn’t make it taboo. “It’s a viable issue that teenagers are wrestling with,” Dunn says.

“They question who they are, and what value they have in life… we need to meet them right there and give them those answers through Scripture and through Jesus Christ Himself.”

He encourages churches to join the conversation.

“It’s time for us to step up and really help these young [people]. This is the hope of the church in the future.”

From darkness to light

If you or a loved one struggles with suicidal thoughts, reach out to Set Free Ministries today. There is a road to hope.

“Part of it [involves] putting off some of the old lies and working through that, and then putting on the new truth of who they are in Jesus Christ,” Dunn explains. “That’s what we do here.

“It takes a little bit of time but, slowly and lovingly, we see amazing breakthrough in that process.”

Visit Set Free’s website to learn more about their work.

 

 

Header image courtesy of Netflix via Facebook.

Shifting women’s roles in India

India (MNN) – Gender inequality in India has historically been a problem. Women have had low statuses and been persecuted. Yet, in recent years, women are being more empowered and even put in places of leadership.

The Foundation of Persecution Against Women

World Mission’s Greg Kelley says at the foundation of the persecution women have faced is the dowry system where a bride’s family must give the bridegroom’s family different gifts. These gifts may be cash, property, or animals.

Because of this requirement, the dowry system has put a financial burden on middle and lower class families, which makes up a majority of the population.

As a result, having a daughter is seen as more of a burden than a blessing in India.

“When you associate having a daughter as a financial burden, that just totally infiltrates society and culture to the point of where young women are persecuted, and emotionally abused, and even, there’s many cases of girls being killed,” Kelley says.

Families know they must pay once their daughter comes to a marriageable age, and they know this will create difficulties for them.

Because of this, girls are the most likely to be aborted in India, they have low literacy levels, they’re married off at earlier ages, and there are many crimes committed against them.

Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are some of the worst places for women.

Kelley says this may correlate with the fact that the population is less than one half percent Christian in the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh areas.

However, as people hear the Gospel, Kelley says, their hearts will change.

The Impact of Christianity on Women’s Status

“When someone who’s been trapped in this mindset of viewing women in an inferior role, when their heart gets impacted with the Gospel, everything changes,” Kelley says.

“We just have to trust that as the Lord changes hearts, the whole tide of all of this will change.”

Kelley says as hearts are transformed and people see the impact of the Gospel, the lives of men, women, and children will improve because people will understand the equality of each person and gender and that they have something to offer.

Across India over the last several decades, women’s rights have grown and they’re starting to grow more in village areas as well.

“We’ve seen women in India hold positions of President, Prime Minister, Governor. So there’s really a turning of the tide in many ways in India, and as I said, you’ll see where the Gospel is present that women are really…stepping into positions of influence,” Kelley says.

(Photo courtesy of World Mission via Facebook)

Women are becoming involved in ministry efforts as villages welcome them more and see the value and work they put in.

Men in leadership positions in the Church are also speaking up for women and encouraging them to do ministry together.

“We’ll see a lot of male pastors who are encouraging their wives to really step into that role of ministry.”

Women are becoming more respected as they give support to children, the poor, the sick, and others, and churches are helping to empower women by standing up for them and working to elevate the position of women both in ministry and throughout India.

World Mission’s Work

World Mission is encouraging men to embrace this change and support women as they begin working in ministry.

Kelley says when Jesus called His followers to the Great Commission, “he didn’t quantify from a standpoint of saying only the men do it, or only the women. So for us, it’s kind of gender neutral.”

World Mission is distributing their solar-powered audio Bibles, the Treasure, to women who have low literacy levels and low education. With these tools, women are acting as ministry leaders by forming listening groups in their villages so others can listen to the Word of God.

This is one of the major steps in how World Mission hopes to see India’s attitude continue changing towards women.

“We all need to get behind the movements and the Great Commission to get the Gospel into places. Social projects and humanitarian efforts only go so far. We need, as the Body of Christ, to get behind initiatives that get the Gospel into these places.”

Pray for the resilience and empowerment of women in India. Pray specifically for women in ministry to have the Lord’s protection. There are high pressures on both women and Christians in India.

Help equip women with World Mission’s discipleship tools by donating Treasures here.

 

 

Header photo courtesy of World Mission via Facebook.

Why “one size fits all” Gospel ministry doesn’t work in Asia

Asia (MNN) — The World Economic Forum recently released an infographic map showing the layout of religions in each country. When you look to the West, there is already a heavy Christian influence. But the farther east you go, particularly in Asia, the more religious diversity you see – everything from Hinduism and Buddhism to Islam and Atheism.

“The vast majority of other faiths are headquartered or predominant in these nations,” Joe Handley, President of Asian Access says. “[Christians] are really hungry for a breakthrough of a Christ-centered focus in their nations.”

Asian Access serves in 15 countries across the continent and may expand into seven more countries by 2020.

(Photo courtesy of Asian Access)

With such religious diversity in Asia, there can’t be a “one size fits all” approach for presenting the Gospel.

“Each context we’re in, we have to take those rock-solid principles from the Bible, and yet apply them in a different way.”

Asian Access began ministry in Japan, and each time they move into another country, their staff use different contextualized practices for communicating God’s hope and love.

“This year, in fact, is our 20th anniversary of our first country outside of Japan. In that case, it was also a Buddhist country, but a Buddhist country that had a strong kind of atheist-agnostic core because it was a part of the former Soviet influence world that was Mongolia,” Handley explains.

“Moving from a ministry focused in Japan to one that was also adapting to Mongolia required significant cultural adjustment and adaptation and kind of experimentation. Every country that we’ve gone into now, we’ve had to do some form of adaptation. So when we move from Japan and Mongolia to, say, Sri Lanka or Myanmar or India, we had the shift.”

(Photo courtesy of Asian Access)

Explaining the godhood of Jesus looks different when you are talking to a polytheistic Hindu versus a monotheistic Muslim. And for an atheist in China, faith and biblical truths have different challenges than they would for a Buddhist in Japan.

Handley points out this idea of contextualized practices for ministry is nothing new.

“You think of the Apostle Paul becoming all things in order that he might reach some. Similarly, I think most ministries that are in the Asian sphere have to do this — adapt as you go.”

Asian Access also supports the local Body of Christ in all the countries they minister. Handley says they have a significant need right now for spiritual mentorship and encouragement.

“There are lots of opportunities particularly with Asian Access to come and serve as teachers, faculty members, and mentors. Because the Christian population is so small in most of the Asian continents, most of those who are Christ’s followers are hungry for veteran leaders — people who have had some significant experience behind them that can come in and provide mentoring and coaching.”

“One of our leaders once said, ‘Joe, please send me seasoned veteran leaders. We have no spiritual fathers.’ Let that sink in a little bit. If you’re out there in the West and maybe you’re a retired pastor, maybe you’ve been in business and you’re thinking, ‘What do I do next in life?’ You’re the kind of person that if you have a strong background in your faith in Christ, there are leaders all over Asia that are hungry for people like you to come and just build relationships with them.”

(Photo courtesy of Asian Access)

It can be anything from a weekend visit to a full week trip or longer. Handley says anything to connect believers across borders and continents will be an encouragement to our Christian brothers and sisters in Asia.

Even if you can’t go, something every believer can do is pray.

Handley asks, “Please pray for places like Japan, the second largest unreached people group in the world; or Bangladesh, the number one; or places like China and India and other countries where you have increasing persecution and pressure either from government or religious fanatics.

“In addition to praying for them, I would suggest that one of the things you can do is be a generous giver. The needs of this part of the world for the Gospel are immense. It’s not just Asian Access. It’s all of those of us that are serving in Asia or similar places. We need the resources in order to reach these unreached people groups. So please pray, please come and serve, and please be a generous giver.”

Learn more about Asian Access’s ministry here.

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Pixabay

Highlights from the 2019 Global 6K for Water

On May 4, 2019, thousands of participants around the globe united to walk or run in World Vision’s Global 6K for Water. Six kilometers is the average distance people in the developing world walk for water, which is often contaminated with life-threatening diseases.  

Each step by every participant — young and old — is bringing life-changing clean water closer to communities in need through the event registration fee 

 

Here are some of the highlights from this remarkable weekend. 

A new kind of bib

In Seattle, whole families participated together in the Global 6K, each member receiving a bib with the name and photo of a child on it. The child is available for sponsorship, which also helps fund clean water projects. (©2019 World Vision/photo by Eugene Lee) 

Finding your drive

“There’s children who do this every day for water, and it’s not even clean, says Gigi Stevens, who not only ran the Chicago 6K for Water but added on a 5K beforehand to run an 11K for her 11th birthday, which fell the next day. She surpassed her fundraising goal of $1,100 and raised $2,815 for clean water.   

“When I was running the 11 kilometers, I got tired, but it was worth it to bring clean water to more people,” says Gigi, who ran with their family friend, Ashley Peters (right). “There’s children who do this every day for water, and it’s not even clean.” (©2019 World Vision/photo by Andrea Peer) 

Challenging yourself and others

Khayriyyah Aleem, 75, celebrates the 2019 Global 6K for Water with Antioch Baptist Church at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax Station, Virginia, on April 27, 2019.  

This is the church’s third year, as well as Khayriyyah’s 

“Growing up in D.C. in a poor family, I know what it’s like to be without things,” Khayriyyah says. “There were hungry days. There were sad days. 

“God has blessed me, even though I am in this chair and I am legally blind.” 

Continuing what she’s done over the past few years, she raised $770 this year by asking people she knew for donations.  

“Just because you don’t have money, don’t mean you can’t get money,” she says. I don’t have money, but I go and ask people. So just because you don’t have money, don’t mean you can’t help.” (©2019 World Vision/photo by Heather Klinger) 

The jerrycan challenge

Brothers-in-law Solomon Kain (center) and Zach Trandom (right) are two fathers willing to go the extra mile for their children — and children around the world.  

Zach shares, “A big reason why we started doing [the Global 6K] is for our kids. To show them how hard families — and kids their own age — work for dirty water that only makes them sick and that we have the power to change their lives forever.” 

This is their second year carrying 20-liter, 44-pound jerrycans during the Global 6K in Seattle. 

Zach continues “We also want to show [our kids] that we’re willing to go to any length on their behalf.  If we had to take on this challenge every day just to make sure they had what they needed, we’d do it.” (©2019 World Vision/photo by Eugene Lee) 

A birthday celebration

Amara Mohn (second from left in front) chose to spend her 13th birthday participating in the Global 6K for Water in Chicago, and she persuaded the rest of her family to join her.  

Her brother Carston (right) opted to carry a jerrycan the whole way. “About halfway through, it got really tough,” he says. “I started wondering why I signed up for this when I heard someone yell, ‘You’re not doing this for you, you’re doing it for someone else.’ And that motivated me the rest of the way. Thinking about how children do this every day makes my heart hurt. It’s a lot of weight physically and emotionally.”2019 World Vision/photo by Andrea Peer) 

Walking in her shoes

Like many mothers in developing countries, this father not only carried a jerrycan of water, but also his young baby strapped to his chest. He participated with Peninsula Community Center in Redwood City, California, where more than 400 people walked and ran, raising nearly $28,000. (©2019 World Vision/photo by Heather Klinger) 

Bridging generations

Truxton “Truck” Howick, 76, high-fives Jonathan Casanova, 1, as he and his mother, Tricia, walk the Global 6K for Water at Lake Sawyer Church in Black Diamond, Washington. The event drew more than 300 participants — about 100 more than last year and raised more than $21,000. (©2019 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber) 

Finishing strong

A cacophony of cheers greets participants as they cross the finish line at the World Vision-hosted site in Seattle’s Gas Works Park. (©2019World Vision/photo by Eugene Lee) 

The post Highlights from the 2019 Global 6K for Water appeared first on World Vision.

Why We Need To Be Careful About Adopting Business Models In Our Churches

When we think we need to go to a business model for church renewal, aren’t we implying that biblical principles can’t stand on their own?

It’s becoming very popular to teach church growth and leadership principles using ideas from successful businesses.

Some of the titles of books and articles I’ve seen lately include, What The Church Can Learn From…

  • Harley Davidson
  • Marvel Movies
  • Japanese Management
  • Marketing Experts

And more.

Despite the best intentions of these writers, I’m becoming more and more convinced that trying to bring renewal to our churches by adapting business ideas is at best ineffective, and at worst, potentially damaging to our souls, spirits and mission.

Business Ideas Won’t Fix The Church

I agree that we can learn from a variety of sources. For instance, I recently read an Inc.com article about how Chipotle revitalized their restaurants after having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year in 2017.

I had a momentary thought about writing an article about how churches can learn from Chipotle’s turnaround.

Then the moment passed.

Here’s why. The three ways Chipotle turned their company around, according to the article, were

  1. Modernization
  2. Talent
  3. Emotionally intelligent marketing

Smart ideas.

For a restaurant.

It’s tempting to want to find church parallels for them.

But if your church is in trouble, I beg you not to give into the temptation to think your church problems will be solved by doing church versions of what Chipotle did, such as

  1. A cool, new coffee station in the lobby (modernization)
  2. Hiring a new staff member (talent)
  3. Better use of social media (emotionally intelligent marketing)

None of those are bad things. The church I serve has done all three at various times. But none of them were the cause of our church getting or staying healthy.

Churches Aren’t Businesses – Or They Shouldn’t Be

The issue …

Continue reading

FMI church attacked in Lahore, Pakistan

Pakistan (MNN) – On Sunday an FMI church was attacked during its worship service in Lahore, Pakistan. At Pastor Asad’s church, 100 people were gathered when 12 men attempted to illegally seize the church property.

“They wanted to use sheer force to say we are now occupying this land and it is ours. It was intended to instill a lot of fear and traumatize the congregation,” Bruce Allen with FMI says.

Preparation Brought Prevention

However, this story is a double-edged sword. On one side is the heartache of persecution, but on the other is the incredible providence of a faithful God. In the last several months FMI has put security measures in place to prepare for attacks like this. Along with installing security equipment at FMI support churches, FMI also provided security training.

“We had met with the volunteers from congregations that were becoming trained to be the security detail for their churches. We met with the pastors and gave them training about evacuations and lines of communication, and prevention of attacks, and all sorts of things,” Allen says.

This training was put into action on Sunday when security detail identified attackers and prevented them from reaching the sanctuary. Allen says most of the “scuffle” happened outside of the actual church building. No damage or harm was done to either the building or the worshippers.

Corruption Against Christians

CCTV Camera Installation (Photo courtesy of FMI)

The police who responded to the church attack made commitments to investigate. They detained Pastor Asad and the church elders at the police station for six hours. Then on Monday, when the pastor returned to the police station with the FMI National Director for Pakistan, the police refused to fulfill their promise to investigate.

“It was evident that the assailants had actually paid the police a bribe to not investigate. And the police are just dragging their heels on the situation and said they refuse to investigate unless a court compels them to do so,” Allen says.

But if the case is taken to court, it is likely the judges and others on the case will be corrupt as well. Also, the church would need to hire a lawyer who is willing to represent an oppressed and marginalize minority—a difficult find in Pakistan. Furthermore, the lawyer fees could cost upwards of $5,000.

Allen says this attack does highlight a challenge Christians face in the country. Corruption is common in Pakistan and as a minority, Christians are often targeted for land-grabbing.

Defining Land-Grabbing

Allen describes land-grabbing as “theft of real estate and done by bribes, coercion, physical force, [and] forged documents.” People who land-grab sometimes gain their information from local authorities through bribes to discover what properties belong to Christians, other minorities, widows, or even a landlord who does not live in the area.

“Sometimes the land grabbers will make forged documents such as the title deed, and present them to the court as if they’re authentic, but they’re not. Then the court, especially if they see that, oh, this land, you know, Christians are using it, awards it to the Muslims. Judges are known to take bribes as well,” Allen says.

Pastor Asad was the victim of a land-grabbing attack four years ago. Land-grabbers came to his home and physically forced pastor Asad and his extended family out, rendering them homeless. Allen says when Pastor Asad went to the police, they refused to investigate or bring charges against the attackers.

Land-grabbing has been used as a way to force religious conversion. Allen says that he recently received a report that a group of mosque leaders forced about 40 Christian families to convert to Islam. The leaders had threatened to illegally confiscate their homes and even kill the families. Through conversion, the families were able to hold onto their property.

“It really is a difficult situation for Christians regarding property, whether it’s their own homes, or it’s their worship site, it’s their church. Many will say no, we don’t convert to Islam, we remain true to the gospel, and sometimes like in pastors Asad’s by sheer physical violence, he is evicted from his own premises,” Allen explains.

Faith in God, Not in Man

The Joshua Project reports 0.7 percent of the population are professing Christians. Despite having constitutional rights as citizens, Christians are often intimidated and discriminated against by the majority population

“Christians really feel like they have no recourse and no reason to rely on the government or the authorities. We’ve already seen from our own past experiences, judges being bribed, judges allow[ing] weapons in the courtroom to attack Christians,” Allen says.

(Photo courtesy of FMI)

But even with the discouragement of a country that has turned on its own people, there is a sense of something greater going on in Pakistan than what man could ever accomplish alone.

“The Christians really say, all we have left is the body of Christ, who will intercede for us before the throne of the one who is sovereign over all the nations. They really just rely on God to continue to protect them and allow them to engage in Christian activity, and worship and fellowship,” Allen says.

On the same day the attack against the church in Lahore was unfolding, Allen says he also received reports of baptisms in the country with other FMI partners. In a sense, ministry in Pakistan is a rollercoaster of intense joy and extreme heartache, and God is present and faithful through both.

Will You Pray?

Will you faithfully be the body of Christ to our brothers and sisters in Pakistan? If yes, start by praying. Pray for Pastor Asad’s wisdom, his elders, and a congregation that has been traumatized by this experience. Pray that these church leaders would remember their FMI security training and put it into practice.

“Pray for [Pastor Asad’s] personal growth and the protection of his Spirit. Remember, he’s someone himself who has experienced significant loss, he lost his home to land grabbers. Now he’s seeing it happening in one of the churches that he shepherds,” Allen asks.

Also, pray for the Lord’s sovereignty and justice in the aftermath of this church attack. Finally, pray for these Christians’ courage and perseverance following this attack.

Want to help financially support Pastor Asad’s church following Sunday’s attack? Then click here to give to FMI’s project advocacy account.

 

 

Header photo courtesy of FMI.

This June, help reach the unreached

United States (MNN) – Pentecost Sunday is one month away. The day marks ten days after Christ’s ascension, when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. It is also considered the launch of the global movement to spread the Gospel. It is fitting that the Alliance for the Unreached chose this day to holds its annual International Day for the Unreached (IDU). In 2019, the day falls on June 9.

Alliance for the Unreached is a movement meant to unite the Church through the work of churches, organizations, and individuals for the purpose of reaching every unreached people group (UPGs) with the Gospel. Promptly put, it is a collaborative to fulfill the Great Commission.

An Urgency and Hunger

Matt Knisely with the Seed Company says the organization joined the Alliance to alleviate the painful reality that there are people who do not yet have the opportunity to know Jesus or His love and truth.

“I started thinking about what it says in Ecclesiastes 4:12, about the three-fold cord, and thinking this is what is going to change the trajectory of the world, and the Kingdom of a body, a group, an alliance coming together, working in unity, to see God’s kingdom grow, and see the unreachable with word and with God,” Knisely says.

International day for the unreached

(Photo courtesy of Alliance for the Unreached)

The Alliance echoes a call felt throughout the global body of Christ—unity. In 2018 the themes for Missio Nexus and the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) conferences revolved around the idea of partnership within the Church. It resembles the threads of a tapestry woven together for the purpose of God. But in this interwoven unity is a sense of urgency.

“When I have gone to countries, such as Kenya or Zambia this past year, there is just a hunger that is there. And in a strong urgency, I feel that not only within the organizations, but in the countries that I visited, that desperately, desperately want to be reached,” Knisely says.

How to Get Involved

Knisely says it is time for Christians to deeply invest through prayer and even financial support in efforts to make the Gospel known among all nations of the world. Curious about the how? Invest in a translation project with the Seed Company.

The Seed Company is in the work of accelerating Bible translation. Their goal—to have God’s word in every heart language that needs it by 2025. Learn how to get involved here.

(Photo courtesy of Alliance for the Unreached)

“We have the Bible, we take it for granted that I can just open my mobile phone, and read the Bible right there when halfway around the world that little girl doesn’t know that Jesus loves her. And when you see somebody, for the first time, get God’s word. And you see the tears streaming down their face, it totally changes your perception,” Knisely says.

In the days leading up to Pentecost Sunday and the International Day for the Unreached, spend time invested in prayer. Ask God to provide the resources and forge the paths of making the Gospel available in every language so that those who do not know Him would have the opportunity to build a relationship with Jesus.

Learn more about the International Day for the Unreached here!

To get involved with the Seed Company, click here.

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Alliance for the Unreached.

News headlines become daily reminders for believers

International (MNN) — This month, headlines from Muslim-majority countries serve a dual purpose. Yes, they are current events but each headline is also a call to action.

Every time Muslims appear in the news between now and June 4, or a headline arises from a Muslim-majority nation, it’s a reminder to pray for the Muslim world. Why? Ramadan is underway – a sacred month on the Islamic calendar.  During Ramadan, Muslims devote themselves to fasting and seeking God. It’s a perfect season to pray Islamic followers will meet the one true Lord of Lords.

Download a prayer calendar here to pray through Ramadan.

Headlines like this one and this one – used in sync with Prayercast’s new “Love Muslims” video series – provide arsenal for committed prayer warriors. “The more we know, the more we notice,” observes Prayercast director Chris Ruge.

“Now, rather than just seeing a headline, my heart is stirred. Instead of just reading a story, God leads me in prayer for the people who are involved in that story.”

Join MNN’s email list to receive daily or weekly headlines. These updates can help you knowledgeably and specifically pray for Muslims as you learn about the people group.

“As I learn more about what it means to be a Muslim, about what they’re experiencing during Ramadan, about all these different facets of the Muslim world… as I learn more about that, I notice more things in the news that might have not caught my eye before.”

Prayer: it can change the Muslim world

Ruge and the Prayercast team began working on the “Love Muslims” series over four years ago. It all began with a question: “If we could snap our fingers and do anything in the Muslim world, what would we ask for?” Details here.

(Screenshot)

More questions followed the first: “What if we started praying for specific leaders in the Muslim world? Key political and religious leaders,” Ruge recalls.

“What would happen if one of them came out and boldly proclaimed to the entire world that they have met with Jesus Christ and found a better way?”

Those inquiries led to appointments, phone calls, interviews, filming sessions, and many, many hours of editing. Today, the “Love Muslims” library holds 130 videos, each designed to unleash strategic, focused prayer on the Muslim world.

“I am praying that He will use this to rally His body around the world in a way that we would look back and say, ‘That started something…historically significant in all of redemptive history’,” says Ruge.

Pray Muslims will encounter the one true God during Ramadan. Find specific prayer needs in each “Love Muslims” video. Today’s video focuses on marriage in the Muslim world.

 

 

Header image courtesy of Kaboompics.com via Pexels.

Suicide prevention requires prayer AND action

USA (MNN) — We’re continuing a conversation today about Mental Health Awareness Month and the U.S. suicide rate. Read yesterday’s article here. Suicide claimed over 47,000 lives in 2017, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Suicide is a crisis inside church walls as well as outside, Dean Vander Mey of Set Free Ministries observes. The self-inflicted deaths they encounter are often – but not always – connected to substance addiction.

On a daily basis, Set Free’s staff and volunteers utilize Scripture, counseling, and medical aid to help people work through suicide- and addiction-related issues. More about Set Free’s work here.

Vander Mey says local churches need to work in suicide prevention, too. Hurting hearts are everywhere, but few believers offer an introduction to “pele’ yo‘ets” – the wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ.

“If we’re going to be the body of Christ, and… God’s heart is to seek and save those who are lost, to search for the strays and to bring in [and] bind up the wounded, then – as the body of Christ – we should be doing that,” he says.

“That’s going to include prayer, but it’s also going to include action.”

Suicide prevention and you

God’s Word instructs believers to “be doers of the word and not hearers only,” as recorded in James 1. If you know someone’s hurting, first tell them – immediately – that you care and hope is readily available in Christ. Then, connect with Set Free through email, or call the ministry at (616) 726-5400 for direction regarding “next steps.”

“Love covers over a multitude of sin. Reach out,” Vander Mey recommends.

“The number one trick of Satan is isolation.”

He points to Genesis 3 as an example.

(Stock photo by Pexels)

“When Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing they did was run and hide. They thought they were bad and God was mad. God actually pursued them, came into their darkness while they were hiding, and says, ‘hey, let’s talk.’”

Vander Mey also describes a process Set Free uses to help someone who’s suicidal. “[Suicide is] a spiritual, emotional and physical issue,” he begins, outlining steps the ministry follows to help a person in need.

“If a person is a danger to themselves or others, I say, ‘let’s get help immediately,’” Vander Mey says. “Get that person to the hospital because… they might need some medication to settle things down so that they can start to get out the issue.”

Once the physical crisis is resolved, “now let’s find out what’s causing all of this,” he continues.

“Let’s get to the real issue, because – usually – there’s something underneath that (suicidal ideation).”

Visit Set Free’s website to learn more about their work.

 

 

Header image courtesy of Gabriel via Unsplash.

How you can pray for Muslims during Ramadan

International (MNN) — The Muslim world is three days into Ramadan, a holiday when Muslims fast during the daylight hours and seek to earn Allah’s favor.

Ramadan is also a pivotal time for Christians — a time to pray for God to show Muslims the truth of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Frontiers USA works among Islamic people groups to plant churches and introduce Muslims to Jesus in the Bible. Perry LaHaie with Frontiers says they hear stories all the time from the mission field of God miraculously revealing His truth to Muslim men and women.

“We hear them so often — God showing up in a dream or a vision [or] performing a miracle of healing. A lot of the times, it’s just something that prepares the heart of a Muslim person, and then many times, God will bring a follower of Jesus into that person’s life or they’ll get in touch with the Bible.”

(Photo courtesy of Frontiers USA)

LaHaie says he recently heard the story of Rachel, a Muslim woman whose father was an Islamic scholar. “Rachel’s father…felt like he really didn’t understand the Muslim holy book, the Quran, so he just dove into it really deep to understand it better. Rachel was inspired by her father’s desire to know the Quran better so she started her own quest for truth.

“She ended up reading about Isa al-Masih, Jesus the Messiah, online. As she read about that and reflected on what she was learning, one night she just cried out, ‘God, show me the truth.’

“Right after that, her room was filled with a brilliant light and she heard the words she had just read online from Jesus. She heard the words, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except by me.’

“When she had this vision of light and heard the words, she was convinced they were true.”

Rachel was so moved by Jesus’s words that she told her mother about the vision, and her mother believed as well. One by one, Rachel’s father, two brothers, sister, and sister’s fiance all came to trust in Jesus as their Savior.

“It just seems like this is one of the things God is doing in the Muslim world — using dramatic signs, wonders, dreams, visions, and then getting Muslims connected with the Word,” LaHaie says. “It’s like a touch point that moves them forward, maybe breaks through the misconceptions they have, and opens them up to then hearing the Word.”

Hungry for Hope, a 30-day Ramadan prayer guide by Frontiers USA. (Image courtesy of Frontiers)

You can pray for Muslims during the month of Ramadan by using Frontiers’ 30-day Ramadan prayer guide, Hungry for Hope.

Hungry for Hope immerses you in the stories of Muslim families and their journeys to discover God’s grace in Jesus. These precious stories paired with stunning photos will equip and move you to prayer.

Begin your 30-day prayer adventure here!

You can also join what God is doing in the Muslim world at frontiersusa.org.

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Frontiers.

Of Cyclone Fani, Aftermath and Recovery in India

(Photo by NASA – Terra MODIS Satellite – https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78667390)

India (MNN) – India learned from the bitter lessons of 1999 when a super cyclone struck Odisha (formerly known as Orissa) and killed 10,000 people, mostly in Odisha state.

Upon learning that another massive storm was aiming straight for the east coast last week, government officials evacuated over a million people. David Dayalan, the India country director for Asian Access (A2), says although Cyclone Fani still claimed dozens of lives, the evacuation saved tens of thousands of lives.

Heatwave complicates recovery

Fani left a trail of devastation across Odisha, home to 46 million people, before swinging towards Bangladesh. In early damage assessments, Dayalan describes it this way: “There are low lying areas that have become completely submerged, and the houses have been destroyed. I was talking to some friends from that region and there is almost no electricity, the walls are damaged, there’s water inside their home.”

The cyclone uprooted 10,000 coconut trees and destroyed agriculture and horticulture crops in Andhra Pradesh, which means food security will be a problem in the near future. “The devastation is so bad. I mean, it’s just unimaginable. It’s going to be tough to recover from the loss of agriculture.”

In remote areas, the storm damaged homes and business, many without roofs. Power lines are down, and some roads remain inaccessible; yet to be restored, Dayalan says, are electricity and communications.

“It is going to take a long time in terms of rehabilitation, in terms of settling people back in those villages and towns and getting their houses rectified. That is going to be a huge challenge. Especially in the context–It’s now election season. The political parties have been pretty active in campaigning.”

Relief efforts underway

Government officials estimate the storm affected more than three million people. Much of the damage, explains Dayalan, was in poorer areas, where hundreds of thousands are homeless now. “The coastal belt traditionally doesn’t see too much development around that area, in Odisha. It’s only the main cities like Cuttack, otherwise, it’s mostly villages and towns.”

Non-Government Organizations, as well as businesses and the U.S. Navy, began their damage assessments and have already started relief efforts. The office of the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) said massive relief and restoration work was underway to provide basic facilities – electricity, water supply, and mobile connectivity – to the affected people.

The strength of the Church

Dayalan observes that the needs are at survival level: clean water, shelter, and food, in that order. Although A2 isn’t a humanitarian NGO, they do work with established church networks. That speeds up any relief process, exponentially.

“Any calamity in any part of India, we mobilize the pastors, in fact, quite a few of them get involved in aid–not from an ‘Asian Access’ perspective, but more from ‘pastors-from-their-own-church’ perspective. We do encourage churches to get involved in aid and relief–especially relief.

“The immediate need right now will be to help people through this process. The government can only do to some level. The Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) normally (and the churches) really get actively involved on the ground in rehabilitating people and their homes and getting them off the field.”

As storm-hit parts of India slowly come out of paralysis, multiple needs appear. Yes, survivors need relief, but that’s tricky navigation with funding restrictions for ministries. As the hands and feet of Christ on the ground, ask God to provide the supplies and funding needed.

But this is the primary request, says Dayalan. “Prayer is going to be number one: praying for the government especially, [that they] would really make all that they can, the effort to get people back on their feet, and also the aid and social NGOs, which are going to be working alongside the government agencies so they will really help the process.”

 

 

Headline photo courtesy  TwitterTrends2019/Flickr/CC