(MENA) – Children of all ages across the globe face challenges. Speak Up, a popular talk show on SAT-7 Arabic is helping address some of these challenges in the Middle East and North Africa. SAT-7 Arabic is a channel of SAT-7, a satellite TV ministry to the Middle East and North Africa.
(Photo courtesy of SAT-7, credit Russell Watkins with the Department for International Development)
“Speak Up program is a counseling program discussing current issues that affect society especially women. The program tries to explain the causes of these problems and their consequences.
“We help viewers gain perspective on these issues and learn how to find alternative solutions. We invite experts in the topics discussed on the program to share their knowledge and expertise with our viewers,” Amgad Shafik says, producer and director of Speak Up program on SAT-7.
Speak Up touches on a number of topics ranging from disabilities to bullying. The channel also invites people to share their personal experiences.
“By sharing their real-life stories, viewers can understand that they’re not alone and that others are going through similar issues and find ways to overcome their problems,” Shafik says.
Teaching Parents and Kids
The channel is also helping make many parents aware of what their children might be experiencing. Through Speak Up, SAT-7 is helping parents and their kids push back against things like bullying to model Christ-like relationships.
One of the challenges which come with this is identifying perpetrators of harmful actions and addressing the kids who are acting out in negative ways.
“On Speak Up, we define bullying, its types and who does it. We explain its reasons, where it happens and its consequences. We teach parents how to identify bullying and what do to if their child is bullied. We make parents aware of the importance of always talking to their children, listening to them and paying attention to the details of their lives to help them in the best way possible,” Shafik says.
By defining challenges like bullying, Speak Up is raising awareness while also helping parents and kids address these issues, stand up for themselves, learn to reflect a Christ-like relationship, and treat people with care.
(Photo courtesy of SAT-7 via Facebook)
“Christ’s love shows in the way we help people understand and solve the problems at hand through Christian based values and principles. We speak about unconditional love as a basis for everything and through it many problems will be automatically solved,” Shafik says.
“We show Christ when we accept the others as they are regardless of their background. Jesus himself accepted sinners and went around doing good things for everyone without discrimination. Just as Jesus loved me as I am and accepted me, so must I accept the other regardless of their background.”
If you would, please pray for God’s love to be made visible through SAT-7’s program Speak Up. Pray for the teams’ wisdom when it chooses discussion topics and the experts who address these topics with the audience. Also, pray for God to supply the financial support Speak Up needs to continue producing content which reflects God’s love and helps the viewers.
“We have a goal of having a full-on ministry partnership with a church. That includes helping them train their congregation for local evangelism, taking people from their congregation on short-term trips with us, having them choose a location abroad that they’re passionate about,… and potentially even sending people long-term from their church.
“Ultimately, it’s about as much us partnering with the church as it is them partnering with us. We want to serve the Kingdom alongside them.”
(Photo courtesy of e3 Partners)
One church in Tulsa, Oklahoma knew there was more they could be doing to reach others with the hope of Jesus.
“They wanted to be a congregation that met people where they were, that went and sought out the lost rather than waiting for them to come into the church.”
This body of believers heard about e3 Partners and reached out. Johnston says e3 met with them and conducted Gospel conversations training, “which really teaches you simple tools to share your testimony, to share the Gospel, and then when people come to faith, to then start discipling them.”
From there, it ignited a passion in this church for the Great Commission.
“They started going out into their community, praying for people, sharing the Gospel with people, sharing their testimonies with people, and seeing a lot of people come to faith through that.
“They got hungrier and hungrier for more training, for more opportunities to just pour into the lives of these people. So then our team came back and did another training with them.”
(Photo courtesy of e3 Partners)
This time, e3 conducted their 4 Fields Training. This training is more in-depth and really delves into church planting, discipleship, and the biblical grounding for those ministry practices.
The Tulsa church also started a residency team that would meet weekly to talk about how they are growing spiritually, debrief on evangelism initiatives, provide accountability, and worship together.
“Then they go out for at least an hour or two every week and knock on doors, pray for people, share the Gospel with people, and then go back to people that have taken hold of the Gospel and disciple those people.”
But they weren’t content to stay local. Eventually, the congregants wanted to get involved with ministry in Asia as well. So e3 Partners got them plugged in with short-term missions trips.
“A lot of people on those trips felt like God was calling them to long-term missionary work. So we continued pouring into those people and having them continue to learn more locally and seeing them raise up disciples locally,” says Johnston.
“Eventually, over the course of the last year, a lot of those people have been trained up…and are now being sent out abroad long-term.
“Now, we really see that holistic approach to that church. They have people that are going abroad long-term. They have people that are going on these short-term trips. They have people that are not only taking part in trainings, but are also now doing trainings themselves locally and evangelism locally.”
The transformation of this church body in Tulsa had a profound impact on their community.
(Photo courtesy of e3 Partners via Facebook)
“We’ve just seen so many people come to faith from this congregation. We’ve seen their congregation really grow and their congregation really grow together. They all talked about how they just feel like they’re a tighter-knit community now, how they hold each other accountable, [and] how they really feel like a family. It’s been a really amazing thing to see.”
Johnston says, “I would just encourage pastors [and] churches, if you feel like your church is stagnant or you have this desire to equip your congregation more or to just get more involved in missions work, I would just really encourage you to check out the church partnerships page.
“We truly just want to serve the Kingdom of God alongside you. We want to do whatever we can to equip the churches across the US because we know there [are] so many people in each neighborhood, in each community that still need to hear the name of Jesus. The Church can be a great vehicle to spread the Kingdom.”
Turkey (MNN) — Turkey appears to be closing its doors to Christian residents, and it’s not clear why. A recent entry ban, subsequent deportations, and unclear communication all raise concern for Turkey’s Christian community.
“After many years of residency, they (foreign Christian workers) are now being banned from entering the country,” Adam Smith* of Middle East Concern tells MNN.
“Lawyers are trying to get official papers giving the reasons why people are facing entry bans, and yet they’re not able to do so.”
Smith describes the following situations as examples of Turkey’s entry ban.
Entry ban examples
In April, family emergencies required that one pastor travel immediately to the United States, Smith begins. This pastor led a church in Istanbul for 20 years and is well-known in the community. When he tried returning to Turkey on Thursday, authorities detained him at the airport. Instead of letting him into the country, they deported the pastor to Germany.
Smith says MEC knows of several cases like this. The situation is putting non-Turkish Christians on-edge. “It’s certainly made them feel very insecure,” he states.
“There’s no warning that this might happen… when you leave the airport, you don’t know if you’re going to be allowed back or not. It’s very unsettling for the people.”
(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Another entry ban occurred in February, he reports. A Christian couple was returning home to Istanbul after traveling abroad. Authorities stopped the pair in the airport and told them they were going to be deported, but the couple managed to call their lawyer first.
“The lawyer was able to step in, stop the deportation for a few days,” describes Smith. Unfortunately, the couple couldn’t return to their home in Istanbul. Government authorities told them to return to the U.S. and seek answers from the Turkish consulate.
The couple “went to the Turkish consulate in Chicago, asked them ‘what’s the problem? We haven’t done anything wrong…why are we not being allowed back in the country?” Smith says. Consulate officials told the couple they couldn’t get into Turkey because there was an entry ban.
“That doesn’t explain anything, of course, [about] why are you banned?” Smith observes.
On its website, the U.S. State Department warns citizens visiting Turkey,
Security forces have detained tens of thousands of individuals, including U.S. citizens, for alleged affiliations with terrorist organizations based on scant or secret evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated. U.S. citizens have also been subject to travel bans that prevent them from departing Turkey.
However, at press time, there are no statements regarding the entry bans or deportations of foreign residents of Turkey.
About the current entry ban and deportations, Smith notes “similar things have happened in the past; quite a number of foreign Christians have been deported. But, it’s been done in quite a different way.”
At the individual level, there’s little action one can take legally or politically on behalf of these believers. However, you do know the God who directs the affairs of mankind.
(Stock photo obtained via Pexels)
We “definitely need to pray in a variety of different areas regarding this [situation],” Smith states. “First of all, there are those people and families who have been immediately affected by this. I know, for example, that the children in one family… have been really distressed.”
Ask the Lord to comfort and encourage believers affected by Turkey’s entry ban. Pray lawyers working on their behalf will have wisdom and discernment. “If there is any policy that’s targeting Christians in this way because of their ministry, then may it come out into the open and stop,” Smith suggests.
Please also pray for Turkish churches affected by the entry ban. “If the church suddenly loses its head pastor, it’s very disturbing for the congregation and is a cause of anxiety,” notes Smith.
“May the Church know God’s peace during this time and have that overcoming spirit.”
Summer break. For 10 months a year, your family is regimented by the school schedule. So how do you make family time count each summer, whether it seems like forever or flies by? How do you engage the “I’m bored” kids? How do you carve out quality time with busy kids between camps? How do you intentionally make summer fun for your family?
We’ve compiled 10 fun games your family can play that help kids learn how to pay it forward and give them the confidence that they are never too young to change the world:
Water is used in many more ways than we even realize. The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home. Think of the ways we use water:
Teeth brushing: 1 gallon
Flushing the toilet: 2 gallons
Shower: 5 gallons per minute
Dishwasher: 6 gallons
Drinking water: 1/2 gallon per person
Water is fundamental to life. What if our access to clean water was cut off? Imagine all the ways our daily routines would change. How much water does your family use? How many times would you have to go to the river or waterhole to get dirty water? The risks are huge — every day nearly 1,000 children die from diarrhea due to poor water, sanitation, and hygiene. But what is a mother to do if she has no alternative to dirty water?
Learn what it takes to get water for your basic needs. Play outside if possible. If you need to play inside, use a non-carpeted room, put down towels, and have a mop on hand to clean up spilled water. Expect to get wet! What you’ll need:
2 buckets (or large mixing bowls)
2 large sponges (or plastic cups)
Play the game
Place the buckets about 15 feet apart. One bucket is “home” and the other is the “watering hole” where you get the water. Your goal (either as one team or divide into teams and make it a race; just double your materials) is to bring water home from the watering hole — by carrying it in a sponge on your head, with no hands!
Place the empty sponge on your head at home and walk to the watering hole. At the watering hole, take the sponge off your head, put it in the bucket, and let it soak up as much water as it can. Then put the full sponge on top of your head, remove your hands, and walk back home. Squeeze the water from the sponge into the bucket using your hands and give the sponge to the next person, who will repeat the steps. This will continue until the watering hole bucket is empty!
If at any time the sponge falls off your head, return to the line you left and start over. If you drop it on the way to the watering hole, you’ll start back at home. If you drop it on your way home, you’ll start back at the watering hole.
Play it forward: What did you learn?
How long did it take you to get all the water home? How do you think life would change for someone who went from traveling hours each day to a watering hole to instead having easy access to plentiful, pure water? Watch Cheru’s story:
Imagine waking up one morning to discover that all the color in the world had disappeared. Everything would be black, white, and shades of gray. What colors would you miss the most? We are going to celebrate the vibrant colors within God’s creation by having a colorful game of water balloon dodgeball! What you’ll need:
2 large buckets or bowls
Small water balloons
Neon food coloring
A rope or ribbon to make a long line in the grass
Colorful fruits, vegetables, and juices for snacks
Play the game
Play outside and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. You can prepare the colorful water balloons ahead of time or make this a part of the activity with your kids. Here’s how to make them:
Combine 2 cups cold water, ¾ cup corn starch, and 10 drops of one color of food coloring in a saucepan.
Heat over medium heat, stir constantly, and stop as soon as the liquid begins to thicken (you don’t want it to get too thick!).
Add the liquid to a spray bottle. Attach a balloon to the nozzle of the bottle, and squirt the liquid into the balloons until full.
Repeat with other colors until you have the desired amount of water balloons.
Outside, place a rope or ribbon across the yard to divide it into two sides. Divide into two teams, and give each team the same number of water balloons. Count to three and yell, “GO!” All the team members race to the line and throw balloons at their opponents.
Play for fun, or play to win: If someone gets doused with color, they’re out. If the balloon hits them and does not break, the thrower is out. The team that survives the longest wins.
Play it forward: What did you learn?
After the game, gather for snacks and refreshment, and take some time to talk about the game.
Color is such a beautiful blessing. How do you think your day-to-day life would be different if you did, in fact, wake up one day to a world without color? How would you rely on your other senses to make up for the lack of color?
In the beginning, God had a blank canvas before him. He could have created a colorless world — or even a world with only a couple of colors in it. But he didn’t! His love of color is written on the petals of flowers, the blue of the sky, and the skin of all people across the world. Why do you think he did this? If colors are from God, and God is good, is there such a thing as a bad color?
What’s next? Find a color run near you, raise funds, and donate them to your favorite charity. You can also bless your loved ones with the gift of color by painting them a picture, giving them a hand-picked bouquet of flowers, or cooking for them a beautiful, colorful meal, utilizing colorful produce and spices available at the local market.
The world produces enough food for everyone to have enough. Yet, 1 in 8 people in the world does not have enough to eat. Why?
Some people can’t grow enough food. Many poor farmers are unable to grow enough food to feed their own families. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have the money to buy good seeds. Sometimes it’s the weather — not enough rain or too much rain can ruin gardens and crops they’ve planted. Sometimes it’s because disease harms the crops they are trying to grow. Sometimes it’s because they may grow enough food for part of the year but lack safe storage to save food for the cold or dry seasons when they can’t grow food.
People who don’t grow their own food often go hungry because they lack the money to buy food. And nutritious food is more expensive than unhealthy, processed food.
Learn why it is hard for some kids to get enough food to eat. You’ll need 3 to 5 food items you will hide for each child playing to find, i.e. banana, apple, orange, ear of corn, carrot, bag of rice, bread in a sandwich bag, etc.
Play the game
(Hide all the food items before you start the game.)
Tell your kids the number of food items you’ve hidden, and give them a time limit to find them based on their age and how well you’ve hidden the items! After they find them all, come back together.
Play it forward: What did you learn?
Sit down for a discussion with your kids: How did you feel when you found the hidden food? Was it easy or hard? Think about the last time you were hungry. What happens to you when you’re hungry? Do you ever get “hangry?”
The goal of this game is to differentiate between wants and needs, as well as imagine the choices refugees make. What you’ll need:
A representative item for each item on the packing list
Backpacks or bag big enough for all items on the packing list
Play the game
Mission Control has discovered a new planet, and our family gets to go! Close your eyes for a minute and imagine: How will we get there, what will it look like, and who will we meet? Okay, open your eyes. What’s similar and what’s different about what each of us imagined? Now let’s pack our 15 items to bring:
Toys and sports equipment
Wait! Mission Control has just limited our cargo space to 10 items. What do we want to take and what do we need to take? Take out five items.
Uh-oh. An emergency announcement just came through that there is even less space available. We can only take seven items. Take out three more items.
We should now have only the items that are essential for survival. What do you think? What was easy about choosing what to leave behind? What was harder?
Play it forward: What did you learn?
Discuss the difference between want and need. What does a person truly need to survive? What would you take if you had to leave your home because war broke out and it was too dangerous to stay? Millions of families have had to make that choice. They are called refugees.
What do you know about refugees? Learn more about the Syrian refugee crisis and watch this video about a family making decisions about what they would take with them.
Sometimes we all, especially children, feel like we can’t make a difference with the little we have. We hesitate to share what we have because we think we’ll lose. But even the smallest of contributions together multiply so everyone gets more back than what they contributed. Learn about the importance of sharing and contributing to the greater good through this story about stone soup — and learn how to make it! What you’ll need to feed six to eight people:
3 medium-sized stones, washed clean
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium leeks or 2 onions (chopped)
2 cups carrots (peeled, chopped)
2 cups potatoes (peeled, diced)
2 cups green beans
2 cups corn
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups tomatoes (peeled, seeded)
1 bay leaf
¼ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
Salt and pepper
Play the game
Read the following story about stone soup.
Three travelers walked slowly down a road in a strange country. They were tired and hungry. They had eaten nothing for two days.
“I would like a good dinner tonight,” said the first. “And a bed to sleep in,” added the second. “But that is impossible,” said the third.
Soon they saw a village. “Maybe we’ll find a bite to eat and a bed to sleep in,” they thought.
When the villagers heard that three strangers were coming, they were worried. “Here come three strangers,” they said. “Strangers are always hungry. But we have so little for ourselves.” So, they hid all their food.
The travelers stopped at a house. “Good evening,” one said. “Could you spare a bit of food?” one asked. “And do you have a corner where we could sleep for the night?”
“Oh, no,” the man lied. “We have nothing to share.” Then the woman lied, “And our beds are full.” At each house, the response was the same.
The travelers talked together. The first one called out, “Good people! We are three hungry visitors in a strange land. We have asked you for food, and you have no food. Well, we will have to make stone soup.” The villagers stared.
The travelers asked for a big iron pot, water to fill it, a fire to heat it, and three stones. They dropped the stones into the pot.
[Take out the pot and drop in the stones.]
“Any soup needs salt and pepper,” the first one said, so some children ran to fetch salt and pepper. “Stones make good soup, but carrots would make it so much better,” the second traveler added. A woman replied, “Why, I think I have a carrot or two!” She ran to get the carrots. “A good stone soup should have some potatoes,” said the third traveler. Another woman said, “I think I can find some potatoes.” And off she went. The travelers said, “If only we had a bit of barley, this soup would be fit for a king!” And so another villager found some barley.
“The soup is ready,” said the travelers. Tables were set up in the square, and all sat down to eat.
Never had there been such a feast. Never had anyone tasted such delicious soup made from stones! The mayor offered beds at his home for the travelers. In the morning, the villagers gathered to say goodbye. “Many thanks to you,” the people said, “for we shall never go hungry now that you have taught us how to make soup from stones!”
Now let’s finish making our stone soup! (Feel free to remove the stones first.) Heat the olive oil. Once hot, add the leeks and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, approximately 7 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the broth and bay leaf. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Then add tomatoes, corn, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parsley. Season, to taste, with salt. Serve.
Play it forward: What did you learn?
Why did you each of you like or dislike the story? What made the soup taste good? How did the villagers change while the soup was cooking? What is the story’s message? Why is sharing important — and what happens when people don’t share?
Read John 6:5-13, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with the loaves and fishes offered by a little boy. What happened when the little boy shared what he had? How did Jesus use the boy’s gift? How do you think the boy felt when he saw so many people fed because he shared?
Then brainstorm ideas on how you can share this week. What about volunteering as a family to feed people in need at a local shelter or soup kitchen? Or making your favorite cookies and giving them to a neighbor or friends at church with a homemade card or drawing?
You are about to play a game of survival. You are a child younger than 5 in a country somewhere in the world. Maybe you’re lucky and live in a country where there is good healthcare, schools, and your parents have jobs. Maybe you’re not so lucky because disease threatens your health. Maybe you’re an orphan who has to work instead of going to school. Pick out a country ID card (download here). Read it to yourself, carefully. Based on the descriptions on your card, you will take steps toward good health and survival or backward to illness and possibly death. The goal of this game is to understand the factors that affect child health and survive to your fifth birthday. What you’ll need:
Mark a starting line across the middle of the room with masking tape. The line must be long enough for all participants to stand in a single row. Take 10 steps forward from the start line, create a second line, and label it “Healthy at 5.” Take nine steps back from the start line and create a third line, labeling it “Sick at 5.”
Play the game
Give each of your kids a role-play card. Find their countries on the world map. Then have them line up along the start line facing toward the “Healthy at 5” line. Read through the following descriptions and prompts, one at a time, allowing your kids to respond according to their respective card descriptions:
Birth weight: In poor countries, pregnant women don’t get enough food or healthcare to have healthy babies. A child born underweight will struggle to develop strong bones and muscles. Their immune system will be too weak to fight off disease, and they may have learning difficulties later in life. Take one step forward if you were born at a healthy weight. Take one step back if you weren’t.
Healthcare: Access to a doctor means is crucial when you’re sick or have hurt yourself. Shots, or vaccinations, protect you against preventable diseases like measles and polio. In poor areas, there are usually too few doctors, or, if there is one, many people are too poor to pay to see a doctor. Take one step forward if you’ve had your shots. Take one step back if you have not.
Food: Food and proper nutrition are important to stay healthy. Good-quality food helps you grow strong. Living here in the U.S., we have lots of high-quality food. But in many countries, children eat only one or two meals a day or go for days without eating because food is expensive and hard to find. Take one step forward if you get three meals a day. Take one step back if you eat less and are too hungry to play.
Water, sanitation, and hygiene: The United States has good water and sewer systems. Some people around the world do not have access to safe, clean water or toilets or water treatment systems. Their drinking water has dangerous parasites and bacteria that cause disease and diarrhea, a leading cause of death in children younger than 5. Take one step forward if you drink clean water from a tap. Take one step back if this is what you lack. Take one step forward if there’s a toilet in your home. Take one step back if you are forced to roam.
Education: In the United States, school is free. But many kids around the world can’t attend school because they have to work or their parents can’t afford to pay tuition. Kids who attend school are more likely to be healthy and able to get better jobs in the future. Take one step forward if your days are spent in school. Take one step back if this is not the rule.
Malaria:Malaria is a serious and sometimes deadly disease carried by certain types of mosquitoes. It is a leading cause of death worldwide, but we don’t have a risk of malaria here in the United States. Mosquito bed nets treated with special chemicals are inexpensive and effective in preventing mosquito bites. Take one step forward if you have a mosquito net. Take one step back if this is something you didn’t get.
Employment: Parents who work can buy nutritious food and pay for medical bills and school costs. Children of unemployed parents may get poor-quality nutrition and may not get the healthcare they need. These children are also more likely to work instead of going to school. Take one step forward if one or both parents work for your daily bread. Take one step back if you or your siblings work instead.
We now reached the end of the game! If you reached the “Healthy at 5” line, you are healthy and survived to your 5th birthday. If you did not, you are closer to illness and death. If you’re in the middle, you survived your first five years but may have health problems as you grow older. If you’re at the “Sick at 5” line, you are at greatest risk of dying.
Play it forward: What did you learn?
What surprised you most during this activity? What was the biggest challenge to your health? How do you feel about children who were healthier than you or those who died before age 5? How would you help children who were less healthy than you? What would you say to them? What do they need?
Now invite everyone to join you in prayer for the hungry and a time to consider action. Pray that all countries will work toward the common good of children and that one day no child will go without food, shelter, medical care, or education.
You can also brainstorm ways your family can improve the lives of children, such as volunteering at a school, homeless shelter, or at your church’s nursery on Sunday, visiting patients at your local children’s hospital, or sponsoring a child in another country.
The daily chores of children around the world can look pretty different depending on where they live. Many tackle arduous and labor-intensive tasks simply to have clean water to drink, food to eat, and clean clothes to wear in the morning. Let’s discover what it might feel like to be one of these children, walking through their daily chores, one by one. This activity is best done on a family camping trip or a visit to a park. What you’ll need:
1 bucket per person (2+ gallons)
Water filter or water purifier, if available
1 camping pot
Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (optional: other ingredients you’d need for mashed potatoes or potato salad recipe)
Bar of soap
Stones for scrubbing clothes
String for line-drying clothes
Play the game
Have each participant take an empty bucket. Walk to the nearest natural water source (if unavailable, use tap water, but try to choose a source that’s not too close). Carry full buckets of water back.
In the campgrounds or the surrounding area, look for scraps of dry wood to use for firewood and bring them back to the campsite. Remember to collect both small tinder — like dry grass, twigs, or pine cones — and larger kindling, like branches and logs.
Build a campfire using the collected wood and matches in the campground fire pit (parental supervision advised).
Fill a large camping pot with some of the collected water and place it over the established campfire. Heat the water to a rolling boil and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Allow water to cool.
Use the now-purified water to wash dirty T-shirts. Scrub the shirts with some water, soap, and stones until clean. Rinse with clean water. Hang the string between two trees (or other sturdy objects). Then hang the clothes on the string to line-dry.
Bring another pot of water to boil. After bringing the water to a rolling boil for 2 to 3 minutes (lots of bubbles rising to the top!), add the potato chunks and boil for about 15 minutes. Make them into mashed potatoes or a potato salad for your family to eat.
Play it forward: What did you learn?
How long did it take to accomplish all of these chores? Can you imagine doing this on a daily basis? How would these labor- and time-intensive chores impact your ability to play, go to school, and spend time with loved ones if you had to do them regularly?
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” —1 John 3:18
How could you show the love of Christ by helping others meet their daily needs? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Offer to help an elderly friend, neighbor, or single parent for free. Would they like you to weed their garden or mow their lawn? Ask them what would be most helpful.
Behind every item in our home are the hands of others — people who use their knowledge and talents to produce the things we need, as well as all the people in between who get these items to us. How would your life change if everyone stopped using their God-given talents? Where would we get the things we need, like clean water, our stove, or our produce?
Discover the abundance of gifts within your home — and within you. What you’ll need:
A glass of water
A loaf of bread
Pen and paper
Play the game
Place the items on the table in front of your children, and give each child a pen and paper to write on.
Ask them to write down how people were involved in the making of each item. What talents, tools, or knowledge were required for them to be able to create each item? In what way do they depend on the talents and knowledge of other people? Where did they learn how to create these things?
Once they’ve finished, ask them to share and discuss their answers.
Next, ask them to go and pick out their favorite possession — a toy, book, instrument, hat, ball, etc. Ask them to do the same thing with these items. Ask how they would feel if the makers behind these items didn’t use their God-given talents to create them.
Play it forward: What did you learn?
To survive and thrive on a daily basis, we depend on the outpouring of other people’s gifts. People are making and creating throughout the world, for the world — and it is good! In James 1:17, we learn that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (NIV). It is important for us to recognize that there are hands and hearts behind the items we use daily.
God, the ultimate gift-giver, created each of us with a unique set of talents, passions, and abilities. Do you love to draw or dance? Are you great at soccer or basketball? How could you use your strengths to help others? Ideas:
Host a sports day at the local park. Invite your friends and their younger siblings, and work together to teach the younger children how to play a sport (or dance!).
Make something (cards, bracelets, cookies, lemonade) and sell it to your friends, neighbors, or church community. Donate the proceeds to a charity of your choosing.
Children living in poverty often have to make choices that are very different than the ones we make every day. They might not have very good options to choose from. Their circumstances can be very difficult. They might not have clean water or toilets. They might not be able to see a doctor, even if they really need it. They might not have time to play because they have to work so hard to survive.
Learn about the choices children in poverty have to make. What you’ll need:
A piece of paper
Play the game
Read your children this story:
Guha is a 7-year-old boy who lives in a remote, mountain village in China. It’s very cold in the winter, and his two sisters have to walk 20 minutes to school every day. They have to cross three rivers, but one bridge has collapsed, so they have to jump across on rocks. If the water level is too high, they can’t get to school. When he’s 12, Guha will have to go to school 1.5 hours away. He’ll have to live there because it’s too far to walk every day.
People in Guha’s village have to walk a long way to collect water from a stream. The village has no proper toilets.
Guha and his sisters share a lunch of cold potatoes and rice at school, even though it’s cold outside. When he gets home, Guha starts a fire, collects water, feeds the chickens and pigs, and takes care of the horse, which is his favorite chore. He wants to be a teacher when he grows up.
Now draw two big, overlapping circles on the piece of paper so that they nearly fill the entire page. You or your kids should label one with their names and another with Guha’s name.
In Guha’s circle, write down choices Guha makes every day. (Example: Is it safe enough to cross the river?)
In your children’s circle, have them explain the choices they make every day. (Example: What will I do after school?)
Then, in the overlapping area, write down any choices they both make. (Example: Am I going to be kind? When should I do my homework?)
Play it forward: What did you learn?
Some choices are big and have an effect on other people — for good or bad. For example, choosing to not wash your hands could share germs that could get someone else sick. But choosing to be kind could make someone’s day. What are some good choices you could make that would have a positive effect on children like Guha? Let’s come up with a list of ideas, then choose one to do this week.
Most kids living in poverty don’t have many toys, but that doesn’t stop them from playing. They make toys out of what they find. The goal of this game is to be grateful for what you have. What you’ll need:
10 items picked by your kids from around your house or outside (that aren’t toys)
Play the game
Gather 10 items you can recycle from around your house or outside that aren’t toys, i.e. plastic bags, empty paper towel rolls, empty milk cartons, cardboard boxes.
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, ask your kids: How many toys do you have? Do you think you have enough toys? How many toys did you ask for last Christmas or on your birthday?
Then brainstorm together: How many toys can you make out of them? What kinds of new games can you make with them?
Creating your own toys means you activated your creativity. Building them took cooperation. What special talents do you see in your family? Take turns telling everyone in your family what talents you appreciate about them. Then take a minute to think of five things you are grateful for, and share them with your family.
Pay it forward by helping your kids clean out their toys and donate the ones they don’t use anymore to Goodwill. You can also donate to give soccer balls and new toys to kids who don’t have them.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” —1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“About three years ago, my parents started talking about kids in Africa, kids who walk miles and hours to get water for their families. This water isn’t even clean. It’s the kind you wouldn’t wash your dog with, but it’s all they have,” says Caleb. “If there’s anything I can do to help other kids, then I want to do it.”
At the time, Caleb was 8. His parents were running a marathon with Team World Vision to raise funds for clean water projects. He started with a 1-mile run. When he turned 9, he ran a 5K with his grandfather, age 69 — a first time for both.
“This past year, I made one of the craziest decisions of my life. I wanted to run the half marathon, which is 13.1 miles” says Caleb. “At first, my parents said no, but then I convinced them. Running a half marathon means training every single day. Some days I didn’t want to get up. But then I’d think about kids who had to get up and walk, carrying heavy water.”
Caleb also convinced five of his friends to run with him. “The race was fun and exhausting. But the best part was the outcome: I raised over $45k.”
Tyler is a kid with big dreams of bringing clean water to communities in Africa. And his dreams are turning into reality through his lemonade stand.
His story begins back in September 2011, when the mailman delivered the World Vision Gift Catalog; he read it cover to cover. The next morning he brought the Gift Catalog to his mother and told him he wanted to help bring clean water to Africa.
“I could not believe people did not have enough clean water to drink,” says Tyler. “It comes straight out of my faucet!”
With his first lemonade stand, Tyler raised $400. But his lemonade stand is forever evolving with new ideas and causes. To date, he has raised more than $19,000 for clean water. His goal is to raise $50,000.
“I want to show God’s love to a hurting world,” says Tyler. “I want to do something — something life-changing — and I would like you to join me.”
When Anna Goodworth taught her children about slavery in their homeschool history class, Adelaine and Lukas, then 5 and 7, asked if slavery still exists. Anna told them about human trafficking and child labor, a modern form of slavery, and that even the things they bought could be made by exploited children.
“My son said he wanted to do another Boston Tea Party and take everything they had that was made by slaves and throw it in the river,” says Anna. “Instead of getting arrested, I opted to have them write a letter to the president and our [members of Congress].”
A few months later, the family visited Washington, D.C., and met with their congressional members, including Rep. Elizabeth Esty. They spent time with World Vision staff discussing how to advocate for a bill. They urged Rep. Esty to consider legislation that addresses human trafficking. Back home, the children followed up with thank you notes.
A year later, Anna received an email from Rep. Etsy’s office, explaining that the family’s visit inspired her to back the anti-trafficking bill — which is now law. “It’s different when kids are speaking out for kids,” Anna says. “They can say, ‘They’re just like me — they’re the same age as me.’ It’s been very empowering and humbling.”
Matthew and Lisa Owens, both teachers, wanted their children to experience the world. So the couple took a leave of absence from their jobs and spent a year traveling. They created assignments for the children along the way, and the world became their classroom. The point wasn’t only learning about other cultures. It was also deepening friendships they’ve been making for years.
The family sponsors children around the world with the same birthdays as Jonah, Mia, and Olivia. “To be able to connect with an actual person brings it to a heart level,” Lisa says. “When our children’s birthdays roll around, we’re also praying for this other child. When their photos are coming to us, we’re constantly looking at it from the lens of our own child’s life as well.”
Visiting their sponsored children in Bolivia, India, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe gave the family unforgettable shared experiences and a first-hand glimpse of God at work in the world. “Rather than look at a picture and say, ‘Oh, here’s a poor kid from the other side of the world. My job is to give them money,’ instead, it’s seeing the wholeness of this child,” Lisa says. “They’re loved. They’re loved by their family, their community, and they’re loved and provided for by God.”
Camille Varner was 6 when she began decorating Alaska-themed rubber ducks, wrapping them in cuddly parkas and selling them in her family’s soap shop in the heart of Juneau’s thriving tourist district. That was six years ago, and now the teenager is amazed at the impact this project has had on children in developing countries.
Her family uses profits from the rubber ducks to purchase live ducks through the World Vision Gift Catalog. Since 2010, the family has sold $3,275 worth of rubber ducks, enabling World Vision to give 500 live ducks to families in developing countries.
“I never would have imagined it would get this big,” Camille says. “I can see I’m actually helping people.”
The rubber duck story began in 2009 as a way to teach generosity to Camille, the youngest grandchild. Soon, the lesson turned into an annual tradition involving the whole family.
“We wanted her to know that life isn’t all about making money,” says Pat Stringer, Camille’s grandmother. “We just thought ducks fit with soap. God has just blessed it and blessed it.”
Some of these kids’ efforts may seem extraordinary. But they aren’t any different from your family. They took the time to learn about needs in the world, made a plan, and made it happen.
Pakistan (MNN) – Asia Bibi has faced a long road to freedom following her arrest based on blasphemy charges in 2009. In late 2018 Bibi was acquitted of those charges yet remained in custody for her protection. In January, Pakistan’s Supreme Court rejected a petition requesting the reconsideration of Bibi’s blasphemy charges.
Asia Bibi Relocated
(Photo courtesy of VOM via Facebook)
Now, confirmations have surfaced that Asia Bibi has relocated to Canada. BBC NEWS reports that Pakistan’s government officials have not released information detailing Bibi’s exact location or when she left. What seems to be clear, though, is that after nearly a decade of maintaining her innocence, Bibi has finally reunited with her family and can start the process of moving forward in her life.
However, Bibi’s acquittal and relocation are not equivalent to safety, even if she is safer now than when she was in Pakistan. As Bibi adjusts to a new normal, FMI’s Bruce Allen urges Christians across the globe to let their questions of “Where is Asia” fizzle.
“It’s not going to be helpful for Asia Bibi, and we really don’t benefit from it either. The only people who would benefit from that specific knowledge would be the people who are still hunting her down to kill her,” Allen says.
Need for Reform
Furthermore, Bibi’s acquittal and relocation do not signal the end of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. FMI’s Bruce Allen explains how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws still need reform and people are still imprisoned in the country on blasphemy charges.
(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)
“There are scores of Christians languishing in prisons inside Pakistan who have been charged with blasphemy. And that automatically carries a death sentence upon conviction. There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Allen says.
Pakistan is currently ranked #5 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List (WWL). The WWL is a ranking of the top 50 countries where it is most severe to live as a Christian. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended Pakistan as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) each year since 2002. It was designated as a CPC for the first time in November 2018. Find the 2019 USCIRF report here.
How to Help
Bottom line—should we rejoice for Asia’s release? Absolutely. But there is still work to be done. Will you pray?
“We still need to pray that God would move in the hearts of the Pakistani lawmakers of the government to reform these laws to bring true justice to all of their citizens,” Allen says.
Not sure how else to help Christians in Pakistan? Allen suggests beginning by encouraging the Pakistani Church. If an encouraging message is left on the Mission Network News Facebook page, Allen will make sure to pass the note along to FMI’s Pakistani partners, which then trickles through the churches.
Another way to help is by empowering national Christians to continue their ministry. FMI helps supplement partners’ ministry costs, with the goal to make them self-sufficient in the future. Christians outside of Pakistan can help FMI support these ministries and supply resources for Sunday school classes or vacation Bible schools by giving a financial donation.
Palestine (MNN) – What does it mean for someone who lives in conflict to serve those fleeing conflict? The answer points to the way Jesus’ love is freely given to those who believe in Him, only to be extended and given again. The Shepherd Society, a part of Bethlehem Bible College’s Community Outreach Center, lives into this truth.
The Shepherd Society
The Shepherd Society began 21 years ago to provide food and medical treatments to less fortunate families during the Intifada. Based in Bethlehem, an area known for conflict and closed off by a wall, this group is one of the main institutions providing help in the area. Here Palestinian Christians, a minority within a minority, answer the call to care for the widow and the orphan, to feed the hungry, and to share Christ.
In Bethlehem, the Shepherd Society’s medical program is the main medical program. However, the medical program is meeting only a fraction of their need. With the right funding, it could double the number of people it currently serves.
“This is our vision, to help anybody who knocks on our door…I want them to know that we care about every single person in this whole world,” says Sari Zeidan, Head of the Shepherd Society.
Living in Conflict, but Serving Those Fleeing it
The fourth program is refugee aid. Earlier this year the Shepherd Society and a group of volunteers traveled to neighboring El Malfrak, Jordan. Here the team offered encouragement, support, and hope to Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
“We visit them at their houses, through a church there, and we hear their stories,” Zeidan says.
“We tell them our stories. We give them food packages, and blankets or anything they need…One of the things that we share [is] the Bible…or at least we share some stories of the Bible that reflects similar situations of the refugees…For example, when Jesus went out from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and we talk about a lot of stories that reflect the patience, the passion that they need to survive.”
(Photo courtesy of the Shepherd Society)
During outreach, the Shepherd Society invites refugees to church and offers to pray with them. However, Zeidan says most of the Syrian refugees the Shepherd Society encounters are Muslims. Muslims often mistake the Trinity as representing three Gods. The confusions offers believers a chance to explain how Christians worship one God and one God only.
Prayer is also different in Islam; Christians have the freedom to open their hearts to God at any time.
“They started to come…to pray with the people of Jordan and with us in the church. This is a success story and it’s a blessing to let them pray the way we pray,” Zeidan says.
An Unexpected Education
These outreaches also teach the volunteers, who are usually youth or students from the college, how to serve. The experience provides a stark contrast between self-focus and what it means to selflessly love and serve others.
(Photo courtesy of the Shepherd Society)
“They learn through the stories that…the most important is to help these people who suffer and in a way that they believe that God is sending them or Jesus is sending them there, to learn about the world and what is happening in the world. This is so important for us and for them,” Zeidan explains.
Zeidan says this mindset of loving those who are suffering is a call from God. It is a faith which surrenders to God and is obedient even during trials.
Please, if you would, pray for the Shepherd Society’s multifaceted work. Pray for peace between Israel and Palestine, for the refugees in the region, and for God to supply the funds for the Shepherd Society work.
To learn more about the Shepherd Society and how to get involved, click here.
International (MNN) – Over the years, World Missionary Press (WMP) has created different children’s coloring books. The coloring books have made a deep impact in kids’ lives around the world, and now, WMP is revising their books so they can produce and send more to children.
The coloring books have pictures that kids can color and Bible verses in their native language which speak God’s words of truth, hope, and life. So far, WMP offers books in more than ten languages.
Stories of Global Impact
The coloring books have been used as teaching tools.
WMP’s Helen Williams says one partner in Liberia takes a coloring page and a passage to teach children the principles behind the verse and picture.
“He just goes from page to page, and as he read[s] it, the Lord brings other things to mind, and he just uses this tremendously.”
The books have also been major tools of encouragement for hurting and broken youths.
Williams says when the Chernobyl accident happened in Ukraine, there were many affected children in hospitals.
There was a request for coloring books and WMP sent many in Russian.
“We had stories of children that that was their only possession, and as they went from hospital to hospital, they clung to those coloring books as their only possession,” Williams says.
“And the pictures and the words in them were life at that time, and for the children to receive something that was for them for their minds and their hearts as well as their physical needs,” was very special and encouraging.
WMP has also sent books in native languages to Africa and South America.
WMP received stories from people in South America. After coloring pictures, families placed the pages on the walls as a reminder of who God is and how much He loves them.
Williams says the verses and pictures were on the walls for both children and parents to see them at all times and it created opportunities to reach families’ hearts.
“This is why we are revising them so we can do more because we believe that they are effective,” Williams says.
Revising for more impact
WMP’s previous coloring books were large and expensive to print.
“We had to produce them out of house because they didn’t sit on our press setup was not for that size in that particular book,” Williams says.
“So, the decision was made to revise them down to a smaller piece… and to redo them and make them more available so that we could print them here. So, instead of paying 22 cents a copy, we can print them for less than 10 cents a copy. We can print more. We can print them here, and get more out.”
(Photo courtesy of World Missionary Press)
By changing the size of their coloring books, they’re able to print more and send more to impact even more children worldwide.
Williams says she knows many people liked the larger books, but having these smaller coloring books will, in the long run, be more effective.
The books offer new pictures and Bible verses in native languages, and WMP hopes to have them released in May.
Pray the revised coloring books will continue sharing God’s truth, life, and hope with children worldwide. Pray the books will make a deep impact and transform the lives of both children and parents.
You want to raise your children to be caring, global citizens who are compassionate toward people in need. But how do you talk with your children about a subject as difficult as refugees?
Stories in the news show children and families who’ve endured tragic loss, terrifying violence, or painful injury. Experts widely agree that parents should shield young children from violent and disturbing news. But how can you explain the global refugee crisis in age-appropriate terms and help them become informed and empowered to help?
How to talk about refugees with your children
1: Do a little research.
You don’t have to have all the answers, but make sure you’re informed. The better you understand the various situations around the world, the better you’ll be able to explain issues in ways that are appropriate for your child. Check out our full list of FAQs or look at some bigger issues, such as the Syrian refugee crisis and Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh as a starting point. This refugee mom’s to-do list photo essay could be helpful, too.
2: Find out what they know, then explain.
Start with a baseline by asking your kids an open-ended question. Something like: “What do you know about refugees?” Then, follow up with something like: “Why do you think so many people have had to leave their homes?” Your kids might know more than you think or they might have heard something inaccurate.
Use kid-friendly words and examples to explain what’s going on, but keep it simple. Try something like: “Different groups of people want to be in charge. In many cases, fighting in their home country has ruined homes and schools and roads, and it’s not safe for families to stay.” Explore this kid-friendly photo essay together to learn what life is like for Syrian kids living in a refugee settlement in Lebanon.
3: Help your kids feel safe.
Help your children know they’re safe. For example, if they are concerned that they might have to leave their home and become refugees, explain how we don’t have the same the political problems that are causing the violence in Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar, or Venezuela. This is also a great time to pray together, give fears to God, and ask for comfort and protection. You could also teach your child Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (NIV).
4: Pray for refugees together.
Prayer is a great way to teach your children how to intercede on behalf of those in need. Pray together for refugees. Here’s a sample prayer to get you started:
Good Shepherd, no refugee is a stranger to You, and no one is ever far from Your loving care. Watch over children and families as they travel to camps or relocate within their country. Shelter their souls and their bodies. Heal the hearts of refugees who have endured unimaginable tragedy and trauma.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” —Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
5: Let them do something to help.
On his show, Mister Rogers told a story that when scary things came on the news, his mother would tell him to “Look for the helpers. You can always find people helping.” Encourage your children that they can be helpers too. See if your kids might like to do something to help children who’ve had to leave their homes. Here are five ways for your kids to help refugees.
Six practical steps to help bolster partnerships in the kingdom of God.
A phrase that gets thrown around a lot in Christian circles is “let’s partner together.”
Sometimes, tasks and projects are too much for one person, church, or organization. Since no one wants or has the time to reinvent the wheel, why not maximize on each other’s strengths and knowledge?
But we all know that is easier said than done.
Once you sit down together to work through what needs to get done, the how can get tricky. In business, partners are motivated by a mutual desire to make money. In ministry, the motivation may appear to the same, but with differences in theology and leadership qualities, many times a partnership is not viable.
So the question becomes: How does one create partnerships within Christian ministries resulting in collective work for the gospel?
Here are some thoughts and lessons I have learned that have helped me.
1 – Assess if you trust the person
This is one of the most important questions, I think. I firmly believe that as believers we are called to “love” everyone, but honestly, we do not get along with or like everyone. If personalities clash from the get-go, or if you don’t trust the other party, there cannot be a successful partnership.
I know what personalities don’t jive with mine and what traits bother me. Therefore, when I meet potential partners, those are red flags that I look for and then avoid.
Trust is huge! You must be able to trust the persons with whom you are partnering. Once trust is lost, regardless of the reason, a long-term partnership seems dim. It has happened to me with even reputable Christian organizations.
Ultimately, lasting partnerships happen when you know the other party will come through with what they say and promise to …
USA (MNN) — In the U.S., Mother’s Day is just around the corner. According to the National Retail Federation, 84-percent of U.S. adults will celebrate the occasion on Sunday. NRF also predicts consumer spending will hit a new record high: $25 billion.
India Partners’ Donna Glass suggests thinking “outside the box” this year as you plan a gift for mom. “Cards are nice. Flowers are nice. But is that needed? No,” she observes.
“Flowers will wilt and die. A card ends up in recycling, eventually.”
Why not change a life in mom’s honor instead? Through its in-country cohorts and financial support from people like you, India Partners offers a six-month training program to disadvantaged women. It’s part of their work towards “an India rich in hope, justice, and compassion.”
The tailoring program teaches women how to operate a foot-powered sewing machine and make clothing. These skills are simple yet life-changing for moms like “Pidi.”
Pidi’s life was difficult, but everything changed when she was accepted into India Partners’ tailoring program. (Photo courtesy of India Partners)
Pidi and her husband struggle to provide for their two young children. Although Pidi’s husband works, his job only provides 2,000 to 2,500 rupees – or, $28 to $35 USD – per week. It’s not enough to support a family of four, so Pidi seeks work as a day laborer. It’s back-breaking labor, but this job is also the only option for people with limited education.
“She didn’t have any qualifications; she only studied through the sixth grade.”
Everything changed when Pidi got accepted into India Partners’ tailoring program, Glass says.
“She was just really excited about it because she knows that she can work from home, and she can take care of her house,” Glass says. “[Pidi] was really excited to go through the training, and to learn all the different models of clothes, the different dresses and skirts.”
There’s more to the tailoring program than job skills. It’s about empowering women like Pidi.
“Because [Pidi] can work on her own schedule…she can earn quite a bit more. She hopes… she’ll be able to earn [enough] money to supplement her husband’s income.”
…in mom’s honor
This year, consider making Mother’s Day a “team” event. Team up with your mom, or a mom you know, to help a mother in India.
“For $100, you can make a difference in a woman’s life and the life of her family.”
As explained here, your gift offers her a chance to attend a tailoring school for six months and learn valuable sewing skills. Once she graduates, she will receive a free sewing machine that will enable her to start a home tailoring business.
“There are 60 women who are going to graduate in June and each of them are going to receive a brand new sewing machine,” Glass says.
Nigeria (MNN) – On Tuesday, May 7, a faction of the Fulani herdsmen carried out another attack in a village in northeast Nigeria.
Fulani Herdsmen Target Northeast Nigeria
A partner of Christian Aid Mission agreed to share his first-hand account. Gabriel Barau, a missionary in Nigeria, says homes were burned to the ground. At least two converts were lost and many people were killed and injured.
He says the instability in northern Nigeria has been ongoing for the past five years because of Boko Haram attacks, but now, the Fulani herdsmen attacks appear to be increasing.
Representative photo, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)
“They enter villages, and they burn homes, houses…They kill anyone they can lay their hands on. And so many people have been displaced and killed,” Barau says.
Despite the atrocities committed, Barau says no one has been arrested for the attack. Without help from authorities, taking care of the victims falls to the local Church.
“Last night, they killed a lot of the people we were reaching out to in those communities. Many of them escaped without carrying anything, and now they are with our staff that are in the city. Sometimes, we don’t even know how to keep them. There are hundreds and hundreds of them,” Barau says.
Currently, Barau’s missionaries are overwhelmed. It seems like there is no church that is not housing displaced people.
“Most of them have been in internally displaced camps and we go there, we feed them, we provide a service for them, we do what we can do in our ministry for them. And then we help empower some of them. But we have so little and are so limited to do,” Barau says.
Pray for Nigeria
It is also frustrating for the Christians in this area when attacks like this go unreported. Please, spread the news of what is happening in northern Nigeria. Also, join in prayer for the Church there.
Ask God to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people who have been attacked. Pray for their healing and protection. Pray that as the global Church learns about what is happening in northern Nigeria, it would reach out and help its Nigerian brothers and sisters.
“We need the world community to know that people are suffering in silence in some part of this country,” Barau says.
*Name of partner and location of attack have been omitted for security.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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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.”
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’sGreg 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.
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.”