USA (MNN) — According to the latest CDC data, 46 people die every day from an opioid overdose. Between 1999 and 2017, overdoses related to prescription opioids claimed nearly 218,000 lives.
A recent study published by the University of Michigan reveals a possible link between suicide and opioids. In Michigan, deaths from suicide and unintentional overdoses more than tripled between 2000 and 2017.
The opioid crisis hit close to home this month for a ministry based in West Michigan. Set Free Ministries’ Dean Vander Mey says a friend accidentally overdosed and lost his life. Two years ago, the same thing happened to this man’s brother. “They were messing around with these opioids and they were blending them,” Vander Mey shares.
(Photo courtesy istock via ICTMN.com)
Tragically, stories like this are all too common. On a ranking of states by opioid-related deaths, Michigan and Pennsylvania tied at number 11. West Virginia and New Hampshire topped the list with death rates of 43.4 and 35.8 per 100,000, respectively.
“People are trying to numb their pain, whether it’s physical pain, emotional pain. The answer today is numb the pain.”
Michigan officials received a $10,000 grant this month to broaden access to treatment and improve prevention efforts. Vander Mey says there’s a spiritual element of addiction that’s not being addressed. “The presenting problem oftentimes is not the problem,” he explains.
“It’s kind of like trying to pull rotten fruit off the tree and actually it’s the roots of the tree that need to be exposed.”
He uses the following example to illustrate his claim.
Once enslaved by addiction, now free in Christ
Dan* was dining one afternoon at a local restaurant when Vander Mey noticed the telltale marks on his arms. “I just went up to him and said, ‘Hey, can I help you?’,” Vander Mey recalls. “I see you’re hurting, and I see you’re cutting.”
Thus began a conversation that would change Dan’s life forever. From a broken relationship with his parents to his current cutting and drug addiction, Dan began to walk through his life story with Vander Mey.
“The presenting problem wasn’t the real issue. The real issue was hurt, pain, rejection, hate. He had never processed any of it.”
(Stock photo by Pexels)
At each critical juncture or “pain point,” Vander Mey introduced Dan to biblical truths. “If you honored your father and your mother, your days would go well, and they’re not,” he began. “You’re violating one of the basic laws, spiritual laws, that God put in place for the universe.
“It doesn’t matter if you know that law or not. It’s kind of like gravity – you don’t have to believe in gravity, but it works every time. If you climb a tree and say, ‘I don’t believe in gravity,’ guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to break your leg. It’s the same thing with God’s laws.
“Your days aren’t going well because you hate your father and you dishonor him. Your hatred causes you blindness – 1 John 1, Ephesians 4.”
Next, Vander Mey asked Dan about rebellion, and pointed him to 1 Samuel 15:23. “Rebellion is the sin of witchcraft,” he explained. “Now you have voices, now you hear things. Those voices might be telling you to cut yourself.”
As the Holy Spirit opened Dan’s eyes to God’s truth, he asked Vander Mey a simple yet critical question – “What do I do?” Vander Mey, in turn, pointed to Christ as the one and only source of salvation and aid.
“He did (ask Christ for help) and that was the beginning of the journey out of addiction and out of suicidal ideation.”
The Bible Project is a non-profit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. We create 100% free videos, podcasts, and resources that explore the Bible’s unified story.
The Bible is a divine-human book that speaks God’s word to his people. We believe it ultimately points us to Jesus, who has the power to change individuals and whole communities when we let the biblical story speak for itself.
Sadly, for so many, the Bible is used as a devotional grab bag or an instruction manual that fell out of the sky. Worse, for many more, it is an oppressive book of out-dated rules used to control people.
We simply desire to help others understand the scriptures and all their complex themes in a way that is engaging, approachable, and transformative. We are committed followers of Jesus, but are not organizationally a part of any specific Christian denomination or tradition. We hope that people from all backgrounds will find value in this work, regardless of their religious or non-religious convictions.
The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College has partnered with the Global Diaspora Network to launch the Institute.
With migration becoming a megatrend of our times, the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College has entered into a partnership with the Global Diaspora Network to launch a Global Diaspora Institute which will serve two vital functions: (1) equip, connect, resource, and mobilize missional leaders in diaspora communities in North America and beyond and (2) help churches in North America to engage with the diaspora and the Global Church.
“We simply cannot deny the enormity of how God used the diaspora to spread the work and message of the gospel. It’s at the front and center of our Christian history,” said Dr. Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. “With hundreds of millions of people living and working outside their homeland today, many of them Christian, we have the opportunity to unveil creative ways to reach our world for Christ through those from many cultures and backgrounds.”
The Global Diaspora Institute is embarking on a significant journey to help churches and Christian leaders to engage the diaspora as a newfound opportunity for the Kingdom of God to grow and flourish. The multi-pronged effort will include research, training, convening, networking, and resource creation across multiple mediums. The Institute is being launched simultaneously with a Lausanne North America Diaspora Strategy Group comprised of top diaspora missiologists.
The Institute will be led by Dr. Sam George, who serves as a Catalyst of Diasporas for the Lausanne Movement. Sam is of Asian Indian origin, born in the Andaman Islands in India, and traces his roots to St. Thomas Christians of Kerala, India. He has lived, studied, and worked in several countries. Sam holds degrees in mechanical …
Doug & his wife, Maria, launched Solomon’s Porch over 20 years ago with the goal of connecting missionaries with their families and supporters. People are doing amazing things around the world & it is exciting to be a part of helping others understand the big picture of what God is doing around the world in people’s lives.
International (MNN) – Christians are asking ‘What about us?’
It was impossible to miss the mass shootings in New Zealand at two Christchurch mosques that killed 50 people on March 15. Funerals began Wednesday as families began burying the first of those 50 victims. Round-the-clock media coverage of this attack prompted questions about the lack of coverage of similar attacks on houses of worship, particularly those on Christians.
Open Doors USA’sDavid Curry says, “You do get the sense that maybe killing Christians isn’t such a big deal. That might seem like an overstatement, but it’s hard to imagine why people are not covering this persecution of Christians to the scale of which it is happening and we need to call the media to account and ask if they are prejudicially overlooking these attacks on Christians.”
(Photo courtesy of Open Doors)
The reality, he says, is that in the 21st century, we are living in a time when persecution against Christian believers is the highest in modern history. According to Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List—an in-depth investigative report focusing on global Christian persecution—11 Christians die for their faith every day. Curry explains, “When we’re talking about 11 Christians a day, we’re really talking about only those we know, for a fact, have passed away. We don’t know what’s happened in North Korea. We don’t know what’s happened in some of these regimes where Christians just disappear.”
255 Christians are killed
104 are abducted
180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage
66 churches are attacked
160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned
Christians are soft targets
Church torn down in China. (Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)
Media reports suggested attacks on houses of worship are rare, but Curry takes issue with that, in light of the data gathered by Open Doors Research. “When the media talks about those kinds of events being rare, they’re only rare at a mosque. Christian churches are attacked nearly every day, multiple times a day, in some cases, around the world, by extremists, by governments that are shutting them down.”
Christians are a prime target for extremists, which include Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and radical secularists. Why? Curry offered this thought: “You certainly have dictatorships, and government systems, old-school Communist systems for example, that don’t want a strong, powerful faith rising up that would challenge their power, their premiership.”
Christians are also often the religious minority, considered second class citizens in their own countries, discriminated against, and offered little protection or recourse in the event of an attack. That these attacks happen every day around the world perhaps makes them commonplace or earns them ‘compassion fatigue’.
(Photo courtesy of Open Doors)
Yet, trends show that countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are intensifying persecution against Christians, and perhaps the most vulnerable are Christian women, who often face double persecution for faith and gender.
Aside from calling the secular media to account, he urges Christians to stay informed by the media who are covering these stories…and then share them. “It’s happening all the time. We need to be prayerful, thoughtful about speaking up for them, about making sure that our voice doesn’t get drowned out in the cacophony of discussion about other issues. We need to stand up for those people that are Christians who are dying for their faith in Jesus Christ.”
Being part of the solution means being an advocate. When you invest, you change. “We are called, as followers of Jesus in the Scripture, to pray for our brothers and sisters, as if it were our own family. That’s really what this is about. I think it’s going to build our faith as well—when we see the faith walk of these people who, at great cost, are sharing their faith—that’s an important takeaway.”
Greece (MNN) – AMG Int’l is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the CosmoVision Center located in Athens, Greece. The center has been a key spot for ministry outreach on both the local and international level for AMG.
First built for the Athens Olympics in 2004, the CosmoVision Center was made to be a youth outreach location. Today it still focuses on youth outreach but also hosts missionary teams, host churches, and refugees.
(Photo courtesy of CosmoVision center and AMG International via Facebook)
Tasos Ioannidis, president and CEO of AMG, says, “It has turned into a multipurpose facticity that is used for all kinds of ministry both locally with the Greek-speaking people and among the immigrants.”
The center has dormitories and fields on the property for sports and youth outreach as well as buildings used by local churches and ministry groups.
Ioannidis adds that the center also hosts teams coming from outside of Greece who stay at the center to learn through the center’s education programs or help with ministry programs in Greece.
Financial Crisis and Plans for the Future
However, since the financial crisis in Greece began in 2009, the center has faced new challenges and opportunities.
“It has constrained the resources locally but it also has given new ministry opportunities to reach to the local churches through a variety of activities that are fairly inexpensive,” Ioannidis says. “God has used it in the lives of many people.”
The CosmoVision center has seen similar results from the refugee crisis in Greece as well. The center stepped into the refugee crisis and ministers to the people impacted in the country. Many of the churches the center works with are immigrant churches and multicultural churches. While the ministry’s resources may be constrained, their opportunities to share God’s Word are not.
In the future, the center plans to expand the property and build additional facilities. It also hopes to expand training opportunities so that international pastors and leaders may receive Bible training at the center.
(Photo courtesy of CosmoVision Center and AMG via Facebook)
The CosmoVision Center has so many new opportunities to share God’s Word and it wants to continue to help the Church in Greece.
“We want to see more people coming there and to see the activities on the property be used to grow the local churches and immigrant churches. There is so much potential for growth,” Ioannidis says.
How to Get Involved
Ioannidis explains that the center gets its name from the Greek word ‘cosmos’, which means ‘the world’. The center really is a vision for the world as AMG spreads God’s Word in Greece.
He says, “We are just so thankful… of what God has done in the CosmoVision Center which has exceeded all our expectations, I would not have imagined 15 years ago that we would be where we are today. This is a unique time in history where people are coming to Greece from throughout the Middle East and we have a chance to reach them and the CosmoVision Center is playing a strategic role that right now.”
Would you like to get involved?
AMG is asking for prayers for resources to be provided so it can expand the ministry. AMG also asks for prayers that God’s Word may be heard in Greece and that those already in ministry might grow in God’s Word.
Click here to donate to the CosmoVision Center and AMG’s ministry in Greece.
Former Soviet Union (MNN) — Despite increasing challenges in the former Soviet Union, Slavic Gospel Association is looking towards summer ministry. Churches supported by SGA will transition into summer camp mode just after Easter outreach. SGA’s Eric Mock says the camps feature lots of opportunities to share the Gospel because they’re a major part of the local culture.
“They come in many different forms. Some of the summer camps are day camps. Others do thematic camps. There will be traveling camps, there will be adventure camps. There will be international camps that make you think that you’ve gone to another country. There [are] all kinds of different camps that they hold. Some are a week, some are two-weeks in time,” Mock says.
“And what SGA does is we provide, through the gifts of many donors and sponsors, scholarships for these kids to go to camp.”
Summer Camps in the Former Soviet Union
Some camps are held in community playgrounds nestled between large apartment buildings. Mock says at these camps, curious parents often observe the on-goings of the camps, and some hear the Gospel and come into a relationship with Christ. However, these camps also extend to children living in orphanages, too.
(Photo courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association via Facebook)
“We have heard stories where orphan children have lost both parents, and they have been broken and without hope, and angry at the world. Just absolutely shaking their fists, angry at the world, and then there at a summer camp they find joy, peace, and contentment through a relationship with Jesus Christ,” Mock says.
For these kids, summer camps are a chance to escape daily life and be invested in by people who care for them. Plus, the people running the summer camps are the same people who reach out to kids and families during the Immanuel’s Child Christmas outreach and the Orphans Reborn Easter outreach. These volunteers are building important relationships with these kids and living out what it means to reflect Christ and His love in their lives.
“They’re hearing the Gospel heart to heart, life to life. And they’re hearing it from someone that loves them, and they’re hearing about a God who loves them, and they’re turning to faith. It’s just an amazing opportunity to reach these kids, both culturally and relationally, and so this fits the ministry of SGA where we work throughout the year, in all regards to equip the Church for the work of ministry,” Mock says.
It costs $41 to send a child to a camp for a week. SGA has a big goal to serve over 30,000 kids this summer. Will you help? Last year, the ministry had more requests for scholarships for kids to attend summer camps than they could meet. Let’s not let financial resources be a barrier that keeps children and teens from hearing the Gospel.
(Photo courtesy of SGA via Facebook) An SGA summer camp.
“When you’re making a donation to SGA, you are not making a donation to a large organization that is going to another country, and that we are the ones that are bringing the Gospel. But instead, what we’re doing is equipping the local and indigenous church to be the disciple-makers in all seasons of life, in all seasons of the year,” Mock explains.
And please, pray. Pray for the kids both in the former Soviet Union, but also locally. Pray for the governments where these camps take place would not increase outreach restrictions on churches. Ask God to grow the summer camps this year both in terms of funds for the camps and the kids who are able to attend.
“We’re just praying for a miraculous year where we’re seeing many more orphan children hearing the Gospel and many more kids hearing the Gospel in summer camps. And so just pray that the resources will be provided,” Mock says.
For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement and Christian Community Restoration.
Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.
According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians). Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
The church has always been blessed by our differences.
Churches of all sizes have something to offer.
I know, I say that a lot.
I’ve even been told I need to be less accommodating to big churches. But it’s not an accommodation, it’s a reality.
Bigger churches do great things that small churches can’t do, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, because of their size, the benefits of small congregations are seldom seen as readily as the benefits of big congregations.
So here are a few typical benefits of a healthy big church (I’m using the baseline of 1,000), compared to the corresponding/contrasting benefits of healthy small churches (1,000 people in ten churches averaging 100 each).
If you’re looking for a church to worship, serve or lead in, this might be a helpful starting place.
The Benefits Of Big, The Blessings Of Small
1 church of 1,000 may have well-crafted sermons, but 10 churches of 100 will have more person-to-person pastoring.
1 church of 1,000 may have better administration, but 10 churches of 100 will have more volunteers.
1 church of 1,000 may have fewer financial problems, but 10 churches of 100 probably have more givers.
1 church of 1,000 is likely to have a more famous pastor, but 10 churches of 100 are less vulnerable in the case of a single pastoral failure.
1 church of 1,000 may have higher quality musicianship, but 10 churches of 100 usually have more people singing along.
1 church of 1,000 may have a great Christian Education facility, but 10 churches of 100 typically have a better student-to-teacher ratio.
1 church of 1,000 may have a lot of small groups, but 10 churches of 100 may already be offering the benefits of small groups on Sunday morning.
1 church of 1,000 may have more paid staff, but 10 churches of 100 will likely have more lay …
The story of 5-year-old Cheru, whose daily life in Kenya was consumed with finding water, has inspired thousands of people around the world to walk or run World Vision’s Global 6K for Water. Cheru’s lack of clean water and sanitation made her sick, threatened her education, and limited her family’s income. Today, thanks to caring donors, Cheru, her family, and neighbors have clean water and so much more.
World Vision staff and community volunteers worked together to bring water from a pure mountain spring to Cheru’s village 16 kilometers away. Here’s how they transformed their lives through clean water:
With the school season in full swing, it is easy to get caught in the whirlwind of school supply lists, making lunches and drop-off lines. Even if you are not in this season of life yourself, it is a recurring norm in American culture.
For those of us in the United States, education is a given. Most children will go to school, get an education, graduate and get a job. However, the reality is in many underserved countries, the state of education is one of crisis.
Recently, there has been a global movement emphasizing education as a basic right. There is a fight to make education free and available to all children. Achieving universal primary education is at the top of the list for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and is arguably the solution to many of the other goals set to be achieved by 2030.
While achieving this goal would be an important step in the right direction, what seems to be absent is the crucial principle of quality over quantity. Attending school is not necessarily synonymous with learning. If we have deemed this a worthy endeavor, isn’t it worth doing well?
According to UNESCO, 264 million children are out of school, and the United Nations estimates that 600 million children are in school but learning little.
So, what do we do about it? Thankfully, there are many organizations whose mission it is to help schools provide education to children around the world. Edify seeks to be part of the solution as well, with our mission to improve and expand sustainable Christ-centered education globally. We know that for lasting change to occur, there needs to be ownership from locals in the process. Therefore, we look to make an impact by empowering teachers through training, helping schools grow through loan capital, improving learning environments, investing in school leadership and offering opportunities for education technology.
More often than not, teachers at Edify partner schools have no formal training themselves – just a passion for seeing the children in their community flourish. When that teacher has an opportunity to learn how to teach from a Biblical worldview, develop classroom management skills, and help students develop critical thinking skills, the learning that takes place exponentially grows.
Additionally, when an Edify partner school takes out a loan to build a classroom with proper ventilation and lighting or to build safe and proper restrooms and sanitation facilities, how much better can a student focus on learning instead of getting through the day?
The future of education
While 250 million children may seem like a daunting number, Edify is committed to transforming the lives of students in our 10 countries of operation. Part of our strategic plan is to impact 1 million students by 2020—and we are getting close! Since we began work in 2010 we have impacted 835,756 students.
We are thankful that there are many individuals, organizations and governments committed to providing children with access to quality education. We need to keep striving for quality and remember that access doesn’t mean success. Will you join us in bringing quality, Christ-centered education to students around the globe?
Edify comes alongside entrepreneurs who offer quality Christ-centered education to children in their underserved communities. Our solution is free enterprise to educate impoverished children. There are hundreds of thousands of low-fee, independent schools started by local, social entrepreneurs who are from the same disadvantaged communities they serve and understand clearly the needs of the children. Join Edify as we come alongside these dedicated entrepreneurs who need access to training, capital, and technology to grow their schools. To learn more about how you can volunteer or support their work please click here.
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.
In Kesot village in Kenya, as in so many other places in sub-Saharan Africa, people used to struggle every day to get water — any water. Even at 5 years old, Cheru Lotuliapus not only understood this struggle, she lived it.
Each morning, Cheru walked nearly two hours and then competed with goats and camels to dig for water in a dry riverbed.
Without clean water, life was difficult. She and her siblings were sometimes too sick or tired to go to school. The health center was often closed. The church frequently sat empty.
But life has changed for Cheru, now 6. With World Vision’s help, her community built a pipeline that brings clean water down from a mountain spring.
Around the world, more communities like Cheru’s are awash in hope. World Vision reaches one new person with clean water every 10 seconds and reaches three more schools every day with clean water.
Morning dawns on the steep, densely wooded hillside where crystal-clear water bubbles from a spring. Sixteen kilometers (nearly 10 miles) away in the lowlands, 6-year-old Cheru Lotuliapus fills her cup with that same cool water as it flows from the spigot near her home.
“This water tastes good,” she says.
She holds Sote, her 7-month-old brother, while Monica, her mother, stitches the pocket on her yellow school shirt. Cheru helps her mother with the laundry, dishes, and baby-sitting, but the one chore she doesn’t do anymore is carry water. With a water kiosk only a few steps away, it’s easy enough for Monica to keep jerrycans full of clean water on her doorstep.
“I like to help, and I like to be clean,” says Cheru, handing back the baby and putting on her freshly-laundered shirt. Neatly dressed and with her face washed, Cheru eagerly joins a troop of children on their way to school. Holding hands and skipping, they set out on the 2-kilometer walk.
Cheru’s father, Samson, watches proudly as the children head down the dirt road. He already sees a better future for them. “We’ve had water for a month, and it’s brought us great peace,” he says. “We have time and energy for other things.”
An open door for education
Access to clean water means that Cheru — healthy, clean, and rested — can consistently attend school. Once she arrives at Kesot Primary School, she’s welcomed by head teacher John Dungo, 34.
He’s noticed that with clean water available at the three primary schools along the pipeline, many more students like Cheru are coming regularly — and classes are overflowing. John says that they’re building new classrooms to accommodate the influx in attendance.
When class begins, Cheru is quick to raise her hand to answer questions and shouts “one, two, three …” when the class counts in English.
“I love school,” she says. Writing and drawing are her favorite subjects.
The three primary schools now have water tanks, standpipes with two spigots, and four latrines each for boys and girls, including an accessible unit for disabled children. Outside the latrines are sinks with running water for handwashing. It’s the first year Cheru and her classmates have clean, plentiful water at school. They are also beginning to learn about hygiene and health.
The head teachers of the three primary schools received hygiene training and materials from World Vision and organized hygiene and sanitation clubs for their students. They also host community meetings where adults learn about the importance of keeping clean and building and using family toilets.
“Children who know and practice good hygiene are excellent advocates with their parents,” says Clement Limaki, 45, head teacher at nearby Chepolet Primary School.
Water flows from the mountaintop
The sight of the dry, barren land and struggling people of West Pokot County at first discouraged Charles Kakiti, a World Vision water engineer. The county water department had started a water project here some years back. They tapped a water source and began laying a pipeline. However, the project ran into financial trouble, and clean water never flowed.
“It wasn’t easy to get water to this dry place,” says Charles. It seemed impossible to finish the project because the road was so bad. However, when he saw there was plentiful, clean water gushing from a spring in the hills, his attitude changed.
Charles and Abu Lokilimak, a World Vision project manager, began the project in faith and buoyed by prayer. They organized the water committee with five representatives each from Chepolet, Chemwapit, and Kesot — the three communities along the pipeline. Kesot chose Cheru’s father, Samson, as one of their water committee members. The three head teachers are also members of the committee.
Another member, Anna Lokitwol, 36, says she prayed for the water project and for it to be sustainable. “To have this water is a great gift, and we must take care of it. Also, I pray for the people who gave money so we could have water,” she says.
Anna proposed that each family pay 100 shillings (about $1) a month and schools pay 500 shillings (nearly $5) a month for upkeep to the water system so there will always be money for repairs.
Together, the water committee decided the placement of the kiosks, standpipes, and water troughs. Over 18 months, the community dug trenches, carried pipes, and connected them. They hauled cement and carried water for making concrete to build the kiosks, standpipes, water troughs for the animals, and latrines at the schools. Charles trained six local people to maintain the pipeline and handle repairs.
The day before the water was scheduled to come to the kiosk at Kesot, the end of the pipeline, Abu and Charles double-checked all the connections. They spent a sleepless night trying to doze in the truck — worrying, waiting, and praying that everything would work right the next morning.
As morning dawned on the momentous day, Cheru stood right up front — eyes bright with amazement as the clean water flowed. Then she watched her father be the first to fill a glass and drink from it as everyone cheered.
Cheru’s mother recalls the exhilaration surrounding the scene. “That day when the water first came, we ran to our houses and brought jerrycans to fetch the water because we thought the water would get finished,” says Monica. “But seeing the water the next day, I went to my neighbors and I told them: ‘You all come and fetch, and bring your clothes to wash. The water is not getting finished.’”
With water close at hand, families can prioritize other critical areas in their lives: health, education, and income. Monica’s mind is brimming with new ideas. She wants to grow a vegetable garden and start a business selling clothes and sugar. Cheru dreams of becoming a doctor.
As a water committee member, Samson’s top priorities are toilets and baths. “This will change everything,” he says. “We have a toilet now. All the water committee members are going to have them, and we’ll see that others do too.”
With his arms around Cheru, Samson praises God for the joy that has come to his family because of clean water. “We’re happy. The animals are happy. Even the birds are happy,” he says, breaking into a wide grin.
Rejoicing in God’s bounty
On Sunday, when Cheru hears Pastor Solomon Kapel beating his drum, she excitedly runs to find him. She wants to be the first in line to help him cut flowers and branches to decorate the church before the service begins.
As the congregation gathers, women place jerrycans of water by the door, so anyone can get a drink when they’re thirsty. Then they sprinkle the dirt floor with water, so they won’t kick up dust when they dance and sing.
The church overflows with worshippers, children and adults alike dressed in their best. Cheru loves church. She joins in wholeheartedly to sing, dance, and praise the Lord.
“Water has changed everything here for the better,” says Solomon. “We praise God for it.”
He is deeply moved at the blessings that have come with clean water. Without hesitation, the congregation hauled water and applied a new mud finish to the church exterior. They’re saving money for sacks of cement so they can have a concrete floor. Monica and other mothers want to start a childcare center at the church, and Samson says they need to build a latrine. There’s even talk of building a house for Solomon since he currently lives 7 kilometers (over 4 miles) away.
Solomon says, “Just like in the Bible where [God] gave his people water from the rock, this water system is a blessing from God.”
When the children’s choir comes forward, Cheru proudly stands in the front row — her clean face beaming. She sings and claps with joy.
Join us in praying that more and more communities would have clean water access, and thank God for the access to clean water gained by this community.
Walk or run the Global 6K for Water on May 4, 2019, to provide life-changing clean water to one person in need. You’ll walk or run with the picture of the child receiving clean water through World Vision’s water projects.
Give a monthly gift to provide clean water to communities lacking it. Your ongoing gift creates lasting change in a community.
India (MNN) — Tomorrow is World Water Day, an occasion used by the United Nations and others to raise awareness of the global water crisis.More than two billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and a further 4.3 billion have no safe sanitation facilities.
If a bucket contained all the world’s water, one teacup of that would be freshwater, and just one teaspoon of that would be available for us to use, from lakes, rivers and underwater reservoirs as groundwater.
In theory, this is enough to meet all the daily, basic needs of all the people around the world. Yet whether you are able to access that water for drinking, cooking, washing and other daily needs depends on who you are and where you live.
Globally, one in nine people do not have clean water close to home. Water scarcity intensifies in rural India, where an estimated one billion people struggle to get water from a shrinking supply.
AsIndia Partners’ Donna Glass describes, the water crisis won’t be resolved in one fell swoop. Instead, it’s family by family and village by village. “You can change a family like Mallika,” she suggests.
Give hydration, health, and hope on World Water Day
(Photo courtesy of India Partners)
Mallika represents hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of women in rural India. She’s poor, uneducated, and struggles to get by as the sole provider for her child.
“She travels by foot, carrying a heavy pot of water, several times a day – often while trying to balance this small child, who’s less than a year old, on her other hip at the same time,” Glass describes.
“The water in her village is giving them fevers and diarrhea, and it’s destroying them. Diarrhea’s the second-leading cause of death of children under the age of five, and that’s often due to the water they drink.”
Thankfully, there’s hope for Mallika and others like her. By installing a new well in remote villages, India Partners provides water that’s safe to drink and easy to access. Additionally, India Partners’ WASH (Water, Access, Sanitation and Hygiene) program teaches villagers the importance of hygienic practices. This helps prevent diseases and saves lives.
“I might not be able to help a whole village, but I can help one family.”
Spread the word
When you help “just one” family, it starts a ripple effect. This is what happened when Rex Harsin encountered India Partners, and asked his coworkers at Next Gear Solutions to help him raise money for clean, safe water.
Last year, Harsin and another Next Gear employee, James Barker, organized a “water walk” fundraising event. They raised $16,000, which India Partners used to install wells in two rural villages. Read about the event here.
India Partners’ CEO, John Sparks, recently checked up on the wells and says “the villages are growing,” shares Glass.
“They’re getting bigger because there’s water. People are moving in and it’s made it a better place to live…those villages are thriving.”
Ukraine (MNN) — Ministry opportunities are being constricted in Ukraine. Slavic Gospel Association has heard reports that Ukrainian churches, church outreaches, and the advancement of the Gospel are coming under increasing pressure in the country. But Slavic Gospel Association’s Easter outreach Orphans Reborn is just around the corner. And it is important that this work can continue.
Orphans Reborn Easter Outreach
Through Orphans Reborn, SGA helps local churches reach out to 10,000 kids every year in the former Soviet Union.
Easter in the former Soviet Union takes place in the third week in April. This year it lands on April 28.
(Photo courtesy of Pixabay)
But the Easter ministry is built upon the work of the Christmas outreach, Immanuel’s Child. During this outreach, churches hold events to celebrate the birth of Christ while also making the Gospel available in their communities, along with the story of Jesus’ birth.
Plus, during the Christmas celebrations, people invited to the outreaches provided their contact info to the churches. Local churches use this info to circle back and reconnect with the kids and families through the Easter outreach. While in the West, Christmas steals the show, Easter is traditionally a bigger deal in the former Soviet Union.
As far as outreach goes, SGA supported churches plan events for the week of Easter, starting on Palms Sunday and leading up to Easter Sunday. Through these events, which are similar to the Christmas outreach, churches help attendees understand what the death and resurrection of Christ mean, and why it was necessary.
“Rather than just seeing it as a time of gathering, even for exchanging chocolate and Easter egg hunts, [churches] see this as a tremendous opportunity to reach people with the life-saving Gospel. They know that the tradition is there and they’ll have access to people, and this is a great opportunity. There’s no other greater time either than to reach out to orphan children,” Mock says.
During Easter, Orphans Reborn teams visit children in orphanages up to four times a month. Sometimes, teams have to drive as far as six hours to an orphanage to build relationships with the kids and provide aid. Still, there is a gaping hole between the kids who are reached and those who are not.
“It’s an opportunity to reach even more, and regretfully 10,000 orphan children is just a drop in the bucket…There is still 600,000-700,000 [in the former Soviet Union], depending on which survey you go to, 600,000-700,000 orphan children in state-run orphanages and probably double that living in at-risk homes, in poverty on the streets. So many kids to reach and so many possibilities,” Eric Mock with SGA explains.
During Easter, doors open similarly to Christmas. The tradition of celebrating Easter is ingrained in the culture. This tradition provides opportunities to connect with people who typically have nothing to do with the Church. For many orphans, their lives are void of hope. But through these opportunities, Bible teaching churches supported by SGA are making the hope of the story of Christ known.
“Eighty-four percent of them will not get adopted, and eighty-four percent of them are left often without a future and a hope. We’ve got to get the message of the Gospel to them. So, the Orphans Reborn program provides the tools to local Bible teaching churches to take the Gospel to these dear children,” Mock says.
Partner With Orphans Reborn
Will you help Orphans Reborn share Christ in Ukraine and the rest of the former Soviet Union?
(Photo/Caption courtesy of SGA) “We are thankful for each gift we receive for SGAOrphansReborn ministries in the CIS.” – Lana Yusov, SGA’s Children’s Ministries Administrator
“These particular activities, along with building relationships with these orphan children throughout the years, are integral to the orphans reborn program. Supporting the Orphans Reborn program supports a local Bible teaching church that commits every month to be going out and visiting these orphanages, even when it’s 40 and 50 below zero, even when it’s hot with mosquitoes in the middle of the summer,” Mock says.
SGA provides these churches with resources to reach orphans to visit the orphanages such as fuel, teaching materials, and emergency and humanitarian aid. Costs of supporting the ministry averages at $5.00 USD a month per child. Would you help provide the resources for a child to be reached with the Gospel?
To support or learn more about Orphans Reborn, click here.
Many Prayers, Much Power
“It’s just an amazing program to be a part of. And now we actually see orphan children who have been ministered to under this program now being part of the teams that minister to younger orphans,” Mock shares.
“The Orphans Reborn program, to be honest, its why I left my career, to be a part of this Orphans Reborn program, to be a part of reaching these dear ones that the world has mostly forgotten.”
Pray the Gospel will reach these kids this Easter. Ask God to open doors for ministry to continue in Ukraine, particularly Easter outreach. Pray for an increasing number of churches to rise up with a desire to reach hurting children and to invest in these kids. Ask God to keep doors open in Ukraine so kids and adults may learn the true story about Jesus Christ. And finally, pray for open hearts to the Gospel in Ukraine and the rest of the former Soviet Union.
Header photo courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association.
Mozambique (MNN) – Weather forecasters warned this was a monster storm, and it turns out, they were right. Cyclone Idai struck southeast Africa last week with winds up to 100 miles an hour and a storm surge topping 20 feet.
Heavy rains accompanied the storm and two more feet are in the forecast for this week. Rivers overflowed, adding to the deluge of water pouring into homes and businesses. In Mozambique, the country that took the brunt of the storm’s fury, survivors are still clinging to rooftops and trees, awaiting rescue.
In its wake, the United Nations estimated the storm destroyed roughly 90-percent of Beira. There’s no power, and communications are offline. However, Audio Scripture Ministries has a team just across the way, serving people in the area. ASM’s Joshua Harrison says the initial reports they got were a mixed bag.
The good news: the staff survived the storm and homes stayed mostly intact. However, he explains that heavy rains washed out the one main road from Beira to Zimbabwe, which also connects all of central Mozambique. “Many of those main roads are completely blocked right now, so even getting relief to the places where it’s needed will be a huge challenge in the days to come, so much prayer, much help will be needed.”
Reaching the survivors
Getting the logistics worked out for aid and rescue challenges even the Red Cross. But the timing is critical over the next few days and everyone is searching for ways into Beira. Harrison says, ”We have 14 compassionate care patients on the other side of a bridge that had the foundation knocked out from under it, due to the winds, rains and the rushing water. We’re not able to reach all of our compassionate care patients. We’re praying for them, and we’re trying to find an alternate road that we can go on with motorcycles.”
While ASM is not a humanitarian aid group, Harrison says, “Our team was able to plan ahead with food, water, and fuel, but not many people in the area where we serve were able to do that.” For right now, “We are definitely praying about how we can best be the hands and feet of Jesus in this situation, both bringing physical and immediate help, and also the spiritual comfort and help that we can bring with God’s Word in audio.”
Carrying hope and help
(Photo courtesy of Audio Scripture Ministries)
Although there were warnings posted about the size and ferocity of the storm, in many ways, the magnitude and significance of it were much greater than anticipated. Harrison thanks you for praying with ASM last week. It made a difference. “We’re hearing over and over again that people didn’t even hear about this before it happened, in many cases. I’m grateful that we were able to get people praying for the people on the ground.”
In the aftermath, he says the Mozambicans are sharing what they have with each other, helping each other, but these limited resources only go so far for things like food and water.
What’s more, he adds, “Soon people will also start thinking about what they’re going to eat at the end of the year. In many ways, that’s why we started an agricultural project alongside our audio Scripture work because food security is a major issue for Mozambique.” With the crops washed away or whole fields under water, the loss of this year’s harvest will exacerbate the long-term impact of the storm.
The secondary emergency on the heels of the flooding is water-borne disease. There’s a risk of an outbreak of cholera and malaria, due to standing water. It’s an overwhelming scenario, but Harrison says there are things we can do to help. First, “Take the attitude of prayer for all these facing tremendous loss and the difficult days ahead, and second, consider a gift to organizations on the ground to help with disaster relief.”
Headline photo courtesy The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs/twitter.com/unocha
Flooding in Southern Africa has affected about 2 million people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe since rains began in early March and Cyclone Idai struck March 14 and 15. Waters are still rising, as is the death toll — now in the hundreds, but expected to exceed 1,000 people.
Idai is the strongest cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere. The U.N. children’s agency estimates that 260,000 children are affected.
Heavy rains continue to pound the region, likely leading to more lives lost, people displaced, and property destroyed.
Cyclone Idai developed in the Mozambique channel between Mozambique and Madagascar. Often, storms that develop there don’t strengthen as much as those that form north and east of Madagascar, but Cyclone Idai was fed by warm water temperatures.
Starting on the evening of March 14, Cyclone Idai made landfall in Beira, Mozambique, a coastal city of half a million people. The fierce storm pummeled Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe with strong winds and rains.
How have people been affected by cyclone and flooding?
Many people have lost family members and friends, their homes and possessions and seen their communities devastated. Health providers have seen an increase in cases of diarrhea and warn that cholera, malaria, and respiratory infections may increase due to poor living conditions. With home food stocks lost and many acres of crops destroyed, widespread hunger is looming.
What Does It Look Like to Embody Gospel-Shaped Power?
In this final post, I want to address practical ways pastors and church leaders can properly and biblically use power to help foster healthy churches and communities.
I suggest five key elements you can implement.
First, structure a church with pastoral accountability.
If the church structure does not have pastoral accountability, we need to question that structure, regardless of denomination or ecclesiological association. Good pastors recognize the need for accountability and their own tendency towards brokenness and sin.
Godly pastors with developed heart character long to shepherd well and want to mitigate their own sin so it does not run amuck and damage the church. They are thoughtful, careful, and they structure churches with pastoral accountability. If you want to be a good pastor, structure your church so your decisions are held accountable.
Second, seek accountability.
It’s one thing to structure a system with accountability, but it is a whole other thing to actually seek and be open to receiving accountability.
I can offer some personal experience on this point specifically. I have a boss; her name is Margaret Diddams, and she is the Wheaton College Provost, the college’s Chief Academic Officer. She can and has called me out and shut me down, because she’s my boss. We all need someone like that.
However, the reality is that most pastors don’t have an identified group of people who actually hold them accountable. And the accountability must be fostered and received. For instance, pastors should want to surround themselves with leaders who are willing to tell them “No” to protect them from blind spots and for the overall health and direction of the organization.