ISLET supports sign language Bible translation

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The article below was submitted by Deaf Bible Society.]

International (DBS) —Deaf Bible Society (DBS), a non-profit organization that supports Bible translation work in Deaf communities around the globe, has a straightforward mission: God’s Word in Every Sign Language. But DBS faced some obstacles to this mission related to language and training. First, it was unclear exactly how many sign languages existed. Second, many Deaf people who worked to translate the Bible into their own sign languages did not have enough training. Third, there was a shortage of skilled consultants and translation resources in sign languages to support quality checking for the parts of the Bible being translated into various sign languages.

DBS took action to collaboratively address these barriers for Deaf Christians working to translate God’s Word. In July of 2018, DBS launched the Institute for Sign Language Engagement and Training (ISLET), a team with expertise in translation, curriculum development, and linguistics. The Institute’s aim is to research sign languages, provide training to translators, and raise up more consultants to support the sign language Bible translation movement.

ISLET conducts language research to address the question, “How many sign languages exist around the world?” In partnership with other non-profits involved in Bible translation, ISLET has developed Aveditz, a collaborative research tool that compiles information about all of the known sign languages of the world. This makes it easier for people to see which Deaf communities have access to the Gospel in a language they understand well, and which communities still need to be engaged. ISLET also partners with local Deaf communities who want to study their sign languages and answer questions like “How many sign languages are used in our country?” or “Could our community understand a Bible translation filmed in a far-away city?” By engaging in language research, ISLET helps DBS and its partners measure progress in seeing God’s Word made available in every sign language.

In addition to language research, ISLET trains Bible translators working on sign language projects. In late summer of 2019, ISLET is launching the Josiah School of Translation. Through this program, Bible translators will develop practical skills to support their translation work including principles for interpreting the Bible, administrative skills, translation principles, the linguistic structure of their sign languages, and advanced video production skills. Each of these areas will equip translation teams to produce Bible translations that fully communicate the richness of God’s Word in ways that are most meaningful to Deaf communities. Over the course of three years, teams will receive six months of training, positioning them to thrive in the long term.

Finally, ISLET prepares qualified translation consultants to provide accessible support and feedback to Deaf translation teams. Before any video of a translated Bible portion can be published, it must go through a quality checking process guided by a translation consultant. If there are no consultants available for this checking, new translation projects cannot start, and active translation projects are delayed. Currently, one of the biggest roadblocks to sign language Bible translation work – impacting teams from Asia to the Americas – is the shortage of consultants who are proficient in at least one of the world’s sign languages. ISLET is developing training and assessments that will equip consultants to provide quality support to translation teams. Additionally, ISLET is collaborating with other Bible translation stakeholders to develop specialized software that supports the Bible translation task and improves communication between consultants and translation teams.

By innovating and engaging with Deaf communities, ISLET’s work fosters academic rigour and bolsters Bible translations that are grounded in the realities of each language context and communicate clearly to Deaf communities. Addressing Bible translation barriers related to language and training brings Deaf Bible Society one step closer to seeing God’s Word in Every Sign Language, accomplishing the Great Commission call of DBS and its partners.

 

 

Header and story images courtesy of Deaf Bible Society.

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Three American Christians detained in Laos

(Map courtesy Wikimedia/CC)

Update: We have just received word that Wayne, Autumn, and Joseph have been deported and crossed the border into Thailand Thursday afternoon.

Laos (MNN) – Lao authorities detained three Americans in the Luang Namtha province and seized their passports 10 days ago, accusing them of ‘disseminating religion’ without proper approval.

Todd Nettleton is a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA. “The three Christians were a part of a team that was traveling from a ministry that’s based in Wyoming, a ministry called Vision Beyond Borders. They were detained, apparently handing out Gospel-related materials.”

Due to the sensitive nature of the situation, VBB identified the three Americans by their first names only: Wayne, Autumn, and Joseph. As of this writing, the trio remains in a guest house in Luang Namtha, according to Radio Free Asia. Of the charges, that’s yet to be determined. Nettleton says, “My understanding was this was not Bibles, but rather mp3 players with the Scripture recorded as well as other Scripture recordings that they were giving out.”

From Where Does The Pressure Come?

On the issue of ‘disseminating religion’, Nettleton explains, “The law is that the government wants to control the distribution of Christian materials. Bibles are not sold in bookstores. They’re not available to the general public. At a government-sanctioned church, you can get a Bible. So a group from America that is just freely distributing Christian materials is going to get the attention of the Lao authorities.”

Nettleton says this case has a couple of unusual elements to it. First, “A lot of the persecution that happens, happens at the village level. If somebody becomes a Christian, the other people in the village may say ‘we don’t want any Christians in our village because that might anger the spirits of our ancestors, so if you’re going to be a Christian, you’re going to have to leave.’”

Second, “It appears that the US Embassy there in Laos is involved in the situation, so the US government is aware of what’s going on and is working on behalf of these three Christians. At this point, probably the most significant thing we can do is pray.”

(Photo courtesy of The Voice of the Martyrs Australia)

It could be the involvement of the US Embassy that kicked things into a more high profile situation since persecution doesn’t typically come down from the national government level. “It’s interesting to see Americans be detained and see that escalate up to the national level of ‘why are these Americans being held? What’s the charge against them?’”

However, there’s another issue to consider. “The other question obviously, from a ministry standpoint is, what happens to other Christians that they may have connected with, or spoken to, even met on the street in Laos? Will there be some repercussions for those believers. We pray that that’s not the case.”

A Call To Action

In a press release, Vision Beyond Borders says it “exists to serve the persecuted church in closed nations around the world. It directly supports Children’s Homes for orphaned and impoverished children, Safe Houses for women against sex trafficking provides refugee relief supplies for the Middle East, provides Bibles to impoverished and oppressed Christians, and supports pastors and mission work in closed countries.”

The ministry came to the defense of the three detained Americans and added the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1 which states:

Article 18 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.

Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

VBB calls for the release of Wayne, Autumn and Joseph, and further asserts, “The government of Laos is acting in direct contradiction to the Universal Declaration. This is part of a larger pattern of serious oppression against Christians and other minorities in Laos as documented by the 2017 International Religious Freedom Report 2 .”

As the situation is still unfolding, Nettleton urges us to “Pray for these three Americans that are being detained. We can pray for the protection of any Lao Christians that were their contacts or were working with them.”

 

 

Headline photo courtesy Open Doors USA

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The Israeli/Palestinian conflict—a sore spot for Arab Christians

Palestine (MNN) – Christians in the Arab World are typically the minority population. This includes in the Holy Land where Christ was born. However, it does not mean Arab Christians fall in line with the politics of their Western brothers and sisters. One particular area—the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Many Christians specifically in Israel and Palestine and even countries such as Jordan are actually of Palestinian nationality. However, these Christians are a minority because of both their religious and their citizenship.

Read about Palestinian Christians here.

Israeli/Palestinian Conflict Politics

George, an Arab Christian associated with Program for Theological Education by Extension, says there are situations where Christians from the West come to the Arab World and try to convince their Arab brothers and sisters of their own political stance regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Often, these political views pushed onto the Arab Christians lack a deeper understanding of the complexity of the conflict and how it affects the rest of the Arab World.

Palestine (Photo courtesy of MissyKel via Flicker)

“Israel is a complicated issue in our area…the religious and the political level. So, they need to separate between serving God and their stance towards Israel. If there are, let me say, missionaries who want to come and serve God or people who want to serve God but [they believe], they have some kind of, let me say, special belief about Israel, they need to come keeping this faith for them,” George says.

“I mean this does not help us if they believe [Israel will or the people of Israel will restore the land an all of this]… Let them keep this belief for them because if they want to come and convince us of this or talk about it to the government or any of these things, this will hurt us more than really helping us.”

Shifting Mindset About Israel

George is not asking anyone to change their political stance but to be aware of the context surrounding it. Promoting a pro-Israel stance comes across as political and damages the Gospel message in the Arab World context. Also, some Arab Christians disagree with the pro-Israel view for theological reasons. George says politics is not religion, and in the Arab World these two need to be separate. Religious work needs to be conducted without a political agenda.

(Photo courtesy of Anton Mislawsky via Unsplash)

“We have our reasons, theologically, [not] politically [for not being pro-Israel]. And in addition to that, [Christians] need to remember that…the first century, those Jews who did not believe in Jesus were cut out of, were cut [out of] Jesus,” George says.

“Whoever wants to benefit from Jesus, faith is the way to do this. So, he needs to understand it. I mean the Jews and Gentiles need to be saved in the same way which is through Jesus, faith in Jesus. So, whether you love Israel or do not love it, Jesus is the way for Jews and Gentiles and this did not change. It will not change.”

George recommends for Christians who have a heart for Israel to perhaps consider outreach in Israel rather than pursuing a political stance internationally. Second, trust God. Pray for God’s hand in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as well as for the global Church to stand with its family in Christ, not against it. Finally, pray for God’s love and truth to penetrate the hearts of those who don’t know Him.

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Anton Mislawsky via Unsplash.

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A season of extra difficulties for refugees

Middle East (MNN) — Winter is coming to an end. For many refugees in the Middle East, it’s been a season of extra difficulties and worries about survival.

“Winter in general in the Middle East is very hard, cold, windy. [There are] many storms [and] heavy snow, especially in Lebanon,” Tent Schools International’s Rawan Haddad says.

Refugees must prepare themselves while they’re in the camps, she explains. However, some things are out of their control and they cannot provide for their families.

“[There’s] not enough heating, power, food, and water. This winter brings heavy rains and floods in the Jordan and Lebanon camps. The water enters the tents and damages everything. We heard last year about refugees freezing to death, especially the babies.”

Haddad says relief agencies are working to provide refugee families with shelter, food, and water, but the need is endless.  Also, due to the cold and distance, winter forces many children to stop attending school.

“The school for the kids there are far away from where they live. They have to walk miles to arrive at their schools in the cold, rain, and snow, or they need to ride a private van to take them to school, and that costs their parents money.”

Since classrooms are poorly heated, kids stay cold and wet and can get sick. As a result, most children stay in their tents, trying to stay warm and healthy.

Tent Schools is setting up their schools inside refugee camps to provide refugee kids with education and a warm place to go during winter months.

“We at Tent Schools do our best to put schools close to their tents, bringing them safety, love, warmth, a meal, good school supplies, and the most important thing; compassionate Christian teachers.”

Tent Schools’ programs implement daily Bible studies with their students. In turn, they request prayers for their family members, friends, and their country.

Haddad says teachers often don’t know if children have given their hearts to Jesus or not. On their papers, “they can’t change their religion because it’s really [a] danger for them to do that.”

If children have become Christians, they often have to keep it a secret. However, even if children remain Muslims at heart, Tent Schools’ teachers are helping them learn how to love and care for others.

(Photo courtesy of Tent Schools International via Facebook)

Furthermore, teachers are developing positive relationships with students’ parents.

“They always visited them and shared together [about] their struggles, feelings, dreams, and prayed with them,” Haddad says. “We know that God is working [in] the hearts of these families.”

Though winter is coming to an end, Tent Schools needs your help to prepare for the future. Put worries of survival for next winter at ease for refugees by helping to establish tent schools in camps.

Be a financial partner with Tent Schools, starting here.

Also, continue praying for refugees around the world. Pray for the Lord’s provision and protection, and that He would instill an undying hope for the future in their lives.

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Islamophobia and the counterculture of Christ

(Photo courtesy of Raphael1/Wikimedia CC)

International (MNN) –Google the phrase ‘anti-Muslim’ on a news website and you’ll get a page full of political stories from around the world, along with a smattering of terms like ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘hate speech’.

The rise of terrorism and extremism is hard to deny. It’s increasingly difficult to separate the issues of national security from religion. It’s a topic fraught with controversy and high emotion. Chris Ruge, Prayercast director and overseer of the project ‘Love Muslims’ says Islam is an ideology. Taken to the extreme, you see violence.

Ruge says there is a distinction between Muslims and terrorists but observes that much of the divisive dialogue and rhetoric seems fear-driven.

“We’re not dealing with people, necessarily, who desire our demise–although some do. There are people all over the world who would wish us ill, but that doesn’t mean that we need to be afraid because the reality is that God loves those people.”

Relentless Love

(Screen capture courtesy of Prayercast)

Leaning hard on that truth, there’s a question that remains: “If we don’t love Muslims to Christ, who will?” Ruge reminds us that God transformed terrorists before. “This is Paul—he looked an awful lot like this amazing evangelist like Billy Graham and yet the reality is that before he was ever that, he was Saul, and he looked an awful lot more like Osama bin Laden. He was a persecutor of the Church and he had blood on his hands.”

With the advent of the Islamic State (ISIS) and its subsequent rampages throughout the Middle East and North Africa, its fighters gained a fearsome reputation. Then stories began trickling out of some of these fighters having dreams and visions of Jesus and finding themselves profoundly affected.

It’s because people were praying.  Ruge shares one piece of advice given to him by a friend who counseled him on forgiveness and restoration of a broken relationship.  He said,” ‘It’s almost impossible to dislike or hate someone who you are actively praying for.’”

Fanning The Flame

(Screen capture courtesy of Prayercast)

Ruge took that to heart and started thinking about ways to help other Christians actively, knowledgeably and passionately pray for Muslims, despite a growing anti-Muslim sentiment.  Enter: ‘Love Muslims’.

“’Love Muslims’ is creating over 130 different videos, short videos to lead us in prayer. Every one of those videos is built on testimony or a prayer by a former Muslim who is now a follower of Jesus.”

‘Love Muslims’ is a counter-culture movement, since the vocabulary that comes with ‘Islamophobia’, ‘hate speech’ and ‘anti-Muslim’ usually includes words like ‘bigots’, ‘racists’ and ‘hypocrites’. Strong language deserves a strong response, but one in a context that reflects the hope of Christ.

Encouraging The Hope

‘Love Muslims’ launches at the beginning of Ramadan.  It’s a symbolic way to say that Christians are praying for Muslims in time on the calendar when they are most receptive to hear from God, where they’re actively fasting and seeking after hearing from God. Ruge says, “More Muslims have turned to follow Jesus in the past 15 years than in the previous 1400 years combined.”

From May 5 through June 4, “We are going to be leading a 30-day prayer journey, through the month of Ramadan.  When people sign up, we’ll send an email each day as a reminder. We’ll be releasing a brand new video, never seen before, every day during the month of Ramadan.” Click here to sign up.

 

 

Headline photo courtesy Venca24/Wikimedia CC

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Serving the global Church; notes from a Jordanian Christian

Jordan (MNN) – There comes a point when the lines between ministry and work get blurred, and when they do, casualties occur. The same thing happens when ministry becomes an idol or expectation rather than an honest heart search and a conviction to serve others.

How?

By unintentionally harming the people the Christians came to serve. George, an Arab Christian living in Jordan associated with Program for Theological Education by Extension, shares his thoughts.

“Some people from the West try to save us, but this has two problems. The first one is really the one who works in the heart is God himself. So when they try to help us out of our problems and many difficulties, persecution and all of this, they can’t,” George says.

“They may stop some kind of persecution, difficulties that we face, but really, they cannot change the hearts of those who cause this persecution. It’s God who can really change the situation. But in addition to that…some of those who try to save us sometimes unintentionally create more problems.”

When Serving is Damaging

One example—religious freedom. Freedom of religion in the Arab World varies from country to country and some organizations have taken it upon themselves to defend religious freedom in the region. However, despite their good intentions, this can be problematic.

(Photo courtesy of PTEE)

Because of the way some of these organizations choose to support religious freedom, specifically for Christians, they have insulted governments and caused more problems. Christians these organizations were trying to defend become greater targets in their countries. Furthermore, as George has said, these organizations cannot change hearts; only God can.

Rather than attempting to change life as they know it themselves, Arab Christians like George are trusting God. But when people do help, George wants them to be aware of how their actions and words could impact the local Christians and hurt them. A piece of advice he offers—be respectful to the culture, the people, and the government. Even the Bible, in Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Timothy, talks about submission to governing authorities.

Learn About the Local Culture

Second, get educated. Learn about the complexity of the situation impacting local Christians. Ask local Christians about their experiences, listen to them and learn from them. If Christians do not listen to the local body of Christ, their mistakes will negatively impact those they are trying to help.

“When some of them have some political position, stances, and they try to in a way convince us as Christians here or convince the government of these stances, this also does not help us. Let’s really try to separate politics from religious freedom. Politics and religious freedom, although they are in a way connected, are not the same thing,” George says.

Working vs. Serving

Finally, George says when Christians, particularly from the West, come to work alongside the local church, they need to serve, not save. Many Westerners have come to the Middle East, and other regions, with a savior mentality rather than an intention to serve. This has also dealt damage to the local Church.

“We welcome everybody who wants to come and help us. There are a lot of things that we need help with here in the area. If they want to come and help us, we need it. We cannot deny that we need it,” George says.

“The thing is that sometimes they think that they are here to save us., that we are just ignorant and we know nothing and yeah, there are many things that we do not know and we need to learn, but this kind of mentality does not help us.” Some of those who came from the West [are] trying to lead, and they make the ministry be centered around them. If they leave, the ministry does not continue. They make programs and they ask locals to come and help in their programs instead of seeing that we need them [in the] ministries [we have] in the area.”

“They can add some input into it instead of creating something and attracting others to be the [center of this new thing].”

When Serving Helps

There have been situations where outsiders create a ministry that becomes central to the local community. But then when they leave, so does the ministry. George asks for Christians to search their hearts and ask themselves why they are leaving their home country. Is it really to humbly serve others and walk alongside a local Church to build it up, or are they traveling to a different country to ‘save’ it?

“Leaving your country in itself does not mean that you are serving God, even if it’s religious work. Religious work does not mean it [is] ministry, it means work sometimes. This is something related to the heart,” George says.

Christians should search their hearts before traveling abroad not because local Christians do not want help from their brothers and sisters, but because they want the help to be pure, honest, and God-honoring.

PTEE’s History

George says PTEE has had non-Arab Christians serve with the ministry in the past who really had a heart for serving and building up the local Church. These Christians made a positive impact on the seminary program and the community, but they also served with honest hearts and open ears.

(Photo courtesy of PTEE)

“Some Western workers come and make…their communities here in the Middle East instead of serving the locals and serving the local churches and helping in whatever way needed…They need to be aware of this when they come to serve, not work…they need to have this mentality and they need to be part of…at least the church community,” George says.

PTEE was established in 1981 by Arab Christians and Western Christians living in the Middle East. They saw the need for on-location, Biblical, theological education at the seminary-level which was not accessible to Arabic-speaking Christians living in the Arab World. Together, the foreign Christians and the local Christian leaders, through God, took the by-extension seminary from an abstract idea into a reality. Today, PTEE is run by Arab Christians for Arab Christians.

However, George says the seminary has room for foreign Christians who fit a specific skill set in administration, some academia, finances, and other areas.

Responding Through Prayer

Would you walk alongside PTEE and reconsider how you choose to engage with the global Church? Search yourself through prayer and also by asking, why do I want to help? Ask God to shape your heart.

“They need to make sure they come remembering that as Jesus left everything, we at least need to make our work and ministry centered around Jesus himself and around the people [that] to whom we are going,” George says.

“This is ministry to God, not to themselves.”

 

 

Header photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash.

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A former sponsored child’s unquenchable thirst for service

In the foothills of the lush Western El Salvador mountains, clean natural springs cascaded down ridgelines and bypassed an enclave of families living in poverty who are unable to access the fresh water.

Here in rural San Julian is also the birthplace of Leonardo Britay Regalado, a former sponsored child who gained an unquenchable thirst for service and justice.

Across El Salvador, the 13-year civil war had unleashed unspeakable violence, tremendous loss, and the upheaval of its people during the 1980s. The conflict forced thousands, including Leonardo’s parents, from lucrative metropolitan areas into the secluded foothills for their family’s survival.

Leonardo with his mother, Dena, and father, Leonardo Sr.
Leonardo Britay Regalado with his mother, Dena, and father, Leonardo Sr. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Robert Coronado)

His father and namesake, Leonardo Sr., farmed tirelessly by growing corn and beans, modest and reliable crops needed to feed his family and for income. Dena, his mother, sold fruit from their trees. It often wasn’t enough for the parents of three. “Sometimes we had only a few tortillas and salt,” remembers Dena.

With no running water at home, they bought bottles of clean water from the nearby town for drinking and cooking, and they bathed in the local river, a waterway littered with trash.

Growing up, Leonardo was bothered that there were pristine springs in the nearby foothills, but government officials never piped the water consistently to his community.

He remembers how powerless he felt.

Fifteen years later, the kind and quiet Leonardo has grown formidable, becoming the leader he previously sought.

‘The biggest blessing’

At 7, Leonardo’s life changed through child sponsorship. “I thought it was good because it meant I could go to school,” he remembers. Because sponsorship funded his school supplies, shoes, and uniform, his family could spend their limited income on food and water, and he could attend school full time.

also provided Leonardo’s family with food, and his mother learned about child nutrition through World Vision programs.

“It was the biggest blessing,” his mom says. “It was a blessing from God that people cared so much to help us.”

It was a blessing from God that people cared so much to help us.—Dena Britay Regalado

Leonardo spent his time after school in the fields helping his dad. “He was always a hard worker,” remembers Dena. In his spare time, he also worked on other farms to support his family by picking bananas, oranges, mangoes, and corn.

Dena remembers the day her son returned home, bug-bitten and exhausted, with the resolution to have a professional career.

Leonardo’s formidable future

As he grew, he spent more of his days with World Vision. At age 14, he enrolled in World Vision’s community leadership training, a program that guides teens to identify community problems and find solutions.

As a teen, he served as president of the Child and Youth Board of San Julian. He taught other children to dream bigger for themselves and their communities and to take the practical steps to make it happen. He encouraged other kids to stay in school.

Leonardo is grateful for his sponsor. His sponsor’s sacrifice motivated him to invest in his own community. He says other children who were not sponsored often dropped out of school or migrated.

He’s lost friends to the gang violence that has gripped El Salvador, but the lessons and values he learned from World Vision have set a different path for him. Leonardo calls World Vision “his second school.” Their training taught him a culture of peace, service, and integrity — values essential to the person he is now. It’s what he teaches young people. It’s what he lives every day, he says.

Leonardo as a child, age 5, before World Vision arrived in his community of San Julian. This was his home before the earthquake struck the region in 2001, destroying it. (Photo courtesy of Leonardo Britay Regalado)

In 2001, when Leonardo was 16, a massive earthquake struck the region. The family’s wood-and-tin home collapsed, so they lived under a plastic tarp under the trees. World Vision helped rebuild homes throughout the community, including theirs, out of sturdy concrete.

A year later, he volunteered with World Vision to monitor and evaluate their programs, working his way through high school and the university to gain his bachelor’s degree. He knew he wanted to become someone who could help his community in practical ways.

Now as the manager of the city water utility, Leonardo ensures that people throughout the region have clean water. As a civil servant, he is making the change he dreamed about as a child.

“For years before I got this job, I would ask the former water manager why they couldn’t fix my community’s pipes to access clean water.” He was told that they just didn’t have the budget. “‘No, we can’t’ is all I heard,” Leonardo says. “But I said, ‘Yes, we can.’”

Now, he has found efficiencies within the same budget to make sure pipes and the pumping station provide clean water to his community and many others. No one should have to go without clean water, he says.

“I learned from my mom how to be humble and strong,” Leonardo says.

Dena’s gratitude runs deep for her son’s sponsor. “I’m so grateful for peo­ple who help children around the world. I see God’s love through them. They love others like themselves and make sac­rifices to help,” says Dena.

“Leonardo is the greatest gift from God,” says his mom. “It’s been my dream that my children would be respected and useful to society.” He’s recognized throughout San Julian for the work he’s done to make the com­munity better.

As she reflects on how proud she is of her son, tears well up in her eyes and spills down her face. “These are tears of joy,” she says.

Leonardo’s dad has been unable to speak since a stroke 13 years ago. But as his mom speaks, a tear runs down his dad’s cheek. It speaks volumes of how proud he is of Leonardo.

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7-year-old’s quest to end water crisis gains momentum

On the eve of the 2016 Kansas City Half Marathon, the Holy Spirit planted a dream in 7-year-old Addyson Moffitt’s heart: see every kid have clean water in her lifetime.

She’d learned about a little girl in Kenya named Maurine and that many kids like her don’t have clean water.

“I wanted to help them,” says Addyson, now 10. “I didn’t feel that it was fair that they had to go do that, and I just have to go to my refrigerator and get clean water.”

So she told her mother she wanted to run the half marathon next year and raise funds for clean water.

In the days that followed, Addyson peppered her mom and dad, Shayla and Bryan, with questions — when does training start, when can she start fundraising, how can she fundraise.

“That’s when we knew it was real,” Shayla says. “It wasn’t just a 7-year-old who had an inspiring evening.”

Shayla and Bryan prayed, asking God to lead them and Addyson as she began fundraising toward a $1,310 goal to represent the 13.1 miles she’d be running. When the half marathon arrived in October 2017, Addyson had raised more than $20,000.

She finished the race, and her mission only grew “because, you know, we can’t stop fundraising and running until the water crisis ends.”

Around then, her family sponsored two children who live in Maurine’s community. They began writing letters and sending school photos as well as praying for them and Maurine.

In spring 2018, the family ran the Global 6K for Water together for the second year in a row.

“It’s not a race. It’s not who comes in first. It’s not who has the best time,” Shayla says. “It is finding purpose and knowing that when you move one foot in front of another, you are impacting a life clear across the world.”

By the 2018 Kansas City Half Marathon in October, Addyson had raised more than $60,000. She ran again, and then in November, she appeared on The Steve Harvey Show to share her story. He surprised her with $5,000 toward her fundraising and a trip for Addyson and her family to visit Kenya in the spring to meet their sponsored child and visit Maurine.

Addyson hopes to raise another $60,000 this year, and she’s planning to run in the Global 6K for Water with her family on May 4.

“Don’t let anybody take down your big dreams,” Addyson says. “People might tell you that you’re too young, you’re too small, but don’t listen to them. Just always go for your dreams and don’t let anyone stop you.”

The post 7-year-old’s quest to end water crisis gains momentum appeared first on World Vision.

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Global 6K for Water creates an unforgettable moment for a California pastor

What are the unforgettable moments in your life? It could have been when you drove a car for the first time or got your first paycheck. Or when your favorite sports team won a game or even a championship. What about marrying the love of your life or holding your baby in your arms for the first time? Or that moment when you realized how much the people in your life love you?

For 44-year-old Nicole Wetmore, meeting her sponsored child, 5-year-old Grace, in Uganda became one of her unforgettable moments.

“Just when you feel your heart is full and you can’t take in another thing because you’ve had so many great experiences, or you’ve learned so much, God has a way of breaking your heart again, but in the best possible way,” says Nicole, the local and global missions pastor at Green Valley Community Church in Placerville, California. “It’s a glimpse of allowing us to feel the love he has for people and the way his heart breaks when he sees his people hurting and in need.”

Her unforgettable moment wouldn’t have been possible without the Global 6K for Water. Back in May 2018, the second year Nicole served as Green Valley’s Global 6K host site leader, her race bib featured Grace.

Green Valley Community Church in Placerville California at the Global 6K for Water in 2018.
Grace was on Nicole’s race bib at the Global 6K. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Heather Klinger)

“I walked on behalf of Grace because it’s a small way for me to contribute to a greater cause,” she says.

Every Global 6K participant provides clean water to one person in the developing world through the $50 registration fee, and their race bib has the picture, name, and age of a child who will benefit from World Vision’s clean water work.

“These are real people with real issues, and real hopes, and real dreams, and they are facing real challenges too,” Nicole says.

Six kilometers, a little more than 3.7 miles, is the average distance round trip that women and children in the developing world walk for water. Imagine carrying 44 pounds of water in a 20-liter jerrycan on the way home from the water source. If that’s not enough, 15 liters is considered a bare minimum water supply for one person, so you’ll need to make a few more trips.

The thought of her three sons walking for water — water often contaminated with life-threatening diseases — puts the Global 6K in perspective for Nicole.

“I don’t think about water at home. I walk to the faucet and turn it on,” she says. “And I’m often complaining if it’s not getting hot or cold fast enough. To think that if we didn’t have access to water, I’d have to send my kids off to go collect water for our family — it would be significant.”

That knowledge drives Nicole to tell everyone she knows about the global water crisis and how they can make a difference through the Global 6K.

“One of the most surprising things for me was hearing how excited everybody else was about rallying around clean water and participating in the Global 6K,” Nicole says. “When it doesn’t affect you directly, you think people are disinterested. But then when you’re able to explain what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, it’s pretty cool to have so many people come together for such a great cause.”

Green Valley Community Church in Placerville California at the Global 6K for Water in 2018.
Participants from Green Valley Community Church pose for a group photo before the 6K begins. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Heather Klinger)

How many exactly? Nearly 170 people participated in Green Valley’s Global 6K in 2018 — everyone from families with strollers carrying both children and dogs to a marathon runner who helped measure the course so that it was exactly 6K.

“I’m not a runner,” Nicole says. “I’m barely a walker sometimes, but the Global 6K is something anyone can participate in. If you can move, you can be involved — even if you can’t walk it. We had volunteers that couldn’t participate but were involved in the process because they have a heart for people and a heart for kids and it was important to them. So just do it.”

Later that day and the next morning during weekend church services, Green Valley continued to educate their congregation on the global water crisis and how each of them can impact a child’s life in a powerful way.

“With Celebration Sunday, we get to not only celebrate what’s happened with the Global 6K, but also take a look at child sponsorship in a different way,” Nicole says. “We didn’t choose where we were born. Some of us ended up here in Placerville and some of us ended up in countries in Africa.”

Nicole says it’s significant that participants can continue the relationship with the child on their race bib by sponsoring them — an opportunity to develop a friendship with a child on the other side of the world and show them the love of God, which brings hope and lifelong transformation.

 

“When I heard about [Grace’s] story and the needs that her family has, I was really blown away and touched that I would be able to sponsor her,” Nicole says.

That choice to sponsor Grace led Nicole to travel more than 9,000 miles to Morungatuny, Uganda, in October 2018, where Grace greeted her with a beaming smile. Nicole’s smile was just as bright.

“Visiting this community and seeing it firsthand puts a whole other layer on making this relationship very personal,” Nicole says. “Even though I had some information about this little girl and her community on a card, meeting her really brings it home and makes you think about your own family and your own circumstances.”

Nicole couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast.

Not even six months after the Global 6K for Water, California pastor Nicole Wetmore traveled to Uganda to meet Grace, who appeared on her 6K race bib.
It was an emotional meeting for the both of them. (©2018 World Vision/photo by K.T. Vera)

“I can’t imagine sending my 5-year-old, let alone my 5-year-old and my 3-year-old, off to go fetch water in such dangerous conditions,” Nicole says. “It’s heartbreaking to think about, and yet this is her responsibility in her family. And in spite of all that, she’s warm, she’s funny, she likes to play, and she likes to do all the same things my kids used to like to do.”

But despite Grace’s current circumstances, Nicole knows there is hope.

“The work World Vision is doing here is so significant in these communities,” she says. “Certainly, access to clean water is vital, but the dignity and value that they bring to life with issues like sanitation and child protection, it is amazing how the leadership here is investing in the community and empowering community leaders and people from this region to take ownership of their community. It’s incredible.”

Grace is one of 36 kids sponsored through the 2018 Global 6K for Water and Celebration Sunday at Green Valley, contributing to more than 2,000 children sponsored through the 2018 Global 6K. And for Nicole, as she remembers her unforgettable moment meeting Grace, there’s greater meaning behind Green Valley’s Global 6K for Water and Celebration Sunday this year.

“It’s something we’re all called to do — to help, serve, and love those in need,” Nicole says. “Whether it’s in our backyard or across the globe, this is something every church, every organization can participate in. We can all do something together to solve the global water crisis.”

How you can help end the global water crisis

  • Learn more about clean water and how you can be part of the movement to end the global water crisis by 2030.
  • Join us in praying that more and more communities, including Grace’s, would have access to clean water.
  • 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.

The post Global 6K for Water creates an unforgettable moment for a California pastor appeared first on World Vision.

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Planning for Ministry and Still Unsure about Where to Go to College?

Let me give you my recommendation.

Choosing a college can be a daunting task.

If you are going into ministry, you don’t just have to decide the college, but you have to decide the type of college. And there are all kids of options out there.

You have to consider majors, locations, costs, student activities, school reputation and more in order to make one of the biggest decisions of your life. It was a while ago, but I remember making that decision myself. And, then making it with my daughters not too long ago.

But, if God is calling you to ministry, there’s a whole new set of questions you will likely ask yourself. You’ll be considering the school’s view of Scripture, denominational affiliation, areas of expertise, and how your time spent in college will be used for kingdom purposes.

Since I blog here at The Exchange, let me share my thoughts on why you should consider Wheaton College for your undergraduate degree.

First, Wheaton College is continually ranked one of the top colleges in national publications both in academics and affordability. With its long history of training some of the world’s most known religious leaders like the late evangelists Billy and Ruth Graham and missionaries Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, Wheaton College has demonstrated its commitment to educational excellence and solid Christian values.

That’s one of the reasons I love working here.

If you are planning to go into ministry, let me also tell you about the degree in the school where I serve as dean. It is the B.A. in Christian Formation and Ministry.

So, here are some reasons to choose a Christian school, and some reasons to consider studying with us.

First, I think there is value in studying at an evangelical school.

When you’re deciding if a Christian …

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Of politics and persecution: why India’s elections matter

India (MNN) — Believers are closely monitoring India’s elections. According to Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton, the outcome will shape India’s religious landscape.

Right now, persecution is at a record high under Prime Minister Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party. To these individuals, “India is a Hindu nation. One-hundred percent of Indians should be Hindu,” Nettleton describes.

“If you’re a Christian, a Muslim – if you’re anything other than a Hindu – they want you to change your religion and leave. And, they are actively attacking minority religious groups.”

Milan Vaishnav, who directs the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C., describes a similar threat in this conversation with NPR:

One of the important things this election is going to determine is India’s future as a secular republic that embraces pluralism and adheres to the founders’ notion that India’s unity is strengthened by its diversity.

Troubling signs

The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
(Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr)

Religion has been a driving issue in South Asia since 1947, when the British empire divided India and Pakistan along religious lines. Though Hinduism has been and still remains India’s majority faith, the country’s guiding document – its constitution – establishes a space for non-Hindu religions.

As Mumbai journalist Sunny Peter describes,

For a nation that was torn apart by religious strife at the time of its independence, it is crucial to maintain a delicate balance. Maintaining this among the various religious denominations is the Indian concept of secularism. In India, secularism means equal respect for all religions by the state — unlike the Western principle which implies the separation of state from religious institutions.

Problems arise when individuals or groups disrupt this “delicate balance.”

VOM’s contacts say discrimination is the norm for India’s Christian population. Common tactics include legal action – using loopholes to force church closures, for example – and physical violence.  Nettleton says the RSS – a radical arm of the BJP – is using whatever means possible to “crack down” on non-Hindu religious activity. More about the RSS here.

“If they can come in and say, ‘hey, the building codes don’t allow you to have public gatherings here’ they’ll use that. But, they’re also sending mobs of people with sticks and beating Christians, beating pastors.”

Last week, election officials temporarily banned Modi’s “right-hand man” from the campaign trail for hate speech aimed at Muslims. As noted here, statements about religion and caste often take center-stage during election cycles even though Indian law strictly forbids it.

How to help

(Photo courtesy of Open Doors)

First and foremost, please pray for the nation of India and its leadership. There’s a lot at stake over the next six weeks as millions of Indian citizens cast their votes.

“Is their government going to be actively opposed to Christianity, opposed to the Church, for the next four years? Or will it be a more moderate government that might actually respect the religious freedom that’s promised in India’s constitution?”

Pray also for the protection of individual believers and Christian communities throughout India. The second phase of voting begins Thursday, and the potential for violence remains high.

“There’s a lot that could go wrong,” Nettleton observes, referring the sheer size of India’s voter population and the logistics involved with casting and collecting ballots. “There’s a lot that could erupt into trouble and even violence. So, pray for a peaceful election process. Pray for God’s will to be done in the results…

“We certainly hope for a government that will respect the rights of Christians [and] the right, even, to tell a Hindu about Jesus.”

 

 

Header image depicts a voter’s hand. Voters in India receive a mark when they’ve cast a ballot. Photo credit: Incredibly Numing/Flickr/CC.

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Invest a dollar to change a child’s life forever

India (MNN) — Many churches in the U.S. are planning their Vacation Bible School summer outreach.  If you’ve ever been involved in VBS, you know how much spiritual impact it can have.  According to The Barna Group, nearly half of all commitments to follow Jesus Christ are made before the age of 13.

Mission India’s 10-Day Children’s Bible Clubs are kind of like VBS for kids in India. This month, Mission India has a matching grant that will double every dollar given to its 10-Day Children’s Bible Clubs.

(Photo courtesy of Mission India)

Normally, $1 sends one child to a 10-Day Children’s Bible Club. However, between now and April 30, $1 will give two kids a 10-Day Bible Club experience.

It’s not often you can make an eternal difference with just $1.  Erik Morsehead with Mission India says these 10-Day Children’s Bible Clubs are often the first place these boys and girls get to meet Jesus.

“In these VBS-like settings, they learn how to worship and pray and get to hear all about the love of Jesus and how Jesus comforts them and wants to live with them and be a part of their lives.”

Mission India’s Bible Clubs also provide a safe space for the kids to just be kids and feel loved. Morsehead explains many of them come from broken homes.

“They come from abusive families and families that are involved in addiction and have financial issues — just a lot of mess. So, for 10 days these kids can come and hear about hope and hear about grace and hear about love that is never-ending.

“It’s a powerful two weeks and the Gospel is just surrounding and immersing within these kids.”

(Photo courtesy of Mission India)

Once a child attends a 10-Day Children’s Bible Club, he or she will often transition into one of Mission India’s Year-Long Children’s Bible Clubs which meet every day after school.

It’s a unique opportunity to spiritually pour into a child long-term, and the impact doesn’t stop there.

“Oftentimes, we see these kids actually be catalysts for total transformation within their families. I’ve read countless stories and shared countless stories before of how one child goes to a 10-Day Bible Club or a Year-Long Bible Club and he or she goes back to their family and shares the hope of Jesus with their family and their family accepts Jesus!”

Click here to donate to the India’s Children 2019 Matching Challenge with Mission India!

Morsehead says, “Our prayer is that these kids would come to the safe place that we provide, that they would hear the message of Jesus, and they would come to know their Lord and Savior. [Pray] also that they would take that back to their homes and communities and be catalysts of change and of hope and of grace.”

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Mission India.

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How a new airstrip united a Haitian community and a Pennsylvania church

Haiti (MNN) — We recently shared about Mission Aviation Fellowship’s (MAF) new airstrip in Haiti. This airstrip has opened the door for local ministry, humanitarian work, and medical access on a remote part of La Gonave Island.

Pastor Carl Harris and First Baptist Church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania sponsored the MAF airstrip, but their investment went beyond the monetary. This body of believers has established deep relationships and linked arms with the Haitian people in a way that reflects the beauty of God’s Church today.

Pastor Harris says their story starts in 2010 following the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti. He was watching the news and felt prompted to get his passport and shots and go to Haiti. He ended up on La Gonave — a place with several remote villages that are, in many ways, forgotten.

“There is no running water [and] no electricity. In fact, most of the island doesn’t have water or electricity. It’s only in Anse-a-Galets they have some intermittent water lines and electricity. But the rest of the island is pretty much in the dark.”

Pastor Carl Harris in Haiti. (Photo courtesy of MAF)

Seeing the plight of the Haitian people on La Gonave moved Harris’s heart. Since then, he has been to Haiti 15 times, often bringing people from First Baptist Church and other local Gettysburg congregations with him. Two families at First Baptist Church are from Haiti themselves and have traveled with the church teams.

Over the years, they brought construction groups, teachers, and medical teams to Haiti. In January, their doctor treated nearly 600 patients. Some of the more remote villages on La Gonave haven’t had a doctor visit in several years.

The healthcare disparity was evidenced in one of Harris’s interactions with a Haitian couple.

“I asked the wife, ‘Where is your husband today?’ She said, ‘Well, he has had a toothache for about two weeks. He finally decided today that he was going to go to the town and find the guy who owns a pair of pliers and they were going to extract the tooth.’”

Harris says, “This is just life in these villages. They don’t have a lot of medical attention or help and it’s very hard.”

To get to the far side of the island takes around four hours by truck over difficult terrain. World Vision established a pharmacy-clinic in the remote area, but it wasn’t being used. The building was on 25 acres owned by a local woman named Albertha.

“A buddy on my team said, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if there was an airstrip here? People could be life flighted [or] medevaced off this part of the island. Nurses and doctors and dentists would come to the region.”

That’s when they got an idea. Harris met with Albertha and she agreed to allow an airstrip on her land.

(Photo courtesy of Paul O’Brien with MAF)

Harris had already been in contact with MAF, an aviation ministry that partners with organizations to reach remote and isolated people. MAF makes flights into Anse-a-Galets, the only airstrip on La Gonave at the time. Together, they were enthusiastic about establishing an airstrip in La Source, the far side of the island.

The next step was to get to work. “When we come to these areas, we like to hire Haitians,” Harris explains. “We work with a foreman and we hire laborers. We give them a fair day’s wage, which is often a welcomed thing on the island. We’ve heard reports that like 80 percent are unemployed.”

In November 2016, Harris and a Haitian man from his church named Clotaire went to Haiti to start the airstrip. They hired 150 Haitian workers and began preparing the land with digger bars, sledgehammers, axes, and machetes.

Leveling the land was a monstrous task that required breaking down rocks the size of cars and moving them by hand. Then they brought in and spread topsoil. It was a two-years-long process requiring six trips for the project.

Finally, the La Source airstrip was ready and waiting for approval from the government. “When we were there in January, the Haitian government had not approved it.

“But a day before we left, which was January 23rd,…I got a text message [from MAF] saying, ‘We’re going to come and fly you guys off the airstrip!’ It had been approved for humanitarian flights!”

Harris gets choked up as he says, “That was just a great highlight for me. Hundreds of Haitians had worked on this all by hand. No trucks or tractors or anything like that. It was all digger bars and crowbars and just a labor of love.”

La Source Airstrip (Photo courtesy of MAF)

The labor of love also came in the form of financial support from First Baptist Church. The body of believers there gave their own time and money, held yard sales, and sold food — everything from ribs and chicken to ham sandwiches and pizza — all to raise money for the airstrip.

“We just love the Haitian people and we feel their love and we know that we’re just an encouragement to them. That’s the main thing to me. These things kind of come and go, but it’s the relationships to say, ‘You know what? You guys aren’t alone.’”

Harris says the dear friendships they have made along the way have been the most rewarding aspect of this project.

“To be in this relationship with La Gonave Island and these half dozen pastors and these four villages has just been a beautiful blessing to me and to many of my people in other churches that have gotten involved.

“The Haitians, they have very little and life is hard, but there is a joy of the Lord. There is a peace about them. I know they are having some rough times right now in Port-au-Prince, but there are some really precious people who love the Lord, who love each other, and to see God at work is a really invaluable opportunity and it accelerates your growth.”

There are many things you can do to support the Body of Christ and ministry work in Haiti. First, pray for Haiti.

Harris says one thing the country could really use is wise and just leadership. “My prayer would be that God would raise up some men and women of integrity, honesty, [and] that have a love for the people but also have a love for doing what’s right.”

holding hands, prayingThen, as you pray, ask God if He would have you get involved in a more tangible way in Haiti. Harris says this often simply looks like supporting the work of ministries and churches already on the ground.

“I’m sure there is a lot of opportunity for new ministries, but I think there are a lot of churches that are established on the ground. They are doing good work, they have great pastors, they have great congregations, and they just need somebody to come along and say, ‘Is there a little something we can do?’… Let them say, ‘Here is a little something you can do.’ Hire some of their foremen [and] their members and get dirty with them! Labor with them. Let them know you love them. Then go back and build on that relationship.”

The journey that connected First Baptist Church with La Gonave Island and led to this new airstrip was not an easy one — but it was beautiful and enriching. Harris offers this final challenge to Christians willing to be tools in God’s hands:

“I think there are things God calls us to do that maybe get us out of our comfort zone and cause us maybe to take a risk. We do that in His strength. The risk is really trusting Him more than our routine and our own comforts. In doing that, we find…new possibilities, new victories, [and] new realities that you can’t fabricate in any other kind of way.”

 

 

Header photo courtesy of MAF.

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What is cholera? Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria. The disease is often contracted from drinking unclean water. Each year, 1.3 million to 4 million people around the world suffer from cholera and 21,000 to 143,000 people die of the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Most people who contract cholera show no symptoms, but in some cases, severe diarrhea, dehydration, and death occur within hours of onset.

Cholera is easily treated with oral rehydration solution, though people with severe cases need intravenous fluid replacement. With the right rehydration treatment, fewer than 1 percent of cholera patients die.

Cholera is a high risk in sub-Saharan Africa where clean water and sanitation are often lacking. The disease crops up in other parts of the world when conflict or natural disasters damage water systems and displace families.

The long-term solution to the global scourge of cholera is in providing access to clean water and sanitation.

Cholera timeline

400 BC — Greek physician Hippocrates describes a diarrheal disease like cholera.

1817 to 1823 — In the first known cholera pandemic, an outbreak engulfing a large region, the disease spreads from the Ganges River delta to the rest of India. The disease is thought to have originated in the Ganges Valley, where it has been known there since antiquity.  Through trade and colonization, the outbreak spreads to Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, and coastal Mediterranean regions.

1829 to 1851 — The second cholera pandemic spreads from India as far as Europe and the Americas.

1854 — Italian Filippo Pacini first isolates the cholera bacterium, Vibrio cholerae.

1863 to 1923 — The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth pandemics also originate and spread from India, each with a slightly different strain of the bacteria.

1883 — Robert Koch identifies Vibrio cholerae as the cause of cholera in an Egyptian outbreak, contributing to the modern understanding of infectious diseases.

1961 — The seventh cholera pandemic starts and spreads from Indonesia. It continues to cause devastating losses in Africa.

1979 — Oral rehydration therapy is introduced as a standard treatment for cholera.

2010 — Because of poor sanitation after the Haiti earthquake, a cholera outbreak that starts in the fall of 2010 spreads rapidly through displacement camps. Haitian health officials reported in October 2018 that cholera infected more than 819,000 people and killed nearly 10,000 since the outbreak began. About 3,400 new cases are reported at the end of 2018.

2016 — Yemen experiences the worst outbreak in history, affecting more than 1 million people; it is still ongoing as of March 2019. The U.N. estimates that 16 million people of Yemen’s 29 million people lack safe water and adequate sanitation.

2017 — The Global Task Force on Cholera Control, led by the World Health Organization, outlines a plan to interrupt the spread of cholera and reduce deaths by 90 percent by 2030.

April 2019 — In Mozambique, cholera is spreading rapidly among populations displaced by Cyclone Idai in March. A massive vaccination campaign has begun.

FAQs: What you need to know about cholera

Explore frequently asked questions about cholera, and learn how you can help children and families at risk of the disease.

What is cholera?

Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by Vibrio cholerae bacteria. Most people get it from contaminated water or food. Cholera may cause extreme diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death.

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What are the symptoms of cholera?

Cholera symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. Untreated, these conditions may lead to rapid dehydration, septic shock, kidney failure, and death within hours. Children with cholera may also experience drowsiness, fever, and convulsions. About 10 percent of those who contract the disease have severe symptoms.

About 80 percent of people infected by the cholera bacteria have no symptoms, and their infection runs its course without treatment. However, without proper waste disposal, the bacteria passed through their bodies can infect others.

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What is the difference between cholera, acute watery diarrhea, and dysentery?

Cholera is a form of acute watery diarrhea caused by a specific strain of bacteria, Vibrio cholerae. Acute watery diarrhea is most often a symptom of an intestinal infection, which can be caused by different bacteria, viruses, or parasites. The term dysentery describes an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that causes bloody diarrhea. Any of several bacteria or amoebas cause dysentery. Common strains of the cholera bacteria do not cause bloody diarrhea.

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Where is cholera found?

Cholera occurs primarily in Africa and in South and Southeast Asia, most often in tropical regions. In about 50 countries where the disease occurs regularly, it is said to be endemic. In these cholera-endemic countries, outbreaks often occur in the rainy season when drinking water may become contaminated through flooding. Since the 2010 cholera epidemic in Haiti, cholera has become endemic there.

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What is the difference between an epidemic, outbreak, and pandemic?

When even one case of cholera is diagnosed in a new location and determined to be locally transmitted, it is an outbreak. When cholera spreads rapidly to many people, that is an epidemic. A pandemic occurs when it spreads globally.

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Why is cholera especially dangerous for infants and young children?

Children can become dehydrated rapidly by the vomiting and diarrhea associated with cholera. In places where cholera is endemic — local, regular transmission — young children lack the immunity that adults may have developed over time. Also, children who are weakened by malnutrition are more susceptible to a cholera infection.

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Is clean water really the only way to prevent cholera?

Yes, the only sure way to prevent cholera is by using clean water for drinking and cooking, washing hands frequently with soap and water, and using a latrine for sanitation. But globally, 844 million people lack access to clean water. Ending Cholera: The Global Roadmap to 2030, a plan to reduce cholera deaths by 90 percent, prioritizes reaching people most in need with clean water and sanitation.

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Is there a cholera vaccine?

A single-dose oral vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for adults who are traveling to areas where cholera is spreading. Even with the vaccine, it is important to avoid exposure to cholera bacteria through good hygiene practices.

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How can I help people at risk of cholera?

Help bring clean water and sanitation to communities and families around the world as a World Vision supporter. Over the last three years, we reached more than 12.7 million people with clean water. Our goals for the future are even more ambitious, but achievable, with your help.

  • Pray: Ask God to pour his blessings out on families in need of clean water.
  • Give: Help provide clean water for children and families.
  • Run or walk in the Global 6K for Water May 4, 2019, to bring clean water to children around the world, or make a long-term commitment to join Team World Vision in the race to bring clean water and the opportunity for fullness of life to children around the world.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

What is World Vision doing to end the global water crisis?

World Vision is the leading nongovernmental provider of clean drinking water in the developing world. We are reaching one new person every 10 seconds and three more schools every day with clean water.

World Vision focuses on bringing water to people living in poverty in rural areas with the greatest disease burden. We invest an average of 15 years in a community, cultivating local ownership and training people to manage and maintain water points. In this way, we save lives and ensure good health for millions of people annually. Our efforts include:

  • Drilling, developing, and repairing wells and other vital water points
  • Teaching local community members how to keep water flowing
  • Overseeing the building of latrines and hand-washing facilities
  • Promoting healthy hygiene practices through education and behavior change programming

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The post What is cholera? Facts, FAQs, and how to help appeared first on World Vision.

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The best return: Benefits and blessings of clean water

Throughout my career, one subject has been near and dear to my heart: return on investment (ROI).

As a Wharton MBA holder, and later in my 20 years at Procter & Gamble, I obsessed over this measure. I demanded a high ROI from the projects pro­posed to me, and I drove my teams for even higher returns. Every year, every quarter, every day, I was consumed by the relentless pursuit of greater produc­tivity for every dollar.

When I made the switch from the corporate world to World Vision — from for-profit to for-impact — I discovered that return on investment is even more important. Here, the ROI is saving people’s lives for kingdom impact.

If you’re aiming for a dramatic and lasting change in a community, clean water is the key. Water-related diseases like diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, and typhoid can take down the toughest gladiator, so imagine what they do to a young child. Every day, nearly 1,000 children under 5 die from problems asso­ciated with contaminated water and poor sanitation. Clean water can change that number to zero.

Through World Vision’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, we reach one new person every 10 seconds and three more schools every day with clean water. We have deep experience, tried and tested solutions, and a bold plan to reach everyone, everywhere we work with clean water by 2030.

With our presence in nearly 100 countries, the trust we develop within communities, and God’s continued help, we will get it done.

Dorcas’ community desperately needed an investment, and it came from World Vision sponsors.—Edgar Sandoval Sr., World Vision U.S. president

This work came alive for me when I visited Zambia in 2015 and met 9-year-old Dorcas. This tough little girl was taking care of her grandmother — mak­ing sure she took her HIV medicine — as well as cooking, cleaning, and getting water every day. With all of these responsibilities, Dorcas didn’t have much time for school.

I saw the pond where Dorcas used to get water. It was shared by animals, which often fell in — and sometimes couldn’t get out. A dog once drowned and decomposed in that pond, but the villagers had no choice but to continue to draw water there.

Dorcas’ community desperately needed an investment, and it came from World Vision sponsors.

After engineers installed borehole wells, Dorcas had fresh water to drink practically next to her house.

And everything changed: Her grandmother’s health improved, Dorcas returned to school, and she shot to number five in her class. “I want to be first!” she told me. I know she’ll get there.

I have no hesitation telling investors large and small that WASH is a great investment. But here’s the catch: The high return is not for you. It’s for a childlike Dorcas and her entire commu­nity, freeing them from the risks and restraints of contaminated water.

Along with that life-changing return, there can be an eternal benefit. At World Vision, Christ is at the center of all we do, and our water programs provide an opportunity, at the right time and in the right way, to share about Jesus, the Source of “living water.”

We are honored to invest in solutions to the global water crisis. Beyond this, is there any better return than the poten­tial of new life in Jesus, who promises that we will never be thirsty again?


Edgar Sandoval Sr. became president of World Vision U.S. on Oct. 1, 2018. Follow him at twitter.com/EdgarSandovalSr.

The post The best return: Benefits and blessings of clean water appeared first on World Vision.

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14 Observations About The State Of Christian Denominations Today

Denominations that support and enhance the biblical mission of the local church will thrive. Those that don’t will continue to decline.

There are only two forms of the church that ultimately matter.

The universal church and the local church.

Everything else is an add-on. Including buildings, furniture, styles of music, types of preaching, curriculum, and the subject of today’s article, denominations.

I’m not against denominations. I’ve been in one my whole life and it’s been a blessing to our church and to me personally.

But, like church buildings, pews, choir robes or skinny jeans on the worship leader, it’s a temporary condition that has a limited life-span.

As I’ve traveled around the world over the last several years, I’ve ministered in churches of almost every denomination and non-denomination. By doing so, I’ve learned a lot about the state of denominations today.

Here are 14 of my observations:

1. We are in a post-denominational culture.

It’s not coming. It’s here.

Like hymnbooks and pews bolted to the floor, there are still a lot of denominations around, but they’re becoming less common, especially among younger, newer churches.

Also like the changes from pews and hymnbooks to portable seats and video screens, this is not all good or all bad.

Whether we like it or not, the Baby Boomers are likely to be the last generation that will care, commit to, or fight over denominational labels. (More on that in point 12.)

2. Denominations are still extremely helpful, especially for small churches.

Big churches have the size, the money and the infrastructure to operate independently far more easily than small churches.

Plus, as I’ve pointed out in Small Church Essentials, bigger churches have a lot more in common with each other than small churches do, so they have a greater ability to lean on each other …

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Questions, suspicion follow Sudan coup

Sudan (MNN) — It’s a new week in Sudan, but is it the start of a new era? Protesters don’t think so. Their demands for civilian rule continue, even though President Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year reign is over.

A few days ago, the Sudanese army ousted Bashir and announced a three-month state of emergency with mandatory curfew. They also officially disbanded the government.

Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton tells us, “This is a very significant change – simply to have him (Bashir) out of power. Now, the challenge [is] ‘ok, what comes next?’

“The military rulers who toppled Bashir are the same ones who’ve stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him over the last 30 years. So, if they’re the ones in charge, how much of a change will we likely see?”

Demonstrators ask the same question. Mistrust of army rule keeps protestors in the streets, despite military warnings.

Bashir’s out, what now?

Bashir is no longer leading Sudan, this much is true — but all other details remain in flux.  Initially, Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf took the helm following Bashir’s removal. However, he stepped down the following day when protestors met his appointment with resistance.

Over the weekend, Ibn Auf’s replacement — Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan — removed the mandatory curfew and called upon demonstrators to “help us restore normal life.” As noted here, talks between protest organizers and the military council took place on Saturday.

Are these signs of real change, or merely a temporary appeasement?

“There [are] so many questions at this point in time and all of this, obviously, affects the Church,” Nettleton notes.

“As new leadership takes power, what protections do they put in place for religious minorities? Do they adopt the same Islamist policies of the previous government, in the case of Bashir? Or, do they put in some legitimate protections for religious minorities?”

(Photo courtesy of VOM)

Christians withstood severe persecution under Bashir.  More about persecution in Sudan here.

“He (Bashir) is the one who masterminded the attacks on Christians in South Sudan. Bashir’s government has been openly anti-Christian, anti-Church. They have promised to make Sudan a Muslim nation.”

How will life change for Christians now that Bashir is gone? “This military leadership, what protections [will] they put in place for non-Muslims in Sudan?” Nettleton adds.

“All these are questions that we’re asking; they’re questions that certainly our Sudanese brothers and sisters are asking… at this point, we just don’t know the answers to them.”

Arab Spring 2.0?

A month ago, MNN questioned Nettleton about parallels between Sudan’s uprising and Algeria’s protests and the likelihood of a second Arab Spring movement. Sudan’s coup occurred roughly 10 days after Algeria’s, leading others to ponder the possibility.

Collage of Arab Spring protests (Credit ليبي via Wikimedia Commons)

The atmosphere is similar to that of 2011: a frustrated public floods the streets demanding change, and they refuse to take “no” for an answer. On Friday, protests continued in Sudan despite military warnings, and they began anew in Algeria.

However, some key differences set the movements of today and 2011 apart. As described here, the military is still in firm control in both Sudan and Algeria. Compare this to Egypt in January 2011 – “Days of Rage” protests showed the world how quickly mass crowds of people can take power into their own hands.

The outcome in Algeria and Sudan is far from certain, yet The Jerusalem Post presents another reason to pause before describing this unrest as “Arab Spring 2.0”:

One reason that Algeria and Sudan may have less impact than the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 is that neither of these countries are at the heart of the Arab world. Egypt’s 2011 revolution, and the second revolution in 2013 that removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power, were important because Egypt is important. It’s one of the traditional centers of the Middle East and the home of Al-Azhar University, a center of learning, media and power.

Furthermore, Nettleton notes, “a lot of this (in Sudan) is economic frustration… people couldn’t afford to put food on their table. That kind of frustration will send people out into the streets…

“I would watch the economics of the region before we say there’s going to be more of this.”

Prayer needed

Amid the ongoing uncertainty and chaos, one thing is sure – your prayers are absolutely vital.

“This kind of upheaval can be a time of danger. It can be a time where violence potentially breaks out, so pray for the protection of our brothers and sisters there.”

Pray that leaders who honor religious freedom will rise to positions of power in Sudan.

“Whatever the new government looks like,” Nettleton concludes, “let’s pray that people who respect religious freedom are in positions of influence in that government.”

You can also provide medical supplies, Bibles, Action packs and other assistance to persecuted Sudanese Christians through VOM.

 

 

Header image is a United Nations photo of 2010 protests in Darfur, Sudan.

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