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ISIS advances in Syria

Mission Network News - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 5:00am

Before/After battle map of the Jobar District.
(Image credit @Karim Faour via Syrian Perspective Facebook page)

Syria (MNN) -- ISIS advances over the weekend are putting Syria back into the international spotlight. According to BBC News, ISIS advances that began a week ago brought terrorists within six miles of Kobane, a Kurdish town in northern Syria, on Sunday. ISIS advances last week resulted in another 60 Syrian villages falling to the renowned black flag. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Kurdish forces withdrew and 39 villages fell to ISIS on Friday alone. Between 130,000 and 200,000 Syrian refugees fled from Kobane into Turkey as ISIS militants approached their community. Most Syrian Kurds crossed the border when Turkey created an opening stretching 19 miles; however, by Monday, Syria's neighbor had closed all but two border posts. Turkey already houses over 1.5 million Syrian refugees. This weekend's influx, the biggest since Syria's conflict began 3 1/2 years ago, added thousands more. According to CNN, the recent release of 49 Turkish hostages--captured when ISIS took over Mosul this summer--has freed up Turkey to join an international coalition to combat ISIS. However, underlying tensions between Turkey and Kurdistan are being inflamed by the sudden addition of Syrian Kurdish refugees. Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, has been partnering with indigenous ministries in the Middle East to provide physical and spiritual assistance to refugees since the start of Syria's crisis.

(Photo credit Christian Aid)

With financial support from Christian Aid, local believers are providing food, blankets, clothing, milk for children, and shelter to needy refugee families. They are also praying with refugees and listening to their heartbreaking stories, as well as sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. The need is immense and Christian Aid’s network of indigenous ministries in adjoining countries, as well as within Syria itself, is poised to respond with more emergency relief. They are pleading for Christians around the world to assist them through prayers and financial support. Help missionaries share God's love with Syrian refugees here. Will you pray for indigenous missionaries in Turkey as they care for even more Syrian refugees? Pray for peace in Syria and in its neighboring countries, and for comfort to those who have been traumatized by their experiences. Pray that the love of Jesus as demonstrated by Christian workers will open doors to share the Gospel with refugee families. Ask the Lord to encourage Syrian believers and provide reassurance that they have not been forgotten. More Middle East stories here.
Categories: Christian Post

Moeller named Biblica CEO

Mission Network News - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 5:00am

Carl Moeller named Biblica CEO.

USA (MNN) -- Biblica announced Monday that its Board of Directors, by unanimous vote, has appointed Dr. Carl A. Moeller as its Chief Executive Officer, effective October 14, 2014. Since 2000, Dr. Moeller served three years as a pastor at Saddleback Church, then nine years as president and CEO for Open Doors, USA, before founding Sequoia Global Resources in 2012. He will replace Doug Lockhart, who announced last March that he would transition from his role as Biblica’s CEO by early 2015. As president of Open Doors, Dr. Moeller helped awaken churches in the West to the ongoing persecution of Christians in other parts of the world. During his time with Sequoia Global Resources, he helped cultivate philanthropic partnerships to address some of the most intractable global needs, including poverty, autism, education, and more. He has worked in more than 75 countries around the world and is an ordained minister with the Evangelical Free Church. "Throughout our search, we have been careful to seek God’s wisdom and direction as we make this important selection. We feel confident that Carl is the right person to lead Biblica into our next season of ministry," said Rob Gluskin, chair of Biblica's Board of Directors. "His unique combination of global experience, organizational leadership, and ministry-mindedness is exactly what we need as we help millions of people around the world connect more deeply with the Scriptures." "I am grateful that Carl answered the call to become the next leader of Biblica," said outgoing CEO Doug Lockhart. “Biblica is an amazing ministry, and I believe God will continue to bless its work under Carl’s leadership." Mission Network News caught up with Moeller after the announcement was made. He talked about how his experience with Open Doors has prepared him for his work at Biblica, "knowing brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer--even lose their lives to obtain a copy of God's Word. So to work with an organization that serves the persecuted church, providing Bibles resources for more than 100 million people around the world, is a perfect fit." What's the commonality? "Biblica is a natural partner with organizations like Open Doors who serve persecuted Christians, because we're able to let them focus on the things that they do best, while we focus on the things that we do best, which is the Bible and getting a readable translation of God's Word into people's hands and into their hearts." Moeller says while Americans can get Bibles, there's a problem in the USA. "Are we getting the Bible into our hearts? Are we reading it well? And are we engaging with it? I believe this is another call on Biblica. We must make that challenge as well, not just taking Bibles across the globe." Dr. Moeller will assume the role of CEO on October 14, 2014. "Biblica has been doing Kingdom work for over 200 years: providing Bibles for those who don’t have any and helping those who do to experience them more deeply," he said. "I am so thrilled to be joining this incredible global ministry." Moeller will helm a global leadership team consisting of Scott Bolinder, Executive Vice President; Bob Dinolfo, Chief Financial Officer; Ken Norwood, Vice President of Philanthropy and Major Relations; Munengi Mulandi, Area Executive Director for Africa; Stephen Cave, Area Executive Director for Europe; Esteban Fernandez, Area Executive Director for Latin America; and Richard Loh, Area Executive Director for East Asia Pacific.
Categories: Christian Post

Pakistan: vulnerability for Christians

Mission Network News - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

Pakistan (MNN/VOM) -- In Pakistan, believers marked the one-year anniversary of the All Saints Church bombing in Peshawar. On 22 September 2013, two suicide bombers attacked, killing 98 people. Over 150 were injured. Though regarded as the worst attack on a church in the country's history, Christians and other religious minorities remain vulnerable, despite government efforts to quell extremist persecution. At the same time, the country's blasphemy laws remain firmly in place. The message this sends to the Christian community is, "You don't matter." Blasphemy laws are often wielded as a weapon against Christians, placing the burden of proof on the accused, rather than on the accuser. Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, says abuse of the law is rampant. "If you have a property dispute, if you have some kind of a relational dispute, you can simply accuse somebody of blasphemy and they get locked up for years even if there's no evidence, even if there's no case against them." The figurehead for that issue is Asia Bibi. In June 2009, she was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women became angry at her for drinking the same water as they drank. One of the women accused her of blasphemy, and Asia was arrested and imprisoned. Nettleton says, "When that kind of a conversation can lead to five years in prison, you can imagine that any Christian thinks twice about sharing their faith. They think twice about sharing Jesus with their Muslim neighbors and co-workers and friends." Asia was convicted in 2009 of blasphemy against the prophet Mohamed, sentenced to death, but appealed immediately. Nettleton says, "That appeal was a couple of years ago, and she's been waiting ever since for the High Court to hear her appeal. We've had six times now where they've announced a hearing and said, Yes, we're going to have a hearing,' and they have delayed for some reason or another."

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

According to the Voice of the Martyrs, last week's court hearing was postponed again, but this time reportedly at the request of her husband, Ashiq Masih. "The judge has said that this going to be the last time. The hearing is now scheduled for October 16. Basically the judge has said, 'We are going to have that hearing one way or another.'" Nettleton goes on to say that even if things go Bibi's way in the appeal, it's still not over. "Even if the court dismisses the charges and she walks out of the courtroom a free woman, she's not a safe woman at that point. There have been threats against her. What we hope for is justice and that will mean that she's set free. But then, at that point, she becomes a marked woman on the outside of prison."

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs)

A demand for change would go deep, says Nettleton. "Really, the injustice of the blasphemy laws is something that needs to be addressed by the Pakistani government, and it's something that so far they haven't addressed in the main due to the pressure from radicals in Pakistan who don't want the laws to change." Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi, as well as for her husband, Ashiq, and their daughters. "Pray for justice. We pray for a fair hearing. We pray for the judges to rule fairly and correctly. And I think we need to pray for the safety in the process. The judges in her case have been threatened." For the Church at large in Pakistan, "Pray for encouragement, that they won't be overcome by fear, but that they can march boldly forward and can be bold witnesses for Christ in spite of the risk that that entails." You can also voice your support for Asia's release by signing the online petition at www.CallForMercy.com and by writing letters to her in prison at www.PrisonerAlert.com.
Categories: Christian Post