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“The music encourages me as I run errands or work around the house. It lifts my spirit and helps me remember God is in control and reminds me to sing His praises and glorify Him.” (Lewistown)

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What now for Nepal?

Mission Network News - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Vision Beyond Borders)

Nepal (MNN) -- It may sound cliché, but the needs in Nepal extend far beyond the images we see on multimedia platforms. To get the full scope of it, you need to see the rubble everywhere you look, smell the odor of dust mixed with something cloying, feel the roughness of the debris that you move out of your way, hear the sounds of workers breaking up concrete, and taste the emptiness of hunger. There are few places to get in out of the sun. Tents are warm inside and out, the air feels heavy with the coming rains. Rain means cold mud…everywhere.. Every once in a while, there might be a tremor---just enough to make you wonder if you're dizzy, and then you look up, just to make sure nothing is going to fall. "Villages look like World War II after they had been bombed. It was completely devastated--whole villages," says Patrick Klein of Vision Beyond Borders, describing the landscape.

(Photo courtesy Vision Beyond Borders)

The preceding paragraph is somewhat a compilation of experiences reported by many people who have recently been to Nepal with a relief team since the April 25 temblor. Klein just returned from a visit with a team. "They brought a lot of tents in--a lot of tarps to set up for the monsoon season. They're also working in the villages, trying to sort some of the bricks out, break off some of the concrete on some of the [buildings] so they can begin rebuilding." He goes on to say another need is for vitamins, both for children and adults. There will likely be minimal access to fresh foods for a while, as the fresh fruits and vegetables may have to be hand-carried over the mountains. Vitamins and basic medical supplies will be in high demand, as will water filtration systems. The rebuild seems like an insurmountable task. Lack of funds plus a short time frame add to the pressure. "Getting through the monsoon season is going to be the tough thing. When I was there, it started to rain, and it POURED. It was unbelievable. It actually hailed in some places, so we've got to try to get people under shelter as soon as possible. They'll probably be getting a lot more tarps, tents set up, and even some temporary metal structures."

(Photo courtesy Vision Beyond Borders)

There is also another experience paralleling the disaster. This one is also true of the mission groups on the ground, partnering with the local Church. It's called "opportunity," says Klein. "Here were Hindu and Buddhist people that normally would not be open to help from Christians. They were very receptive. Everyone came and said, "Thank you." Everyone. That might be due, in part, to questions that are coming in the wake of the disaster. "They've seen many of their temples collapse, many idols have been smashed, or, in some situations where these temples have been destroyed, people have actually looted the idols." The very foundation of their religion has been broken. Klein says, "Pray for us. Pray for the Church in Nepal, that God will really use the church at this time to minister to the needs of the people. There's a lot of hurting people in Nepal right now. There's a lot of hurting people with a lot of questions: 'Why? What is this? What's happening?'" VBB is already known in some of the areas where they're sending relief. They have 5 children’s homes and one safe home for women who have been rescued from sex-trafficking in Nepal. Because their approach to aid comes with hope, "It's a great time for the Church--for God's people to be sharing the Gospel. Then, if people want to continue to financially give, we'll make sure those funds will get there to Nepal and will keep being used to provide food and shelter for people that have been directly affected by the earthquake." 100% of all donations to the VBB Nepal Disaster Relief Fund support relief efforts.
Categories: Mission Network News

'Racism Is Much Worse Than We Ever Thought,' Theologian Claims in Discussion About the Gospel's Definition of 'Race'

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 4:23pm
Not many Christians know what they're talking about when they discuss racial reconciliation and their reliance on the modern social construct of "race," as opposed to the Bible's approach to the term, which leads to an "incomplete Gospel" and underestimation of the pervasiveness of racism, according to a New Testament scholar.
Categories: Christian Post

Northumberland county buys property

WGRC News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 3:36pm

Northumberland County Commissioners has said yes to buying a previously leased property for the county’s human services complex in Sunbury. Officials say they will buy the property on North Second Street from MLC Properties and Penn Homes. The property was purchased for a little less than $9.9 million dollars will eventually save the county $240,000 dollars in taxes, maintenance fees and rent and could also generate approximately $105,000 dollars in rental income, with county officials expecting to save a grand total of $3.12 million dollars over 13 years.

Categories: Local News

Charter Communications buys Times Warner for $55 Billion

WGRC News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 3:35pm

Charter Communications announced today that it’s buying Time Warner Cable for $55 Billion. The deal between Charter and Time Warner comes following an earlier deal in which Time Warner chose a $45 Billion offer from Comcast, but Comcast then walked away from the table after red flags from regulators, who feared the two companies together would undermine online video competition, leading to limited choices and higher rates.

Categories: Local News

Gay Vicar Pushes Church of England to Celebrate Transgender Identity Like a Baptism; Sex Change Surgery Is 'Absolute Trauma' Clergy Must Mark Occasion

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 1:31pm
A vicar in the Church of England has proposed a motion that would allow for a liturgical celebration of an individual's identity following gender transition, much like a baptism, and would include a renaming ceremony.
Categories: Christian Post

Irish Archbishop Calls Passing of Gay Marriage in Ireland a 'Social Revolution,' Says Church Has 'Big Challenge' Ahead

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 11:57am
Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, believes the Catholic Church needs to reestablish itself as a moral authority in Ireland after the passing of same-sex marriage by popular vote last week.
Categories: Christian Post

Strength Beyond Self

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 6:13am
"Into every life a little rain must fall." So goes the familiar saying about the inevitability of hardship. But what if the rain turns into a torrential downpour—a life challenge that requires strength beyond what is humanly possible? Paul describes such a situation in his second letter to the Corinthians. He wrote of an affliction that weighed so heavily on his heart and body that he didn't expect to survive.
Categories: Christian Post

Rebuilding Nepal inside and out

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Global Aid Network)

Nepal (MNN) -- The United States Geological Survey (USGS) warns that even though aftershocks are normal after a major earthquake, the next few days could bring a lot of tremors to Nepal. These expected incidents serve to highlight the challenges facing response teams. Not only are they dealing with the challenging logistics of the region, but they're also dealing with the psychological trauma that re-awakens with every vibration. Phil Liller with Global Aid Network is the logistics center director and a member of their assessment team to Nepal. The rubble is a constant reminder of the work yet left to do. "We're into the relief phase where we're getting food, water, and temporary shelter. But, the recovery effort really will take years. In some areas of the country, like the mountain areas, there were over 95% of the homes destroyed." The quake displaced nearly 3 million and affected more than 4 million people. The collapse of buildings may have ceased, but the collapse of infrastructure brings with it huge consequences. "There's going to be malnutrition in the little kids, but there's also going to be a general lack of food in some of these communities where the rice and beans that we pack up will be a welcome addition when we can get it out there. I also think that the most immediate need is going to be shelter because the monsoon rains are going to be coming in about a month." People living in mountain villages experience greater suffering because roads are rugged and travel is difficult. They receive less media attention and aid reaches them last, if at all. However, Liller says, "There are 300 Nepalese nationals. They are actually doing the distribution right now with their people. We're working to get them the shelters, the food. Money was given almost immediately by The JESUS Film Project and other Campus Crusade organizations." According to a GAiN Frontline Brief report, the roads up to these overlooked villages are hard to navigate. Small trucks are being used to haul supplies up the mountain. In some cases, the vehicles couldn’t handle the roads, so some of the team completed the journey on foot.

(Photo courtesy Global Aid Network)

On that trip, the team helped hundreds of people in two villages NNW of Kathmandu in the Sunkhani area. GAiN and Nepal CCC loaded a truck with bundles of food, each consisting of 30 kg of rice, 2 kg of lintels, 2 kg of sugar, 2 liters of oil, 5 kg of rice, some tea, a washcloth, and soap. The national team expects to serve at least 1,000 families. Everybody expects that survivors will be traumatized by a disaster, especially since their world has collapsed around them twice. Relief groups aren't generally prepared to deal with the mental toll of disasters. However, more and more ministries are adding trauma counseling or other emotional support to their relief programs. GAiN is one of them. They offer spiritual hope as they deliver food, clothes, tents, and water filters. "It happens through every action that we take," explains Liller. "When we distribute food, tarps, or tents--whatever it is, the people there know it's because of the love of God that people there are doing that."

(Photo courtesy of Global Aid Network)

When the teams say "seeds are planted" during relief work, this is what it means: "It also develops relationships within those villages, those communities, so that when the team goes back, they can spend a little bit more time when the immediate crisis of the food and shelter is over," says Liller. Consider this: the right kind of help can replace a disaster's anxiety and uncertainty with hope for the future. "Let's pray for God to use the agencies that are working there now (Global Aid Network is one of them) to help the people in Nepal and to share God's love." Click here to read GAiN's Nepal proposal. Click here to help support the national team as they respond.
Categories: Mission Network News

Rohingya crisis: updates from the front lines

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Partners)

Indonesia (PRD/MNN) -- [EDITOR'S NOTE: Stories are starting to emerge from Rohingya refugees trafficked in Southeast Asia. A Partners Relief and Development team is on-the-ground in Indonesia, sharing the hope of Christ as they help people. What follows is a first-hand story shared with Partners by Rohingya refugees.] A Rohingya mother of five--who just came off one of the ships stranded in the Andaman Sea near Myanmar or Thailand--told Partners and Fortify staff how her family was treated by human traffickers on the large boat that was supposed to be their transportation to freedom. “Sometimes the crew would beat the children," she said. "My children were beaten. Whenever the children cry, they would be beaten. At lunch time, when the children start to get hungry, they’ll cry; at this time the crew would beat them.” Her 10-year-old daughter added: “They beat me with the wire. They take the wire and beat us with the wire. "It would hurt for three or four days after they beat me. They’d give me some medicine, [and] then I started to feel better.” Partners Relief and Development co-founder Steve Gumaer and a team from Partners are giving aid to some of the thousands of boat refugees who have made it to shore in Indonesia. Refugees are sick, weak, and destitute. The horrors of what they have experienced cannot be expressed in words.

(Photo courtesy Partners)

Many of you have followed the news about what has been happening to the Rohingya. You have prayed and given money to help. Know that we appreciate it and we need it! Thank you. Communications with our team has been very difficult since they are in an area with very limited internet and phone access. When we know more, we will send updates. In the meantime, please continue to pray for our work in this unprecedented time of need. Feel free to contact me and ask any questions you may have. I (Oddny Gumaer) will do my best to respond. Find contact information here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Empires by Hillsong UNITED

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am
This release follows the band's largest growth and international impact in over the last two years. With the 2013 release of ZION, UNITED's notoriety increased with their No. 1 single "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" as it became a RIAA Platinum certified single. This was the group's first No.1 radio song, cracking the longest reign on Billboard's airplay/sales/streaming-based Hot Christian Songs chart. "EMPIRES is the story of two worlds," says Joel Houston. "We wanted to create songs that first seek to listen, then speak the good news of Jesus and His grace into the dichotomy, tension and hopeful-collision of this broken[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Tower Ivory by J. Han

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am
The record consists of 13 tracks, featuring collaborations with labelmates Sam Ock and Gowe alongside NAK, Mickey Cho and John Givez. Tower Ivory blends hip-hop with elements of gospel, jazz and blues. J. Han recognizes the album as "the realization of [his] musical identity, and his journey towards manhood." It reminds listeners that the expedition on life's journey is equally as important as the destination reached.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Resolute by Elliot

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am
[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

The Wonderlands: Sunlight by Jon Foreman

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am
On May 26, lowercase people records and Word Entertainment will release Jon Foreman's The Wonderlands: Sunlight, the first in a four-EP series, digitally. The ambitious solo project from the lead vocalist/guitarist of GRAMMY® and Dove-winning rock band Switchfoot has been 10 years in the making and will feature 24 songs in total one for each hour of the day.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Life by Sleeping At Last

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am
[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

LifeStyle by Krystal Klear Da Rapper

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am
BUY LifeStyle HERE: http://goo.gl/oxIh0Y Krystal Klear Da Rapper CitySide Records releases LifeStyle featuring king Stevian and Fly By. LifeStyle is to inspire those who are trapped in their past life and straddling the fence but need that push to put them in the presence of our Lord Jehovah.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Internship to Russia = SOAR

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am

SOAR International Ministries has their first-ever
intern joining them this summer in Russia.
(Photo courtesy of SOAR).

Russia (MNN) -- As many college students have returned home from college, a few are taking on summer internships. Many will be joining organizations or businesses to gain experience in the business world. Some will join ministries to gain ministry experience. SOAR International Ministries is excited about beginning their first internship program this summer. How did it come about? SOAR's Greg Mangione says, "As we were talking with different schools and attending missions conference they would ask, 'What kind of internship opportunities do you have?'" SOAR began looking into it. "We started talking with one of our partners in western Russia about the possibility of them being involved." SOAR has been working on the specifics for about a year. Mangione says, "Beginning June 9, we've got one intern from Moody who will be going over to Russia with us."

SOAR International's Greg and Vika Mangione.

"Benm" a Moody Bible Institute student, is heading there next month to help a church who has an orphan transition home outreach. "Once the orphan graduates, what's left for them? The statics are basically crime and poverty. [When] they come out of the orphanage, they don't know how to go grocery shopping, they don't know how to cook and clean. They don't know how to take care of themselves." What will Ben be doing? "Helping to train orphans who have graduated out of the orphanage, as this transition home helps them integrate into normal life and give them skills so that they can have a productive life, but then also mentor them spiritually." This particular transition home is seeing incredible results. "90% of them are born again Christians that are active in their church. Many have started families. Many have gone to college or universities and have gotten degrees or specialty education so they can be more productive in society." Many who have gone through the program are now giving back and mentoring those who are involved today. Ben will also help at a summer English camp offered through the church. Support SOAR with your best gift today.
Categories: Mission Network News

Refugees: how should Christians respond?

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy FH)

International (MNN) -- There are 51.2 MILLION refugees worldwide. According to the UN, global forced displacement has reached levels not seen since World War II. Every 60 seconds, eight people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. With serious conflict situations worldwide, from Ukraine to Syria to Myanmar to Central America, there's a refugee crisis in nearly every "backyard". The question is: what should we, as God's people, do about it? "We're called by God to walk with the most vulnerable, and refugees clearly are some of the most vulnerable people in the world," observes Peter Howard of Food for the Hungry (FH). FH President Gary Edmonds adds in a recent blog post, "As an organization dedicated to helping the world’s most vulnerable people thrive, we are called to love and invite the refugee into places of safety and solace." A history with refugees FH is no stranger to refugee crises. One of its first projects back in the 1970's was helping Vietnamese boat people floating in the South China Sea. The ministry has helped untold thousands in the decades since.

(Photo courtesy FH)

"Imagine on a moment's notice, having to leave your home with nothing and go to a foreign country. Sometimes the foreign country doesn’t speak the same language; you don't know the system, you don't know where you're going to access food," Howard says, describing refugees' experience. "The level of fear and anxiety among refugees is incredibly high." As they walk with refugees, FH workers and their national partners help meet both physical and spiritual needs of desperate populations. "We never separate the physical and the spiritual," says Howard. "As followers of Jesus Christ, everywhere we go and in everything we do, we are representing Christ and His Kingdom." As Christians live out their faith by caring for refugees, curiosity grows. "What are these churches and who are these Christians that are reaching out to us, and why are they reaching out to us? We don't even share their same faith, but yet they're serving us," Howard shares. Those questions often lead to spiritual conversations, and believers get to share their motive and hope: Jesus Christ and His salvation. Helping refugees in 2015 This year, FH is focusing its efforts on the Middle East and Burundi. Middle East

(Photo courtesy FH)

By the end of August 2014, the UN estimated 6.5 million people had been displaced in Syria, while more than 3 million refugees had fled to countries such as Lebanon (1.14 million), Jordan (608,000) and Turkey (815,000). More than 400,000 Iraqis had left the country as of last July; over 250,000 refugees from throughout the region were still within its borders. With Integral Alliance, FH is helping refugees from Iraq and Syria seeking safe haven in neighboring nations. Learn more and come alongside their efforts here. Burundi

(Photo courtesy FH)

Earlier this month, yet another refugee crisis arose in Central Africa. "In the last couple weeks, there's been tension that's flared up, and over 100,000 people have fled Burundi," Howard shares. "Many of those refugees are children." Up to a third of Burundi refugee kids are unaccompanied, he adds. "Food for the Hungry has felt very called to come alongside those children and help them get reconnected with their family, and ensuring that their basic needs are met." Learn more here.   What's God asking YOU to do to help refugees?
Categories: Mission Network News

What is the future like for women in Honduras?

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:00am
Honduras (ORO) -- [EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a blog story posted directly from Orphan Outreach. Visit their Web site to learn more about how this organization is changing children's lives.]

(Photo courtesy of Orphan Outreach)

Amy Haroff journeyed with Orphan Outreach to Central America as a short-term missionary, and her passion for the children she met transformed her life. She now serves full-time at Jubilee School in Honduras. We asked Amy to share what the future holds for young women in this poverty-stricken land.  In a country with a 60-70% poverty rate, a corrupt government, an inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of systems to manage resources, it comes as no surprise that the state of education in Honduras is shaky at best. Statistics boast an 85-95% literacy rate, but digging deeper reveals how meaningless these numbers are. Being that Honduras is a patriarchal society, it would be easy to assume that the education of men is favored over that of women. However, when I sat down to platicar with a group of women from various backgrounds, I learned otherwise. Literacy simply means the ability to read and write, but in a country where education is only required through age 12 and is only free through age 15, I have to wonder how educated the average Honduran really is. Here in Tegucigalpa, the nation’s capital, I have watched news reports depicting the horrible learning conditions in some of the public schools. Teachers are underpaid ($8-12 per day), and under-educated; they are not even required to have a teaching certificate as long as they are in the process of earning one. Public school classrooms may be nothing more than brick walls: no desks, no chalkboards, no materials. How are students supposed to learn in conditions such as these? What’s more, despite the requirement to attend school, many students are unable to attend because their family cannot afford to buy school uniforms or supplies. Instead of growing up learning to read and write, do math, and study history, geography, languages, and science, these kids grow up learning how to survive in the harsh environments in which they were born. This might mean selling gum or candy on the streets, collecting bus fares, or learning how to make and sell tortillas. Based on the group of women I was privileged to converse with, the determining factors when it comes to accessing education are financial resources and geographical location. My house mom is 65, grew up in a moderate-sized city, and only completed the required level of schooling. However, in order to help support her family, she studied sewing at a trade school I also spoke with two sisters who are in their 50s. They grew up in el campo, two out of eight children, and they are currently working as live-in housekeepers. The older sister was able to attend school through the first grade, and she is very proud of the fact that she has been able to teach herself how to read a little bit. The younger sister, however, was not able to attend school at all and is completely illiterate. Before I knew this, I invited her to play a game of Uno, and I was saddened to see her struggling to match colors and numbers. On the other hand, she can tell you everything you need to know about cooking Honduran food and managing a house and garden! The sisters report that as they were growing up, their brothers were given priority when it came to choosing whose education could be paid for. The thinking at the time was that women belonged in the home, which allowed the men to be out earning income. Gradually, this mode of thinking is shifting. I next visited with a group of women in their 30s who grew up in Tegucigalpa and who all have some degree of college education. They all had what so many young people in Honduras don’t have, and that is someone at home encouraging them to pursue their educational goals. What they had to say is more in keeping with current statistics. They report that because there is an increase in the number of single mothers, there are now more women receiving secondary education than men (52.4% of women vs. 43% of men). A single mother anywhere operates out of survival mode, and the women I spoke with state that a single mother is going to want a better life for her children; she’s going to teach her sons that they need to help out in the home, and her daughters that they, too, need to and deserve to receive a good education. The role of the mother and what she teaches her daughters they are capable of is an enormous contributing factor in regards to the educational pursuits of a young woman. Conversely, a single mother raising a son may be anxious to have him out in the workforce to help provide for the family, or he may get caught up in gang activity; perhaps for these reasons, the number of males receiving secondary education is lower. Men are anxious to fulfill their traditional role of financial provider, and sometimes the quickest way to do this is by getting a job or joining a gang.

(Photo courtesy of Orphan Outreach)

As in other areas of the world, in Honduras it is more and more necessary to have two incomes to provide for the needs of a family, and this is another reason more women are continuing with their education. Miraculously, some women are working full time, taking care of their families, AND going to school. There are others, however, who are choosing their careers ahead of getting married or having children, and these are the ones who are most likely to complete their degrees. The state of education for women in Honduras definitely seems to be in transition, and I was pleasantly surprised that it seems to be moving in a favorable direction. The downside is that even women who complete their degrees are less likely to find a job especially if there are men seeking out the same position. The level of respect for women is growing but is still lagging far behind where it should be. As one young woman I spoke with so powerfully stated, “Whether or not a woman is respected depends on if she commands it or not. I feel I am respected because I will not tolerate being treated otherwise.” I am thankful for her strong voice and her involvement with the youth in her church; with more voices like hers, more and more Honduran women will be raised up to believe what they are capable of and will learn to command the respect that they very much deserve. Another part of aiding this transition toward better education and greater respect for women comes from quality Christian schools like Jubilee Centers International, an organization that partners with Orphan Outreach. Because the state of public schools is so poor, families who are able to afford it send their children to private schools. Attending a private school carries an air of prestige but does not necessarily guarantee a better education. Jubilee Centers International is an exception. They provide quality, affordable, Christ-centered education in the heart of one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Thanks to support from Orphan Outreach and their child sponsorship program, they are able to offer scholarships to needy students, opening up the possibility of attending a private school to those who otherwise could not afford it. Beyond just teaching basic academics, Jubilee Centers International also provides English, music, and Bible classes. Christian principles are integrated into their curriculum, vision, values, and procedures. As a result of their presence in the community, after five years, they are already seeing transformation occurring in the lives of the students and their parents. The students are being set free to dream big dreams of becoming doctors, accountants, and engineers. No longer do they feel trapped and held down by their circumstances. They love learning about and worshipping God, and the light of His living hope shines brightly on their faces! Please prayerfully consider sponsoring a student from Jubilee Centers International. More information is available here. 
Categories: Mission Network News

The Company You Keep

Christian Post - Living - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 3:30pm
When I'm around nonbelievers, I don't expect them to behave like believers. I don't hold them to the standards of Christians. But sometimes Christians will get really uptight around nonbelievers. They used a cuss word. They said something that is contrary to my faith.
Categories: Christian Post