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Obama says same sex marriage is a constitutional right

WGRC News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:24pm

Although President Barack Obama previously said the definition of marriage should be decided locally, he now believes the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to same same-sex marriage in all states. The Christian Post says, He also suggested that the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this month to not rule on same-sex marriage is the hallmark of his tenure. Obama said, In some ways, the decision that was just handed down to not do anything about what states are doing on same-sex marriage may end up being as consequential — from my perspective, a positive sense — as anything that’s been done.

Categories: Local News

Cardinal Dolan Says Pope Francis 'Reminds Me of Jesus' in Synod Speech on Homosexuality

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 10:29am
Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently addressed the new document approved by the Vatican regarding the church's relation to Catholic divorcees, homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and expressed his admiration for Pope Francis during the segment.
Categories: Christian Post

When Things Seem Impossible

Christian Post - Living - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 9:56am
What is your initial reaction when you encounter a difficult circumstance—one that looks impossible? Some people go into overdrive searching for an answer or a way out. Others curl up in defeat or withdrawal, either declaring the situation hopeless or trying to avoid it altogether.
Categories: Christian Post

Assembly of God Pastor's Trip to West Africa Has Town Fearing Ebola Spread; Congregants Rally Together in Prayer

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 8:59am
An Arkansas church gathered Tuesday night to pray for their pastor's safety as he travels to West Africa despite concerns about the spread of Ebola in the continent.
Categories: Christian Post

Fatal teen shooting under investigation

WGRC News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 6:08am

Police in Williamsport continue to investigate the fatal shooting of a teenager. The 16-year old victim lived in the Newberry section of Williamsport. According to Northcentralpa.com city police have ruled the shooting a homicide. The victim’s body was found in the 2300 block of Dove Court around 12:30 Tuesday morning.

Categories: Local News

November trip with Bibles For China

Mission Network News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 5:00am

(Image by Bibles for China)

China (MNN) -- Hard work and sacrifice is the perfect recipe to touch someone's heart and encourage them. Bibles for China recognizes that the right attitude is also necessary to make an impact on people in China during their Bible verification trips. Barry Werner of Bibles for China explains that while they cannot call their mission trips distribution trips, "We do distribute Bibles, but we don't look at it as a Bible distribution trip because in China, only the CCC, the China Christian Council, can actually distribute Bibles." Bibles for China is invited by the CCC to verify this distribution and to celebrate with the Christians as they receive their Bibles. The next trip is taking place next month. Before every trip, volunteer teams go through a short briefing to go over things they should and should not do and say while in China. Many of these don'ts fall under the category of politics. Bibles for China also encourages teams to focus on what unifies them with the national Christians, and not the differences between the Western Church and the Chinese Church--or any political topics, for that matter. Namely, they are encouraged to focus on Christ, the whole point of the Bible distribution. On the trip, teams get to go see where the Bibles are printed, meet their team leader and translator, then spend three days distributing/verifying Bibles and celebrating with other Christians. They have a final day to debrief and go sightseeing. Werner says it's "just one day to let our hearts settle back down and prepare us for the culture shock we'll have when we come back into America after seeing a church that's so alive in China--come back and not every church is quite as on fire in America." The work these teams do for three days is quite astonishing. "We try to have each team distribute between 5,000-6,000 Bibles in a 3-day period, usually to maybe 12 or 15 churches," Werner explains. "These churches are quite spread out; they're rural churches, so you might travel for an hour from one church to another." The teams leave early in the morning and get back late at night, sacrificing sleep in order to bring joy to remote churches. Werner says often times they return to a late meal with their host. While team members would often  prefer to hurry through their meal and get to bed, Werner explains that meals with fellow Christians in China is a valuable connection point. He says, "The days are long, and sometimes they get extended even when you think they might not need the extension. They still get extended just to have this social moment." The trip is taking place in November. While it's too late to join this one, it is never too late to pray for God's blessing over the trip. Werner says, "Every team needs to have stamina. The health issues can be amazing with the travel, and so pray for good health. We'll do the work either way, but it's difficult to do it when you're not feeling well. "Pray for a humble spirit, a servant's heart. Everywhere we go, we hear words like, 'We almost have wondered if God had forgotten about us. But then we realized, when He sent someone halfway around the word to deliver a Bible to us--His Word, that He hasn't forgotten." Werner says it is important for those who go on trips with Bibles for China to remember they are doing God's work to build up the Church and to serve fellow believers. This enables them to be a witness to the people around them. For more opportunities to support Bibles for China, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Christians, Jews unite to fight Islamic persecution

Mission Network News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs Australia)

Iraq (MNN) -- The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is still advancing. Since their offensive attacks began four months ago, ISIS has given followers of Christianity who live in the towns they take a choice: convert to Islam, pay a tax to remain in these communities as Christians, leave, or ultimately die. For the Muslim-Background Believers, regardless of their choice, militants have ruthlessly attacked or killed them anyway. Hundreds of thousands of Christians fleeing before the ISIS onslaught are at risk of freezing or starving to death. They can't go home. They can't move anywhere else because of the presence of ISIS. It begs the question: Is there a future for Christians in Iraq? Christian communities that survived for almost 2,000 years in the country are on the brink of extinction as they are forced to leave their homes. The fate of Christians in Syria mirrors what happened in Iraq in the last decade. Many are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Depression is rampant in the refugee settlements. Erbil and Dohuk are filled with haunted faces. Government aid isn't reaching many. Smaller Non-Government Organizations are trying to reach those who've fallen through the cracks, but it seems like there are more fissures than solid ground for these survivors.

(Image courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

Money to help isn't pouring in…and cutbacks are starting to take effect. So who will speak for their desperate situation? How about the two faith groups most targeted by ISIS in the Middle East? Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, says, "This is the first time that Jewish leaders, the leader of the World Jewish Congress, as well as evangelical Christian leaders, the president of Oral Roberts University, came together to speak about Christian persecution." Prominent leaders of both groups representing global organizations signed a historic joint initiative this month calling on world leaders to take action against ISIS, and to do more to protect the vulnerable populace. "The two groups SHOULD be working together. They SHOULD be speaking out together because they both are at risk as radical Islam gains influence and gains power." The announcement came during the Feast of Tabernacles, which commemorates the 40-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Nettleton explains that the public announcement sends a message to the world: "Both of them say, 'This is important. We all need to speak out about this, particularly the situation for Christian minorities in the Middle East, (and) the persecution that they're facing under the threat of radical Islam in that part of the world." Noting that the press conference did not include speeches from foreign dignitaries or heads of state, aside from the president of Israel Reuven Rivlin, Nettleton says that's exactly the point. "The hope is that this will draw even more attention to the issue. It will draw Christians and Jews to really work side-by-side, to really speak out on behalf of persecuted Christians, influence our governments, speak about Christian persecution, and stand up for religious freedom in that part of the world." An estimated 800,000 Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq have been affected by the advancement of ISIS, and many have been forced to flee their homes to avoid genocide. VOM is currently assisting thousands of Christians in Iraq by sending humanitarian items like clothing, water, and food supplies.

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs)

"We have a program called Action Packs--a humanitarian aid pack. It contains some clothing items and some other items," explained Nettleton in an earlier interview with the Christian Post. He went on to say, "We do give Bibles to Iraqi Christians, so there is a spiritual dimension as well. The greatest need right now with all they're going through is food, shelter, water--kind of the basics." Most importantly, when you pray, pray not only that the followers of Christ stay strong, but also that God would change the hearts of the terrorists.
Categories: Mission Network News

Sharing Christ is risky business

Mission Network News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 5:00am

This group of tribal believers is receiving Christian
leadership and discipleship training.
(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid)

Vietnam (CAM/MNN) -- Being a Christian in Vietnam is difficult. The head of a team of Vietnamese evangelists has survived torture and the threat of being killed in prison, but that has only reinforced his determination to get the Gospel to ethnic groups who have never heard the message. "There is no price too high to pay for the honor of proclaiming Christ. I just do it for God," said *Su, the director of an indigenous ministry helped by Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions. Persecution Religious freedom remains spotty in Vietnam. Many churches eschew registration because of the controls and interference it brings, and officials have been slow to register others that do apply. Worshiping "illegally" becomes one pretext for imprisonment; Su knows of 68 Christians in northern Vietnam in hard-labor camps because of their faith, and he also has been imprisoned at various times. "He's been through all that himself," said one team member. "He got malaria, he got eczema from head to toe, he was beaten from head to toe in a high security prison with no light." Su was imprisoned for proclaiming Christ, as the government associated it with subversion from abroad. "It was only because he was talking about the Gospel," one of Su's team members said. "The gospel was considered American religion, so it was assumed that if you brought it into the country, you supported America and worked for the CIA.

(Photo credit Open Doors USA)

"The authorities began killing prisoners. There were seven cells, and he was in the seventh cell. They went in order: one, two, three, four, five, six, each one getting shot and killed. But for some reason they stopped at his cell. Somehow God saved his life." Continual persecution is only strengthening Su's faith. "The biggest challenge is to reach the 22 unreached people groups, because they're on the border of China and Vietnam, and there are a lot of security issues," Su said in a recent interview. "In order to reach them, you have to have a connection on the inside, and that can be hard to get because the relationship between Vietnam and China has had tension in the last several months." Reaching the Lost Su and his team have planted hundreds of churches elsewhere, especially among highland tribes, where thousands of people who once followed multiple gods and spirits now worship Christ. With assistance from Christian Aid Mission, Su and his teams have planted churches and trained tribal pastors to disciple others, continually multiplying churches. "They always believe; they are always seeking a higher power," Su said of the animist tribes in the highlands. "When we talk about the God of all the gods, they are attracted. They worship the trees, they worship whatever, and we're saying, 'This is the God who is a lot bigger than your god.'"

Evangelists pray for an ethnic Khmu who
has decided to put his trust in Christ.
(Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid)

One people group Su's teams have reached is the Khmu, whose traditional animism dictates refraining from violating certain taboos-- touching an altar or amulet in a house, for example--that might exact the vengeance of spirits. Appeasing the rice goddess with ritual dancing is a common practice in hopes of a productive harvest. "There was a Khmu tribal group with a population of about 60,000, and no believers whatsoever," said Su. "There was a boy whose parents passed away, and he was adopted by another tribal group, a Christian group. When he was 20, he went back to the Khmu and boldly preached the gospel. Now there is a church there because of that one young man." Su and his teams of Vietnamese evangelists have begun the process of making contact with unreached people groups. "You have to have a connection. If you are asked [at a checkpoint] where you are going, where you will stay, you have to have a connection. You have to know someone there, because you will stay in their house. You have to register with the local police force, too." Motorcycle Evangelists Just arriving for a long-term stay where the unreached groups live, then, presents a potential risk for families that might host him or his team. Evangelists make short-term visits to the areas, enabling them to get past check-points with greater ease, in order to establish relationships. "There's always a festival or a common market where all these tribes get together and sell their goods," said Su. "So what a pastor would do to get into a particular tribal group would be to go to this market to find specific people and get connected. And after a few times, he can ask if they can come and visit." Establishing such relationships is a long process, but there are four or five market gatherings and one festival each month, so there are many opportunities to meet people. Although the government has mandated that tribal people learn Vietnamese for the past decade, they prefer to speak their own languages, and the evangelists use the short-term visits to improve their language skills. "The communists hope the youngsters will become the new leaders of their villages by learning Vietnamese," continued Su. "The understanding among them is that you cannot be a Christian. They will watch you and report you."

Motorcycles enable evangelists
to reach many people in remote areas.
(Photo, caption courtesy Christian Aid)

Besides the cultural and security obstacles, the director said he also must overcome resource limitations in order to extend the gospel to unreached peoples. Sending a missionary costs $100 a month. The ministry is also in critical need of motorcycles. Three purchased with assistance from Christian Aid Mission 10 years ago need to be replaced, and another five would enable them to bring the gospel to an unreached group. Motorcycles are crucial. Otherwise missionaries are forced to ride a bicycle or travel by foot. In those cases, they cannot reach as many people. Often they double up on one motorcycle, being dropped off in one village as the driver continues on to the next. If they reach the leader of a village and he becomes a Christian, much or even the entire village will convert as well. Help Su's ministry get the resources they need here. *Name changed for security reasons
Categories: Mission Network News

Ukraine: war-torn, weary, and needing hope

Mission Network News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 5:00am
Ukraine (SGA) -- Editor's Note: Although Ukraine's national government and separatists agreed to a ceasefire and peace talks six weeks ago, Donetsk remains under siege. Lives remain on hold. With so much uncertainty, people are desperate for hope. Enter: the body of Christ in Ukraine. What follows is the latest report from Slavic Gospel Association on their response in Ukraine.

(Photo courtesy Slavic Gospel Association)

One of the key principles the Lord Jesus stressed to His disciples is that the world will know we are His followers by the love we exhibit toward one another. As the people of eastern Ukraine live day to day with their ongoing deep political, economic, and humanitarian crisis, the people of God are serving as the vanguard of His love and help. Through your support of SGA’s Crisis Evangelism Fund, tons of aid are on the move and are helping the churches to have tremendous ministry opportunities! SGA’s Sergei Omelchenko and the staff of their Regional Ministry Center in Kiev have been working closely with Pastor Valery Antonyuk, president of the Ukrainian Baptist Union. Sergei reports that much is happening with key churches as the hubs for distribution: Vehicles loaded with food have already been to the eastern regions, and we are planning to send more vehicles soon. One will head to a town in the Donetsk region (where heavy fighting has been raging despite an official ceasefire) and another to the Lugansk region. Right now, refugees in the cities of Zhitomir and Zaporozhye are asking for winter clothing, and the local believers are helping them with funds sent by SGA partners. The onset of winter is a serious concern, and many families remain without electricity, water, and other essentials. Churches and SGA-sponsored Bible schools have been helping to house refugees and have provided mattresses, bed linens, and other materials. SGA is now looking into the provision of emergency heaters and other winter needs. As always, the churches and ministry teams will be well-equipped with Bibles and other evangelistic literature to share the Gospel with those seekers whose lives have been devastated by the conflict. Because of the violence, many have been forced to flee the region, and the faithful pastors and church members who remain are in need of support during these difficult days. According to Sergei, the brothers who were forced to move their families to safety are doing their best to continue on with ministry despite being refugees themselves. One pastor is already working on becoming a church planter in the Kiev region, yet he hopes to be able to return to the east in the spring. We thank all SGA partners who have helped make these outreaches possible, meeting people at the point of their deepest physical and spiritual need. Please continue to pray for all who have been affected, for the ministry plans and needed resources, and for lasting peace to return to Ukraine.  
Categories: Mission Network News

Microloans: Empower locals to enable Gospel growth

Mission Network News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 5:00am

(Map credit VOM Canada)

Cuba (MNN) -- Christianity is spreading like wildfire in Cuba despite continued persecution. According to Operation World, "Recovery has taken a long time, but the Church is now a force to be reckoned with. Protestants alone more than doubled between 1995 and 2010." A microloan program initiated by WorldServe Ministries Canada is playing a key role in the growth by empowering Cuban believers and enabling Gospel work. "Let's say you want to start a business as a seamstress," proposes WorldServe Canada's Wilfred Unrau, Director of Teams and Community Development. His areas of responsibility include Cuba and Ethiopia. "You knew how to sew, but you didn't have the tools. We'd come alongside you, we'd lend you a microloan. But with that, we'd like to challenge you to tithe to your church to do church plants and/or children's ministry." Persecution in Cuba Under Fidel Castro's dynasty, which lasted from 1959 to 2008, Communist rule was instituted and had a devastating effect on Cuba's evangelical churches. While its severity has largely decreased, believers still face trouble for claiming the name of Christ. "One of our people had to flee because of the persecution there," Enrau shares. And yet, "Cuba has the longest-sustained revival [in] recorded history, at this point."

(Photo credit WorldServe Canada)

Bible distribution is still a large part of WorldServe Canada's ministry in Cuba, which also includes equipping and supporting national pastors, funding children's camps, microloans, and providing disaster relief aid. Enrau says WorldServe Canada recently distributed 52,000 Bibles to church partners. "That was just a real 'God thing' that [it] happened," he shares, noting that Cuba is still technically closed to evangelism. Cuban Christianity Years of oppression and persecution is fueling today's rampant Gospel growth. Cubans are hungry for the Truth of Scripture, which makes WorldServe Canada's provision of resources, training, and financial opportunity a literal Godsend. "They need to feel empowered; they need to feel that God has called them to do [ministry]," Enrau says, adding that the microloan project is a big help in this area.

WorldServe Canada's children's ministry partner in Cuba recently sent them pictures, writing: "It is unusual for these forgotten children to receive gifts. But God is sending us there, wherever there are children who feel forgotten....We will be there to give hope & life & gladness in Jesus name!"
(Image, quote courtesy WorldServe Canada)

"The New Pines congregation that we're working with has a new church plant every 3 or 4 days right now in Cuba. It is really, really cool to see how they grab this 'hand up' mentality, [instead of] a hand out." Learn more about the microloan program and how you can help WorldServe Canada reach Cubans for Christ by visiting their Web site. "Join us in partnership as we try to fund the microloans in those places and empower the people," says Enrau. Find more Cuba stories here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Idaho Pastors filed lawsuit over same sex weddings

WGRC News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 2:28pm

Two ordained Christian pastors in Idaho have filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for temporarily restraining Coeur d’Alene city officials from forcing them to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies or face prosecution for violating “non-discrimination” laws.
Donald Knapp and his wife, Evelyn, who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel have been required by city officials to perform gay ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines.
The city says its non-discrimination ordinance requires them to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies because the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The lawsuit states, The city is “unconstitutionally coercing” the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies “in violation of their religious beliefs, their ordination vows, and their consciences.

Categories: Local News

Breast Cancer Walk

WGRC News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 2:27pm

The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk of Lycoming County will be held on Saturday at Indian Park in Montoursville. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. and is open to the public.

Categories: Local News

A Gift of Peace

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:50pm
One of the first things I remember about the day I put my faith in Christ was the sense of peace filling my heart. It was as though someone had lifted a heavy burden from me. It wasn't until later, when I read the Bible, that I learned about God's promise of peace to every believer.
Categories: Christian Post

Unchurched Americans Most Resistant to Evangelism Outreach in 20 Years, Survey Finds

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:59am
A new study from Christian Research company Barna Group reveals that unchurched Americans are the most resistant to outreach efforts by the church and friends than they've been in 20 years.
Categories: Christian Post

Evangelism Study Bible Teaches Christians How to Share Gospel Clearly, Avoid 'Guilt Trips,' Says Evangelism Ministry CEO

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:21am
The Evangelism Study Bible, scheduled for release next week, features thousands of notes, devotions, tips and other features that will help believers overcome fear and guilt and make them confident and joyful witnesses for Christ, publishers said.
Categories: Christian Post

U.S. pastors oppressed, as promised by Jesus

Mission Network News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 5:00am
International (MNN) -- A number of U.S. pastors are being asked for their sermons. The requests are not coming from people eager to read the sermons, but they are coming from the City of Houston, Texas, in the form of subpoenas. According to reports, the subpoenas were issued by Houston's city attorney in response to a lawsuit filed by opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that allows men and women who identify as transgender or opposite sex to use the facilities--such as restrooms--of their choice. Those subpoenas were recently amended to say "speeches" instead of sermons. But, either way, most Americans are asking the question: "Isn't this a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?"

Reach Beyond President Wayne Pederson.

President of Reach Beyond Wayne Pederson says, Yes. "It would be quite a precedent when sermons given in church have to be turned over to the courts; that's just an unprecedented thing. It's almost unbelievable that it would happen in our country. It's a violation of the First Amendment and separation of church and state." While this seems like an unprecedented situation, Pederson says it may be small in light of what's happening to Christians in other parts of the world. "Jesus promised we would be persecuted and we would be monitored and scrutinized. Jesus said, 'There will be times you will be hated because of Me.'" As we get ready to remember the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 2, Pederson says in many countries it's difficult just to be a Christian. In some places, Pederson says, "Christians don't even acknowledge each other publicly on the streets. E-mails are constantly monitored. Web access is constantly monitored. Cell phone calls are monitored." If Christians are discovered in some countries, Pederson says, "Many times they're arrested, put in jail, interrogated, intimidated. Sometimes they lose their jobs. Sometimes they're kicked out of their homes and families. Sometimes they're kicked out of the country, even beaten and killed." Pederson says while individuals in the United States have the right to be a Christian, in many parts of the world, they have no rights. According to Pederson, this isn't all bad news. "Where there's persecution, the church grows. Some of the fastest growing churches in the world are in Iran and Afghanistan," says Pederson. Reach Beyond works in many areas where persecution of Christians is common. Pederson says, "We are continuing to do social media in that part of the world. We're very limited in what we can do in traditional broadcasts. But our partners are beginning to do radio broadcasts that are streamed 24/7 that are reaching that part of the world." Your support is needed to help facilitate more of this type of outreach, which is seeing success. If you'd like to help Reach Beyond with this cutting edge outreach, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Nigeria and Islamists sign ceasefire

Mission Network News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 5:00am
Nigeria (MNN/WWM) -- 276 schoolgirls from Nigeria were abducted in April by Boko Haram. After more than 180 days in captivity and a long deafening silence of limited information, word has come: the Nigerian government and Islamists signed a ceasefire agreement, and there is hope that the girls will be released as early as Monday. As there has been little information about the girls, there have been presumptions that some of them were forced into slavery or into marriage. It is known that a few girls escaped, but still over 200 girls are still in captivity. CNN reported that a man who claimed to be the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to sell the girls into slavery, saying, “Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.” However, during the negotiations for the ceasefire, Danladi Ahmadu, who says he is the Boko Haram’s secretary-general, said that the girls were in good condition and unharmed. The Nigerian chief of defence, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, made the announcement. Boko Haram has remained silent, causing worries and doubt by some. World Watch Monitor reports that this is not the first negotiation of returning the girls. In May, an Australian mediator named Stephen Davis came within 15 minutes of winning the release of some of the girls before the deal dissolved. Davis reported that he had contacts among the militants and made calls asking if they had the girls, which they confirmed. Davis told the president he would attempt to intervene and help the girls get out. The Boko Haram commanders and Davis came to an agreement which included a list of conditions. They wanted the Nigerian military to stand down; then they promised to drop the girls in a village before phoning to give their exact location. 24 hours before the promised release, the Nigerian police offered a reward of several million Naira. This seemed to have set off reverberations within Boko Haram, and the day after, the girls were not released Davis told World Watch Monitor that there are politicians involved with the Boko Haram and that “the political sponsors are very powerful because they supply the finances and the arms. Until these are cut off from the group, those girls will not be released.” Davis says he prefers to wait and see what happens because he doesn’t trust the Nigerian politicians. CNN reports analyst Richard Joseph from the Brookings Institution saying, "This is a case when we will actually need to see the girls emerging from their six-month confinement before we can truly believe.” Open Doors USA asks for prayer that the Lord will, in His time, allow the girls to be released and that He will protect them. Finally, pray that the girls' faith will be an example to others and to their captors.
Categories: Mission Network News

Talks between North Korea and South Korea?

Mission Network News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo credit Stephan via Flickr)

North Korea (MNN) -- Nine days ahead of scheduled high-level talks between North and South Korea, saber-rattling has caused military tensions to skyrocket. Minor skirmishes on the border over the weekend created North Korean bluster of an "unpredictable" retaliatory strike against South Korea. And the talks are not set in stone.   The talks were scheduled for October 30, but the North has yet to respond to the request. At the same time, there are questions about leadership within the hermit kingdom. Dictator Kim Jong-Un was out of the public eye for six weeks, missing high level meetings and the country's anniversary. The timing is hard to read, but speculation abounds. Greg Musselman, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs Canada, says first, "When there are high level meetings with South Korea, what's going on there? Why has he been out of sight for so long? Really, it's hard to know what's actually taking place." However, an inside contact says that Kim Jong-Un is still in control. He made two public appearances just last week, although if his physical appearance is any indication, he may be recovering from an illness or injury. Still, there's a lot of ground to cover before anything can move forward diplomatically. Musselman says the bad economy may force their hand. "If they're going to have legitimate talks, one of the first things that come up is their human rights violations--not only against Christians but anybody considered a political 'enemy of the state;' they're tortured, executed." Specifically, says Musselman, "They have been heavily criticized by the UN and human rights

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs Canada)

organizations for their human rights violations, so they're trying to soften that. If they're going to get anywhere with getting economic help from outside, they're going to have to present a better image." In fact, in response to a rights abuse report issued earlier this year from the United Nations Human Rights Council, North Korea blamed Christian discipleship bases located in northeast China for influencing their citizens. How did Christians become the scapegoat of North Korea's woes? Under the ideology of Juche, the only acceptable religion is "Kim-Il-Sungism." Musselman explains, "The reason the Christians are so singled out and targeted is because they're the ones, really, that can expose this false religion, the worship of the Kim family and the dynasty there. Christians are heavily persecuted. They are 'enemies of the state.'"

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs Canada)

Despite the challenges, VOMC is partnering with a Korean ministry reaching into North Korea. "We're broadcasting the Gospel on shortwave radio. There are balloon launches that go in there: gospel tracts are in these balloons, and people are finding them and reading them." In the broadcasts, Scriptures are read and dramatized. They also read from books on Christian persecution to help underground believers there understand why they face the challenges they do and how to bear up under them. There are an estimated 2 million North Koreans who tune into their illegal radios each evening. Because of the desperate circumstances in North Korea, people are open to anything that brings hope. Some Christians share their Christ story whenever the opportunity comes up, occasionally, even as they were being taken to prison. "They would start to share the Gospel with fellow prisoners, the non-Christians. Many of them were responding to the Gospel. As a result of that, when it became known to the authorities, they were having the Christians executed before they got there." Coming alongside the persecuted church of North Korea means prayer. Musselman reminds us that "in spite of all the obstacles that the North Korean government puts up, they can't stop the work of the Gospel, and the Kingdom continues to go forward." VOMC asks you to pray for the 50,000-70,000 Christians imprisoned in labor camps: ask God to sustain them. Pray that God would change the heart of Kim Jong-Un and use him to reform the country. Pray for protection for Open Doors workers and contacts bringing practical and spiritual support to believers.
Categories: Mission Network News

ISIS, the internet, and you on the battlefield

Mission Network News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 5:00am

(Image by Ron Hutchcraft Ministries)

Int'l (MNN) -- The internet is a battlefield. The question is: what kind of warrior are you? Who are you fighting for? Do you think we're being dramatic? We spoke with Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries about the danger and opportunity that skip alongside the internet. The internet to support a cause Hutchcraft says, "There are some people right now who are very effectively using the internet. They are recruiting young men from around the world, they are inspiring them to take action that they never thought they would take--to leave where they are and be a part of the army that they are building. They're doing it so successfully, and their name is ISIS." Through their use of social media, Hutchcraft says, "They are experiencing unbelievable growth with an agenda that is butchery and fanaticism and barbaric atrocities." It's important to understand (and not underestimate) the power of the internet and social media to drive a cause like that of ISIS forward. Christians should take note of this. "If you do it well, you can get the attention and capture the hearts of people for a cause," Hutchcraft says, "Well, hello! We represent the greatest cause on the planet. In Christ we have the hope that the world is looking for, we have the love the world is looking for." Hutchcraft reminds us that Jesus said before the end of the world there would be an explosion of wickedness and an explosion of the spread of the Gospel. "Sin always fascinates you, and then…" The internet has certainly played a role in both of these things as it interconnects people in a way that's never been possible before. While it is very obviously a tool for ISIS more recently, the power of the internet to draw people into darkness is not a new concept. Hutchcraft says just look: "The internet today is doing everything from recruiting terrorists to getting pornography slaves." Since its birth, the internet has successfully drawn men and women into sexual sin. It has glorified a twisted version of God's creation and honored the pursuit of sin of all kinds. Hutchcraft says people often slip into enslavement to these things rather innocently. Other times, it's a small decision made on a slippery slope that captures the attention and devotion of an internet user. "Sin always fascinates you, and then it assassinates you," Hutchcraft says. Where do you fit in? The responsibility of a follower of Christ is really a two-sided coin. For starters, they have to protect themselves. "We really need to be very careful because the internet is loaded with ambushes," Hutchcraft says. As with any battle, Christians need to have defensive tactics. And they need have an offensive plan, as well. The other side of the coin--the offense--is proactivity in presenting the Gospel through the internet so that it is in reach of all people around the world. This is done through social media, Web sites, blogs, and videos. Hutchcraft says no soldier is better equipped for this task than millennials who have a heart for Christ. Not only are they burdened for lost people, but they grasp the culture and know how to reach people. Christians do need to be careful how they approach this task, says Hutchcraft. "Facebook is not a preaching medium. It's a networking, friendship-building medium. But you can, on occasion, give a personal story of how Jesus has made the difference for you." Hutchcraft says to pray for opportunities to turn people's attention to Jesus through Facebook and other internet sites. Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, for example, uses its blogs to share stories of hope. Check out examples here at On Eagles' Wings and A New Story. Stories have the power of connecting people who would otherwise never have anything in common. Hutchcraft says through whatever media is used, there is a responsibility to make the content compelling, respectful, gentle, and true, following the pattern set out in 1 Peter 3:15. Intentionality on the internet is very important and something that perhaps most users are without. It starts in prayer, as Hutchcraft explains: "It really is an important thing we should be praying for. If we are going to represent Christ, as we must because all of us who are involved in any way on the internet, whether it's e-mail or YouTube or Facebook or whatever, we all have been given a platform to do whatever we want to do with." 1 Peter 3:15 calls us to be ready to share our reason for hope. What better way to honor Christ and be gentle with our audience than to share our own story? "One thing people will listen to is your personal hope story that tells how what Christ deid on the cross made all the difference for you as a dad or a mom or a friend or cancer patient or a single person or a lonely person or a depressed person or an addicted person. "You're the living proof that Christ can change what nobody else could've changed, that as God gives opportunity, you pray that God will open a door and then open your mouth to use these tools for him," Hutchcraft says. A prayer for all of us The following is an excerpt of Hutchcraft's prayer for followers of Christ. "We pray that You would give us, first of all, discernment so that we do not under any circumstances ever allow […] sin to take hold in our lives, please, through these powerful media. "But by the same token, Lord, we pray that You'd put in our hearts a desire to capture the potential of this, for we will not forfeit these powerful platforms to the enemy. If we don't show up with Jesus, we have forfeited, and we will not forfeit this battle. "For the One who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. So would You give us a vision, give us an approach, give us the love, give us the burden, give us the wisdom, and give us the courage to use these media skillfully, gently, respectfully, lovingly, to share our Jesus with our world."        
Categories: Mission Network News

29,244 sandals delivered to Buckner

Mission Network News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo cred: Buckner)

USA (MNN/BOC) -- Piles of waterproof sandals flooded out of trucks and overflowing boxes. Buckner International Shoes for Orphan Souls, an organization dedicated to providing shoes and socks for orphans and vulnerable children worldwide, received an incredible donation from Niagara University. 29,244 sandals were delivered to Buckner on August 1. This is the first donation of a long-term partnership between Buckner and the Sandal Falls Project. The Sandals Falls Project was started by a student-led business club at Niagara University known as B.O.L.D. (Business Organizational Leadership Development). B.O.L.D worked with the community outreach branch from their university, Rev. Joseph Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement. Together they collected sturdy, waterproof sandals that were purchased by tourists at Niagara Falls who would wear the sandals for only a few hours. Business students and club members volunteered to sanitize, sort, and bag the sandals. “The students are passionate about this project and work hard during the school year to organize student work groups that make this possible,” said Yvette Suarez, institute coordinator at Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement. “It has been our prayer that we would find a partnership that helps us reach the less fortunate, and now the students can focus more effectively at continuing the process. This relationship with Buckner gives them an outlet to do what they set out to do because Buckner is a tangible organization meeting a tangible need.” Buckner will be donating many of the sandals, along with nearly 500 other donated shoes, to Rio Grande Valley for migrant children crossing the Texas border. “The timing of this donation is an answer to prayer for our team and will allow us to serve even more children who are crossing the Texas-Mexico border seeking refuge in the United States,” said Ashley Williamson, Shoes for Orphan Souls manager. “We pray that the sandals will remind these children of the Lord’s love and provision for them in the midst of so much uncertainty.” To donate to Buckner International, click here. Pray for the sandals to be delivered successfully and to be a reminder of the Lord’s love for the migrant children of Rio Grande Valley.
Categories: Mission Network News