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Overcoming poverty in Chichicastenago takes teamwork

Mission Network News - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy of Pray America)

Guatemala (MNN) -- Poverty is no stranger to the Mayan Indians of Chichicastenago, Guatemala. The poverty of "ChiChi" is oppressive, but it's also an avenue for Pray America and Family Christian Stores. Pray America founder Ron Morin says the groups are teaming up to share Christ by meeting physical needs. "Almost everyone knows somebody who knows somebody who got a house from this guy named Jesus," he states. Over the next few days, Morin and Family Christian's Steve Biondo will unveil a new project that the Lord has brought about to transform the Kiche Mayan community in Chichicastenago. Manos de Jesus: a history Pray America has been building relationships and serving the Lord in ChiChi for more than 10 years under its Spanish name, Manos de Jesus (The Hands of Jesus).

(Photo courtesy of Pray America via Facebook)

Morin founded the ministry in 2003 to "see these long-oppressed people realize spiritual, physical, emotional and relational freedom." Active in approximately 40 Kiche Mayan communities, Pray America/Manos de Jesus has gained the trust of impoverished Mayan Indians through weekly feeding programs, widow house construction, water filtration systems, and more. Hearts soften and minds grow curious as Christians share the Gospel "through words and works." This is often the outcome when Manos de Jesus builds homes for Mayan widows. Case study: Widows' ministry "These are some of the most 'distressed' widows that we've seen anywhere in Central or Latin America," says Family Christian's Steve Biondo.

(Photo courtesy of Pray America via Facebook)

"There are 75,000 widows just in the community around [ChiChi]." Most of ChiChi's Mayan women were widowed during a civil war spanning more than 30 years. "The Kiche Mayans actually sought to be neutral in the civil war," explains Biondo. "But, both hostile sides--the government and the guerillas--attempted to convince the Quiche to fight with them by killing their men." Since the killings occurred over multiple decades, several generations were basically eliminated. "There [were] some very desperate attempts at ethnic cleansing, by both sides," Biondo says. "By wiping out the men, they sought to destroy the Kiche Mayan culture." Without male providers, Kiche Mayan women and children were left to fend for themselves. The widows and orphans quickly fell into deep poverty. "The Mayan Indians are very, very poor, uneducated, and [basically] 'live in the Dark Ages,'" says Morin. Manos de Jesus, Family Christian, and their church partners are helping the Kiche Mayans climb their way out of poverty, step by step. Providing shelter is one of the first and biggest strides. Through the Manos de Jesus Widow House Construction project, each home is financially sponsored and constructed by short-term mission teams or individual donors. In February, Family Christian's Nik DeGraf got to see the process first-hand.

2014 impact of Family Christian Stores, their shoppers and Pray America.
(Graphic courtesy of Family Christian)

"When we give [widows] the house, we tell them that this house is a gift to you from Jesus Christ. He loves you, and He has a plan for your life," explains Morin. "We've had over 500 widows that have accepted the Lord and become disciples, as well." Through Manos de Jesus and Family Christian's partnership, Mayans are coming to Christ, and God's Kingdom is growing. Tomorrow, we'll explore how God is bringing together a new program to change lives again in Chichicastenago.
Categories: Mission Network News

Faith is costly in Central Asia

Mission Network News - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo Courtesy of Reach Beyond)

Central Asia (Reach Beyond/MNN) -- Central Asia is composed of five countries that gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. About 66 million people live in the region which is dominated by Islam. Only about 0.4% of the population are Christian. After serving in the Latin America Region of Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global) for several years, a couple has been ministering in Central Asia since 2012. They are working in partnership with another agency, researching practical ways to launch healthcare efforts. In both 2013 and 2014, they helped with medical caravans in a remote valley of the region. During the most recent clinic last fall, team members saw 700 patients in seven workdays, providing physical checkups, sharing the gospel with residents who have little access to healthcare or churches, and checking on a clean water project that the team completed the previous year. As with other places where this couple has served, they’ve found that God’s people are already there--a place where the dangers are great facing those who choose to become believers. The couple shares this report from a Christian conference in Central Asia: Standing to his feet, one colleague declared that in the country where he works and ministers, someone of their group is martyred each year. He was referring only to those expatriates who were killed; many nationals in this Central Asian country also die for their faith in Christ. While we in the West talk of giving our hearts and our lives to Christ, such talk is not cheap where believers have shed their own blood. At the same conference, a pastor spoke of his time in jail under false charges. He related that in his trial, it was pointed out that one of those testifying was actually in jail at the time when he supposedly saw the pastor commit a crime. The judge convicted the pastor anyway. Another church leader told the conference he had been told by state police, "We know who you are. Any day now we will rid this country of all of you." It’s one thing when a man chooses to commend his life into the hands of God. But what of his family? One pastor got up to speak of his daughter who came home one day from school crying. "Why are you crying?" he asked. The girl answered that they had taken her picture at school and put her name on a list because she was a child of Christian parents. The girl’s classmates laughed at her and the teacher called her Jesus. There was not a dry eye in the audience as this man told of his life as a believer in this Central Asian country. One evening my heart was broken for these lands as pastors answered the question I had asked in my broken Russian about the condition of healthcare in their country. "How can I help to bring the life that Jesus promises in a land where death is so prevalent?" Their eyes revealed to me that it is not so easy for them to confide in a stranger. The risks, after all, are great in their countries and trust is a rare commodity. Pray for this couple and others who are working among the people of Central Asia. Pray that believers will not waver in their faith despite persecution, and that they will hold tight to God who is holding on to them.
Categories: Mission Network News

Garissa Massacre survivors ask for prayer

Mission Network News - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo Courtesy of WorldWatch Monitor)

Kenya (WWM) -- [EDITORS NOTE: This is an article from WorldWatch Monitor. Kenya jumped from #43 to #19 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of countries where persecution of Christians is the greatest. This increase was the largest of any of the 50 countries.] The chairman of Garissa University College’s Christian Union, who survived the April 2 al-Shabaab attack in which 148 students were killed, has pleaded for prayer for the physical and psychological healing of survivors. “Please pray for us…. Many saw sights too horrible to describe,” said 21-year-old Frederick Gitonga. “Pray for me, too. I need peace of mind, strength, and wisdom. I am struggling with dreams that cause me to snap awake, then [I] cannot get back to sleep. I find myself remembering the horror of that day. The sounds and smells come back clearly.” Gitonga explained how he had been up late the night before the attack, praying for one of the students under his care, that they would be able to truly forgive someone a wrong. The next morning, that student was dead, along with the other 21 Christian Union members who had attended early morning prayers. Gitonga said the only reason he is still alive is because he had felt too tired after his late night to join in with prayers that morning. Instead, he decided to go back to sleep, only to wake to the sound of gunshots. “My roommates ran out, leaving the door wide open,” he explained. “I felt a strong urge not to run, but to stay put. As I hid under the bed, I could hear the gunshots and screams of fellow students. I could [hear] them lying to women that they should come out since their religion does not allow them to kill women. When they did, they were all killed. I know of no single Muslim who lost their life. “After some time, things went quiet, but I did not move.” The next thing Gitonga remembers is hearing two attackers enter the room. “They sat on the beds, changed their rifle magazines and then shot at the walls to test them before going out to resume the killings. I stayed there for [a] long 12:00 am -- I do not know how long -- but was eventually rescued by a Kenya Defence Force officer. “I praise God that some survived, many in truly miraculous ways. However, we are deeply traumatised, broken, and in need of much prayer. At the same time, we are trying to help fellow students who seek comfort and support from us. “I have not been to my home area since the incident because I felt I could not rest until my friends are laid to rest. This weekend, I and two other Fellowship of Christian University Students’ officials will travel to Bungoma, Western Kenya, to lay our friends Edward, Evans, Emily, and Tobias to rest. Then I will attend Sammy and Philomena’s burials in Kitui, before I finally go home to rest. It is much, but these were not just fellow students and fellow CU officials: they were also my close friends and prayer partners. I have to say goodbye.” Frederick Gitonga was one of the speakers at a memorial service held at Christ is the Answer Church in Nairobi last week. At the April 9 event, he said it will be impossible for the students to forget what happened. “It’s so painful to see people you know butchered like cows. They died for confessing Christ, but I put it to you… Who will stand up and say, 'Enough is enough'?” Bishop Mark Kariuki, leader of the Deliverance Church, echoed these sentiments. “Churches have been bombed. People have been killed. Are we going to sit and wait for the next attack? We must stand up and say, 'Enough is enough!'” Duncan Obwamu, another student who survived the attack, explained how, between 5:00-5:30AM a young man entered the room in which the students were praying. “He stood at the door. I could see the muzzle of his gun. I thought he was a [Kenya Defence Force] officer, who often patrol the campus. “Then he began shooting. He shot in a circle since we were standing in a circle holding hands and singing. I heard the first woman scream, then the next and the next. I was shot on the arm. I fell down and pretended to be dead.” More than 80% of Kenyans are Christian, although in northeastern Kenya nearly 90% are Muslim. Roman Catholics form the largest single denomination. There is also a large number of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and other denominations. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches have grown in numbers and influence, asserting their authority in the political, social, and religious sectors, but Bishop Kariuki said all Kenya’s churches must learn to work together. “We are hit because we [Christians] are not united. We need to be united and speak with one voice as churches. If we stand with one another, our voice shall be heard,” he said. Dr. Nelson Makanda, deputy general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, said the Garissa attack was a wake-up call for Christians, who must re-examine their faith in the face of growing Islamization in the country. “We have come together because a Christian community has been butchered. They are, to us, martyrs of today. They chose to live [by] faith and died for it. “Northern Kenya is being asserted as a zone of a certain religion [Islam]. We need to ask, 'Is this what we want?'" said Makanda. “Christians have a right to [belong to] any part within the Kenyan borders.” Why the attackers spared Muslims and targeted innocent Christian students has fueled further tension, with many fearing this could be the advent of a religious divide. Although faith leaders have countered this notion, they warned that al-Shabaab is keen to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims in Kenya. Though relations have been fractious at times, the faiths have co-existed peacefully for many years. Al-Shabaab’s low-level attacks inside Kenya have heightened since 2011, when the country sent its forces to war-torn Somalia to pursue the group. The militants responded by targeting churches, public transport, and government buildings such as police stations. But as the Islamists escalate attacks on churches and Christians, church leaders have been growing more edgy, demanding more government action on security. Makanda said the blood of the Christian students should be the “seed of our unity” and that Christians should continue to speak as one united force--a united Christian community. “We must begin to engage our leaders,” said Makanda, who added that Muslims should take some responsibility to be their “brother’s keeper,” protecting the property and rights of others. One male student was killed and 141 injured in a stampede on the campus of the University of Nairobi on Sunday (April 12), as students mistook several accidental explosions for an extremist attack. The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Peter Mbithi, told AFP: “It was around 5:00AM, and the transformer at the campus exploded about four or five times, which made students mistake it for an attack.” Mbithi said that many students were injured when “thinking it was an al-Shabaab attack: "They jumped from the upper floors of their dormitories." Anxiety has also gripped more than 100 families unable to identify the bodies of loved ones. Some have camped at Chiromo Mortuary in Nairobi, hoping they can get some information about their relatives.  
Categories: Mission Network News

One year: Boko Haram and the Chibok abductions

Mission Network News - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 5:00am

(Image courtesy Bring Back Our Girls Now campaign/FB)

Nigeria (MNN) -- A year ago, Boko Haram militants stormed a school compound in Chibok, Nigeria, and kidnapped close to 300 girls. Since then, very little has been done to successfully rescue the girls. What's more, the extremist group went on a rampage, claimed whole villages, and proclaimed the territory under their control as a caliphate (an Islamic state ruled under a caliph--a person considered a political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad).

(Photo Muhammadu Buhari courtesy Wikipedia/Chathamhouse)

Nigeria's president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, released an Opinion-Editorial piece through The New York Times to mark the anniversary.  Aside from pledging once more to stop the terrorist group, he addressed the issue at the forefront of people's minds. Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, explains, "He doesn't want to raise false hope about bringing the girls back. He's not sure that that's going to be possible. The reality is: nobody is sure where the girls are being held." In fact, Buhari criticized the outgoing administration for being too slow to respond and losing the chance of rescue in the early days. Amnesty International also released a report coinciding with the one-year abduction. It was based on hundreds of witness accounts. Their report, "Our Job Is to Shoot, Slaughter, and Kill: Boko Haram's Reign of Terror in Northeast Nigeria," notes a couple of things. "Boko Haram has announced that the girls, in their words, 'willingly converted to Islam.' Many of them have been married off to Boko Haram fighters. So, at this point, we really don't know what the future holds for them." The Amnesty report indicates some of the girls have been killed because they refused to convert. Nettleton says that's not surprising. "Christians often say, 'I am a follower of Jesus Christ. You can kill me, but I'm still going to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I'm not going to change my faith. I'm not going to denounce Christ.'" The report goes on to say that since January 2014, Boko Haram has actually taken closer to 2,000 women and girls. Expectations are impossibly high. "There's a lot of hope that Muhammadu Buhari, when he takes office May 29th, will turn the tide against Boko Haram. He's promising to cooperate with surrounding nations who are also fighting Boko Haram." When he takes the oath of office, Buhari also takes on the herculean task of cleaning up corruption. "The UN has issued a report that there are 800,000 children who have been displaced by Boko Haram. Most of them are not able to get an education. One of the issues that Buhari identifies in his Op-Ed is, 'We need better education.' Well, here's 800,000 children who are displaced, not able to get an education," says Nettleton. One thing Buhari notes in his article is that the Boko Haram feeds off despair. He writes, "It feeds off of a lack of hope that things can improve." Politics aside, he's not wrong. Nettleton says the despair is what is creating opportunity. "Boko Haram is on the attack, and yet, the churches continue to move forward. Pastors continue to lead services. Believers continue to gather and worship together, even though they know the risks." Specifically, Nettleton says that openness to the Gospel is on the increase among the more moderate Muslims in Nigeria. "They see the Boko Haram as sort of the 'ugly face' of Islam. They respond by being more open to other options, including following Jesus Christ."

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs)

The good news at the end of a sobering story: there is Gospel work that is going forward. It continues to go on despite the risk. VOM Nigeria resources church leaders as they work to share the name of Christ around them. They meet the physical needs of those who have lost homes and churches to Boko Haram attacks. VOM Nigeria cares for the children who lose their parents "in the line of duty," and they also work to meet medical needs. Financial support carries this work forward. However, prayer is the first line of defense. Nettleton urges prayer for protection for Gospel workers, for the families who are still waiting for their daughters to come home, for wisdom to know how to respond to provocation. In addition, "We need to pray specifically that Muslims will come to know Christ, and honestly, even pray for Boko Haram members and leaders to come to know Christ in a personal way."
Categories: Mission Network News

Fighting violence in Africa with Bible translation

Mission Network News - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Associates)

Central African Republic (MNN) -- What's something you care about so much that even when the challenges come along, you're going to face them anyway? Family? Your job? It's both for Wycliffe Associates: they care dearly for the family of God and for their work of getting the Bible into all languages in order to grow that family. Bruce Smith of Wycliffe Associates speaks about a particular area of the world that poses many challenges to translators. "The challenge in Africa for Bible translation is quite large--it's the second-largest concentration of translation needs in the world, behind Asia," Smith says. According to Wycliffe Associates, there are 776 languages in Africa alone that have become a priority for Scripture translation. However, Africa is fraught with political and religious violence, including bombings, hostage takeovers, shootings, etc. These are the stories you may happen to see in the news; but Smith explains that there is an important aspect missing for those who care about the Gospel going out to all the nations. "Bible translation teams end up being either directly attacked or indirectly impacted by that kind of violence. [They] have to move out of their home areas or maybe begin translation from neighboring areas," he says. The environment, especially to the north, is disruptive, insecure, uncertain, and just plain difficult. Yet, Wycliffe Associates have made translation a strategic priority. We can see a better picture of this if we focus on Central African Republic--one country full of violence that doesn't usually make headlines. Smith says, "They've been struggling now for several years, continuing to have uprisings and violence." To address the implications this violence has on translators, Wycliffe Associates distributes Bible Translation Acceleration Kits (BTAKs) including a portable laptop and communication devices with a solar panel, battery, and power supply. "Those tools have been very critical to them as they've been able to sort of pack them in their backpack [and] haul them out with them as they've had to move and migrate away from the violence. It's enabled them to both communicate for their own security but also resume Bible translation very quickly." Wycliffe Associates works with local partners--people who have a heart for their own home and community. "They're stakeholders in the outcome and really have a strong desire to see God's Word change their country from the inside out," Smith explains. That's why Wycliffe supplies whatever tools they can to assist the work of translators. In addition to the BTAKs, they help with facility upkeep and repair, physical infrastructure, and transportation needs. The local translators provide the manpower, heart, and connections to get the work done. Smith shares an example of what some of the direct conflicts look like for translators. A couple of years ago in CAR, rebels were overthrowing the government and pillaging the capital city of Bangui. They held several workers hostage at a translation compound. Nobody was killed in the end, but the facility was robbed and damaged. Wycliffe Associates is still trying to find a way to repair the facility so the compound, which manages Bible translation, will be up and running to its full effectiveness. "This kind of story is actually happening all across sub-Saharan Africa," Smith says. "It's the clash of Islam and Christianity that occurs right at that latitude. [It's] where Christian missions has had great success over the past decades reaching people and people turning to Christ in Central African regions, but not so much to the North." It is both political and religious violence that inhibits the work of translators. Especially in the Islamic-majority north, this type of violence is growing. "The indications are that this is the reality that we face for the coming years. So, we can either abandon our task, abandon our mission of getting God's Word into that arena, or we can find creative ways to keep it moving forward so that men's hearts can be changed. Ultimately I believe--and I think we all believe--that God's Word and the power of God's Word is the only thing that can really change this kind of circumstance." The effectiveness of political moves, economic sanctions, and military control is limited. Central African Republic is just one of several nations included in a new initiative with Wycliffe Associates called "Africa Advance." It is an effort to raise $625,000 to support Bible translators. It will help provide the technical tools needed, facility management, direct support to the translators (many live on extremely low incomes), training, and other supplies. "We want to come alongside of them, be partners with the local church who's caring forward the strategies of Bible translation in their own languages, and come alongside of them in every possible way," says Smith. They want to make a serious dent and a serious impact in Africa with the Gospel. "With more than 700 languages throughout the continent that are still without Scripture, we need to generate the resources and the strategies that will begin working through those number of languages in order to get God's Word into them." If you'd like to help with the financial aspect, click here. And when you watch the news and see stories about Africa, remember these same stories are affecting the translation work going on there. Take a moment to pray for the countries mentioned. Smith says even though it seems like a lot of people in the West have lost touch with struggles around the world, they have found a lot of people still care a lot, are generous, and view Gospel-sharing as a priority. And the response has been encouraging. "As much as the bad news hits the major media outlets, and that's all we hear, the good news is that God's Word is making a real impact both for time and for eternity in these places. And we get the stories of the progress and the impact in the villages where people are so joyful to have God's Word that they've got each family giving a cup of millet or a cup of corn, or whatever they have available, in order to support the translation work, because the Word of God is so dear to them." Smith says Wycliffe Associates are encouraged by these stories and are up for the challenge.
Categories: Mission Network News

The Toughest Challenge for Christians in the Carribean Is 'Preparing Them for Persecution,' Says WEA Official Emerson Boyce

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 2:57pm
Rev. Emerson Boyce, the general secretary of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean, discussed living conditions in the region and how he's working to prepare Christians in the island nations for future persecution that believers are witnessing throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Categories: Christian Post

Williamsport pool closure

WGRC News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 1:55pm

South Williamsport Borough Council last night decided to permanently shut down the longtime community pool there in the wake of leaks which would take too much money to fix. Leaks have been springing up at the pool over the past few years, costing a lot of money for the water bill and leaving an estimated quarter of a million dollars to fix the pool.

Categories: Local News

Fire at Muncy farm

WGRC News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 1:54pm

Fire struck in Muncy last night destroying a barn on the property of Styers Farm along Shady Lane near the Muncy Valley Hospital. Firefighters from 8 companies were on the scene to battle the flames and were able to keep them from spreading to the nearby house and store there. No one was reported injured, and a damage estimate has not been released. The cause of that Muncy fire is under investigation.

Categories: Local News

Low marks for airlines

WGRC News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 1:54pm

A new report on US airlines shows lower marks across the board. More flights are late, more bags are getting lost, and customers are lodging more complaints about U.S. airlines. The bottom line, air travel is getting worse and fliers aren’t happy about it. In fact, Consumer complaints to the government jumped 22 percent in 2014. For the third straight year, Virgin America led the rankings, followed by Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Categories: Local News

Bible Not Available in 57% of World Languages; Most Americans Believe the Bible Is Available in Every Language

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 11:35am
The American Bible Society's recently released State of the Bible survey found that a strong majority of Americans think the Bible is available in all of the world's languages, despite the fact that 57 percent of world languages are still in need of completed Bible translations.
Categories: Christian Post

The Way of Faith

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 7:36am
Many people consider Moses a biblical "pillar" of Old Testament days—a man without equal in godliness. And certainly, he encountered the presence of the Almighty in a most unusual way and was called to do mighty things with the Lord's help. But, like us, he was a normal, sinful human being. What the New Testament commends him for is something we all can have: belief.
Categories: Christian Post

Al-Shabaab massacre leaves Kenyans wounded but unbowed

Mission Network News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo Courtesy of Compassion International)

Kenya (Compassion Int'l) -- [EDITORS NOTE: This is a blog update from Compassion International.] Did you feel heavy hearted going into Good Friday this year? I did. Each year heaviness seems to wrap around me when I contemplate the crucifixion. This year the heaviness felt more substantial. The day before Good Friday, a brutal terrorist attack occurred at Garissa University College in Garissa, Kenya, (a little more than 200 miles from the capital city of Nairobi). The Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab from Somalia, which has been linked to al-Qaeda, carried out the attack by separating the Muslim and Christian students. The gunmen murdered 148 people, mostly Christians who died because of their faith in Christ. While Garissa is almost 100 miles away from our closest child development center and we have no Leadership Development students in that area, Compassion Kenya still feels the pain with its countrymen. Dawit Hailu, Compassion Africa Regional Senior Director, resides in Kenya and had this to say: “It was indeed a very saddening moment for all Kenyans--for me and my family, as well as the entire world. Innocent young university students slaughtered in cold blood. Many Christian union members were murdered that early morning while they were praying as a group. Actually, that took me back to my university days; as an active Christian union member, I could have been one of those students killed.” Dawit was sobered. I must admit, I think I would have felt not only sobered, but perhaps hesitant to step into a church that Sunday after such a terrifying event in the country. Could the violence toward Christians at a university also happen at a church? Yet again, the resilience and beauty of the African people serves as an example of courage and bravery in the face of sheer evil. Dawit and his family, along with thousands of others, flocked to the packed churches on Easter weekend. One Kenyan church pastor proclaimed on Easter Sunday, “The power of love is greater than the power of hate. That is what is revealed on Easter on the Cross. That is what we need to portray to those who killed our children.” Kenyans displayed that powerful love in tangible ways this past week: standing in long lines to give blood for the wounded, comforting the grieving, providing supplies for the affected families, and contributing money. One of the most loving and brave things Kenyans are doing is not surrendering to fear, but choosing life instead. Dawit says, “The killers would like to create a state of fear and uncertainty. We Kenyans need to be courageous, defeating the enemy in part by living our lives as normal.” For residents of Kenya like Dawit, living “as normal” means many things … including diligent prayers for the government and living truthful lives. Sharing the love of Christ through Compassion child development centers and providing a brighter hope and future for young people. During Holy Week, a horrible terrorist attack happened. During Holy Week, we also commemorated the brutal death of our Christ. But then, Easter Sunday arrived, and with it came renewed hope in the power of the resurrection and confidence that death is not the final verdict. As it does each year, the celebration of Easter reminds us that we will overcome and evil does not get the final word. Kenya Country Director, Joel Macharia, boldly states about his home country: “We are wounded but unbowed. We will soldier on and defeat the force of evil that would have us cowed … Our resolve to work at a better future has never been higher.”    
Categories: Mission Network News

Pakistani Christians lit on fire

Mission Network News - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:00am

(Image courtesy Forgotten Missionaries International)

Pakistan (MNN) -- Brutal persecution is putting Pakistan back in the headlines. At least two Pakistani Christians in Lahore were recently targeted by Muslims. "If they identified themselves as Christians, they were attacked," reports Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI). Friday fires On Friday, while on their way to the mosque, two Muslims stopped 14-year-old *Fodor in the streets and asked him what religion he followed. When Fodor said he was a Christian, "They pursued him on their motorbikes; they threw kerosene on him and then lit him [on] fire," Allen says. "He was burned over 55% of his body."

"Fodor" suffered burns on 55% of his body.
(Photo courtesy of Forgotten Missionaries International)

FMI supports national church planters and pastors as they carry the Gospel to their countrymen. The ministry's National Director for Pakistan, *Nehemiah, informed Allen of this attack shortly after it happened. A few hours later, when Allen was passing the news along to FMI-supporters via e-mail, Nehemiah called again: another Christian boy had been set on fire. "We were wondering if we were going to be seeing a spate of these [attacks] over the weekend,"recalls Allen. "So I quickly alerted Mission Network News and said, 'Can you help us get the word out to be praying for God to protect these people, who are not denying His name?'" A prayer request went up on MNN's Facebook page, and prayer warriors responded. "We are so grateful for the thousands of prayers that were offered, and over the weekend, those attacks have abated," Allen reports. That doesn't mean Pakistani Christians aren't safe, though. Pakistani persecution No connections have been made between last month's Youhanabad attacks and the recent burnings. But, Allen says, the attacks DO point to a rising trend. "There has been a swelling of anti-Christian sentiment in recent weeks, especially in Lahore," he states.

"You must embrace Islam
or be ready to be killed."
(Photo courtesy of Forgotten Missionaries International)

"As you watch in society and you see pamphlets endorsing terrorism, you see threats against Christian schools, you see bombings against the churches: it's just growing there, absolutely." Pakistani Christians can't turn to the government for help: they're part of the problem. Over the weekend, Nehemiah updated Allen about one of the Christian men kidnapped by police following last month's riots. "He just died on Saturday due to the torture his body received in the days since his arrest," shares Allen. "The beatings were severe enough that it caused him to die." Although the Youhanabad mastermind has been arrested and confessed that the riots were pre-planned, dozens of Christians are still being held captive. What can you do? You might not live in Pakistan, but there are a few things you can do to help through FMI. PRAY Intercession isn't just important -- it's a lifeline. In the Comments Section below, write your prayer for Pakistani Christians.

(Photo courtesy of Forgotten Missionaries International)

"As members of one another, as Paul says in Romans 12, we are to be upholding one another," says Allen. "One of the best ways we can do that, even across the continents and across the miles, is to pray for one another." Not only have Friday's Facebook prayers reached God's ears, they've been encouraging oppressed believers, too. "So many of the prayers that've been offered, we've been able to relay to our team in Pakistan," Allen shares. Those Gospel workers are then able to tell their congregations, "The Body of Christ around the world is lifting them up before the throne [of God]." Please keep praying for the safety of Pakistani Christians. Pray also for their boldness. "The forces of evil are very strong and not subtle. It is just very overt, and the Christians need courage," Allen says. GIVE/GO Traveling to Pakistan might not be possible for you, but you can help indigenous pastors and evangelists "go" instead.

An elder of a Pakistani village church. It is estimated that only about 2% of the nation's population claim to be Christian.
(Photo, caption courtesy FMI)

For $100 per month, you can empower a national church planter with income, opportunity for on-going training, and emergency medical expenses. Your partnership helps the pastor focus on the crucial task of pioneer evangelism and discipleship, until his church matures to the point of being able to independently support him. Learn more here. Your financial gifts could also help FMI's "safe house" ministry. What began as a single safe haven for persecuted Pakistani Christians has expanded to a second safe house for persecuted women, and a third safe house for "overflow." As oppression rises, so does the need for safety. At the hyperlink above, you can help FMI keep their safe house ministry afloat for $200/month. * Name changed for security purposes
Categories: Mission Network News

How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:00am
As one of Christian music's breakthrough artists, Lauren Daigle has received an overwhelming response to her hit single "How Can It Be" off her EP released in 2014. Following the release of her EP, she is set to release her first full-length album, How Can It Be, on 4/14/15. With her strong vocals and compelling lyrics, this new album invites listeners to draw closer to their Creator. This full-length album combines songs from her EP including "How Can It Be" with 8 new songs for a total of 12 tracks. Some of the new songs include the "Trust In You,"[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Live From the Woods by NEEDTOBREATHE

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:00am
NEEDtoBREATHE announce their first live album, "Live From The Woods." The record was recorded at Nashville's The Woods at Fontanel Amphitheatre in 2014. For those who weren't there, imagine a bonfire party way out in the Tennessee woods on a warm summer Saturday night with 5,000 of your friends it was a magical evening that we're thrilled to have captured.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

As We Speak by Greater Vision

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Open Eyes by Beacon Light

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Living In Harmony by Triumphant

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Worship EP by Canyon

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Acoustic Sessions by KINGDOM

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:00am
Northern California worship team, Kingdom is proud to announce the release Acoustic Sessions, which releases April 14th on Dream Records. Featuring hit songs like "God of Fire" and "Chorus of the Saints", the guys show a more stripped down version of their sound with raw acoustics and powerful praise elements. "The world doesn't need more Christian bands or Christian products...it needs more Christ. It is our hope that through our music and through our lives Christ is glorified and people find their hope in Him." Nate Parrish, Kingdom[...]
Categories: Christian Music News