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Al-Shabaab threats: a concern for Christians?

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Assist News)

Somalia (MNN) -- Al-Shabaab threats against North American shopping malls have garnered world attention. On Saturday, al-Shabaab released a video threatening some of North America's most-populous shopping centers, including Alberta's West Edmonton Mall and Minnesota's Mall of America. Some analysts dismiss the video's warning because al-Shabaab lacks the resources and manpower to launch an attack of this measure. However, al-Shabaab threats of this type shouldn't be taken lightly. "Al-Shabaab means 'The Youth' or 'The Youngsters.' They're a group that [is] very brutal, when it comes to, especially, Christians," explains Voice of the Martyrs Canada spokesman Greg Musselman. Who is al-Shabaab?

Smoke rising from the Westgate Mall area in Nairobi, Kenya, after the September 2013 attacks and rescue efforts.
(Photo, caption courtesy Kul Wadhwa via Wikimedia Commons)

While they gained the world's attention with their 2013 attack in Kenya, al-Shabaab has largely taken a backseat to groups like ISIS and Boko Haram. In 2006, the group emerged as a radical Islamic youth wing and has since claimed allegiance with al-Qaeda. According to BBC News' profile, al-Shabaab threats have mainly centered on neighboring Kenya. "This is a group that has been able to function because of the dysfunction in their own country," Musselman states. "[Somalia is] known as a failed country and a country of chaos." It's also the world's second-biggest persecutor of Christians, according to the Open Doors USA World Watch List. VOM Canada states on its Web site that al-Shabaab threats are specifically aimed at believers: "al- Shabab has vowed to eradicate all Somali Christians, and they have especially targeted converts from Islam." Learn more about Somalia's "hidden Church" here. "It has been a very difficult place, a horrible place, for Christians, who have to be very careful and secretive," notes Musselman. When people find out their family member has become a Christian, "they will alert the al-Shabaab; and in many cases, these Christians are publicly executed." There's danger for Christians around every corner in Somalia, but there's also hope. Who is helping Somali Christians?

(Graphic courtesy VOM Canada)

Working through their partners in neighboring nations like Ethiopia, VOM Canada is able to support Somalian believers with spiritual and physical resources. They also support "safe-houses" where persecuted Christians can find refuge. Watch the testimony of a Somali Christian who was saved from al-Shabaab soldiers. Pray for encouragement and strength for the Christians remaining in Somalia, as well as for those who have been forced to leave their homes. Ask the Lord to encourage and embolden Somali converts, who often struggle greatly when cast out of their family and clan.
Categories: Mission Network News

She Counts 2015 brings the Gospel to illiterate women

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo Credit to Mission India)

India (MNN) -- Many women in India are treated like second-class citizens and are considered a burden to their families. "She Counts 2015" is introducing a new message to India's women--one of hope. Lindsay Ackerman of Grand Rapids Michigan-based, Mission India says this year's campaign is specifically focusing on women in Bihar state. Of Bihar's 104 million residents, one-in-three are illiterate and 47% of women in Bihar can't read or write. Without other ways of supporting themselves, 60% of girls in Bihar marry by age 18. Illiteracy touches every moment of every day, as it is impossible to successfully get through life without being able to read, Ackerman says. “When your kids come home from school--if they are lucky enough to go to school--and they don’t know how to do their homework, you can’t help them,” she explains. Mission India’s goal for She Counts 2015 is to raise $63,000: enough funding to send 2,100 Bihar women to their Bible-based Adult Literacy Class. Right now, a matching grant doubles every dollar given to She Counts 2015.

(Graphic courtesy of Mission India)

Mission India's Adult Literacy Classes don't just teach men and women how to read and write. They also learn about health, hygiene, basic first aid, and what it takes to start their own business. By the end of the one-year course, Ackerman says, students gain the equivalent of a fifth-grade education. “When the students graduate, they have the minimum requirement for a job and are able to apply for jobs they couldn’t apply for before,” she adds. There's a spiritual component, too. Many women discover for the first time that they are valuable in the eyes of God. On Mission India's blog, you can learn more about the impact of She Counts 2015. This is Mission India’s second "She Counts" campaign; their first one was in 2014. By sharing about the plight of women in India, Mission India was able to raise $43,170 and help 1,439 people.
Categories: Mission Network News

A Tyndale/Gutenberg moment for the Deaf

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Deaf Bible)

International (DB) -- Deaf Bible and DOOR (Deaf Opportunity OutReach) International are announcing an agreement that further aligns the two ministries in their work to both translate and make available sign language Bible content in over 350 sign languages around the world. With only 2% of the global Deaf population having ever been exposed to the Gospel, these partnering organizations are publicly stating their goal to eradicate Bible poverty in this often-overlooked people group. DOOR International has worked for over 15 years in training Deaf leaders in evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and leadership development so they can impact their countries and communities with the Gospel. In 2004 it became clear that this training cannot be done effectively without God’s Word in the heart language of the Deaf: sign language. As a result, DOOR International joined the Wycliffe Global Alliance and began work in sign language Bible translation. DOOR now has projects in 12 sign languages, with 4 more to begin this year. While not a translation organization, Deaf Bible is committed to doing everything possible to assist in the process and support of every project. They will also be prepared to provide ready and free access to the completed Bible content through apps, online, or whatever new technology presents itself to reach the Deaf worldwide with the Gospel. “What we really see ourselves as is translation accelerators,” says JR Bucklew, the director of Deaf Bible. “Whether it’s raising funds, providing support material and labor, or working on the newest tech innovations, we will do everything within our power to open God’s Word to the Deaf.” “This partnership is really a Tyndale/Gutenberg moment in sign language Bible translation,” adds Rob Myers, CEO of DOOR International. In the early 1500s, William Tyndale began making the Bible available to the people of England in their own language. However, it was only possible to distribute Tyndale’s Bible because of Gutenberg’s printing press, which had come along years earlier. In the same way, DOOR International would be hard-pressed to make their translations available to workers in the field if not for technologies that Deaf Bible has developed. Another focus for both ministries is to establish accepted standards to guide current and future sign language translation work. “Just like in written translation work, it’s important that sign language translators are all on the same page and following best practices that have been developed over time by those in the field,” states Myers. Both ministries also encourage others who are working with the Deaf around the world to join this effort. Click if you’d like to donate to either Deaf Bible or DOOR International. “Just as we’re commanded to work together as the Body of Christ, we eagerly anticipate organizations coming together so that all the Deaf can have God’s Word in their own sign language,” concludes Bucklew.
Categories: Mission Network News

The ultimate gift for women

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Women for JESUS)

International (MNN) -- March 8 is a day set aside to recognize the achievements of women, and to be inspired by their gifts and impact in the world. The United Nations reports International Women’s Day started in the early 1900s in North America and across Europe due to labor movements. Over more the past 100 years, it has been chiseling and working away for women’s equality rights. International Women’s Day is not just about several countries, clearly. It’s not about the smaller paychecks, either. It’s about helping women throughout the world realize their potential of becoming more than they could ever dream, and recognizing how far they’ve come already. The Women for Jesus ministry, a branch of The JESUS Film Project, is using the day as a way for women to start fresh and new, by giving them the Gospel. They have partnered with Better Life Bags to create a custom handbag stuffed with JESUS Film products. Women for Jesus is inviting women across the globe to purchase bags and send them to illiterate women and children. Not only would women and children receive custom handbags, but they’d also receive the gift of life. Every woman deserves to have a voice and a chance to hear the Word of God. This International Women’s Day, help make that happen by clicking here.
Categories: Mission Network News

ISIS takes Christians hostage in Syria

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

Syria (MNN) -- Open Doors USA confirms reports that members of the Islamic State terror group have abducted 90 Assyrian Christians from villages in northeast Syria. Thousands of Assyrian Christians live in a string of villages on both sides of the Khabur River North of the city of Hassaka. Open Doors USA CEO and president David Curry explains, "What you have is ISIS--which controls a large part of Syria and Iraq--taking back some territory near the Turkey border where they have kidnapped 90-100 Christians within that community." The early morning raids followed an assault that re-took two villages from the Kurds on Monday. The question is: why take captives now? Curry says, "I think that these folks are going to be used as an example or certainly held perhaps for ransom, but I'm guessing that it's going to be a very difficult situation." According to A Demand For Action (ADFA), an awareness group, ISIS wants to exchange the captives for ISIS prisoners. Open Doors shared the following from an Assyrian Christian woman from Tal Shamiram who now lives in Beirut. She has been desperately trying to find out what has become of her parents, as well as her brother and his wife and children. "Land lines have been cut, and their mobiles are closed," she told Associated Press. "Have they been slaughtered? Are they still alive? We're searching for any news." She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of endangering relatives believed to be held by the militants. "My family visited me last month and returned to Syria. There were clashes, but it was normal, nothing exceptional. I feel so helpless. I cannot do anything for them but pray," she said by telephone, her voice breaking.

(Infographic courtesy Open Doors USA)

Will ISIS give the remaining Christians in Tal Shamiram the same options they gave those in Mosul, Iraq? When ISIS began its advance, it gave Christians three options in territories it occupied: leave, pay a tax to stay, or die. Curry doesn't think those options will be available this time around. Besides, "People have found that ISIS will not keep their word. There were a handful of people who paid a tax in order to stay and then were executed anyway. So, I don't think the Christians in Tal Shamiram or this area here, where the Christians were abducted, are going to trust them and try to pay a tax." Just weeks ago, ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, setting off international condemnation and strengthening the union among the 60 groups working to destroy ISIS. It was essentially a declaration of war. "It's genocide of Christians within Iraq and Syria in that they're targeting the elimination of this part of their culture." Because of the advance of IS, thousands of inhabitants from the villages fled to the bigger cities. Open Doors sources say that IS has reported today on their radio station that they detained tens of crusaders and seized 10 villages around Tal Tamr after clashes with Kurdish militiamen. IS frequently refers to Christians as "crusaders." Are they followers of Christ, or people who are not Muslim? Curry wonders if that matters. To the terror group, there is no distinction. "Whether they come from Orthodox faith or evangelical movements, these are people who have, for centuries, stood for Jesus in this region." While every Christian may not have a personal faith in Christ, he adds, "If it was a casual thing, I don't think people would be willing to die for it. They're standing by their faith. I take them, not just by their word, but by what they're doing." That's also another way to pray: Ask God to make Himself real to those who don't have a personal faith in Him. Pray that God will change the hearts of the extremists. Why? "There are people, even in the midst of this difficulty, who are coming to a personal faith in Jesus there. They're really coming to peace in the midst of a very chaotic and difficult environment." Please give to help our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in areas like Syria and the critical parts of the Middle East, where extremists are targeting Christians. Your help will save lives, providing not only needed supplies such as food and water, but also counseling, Biblical training, and Scriptures to Christians in the Middle East who face violent persecution for being followers of Jesus.
Categories: Mission Network News

Two Sunbury Police Officers suspended

WGRC News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 3:10pm

Sunbury officials decided to suspend two city police officers without pay following an investigation into alleged wrong doings by the officers. One of the officers is said to have used inappropriate language at the Northumberland County 911 Center and will get a week suspension while the other officer admitted to meeting a female while on duty in a city police cruiser and he has gotten 3 weeks without pay. Officials have not named the officers citing personnel reasons, and say that the suspensions will have no bearing on police services within the city.

Categories: Local News

American Sniper Trial

WGRC News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 3:10pm

The trial of the ex-Marine charged with killing “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle resumed today. Eddie Ray Routh’s attorneys say the former Marine suffers from psychosis, paranoia and schizophrenia. They say he was legally insane when he shot Kyle and Chad Littlefield two years ago. Prosecutors argue Routh is a “troubled man” who struggles with a “personality disorder,” not insanity.

Categories: Local News

Alex McFarland's Apologetics Tour 'Stand Strong' Aims to Equip Young Christians With Biblical Wisdom to Defend Their Faith in Secular Culture

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 2:57pm
Author and noted Christian apologist Alex McFarland will be leading an apologetics tour across the United States meant to focus on keeping young people in the church.
Categories: Christian Post

New Every Morning

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 10:26am
Sometimes I will run into people I knew years ago, and they will say, "Hey, Greg, we remember the old days back at the tent [at Calvary Chapel]. Those were good days, weren't they?"
Categories: Christian Post

Q&A With Matt Chandler: The First 7 Years of My Marriage Were Tough; Loving Relationships Take Discipline

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 9:12am
Texas megachurch pastor Matt Chandler says the way the world defines marriage is "unbiblical" and "unhealthy", yet far too many young Christians are following after the cultural standards of love. This reality prompted the Village Church leader to offer biblical insights on dating, courtship and marriage from the Song of Solomon in his recently released book Mingling of Souls.
Categories: Christian Post

Dark days, tenuous peace in Ukraine

Mission Network News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
Ukraine (MNN) -- One of the conditions of a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine is that Ukraine withdraws its weapons from the eastern front line. However, Ukraine's military said it couldn't because pro-Russian separatists who advanced last week were still attacking its positions. Since the "truce" went into effect last week, fighting has killed more than 5,600 people. Although the deal looks stillborn, the deals' backers hope something can be salvaged. Fearing vulnerability with pro-Russian forces already inside its borders, Ukraine doesn't want to leave the welcome mat out for a Russian advance. Although military objectives advance and towns fall, nobody's really "winning." Eric Mock, Vice President of Ministry Operations at Slavic Gospel Association, says, "It really is a conflict that has hurt both countries. The ruble has fallen dramatically against the dollar. Now, with the truce not holding as well as it should, the hryvnia is falling apart, as well." The violence keeps pushing people out. As each area falls to the rebels, it's preceded by waves of refugees. "What we're seeing is literally an influx of orphan children into orphanages. We're seeing a difficulty for people to put food on the table. In many cases, the primary problem is refugees." Churches are opening their doors, too. "Just in the northern part of Kiev, [there are] so many refugees at a church that all their Sunday school rooms were used to house families, as well as during the week in the sanctuary. Many of them were families with young children. They had no way to provide diapers for them. So, we're leaving funds to even have these children equipped with diapers." Funds come by way of the Crisis Evangelism Fund. $15 can help provide a food pack, which can contain items such as flour, cooking oil, pasta, and other staples, plus Christian literature. With the money SGA shares, churches in strategic locations are able to serve as staging venues for food distribution to the needy regions. For example, one missionary pastor is working with 45 families scattered throughout 11 villages, many of them holed up in abandoned homes. Mock says, "We help with assistance for ten tons of heating coal, ten cubic meters of wood, medication every month, and food for these families." However, "Some of this is being done actually in the conflict zone, as we can get people in there. Recently, that's slowed down because the border--the battle line--has really been closed down by the government, so it's nearly impossible to get aid into the conflict zone."

(Photo courtesy Slavic Gospel Association)

But even that is a fluid situation, says Mock. "As the army retreated to Artemivsk, churches had to change distribution for humanitarian aid. Basically, from location to location, they're trying to set up a distribution center for aid to refugees. But the conflict zone keeps expanding, and that means their distribution gets that much more difficult in those regions." Mock goes on to say there's been a steady stream of refugees into places like Zaporozhye, Kharkov, and even now with some conflict, in Mariupol, disrupting their distribution network. Since the Ukraine side is too dangerous, their partners have found another way in to help. "We're now helping Russian churches on the border who are getting aid into the conflict zone through Russian conduits--everything we can do to get Bibles, tracts, and food to people who are displaced, as well as people who are in the conflict zone."

Supplies for Ukrainian refugees. (SGA Photo)

Here's the part you don't expect. It looks like the church of Antioch in many of these areas. Distressed families and individuals hear the life-changing Gospel and experience the love of Christ--the only true hope for ultimate peace and reconciliation. Hope changes things in a big way. Mock says one pastor saw half of his congregation leave. He relocated his family to northern Kiev, leaving a deacon at the church. Fighting worsened, and the pastor couldn't get back to his home church. But what happened next was nothing short of miraculous. Mock explains, "Those looking for answers in the conflict zone have come, and his church is now back up to the full size of the congregation it was before, with new believers." Plus, "People that left the church in Western Ukraine are now active in ministry where people were praying for people to be raised up." If you would like to help SGA, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Relief for suffering children in Nigeria

Mission Network News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

Nigeria (ODM/MNN) -- The Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram is wiping out entire communities in northern Nigeria. The violence has led to a major humanitarian crisis. Due to lack of access to areas controlled by the fighters and conflicting reports from witnesses and the Nigerian government, no one knows just how many people are killed in Boko Haram attacks. The government’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) estimates that fighting has displaced 1.5 million people within the country. Among those affected most adversely are children, women, and the elderly. The effect of the violence on children has been particularly heart-breaking to Open Doors workers. One such group of children are those Open Doors workers met during a visit to a refugee camp in Yola. Local church leaders estimated that around 1,000 children were separated from their parents when Boko Haram attacked Mubi in southern Borno state and various other towns last fall. Open Doors met with16 children who had lost both parents. Open Doors researcher Isaac could hardly hold back his tears when he met with them. It was not easy to see them in those circumstances. Recently he returned to the refugee camp to see how they are doing. “The challenges facing these children are numerous,” he states. “They do not know what to do or whether their stay in the camp will continue or what will become of them once they leave the camp. Unfortunately, the government does not have a formal plan in place to help them. But beyond the immediate and longer-term concerns over food and shelter, these children also still have a long emotional journal ahead of them as they come to terms with their loss.” Open Doors will be supporting children with emergency relief such as clothing and bedding. During his recent visit, Isaac also delivered 100 children’s Bibles. Isaac says: “In a very short time, every child that received a Bible found a place to sit and page through the beautiful pictures in the Bibles and started reading some of the passages.” One child's response: “Wow, I am so happy to receive a copy of the Bible today. I had been asking my father to buy one for me when he was alive, but today I received it. I will learn how to trust in God through this Word of God. I am so happy.” Pray for the hope of Christ to impact and change these young lives. Click here for more information on helping Christians in Nigeria.
Categories: Mission Network News

Taking care of ‘holy’ cows in India

Mission Network News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

India (CAM) -- [Editor's note: This story was taken from a Christian Aid Mission Web story, sharing how a pastor is turning away wrath from Hindus and Muslims.] Adept at gently answering the hostilities of radical Hindus, threatening Muslims, and suspicious government authorities, a pastor in northern India found himself facing an inflammatory media question last December. Amid a roiling controversy about religious conversion in India, an interviewer from a Delhi television station asked the pastor and leader of an evangelistic ministry in Uttar Pradesh, Sanjay Sankar*, whether conversions should be allowed. High-level Hindu nationalists were proposing that conversions be prohibited. Working in an area where harassment from radical Hindus preempts public evangelistic events and nearly half of the residents are Muslims whose prohibition of leaving Islam sometimes leads to violence, the pastor appeared to be driven into a corner wherein anything he said would pour fuel onto the fires of controversy. He surprised the journalist by answering that he was not only against forced conversion, but “totally against any religious conversion.” He opposes religious conversion, Sankar said, because Christianity is not a “religion” -- a man-made cosmology with an accompanying set of duties. Rather, it is faith in a person. “Jesus never taught about religious conversion,” Sankar said. “He taught about conversion of the heart, and that we preach.” The interviewer pressed him, asking him if he converted people. “I cannot convert people. I teach them from the Bible what we believe, and the law in our country is that everyone is free to preach his or her religion, and everyone is free to change his religion,” he said. “But if you want to talk about that, I share what I believe, and it’s Jesus who converts them. It is Jesus who changes their heart, and if they start coming to my church, it is not my problem. It is His problem. Go and ask Him!” When the interviewer asked him what he meant by conversion of the heart, he responded that while Hinduism’s concept of dharma implies first and foremost right behaviors and duties, Christianity is first and foremost a faith, from which good works follow. “Christianity is not a duty to go to church, convert people, or do this or that,” the pastor told him. “But Christianity is first belief, and anyone can do it, even you can believe in Jesus Christ.” The pastor thus sidestepped controversy and remained true to his convictions. After the interview was broadcast that night, Hindu and Muslim friends told him of their admiration of his responses. Thus he strengthened bridges for further gospel proclamation. The pastor’s emphasis on sharing blessings, rather than erecting barriers, has led to a ministry that has trained 127 indigenous missionaries and pastors, planted 200 churches (10 among largely unreached Bhojpuri-speaking people), established a children’s home and school for 800 kids, vocational training for women, and conducted outreaches involving youth camps, literacy classes, family counseling, film and literature distribution, and hand-pumps for clean drinking water. The federal government--a coalition led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party--is also keenly interested in whether Sankar is “converting” people. “One day an officer called from the registration department, where they register the societies,” he said. “He asked how many children do you have, how many are Hindus, how many are Christians, how many have you converted? And I really laughed. I said I have not converted anyone, it is God in Jesus who converts people.” People in India, he said, don’t want to hear about Christ. They already know about Him, with many counting Him among their hundreds of gods. Rather, they want to see Him, he said. The outreaches are crucial for showing people the love of Christ in an area where large evangelistic rallies are no longer possible. In the past two years, especially, he said, Hindu radicals would throw stones or otherwise disrupt such events. Muslim hostility also has to be managed. The ministry boarding school includes a 14-year-old boy from a Muslim family who, along with his parents, had put his trust in Christ while living in their village 120 kilometers (74 miles) away. When the boy went home for the holidays, relatives noticed him reading the Bible and not attending the mosque, and before long, the local imam issued a fatwa calling for him and his parents to be killed unless he returned to Islam and the village. Sankar said it’s a matter of fervent prayer, because he must decide what to do if relatives come for the boy. The pastor called him into his office and asked him what he thought. “He said, ‘I’m ready to die, but I will not go back. Now I know I don’t want to go back to my home, even for holidays. But I’m not going to leave Jesus Christ,’” he said. “His faith is so strong. So I told him maybe one day because of you, the whole village will come to the Lord. And he said, ‘Yes, I believe that as soon as I finish my studies, I will be strong enough and bold enough that I will go there and preach the gospel in my own village.’” Sankar said he’s considering sending him to another Christian boarding school, though he’s not sure if it is possible. “He is safe with us, but it can be unsafe, as well, because suppose the mob comes from the village,” he said. “This imam will come with 20 people and say you have to come out, and then what will we do? So let’s pray for this boy. I said I will definitely not leave him like that.” At the same time, Hindu extremists have threatened some of the area pastors, he said. “One pastor said they were celebrating Christmas at their church in the village. Suddenly a group of young people came and started throwing stones and shouting and creating problems, and they had to close the whole program,” he said. “These kinds of things are going on in the villages.” Among Sankar’s top priorities now is starting a dairy farm. The 63-year-old pastor said that by the time he is 65, he would like to see the school be self-supporting so that, in the event of funding shortfalls, at least the children would be fed and all 23 teachers would be paid. At present, the school has only 11 paid staff members. A farm with 25 cows providing milk, as well as dung used for cooking fuel and fertilizer, and urine used in medicines and incense, would make that dream a reality. He has five cows, but for 25 head of cattle he needs 13 acres of land at a cost of about $50,000. Another 20 cows would cost about $500 each. If you'd like to help, click here. “But why a dairy farm?” he said. “The main reason is that these Hindu people can go against a school, church, or another ministry, but they cannot go against a dairy farm. Because we are taking care of ‘holy’ cows, it will be a sin on their part. So the dairy farm will always act as a guard for our ministry.” * (name changed for security reasons)
Categories: Mission Network News

Haiyan recovery spurs spiritual growth

Mission Network News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am

"Many are suffering, and this will last for months and even years without God's help and healing grace. So we pray that God will bring healing through the prayer relief team that we will deploy to the different places in our country where we have our network of churches."
(Image, caption courtesy World Mission)

Philippines (MNN) -- Typhoon Haiyan seems to have changed the face of any and all Filipino islands that stood in its way. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, 16 million people were affected by the super storm; the destruction of over a million homes resulted in 4.1 million people being displaced and at least 6,000 people perished. See before and after pictures of the disaster zones here. More than a year later, people are still trying to pick up the pieces and start over again. Devastation remains widespread, and recovering from Haiyan's wrath will be a long and arduous process. With tragedy still fresh on survivors' minds, hope and joy seem highly unlikely, even impossible. And yet: God. "There's revival going on in the Philippines," reports World Mission Executive Director, Greg Kelley. Haiyan recovery and World Mission For the past year, World Mission teams have been helping Filipino churches and individual believers rebuild their lives and livelihoods. For World Mission, Haiyan recovery isn't just limited to physical needs. Their audio Scripture device, called The Treasure, has been given to survivors on each trip to the Philippines. It's giving Haiyan survivors perspective. "It's not only what The Treasure has done--it's softened, it's prepared the hearts of people," says Kelley, "but the people are also realizing that there's more to this world than their stuff."

Listening to The Treasure is an everyday occurrence, as seen here in the Philippines.
(Photo, caption courtesy of World Mission)

As a result, people are trusting in Jesus instead of themselves. A short-term mission team of six recently visited the Philippines with World Mission, and they saw approximately 2,000 people surrender their lives to Christ during their visit. "We're actually seeing new churches planted as a result of The Treasure distributions," Kelley adds. It all starts with one: a single Treasure introduces 144 people to the Gospel. As those individuals share the Good News with their neighbors, the impact grows exponentially. What does it take to start the process? Kelly says it costs World Mission $40 to load and ship one Treasure. "That single Treasure facilitates and spawns new listening groups every single month, where people are gathering together just listening purely to the Word of God," says Kelley. Get involved here.
Categories: Mission Network News

of Beauty and Rage by RED

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
The concept for of Beauty and Rage is the dichotomy of good and evil and finding beauty out of things that people suffer within their own lives. RED has always tried to challenge listeners to be real with themselves and confront their struggles head on. Even in the darkest parts of our lives there is room for hope; it's up to each individual to fill those parts so that he/she can continue to push forward in dark times and be thankful in brighter days.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Just Kids by Mat Kearney

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
Mat says "One morning last spring I jumped out of bed at 5 AM feeling surprisingly rested and inspired. Usually I end up going to bed fairly late, high on the adrenaline that follows a show or working on a new song, but that morning I had the feeling a song was waiting for me and headed to my home studio. I programmed a simple beat and wrote a few chords on the black keys of my piano. All of the lyrics for the song "Just Kids" came as quickly as I could write them down. I instantly knew[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Faith & Family by Jon Micah Sumrall

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
Jon Micah Sumrall is the lead singer of the gold-selling Christian rock band Kutless. For the past 16 years, Jon Micah has toured all around the world with Kutless, having released the radio smash hits "What Faith Can Do," "Strong Tower," "Sea of Faces," "Carry Me to the Cross," along with many others. Jon Micah will be releasing his first solo record Faith Family on Feburary 24th, 2015. The album features both worship songs and love songs, written with his marriage in mind. Fans of Kutless's Christ-centered worship songs will particularly enjoy Faith Family.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

From Heaven's Point of View - The Single by The Lighthouse Boys

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
The Lighthouse Boys came out of 2014 celebrating their 40th year. They are known to their fans for their own brand of Southern Gospel Music, placing their own signature on Southern Gospel classics as well as their own original songs. Now in 2015, From Heaven's Point of View is The first new single released by The Lighthouse Boys in over a decade. They once again blend their signature sound with a Southern Gospel classic. [...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Outsiders by 21:03

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Renegades Never Die by Skrip

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News