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Avoiding Obstacles to Effective Prayer

Christian Post - Living - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 7:28am
Some of King David's prayers are recorded in the Psalms. There we read how he praised the Lord, confessed sin, and cried out about his troubles. He also asked God to hear his prayers and not be silent.
Categories: Christian Post

Movement in Asia Bibi’s case in Pakistan

Mission Network News - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

Pakistan (MNN) -- There's FINALLY been movement in Asia Bibi's case in Pakistan Bruce Allen with Forgotten Missionaries International confirms, "The Supreme Court of Pakistan stayed the execution of Asia Bibi. She was a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy on fairly trumped charges stemming from a labor dispute years ago. She has been in jail since2009 and on death row since 2010." The court also granted the Christian woman leave to appeal. Allen explains, "The lower courts had upheld her death penalty, but the Supreme Court said, 'We are going to stay that execution.' So that is good news, in and of itself." Asia Bibi's case started in 2009 when she said these words to a group of women she was arguing with: “Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins....Our Christ is alive.” She was accused, tried, and convicted of insulting the prophet Muhammad. After a lengthy trial, on Nov. 8, 2010, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by a judge. Since then, she's been in and out of courts with appeals. In October 2014, the high court in Lahore (where the incident took place) upheld Bibi’s death sentence. The decision on July 22 reverses a lower court ruling from last October and breathed new hope into her case. Could there be a full acquittal on blasphemy charges? On that point, Allen pauses. "She could be acquitted. It's too early to say, and there's more that will be forthcoming from the Supreme Court on this. This was just the first part of the hearing." Good news to celebrate, Allen agrees. However, "There still is a hard road ahead for her--she's still in prison. And even if the wheels of justice move in her favor and she is released, we have to remember that local Muslim clerics have put a price on her head." The American Center for Law & Justice notes he's offering a half million rupee bounty for anyone who kills Asia.

(Photo courtesy CallforMercy.com)

International pressure has been mounting, not only calling for Asia's release, but also for reform on the blasphemy laws. Reform has been a hot-button topic in Pakistan. The last two politicians who called for change were assassinated in 2011. For that reason, says Allen, "The situation is at a knife's edge in Pakistan regarding this case and other cases like it. They may say, 'No, we'll keep her in prison. We won't execute her, but we're not going to take further action on the case,' or something like that." In fact, the code was implemented nearly three decades ago to appease religious parties. Today, the laws are seen as being regularly misused to settle personal scores. Since 1984, nearly a thousand people have been convicted of blasphemy and thousands more accused of blasphemy. Despite the threat, more than 150,000 Christians in Pakistan have signed a petition demanding justice for persecution victims, including Asia Bibi. Will it be enough? The pressure counts for a lot. Allen says, "There were some objections raised. That could be taken up in the next hearing of the case. We're just glad that there was some movement on the case because it has been a long time since any action was taken legally on her behalf."

At the Supreme Court Hearing, Lahore, Pakistan (Photo courtesy FMI. Asia's husband, Ashiq Masih, seated on right)

What now? Asia Bibi isn't out of the woods yet. Long imprisonment has taken its toll. "Prayer is still needed. Pray for her health that God would be touching her body and restoring her and refreshing her." Pray for wisdom and safety for her legal counsel, adds Allen. "People who speak out in her defense, or who speak out on the blasphemy laws, are targets for violence. So we can be praying for Asia's lawyer, for his protection because he's taken on a high-profile case that is very divisive in that country." For her husband and children, Allen asks you to remember their needs, too. In spite of the upward trend in harassment, discrimination, and worse, the Pakistani Church is still growing. Growth means the hope of Christ is still getting out through the ministry of nearly 30 national pastors and evangelists who are partnering with FMI. They also provide tangible support, such as bicycles for pastors’ transportation, materials for church site construction, and helps maintain a network of safe houses for persecuted believers. For details, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Making a difference, one conversation at a time

Mission Network News - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 5:00am

(Image courtesy MNN)

USA (MNN) -- Making a difference through action, like donating to your favorite cause or distributing Bibles, is fairly easy. But when it comes to sharing your faith out loud, do you ever get tongue-tied? "I was pretty nervous to do that," admits student worker Reagan Hoezee. "I haven't done anything like [sharing] the Gospel, I guess, with anyone." Hoezee, a journalism major at Cornerstone University, began writing for MNN this Spring. Right now, he's putting his faith into action, and making a difference at the same time, on a short-term mission trip to Philadelphia's inner city. As the team meets people at their point of need, they get a chance to talk about life's deeper issues. While playing games with inner city kids, or helping out at a local soup kitchen, Hoezee and his fellow missionaries form relationships with the people they meet. Somewhere along the line, conversations with people like "Raul" often turn spiritual. "He sells drugs on the street just to survive, and that's his only income," explains Hoezee. Raul claims to be a Christ-follower but spends most of his days on the streets, using and abusing drugs. Though he's been sober for a few days, Raul admits that once he has money again, he'll be back in the same downward cycle. "We just...talked to him about how through Jesus, you can find complete freedom from that addiction, that no addiction or problem is beyond God's control," says Hoezee. "It wasn't like we saw any kind of big commitment or life change right before our eyes, but...I felt like we planted some seeds." Please pray that Raul and others like him will accept Christ as not just Savior but Lord of their lives. Keep Hoezee and his fellow missionaries in your prayers, too. The team is made up of a youth group and its leaders from Jamestown Baptist Church in Hudsonville, MI. On this trip, they're serving alongside Vision for Youth.

(Photo credit InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)

Hoezee is one of the team's older members, but all of them can still be categorized in the wider "Millennials" category. And, according to Barna Research Group, this short-term mission trip is one example of why Millennials are "the most evangelistic generation." "While the evangelistic practices of all other generations have either declined or remained static in the past few years, Millennials are the only generation among whom evangelism is significantly on the rise," reads a 2013 study of evangelism from Barna. "Their faith-sharing practices have escalated from 56% in 2010 to 65% in 2013." Passionate about truly making a difference, Millennials are committed to righting injustice and sharing the Truth of Scripture with those in need. Pray that the Lord will use these young people to accomplish His will and purposes in Philadelphia's inner city.
Categories: Mission Network News

‘Bring These 400 Home’ Campaign costs a cup of coffee

Mission Network News - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 5:00am
International (Bethany) -- Imagine if all you had to do to help special needs orphans was give up a cup of coffee. That’s exactly what Bethany Christian Services is asking you to do with their new "Bring These 400 Home" campaign. The Premise Bethany has identified 400 special needs orphans from around the world who need families to take them in. They’ve also managed to find Christian families across the United States who are willing to adopt them! The problem? International adoption is expensive, especially when the children will require ongoing medical care.

(Photo Courtesy Bethany Christian Services)

These families and children are ready to be paired, but they can’t afford to take the next step. That’s where your morning coffee comes in. A Cup of Coffee It starts with you. Give up $3.33 a day--the price of a cup of coffee--for 3 months and start your own campaign page. The personalized campaign page will include a video of you asking your friends to join the campaign, and the flood will spread. Your friends can choose the Coffee option--$3.33 a day, or the Tea option--$1.67 a day, and join campaign. All that’s required is $3.33 a day for 3 months from 33 of your friends. By the end of those 3 months you will have raised $10,000 dollars! The money will go to adoption fees, medical needs, traveling costs, and more.

Personalized Campaign Page
(Photo Courtesy Bethany Christian Services)

And it doesn’t end there. During and after your campaign, you and your friends will receive information about where your money has made an impact. You’ll receive updates on how many children have been matched with families because of your money, and you’ll also hear stories and see photos of children who now have families. Throughout the campaign you’ll see updates on children waiting for your funds. Bethany Christian Services is asking you to help these families. Each special-needs child has already been matched with a family; all that’s required is the funds to put them together. You can start your own Bring These 400 Home campaign right here.
Categories: Mission Network News

The aftermath of ISIS

Mission Network News - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 5:00am
Iraq (MNN) -- Picture this. You’re living in a city that has been your hometown for generations. You hear about a new threat, a group of religious extremists attacking your city. Considering there are 52,000 governmental security forces protecting you from the 3,000 terrorists, there’s not that much to fear. You go to bed at midnight with news that the security forces are winning. Someone shakes you awake at four in the morning: the 52,000 surrendered to the 3,000. The city is lost.

(Photo courtesy VBB)

That’s what happened in Mosul, Iraq, and the surrounding villages last year in June. ISIS beat a force over 17 times their size then stormed from house to house. Vision Beyond Borders President Patrick Klein elaborates: at each house, he says ISIS “told the people to convert to Islam or die or leave. Many of them left.” How many? Enough to cause a serious problem in Dohuk, “which is about an hour north of Mosul. "We’re seeing more and more flooding of refugees,” Klein says, “and the government in Dohuk said, 'We can’t handle all this influx of refugees.' Camps can have as many as 70,000 refugees, and they’re desperate for care. “They can’t afford to buy anything because when they left Mosul and the surrounding villages, they left with just the clothes on their backs," says Klein. "They had no time to go to the banks and get any money out.” One man even lamented to partners that ”he had $60,000 saved. It was his life’s savings, and ISIS took all of his money.” ISIS isn’t done traumatizing the people of Mosul. Young girls and women are being taken as prizes by ISIS members who use and abuse them before “sending them back to their families [so] that they’re terrorized to increase the fear in families,” says Klein. One man’s 70-year-old mother was beaten and abused until the militants decided, “’We don’t want her, we don’t want to feed her anymore, we don’t want to be responsible for her. Let’s let her go back to her family.’” The most fervent prayer for many refugees is that “we might just see ISIS get routed and then people can go back and live in their homes again,” says Klein. But even then, they are still fearful. “A lot of them said they were afraid because they thought there were land mines actually put in their houses.” So what can we do to help? Vision Beyond Borders is taking a giant first step. Klein says, “We’re doing containers to Northern Iraq to help our Christian brothers and sisters and also to reach out to Yazidi people in Iraq that have been affected by ISIS.” This first container will include “school supplies, medical supplies, and also hygiene supplies," says Klein, "just to say, ‘We’re with you in this.’”

Photo Courtesy Vision Beyond Borders

And that’s not the end of it. Vision Beyond Borders has been ”raising funds to buy Bibles to help them to replace the Bibles that have been lost.” But for such a big problem, there needs to be a long-term plan in place. “What we thought we’d do is start small," explains Klein. "We thought, ‘Let’s send a container. Let’s get Bibles for them. Let’s start small and then let’s see where God takes it.’” That doesn’t mean this first container will also be the last. “I think what we want to do is continuously send containers and supplies for them.” As the people struggle for money, Klein introduces yet another long-term plan. He says they want “to set up micro-finance loans, to help ]refugees] get settled in Northern Iraq.” So how can you help? It turns out you are vital to the cause. You’ve also got options. Klein says they can get full Arabic Bibles from Northern Iraq for “$4 a piece.” In addition, Vision Beyond Borders is still accepting “school supplies, hygiene materials, and basic medical supplies” for the container. Klein closes by reminding us that God can use the warpath of ISIS to His glory. “I feel like there’s an opportunity for Christians and Americans around the world to say, ‘We’re standing with you. We love you. We care about you.’”
Categories: Mission Network News

Draft constitution weighed in light of public opinion

Mission Network News - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 5:00am

(Graphic courtesy GFA)

Nepal (GFA/MNN) -- Nepal's earthquake survivors are still trying to recover from April's devastating earthquake, and another big change is on its way. According to Gospel for Asia (GFA), Nepal's government is getting a report today that tells the public's view of a draft constitution. A majority of the country's 30 million citizens took part in the conversation; some 200,000 copies of the draft constitution were made available for public review. An interim constitution has governed Nepal since the country’s monarchy was dispelled in 2007, and plans to establish a finalized ruling document have come and gone multiple times. Many people hope the current draft constitution is a sign that Nepal is finally moving toward democracy. The Constituent Assembly (CA) hopes to ratify the constitution by mid-August. Believers fear their freedom to share Christ will be severely restricted if the draft constitution isn't changed. A controversial anti-conversion law could cause problems for Christians and other religious minorities, if it's included in the final copy. Open Doors USA reports if anyone is found guilty for breaking this law, they could be thrown in prison for a maximum of five years and be fined up to 50,000 Nepalese rupees.

(Photo courtesy Gospel for Asia)

Please pray that governing authorities will be guided by wisdom as they work to finalize Nepal's constitution. Pray that God's people will be granted the freedom to worship Him in safety. Violence erupted between police and protesters in southern Nepal when government officials held a public meeting to gain citizen input to the constitution, according to news reports from the region. The protesters threw chairs at the deputy prime minister. This isolated country wedged between India and China historically has been a Hindu nation, and most protesters are demanding a return to that status. Nepalese monarchs advocated Hinduism, and the people believed their monarchs were the reincarnation of Vishnu, a Hindu god. A secular republic led by Maoists abolished the traditional monarchies in 2008 and welcomed the humanitarian aid of Christian organizations. Only about 2% of Nepalese are Christians. Gospel for Asia has a long-standing history of support in Nepal for Believers Church, a network of 450 churches and 20 Bridge of Hope Centers that serve downtrodden children.

(Photo courtesy Gospel for Asia)

During the earthquakes in April and May, Gospel for Asia responded quickly with Believers Church workers already on the ground. Their response grew to include Compassion Services teams that delivered basic supplies and other goods and built shelters in remote mountain areas. Along with praying for the spiritual freedom of Nepal's residents, you can help them regain physical stability through GFA. Click here to send help and hope through GFA's Earthquake Relief Fund.
Categories: Mission Network News

Forgotten war continues, Ukraine uneasy

Mission Network News - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 5:00am

Mission Eurasia is assisting some of the 50,000 refugees in Zaporozhe, Ukraine.

Ukraine (MNN) -- It's being called Ukraine's Forgotten War. Since February's Russia/Ukraine ceasefire, the frontlines have been largely quiet, despite the sporadic skirmishes inside the war zone. Those skirmishes continue to see victims injured and killed. The Moscow Times reports daily casualties there. As recently as Saturday, shells hit central Donetsk for the first time since the truce was signed. One civilian was killed. That violence also means more refugees, or internally displaced people (IDP). Reports indicate there are more than one million IDPs, many of whom are dispersed throughout the country, including cities like Zaporozhe--a large city just 200 kilometers outside of the war zone. Paul Tokarchuk with Mission Eurasia tells us from Zaporozhe, Ukraine, "Zaporozhe is the closest city to the war zone, and there are up to 50,000 internally displaced people in the city of Zaporozhe [alone]." Despite the current ceasefire, he says, "Little by little [Ukraine is] recruiting new soldiers. It looks like up to 45 or 50 [years old]." Tokarchuk says the recruiting isn't being well received. "People are just trying to avoid it. They are really afraid to send out men to the war zone because it's obvious thousands have already died."

Mission Eurasia's 'I Care' Program is providing food, shelter, and Jesus to displaced people in Ukraine.

How are the evangelical Christians responding? Tokarchuk says, "The evangelical Protestant churches are very active, doing ministry, helping refugees to feed and get some clothes for new refugees who came. So, the church is doing very well. Many are coming to Christ. The church is growing." As a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine that began in late 2013, Mission Eurasia established the "I Care" Refugee Assistance Program to care for more than one million refugees who have been displaced by the crisis. Through "I Care," Mission Eurasia provides urgently-needed relief aid in the form of food packs, warm clothing, and other essential items. In partnership with local churches in Ukraine, Mission Eurasia has established the Homes for the Homeless project that quickly builds warm, pre-fab houses for homeless families, and provides jobs for local refugees. Also, through "I Care," Mission Eurasia is providing counseling materials and training seminars for local pastors working with the refugee population. Tokarchuk says, "As a [Mission Eurasia] leader, I need to be part of the reconciliation process. I need to be part of God's Words of Hope proclamation. That is my credo, and I'm doing that at every place, especially [here in Ukraine]." Support Mission Eurasia's "I Care" program by clicking here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Planned Parenthood scandal back in the headlines

Mission Network News - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 5:00am

Child at Planned Parenthood rally in NYC.
(Photo credit: Timothy Krause)

USA (MNN) -- The Planned Parenthood scandal is topping headlines again. A monsoon of controversy surrounding the nation's largest abortion provider began last week, and it's not subsiding anytime soon. The Center for Medical Progress's second undercover video spotlights yet another Planned Parenthood senior official. Full footage can be found here. According to CMP, the official "haggles over baby parts prices" and admits to changing abortion techniques to preserve fetal organs. As outlined in this article, U.S. law forbids doctors from changing abortion techniques for any purpose, including research. The Planned Parenthood scandal in brief The Planned Parenthood scandal is dividing activists, advocates, and U.S. presidential candidates among clear-cut, pro-life/pro-choice lines. The Players

(Logo obtained at CenterForMedicalProgress.org)

As described on its Web site, The Center for Medical Progress "is a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances." Its chief project, "Human Capital," is led by 26-year-old David Daleiden.   Daleiden is criticized by many for his active involvement in the U.S. pro-life movement.


Describing itself as a "healthcare provider," Planned Parenthood is also known as the largest abortion provider in the U.S. A significant portion of Planned Parenthood's services, including abortion, are underwritten by U.S. taxpayers. The group's 2013-2014 annual report reveals more than 40% of its funding came from "Government Health Services Grants & Reimbursements." The Game


CMP's "Human Capital" project aims to unveil illegal Planned Parenthood abortion and fetal tissue procedures. While shorter versions of this investigative footage are criticized and critiqued by pro-choice media, CMP makes both versions of its footage clearly available on its "Investigative Footage" page. The full versions are lengthy but give further context to statements contained in CMP's summary videos. For example, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Research, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, is on video describing how she has used partial-birth abortion to preserve the organs of babies for research. Partial-birth abortion has been illegal since 2007. Planned Parenthood execs consistently dodge this bullet by focusing media attention on the legality of fetal organ "donations." This video by President Cecile Richards is one such example. Officials refused multiple requests by Fox News to discuss this aspect of the debate. What's at stake

20 weeks from conception. (Image courtesy Life Issues Institute)

The Planned Parenthood scandal raises questions about the sanctity of human life. When does life begin, and is every life precious? One former Planned Parenthood clinic director found new answers to those questions during an ultrasound. “I was shocked at what I saw,” Abby Johnson told the Washington Times. “I had been told by Planned Parenthood that the unborn had no sensory development until 28 weeks gestation. So to see a 13-week fetus trying to actively move away from the abortion instrument during that procedure was very shocking. “It really caused me to [ask], ‘What else have I been misled about through this organization?’” As the debate over unborn lives continues, your prayers are needed.
  • Pray that discussions about the Planned Parenthood scandal will lead to conversations about Jesus Christ, the One who died to save EVERY life for eternity.
  • Ask your small group to keep this issue a focus of regular prayer.
  • Pray that God's Truth about life is revealed to all involved parties.
  • Pray for expectant moms who are considering abortion.
  • Ask the Lord to protect pro-life ministries who take a biblical stand on sanctity of life issues.
Categories: Mission Network News

Thinking around the cube for inner city ministry

Mission Network News - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 5:00am

(Image courtesy MNN)

USA (MNN) -- Mission Network News hires a couple of college student writers every year. As we interview candidates, we look for young people who have a passion for the Gospel, are good writers, teachable, and interested in the world of missions. One of our writers this year is Reagan Hoezee, a journalism major at Cornerstone University.   He's also active in mentoring younger students in the youth group at Jamestown Baptist Church in Hudsonville, Michigan, his home church. This week, the group is working with Vision For Youth in inner city Philadelphia. They join three other high school youth groups from (New York and Pennsylvania) in a kind of Summer Camp program for some of the disadvantaged children living in the inner city. "A lot of these kids have had way more difficult lives than we could ever imagine," Hoezee explains. "They [Vision For Youth] wanted us to build relationships with them, but we do want to focus a little bit on evangelism." Someone taking the time to pay attention, play, and offer a safe environment is noticed by the kids, and the teams are kid magnets. Team members play games and invest some time in getting to know the kids. Then comes the storytelling, using E3 Partners' EvangeCube. "It's an easy way to break the ice with kids. If you pull one of those out, kids will come over and ask, 'What is that?' It gives us a chance to say, 'This is the EvangeCube. It tells the story of Jesus.'"

(Image courtesy E3 Resources)

The EvangeCube is made up of eight blocks connected at strategic points. Using a series of 6 moves, 7 panels are revealed which illustrate God's plan for salvation through Jesus' death and resurrection. Quite literally, the EvangeCube unfolds the gospel of Jesus Christ ... the answer to life's greatest puzzle. There is often a disconnect between the presentation of the Gospel and the verbal invitation to accept Christ. The EvangeCube presents the salvation plan in a concrete way. Reagan adds, "A lot of kids have a basic idea of Christianity. 'Oh that's heaven. That's hell.' It gives us a good chance to share the gospel with them and answer any questions they might have and keep their interest." Even for those who consider themselves novices in sharing the story of Christ, the EvangeCube bridges those gaps and can help build confidence. From there, says Hoezee, they can "focus on spending time with kids and encouraging kids in any way we can, talking to these kids about any problems they might have, sharing the Gospel with them, giving them that hope and showing them that love that they may have never received before." Please be praying for the ministry teams this week. Seeing some of the need and hearing some of the challenges the kids face can be overwhelming. "Pray that we would have wisdom in how to best meet these children's needs, because a week-long trip...can't change an entire neighborhood, but we can make a difference." Pray that the seeds planted will grow--that those who decide to follow Christ will be connected with other local believers who can help their faith grow deep.  
Categories: Mission Network News

Global Advance plans quarter-century celebration

Mission Network News - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Global Advance)

International (MNN) -- Celebration, commitment, and collaboration: three words Global Advance is using to describe 2015. For a quarter-century, Global Advance has committed to raising up indigenous leaders with a heart for the Great Commission in both the church and marketplace. "We're continuing to learn and continuing to just be in awe of what God's doing around the world," says Jonathan Shibley with Global Advance. "Globalization has really 'come on the scene' and just created great opportunity for missions." Shibley says they're gathering some of those leaders this fall in Dallas, Texas, to celebrate 25 years of ministry and collaborate for 25 more. They'll be looking for "ways that we can make pivots and improvements on how we bring leadership into the nations, and the needs and aspects from the different regions of the world," he shares. "[Leaders are] going to have a lot of opportunity to speak into that process." Global Advance: then and now

(Photo courtesy Global Advance)

Since its founding, Global Advance has helped train and encourage over a half-million pastors in 94 nations. While these "frontline shepherds" were the ministry's initial focus, Shibley says the Lord has recently directed their attention to additional needs. "[A few years ago] God sovereignly brought us the ministry of Alpha Relief, which was totally dedicated to serving persecuted Christians in some of the hardest areas of the world," says Shibley. "We've joined forces to try to bring rescue, aid, and support to families and leaders that are truly on the frontlines and are under, at times, great distress." Global Advance has two more ventures in addition to Alpha Relief and their Frontline Shepherds conferences for pastors: Marketplace Missions and the Esther Project. Global Advance Marketplace Missions initiatives are a conduit for U.S. business leaders to invest their skills, knowledge, and experience into the lives of emerging marketplace leaders. Training Christian business men and women in developing nations increases economic and spiritual capital throughout the world. Through conferences, church meetings, workshops, and small group gatherings, Esther Project teams of dedicated and godly believers teach women of all ages in leadership, business, ministry, and home life. Vision, strategy, and resources are instilled, empowering women to effectively impact their generation through their wisdom, influence, and prayer.

These leaders in North India are listening to a message on discipling new leaders.
(Photo, caption courtesy Global Advance via Facebook)

"Next Gen" projects are on the horizon, Shibley says. "We want to continue [bringing] in a Next Generation focus," he explains. "There's a lot of younger people that need spiritual fathers that can speak into their life and provide encouragement and leadership and direction from a biblical standpoint." No matter what changes come along, one constant remains. "Pastors still are very discouraged, in developing countries, and they need a lot of training and support and vision to carry out the task of fulfilling the Great Commission," says Shibley. Will you keep them in your prayers? Pray that the Lord will keep opening doors of opportunity for Global Advance. Contact Global Advance here for more on how YOU can help.
Categories: Mission Network News