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A Part of Everything

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 7:46am
When Jesus laid out for His disciples what it really meant to follow Him, many of His so-called disciples left. Then Jesus turned to Peter and the others and said, "Are you also going to leave?" (John 6:67).
Categories: Christian Post

​'In Vain They Worship Me'-How Can We Avoid Vain Worship?

Christian Post - Pastors - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 7:05am
Sadly, many confuse false worship with genuine worship. According to numerous theological resources, false worship is when an entity, person, or object is worshiped instead of God—our passion for "something" outweighs our passion for Him; it draws us away.
Categories: Christian Post

Ken Ham Says America's 20-Somethings Are Leading Country Into Downward Spiral, Blames Belief in Evolution

Christian Post - Bible - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 7:00am
Answers in Genesis CEO and President Ken Ham has said America is heading into a downward spiral, after taking a look at recent surveys pointing out the beliefs of the 20-somethings age group. The creationist blamed the belief in evolution for undermining the Bible.
Categories: Christian Post

UN cuts to IDP food rations arriving soon

Mission Network News - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Partners Relief and Development)

Myanmar (MNN) -- Southeast Asia is battling an ISIS insurgency. In Myanmar, militants are reportedly wooing Muslim ethnic minorities like the Rohingya. “They’re reaching out to families, not just fighters, and they’re offering them a new narrative on what’s happening in the world," Steve Gumaer of Partners Relief and Development told MNN last month. In a few days, the Islamic State's siren song might sound even better to displaced and at-risk families. According to The Diplomat, UN cuts to its food assistance program in Myanmar are expected to begin in August. Rice will be cut by 10%, while other basic food items such as flour and oil will be reduced by 20%. These reductions are part of wider UN cuts to food aid programs worldwide. In the first half of 2015, less than a quarter of their global projects have been funded, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator reports. It's the lowest mid-year percentage in the UN's 70-year history. "Reduction of food rations will take place for all IDPs [internally displaced persons] in Kachin, northern Shan, and Rakhine states," an e-mail from the UN's World Food Program (WFP) to The Diplomat reads in part. Thankfully, Partners has been operating Emergency Relief programs in these same areas for the past few years. So far, they've been able to distribute nearly 50,000 emergency relief supplies to people in need.

Partners gave these Rohingya refugees their only shelter from the elements: green tarpaulins.
(Photo credit Partners)

Their help includes immediate essentials like rice, vegetables, clothing, and shelter, but Partners is also investing in long-term solutions. Because the crises are ongoing, ministry workers are helping IDPs start small but sustainable farming projects. Learn more about their work here. As they journey with Myanmar's vulnerable IDPs, Partners workers are sharing the hope and love of Christ in word AND deed. "We’re inspired by our faith to do more than just talk about God’s love. We demonstrate it through practical response: caring for the whole person by working to improve their spiritual, physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being," a portion of Partners' Web site reads. The UN may be turning its back on Myanmar's vulnerable populations, but Partners is committed to walking with them daily. They'll need your help, though, as the needs of IDPs build. Click here to learn how you can get involved and help Partners make an eternal difference in the lives of Myanmar's forgotten people.
Categories: Mission Network News

ISIS is losing members

Mission Network News - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 5:00am
Middle East (MNN) -- While ISIS continues to recruit new members around the world, some members are actually leaving the group. Perhaps the Islamic State is not all it's cracked up to be? Tom Doyle, Vice President and Middle East expert with E3 Partners, just returned from the Middle East. He tells MNN what he's been hearing about ISIS member trickling out the back door. "There are some who are displeased. For them, it's about identity. They got involved, it's not exactly what they thought it would be. We have leaders who are talking to former ISIS people who have left. They are very careful about their background. But, they're searching for meaning." The news this week seems to support this. According to reports, "Jihadi John" has left the terrorist group. He's the English-speaking member seen in photos and videos of torture and beheadings. It's not clear if he left because he's fearful of attacks from the West, or if he has given up terrorism. Doyle says ISIS has actually been good for outreach to the Muslim world. "We are seeing that it is also repelling people from the religion of Islam because the majority of the Muslims in that region didn't really grow up with this aggressive kind of Islam. Many people are giving some serious push-back."

Tom Doyle is E3 Partner's Vice President and Middle East expert.

Doyle also says some have left ISIS because of bombings: "[In] some areas they've hit some leaders. and I think it's brought some discouragement to ISIS. [Some have left]...and as far as we know, Jihad John has left." The number of women traveling to the region to find husbands is also declining. "They get there and find out they're a sex slave, or they end up dead. Some of them are leaving. They're seeing what it really is. It's about hatred, control, and domination. It's really controlled by Satan himself." Today there are millions of people from Muslim backgrounds who are displaced and have become refugees. E3 Partners is partnering with churches to provide help and hope. "People are damaged emotionally," says Doyle. "The church is there to rescue people because of the compassion that Jesus has for them. The church is there for them." One man told Doyle, "The only people that treat us nice are the Christians. People in my own religion don't treat us nice." Doyle adds, "We know...that if we love them and we reach out in Jesus' name with no strings attached, they're open to the Gospel." Follow E3's prayer requests on Facebook, or donate here to support E3's work in the Middle East.
Categories: Mission Network News

Orphan Outreach hires new executive director

Mission Network News - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 5:00am

New Orphan Outreach executive director Rey Diaz and his family
(Photo courtesy of Orphan Outreach)

USA (MNN) -- [EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an article posted directly from Orphan Outreach. Click here to learn more about this organization's work.] The first thing you notice about Rey Diaz is his ever-present smile. No matter where the journey takes him, from impoverished communities in Kenya where family preservation and education is the priority, to orphanages in Central America where Orphan Outreach ministry teams are ensuring vulnerable children are given hope through safe, secure, Christ-centered care, Rey's smile offers comfort and encouragement to everyone he meets. And when you sit down to talk, it’s clear why the smile exists. For seventeen years, Rey has been working to meet the holistic needs of children trapped in poverty. He’s seen what happens when the Church is mobilized to respond to the needs of orphans around the world. And as the new Executive Director of Orphan Outreach, Rey brings both expertise and passion to the leadership of church partnerships and program development. “Rey is going to be a great addition to our team. Orphan Outreach has continued to grow during our eight years of ministry, and Rey will assist me with the increased administration demands of the ministry," says Michael Douris, President of Orphan Outreach. "He will also be a great asset to assist in working with our church partners coming from the pastorate of a great church in Seattle.” Rey recounts his first conversations with Orphan Outreach President Mike Douris. “Every once in a while you connect with like-minded people whose hearts burn for the same passions, who step into ministry with the same strategy, and those moments burn bright.” From ministry programs to countries served, he felt God was hand-crafting a place for his family to fully invest their time and resources. "As my wife and I have looked back over the course of our lives, it has become increasingly clear that God has been preparing us for this great work at Orphan Outreach. God has been orchestrating for such a time as this." Rey studied at Fuller Theological Seminary, earning his Doctorate in Intercultural Studies with a focus on Missiology and Children at Risk. He then moved to Honduras where he worked with nationals on a project to serve the needs of children from a local garbage dump. Rey then returned to the United States to serve as the Lead Pastor of Washington Cathedral in Redmond, Washington, where he encouraged his congregation to serve both domestically and internationally. Rey enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. The smile appears again when he talks about his hobbies. “I love to read, and I love playing sports--when I’m not injured from playing sports.” As he begins his journey with Orphan Outreach, Rey gives thanks for what he knows is an answer to his heart’s prayer: “To be joining a team of passionate followers of Jesus, dedicated to serving the least of these is a dream come true."
Categories: Mission Network News

Academy in Swaziland raises spiritual leaders

Mission Network News - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy of Children's HopeChest)

Swaziland (MNN) -- Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. Children’s HopeChest is one organization that understands the truth of that concept. Through the Swaziland Leadership Academy, which provides educational training and spiritual discipleship, young people are being equipped to effectively lead their fellow citizens. “The Swaziland Leadership Academy was designed as a 3-year program to provide hands-on leadership training and in-depth, intensive spiritual leadership development,” says Laura Fisher with Children’s HopeChest. “It’s one year essentially of training and intensive development, and then it’s two years of service back at the individual’s CarePoints where they grew up. “It’s made such an incredible difference. Greater stability is there. There’s a vision for the future, and there truly is hope for sufficiency and dignity as God intended.” The Leadership Academy, now in its fourth year of classes, was started because of what its CarePoints couldn’t provide. Children receive an education at the CarePoints, but it’s not enough to make them fully independent. “Scott Borg, who works with our partner in Swaziland, which is Adventures in Missions, really conceived the idea,” says Fisher. “And then it’s been fully led by Swazi leaders now that have been trained and are on board and are running the program on the ground. “The Swazi Leadership Academy has been so successful. We really believe we have an opportunity there to transform the entire nation in a grassroots movement sort of way, equipping young people to truly be leaders and to step up and take responsibility and have that vision for futures of not just themselves, but their community and nation as a whole.” Children’s HopeChest has a new, similar program in Uganda. It’s not identical to the one in Swaziland--each program must be tailor-fit to the country’s cultural needs, but it possesses the same goal.

(Photo courtesy of Children's HopeChest)

“In Uganda, we piloted a program last year,” Fisher says. “We were looking at training young people in a variety of ways through vocational training, through formal leadership training, and then even training adult community leaders and helping them to have the skills and tools they need to have a sustainable, self-sufficient community as a whole.” In poverty-stricken countries such as Swaziland and Uganda, it may seem difficult to spark any kind of hope, let alone inspire serving others. But that’s not what Children’s HopeChest is seeing. There’s a young man by the name of Thokozani, and some time ago he was an orphan growing up in the region of Mkhombokati,” Fisher says. “But he had felt the call to serve, and he really had begun to believe that God had put something in him [and] that he will rise up in leadership of his own people. “And now, today, he not only has successfully graduated through the leadership academy, he’s serving in a sports ministry. They are bringing in just incredible stories of transformation and bringing people to Christ.” Children's HopeChest has the resources for raising new disciples, but it can't do it alone. Can you help them equip future leaders in Swaziland? Click here to give financially.
Categories: Mission Network News

ISIS combat strategy in development

Mission Network News - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 5:00am

ISIS insurgents
(Wikipedia)

Indonesia (MNN) -- Members may be leaving, but it's not stopping ISIS from expanding. Since February, ISIS or its affiliates have been revealed in a total of 16 countries spanning the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, leaders on multiple levels are meeting to discuss an ISIS combat strategy. UK Prime Minister David Cameron is meeting with leaders on the national level, and Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) is strategizing with ministry leaders. "ISIS does have a footprint in Indonesia," says FMI's Bruce Allen. "When a group like ISIS comes in and says, 'You must believe like us or we [will] banish you from your homeland, or we kill you, or we extort money from you,' that disturbs the government very much." ISIS Combat Strategy: Governmental

UK Prime Minister David Cameron
(Wikipedia)

New political alliances are being formed between the United Kingdom and Southeast Asian nations to fight the Islamic State. According to BBC News, 50 Indonesian police officers will receive counter-terrorism training in the United Kingdom. The UK will also help Indonesia "buff up" its airport security in Bali and Jakarta. Around 500 Indonesians are fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Reuters reports. To prevent these fighters from spreading ISIS ideology to their home communities, Indonesia's government is standing guard. "They are watching [for] these individuals," Allen says, "[to see] if they do come back to Indonesia." Meanwhile, FMI is helping indigenous pastors develop their own ISIS combat strategy. ISIS Combat Strategy: Spiritual Church-planting pastors supported by FMI are waging spiritual war against Islamic State ideology and tactics. FMI supports about three dozen church planters and pastors on two of Indonesia's larger islands. By sharing the Gospel and planting churches, these believers are growing the Kingdom of God in Indonesia. "The Gospel is growing, and geopolitical boundaries [and] terrorists...do not stop the move of God's Spirit," notes Allen.

As minorities in a Muslim-dominant society, many Christian congregations in Indonesia have long encountered discrimination and persecution. but, these issues may intensify in coming months as the threat of ISIS grows across SE Asia.
(Photo, caption courtesy of FMI)

Will you help this Kingdom growth continue? "We're looking for partners here in the West who will say--whether they're a church, a family, or an individual--'Yes, we will stand alongside these individuals as they proclaim in their community,'" Allen says. "[We will] pray for them in the midst of the challenges they face. We will support them with a monthly contribution'." Through FMI, you can support Indonesian believers as they develop and manage their ISIS Combat Strategy. Learn how here. "God is calling and drawing people to Himself, and we're thrilled to be able to partner with the people who are on the front lines making that happen," concludes Allen.
Categories: Mission Network News

Church planting saves lives

Mission Network News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:00am
India (MNN) -- It's easy to see how church planting makes a difference in a place like Indonesia. But what about in the world's largest democracy? For a pair of lepers in rural India, church planting was lifesaving in more ways than one. Church planting: saving lives literally

(Photo courtesy Far Corners Missions via Facebook)

Far Corners Missions' Gary Bishop recently shared the story of a husband and wife in rural India, who both happened to have leprosy. Because of their disease, they were ostracized and forced to live on the village outskirts. Lepers are social outcasts in India. As such, neither the husband nor wife could find jobs to support their daily needs. However, the wife was a seamstress before she contracted leprosy and the disease took her fingers. One day, she figured out a way to sew garments holding an extra-large needle and the fabric between her palms, and then pulling the end of the needle with her teeth. It was all working fine until the woman somehow swallowed the needle. Her husband ran around frantically seeking help, but "because they were lepers and were ostracized by the village, no one would help him," says Bishop. "Basically, they just turned away and ignored him." If a church planting pastor trained by Far Corners hadn't been there to help with the compassion of Christ, the woman likely would have died. "The man is so overjoyed that he went around the whole village telling them, 'No one would help me except this village pastor. And so, we're here to tell you that you should listen to him'." Church planting: saving lives eternally Today, villagers pour into the church planted by this pastor to hear the Truth of Scripture. "The Word of God goes out in this little village because of the testimony of a Hindu leper," Bishop shares.

(Photo courtesy Far Corners Missions via Facebook)

While powerful, this testimony is a rare one. Church planting in rural India isn't an easy process, and it usually doesn't happen overnight. "It is a difficult proposition to plant a church in a Hindu village where there are no other believers," states Bishop. Occasionally, church planting in a rural village happens quickly with little resistance. "It's almost like the Holy Spirit's gone before us there and prepared the hearts of people; there [are] responses right away," Bishop shares. "Sometimes, though, it takes literally years to break through the very hardened mindsets and attitudes of the people." With your help, the Lord can use more events like this one to bring entire villages to Himself. Click here to sponsor a church planting pastor trained by Far Corners. "It takes about $75 a month to support a pastor and his family in an unreached village," explains Bishop. Far Corners' sponsorships are holistic in nature, "not only sending him financial support, but praying for him daily [too]. "As he goes in to that village, sometimes they're able to integrate fairly easy, but other times they are all but thrown out."
Categories: Mission Network News

Young people Choose Life for tomorrow

Mission Network News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:00am

One of the youth groups of "Choose Life."

Ukraine (MNN) -- While the Russia/Ukraine war is creating uncertainty in the region, it’s also emphasising the need for youth initiated outreach. Over the past 11 years in Ukraine and Russia, youth have been involved in the mission "Choose Life." Young people go into the streets and parks throughout the region with the Word of God in their hands and preach the gospel. They do that by being a testimony and through special activities for children, youth and adults. A variety of methods of evangelism are being used to bring the message of salvation to all who do not know Christ yet. The war has made “Choose Life” even more of a priority. The number of people who need hope for tomorrow, the presence of God's caring hand in their lives, is increasing. "Choose Life is a beautiful Christian project," says one of the participants in this project, a resident of Zaporozhye, Ivan Shostov, tells Mission Network News. "It is a ministry of Youth for children, young people, adults. But first of all, this project helps you to become stronger spiritually. It's so important to talk to Christians, to be around them for a long time. Lots of people take part in this project from different cities and countries and side-by-side come together with the message of salvation to all people.” Shostov tells us, “My first year with the project was in Zaporozhye, the place where I live. The team was very friendly. We talked a lot, laughed, talked with the children about God, played with them. Every evening we went to different parks and sang Christian songs there. It was very cool to feel the touch of the Holy Spirit inside of all of us.” He continues, “My second year was out of my city. I was in the village Konishchev, Vinnytsia region. The village is not big, and there are not many children and young people. But we've just got to make friends with them. Every day we talked with them a lot, sang songs, and did lot of other things. That was blessed time just to talk to people about God and the salvation in Him. "I’m glad that we can give a hope to people and we can help them in this really difficult time.”

"Choose Life" gives smiles to everyone

This project provides an opportunity to learn and delve deeper into the study of the Word of God and of the Lord, not only for those who hear the gospel, but also for those who preach. In these difficult times, the people of Ukraine and Russia especially need God. Pray for the people of Russia and Ukraine. Particularly pray for the leaders of “Choose Life” that they can proclaim the Gospel clearly. Also for those who will hear it. Pray their hearts will be prepared by the Holy Spirit and find boldness to accept God’s plan of salvation.
Categories: Mission Network News

Orphans in India face crisis

Mission Network News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:00am

Amy Norton (right) with "Auntie" (middle) says, "We desperately need sponsors for these children."

India (MNN) -- There are millions of children without caring parents worldwide today. From the United States to India, the need for foster parents, adoptive families, or orphan care is immense. India alone has 15-25 million orphans. Is the problem too big to address? Not according to Scripture. James 1 says, "True religion is caring for the widows and orphans in their distress." Orphan Outreach is doing just that, and today they have an incredible need. Orphan Outreach Program Director Amy Norton is in Manali, India, with a mission team from MNN affiliate 91.3 WCSG in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Orphan Outreach supports The House of Grace, an orphanage there with 80 kids. "We are urgently needing sponsors for the kids here because we recently lost some support that they did have through a local church who had to cut their budget back." The program in Manili is amazing. Norton says the orphanage is in a Buddhist stronghold. Despite coming from Buddhist backgrounds, these children are following Christ. "Their faith amazes us. And that is in large part due to the woman who started this orphanage. We call her Auntie. She was persecuted as a Christian. Her legs were even broken. She fled where the Buddhist were persecuting her for being a Christian for taking in these children."

Team members from 91.3 WCSG in Grand Rapids, MI loved orphans in Manali, India and many became child sponsors. You can, too.

Not only have many children come to Christ, but they're growing, says Norton. "These children are in devotion every morning at 7:00. They are in devotion in the afternoon. They all can quote Scripture. They love the Lord. We were on the bus with them yesterday; they sang worship songs the whole way to the park and back. They just truly love the Lord." It's not an easy place to be a Christian. Norton says, "The Christians are very much in the minority, and so children from an orphanage who are Christians are even more so in the minority." What are American Christians doing to help? "We have been playing with these kids," says Norton. "We have done all kinds of vacation Bible school activities. We do a devotional each day. We've had pizza and movie nights, ice cream, we had a huge bonfire last night, taught the kids dances, and they taught us dances." The Orphan Outreach team is pouring their lives into these needy kids. The need is so great, team members are responding to the sponsorship call. Norton says, "One of the most touching times was this afternoon watching one of our trip participants tell this little boy how much she loved and cared for him and she would sponsor him. He broke down in tears, and she broke down in tears." It costs $36 a month to sponsor a child in India. Norton says, "Every bit of that money comes here to India, and it support these children--not only each child, but it supports the whole orphanage with food, it pays for electricity, shoes, school supplies, monthly for their medical needs." The kids are listed at Orphan Outreach. Sponsor a child today to make a difference for their eternity.
Categories: Mission Network News

Indonesia: training the trainers

Mission Network News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:00am

(Image Indonesia Seal courtesy Wikipedia)

Indonesia (MNN) -- The situation Indonesian Christians find themselves in is diverse. There is much hope related to the newly-elected president and his public statements concerning religious minorities. In other areas, there are huge challenges. In today's story, we'll focus a little bit on the tools and training Forgotten Missionaries International offers through its conferences. The majority of the story is about why they do what they do. Java and Borneo are home to about three dozen church planters supported by FMI. In the larger archipelago, more than 720 languages are spoken by its various indigenous tribes. A former Dutch colony, Indonesia now ranks the fourth-largest in population and has the largest Muslim-dominated nation in the world. FMI's Bruce Allen was in Java and Borneo earlier this month, primarily to "assess the health of the ministry and help them strategize for continued growth or outreach." Many of the church planters supported by FMI work in rural areas. "It was quite an adventure to get out to some of these places, to conduct field visits, to go to the church planter's ministry site and meet with their church leadership elders or deacons, as well as talk with some of their church members." FMI wrapped up their visits just in time to help lead a pastoral training conference. "We're talking about some very practical things that will help their home as well as their ministry: financial management, building and sustaining healthy marriages, and Bible studies from the book of Genesis and Exodus." There's nothing like drinking from a fire hydrant. Aside from field visits and training conferences, Allen says, "We met with the national leadership team, and we were focused on developing strategies that will help them move forward with outreach in the midst of some very challenging situations." What kind of challenges? Minority Christians are often discriminated against in employment and education, and they sometimes face outright persecution. Yet FMI’s church planters have a courageous vision to fan out across the islands to reach their countrymen for Christ. Now we come to the "why" of these meetings. We'd like to introduce you to Mahkuta. At the start of his journey, a friend introduced him to the Gospel. He was curious about Christians and the Bible. Allen shares, "His friend introduced him to a pastor who helped explain the Gospel to him. Mahkuta actually left the island of Sumatra to get a theology degree, to understand [the Bible] better. While he was in Java, he became a Christian." Things went great as Mahkuta enthusiastically shared his story with anyone who would listen. The only people that didn't know about his change of heart were his parents--who were Muslim. He finally plucked up the courage, sent them a letter, and braced for their reaction. "At the same time he was writing a letter to his parents, his parents were writing a letter to him," Allen says. "His parents were informing Mahkuta that they had just put their faith in Jesus Christ, along with six other families from their village." Ecstatic, Mahkuta moved back to his home village on Sumatra, helped with church planting and discipleship, and extended outreach to the villages surrounding theirs. Allen says that "in recent months, Mahkuta moved back to Java, and he's one of our newest church planters, just in the last few months starting a new church in Java."

(Photo courtesy Forgotten Missionaries International)

It's because of men like Mahkuta that FMI emphasizes training, discipleship, and more. His is not the only story like this, which is great news considering the footprint of the Islamic State. "God is calling and drawing people to Himself," raves Allen. "We're thrilled to be able to partner with the people who are on the frontlines making that happen." Pray for pastors like Mahkuta to be bold about their stories with Jesus and that FMI can continue to freely offer training for the upcoming church leaders.
Categories: Mission Network News