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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
Categories: Christian Music News

Like No Other by Christ Fellowship Worship

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
Original worship music recorded live in South Florida, at Christ Fellowship Church. Produced by Dove award winner Michael Neale, this album includes tracks such as "Favorite Word" "See You Again" and national hit "Mercy Tree." Inspired by modern rock and pop, this album is full of powerful anthems and emotional ballads that are inspired by and declare the attributes of the Savior of the world; Jesus! You can also hear these songs played live every weekend at Christ Fellowship at multiple locations in Florida: Gardens, Royal Palm, Boynton, City Place, Stuart, Okeechobee and New York City, New York.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Only Your Love EP by Davis the Band

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
A new husband and wife worship duo provides a fresh sound on vertical praise to our Creator.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Empowering women key to Gospel growth

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

This is a logo owned by APSACS Secretariat for Army Public Schools & Colleges System.

Pakistan (MNN) -- Pakistani police have reportedly arrested one of the masterminds behind December's deadly school attack in Peshawar. According to multiple reports, 27-year-old Taj Muhammad was captured yesterday in an Internally-Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. Muhammad is allegedly a "commander" of one of the Taliban splinter groups that raided the army school. Suicide bombers killed 150 people when they raided the school; 133 of those victims were children. The Aftermath The school attacks didn't stop with the New Year, even though Pakistan's government reportedly "buckled down" on terrorism and equipped teachers as an extra line of defense. At the end of January, Charlie Hebdo protestors raided a Christian school and called for its closure. Today, they have a new, yet similar, target.

Women are increasingly turning to the Lord in Pakistan and are vocally eager for spiritual growth, but often find it difficult to be discipled due to the cultural taboo of church leaders like pastors and teachers (traditionally men) from personally interacting with them. FMI's new Women's Discipleship Initiative aims to help the whole church mature together by identifying and empowering qualified women to train other women.
(Picture, caption courtesy of FMI)

"Terrorist groups now are targeting schools that are for girls," shares Bruce Allen with Forgotten Missionaries International. "They want to keep the female population uneducated." Women reportedly comprise 50% of Pakistan's total population. By keeping women "in the dark," terrorists are effectively immobilizing a significant populous. Terrorists aren't the only ones targeting Pakistani women, Allen explains. According to FMI's National Director, women are "overlooked in this society; basically invisible. "She cannot interact with unrelated males, even in an indoor situation, in a home," Allen says, relaying insight from FMI's National Director. "Many of [the] Christian pastors still perpetuate those problems--unintentionally, of course, but because of cultural taboos, they're not focusing on developing women. More women than men will be attending a church service, and yet, their specific needs are still being overlooked." FMI is combating Pakistan's social tradition and the agenda of radical Islam by changing the way the Church treats women. Women's Discipleship Initiative With a new discipleship initiative, the ministry is teaching Christian women how to share the Gospel and disciple new believers. "Because it's in a home, and not in a church, her Muslim neighbors are coming. They're curious about, 'What is Christianity? I want to learn more,'" shares Allen.

Christian worshipers sing as they begin to gather in the courtyard of one church member's home. This congregation of more than 50 members currently has a five-to-one ratio of adult women-to-men. FMI's new Women's Discipleship Initiative aims to help the whole church mature together by identifying and empowering qualified women to train other women.
(Photo, caption courtesy of FMI)

The program is still getting off the ground. At FMI's Web site, you can help by equipping more women for evangelism and discipleship. First, click the "Make A Donation" button in the middle of the screen. Then, select "Women's Discipleship Initiative" from the drop-down list. "Every time there's a need, it represents an opportunity to meet people exactly where they [are]. And that's what Christ does for us," Allen summarizes. Most importantly, keep praying for the people of Pakistan. Pray that believers and innocents are protected. Pray that the Gospel will advance to new levels through this new FMI initiative. More FMI stories here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Man in critical condition after being struck by his own vehicle

WGRC News - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 2:59pm

An accident in Columbia County yesterday sent a man to Geisinger Medical Center with critical injuries. Police there say the man who has not been named pulled over on Columbia Boulevard near Berwick with car trouble, and got outside and under the hood. The car apparently was still in drive, and somehow began moving, dragging the man with it and going down over a hill. He is in critical condition and police there continue their investigation into that accident.

Categories: Local News

No injuries in a Columbia County house fire

WGRC News - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 2:58pm

No injuries were reported in an early morning house fire in Columbia County. Firefighters rushed to a home near Millville around 8 am Sunday.
A husband and wife were able to get out okay. The fire chief believes the cause of the fire was an electrical problem. The Red Cross is helping the couple.

Categories: Local News

Maidan: one year later

Mission Network News - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 5:00am

Thousands gather in Maidan Square in Kiev to remember the Heavenly 100 on the anniversary of the revolution.
(Photo by Marina Parfinskaya).

Ukraine (MNN) -- Thousands of people poured into the streets of Kiev, Ukraine, on the anniversary of the Maidan Revolution. One year ago, clashes between protestors and police toppled ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, sending Ukraine and Russia into a conflict that has reshaped borders and killed more than 5,000 in war-time violence. An Alumnus of Cornerstone University Marina Parfinskaya lives in Kiev. "There are thousands of people here supporting the same cause. Many of them have tears in their eyes." Parfinskaya adds, "[Friday] was actually the memorial service for the Heavenly 100," she says from Maidan Square. "They were the 100 people killed through the Maidan revolution."

Marina Parfinskaya at the memorial for the
Heavenly 100 at Maidan Square.
(Photo by Marina Parfinskaya).

She says while people are talking about the war, equally important to them is the economy. "The same amount of money that would have purchased $3,000 for me in national currency would purchase only $1,000 now. So, the income for an average person has dropped three times while the prices remain the same." Evangelical churches with the help of Mission Eurasia, Slavic Gospel Association, Reach Global, and SEND International are reaching out to refugees, war injured, and those searching for truth. Parfinskaya says many are searching. "People are much more open to talk about things that happen in the after-life. It's hard for me to evaluate how much more, but every critical situation like we're seeing makes people more open." Parfinskaya says the situation is bleak. How is she processing this? "I never in my entire life thought I would ever live through something like this. I'm having a bit of a difficulty coping, but I trust God. And it's up to us to carry out that hope for somebody who may not believe right at the moment." She's asking you to pray desperately for peace. Pray also that God touches the hearts of leaders who need Christ, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Categories: Mission Network News

Sunbury cops under investigation

WGRC News - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 2:51pm

Sunbury’s mayor has confirmed that two city police officers there are under investigation. One of them for harassing a female employee at the 911 center in Northumberland County a couple of weeks ago, and the other for allegedly leaving city limits in a police cruiser to meet with a female while on duty. Mayor David Persing has not released the names of either officer and says that other officers may be under investigation for wrongdoings as well. He says firings could result from the investigation’s findings. The city’s police force has 12 members.

Categories: Local News


WGRC News - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 2:50pm

AAA Roadside Assistance is Just an App Away. 7 days a week 24 hours a day. As if dealing with a car breakdown in sub-zero temperatures and wintry conditions isn’t stressful enough, chances are hundreds of other motorists are stuck in the same predicament. AAA reminds motorists that the phone isn’t their only option to call for help. By downloading the free AAA Mobile app, members can ask for help anytime of the day or night by just the click of a button.
By using the app or website, it eliminates the need to contact the call center at a time when the volume of calls for emergency roadside assistance may be more than double a typical winter day. For more information go to AAA.com

Categories: Local News