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One-year anniversary of ISIS taking over Mosul

Mission Network News - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy SAT-7)

Iraq (MNN/SAT7) -- This month marks the one-year anniversary of ISIS taking over Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. “All the people have fled, they’ve left their homes, and many people are lying dead on the streets. Will Iraq accept this?” A refugee said to The Guardian that day a year ago. “The situation is very difficult, mortar shells are landing on houses. We left relatives behind. Many people were killed.” Another refugee told The Guardian, “The army dissolved out of fear. They fled, and we left and came here.” As many as 500,000 people were forced from Mosul, including thousands of Christians, who were given three options from ISIS: convert, leave everything behind, or be killed. Fleeing Christians found refuge in Kurdish-controlled areas and neighboring countries, where they’ve been living in difficult conditions for the last year. Most have resorted to temporary settlements or refugee camps that are filthy and cramped. The few that didn’t leave the country are considering leaving. And some have been abducted by ISIS. Churches, monasteries, and ancient holy places in the Mosul area have been confiscated and used for other purposes by ISIS. There has been widespread desecration and looting of furniture and paintings, and demolition of church crosses and gravestones. Precious ancient manuscripts have been burned. Yet, despite it all, Christian refugees are in good spirits. SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, says church leaders are trying to do what they can to improve the situation, encouraging Christians to stay and urging Iraqi politicians to seek a solution that will safeguard the Christian presence in the country. TV host Mr. Know and a SAT-7 team visited the refugee camp in Irbil; they were greeted by smiling faces--innocent children with no hate in their hearts. Faith in Jesus is sustaining them. Despite the harsh conditions of the camps, lack of school, and separation from friends, they found reason to rejoice and sing. They were happy because God guided them away from harm to this temporary refuge. They saw the refugee camp as a blessing and a gift. After the interviews, the children thanked Mr. Know. When he asked why, they smiled and responded, “You felt for me.” Thanks to help from people like you, SAT-7 was able to pray with these refugees. They needed to know they were not forgotten. Now it’s your turn to encourage these refugees. Pray that Iraqi Christians forced to flee their homes will be able to witness God’s love right where they are, and also that the Christians abducted by ISIS will be released. You can also help give encouragement by giving to SAT-7. $10 supports 10 viewers for 1 year.
Categories: Mission Network News

Vietnam: strength, perseverance, vitality

Mission Network News - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Global Advance)

Vietnam (MNN) -- Vietnam: the mere mention of the name brings to mind certain images. For many people, those images may be of a country 40 years out-of-date. After emerging from decades of war and isolation, what is Vietnam like today? Jonathon Shibley with Global Advance says, "From an economic standpoint, the country continues to grow, at least in the cities. There's a lot of business development. Really, our strategy since we've been going in is to connect with as many in the Christian business community as possible." Over the last decade, the country has seen fast development and now boasts one of the strongest economies in Asia.  Running on a parallel trajectory, Shibley adds, "There is a large new growth of Christianity and a hunger to know more about God and to grow in Christ among believers.   However, because Vietnam is one of the few remaining countries in the world following a communist ideology, "There is a certain element that exists of some persecution and harassment."

(Photo courtesy Global Advance)

It means that sometimes, Christianity is perceived as a foreign influence. In some areas, the publication and distribution of Christian materials is difficult and highly restricted. Given that, Marketplace Missions makes perfect sense. "Any time that you go in and you're there to connect and you want to be a blessing and you want to help things that are going to cause prosperity, from a sustainable standpoint within the nation, it's going to be welcomed," says Shibley. He just returned from Vietnam, where he spent a week teaching the biblical principles of the marketplace. "We had about 150 business leaders, most of them believers, from all types of industry--from apparel to hospitality, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, construction, just to see the potential that they have, the influence to be salt and light there." They also launched a secondary business-as-missions program. Vietnam is a source and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for people subjected to sex trafficking and conditions of forced labor. The trafficked are often vulnerable people exposed to homelessness, poverty, and lack of food security. Vocational training is one way to fight the problem. Shibley explains, "There's a huge issue with orphans and with drug addicts; [we're] trying to create a long-term strategy to bridge those groups with apprenticeship-type opportunities in the marketplace as they get of age, to be able to work."

(Photo courtesy Global Advance)

Vietnam today stands as a symbol of hope and healing, in light of its painful past. For the leaders today, Shibley acknowledges they've been through a lot over the last four decades. But, the followers of Christ have remained committed to the Truth. For that reason, he says, "We believe God has a mark on this country, and we want to stand in the gap for what He's doing in this nation." There are still a myriad of challenges facing Christians in Vietnam. As Shibley indicated earlier, in certain pockets of the country, the persecution of Christians is alive and well. "Pray for perseverance--that God would continue to reign and rule in their hearts." He's quick to add that sometimes affluence is a more insidious enemy than we might want to admit. To that end, pray that "as the country grows in prosperity, that the idols of consumerism do not detract from the message of Christ."
Categories: Mission Network News

Kobane threat underscores human crisis

Mission Network News - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 5:00am

Map showing de facto cantons of Western Kurdistan (Rojava) in February 2014.
(Wikipedia)

Turkey (MNN) -- As ISIS makes a deadly play for Kobane, refugees ping-pong from Syria to Turkey, and back again. "The human crisis just grows, whatever happens within Syria," says Steve Van Valkenburg with Christian Aid Mission. "[There are] a lot of people caught in the middle." Kobane raid The Islamic State's attack on Kobane--located in northern Syria along the border with Turkey--began at dawn yesterday, with terrorists entering the city in cars flying the Syrian Free Army flag.

A view point of the city Kobanê, in Syrian Kurdistan, during the bombardment of ISIS targets by US-led forces, The photo has been taken from Turkish-Syrian border (Suruç).
(Photo: M. Akhavan / Persian Dutch Network via Wikipedia)

According to BBC News, dozens were killed and scores more injured in the raid. ISIS militants also stormed the largest town in northeastern Syria, EFE reports. These Islamic State attacks and resulting political uproar in Turkey only add to an ever-growing tragedy. "The more the war goes on, like in Kobane, the more [you'll] have people fleeing, and the more needs [you'll have]," Van Valkenburg observes. Add to that the fact that neighboring countries are running out of room--and patience--for Syrian refugees, and the crisis grows to a new level. Refugee ping-pong Turkey currently holds over 1.5 million Syrian refugees and has turned away thousands more in recent days.

Syrian refugees arrive at Turkish border town of Akcakale.
(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

"About 15,000 of the refugees were there waiting to cross the border and enter into Turkey because they were escaping from ISIS," an indigenous missionary told Christian Aid Mission. "But when they [refugees] came to the border, the Turkish government didn't let them in." From June 3 to 16, over 23,000 Syrians fled to Turkey to find safe haven. Turkey, already home to 1.7 million Syrian refugees, forced hundreds back into the waiting hands of ISIS. "Turkey doesn't really want to always receive [refugees], and often they'll try to repel them and keep them in Syria. And then, of course, ISIS comes," shares Van Valkenburg. Those fleeing yesterday's violence in Kobane will likely face a similar response once they reach the crossing gate. But, not all hope is lost. Christian Aid Mission partners are there at the border when refugees face rejection, meeting physical and spiritual needs. "When people have hope, then they can endure all kinds of things," says Van Valkenburg. "For a refugee, when there is somebody that comes and says, 'There is a God who cares. There is a God that we can rest in and trust in and call out to for help,' that gives them hope. And when people have hope, then they can live." Your turn By clicking here, you can help refugees face another tomorrow.

Children help offload aid at a tent camp for refugees in Turkey.
(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

"This is not a time to draw back," Van Valkenburg says. "This is a time to really press forward and to help even more people." Refugees' needs are growing and ongoing, despite the fact that support is running dangerously low. "This is really a great opportunity for Christians to enable assistance to be given out to the refugees."
Categories: Mission Network News

Domestically abused mother is now finding freedom

Mission Network News - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Buckner International)

USA (Buckner) -- [Editor’s Note: Buckner International works with the most vulnerable of people and transforms families by focusing on Christ-centered values. This is the story of one abused mother who found help and protection in Buckner. Now, she is finding freedom and joy in life.] Everything Rebekah works toward – securing a safe living environment and doing well in her studies – is motivated by her children, Emely and SJ. Tentatively, *Rebekah hands over a poem she wrote. She can’t express verbally the emotions she felt living with an abusive husband, but through the words of a poem, she pours out her heart: words of distrust and hurt, words of an entrapped life. He picks me up with a gentle hand, Only to strike me down once again. His forked tongue is a double-edged sword. His words can be the balm to my soul and Rip me apart blow by blow. But living at Buckner Family Place in Conroe, Rebekah finds freedom. “When you basically live your life in a cage for four years, where you can’t smile at someone or brush your hair away from your face without being accused of things, it’s freeing. It’s an overwhelming sense of freedom,” Rebekah says. Two years ago, Rebekah was trapped in her own home with her two young children. Her husband would go on alcohol and drug binges and disappear from the house, often locking the fence with chains so Rebekah wouldn’t leave. “I was basically locked into our yard. I had no phone. If something happened, I was a duck out of luck,” Rebekah says. Even still, she preferred him far from the house because when he was home, he was physically and verbally abusive to her, often in front of their children. She tried four times to leave, but she always came back. It’s hard to leave, Rebekah says, because on the one hand there would be kindness and sincerity, but on the other there was shame and hurt. Her husband often showed her both sides, keeping her unsettled and feeling hopeless. I never know which man I will see. The man I love or the man I hate. The lines, once so defined, have blurred for me. The two have become one, Inseparable it seems. One day when she was talking to his mother about some bruises she had on her shoulder after he hit her, her mother-in-law responded that she had seen worse on herself and her daughter. That was the moment Rebekah realized she could not have her daughter and son exposed to this violence.

(Photo courtesy Buckner International)

“That was the reason I knew I couldn’t stay,” Rebekah says. “It’s not right that her daughter thinks it’s okay because her mom went through it and her son thinks it’s okay because he saw his dad doing it to his mom. I don’t want that cycle to continue. That was a big factor of getting me out the door.” Rebekah went to a domestic violence shelter determined to make a new life for her and her children. She unpacked their bags and began healing. “I thought it was pretty much a sign that I was doing it for real this time because this time when I got to the shelter, I actually took the trouble of unpacking my bags,” she says. “I had never done that before. I had just lived out of my bags.” But it wasn’t easy in the beginning. She needed to process her new situation, and there were lots of tears. She felt alone and was scared about supporting her children. The shelter was a short-term solution. After 60 days, she needed to move to a different location. Hearing about Buckner Family Place motivated Rebekah to enroll in school. Family Place provides housing, child care assistance, and counseling in an effort to support single parents who are currently completing their education and trying to create better lives for their families. When Rebekah learned she was accepted into the program, she cried tears of thanksgiving. For the first time, she felt as though she had hope for a better future. “Tears just poured from my eyes,” Rebekah says. “I have a chance to do something with myself and can provide a future for the kids; and that was my whole goal. I had to do something so that they can have a future.” Since coming to Family Place in January 2013, Rebekah and her children, Emely and SJ, have blossomed. Rebekah’s favorite time of the day is right before the children’s bedtime. They curl up in her bed, she holds them close, and they read Bible stories and recite memory verses to each other. “I think her confidence is growing,” Buckner Case Manager Kymeicko Williams says about Rebekah. “When she first came, she was standoffish and quiet, but now she comes, and she just shines. She’s able to communicate.” She is also succeeding in her studies. She’s getting an associate’s degree in human services but would like to continue to earn a bachelor’s degree to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor. “I want to be a counselor at a school or work with battered women because I’ve been there,” she says. “I want them to know that they can do it and can get out. They don’t have to live like that. You can make a difference. I just want to be a light, an example.” Most importantly, Rebekah now feels safe and is comforted and motivated by her Buckner case managers. “It’s home,” Rebekah says about her apartment at Family Place. “I feel safe there. I will often come to Kymeicko’s office all flustered about something, but she calms me down, and she’s there to give me a pep talk. That has helped me in so many ways with frustration and stress. Honestly, it’s helped me with healing. It’s a lot to heal from. It’s having the support right there. It really enforces things and just lets me know that I’m not alone.” *Last name withheld to protect her identity.
Categories: Mission Network News

Chinese believers find joy through God’s Word

Mission Network News - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy of Bibles for China via Facebook.)

China (MNN) -- Relationships are central to the human existence. They are important to every facet of life, whether that's business, overall well-being, or most importantly, sharing Christ. Bibles for China understands the importance of relationships. In fact, they are a key part of its ministry. BFC is partnering with the local Chinese church to bring Jesus to the most rural parts of the country. Workers and volunteers are invited to indigenous rural churches to celebrate and encourage spiritual growth. “We want to make sure that we maintain and keep all of the policies of the Chinese Christian community,” says BFC President Wendell Rovenstine. “We don’t go over there, do this work, and tell them how to do it. We’re just there as partners with them. “This last trip I went on, I went by myself to do 6,000 Bibles. I asked [Chinese believers] to hand out the Bibles, and I would observe them, which is really the way that we want to do that. And you can’t imagine the joy on their faces as the people were giving their congregation God’s Word.” But not every need is able to be met. Some villages have as many as 300,000 believers without access to God's Word. But despite this lack, BFC is touching hearts through love and discipleship. “In some respects, you almost go in feeling defeated that you didn’t meet their need," Rovenstine says. "But beyond that, there has become a spirit of unity, a spirit of spiritual camaraderie that exists. It’s very difficult to say, ‘Well we’re just doing Bibles, and goodbye.’ I’m finding that as we go back and furnish God’s Word, they are trusting us more, and we are observing a greater touch in China with them.” BFC workers may have the most personal interaction with Chinese believers, but they aren’t the only ones making an impact. Other countries are advancing its ministry through their generosity. “We have over 27 countries that are providing funds for people to receive Bibles,” Rovenstine says. “Our only mission is to get Bibles into their hands…. Through the interpreter, [Chinese believers] are telling the people that Bibles for China is a ministry that is represented by a large number of people that are our partners, and that there are over 27 countries that are providing them funds. “With enthusiasm and excitement, the people…really rejoice in the fact that so many around the world are involved with Bibles for China.”

(Photo courtesy of Bibles for China)

Bibles are available in China, yet hard to find. The only Scripture most rural Chinese have is bits and pieces they’ve scrawled down over the years. For many, receiving a copy of God’s Word is life-changing. “I was so touched by one girl. Through the translator, she showed me the Scripture that was kind of her life verse and had the translator share that Scripture with me through her," Rovenstine says. "The Bible really just penetrated her life in a wonderful way.” Whether through outside support or direct involvement, there are multiple ways you can help BFC bring Christ to China’s spiritually deprived. Pray that God would guide BFC workers to best reach the rural Chinese people. Pray also that enough Bibles would be available for every hungry soul. You can provide a Bible yourself for $5. Or, consider traveling with BFC to encourage Chinese believers. Click here to get started.
Categories: Mission Network News

Reborn by Finding Favour

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 5:00am
Gotee Record's Finding Favour, is scheduled to release their first full album, Reborn, June 23, 2015. Produced by Casey Brown (Love the Outcome, All Things New), the new project shows the maturity and growth of Finding Favour since they first signed with Gotee Records in 2012. Reborn features 10 new songs that were co-written by the group, along with a reprise of their Top 25 National Christian Audience chart hit, "Say Amen." The first radio single from the album is the anthem ballad, "Cast My Cares," that is currently going for adds at AC and Hot AC/CHR radio, but[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Anxiety by NYVES

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 5:00am
Dark, pulsing soundscapes are woven together by Clark's instantly identifiable vocals; resonate layers are balanced by Torres's crystal clear and expert production; and high levels of experimentation are outweighed only by melodic sensibility and sonic accessibility.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

My Own Worst Enemy by Tragic Hero

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Caves by Caves

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Adonai: The Power Of Worship From Israel by Various Artists

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 5:00am
ADONAI, the internationally acclaimed Messianic worship classic now presents a new sonic experience with a spectacular remastered edition. Blending English and Hebrew, ADONAI weaves modern world music with the history and the culture of Israel, taking you on a journey of powerful worship. ADONAI was the first album ever recorded by believers in the Land of Israel with a 160-nation distribution and features Paul Wilbur, Karen Davis, Barry Batya Segal and many others.Recorded on the first Year of Jubilee celebrated in over 2000 years, ADONAI is literally the Word of the Lord going forth from Zion in the form[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Elohim by Various Artists

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 5:00am
ELOHIM, pronounced EL-O-HEEM is the Hebrew name for GOD. The One and Only True GOD. The GOD of the Bible. The all Powerful GOD of the Universe. Who is the same yesterday, today and forever!Experience Worship from the Heart of Israel with the Remnant of GOD'S people who live in the Promised Land.Join the Spiritual and Physical Levites as they Worship the LORD in Spirit and in Truth, in Hebrew and in English, in their Culture and in their History. Together, let us Praise the Holy One of Israel. May this music cause you to love and worship ELOHIM.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

AsOne by AsOne

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 5:00am
AsOne is both excited and humbled to be releasing their initial album in 2015. The unique melodies they offer to the world will surely make a lasting impact in music, as they work to make a difference together, as one![...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Crystal Clear (Deluxe Edition) by David Dunn

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 5:00am
David Dunn will be releasing his full-length album Crystal Clear LP on June 23, 2015. The hugely successful radio single "Today Is Beautiful" landed the artist on the map in 2014.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News