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The freedom of half century dreams

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 5:00am
International (MNN) -- In the United States, the Liberty Bell on display in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania stands as a representation of independence. It’s an iconic symbol that has become synonymous with freedom.

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

For as much as its outline is recognized, few people remember what’s inscribed on it: “PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF.” Few may recognize where the origin of these world: the Old Testament. It’s based on Leviticus 25:10, which reads: “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.” It’s a reminder to set apart the fiftieth year as holy. David Shibley with Global Advance says this is both a return to roots and a time to sow seeds. “Just as the Ebenezer [means] To this point, the Lord has helped us from the past, that gives me the assurance that into the uncharted territory of the future, He will indeed be our strong Helper and our Defense.” This year marks 50 years Shibley has been preaching the Gospel. In 1966, when he first began sharing the hope of Christ from a pulpit, there was turmoil. In the U.S., the late 60s were years of social revolution and unrest. At the same time, Shibley also saw the greatest sweep of God’s Spirit in the "Jesus Movement." Today, he says, there’s something of a parallel. “The world is seething in turmoil. Hostility to the Gospel is far more pronounced than it was 50 years ago, in almost every nation.” According to Open Doors USA, 2015 was the “worst year in modern history for Christian persecution.” And yet, Shibley notes, “The brilliant light of the Gospel juxtaposed against the ever greater darkness, it seems, is really brilliant.”

(Photo Frontline Shepherd courtesy Global Advance)

The way you get through change is by anchoring to something unchanging. It’s such an important concept that Shibley jotted down his thoughts in his newest book, Entrusted: Anchoring Your Life in the Gospel.  Really, he says, he’s a lifelong student of the Gospel, and that gives him perspective when you look at the current events challenging the Church. More and more, believers are asking for Global Advance to come train them. And that's exactly what they're doing. There are Frontline Shepherds conferences, Marketplace Missions, the Esther Initiative, Next Gen Engagement, and Alpha Relief. These are answers to things like anti-conversion laws, blasphemy laws, the Islamic State, the refugee crisis, disaster, war, and more. Shibley says the compassion approach doesn’t preclude the evangelism approach or vice versa. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. ”In the middle of that, we’re going to see massive human need everywhere. We represent Jesus in the midst of that need. We go in His name to meet those needs and to bring light and to bring life by the Gospel.” After half a century of seeing that nothing is new under the sun, how do you keep the edge sharp? Rather than becoming more calloused to need, Shibley believes he has more sensitivity to human need than ever before. He often considers the following: "'Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.'" In addition, "It’s a painful prayer. The answer to that prayer will affect our lives….but it’s a great prayer." In the end says Shibley, "This isn’t first a job. It isn’t first a task. It’s a response of love."

(Photo Frontline Relief courtesy of Global Advance)

A response, a decision to finish well, a willingness to weep with those who weep. These are all components of the way Global Advance will strategize what they’re doing in the next 50 years. "We’re going to equip leaders all over the world to take that message into a very dark situation: that Jesus Christ is still Lord, and the Great Commission is still in effect." Shibley has spent his life talking about freedom. Reflecting on that, he sums up the "what" behind Global Advance: "Same Jesus, same Gospel, same Great Commission." It is only ever the "how" that is subject to change.
Categories: Mission Network News

Smile for LIFE

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 5:00am
Bolivia (MNN) -- In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the Center for Life, also known as Centro de Vida, will tell you a simple smile goes a long way in making a positive difference.

'I Smile for Life' gathering in Bolivia (photo courtesy LIFE Int'l)

Young people partnering with the pregnancy care center recently took colorful, vibrant signs and placards to the main street corners of the city, signs with a very simple message, “I smile for life.” Response to the center’s ambassadors was positively overwhelming. But that’s not all that’s taking place at Centro de Vida. Late last year, LIFE International was invited by 22 young counselors and people working with the center to come and train them. The training provided took participants through a three-step process of abortion recovery. Melinda Delahoyde, Vice President of Mission Advancement for LIFE International, says the first step is helping women understand the grief and what has happened to them. The second step is to convey the message of hope found in Jesus Christ, that He paid the price for what has ever happened to them. And the third step is an invitation to praise the Lord for the healing He alone will provide. Delahoyde goes on to say that when this message seeps into the hearts of counselors receiving the training offered by LIFE International, there’s an overwhelming joy that pervades. What’s even more inspiring is to know this is an example of the kind of training that is happening in more than 65 countries around the world as a result of God’s work through LIFE International. Says Delahoyde, “Nowhere do you see a greater application of love and healing of Jesus Christ than when a woman’s heart and mind and soul is healed from that abortion, and Bolivia’s one example of that.” Click here for stories about what God is doing around the world through LIFE International.    
Categories: Mission Network News

Locust invasion overtakes Argentina as outreach efforts intensify

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 5:00am
Argentina (WMP/MNN) -- Argentina is facing its worst locust attack in over 50 years, and experts say it's not going to end any time soon.

A locust can eat its entire body weight in vegetation. (Wikimedia Commons)

It all began with the arrival of a few locusts last July and has grown to an epidemic affecting approximately 1.7 million acres of land. According to National Geographic, each locust can eat its body weight in vegetation. Locusts travel in swarms, which can reach up to 460 square miles in size. With the help of World Missionary Press, Christians are pressing through the plague to make Christ known. World Missionary Press shared the following update on its Facebook page and in a recent newsletter: In spite of political, economic, and social crisis in Argentina, WMP volunteer coordinator and EHC director Rino B. saw house-to-house distribution and special ministries more than double during the past year. New strategies were used to increase the number and skills of volunteers, improve the ministry’s social media presence, and expand into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. He soon “discovered a serious problem!” The expansion depleted materials and greatly increased the need for “at least 3 million pieces of literature to cover the year 2016.”

(Graphic courtesy WMP)

Rino shared the touching story of Walter, now 42 years old, who has devoted his life to volunteer ministry with EHC. Walter was 8 years old when his beloved grandmother died. In her belongings he saw an old, well-worn WMP booklet, "Help From Above," which he began to read repeatedly. Through his reading, he discovered that he could know Jesus as his personal Savior. He was 14 when he began to attend the church his grandmother had attended, was baptized, and committed to deliver literature received by the EHC office in Argentina. “During 28 years I’ve distributed thousands of tracts, and I have the privilege to guide the feet of Christ to hundreds or thousands peoples. So I am very happy.” WMP is preparing a fresh 40-foot container of Gospel literature to fuel Rino’s incredibly fruitful ministry.

“During 28 years I’ve distributed thousands of tracts, and I have the privilege to guide the feet of Christ to hundreds or thousands peoples. So I am very happy.” --Walter
(Photo, quote courtesy WMP)

World Missionary Press produces approximately 7,000,000 Scripture booklets each month to send out free of charge. As explained here, a single roll of paper can produce 80,000 Scripture booklets at a cost of $1,080. Every donated dollar on average can reach more than 20 people anywhere in the world with the life-saving, life-changing Gospel. Click here to help underwrite WMP's printing and shipping costs.
Categories: Mission Network News

Blockade continues, crisis worsens

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 5:00am
Nepal (MNN) -- Conditions created by India's September blockade are worsening, according to Vision Beyond Borders.

(Photo credit VBB)

The people of Nepal can barely get any fuel, food, or medicine. "They've gone from over 300 fuel trucks a day coming across the border to less than five," says Dyann Romeijn with Vision Beyond Borders. "The UN is warning that this could affect about three million children: they could starve as a result of this blockade, if there isn't a resolution soon." Blockade back-story India began its blockade of Nepal soon after the former Hindu kingdom adopted a secular constitution. "The Hindus were very upset about that," Romeijn explains.

Line of gas cylinder at Kathmandu
(Wikipedia)

"India has been putting a lot of pressure on Nepal to become a Hindu nation again." Click here to learn why India is blockading Nepal. India's blockade quickly began hindering Nepali life and hasn't let up since. A number of smaller border crossing points have eased blockade restrictions, The Kathmandu Post reports. However, at the largest crossing point,  where 60% of goods and supplies enter Nepal from India, barriers remain. Ministry continues, despite blockade woes Vision Beyond Borders' children's ministry and safe house are still going, thanks to God's timing and provision. According to Romeijn, the partner who oversees these ministries recently visited the U.S. While there, he was able to obtain electric skillets and bring them back to Nepal.

(Photo courtesy VBB)

"They typically don't use that. They cook outside [using] wood and fuel," says Romeijn. However, the extreme fuel shortage resulting from India's blockade has forced everyone to cut back on traditional cooking methods. Thanks to Nepal's rolling blackouts, "There are periods of time where they're without electricity. But, then [there are times when] they'll have electricity, and they're able to use these cooktops for [preparing] food." The blockade is also providing a chance to talk with neighbors about Christ. "It's an opportunity for Christians to respond to that crisis and to show the love and compassion of Jesus," Romeijn says. Visitors are still able to travel to Nepal, but the blockade is making it hard for Nepali citizens to host and support guests. Right now, "going" and "giving" may not be the best ways to help VBB and their partners in Nepal.

(Photo courtesy VBB)

Prayer is always the best option, and Romeijn says they really need your prayers right now--both for physical safety and spiritual victories. "The Gospel needs to be proclaimed. People need to know Jesus, because when that happens, situations are changed. Hearts are changed, lives are changed, and circumstances are also changed."
Categories: Mission Network News

Bethany committed to protecting refugees

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 5:00am
USA (Bethany) -- Bethany Christian Services, a global nonprofit organization committed to bringing and keeping families together, today announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).

Bethany Christian Services does some work directly in Guatemala, and they are helping refugees from Guatemala and nearby countries. (Photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Services)

Bethany will provide assistance under the Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (TVAP) that comprises international victims of trafficking. “It is our mission to provide quality social services in Christ’s name,” said Dona Abbott, director of Bethany’s refugee resettlement services. “We are both honored and privileged to have this opportunity to demonstrate His love and compassion through helping these survivors find hope and a future.” Case management assistance will include aiding victims in achieving Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) certification, enrolling them in federal and state benefit programs to the same extent as a refugee, and obtaining employment. Bethany will ensure comprehensive, culturally- and linguistically-appropriate services to qualified clients which will include preventative health services. Bethany is experienced in working with torture survivors through its Healing Center for Torture Trauma. “The primary goal is to help them feel safe,” said Corrie Sjoblom, Healing Center supervisor at Bethany. “Only when they start to feel secure can we help them become self-sufficient and active members in our community.”
Categories: Mission Network News

Imprisoned and blacklisted for Christ

Mission Network News - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
Iran (SAT-7) -- [Editor's Note: SAT-7 shares the story of a Christian Iranian couple who was forced to flee their homeland because of their faith.]

(Photo courtesy of SAT-7)

Imprisoned and blacklisted by the authorities because of their Christian activities, Arshia and his wife, Mahanaz, felt they had no choice but to flee Iran. The couple shared their story with SAT-7 PARS for a special documentary filmed throughout Greece and Turkey about Iranian and Afghani Christians, who have had to leave their homelands because of persecution. During the filming, the SAT-7 PARS crew discovered that Arshia and Mahanaz had come to faith through the help of another SAT-7 staff member. The couple had a personal relationship with the SAT-7 staff member inside Iran and were delighted to meet more of the SAT-7 family. Baptized in Armenia, they returned to Iran and led a house church from their home in the mountains. They were discovered by the authorities, imprisoned and blacklisted. Upon their release, they were told they would be arrested again if they continued practicing their faith and would face severe consequences.

(Photo courtesy of SAT-7)

Arshia and Mahanaz felt they could not meet with other believers for fear of endangering them. Feeling silenced and isolated, the couple decided to flee Iran. Leaving everything behind, they walked for four days from Iran to Ankara, Turkey. The couple have been living in a refugee camp for over a year now. “It is challenging,” says Arshia. “Our curfew is 10:00p.m. However, it does give us safety. God is good. We go to the Iranian church here and can worship freely.” SAT-7 PARS exchanged contact details with Arshia. A month later, he sent a photo to the team and thanked SAT-7 for praying. He and his wife have managed to find employment in a restaurant. They are still waiting for their documents from the camp to receive permission to move on and make a home elsewhere. Please pray for Arshia and Mahanaz as they continue to follow Christ – wherever He may lead. Your support empowers SAT-7 to uncover the true hardships Iranian Christians are facing and to give them spiritual nourishment in their isolation. Your gift of $1 supports 1 viewer for 1 year. Click here to give now. See original story here.
Categories: Mission Network News

What is the Gospel?

Mission Network News - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
International (MNN) -- Sometimes intentions can be good, but the application--well, not so good.

(Photo courtesy Ron Hutchcraft Ministries via Facebook)

Lately, Ron Hutchcraft with Ron Hutchcraft Ministries has been noticing at times, we as Christians think we’re sharing the Gospel when really, we’re not. “[Satan is] the blinder, and he would love to have us settle for something less, something nice, something even Biblical, but maybe something less than the message that changes lives and hearts. And so I think it might just be good for us to review what the Gospel is and then maybe talk about what it isn’t,” explains Hutchcraft. What isn’t the Gospel, then? Well, it’s not just sharing encouraging stories, Christian music, and books, or even telling someone what God has done in your life. Instead, it’s this: "The Gospel is very clearly defined in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul says that the message--the Gospel--that was delivered to us is this: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day. No more, no less. That is the Gospel,” explains Hutchcraft. Though many know this, it’s the application of sharing it where things seem to fall apart. “We need to be looking and saying, ‘Is the Gospel there? Are we actually intentionally getting out what was Jesus’ orders us to get out?” asksHutchcraft. Why is this a big deal?

(Photo courtesy Ron Hutchcraft Ministries via Facebook)

According to Hutchcraft, “The activity without the message is not what Jesus’ had in mind, and it will have no eternal impact.” “We built a bridge with the things we’re doing to meet all kinds of people's needs. But did we cross the bridge? The purpose of building a bridge is to cross it, and you cross it to be able to plant the Gospel in somebody’s heart. The greatest sin against the Gospel is to not deliver the Gospel,” says  Hutchcraft. For a better understanding of how to share the Gospel, Ron Hutchcraft has an e-book titled, “Bringing Back the Gospel.” Download a copy of it by clicking here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Tent schools bring education to the refugee

Mission Network News - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
International (MNN) -- The United Nations Refugee Agency reports that one in every 122 people is either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.

(Photo Syrian refugee camp, courtesy Tent Schools International)

Dale Dieleman, vice president of Tent Schools International (formerly Worldwide Christian Schools), says these people are among the most vulnerable, marginalized people groups in the world. Plus, “Some studies recently have shown that over 85% of refugee children in refugee camps, for example, are suffering severe post-traumatic stress. Of that number, around 25% have even had thoughts of suicide because they feel so hopeless.” Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) often supply food, water, and basic shelter, but Dieleman notes another impact that had been overlooked for a while: “One of the impacts--particularly for children--is the disruption of your education. For a child, this is huge. This is very traumatic, on top of...witnessing very traumatic events in their life.” When hope vanishes, disillusionment takes over. In refugee camps, traffickers and extremists target the youngest in order to capitalize on their lost future. Tent schools: a revolutionary idea It is precisely that scenario that launched WWCS on its journey to becoming Tent Schools International. In 2012, WWCS turned 25 years old. As the team marked the anniversary, they also began to reflect on this question: "Where is God leading us in the next 25 years?" The tent cities that sprouted in refugee camps in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia provided the answer. Dieleman explains, “This is a population group that we think we can work with. Local people on the ground, Christian groups that are trying to do two things: number one, restore that educational process wherever a child has left off. Secondly, restore hope through the Gospel.” Because tent schools are temporary in nature, it became obvious that their expertise in education blended well with the on-the-go scenario they were thinking of. It meant education could meet the kids wherever they were, using a two pronged approach: tents and technology. “We can hopefully help them restore their education and restore hope, but also give them an opportunity to really find out what the real hope in life is, and that is through the Gospel.”

(Photo refugee class, courtesy Tent Schools International)

For each tent school start-up, says Dieleman, “We’re relying on a network of partnerships. For example, in Lebanon right now, we are partnering with a Christian organization that has already started three such tent schools.” Just over $20,000 is needed for tent materials, school supplies, rent, heating fuel, and three 10-month teacher salaries. Each school will serve 50 children who haven’t been to school in months--or in some cases, years--since fleeing Syria or other conflict zones. To the children, these schools are havens of calm and structure in the chaos of camp life. ”This is done through very compassionate teachers, through people who are there, alongside these children, giving them an opportunity to be children for a few hours a day in a welcoming, compassionate, learning environment”, explains Dieleman. Due to the scope of the Syrian refugee crisis, Tent Schools International is raising funds to help begin a new tent school in Lebanon for 50 students by March of 2016. Dieleman asks you to consider what you might do to be able to help, and then, “Pray for the children. Pray for their families. Pray that any child that is reached, that they can actually find hope and peace through Jesus Christ.”
Categories: Mission Network News

Syria faces blow after blow, yet hope rises

Mission Network News - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
Syria (MNN) -- ISIS claimed responsibility for a triple bombing near Damascus, which killed more than 70 and wounded over 100 on Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Operation Mobilization via Facebook)

The attack was targeting a bus of Shiite fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 42 of the fighters had links with the Syrian government, the New York Times says. A car bomb was first detonated near a bus stop. After people rushed in to help, two suicide bombs went off. The bus Shiite fighters had been on, cars, and a nearby apartment all suffered damages. With the more than 70 victims in the attack, the country is grieving yet another loss. This is taking place just one day after representatives met in Geneva to discuss a possible cease-fire and political solution for the ongoing Syrian war, which has cost the lives of more than 250,000 people, according to the New York Magazine. This is the first talk of peace for Syria in two years. The past two years have seen the escalation of refugees and deaths. Operation Mobilization (OM) missionaries *Joe and *Alisa serve in the Near East (OM field comprised of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq). They have witnessed firsthand how changes have taken place in Syria since the war began in 2011--some for the worse but others for the better. "We [relocated] to our present location in 2010, and the following year the war [in Syria] started," Joe tells OM. The couple saw the difficulty in reaching Muslims with the local church before the war started. Many were reluctant and nonresponsive to hearing the Gospel. But since the break of the war, families have scattered to different countries and rely on the help of OM and other ministries and organizations. God has used their vulnerability in this tough time to soften their hearts and hear what missionaries have to say.

(Photo courtesy of Operation Mobilization via Facebook)

"They come," Alisa shares with OM, "in need, in tears, in sadness, and find release and peace as people pray for them. It is really a special time. Even better is the fact that many of the refugees themselves are now ministering to others, offering to share and pray with relatives and neighbors." Through local churches, Joe and Alisa's ministry is reaching several countries, visiting believers, mentoring, encouraging, and developing new local leaders. One feat that stands out is their reach toward women. "Pre-war, there was no way to reach women in the Kurdish villages in Syria," Joe explains. "When the Syrian Kurds arrived here as refugees, they were welcomed and loved by the churches and by our workers. Now we have ladies' meetings where 50-70 Syrian Kurdish refugee women come together, often bringing their children. They listen to stories and teaching about Jesus, starting from the creation story, the fall of man, the sacrifice, and to the salvation through Jesus." You can see their full story and the healing they're bringing at OM's website here. During the peace talks for Syria, pray that envoys will come to an agreeable conclusion that will end the war and bring unity. Pray for safety, hope, and the spread of the Gospel in the Near East. Also pray for healing for families and friends who lost someone in the recent attack. * Names changed for security.
Categories: Mission Network News

Live Hymns & Worship by Guy Penrod

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
Known and loved for his heartfelt, country gospel style and powerhouse vocals, this former Gaither Vocal Band member has created a collection of some of today's most popular hymns and worship songs, including "Amazing Grace," "The Old Rugged Cross," "Shout To The Lord" and many more classic and contemporary favorites. Performed LIVE at Thomas Road Baptist Church, this all-new release showcases the talent and charisma that have made Guy a fan favorite in the gospel and country music formats.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

WOW Gospel 2016 by Various Artists - "WOW" Series

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
WOW Gospel the premiere collection of gospel music is back for its 19th year! Featuring the best in Traditional and Contemporary Gospel Music, this compilation contains your favorite radio tunes and praise anthems. A double CD set and companion DVD, this years release features powerful hit songs from artists such as Kirk Franklin, Tasha Cobbs, Charles Jenkins Fellowship Chicago, Israel Houghton, Smokie Norful, Brian Courtney Wilson, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond, Kierra Sheard, Jonathan McReynolds and many more![...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Way Up EP by Prodigal Son

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
The Prodigal Son "Way Up" E.P. is an innovative uplifting collection of Gospel Hip Hop Music that is relatable to all walks of life as vividly described in the featured song "ALIVE". This New Era of inspirational music ensures to inspire, uplift and motivate to make you realize with God all things are possible! Take a journey with Prodigal Son as we go Way Up! Pre-Order the "Way Up" E.P. on Amazon, I-Tunes or Holywoodrecords.com Official release date January 29, 2016 from HOLY-wood Records/TyscotLOUD[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Eclipsed EP by Fellowship Creative

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Ever Be EP by Aaron Shust

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Hymns II: Shine On Us by Michael W. Smith

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
Hymns II: Shine On Us is a collection of classic songs and contemporary hymns that Michael hopes will bring your spirit to a place of worship every time you listen. All of these songs are brand new recordings performed as only Michael can. This new album takes you on a nostalgic journey, infusing Smith's gospel roots and beautifully, captivating arrangements on of some of the most popular hymns we know and love. The physical album is available exclusively in Cracker Barrel stores nationwide and all digital outlets. [...]
Categories: Christian Music News

GFG Reload by J Moss

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

I Am Justice by Canton Jones

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News