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Vanuatu left in ruins after Cyclone Pam

Mission Network News - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Crossroad Bible Institute)

Vanuatu (MNN/CBI) -- Houses are decimated, bridges are crumbling, and buildings are in shambles. Right now, this is what people in Vanuatu are living in. Cyclone Pam was classified as a Category 5 storm as it hit Vanuatu March 13, leaving villages and islands dismantled. The country's already weak infrastructure stood little chance against Cyclone Pam's 211 mph winds. Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands east of northern Australia. Although it has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, it remains one of the poorest countries in the South Pacific. Vanuatu’s government estimates around 70% of people living there have been displaced. According to BBC President Baldwin Lonsdale, 90% of buildings in the capital were damaged or destroyed. The United Nations cited the FAO saying agriculture got the worst part, causing around $70 billion in damage. Crossroad Bible Institute’s satellite campuses in the South Pacific are praying for the devastated country. CBI Australia director Ray Hoekzema said, “Australia has rushed aid and manpower to Vanuatu. It will take some time to restore the situation.” For years, CBI Australia has worked hard at building relationships and enrolling students in Vanuatu’s prisons with hopes of expanding the Crossroad program throughout the islands. While access restrictions to Vanuatu’s prisons have posed challenges in recent years, Hoekzema remains hopeful that more doors will open when the time is right. “I have no doubt that in the Lord’s time, we will be there,” he said. The "monster" storm also hit New Zealand as a tropical storm. However, as CBI New Zealand director Peggy Landkroon reported, the damage was not devastating. “By the time the cyclone hit New Zealand on the east coast, which is where we are, there was just a lot of rain,” she said. Landkroon added that CBI New Zealand will continue to lift up the people of Vanuatu in prayer. Crossroad’s international coordinator Jacob Busscher echoed Landkroon’s sentiments. “We are thankful that students in the South Pacific were not affected directly by Cyclone Pam, but we know this disaster will have drastic effects on Vanuatu’s society. We are praying that proper aid will be sent to the people who need it and that God will open more doors for Crossroad to minister to Vanuatu’s prison population in the future.” CBI is a non-profit ministry. With your donation, they can help build a better future and create second chances for people in prison all across the world. Pray for those in Vanuatu to stand strong in their faith in the midst of adversity. Also pray for financial support.
Categories: Mission Network News

Islamic State activates operation in Pakistan

Mission Network News - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 5:00am

"You must embrace Islam
or be ready to be killed."
(Photo courtesy of FMi)

Pakistan (MNN) -- We've been telling you about the Islamic State's presence in Pakistan for months. Now, ISIS is officially launching its terror campaign. Before and after bombing a Shi'ite mosque on Friday, the Islamic State handed out hundreds of notices on official ISIS letterhead. National pastors shared a copy of one with Forgotten Missionaries International's Bruce Allen. "'You must embrace Islam or be ready to be killed.' That is the message going out in Pakistan in recent hours from ISIS," he reports. Believers from Youhanabad are already on the run. Youhanabad Translated as "John's Land" (named for the John of the Gospels, Allen says), Youhanabad is reportedly the largest Christian community in Lahore, Pakistan. "Youhanabad is about 300,000 people; 97% of the people are Christian," says Allen. "80% of the population has fled--they've left the city. Some are staying with relatives in other towns while others have just left." Those remaining in the city are likely staying close to loved ones who survived last week's attack, Allen adds. The death toll is now up to 44, and approximately 20 victims are on life-support in the hospital.


FMI's National Director in Pakistan, *Nehemiah, is on the ground in Youhanabad and has been sharing regular updates with Allen. "I know some stories now from the survivors of the blast, the people who have lost loved ones in the attack," Allen shares. One of those stories centers on a young man serving as a church security guard. "He saw the suicide bomber coming, and he pulled him back out from the church area so the blast would occur more in the street [instead of within the church]," Allen says. "He was the sole provider of income…. He lives with his parents, along with many other siblings. They're dealing with the emotional loss of a son or a brother, as well as with the loss of income." Violent terrorist attacks like this one have long-term, traumatic effects, especially on young children. "They do not speak for weeks or months," shares Allen. "It's not because there was some physical trauma to their vocal cords, but emotionally and mentally their psyche has just been so damaged that they cannot speak." FMI is giving them a voice by sharing their story -- will you help? Share this article with your friends on Facebook or other social media. FMI Pakistan

(Image credit FMI)

Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) exists to support indigenous pastors in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan who are telling unreached people groups about Christ and planting churches in these communities. Because they focus on unreached, usually rural, communities, FMI-supported Gospel workers have been largely unaffected by terrorist attacks targeting Christians. But, that doesn't mean the national believers are unprepared. "They're coming to grips with that [the ISIS operation], and they're leading their congregations through Bible study saying, 'This is how Christ wants us to respond to our enemies. This is how we prepare for opposition. This is the hope that Christ gives us,'" Allen shares. "Someday in the future--maybe not too far in the future--if the threats of the Islamic State are realized, if they take over the country, the Christians that live there will have a very, very difficult time." FMI-supported missionaries are finding ways to share Christ's love with the families of people killed in last week's attack. You can support their efforts here. "We want to reach out, whether it's to Muslims or to other Christians in this society, and help nurture them," says Allen. Learn more about FMI's work by reading archived stories here. * Name changed for security
Categories: Mission Network News

Why Creflo Dollar Believes Poverty Is Ungodly and Christians Should Claim Their 'Inheritance of Wealth and Riches'

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 5:23pm
Televangelist Creflo Dollar recently came under public scrutiny for trying to raise $65 million to purchase a luxurious G650 jet for his ministry, but for those who listen to his sermons and follow his teachings, Dollar is simply following the "prosperity gospel" which he backs up with his interpretation of the Bible.
Categories: Christian Post

Breakaway Episcopal Diocese Says Church Property Won't Be Used to Host Gay Weddings

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 4:01pm
A diocese that broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences and the treatment of its bishop has passed a resolution barring gay marriage ceremonies from being performed at its facilities.
Categories: Christian Post

Bloomsburg University Player kicked off team for tweet

WGRC News - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 3:36pm

A Bloomsburg University player has been kicked off the team after a vulgar tweet aimed at Little League baseball star Mo’ne Davis. It happened Friday night when junior Joey Casselberry started Tweeting after finding out the Disney Channel plans to make a movie about the Little Leaguer from Philly. At 13 years old, Mo’ne Davis became an overnight sensation after she became the first girl to win a game and pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series. Mo’ne Davis, told SportsCenter today that she wrote an email to the school asking officials to reinstate Casselberry. Everyone makes mistakes, Davis said. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Categories: Local News

Ted Cruz announces bid for Presidency

WGRC News - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 3:35pm

Ted Cruz is running for president. The Texas Republican senator sent a tweet after midnight saying, “I’m running for president and I hope to earn your support!” Cruz making it offical during an announcement this morning at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Cruz promises to repeal the federal health care law, Obamacare, abolish the Internal Revenue Service and scrap the Education Department.

Categories: Local News

John Piper Reveals Why PhDs in Theology Commit Adultery; Says They Cheat 'Probably More' Than 'Less-Educated People'

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 2:44pm
Chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary John Piper, disclosed in a recent sermon what he believes to be the reason why PhDs in theology commit adultery and argued that they cheat "probably more" than "less-educated people."
Categories: Christian Post

Pastor Rick Warren: What Are the Differences in Seeing With Eyes of Faith, Fear?

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 9:26am
Pastor Rick Warren of California's Saddleback Church, which celebrated 35 years of global impact Saturday, started a new sermon series on faith Sunday, listing several differences between seeing with the eyes of faith and the eyes of fear.
Categories: Christian Post

When Others Fail Us

Christian Post - Living - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 9:02am
The apostle Paul knew the value of good friends: Silas partnered with him in establishing new churches; Barnabas encouraged him in his ministry; and Timothy became like a son to him. Paul also knew the heartache of co-laborers turning away from him when times got tough (2 Tim. 1:15). We may experience something similar in our life.
Categories: Christian Post

20,000 People Attend Saddleback Church's 35th Anniversary; Rick Warren Says 'We Dared to Dream Big'

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 8:03am
At least 20,000 people filled California's Angel Stadium as Pastor Rick Warren's multi-site Saddleback Church celebrated its 35th year of ministry. The pastor and his wife, Kay, announced bigger plans as the megachurch moves into a new phase.
Categories: Christian Post

Is anyone protecting Pakistani minorities?

Mission Network News - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo credit FMI)

Pakistan (MNN) -- Multiple reports confirm more terrorist attacks against "soft targets" in Pakistan -- activity hubs for minorities like schools and churches -- are imminent. This means Pakistani minorities like Christians and Shia Muslims are increasingly at-risk. Will the military, which has effectively taken control of Pakistan, be able to protect them? "Perhaps," says Bruce Allen with Forgotten Missionaries International. "They have more personnel, more training, to take care of that." And yet, FMI contacts say another church was just attacked, not far from where last week's bombing took place. Find details here. Furthermore, according to Reuters, a bomb exploded outside a Shia mosque in Karachi immediately following Friday prayers. Please ask the Lord to protect His followers in Pakistan. Pray that terrorist attacks will not hinder Gospel growth. A "soft" coup Pakistan's history is full of oft-bloody coups and instability. But, this one is a little different.

Emblem of the Pakistan Armed Forces.

"Usually when we hear about a coup anywhere in the world, we think of revolution in the streets and lots of bloodshed," observes Allen. "But, a soft coup is one where there's a shift in leadership and yet there's been no overt revolution." Last summer, Pakistan's military bartered with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for control of national security and foreign policy. The grip of armed services became more obvious following December's terrorist attack on an army school in Peshawar and the introduction of a new National Action Plan. "[Sharif] stays on as a figurehead; you'll see him making speeches, but he's always flanked by the Army Chief of Staff, or some other military top brass," Allen explains. "He's more of a puppet at this point." Protecting Pakistani minorities No matter who is at Pakistan's helm, the question remains: will Christians and other minorities receive protection from impending danger?

Children perform a song during a worship service in a congregation of about 70 people. The church site has brick walls and mats on the floors, but no roof.
(Photo, caption credit FMI)

The Pakistani government certainly doesn't have a good track record. Last week's church bombing was one of many that undoubtedly could have been prevented. Government negligence was partly why many hurting Christians took to the streets of Youhanabad following the attack. “Two days before the incident, there were [chalk] writings on walls that were supporting terrorist activity--specifically ISIS,” Allen told MNN last week. “There was just a sense of ‘boiling over’ [that] was going to occur here soon, and the authorities just were not prepared to deal with that; or, [they] turned a blind eye to it.” Pakistani schools, another "soft target," are taking extra security measures; in many cases, with government help. Walls are being built higher, barbed wire fences are being installed, and police are giving arms training to teachers. "The schools at least have some funding to do that, but in many cases, the churches have a very difficult time coming up with new security protocols," shares Allen. Now, more than ever, it's time to stand alongside fellow Christians in Pakistan. PRAY First and foremost, Pakistani believers need our prayers.

(Photo credit FMI)

"We have brothers and sisters who are begging for us just to be praying for them," Allen says. "Pray for the wisdom of Christian leaders, so that they know how to guide their congregations through such turbulent times. Pray for their courage. Pray that they experience God's provision." Request FMI's Quarterly Prayer Letter here. You can also stay up-to-date by bookmarking FMI's profile page on your browser. Updates will appear under the "Related News" heading. GIVE Your financial support can help meet the physical needs of Gospel workers. "Whether you're a pastor or you're a laborer, if there's terror in the streets, it's difficult to get to work and make your own income," says Allen. Through FMI, your family can partner with a pastor and his congregation through sponsorship. You could also help with transportation needs, women's discipleship and training. Connect with giving opportunities here. GO

For all places of worship--whether indoors or outdoors, Christians remove their shoes to indicate the space is holy ground. Typically, men sit on one side of the meeting area (or the front) and women sit on the opposite side (or the back).
(Photo, caption courtesy FMI)

"Only a few of us can actually ever get into Pakistan," admits Allen. "But, using FMI's strategy, we're empowering the Christian leaders who are already there." As of February, FMI was supporting 39 Gospel workers in Pakistan. Today, there are more than 24 Gospel workers "waiting in the wings." "These are people who are passionate about the Gospel, who want to care for God's people; they're just saying, 'Will you help us do that job please?'" says Allen. Support a national Gospel worker through FMI.
Categories: Mission Network News

Turkana mobilized for neighborly missions

Mission Network News - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 5:00am

"The Treasure is making a tremendous impact in Kenya. Churches are being strengthened. Unbelievers are hearing the Gospel for the first time. Lives are being changed." (Photo and caption by World Mission via Facebook)

Kenya (MNN) -- Throughout the Bible, we can see how often God has used unexpected people to do His work. Remember David, the youngest son who killed a giant and became king? What about Paul, once a persecutor of the Christian church who became the church's biggest advocate? God is still doing this today. Take the Turkana people in northern Kenya. World Mission is witnessing their desire to go out and reach neighboring people groups with the story of Jesus. Greg Kelley, CEO of World Mission, says, "I'm here in northern Kenya among the Turkana people at a gathering with their 30 Turkana pastors. And this is one of the under-reached people groups in all of Northern Kenya. "I always thought, as an organization, that we would see the church in Nairobi mobilized to impact the North because there are so many Christians down in southern Kenya. But what I am learning today is that God is raising up among the minority Christians, even in the Turkana, a calling, a missionary call to go and reach their brothers and sisters among the Borana, and among the Pokot, and among the Samburu, and even into the country of Somalia." Joshua Project profiles all of these people groups. According to them, the Turkana are 48% Christians. The rest of the people follow ethnic religions. Joshua Project says their devotion to ethnic religions isn't usually strong, and so there is little hostile resistance to Gospel. Among the people groups the Turkana wants to reach with the Gospel, the Borana are 80% Muslim, the Pokot follow mainly ethnic religions, and so do the Samburu.

A group in a northern Kenya desert listening to the 'Treasure.' (Photo courtesy of World Mission via Facebook)

"Missionaries are being mobilized from northern Kenya, and it's so exciting. They're taking the solar-powered Treasure, our audio Bible in the Turkana language," says Kelley. "They're taking it in the Somali language, and God is using the minority groups of Christians in northern Kenya to reach their own. It's so exciting!" Pray for God's Word to continue to be spread and for it to change northern Kenya.
Categories: Mission Network News

Diamonds by Hawk Nelson

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 5:00am
What does a real relationship between real-world people and a real-world God look like? This is what Hawk Nelson explores in their seventh studio album: Diamonds. "Diamonds talks about how God can use pressure, struggle, trials and stress in our life and make it into something stronger and more beautiful," lead singer Jon Steingard said. "Just in the same way that diamonds are made. It's a big comfort to me when I'm in those times to remember that hardships have a purpose and aren't without meaning. A diamond is strong. It reflects light. It doesn't have any light of its own, but[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Science Fiction by Jonathan Thulin

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 5:00am
With a new album Science Fiction, which comes out March 17th, JT really pushes the envelope on his creative passions mixing hip hop, pop, adult contemporary and many other genres into an amazingly epic mixture of music. "This album was different for me. I didn't strategically write songs as I usually would, I just wrote what I felt in complete honesty. My hope is that this music will transcend beyond people's ears and into their hearts. God is a big part of who I am and all I want is for that to shine through my music." Jonathan says of his new[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

The Remixes by Britt Nicole

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 5:00am
Following the blowout success of her latest album, Gold including the TOP 40 radio single of the same title, comes Britt Nicole's first ever full-length remix album. With over 1 million career tracks sold, Britt delivers some of these same songs delivered in a new way including "Gold," "Ready or Not," "Lost Get Found," and more! Get ready to start your day from dance-filled beats to impressive new arrangements of Britt Nicole's biggest hits.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Even So Come by Passion Worship Band

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 5:00am
Featuring some of this generation's most acclaimed worship leaders Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill and Brett Younker the new Passion album was recorded in front of over 30,000 college students at three separate Passion gatherings in Atlanta and Houston.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Who You Say I Am by Among The Thirsty

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 5:00am
Who You Say I Am was recorded in Atlanta with Daniel's longtime friend, acclaimed producer Scotty Wilbanks (Third Day, 7eventh Time Down). Wilbanks had his eye on Among the Thirsty since they were teens, playing shows before they were even out of high school, so working with him at the helm felt like a natural partnership. "The recording process was a lot of fun. It's basically like summer camp because you're living in the studio," Daniel shares. The pop-centric album oscillates between the fun and the painfully honest, anchored by strong piano melodies and authentic, exposed lyrics.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Saints and Sinners by Matt Maher

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 5:00am
Saints and Sinners, the newest release from award-winning artist Matt Maher, is a collection of songs aimed at the heart of the church. Derived from the Oscar Wilde quote, "Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future," Maher expertly explores themes of inclusion, unity and grace. Includes the hit song "Because He Lives (Amen)."[...]
Categories: Christian Music News