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100 years later: Armenian genocide or atrocity?

Mission Network News - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 5:00am

Armenian woman kneeling beside dead child in field "within sight of help and safety at Aleppo."
(Caption, photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Turkey (MNN) -- You'd think something that happened 100 years ago wouldn't cause issues today, but it is. World leaders are still divided over the 1915 massacre of more than 1 million Armenian Christians. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is taking a stand. They're calling it the "Armenian genocide" and urging U.S. leaders to do the same. “Remembering and acknowledging the terrible evil that took place 100 years ago is especially important given the crimes against humanity--including acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and religiously-motivated violence--that are taking place today…especially in Syria and Iraq," stated USCIRF Vice Chair, Robert P. George in a recent press release. "On this day, the United States government … should state publicly and clearly that perpetrators of such heinous crimes will be held accountable.” Armenian genocide: the facts

Armenians ordered by the authorities to gather in the main square of the city to be deported. The crowd was eventually massacred.
(Photo, caption courtesy Wikipedia)

As stated on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Web site, the term "genocide" did not exist before 1944 and is used specifically to refer to "violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group." Near the end of the 1800s, Muslim rulers of the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey) began a systematic extermination of Armenian "infidels," culminating in the historic events of 1915.
  • 1890 -- Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II tells a reporter, "I will soon settle those Armenians. I will give them a box on the ear which will make them…relinquish their revolutionary ambitions."
  • 1894 - 1896 -- Police and soldiers attack nearly every Armenian town in the Ottoman Empire, slaughtering between 100,000 and 300,000 people. According to Armenian-Genocide.org, thousands fled the country, while thousands more were forcibly converted to Islam.
  • 1914 -- The Turks enter World War I and Ottoman religious leaders declare jihad (holy war) against all Christians who were not their allies.
  • April 24, 1915 -- The Armenian genocide begins. Up to 250 doctors, lawyers, politicians, government officials, teachers, writers, poets, and other intellectuals who could become the core of a future resistance, were arrested overnight and executed within 72 hours.

    Armenians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Turkish soldiers.
    (Photo, caption courtesy Wikipedia)

  • 1915 - 1922 -- Armenian citizens are forced on "death marches" through the Mesopotamian Desert. A special battalion charged with “the liquidation of the Christian elements" systematically slaughters Armenian Christians by drowning them in rivers, throwing them off cliffs, crucifying them, and burning them alive.
By the time the Ottoman Empire fell in 1922, only 388,000 Armenians remained. Before the genocide began, the Armenian population was numbered at two million. The denial The well-established and documented facts listed above communicate the intent of Turkish leaders: to rid the Ottoman Empire of Armenian Christians, once and for all. Since 1918, however, Turkish officials have denied this genocide ever took place. Because Turkey is an important Middle Eastern ally to many Western nations, their leaders have followed suit.

Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States.
(Photo, caption credit WhiteHouse.gov)

On the campaign trail, current U.S. President Barak Obama vowed he would "recognize the Armenian Genocide" if he were elected. However, throughout his entire term, and on the centennial anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide, President Obama broke his promise, calling it an "atrocity" instead. “The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact,” Obama said on January 19, 2008. Though highly criticized, President Obama isn't the only one to avoid using the "G" word. Leaders of the United Kingdom and Israel also refuse to label the Armenian massacre as genocide. However, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made the following statement last week. “The Nazis,” he said, “used the Armenian genocide as something that gave them permission to bring the Holocaust into reality.” As Edmund Burke once said, “Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” The Armenian genocide is relevant today because history is repeating itself. Why it matters “What these rebels and ISIS are doing is incredible. These stories of cutting off heads: these were only stories we heard from our grandmothers and grandfathers,” Armenian refugee Bedro Zeitounian tells TIME Magazine. “But now we are seeing it in front of us.”

(Video screen shot AINA)

As explained here, Western leaders failed to intervene and help persecuted Christians in the early 1900s. Today's Western leaders appear to be doing the same. Now that you know, what will you do? Prayer is the action most requested by persecuted Christians, and it's the most important response. Connect with persecution watchdogs like Open Doors USA, Voice of the Martyrs USA, and Voice of the Martyrs Canada for daily updates and prayer needs, and follow the 8thirty8 Facebook page. If you live in the U.S., speak up for the voiceless. Share this story on your social media platforms, and if you live in the U.S., urge your elected representative to take action.
Categories: Mission Network News

Cookbook connects your kitchen with the Middle East

Mission Network News - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 5:00am

Women for Middle East Hope Cookbook
(Photo by WFMEH

Middle East (MNN) -- What if you could share the Gospel with women thousands of miles away, just by cooking a meal in your kitchen at home? Believe it or not, it's possible, thanks to a great idea from Nancy Stafford, the honorary leadership chair of Women for Middle East Hope, a wing of Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, SAT-7 "Part of our goal for Women for Middle East Hope is to be a bridge builder between women of the West and women of the Middle East and North Africa," says Stafford. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and as Stafford says, food is a language everyone understands. Her idea was to create a cookbook containing international recipes from the Middle East and North Africa. "Each of these dishes has got a woman featured who talks about her life a little bit," says Stafford. "So, it's an educational tool, it's a connecting tool, and it's just fun." It was Debbie Brink of Women for Middle East Hope who thought to print testimonies along with the recipes. These stories are good praise and prayer points, but there's a practical strategy, too. Brink says, "By purchasing it, you're helping to fund more programming for women through SAT-7. So, each purchase helps to produce more programming that's geared toward women, their struggles, their family issues, how to raise their children, and how to be a good wife. And so the Gospel is presented in a variety of different ways through these programs that now women around the West are able to help fund through these purchases." Brink made sure some of her favorite recipes made it into the cookbook--ones she had on her first trips to the Middle East. One is a chicken and rice recipe, the other is a pastry that doubles as a dessert and breakfast food. These and many more authentic, favorite, and easy-to-prepare recipes fill the pages of the book. I bought the book, now what? Stafford says buying the book is only the beginning of possible ways to help SAT-7's television ministry to women. Women for Middle East Hope also has a study guide available called Hope for the Hopeless. It is a discussion with biblically-based ideas on how you can make a difference in the lives of women in the Middle East and North Africa. One idea is to host a Middle Eastern meal with women and then use the study guide to brainstorm about how those women can help other women in the East. Fundraising would help support the ministry going on with SAT-7. Stafford says, "The programming on SAT-7 that's aimed at women is phenomenal. And to really put it in perspective: in that part of the world, to have as much dedicated programming for women as we already have is almost unheard of." They want to do more, but it will take funds. You may want to note that Women for Middle East Hope has an expanding store of jewelry and other items; the proceeds will help this ministry. Check it out here. Brink shares a way you can be praying for these women and their families. "I just came back from Tunisia. I had never been there before, and I met some wonderful women," she says. "Women are coming to the Lord. They're not allowed to publicly say that very often, but I think we need to pray for those women who are in the shadows, quietly coming to Christ who need to have discipleship, they need to understand more about what the Bible says, they need to grow in their faith." She continues, "We also need to pray for the women in the families that we're hearing about every day on the news that are now refugees having to flee their countries and their homes and leaving everything behind and living in camps." These families, fleeing to and from Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, have nothing left. Pray that SAT-7 and Women for Middle East Hope would continue to be an effective ministry to those in need. Pray for the success of SAT-7's educational program for children in camps. Pray that their faith would be encouraged because of the help they are receiving.
Categories: Mission Network News

Nepal death toll climbs: Christians reaching out

Mission Network News - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 5:00am

Nepal was hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Saturday April 25.

Nepal (MNN) -- Rescue workers from around the world are converging on Nepal. Saturday's 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the country just 50 miles northeast of Kathmandu, damaging an unknown number of buildings, killing many, and injuring thousands. Survivors say it was like trying to walk on a boat during heavy seas. Gospel for Asia has work in Nepal and workers on the ground. GFA President KP Yohannan says the death toll isn't going to be good. "Our leader said to me, 'It's going to be in the thousands.' And usually the information only comes later because there's not communications. It's a remote mountainous region." The earthquake hit just before noon local time on Saturday, April 25, the day Christians attend their weekly church services. Yohannan says, "We have 450 congregations scattered around the country. But between Kathmandu and Pokhara where the earthquake hit, that is one area where we have a significant number of churches and [20] Bridge of Hope Centers." Bridge of Hope Centers are places where GFA workers assist poor children. Yohannan tells MNN that early reports indicate five churches have been damaged in the quake, but he told us he wouldn't be surprised if that number increases. He is very concerned. "How many churches [were] damaged: that is another major concern.  Every church that was destroyed means there were people in the church worshipping." That could mean an increase in the number of Christian casualties in Nepal. "People by the hundreds were worshipping...in those churches. And so, we are seeking to find information. Our leaders are walking and talking, trying to find out how many are dead or other churches affected." In terms of emergency response, Yohannan says GFA workers were prepared for this. "We have training going on continually for crisis. That is the reason why immediately our people could be mobilized right there in Kathmandu, reaching out to the suffering people." GFA relief workers are already delivering water, food, clothing, and more. Yohannan says Jesus is mentioned as people begin asking questions about why they are helping. "God is a god of compassion, mercy, and caring: for the suffering, for the widows and orphans. I think our response to the suffering world is very significant, and this is how they are going to see that we care for them." As Christians offer help and compassion, Yohannan believes it will open doors for the Gospel. Between 30 and 40 of Gospel for Asia’s missionaries serving in Uttar Pradesh, an Indian state bordering Nepal, are headed toward the quake-ravaged area to help. In the meantime, prayerfully consider donating generously to the work of GFA. Your support will help them provide much-needed physical aid and provide a platform to tell victims about Jesus, the only One who can give them eternal comfort. If you'd like to help, click here to get prayer requests, updates, and to support GFA.
Categories: Mission Network News

Trafficked woman finds hope amid despair

Mission Network News - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

China (CAM/MNN) -- Thousands of North Koreans are refugees sneaking across the border to China. According to NorthKoreanNow.org, two thirds of these refugees are women. And what do you think happens to them? About 80% are trafficked. Christian Aid Mission reported the story of *Mi-Hyeon Li who fled to China after her husband was killed by a coal mine collapse, and her son starved to death during North Korea’s 1990s famine. In 1998, Li crossed the Tumen River into China with her sister. While trying to find correct directions, a Korean man approached and told them he could find well-paying work for them. Li said, “He offered us a hot, delicious meal in a place near his apartment. It was the meal we hadn’t had for a long time in my country. He gave a very kind first impression. We trusted in him and followed him to Yanji City, where we stayed in his place around a month.” But they were tricked, trapped, and traded. One night, five Korean-speaking men came to the apartment, saying the sisters were under arrest and would be repatriated to North Korea. They shoved Li into one car and threw her sister into a separate one. Continuously, Li asked where her sister was, but they told her to be quiet. Hours later, she and her captors arrived at a northern province train station. “I kept asking where my sister was,” Li said. “They answered they didn’t know and told me they bought me, so I must follow them. They forced and threatened me. Since that night 18 years ago when I was separated from my sister, I have never heard any more of her. It has been so hard for me to survive without knowing where my sister is and how she is doing.” Li’s captors sold her to a poor, Chinese paralytic for about $1,000. He took her as his wife to a remote farm village in an undisclosed northern province. Here, she was kept in a small, cramped house with the man’s sister, who constantly kept an eye on her. And, since Li didn’t know Chinese, she couldn’t take any requests. Many times, she made attempts at running away, but Chinese police routinely made round-ups of North Koreans in accordance with a repatriation pact between the two nations. Rather then sending them back to China, they would imprison them and collect bail. Each time she was arrested, her husband had to take out loans to pay the high-priced $650 bail money, which added up to around $10,000. Li said, “I spent my time in those days worrying so much about the police and my sister’s whereabouts. This made me sick, and often they sent me to the hospital. But even so, I was able to give birth to a daughter. However, we couldn’t do anything about the loans that he made towards bailing me out.” Li tried to start chipping away the debt by selling tofu, despite not having any tofu-making machinery. Initially, her daughter managed to attend school without legal status, but eventually she had to be registered as a legal resident in order to continue. They didn’t have enough money to obtain a legal status, so she had to drop out and begin working in a restaurant. Wanting to make more of a dent in the debt, Li wanted to follow other North Korean women in the village who had left their children and “husbands” to find work in South Korea. But, her daughter tearfully begged her not to. “She told me, ‘I will work hard for you to pay off the private loan, so don’t go. We can live here together in peace. Please don’t leave me alone,” Li said. “I couldn’t leave my daughter who loves me so much. If I had made up my mind to go to South Korea, then what would happen to my daughter and husband?” The director of an area ministry reaching out to North Korean immigrants said the paralytic father of Li’s daughter could do nothing without Li’s help. “Leaving him alone, he always caused problems, breaking his knees from falling on the ground,” said the director, known only as Suran. “Li had several chances to go to South Korea to receive a better life there, as many other North Korean women did, but she could not leave her daughter and the poor, sick paralytic behind, because they needed her.” Li said she feels good now that she did not leave. And if she had, she would never have met Suran, also North Korean, who had also been trafficked and had settled in the area. Suran identified 90 other North Korean trafficked women in the area, and with assistance from Christian Aid Mission, is providing them with small-business loans, school tuition for their children, and help with legal costs. Li said, “Suran was telling me that if I believe in Jesus and pray to the Lord, God would listen to us and we would be in peace. So I began to attend the church, and I became a witness to that. I saw my life making a transition, from miserable encounters to approaching hope.” Suran said the ministry helped to obtain legal residency for Li’s now 15-year-old daughter. “I am praying with Li that the Lord may help her open a small store so that she can make some money to support them and a happy home in China. When I asked to receive her prayer list, Li told me she would need about $3,300 to open a small store.” Li said the debt she owes to people is weighing heavily on her. “My life in China has been so hard, but now I’ve met Jesus. I like to believe Him and do my best to follow Him. I would pray to Him wherever I go, so that He may protect me all the way. One more wish that I have is that the Lord God may let my country be unified again so that we can go back to our home freely to see my brother and sisters again and tell them how good the Lord God is.” Thousands of women like Li suffer everyday, and with your help they can find a brighter future. Help by clicking here, and type Provide Tofu Business Loan for NK Traffic Victims. You may also call Christian Aid Mission at: 434-977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 836NKOW. Thank you!
Categories: Mission Network News

Staying Young and Fruitful

Christian Post - Living - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 12:51pm
Our culture is obsessed with youth. Stores are flooded with products promising better health, fewer wrinkles, and a trim physique. However, these will only touch the surface of our aging problem. Unless death intervenes, growing old is inevitable. Living old, on the other hand, is a choice.
Categories: Christian Post