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Saeed Abedini Rejects Wife's Claims About Marriage Problems, but Calls Her His Hero

Christian Post - Pastors - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 7:49am
American Pastor Saeed Abedini issued a statement about his troubled marriage with wife, Naghmeh, revealing that he does not agree with much of what she has written about the issue, but said that he is praying for healing and restoration.
Categories: Christian Post

26 Iowa Pastors, National Evangelical Leaders Endorse Marco Rubio Days Before Iowa Caucus

Christian Post - Pastors - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 7:37am
In the days leading up to the pivotal Iowa caucuses, a group of Iowa pastors and a number of prominent national Christian leaders have endorsed Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president, which contrasts the notion that evangelical leaders are coalescing around Ted Cruz.
Categories: Christian Post

Persecuted Christians need your prayers

Mission Network News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 5:00am
Mexico (MNN) -- Last week in Tuxpan de Bolaos, Mexico, approximately 50 believers were driven into hiding because they wouldn't deny their beliefs. These persecuted Christians need your prayers.

In early December, the village mentioned in this story passed a resolution expelling Protestant members if they refused to convert to Roman Catholicism.

As shared by Voice of the Martyrs Canada, believers were "threatened with lynching if they did not leave their homes." The full report, shared below, was compiled by Christian Solidarity Worldwide: Twenty Protestant families were forcibly displaced from their homes on 26 January in Tuxpan de Bolaos, Bolaños municipality in the state of Jalisco because of their religious beliefs. The group of approximately 50 individuals, including children, are all Baptists and members of the Huichol indigenous group. They were expelled from their homes under threat of violence on 26 January after the Mexican government failed to take measure to stop the forced displacement. Dr. Jorge Lee Galindo, director of the Mexican religious freedom organisation Impulso 18, told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) that following a community assembly held at noon on 26 January, the Protestants were given three hours to leave the village. The group was informed that a truck would pass by their homes to remove them from the village. They were threatened with violence, specifically lynching, if they did not obey the order to leave. According to the National Baptist Convention of Mexico (NBCM), after being taken away by the truck, the group was then "abandoned" in the mountains. The NBCM transported most of them to the municipality of Puente de Camotlán, a safer municipality about an hour away from their homes, where some received shelter. The remainder are staying in the municipal capital of Bolaños. According to Humberto Bayon of Open Doors-Mexico, the group is hoping for government intervention to allow them to return home and to retain their lands. Threats of expulsion have been ongoing since 6 December 2015, when a resolution was adopted by the village assembly stating that the Protestant members of the community would be expelled if they refused to convert to Roman Catholicism, "the traditional faith." According to Dr. Lee Galindo, this violated an agreement made under a previous local government that guaranteed the Protestants’ right to freedom of religion. At the December assembly, the current village leaders stated they would not abide by any previous agreements.

Photo of Wixarika (Huichol) woman and child on road near Tuxpan de Bolaños
(Photo credit: Arturo Ramos via Wikipedia)

According to Dr. Lee Galindo, the Jalisco State Human Rights Commission was alerted to the threats against the religious minority in Tuxpan de Bolaños in December and recommended a community dialogue to resolve the problem. State and Federal government officials were also made aware of the threats, however, no preventative measures were taken to stop the mass displacement. CSW’s Chief Executive Mervin Thomas said, “We are deeply concerned that despite almost eight weeks’ warning and the knowledge of explicit threats of violence and forced displacement, both State and Federal governments failed to take action to protect the religious minority in Tuxpan de Bolaños. Unfortunately, we have seen similar government inaction in repeated cases of severe violations of freedom of religion or belief in Mexico, compounded by impunity for those responsible for these crimes. "Once again we call on the Mexican government, at both Federal and State level, to take swift action to facilitate the safe return of the 20 displaced Huichol families in Jalisco, and to ensure that fundamental human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, are respected and upheld by the authorities at every level.” Working alongside VOM Mexico, VOM Canada helps persecuted Christians in southern Mexico by providing training, advocacy and more. Last fall, the groups produced a training manual for persecuted Christians titled, "In the Shadow of the Cross."

Persecuted Christian praise the Lord. (Screenshot)

In Chiapas, Mexico, many persecuted Christians have been left without jobs. VOM Canada is giving these believers an opportunity to learn a new trade through practical skills training, and is assisting others in the establishment of new businesses. Support persecuted Christians through VOM Canada's Families of Martyrs Fund here.
Categories: Mission Network News

European refugees desperately need hope

Mission Network News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 5:00am
Europe (MNN) -- If word is getting back to those in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan that Europe is no place to go, the message is falling on deaf ears. Numbers of refugees migrating to the North are expected to climb in 2016, despite the pitfalls.

(Photo courtesy E3 Partners)

Refugees continue to pour into Europe, according to *Andrew, an E3 Partners representative. People just trying to escape the violence in their own country travel to other countries and find refugee camps filled far beyond capacity. “They are fleeing into neighboring countries where now, since the conflict has been going on for so long--over four years, the living conditions in the camps are so bad that they are either fleeing back into Syria to get to Turkey, or they’re trying to get to Europe,” Andrew explains. He isn’t the only one expecting the numbers of immigrants to Europe to increase. The EU Executive Commission has projected up to 3 million refugees could migrate to Europe this year, despite the dangers most will face crossing the Mediterranean. Despite the numbers who die on the crossing, the cold, and the lack of certainty about their future, they keep coming. "Do you really think we would take this dangerous journey and freeze out there if we were safe in Syria?" one traveler, Mahmoud, asked a UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) worker. Mahmoud, his wife and their children--age four and four months--stood on a platform covered in ice and snow at the Presevo, Serbia, train station. Many of the refugees are ill equipped for the cold of the European winter. E3 is looking for Christians willing to step out in faith and be part of that answer with short-term missions to Germany. There are 6 trips to Germany, beginning in March and running through the summer. “We found a lot of momentum with one or two [trips], and they build on each other. Momentum overflows from one trip to the next as a new team comes in,” Andrew says. Participants get training in how to share their story of salvation and how to bridge that to God’s story. Teams go out into the cities in the evenings to meet refugees and gather them together. “Last summer we did some picnics where several hundred refugees would come together at one time and sit in small groups and start a conversation,” says Andrew. “Often times, there are people who want to do sports. We kicked around soccer balls with them. Lord willing, people come to faith and are then discipled.” Andrew says they don’t expect volunteers to be trained going into trip or to speak a second language. “We want people to be stretched, but you’ll have someone more experienced to go with you. It’s awesome if you know a second language, but we’re finding that a lot of these people know English or are at least trying to learn English,” he says. Click here to contact E3 Partners to register for one of the six trips beginning in March to share the Gospel with Germans and with new immigrants. * name changed for security purposes
Categories: Mission Network News

OM launches Crossfit ministry

Mission Network News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 5:00am
Slovenia (MNN) -- Do you like Crossfit? Operation Mobilization (OM) is launching a Crossfit ministry to Slovenia this summer. If you like working out and sharing how God entered your life, you might want to take a closer look.


As described on OM's website, "Crossfit Slovenia will use the sport of Crossfit as a platform to forge relationships within the gym. Because Slovenes are such relational people, training Crossfit workouts together will immediately give you a connection with them because you will be doing something that they love." For a couple of weeks in July, you'll be able to train Slovenes in Crossfit and introduce them to Christ. Or, if they already know the Lord, your story might help them deepen their relationship with Him. Learn more about this mission trip or send your application here. Crossfit Slovenia a unique ministry approach for a nation steeped in Protestant history but desperate for discipleship and evangelical growth. According to Operation World, Protestants have had a presence in Slovenia ever since the Reformation. Although most Slovenes (60%) are Catholic, the Catholic churches in most cities are primarily there for cultural and societal reasons. Prayer Points
  • Ask the Lord if He would have you serve Him in Slovenia through this opportunity.
  • Pray for evangelical churches within Slovenia to begin reaching their neighbors with the Truth of salvation.
  • Pray for creativity to find new ways to engage Slovenes with the Gospel.
Categories: Mission Network News

Partnership: a mark of missional shift

Mission Network News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 5:00am
International (MNN) -- A new year seems to always bring change -- something the mission field is not exempt from. In 2016, change comes in the form of partnership.

Photo by Afayo of ECM (http://www.afayo.org/)

For years, missiologists have been encouraging people to serve alongside others, rather than doing too much for them. Now, in 2016, their advice is being heeded, but maybe not by who you would think. Mark Luckey with Every Child Ministries explains, “In the work of missions today, it’s the national church and the organizations in these countries saying to mission organizations in the West, ‘We don’t want you to do it FOR us: we want you to train us." The partnership perspective The shift toward doing missions together carries a few implications. “First of all, we can send less missionaries. The work of missionaries is still very important; we still need to send missionaries. But the need for as many, as in the past, has changed. Now the focus for missionaries would be more in areas still [needing] training,” explains Luckey. Partnership creates a more effective dynamic. By walking alongside national organizations, the need for volunteers to learn a new culture or a new language is eliminated. Instead, volunteers can help train and equip nationals. “People who have specific skills and are able to train others...can go for shorter periods of time to provide that training--maybe follow up trips, [but] not necessarily living there all the time,” says Luckey. Part of this goal is not just to train others, but to train them so they can train others, too, thus creating a replicating effect. However, though their capabilities have grown, national churches often still need financial support from churches in the West. This poses a different challenge: accountability.

(Photo courtesy Every Child Ministries)

“We have to find ways to make sure people are accountable for how they use the funds that we do send,” explains Luckey. How this will happen is currently undetermined. But despite this trend showing up in 2016, ECM seems to have been ahead of the curve. “ECM has long been about training. But because now those who we are serving are asking us to partner with them, it makes it a lot easier,” affirms Luckey. ECM provides the following training on top of its other programs: Agriculture: ECM uses "Farming God’s Way" as a tool to help incorporate Biblical principles with sound agricultural principles. It’s a way to share the Gospel and provide important practical training. Vocational Training: Some children are unable to continue pursuing school after completing secondary schooling. Because of this, ECM offers vocational training to these kids so they can one day provide for themselves and their families. Teachers: ECM helps train teachers to become more effective in the classroom. Part of this training includes helping the teachers discover ways to share their faith with their students. Sunday School Teachers: ECM trains Sunday school teachers and other church leaders to effectively share the Gospel and to be able to train others to do the same. Pastoral Training: ECM partners with other organizations to train pastors and lay leaders for serving their communities. You can be a part of this training, too! Here's how: Partner with ECM If these action points are beyond your scope, please pray for ECM instead. Pray for God’s direction as ECM continues to strive to serve others. Also pray for effective partnerships.
Categories: Mission Network News

South Sudan: on the edge of failed statehood

Mission Network News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 5:00am
South Sudan (MNN) -- The United Nations is critical of both sides of the civil war in the world's newest country, South Sudan.

(Photo courtesy Set Free Ministries)

Jeff Stam, Set Free Ministries International Director says, “I just received last week reports from the United Nations Refugee Agency. They’re reporting that there’s renewed fighting, skirmishes going on in the southern part of South Sudan that the refugees are continuing to pour into northern Uganda.” Since the beginning of this year, 6,000 refugees have crossed into Uganda, trying to escape the fighting. In December 2013, an outbreak of violence in the capital of Juba quickly engulfed the entire northern part of the country in conflict, impacting large swaths of the population. What started as a political fight quickly metastasized into a war along ethnic lines, mainly between the Dinka and Nuer communities. Now, with the hopes of a free and peaceful South Sudan dashed after 2009’s hope, there are growing concerns that South Sudan could tip into a failed state. With no fully-functioning government in place, and the displaced numbering nearly 1.7 million, food insecurity is the next man-made crisis, threatening a third of the population. Education falls by the wayside with bigger fish to fry. Set Free Ministries was originally involved in peace and reconciliation process in South Sudan among church leaders. Stam observes, “The schools have not re-opened because the villagers have not returned. Perhaps 25% of the villagers have come back.” However, “It was brought to our attention that there was a primary and secondary school in the small village of Werkok that had been vacant for almost three years.” If it’s peaceful enough to open a school, people will come back. And from there, says Stam, “We approached the government and offered the possibility of opening those schools if they would give us the land and the buildings. We would try to open them in an attempt to draw people back to the villages.” But that’s the hang-up, too. It has to be safe enough to come home. The big question: Is it sate? The answer depends on where you look.

(Photo courtesy Set Free Ministries)

The uncertainty could have been the end of the conversation. Stam says then, they came across a little boy in primary grade 4 inside one of the school’s abandoned offices. He’d found a small opening in one of the grates that led inside. The child had squeezed through the opening and was found sorting through piles. “There were a lot of old textbooks, some of them were in very poor condition. But he was looking through those textbooks trying to find something that he could use to try to continue his education on his own.” Since the government was willing to give the land and the school buildings to Set Free Ministries, their next step was clear. Stam says tackling a school meant dealing with some big issues. First, inter-tribal conflict is always an underlying tension. Because it is inbred from the time people are children up until their adult years, “Our goal for the high school was to very purposefully make it inter-tribal, attracting students from the various leading tribes to try to promote peace and reconciliation through the educational process.” They are aware “that this social experiment could blow up in our faces, if something happens at the school.” It will be especially challenging since “[the government] just made very significant changes in the whole structure of the country. There used to be 10 states; now, they’ve divided up into 28 states, and the boundaries are more along tribal geography rather than the political geography.” The main issues: bitterness and forgiveness. Aside from a quality education, Stam explains Set Free’s spiritual approach. ”We use a process that I like to refer to as a 'spiritual inventory' looking at different areas where Satan can possibly gain ground or possibly a foothold in our lives.” Utilizing the same principles that they use in addressing spiritual warfare in discipling the students, they’re equipping a generation to forge a different identity, “so that they don’t have a crisis as adults that they have to have somebody else address, simply because they learned how to deal with these things at an earlier age.”

(Photo courtesy Set Free Ministries)

They’d like to see the high school re-open at the beginning of the 2017 school year, late January. The primary school should open as soon as possible, because it’s a direct benefit to the village, adds Stam. “The first step we have now is to bring the buildings back up to a usable condition. We’re working with a contractor; we’re praying for somebody that can be our liaison in South Sudan.” Then, they’re looking for the kind of Christian instructors who place education on the same level of importance as discipleship. “We need to find some qualified teachers to be able to start working as soon as possible in the primary school. We’re look at Sudanese teachers, but we’re also open to the idea of expat teachers.” Stam asks you to join him in prayer for wisdom on how to construct the right kind of curriculum to make this idea fly. The staff will need strength to hold discipline in equal parts love and strength. The ministry needs the right people who want to be in on the ground level of a unique approach to generational reconciliation for a country. Big ideas need room to be Set Free. Click here to get started.
Categories: Mission Network News