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Violence consuming Burundi

Mission Network News - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Food for the Hungry)

Burundi (MNN) -- Over 105,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries to escape violence following an attempted coup. In refugee camps, they’re lacking food, water, and medicine. The UNHCR reported seven have died since the evacuation, and 300 are suffering from acute diarrhea. In Tanzania, officials reported an outbreak of cholera. But many organizations are giving their support to feed and give medical attention to sick refugees. Food for the Hungry is working with partners to set up emergency care programs for the thousands that have sought refuge in Rwanda. The Protests Protests exploded several weeks ago after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intentions to run for a third term--which is against the Burundi Constitution. Nkurunziza argued he should be entitled for the term since he was appointed to the presidential role by parliament in 2005, not elected. Clearly, not everyone agreed. “We just want Nkurunziza to respect the constitution and leave office. In the years he has been in power, he has done nothing for us,” said protestor Bertland Nkurunziza, according to the NY Times. The Associated Press reports hundreds of angry protestors took to the streets, putting up barricades made of burning tires. In the capitol, BBC reports protesters broke into the national jail, released arrested demonstrators, and burned down the building. Police and soldiers armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades have been standing against demonstrators. The violence has led to at least 15 deaths. According to International Business Times, the violence consuming the country is the worst it’s been in over 12 years when the civil war ended. The Refugees More than 100,000 Burundians are running to neighboring countries to find sanctuary. According to the UNHCR, more than 70,000 have flocked to Tanzania, 26,300 to Rwanda, and around 9,200 to the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the Mahanga refugee camp in Kirehe, Rwanda, Food for the Hungry is transforming the lives of suffering refugees. They’re sharing the love of Christ by giving food, mosquito nets, and transportation. And for children who have become orphaned or don’t know where their parents are, FH is providing educational classes and trauma counseling. They’re even trying to reunite children who have been separated from families. Help them reach more refugees by donating to their Rapid Response Fund. Pray For: • The violence to subside • Refugees to be healed from any sicknesses in camps • Burundians to find Christ in the midst of the violence and chaos
Categories: Mission Network News

Boat people suffer as officials block help

Mission Network News - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Partners Relief and Development)

[UPDATE: Praise God! Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia vow to NOT push boat people back into the sea! Click here for details.] SE Asia (MNN) -- There's a lot of talk, but not much action in Southeast Asia. Thousands of Rohingya refugees, commonly termed "the boat people," are stranded at sea, dying slowly. The total number is unknown, but estimates range from 8,000 to 20,000. How did the boat people come to be? Foreign ministers from Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia are meeting in Kuala Lumpur today,  not to find a solution but to discuss how refugees got there in the first place. In a statement released earlier this week by Malaysia's foreign ministry, "Talks would focus on human trafficking and people smuggling in the region." Boat people were reportedly "high on the list" of priorities for today's meeting, but no specifics had yet been released at press time. More high-level talks are scheduled for May 29. "One of our goals is to bring enough international attention to this crisis so the countries--Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, in particular--[will feel] forced to do something to help these people," shares Oddny Gumaer, co-founder of Partners Relief and Development. You can help by sharing this story on your Facebook page. Partners' response Right now, a small Partners team is at the water's edge, ready to help boat people with emergency supplies and a message of hope only Christ can bring. They've been trying to reach the refugees for days but kept running into obstacles, Gumaer reports; today, it appears they finally have access.

(Image courtesy Partners)

In order to reach the stranded Rohingya, they need your prayers. "The Thai Navy has blockaded access to these boats," shares Gumaer. "They don't want journalists or media or aid organizations to get to the boats, even if it is only to give the people water." Please ask the Lord for miraculous intervention so Partners' team can reach the boat people. Ask Him to give the team wisdom and protection. Pray for endurance and strength for suffering Rohingya. In the past, Gumaer says, demonstrations of Christ-like compassion have led to questions from the Rohingya, such as "Why are you helping us?" and "Why do you care?" "When we have shared with them that we are Christians, and we are doing this because we believe that God loves them and that He hasn't forgotten them, they say, 'We really appreciate that; please continue to pray to your God for our situation,'" Gumaer shares. Circumstances remain difficult for the Rohingya to follow Christ, and Gumaer says none have committed their lives yet. But they remain open to His people and their message. Pray for softened hearts among the boat people. Pray that as the Partners team provides emergency help, the Rohingya will see Christ through them and that their eyes will be opened to His Truth. Your response Now that you know about the boat people and their plight, what will you do? While prayer is the first and foremost need, Gumaer suggests additional options. GIVE "All the money that we have, we are now spending to help these people," she shares. "The more funding we have, the more people we can help." Help Partners save the Rohingya. SHARE Despite the best efforts of governments in Southeast Asia, word is getting out about the boat people. "They don't want the world to know what's going on," explains Gumaer.

Use this photo for your Facebook cover picture & encourage your family and friends to do the same.
(Photo, caption courtesy Partners)

Make your friends aware by sharing this story on social media. Join the social chorus already calling for change by using #SaveTheRohingya in your post. "By reading and sharing what they're reading, and speaking about it, [people] are helping." If you're reading this in the U.S., ask your elected officials to help the boat people. "Contact your politicians and your senators, and tell them that you would like the United States to put more sanctions on Myanmar until they change their policies on the Rohingya," Gumaer requests.
Categories: Mission Network News

Humanitarian aid planned for hard-to-reach areas in Nepal

Mission Network News - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Global Aid Network)

Nepal (GAiN) -- [Editor’s Note: After much earthquake aid has been put forth to help urban areas of Nepal, Global Aid Network and a local Christian organization are partnering to help people in hard-to-reach areas. This is the project proposal they want to use in the upcoming months.]   The Crisis On April 25, 2015 at 11:56 local time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, with the epicenter in Lamjung District (north-west) of Kathmandu and south of the China border. This event and dozens of aftershocks killed more than 8,000 and displaced 1.3 million people. Then, on May 12, another 7.3 magnitude earthquake wreaked further havoc just 76 km northeast of Kathmandu. The Analysis Global Aid Network (GAiN) immediately sent a crisis assessment team to survey the existing crisis conditions and complete a situational analysis of needs, resources, and personnel. Our focus was to evaluate how we can support and assist the 320 Campus Crusade National staff in their relief efforts on behalf of the Nepalese people impacted. GAiN and Nepal Campus Crusade for Christ agree that our priority must be to serve victims of the earthquake who would otherwise be neglected. They reside in the tough places of Nepal—tough to get there and tough to live in. Moreover, the work of evangelism and followup will be more effective in these smaller, more isolated communities than in the chaos of urban Kathmandu. Nepal CCC, through its 120 field staff and 200 church planters, have already developed relationships in these communities. People living in these mountain villages experience greater suffering because, even before the earthquake, the roads were primitive and poorly maintained. Now, many are severely damaged. Consequently, humanitarian aid will reach these communities last, if at all. The Strategy Global Aid Network, in partnership with Nepal Campus Crusade for Christ, will respond to the crisis with a three-phase project, summarized in the chart below. Based upon current capacity available, the decision was made to resource 1,000 families in phase one and two. In the third phase, we plan to help 50 families rebuild their permanent homes. This plan provides the capacity to scale this project as additional resources (funds, supplies, and personnel) become available.

(Photo courtesy Global Aid Network)

Phase I – Emergency Relief Our advance team discovered a surprising lack of sources for clean water, both in the Kathmandu valley and the remote villages. A water filtration kit, consisting of a plastic bucket or bag fitted with a Sawyer “Point One” filter, will provide a family with virtually unlimited supply for more than two years. Food security is, of course, low after a disaster on this scale. GAiN and Nepal CCC will deliver a 21-day supply of staple food items purchased locally and bundled into kits by local staff. Each bundle consists of rice, noodles, lentils, cooking oil, salt, and sugar. While food, water, and medical care remain critical needs, the people of Nepal face a potential new crisis with the arrival of monsoon season, usually beginning in June. Many structures lay in ruins, and most others have not been inspected for safety, so victims live in makeshift shelters consisting of any material that can be salvaged. GAiN and Nepal CCC will provide 1,000 families with waterproof tarps to construct temporary shelters. Logistics within the Kathmandu valley remain relatively straightforward. The same cannot be said for remote villages, however, which lie in the surrounding mountains. The roads are notoriously primitive and the terrain treacherous during the rainy season. GAiN must purchase 2 trucks designed for rugged terrain. The proposal includes fuel and maintenance for 15 months. Phase II – Stabilization GAiN and Nepal CCC will then extend tangible help beyond the immediate crisis, in anticipation of the monsoon season. The second phase will include the delivery of tents for 1,000 families, 3,000 blankets, and 5,000 pairs of shoes. To help stave off disease, GAiN and Nepal CCC will assemble and deliver personal hygiene supplies. To treat the sick and wounded, we will deliver disposable medical supplies, such as syringes, swabs, gloves, etc. These will be shipped in two 20-foot containers. GAiN will work with Nepal CCC staff to secure an enclosed area for storage and staging. Phase III – Reconstruction One Nepal Campus Crusade for Christ staff couple—newly married and expecting their first child soon—lost their home in the earthquake. They now live in the front yard of their demolished house. According to new husband and father-to-be, Narayan, the price of bricks has quadrupled since the earthquake; so, most everyone expects a slow recovery.

(Photo courtesy Global Aid Network)

Once the monsoon season has passed, GAiN and Nepal CCC plan to help 50 families rebuild their permanent homes. As life returns to normal (God willing) and Nepalese children resume their typical school schedule, GAiN will equip Nepal CCC with 3,000 CarePacks. These school supplies offer Christian workers an opportunity to develop relationships with families and school administrators. Global Aid Network and Nepal Campus Crusade for Christ seek to offer much more than temporal relief; we will work together to bring the eternal hope of Jesus Christ to the lost. We will do this first by delivering tangible evidence of God’s love for the people of Nepal. The Impact The Nepal Campus Crusade for Christ staff numbers more than 100, with another 200 Campus Crusade for Christ International workers serving alongside them. While other organizations, both Christian and secular, are sending tons of humanitarian assistance, none have the ability to combine practical help with spiritual guidance. We give assistance to all, without conditions or reservations, fulfilling the Great Commandment as our Lord taught us. Experience has shown us, however, when we extend kindness to those in need, we discover abundant opportunities to share the good news with people who would otherwise be afraid or unwilling to hear it. We would be privileged to have you as our partner in this great endeavor. Click here to help now.
Categories: Mission Network News

China growth spurred by rural development

Mission Network News - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Bibles For China)

China (MNN) -- In a country of 1.3 billion people, half live in villages dotting China's massive countryside. Although China’s latest Five-Year Plan calls for rural development and urbanization, the lion's share of modernity (and its privileges) still seems to flow from the cities outward. The more rural the village, the more likely it has been overlooked. Yet the latest trend reveals resilience from the rural areas. Economic and social development of these regions has been remarkable in spite of inattention. It boils down to the people. They're determined, hardy, and persistent. Their voices, while quiet, are too insistent to be ignored. That growing chorus is changing things, too.

(Photo courtesy Bibles For China. Left: Wendell Rovenstine)

Bibles For China is responding to new requests from church leaders with every visit. President Wendell Rovenstine says, "We are developing a network relationship with the leaders within provinces and counties in China. The more that we develop relationship with them, the more we realize their great need for Bibles." The requests are for help in providing the national Church with Bibles. Funds raised outside of China flow in through a ministry partner on the ground. That partner purchases legally-printed Bibles from Amity Printing Press and makes sure they get shipped to drop sites. For Chinese Christians, it's not a question of whether Bibles can be found in China (availability), explains Rovenstine; it's a question of accessibility. "You can't go to a bookstore--if they had the funds to do it [or] know where the bookstore was. There's no place to get one unless you are somewhere that you can go to a church and you can buy a Bible there." At the invitation of the China Christian Council, teams from BFC, Bible Societies and other groups come in from around the world to help the national Church and celebrate what's going on. "It's a tremendous confidence and trust they have in us and we have in them that deepens our opportunity to really be effective for the Chinese Christians through His Word."

(Photo courtesy Bibles For China)

In an average visit to a rural church, it's not unusual to see 600 people walk in from the countryside so they can get a Bible. Rovenstine goes on to explain that the Christian community is deliberate in assigning pastors who are qualified to do the job. "They can, in turn, go and develop small churches and become discipled by the leadership that's been seminary-trained." That's a tall order when Bible accessibility is an obstacle. Cooperation and networking is the only way to get the tools into the hands of these pastors. "They are really intentionally looking for opportunities to spend time to disciple, to mentor, to encourage, and assist these individuals to be effective leaders in the church." The demand for tools and resources is fast outpacing the supply, reflects Rovenstine. "The Christians in China are almost approaching the numbers of all the whole United States. There's a real resurgence of Christianity and people really open to God's Word, and the Spirit's really moving in China." It’s hard to imagine in what other capacity $5 covers so much spiritual groundwork in China--because it starts with a Bible. It seems like the spiritual strategy runs parallel to the economic one now in China. It’s flowing from the rural villages into the city centers. "My prayer is that everybody realizes that God's Word connects us to China; it connects us back from China to Christians here," concludes Rovenstine. Click here to help a Chinese Christian start the $5 journey.
Categories: Mission Network News

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship President Alec Hill Resigns From Post to Seek Treatment for Cancer

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 3:39pm
Alec Hill, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an influential Christian youth organization, has announced that he'll be stepping down from his position of 14 years after receiving the diagnosis that he has myelodysplasia, a form of bone marrow cancer.
Categories: Christian Post

Largest United Methodist Church in the US Builds New $90 Million Sanctuary to Expand Its 20K Membership

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 3:04pm
A Kansas-based megachurch congregation that already boasts of being equal to the size of 150 United Methodist churches combined, is constructing a new $90 million sanctuary that will hold 3,500 people for each of its six Sunday services and will be adorned with a large stained glass structure to illustrate stories from the Bible.
Categories: Christian Post

Gas severance tax

WGRC News - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 1:54pm

The battle is on in the Wolf administration over the Governor’s proposed gas severance tax. A coalition of more than a dozen business groups clashed with Wolf yesterday over the proposed tax saying that the national gas industry has already created about 200,000 jobs, and paid more than $2 billion dollars in various state taxes since 2008 and reduced energy costs. Wolf says that the businesses are putting gas and oil interests ahead of schools and children who he says will benefit from his plan.

Categories: Local News

RV accident claims life of Bucks County woman

WGRC News - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 1:53pm

A 20 year old Bucks County woman died in a crash on Interstate 80 in Columbia County yesterday. The woman was driving westbound on 80 near the Mifflinville exit yesterday afternoon when for an unknown reason her car veered across the median into oncoming traffic. She was struck by an RV and died at the scene. Those inside the RV suffered minor injuries. The accident remains under investigation.

Categories: Local News

Restoration, Not Condemnation

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:18am
The way some people behave, you would think that the Bible says, "If another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should first gloat about it and make sure that you condemn him or her for it. Then proceed to tell as many people as possible."
Categories: Christian Post

Spirit-Empowered Leaders Gather for What Could Be Largest Christian Pentecost Celebration in Israel's Modern History

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 7:28am
At the 11,600-seater Jerusalem Pais Arena in Israel Monday morning, workers here were busy trying to get the brand new 40,000-square-meter facility ready for what could be the largest Christian Pentecost Sunday celebration in the Jewish nation's modern history.
Categories: Christian Post

Partners launches Rohingya rescue

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Partners)

SE Asia (MNN) -- As governments talk, one group is rushing to the aid of Rohingya refugees in Southeast Asia. An estimated 6,000 to 20,000 Rohingya from Myanmar/Burma took to the sea months ago to escape severe ethnic persecution. Now, countries in Southeastern Asia refuse to let them in, and time is running out. In Jesus' name, Partners Relief and Development is bringing food, water, and other relief supplies to refugees stranded at sea. The back-story Hundreds of Rohingya families took to the sea months ago to escape dire circumstances in Myanmar. When their typical escape route was cut off by Thai officials, the Rohingyas' only option was to flee to the Andaman Ocean or Malacca Straits.

This mother is suffering from tuberculosis and without medical intervention is likely to die.
(Image, caption courtesy Partners)

"Muslims in Burma's westernmost state of Rakhine face such extreme oppression that they feel they have no other option but to leave--in many cases by any means necessary," Chris Lewa, Deputy-Chair of the Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) told the BBC. As previously noted by Partners, the Rohingya have needed help for quite awhile. Yet time and time again, precious few take action. Why is Partners helping? Through holistic action, Partners demonstrates God’s love to children and communities made vulnerable by war in Burma. Learn more about their work here. They've been coming alongside the Rohingya, an especially-oppressed people group, for the past three years. Partners has increased their efforts as Myanmar's government did whatever they could to eliminate the Rohingya. As Partners workers care for the Rohingya, doors open to talk about where that unconditional love comes from: Jesus. What YOU can do about it

(Image courtesy Partners)

In a recent e-mail, Partners co-founder Oddny Gumaer asked supporters for help. "We need your prayerful support now more than ever," she wrote. "Please join us in our mission to let the Rohingya people know that they are loved and not forgotten." You can pray using the points listed at the right-side of this page, and support Partners' response to the crisis here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Praising God amid rising persecution in India

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 5:00am

Child in India. (Mission India photo)

USA (MNN) -- Persecution in India is on the rise. And yet, God is at work. "We are in a time that is unprecedented in history for what the Holy Spirit is doing in India," said President of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India, Todd VanEk, at a recent two-day event. "The Gospel is doing so many amazing things, and many people are coming to know Jesus Christ." Persecution in India On Open Doors USA's 2015 World Watch List, persecution in India is classified as a "severe." As stated online, India's new government "is radicalizing society," and hardline Hindus are making life difficult for believers. However, as shared by Voice of the Martyrs USA last month, believers are holding fast to their faith. As they do, the Lord works through them to bring the spiritually lost to His side. God at work According to the latest International Mission Board update, India is home to some 1,200 unreached people groups--approximately one million people.

(Map courtesy of Mission India)

But between 2010 and 2014, Mission India reports, the presence of evangelical Christians increased dramatically. Persecution in India may be growing, but so is the Body of Christ. "The Holy Spirit is using Indian Christians to start churches, to transform their cities, their neighborhoods, their villages, and the entire nation of India," said VanEk.   What it means to YOU Thanking God for His goodness amid increasingly-difficult circumstances in India wasn't the only goal of Mission India's 2015 Banquet of Praise. Leaders also hoped to stir guests to action. "God is calling us," said VanEk. "His call on all of our lives…is to see that everyone in this world comes to know who Jesus Christ is." MNN was at the event and got the reaction of some guests afterwards.

Mission India's 2015 Banquet of Praise
(Photo cred: MNN/Katey Hearth)

"When John [DeVries] organized Mission India, we heard about it, and I went on the first Pastors' trip with him. Mission India does not send missionaries; they use people in India. That's one of the [group's] strong points." -- Arthur Besteman, long-time banquet attendee "I think it's more than worthwhile to support. I most certainly will be back (next year), and I might even sponsor my own whole table!" -- Nancy Aukeman, first-time banquet attendee "I can't think of any better way to spread the Word [of God] than using the people from India. It was definitely a gift of the Holy Spirit that led us to go for this, and we have been supporting them for years. As a matter of fact, we've got them in our will!" --Cindy Herweyer, first-time banquet attendee/long-time supporter Find out how a single dollar becomes a turning point for eternity here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Suffering for Christ: unfortunate or opportune?

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

Ethiopia (MNN) -- If you were unjustly thrown in jail, would you cry out and ask God why He was doing this to you? Or would you see it as an opportunity to share Christ in a new environment? Seven Ethiopian Christians chose the second option, and Open Doors USA encouraged them to stay strong in the midst of suffering for Christ. Open Doors UK reported three leaders and four church members were arrested on April 25 during a baptism for 40 new believers. The believers were accused of holding illegal meetings in secret locations,  which the church denied. Though Ethiopia’s constitution gives people freedom of religion, the law requires churches and Christian groups to have written permission to meet. An anonymous source told Open Doors UK, “They have informed government officials about their ministry and their meetings both orally and in writing.” Nevertheless, the seven believers were thrown in jail. The source said, “The overall situation in the prison is very difficult. More than 168 inmates are stuffed into one small space. The Christians each have just enough space to lie on their sides at night. One of them has to sleep in the area they use as a toilet.” For nine days, they endured these conditions before their first hearing on May 4. At the hearing, the police asked for an extension for their investigation, and the judge granted one week. Despite injustice, persecution, and filthy conditions, these believers trusted God and spoke of Christ while they were in the prison. The leader of the group told Open Doors UK, “God is in control. We consider ourselves lucky to suffer for Christ in this way. We have not faced death, like many others have. We maintain our peace and will remain calm. We are at work.” Open Doors USA encouraged them and reported many outside the prison were praying fervently for them as well. “It was as if you were jailed with us,” the leader said. A second hearing was held on May 11, and the police asked for a second extension to gather information. However, the judge denied the request, saying they had enough time to investigate already. By God's grace, the seven believers have been released! “Please tell those who prayed for us that we have overcome the bigger enemy now,” the leader told Open Doors USA. “Satan wanted to frighten us, but we came out stronger from jail than when we entered. We are also happy to know that there are people surrounding us to pray and encourage us.” Pray For: • These Christians to inspire others to stay strong in their faith. • Fellow inmates who heard the Gospel in prison to come to Christ.
Categories: Mission Network News

The three Rs in short supply in Nepal

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Asian Access)

Nepal (MNN) -- Relief, rehabilitation, and rebuilding are the three Rs of Nepal's national curriculum, post-earthquake. All three are in short supply. Also adding to the confusion: more quakes. Four days after Nepal was shaken by its second deadly significant earthquake in less than three weeks, nerves were rattled there by another quake Saturday afternoon. As aftershocks go, this one registered 5.7 magnitude on Saturday. Seismologists say there have been well over 100 quakes registering at a magnitude of 4 or over since April. The result of the May 16 quake included no reports of injuries or deaths, possibly because so many structures were already toppled by the 7.8 April 25th temblor and the 7.3 that followed on May 12. With the excitement of disaster dying down, the drudgery of tragedy has all but wiped the crisis from the forefront. That's where groups like Asian Access come in. Long-term emotional consequences of a disaster are related to feelings of powerlessness and lack of control over forces bigger than oneself. On Sunday, May 17, the first Asian Access relief team began delivering aid and assessing upcoming needs. The team will immediately distribute relief through a network of local churches. We caught up with A2's Noel Becchetti on his second day in Nepal. He describes the scenario. "There are a couple of decent-sized open areas, and those are just tent cities. But everywhere else--in every nook, every cranny, you'll see tents. People don't want to stay inside. Most people have rigged something up, whether it's a formal tent that was donated or a tarp they've hung over a rope. They're not sleeping inside. That's a real issue--people are scared to death here."

(Photo courtesy Asian Access)

Becchetti adds, "The nationwide goal is to get a tin roof for every family. They're not even shooting for tents. There are just so many people, especially in the outlying villages, they're just completely leveled. You've got hundreds of thousands of people with no shelter at all." Things could go from bad to worse, however, especially in the outlying areas that are getting overlooked. That's especially true as they scramble to restore a simple infrastructure to get people through monsoons, fall, and next winter. "Tents are number one, (even ahead of) food, water, medicine. Those are the acute issues in that order." Nepali churches are trying to be at the center of bringing hope and practical help, emotional and spiritual care. "Our leaders are saying, 'This has opened up an unprecedented opportunity.' They've even had non-Christians approaching them, saying,'Would you help us? We know that you Christians do care about people you work with. You try to reach out. We want to work with you.'" Another secondary phase response will include trauma counseling. Then, it'll be getting schools back together. According to one A2 pastor report, 700 community schools of 36 districts are totally down. It could take years to restore things back to "normal."

(Photo courtesy Asian Access)

As the ministry assists the Nepalese Church, Becchetti asks you to pray for these three areas: "I think endurance, wisdom, patience, because it is very challenging, logistically. [Pray for] the ability of all these different organizations to work together: there's government, there's military, there's relief and development, there's Christian, there's secular." On the giving front, the financial needs are huge. For Asian Access, says Becchetti, "We're raising money to contribute to the cause in Nepal. The Christian Community Credit Union has pledged a matching challenge grant of $10,000 (so $10,000 can become $20,000)." The first of several response teams is on the ground. From there, "We're researching some options right now that look very promising, where there could be a good possibility that short-term groups that would want to volunteer could come to fruition."  
Categories: Mission Network News

A place in Kenya to encounter hope and healing

Mission Network News - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Naomi's Village via Facebook.)

Kenya (MNN) -- Bob and Julie Mendonsa can't say for certain what it was that made them leave their comfortable, happy life in the United States to minister to needy children in Kenya. They only know that God led them there. Years later, Bob and Julie have a successful ministry called Naomi's Village which ministers to orphans who've experienced hardships, traumas, and abuses. Bob Mendonsa says, "Naomi's Village is a children's home located in rural Kenya in the [Great] Rift Valley." It's about an hour outside of Nairobi and was founded in January of 2011. Their vision is to raise children to be equipped, empowered, and enabled to not only be adults able to navigate their world, but to be part of the solution of the larger orphan crisis in Kenya. Bob says there are about 2.4 million orphans in Kenya. What's different about Naomi's Village is that unlike many orphanages, the care given to these children is individually tailored. Time and money are traded for the hope of helping each child heal. Naomi's Village partners with a therapist in Nairobi. She is an American that specializes in play therapy for children who have suffered various trauma. They've partnered with her for about a year and are seeing great results. These children come from all sorts of backgrounds. Most have never had anyone invest in them in a healthy way. Life at Naomi's Village is a different life from anything they've ever known.

(Photo courtesy Naomi's Village via Facebook.)

Julie says, "The great thing is that they can be healed. They really can be healed: body, soul, and spirit. We're seeing that, and it's just a beautiful work to be a part of." When each child arrives at Naomi's Village, it is up to the staff to figure out what treatment and therapy will help that child heal. Bob says, "They come from backgrounds of being orphaned by terror attacks, by family violence where father killed mother and all their siblings, explosions, HIV/AIDS--all kinds of different variables and situations." One thing Bob and Julie have learned is that there's no blanket therapy for traumatized children. That's because each story is different. "Every child that comes in is different. They've not just got a chronological age, but they've got a developmental age," Bob says. Many of them have not had the necessary emotional support that helps them develop, and so many of them are behind in their development.

(Photo courtesy Naomi's Village via Facebook)

Bob shares the story of a four-year-old boy who had been severely sexually abused and neglected. He did not respond to the love and care at Naomi's Village the way that a healthy four-year-old boy would. Play time activities with the other children was not exciting--it was over stimulating. He had not yet learned how to process that type of setting. "Once we got him in to see this therapist and began to realize that he was so developmentally delayed, had been neglected and what he really needed was play therapy, [we knew] he needed to go back and experience his infant stages and his toddler stages." Bob explains that in many ways, the boy had been behaving like a baby, and developmentally, he was. Projects at Naomi's Village For a fully-rounded upbringing, the children at Naomi's Village need an education, as well.

Dennis: An A-student. Servant-Hearted.
Gentle. Compassionate.
His life has turned around!
(Photo, caption courtesy Naomi's Village via Facebook)

Right now the ministry is working on building a school called Cornerstone Preparatory Academy. Fully funded and under construction, opening date is scheduled for early 2016. They've been fund-raising for another project, as well. Bob says, "We've been dreaming and praying and waiting on the Lord to raise some capital to build two teenager houses." Initially, Bob and Julie had the goal of housing 100 children at Naomi's Village. But at 70, they've realized they're at full capacity. With the teenager houses, they will be able to help the older children develop in a more specialized environment for their age group. They will be able to focus more on preparing them for higher education and independence. Bob estimates that it will take somewhere between $150,000 to $200,000 to build each house. So far, they've raised the first $30,000. They will have a better idea after they get a design drawn up. Spiritual development

(Photo courtesy Naomi's Village)

Along with providing emotional healing and an education, Naomi's Village introduces these children to Jesus. The Gospel is the foundation of everything they do, says Julie. "If it wasn't, then everything we're doing now is really temporary." Bob and Julie named Naomi's Village after Naomi of the Bible. For Naomi, the loss of family meant hopelessness and the loss of joy. The gaining of her new family through Ruth and Boaz and their child, Obed, was the restoration of her joy and hope. "For our kids," Julie explains, "we believe that this restoration of family will bring back their hope, and we've seen that happen. But the true hope came through the lineage of Obed. It came through Ruth and Boaz, and that true hope is Jesus Christ." She adds, "It's our fervent prayer that these children find their true hope in Jesus Christ." Bob says their program includes spiritual curriculum during Sunday school and also through the children's daily devotions. "They really get what they're here to do and why they were created. The way they sing songs and the way they open and close their day, these are amazing kids--how much they understand and know that God loves them," he says. It's when the children embrace this love that their lives are changed.

One year after meeting Samuel, a scared and hopeless teenager, we celebrated him making A's in mathematics! His life is changed because of Cornerstone, and he wants other children to get this same opportunity.
(Photo, caption courtesy Naomi's Village)

"The transformation in these children is astounding," says Julie. "One of my favorite things to do is to find pictures of the children when we first met them and then compare it with the picture after they've been with us and part of the Naomi's Village for quite some time. "It's not just that now they've put on some weight and they're cleaned up. It's this joy. It's visible. It's all over their face. It's in their eyes." One of the most significant things that changes in their lives is their understanding of their purpose. Julie says all of the children desire to do something someday that can give back and minister to the people around them. "They're living out the Gospel. It takes my breath away, honestly," she says. Abandoned children, a new Father The children's guardians may still be alive when they come to live at Naomi's Village. But their guardians are either unable or unwilling to take care of the children. "For almost all of them, their image of a father is incredibly negative. Their image of a father is somebody who leaves, somebody who abuses, somebody who hates, somebody who steals, somebody who hurts. And we are replacing that with who God the Father is: this perfect Father," Julie says. Understanding not only that God loves them, but that He is their Father is key. "It takes some time for them to receive that as it does for all of us, but as it happens; it changes everything about who they are." Bob and Julie often look over the past few years in awe. They cannot comprehend how they've gotten from where they were in the states to where they are now. "All this that's happened has been like us being swept up in a wave of something God is doing. We have never been smart enough or capable enough to have done any of this, and He just keeps bringing people and resources."

Our first 2 babies at Naomi's Village: Evans and Mary.
(Photo, caption courtesy Naomi's Village)

Many people who have joined their work have similar stories to their own. They lived successful and comfortable lives in the United States, but God called them to leave, and they faithfully obeyed. "God loves these children, and He has started a work for His glory there in the Great Rift Valley that we can't fully explain." If you'd like to help, you can visit this click here. Contact them here with any questions.
Categories: Mission Network News

Bishop T.D. Jakes Adds Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine to Lineup of MegaFest Speakers Who've Reached 1 Million People Worldwide

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 2:29pm
Megachurch pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, has added internationally-acclaimed pastor Joyce Meyer and Australian activist Christine Caine to the powerhouse lineup of speakers that are set to hit the stage this summer at MegaFest, the nation's largest Christian family festival.
Categories: Christian Post

Montoursville Area School District receives grant money

WGRC News - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 2:03pm

The state has awarded the Montoursville Area School District a grant in the amount of $2 million dollars. The funds will help to reduce the tax burden on residents and expand the installation of energy efficient building systems to the high school project– resulting in significant savings for the District for years to come.

Categories: Local News

U.S. Economy

WGRC News - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 2:02pm

It’s going to be a key week for Wall Street investors and the U.S. economy. Wal Mart, the nation’s biggest retailer set to report earnings. Profit is expected to fall 4.5%. What happens at Wal-Mart is key. Wal Mart accounts for 26% of all the revenue reported by all the retailers in the S&P 1500 index. Target is also reporting its results — on Wednesday. Investors want to see signs of better growth there, too. Target’s adjusted profit is expected to jump 47% for the first quarter. It’s not just big retailers. There are things to watch for too. Data on housing starts and building permits are due Tuesday. Analysts are calling for slight increases in activity. And then on Friday, the big number is out: inflation.

Categories: Local News

Bridge of Hope centers temporarily close

Mission Network News - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 5:00am

Two Nepali boys help each other cross the river,
carrying 66 pounds of rice and a tent after a
recent relief distribution event.
(Photo, caption courtesy GFA)

Nepal (MNN) -- A ministry to South Asia is closing all 20 of its children's centers as risk runs high in Nepal. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the chance of more large-scale earthquakes striking Nepal is lowering, but the risk remains high for smaller, yet equally-traumatic, tremors. "The Bridge of Hope Centers have to be closed for some time, and then we'll reopen as soon as things are able to be run without fear of any aftershocks, or things falling down on the kids," shares Gospel for Asia's Danny Punnose. "Our first concern is to make sure the kids are okay." GFA cares for the physical and spiritual needs of impoverished, vulnerable children through their Bridge of Hope ministry. At 20 Bridge of Hope Centers in Nepal, GFA national staff and global sponsors pair up to provide educational support, a nutritious meal, medical care, and--most importantly--the love of Christ. Committed care Children aren't the only focus of GFA. National staff has been on-the-ground helping Nepal's people since Day One, meeting immediate needs and looking for ways to help long-term.

(Photo courtesy GFA)

"This is a time to be Christ's hands and feet…and to really show compassion," says Punnose. "Some of the people that we talk to, all they want is for someone to sit next to them and just to be with them, and to give them comfort at this time." GFA Compassion Services workers are continuing to bring relief to the needy, especially those in rural, hard-to-reach areas that have not yet received aid. Compassion Services teams are bringing in food, clean water, shelter, and more. In many of these villages, believers who attend fellowships led by GFA-supported pastors are suffering, too. Some have lost homes and no longer have a place to meet to worship. Despite this, local believers and pastors have assisted Compassion Services teams as they provide aid. "One of our leaders on the field, I was talking to him the other day and he was telling us after the second earthquake…. People are SO scared now," shares Punnose. "Our people going around and helping [survivors] with food and tents and blankets, and just getting them back on their feet, is really helping people have some hope that there is a future in all of this." What can you do? GFA is committed to helping the people of Nepal survive and thrive, no matter how long as it takes. There are a few things you can do, too. PRAY

(Graphic courtesy GFA)

"Prayer is a HUGE thing that we can do," Punnose says. "Ask your churches and congregations to take five minutes out of the Sunday service and pray for Nepal." Here are a few of the prayer needs listed on GFA's Web site:
  • Ask God to enable Compassion Services teams to reach every needy village with His love and help.
  • Provision for those who are lacking food, clean water, or shelter.
  • Comfort for those grieving the loss of loved ones, homes, or livelihoods.
  • Protection for relief teams and all the people of Nepal.
  • Many to understand the love of Jesus and find His peace during this time.
GIVE Your financial support of GFA's efforts helps provide physical and spiritual help to earthquake survivors. Visit GFA's Web site to make a secure online donation. SHARE Nepal has basically fallen off the headlines, but it shouldn't escape our attention. Don't let your friends forget: share this story on social media. "A lot of times, people see this as kind of just an awareness campaign, and they forget these are real people. Real people are suffering, and real people have died," says Punnose.: Find more Nepal updates here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Buckner International helps family feel complete

Mission Network News - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Buckner International)

Guatemala (MNN/BOC) -- The Arroyos always felt their family was incomplete. Francisco Arroyo and his wife, Monica Alquijay, have two daughters, ages 17 and 12. They always wanted a third child, but health issues prevented that possibility. It wasn't until a social worker called them one day that they gained hope. After attending a parent meeting at their daughters’ school one night, they came across a pamphlet from Buckner International. They learned about a new program being started in Guatemala involving Buckner, USAID, and Guatemala’s Secretary of Social Well-being. The pamphlet explained how Buckner received a $1 million grant in 2013 to provide a better alternative to institutional care for vulnerable children in Guatemala. Semillas de Esperanza, or “Seeds of Hope,” was founded to place these children with loving, structured families. The couple left their information with a government worker, but didn’t think much would come of it. It wasn’t long, however, before it began looking like their family would be complete after all. A social worker began calling them every evening to further discuss the certification process. Monica began feeling all kinds of emotions: nervousness, excitement, fear. But she said she felt like God orchestrated the events, so after several days of family discussion, they decided to move forward with the process. After finishing tests, exams and interviews with psychologists, the couple was eventually asked to foster a 9-month-old boy. But things quickly changed. As they were considering parenting the boy, they received another call from a social worker asking them to take a 5-month-old girl instead who had been abandoned by her mother. They had no idea what the child was like, but the social worker needed a decision that day.

(Photo courtesy Buckner International)

One of Monica and Francisco’s biggest reasons for considering fostering a child was to make their family feel complete. And with two biological daughters, the couple was hoping for a boy. But it was then that they were reminded of why they registered as foster parents in the first place: to love and provide stability for an underprivileged child. They felt it was still a sign from God, so they became the hands and feet of Christ and drove two hours to pick up the child the next day. Valeria has now been a part of the Arroyo family since June 2014. They love her and are committed to providing her all of the same opportunities and quality of education as their biological daughters. They know Valeria could be taken and placed with another family at any moment, so they are recording every memory, cherishing their time together. “We won’t compromise in how we care for her,” Francisco said, according to an article by Buckner International. “She’s part of our family. She has the same rights as our daughters, even if she’s not legally ours.” “Now we’re grateful to Valeria’s mother for giving us the opportunity to know and love Valeria,” Monica added. “We know that any moment, someone could knock at the door and say Valeria has to go somewhere else. But in the meantime, we will give her all the love we can as part of our family.” Not everyone is meant to be a foster parent, but there are many ways you can help provide a better life for hurting children. Visit Buckner’s Web site for ways to assist financially or to learn more about what it means to be a foster parent.
Categories: Mission Network News