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Update on Asia Bibi

Mission Network News - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

Pakistan (MNN) -- Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five children, lost her appeal with the Lahore High Court in Pakistan on Thursday. It means her death sentence on a blasphemy conviction stands. The Voice of the Martyrs USA says her lawyers now have 30 days to file an appeal with Pakistan's Supreme Court in Islamabad, the highest court in the land. It starts into motion a long appeal process that is expected to take years of more waiting. During the hearing, nearly 2,000 mullahs gathered outside the court to put pressure on the judges. When she learned the outcome, Asia Bibi told VOM contacts, “Please do something. It’s been so long, and I want to be with my children.” Many humanitarian advocates warn that even if the court should rule in Bibi's favor, she may be made an assassination target for Muslim extremists. Bibi has been convicted of blasphemy for drinking from the same bowl of water as Muslims and making derogatory comments about the prophet Muhammad. According to the original VOM report: On Friday, June 19, 2009, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam. Asia responded by telling them about her faith in Christ. Asia told the Muslim women Christ had died on the cross for sins, then asked them what Mohammad had done for them, according to VOM sources. She told them that Jesus is alive, but Mohammad is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them, “and yours is not true.” She was beaten and later taken into custody, then charged under the blasphemy law. Found guilty of blasphemy in November 2010, this wife and mother has been on death row for almost four years. The court process has been agonizingly slow. Thursday's decision was delayed five times this year. Pray that Asia will not lose heart but would continue to look to Jesus for daily strength and grace. May her worried family members and other loved ones be granted much patience and peace as they support this dear sister in Christ during her time of trial. Pray that God will be present in every detail of preparation for the upcoming hearing so it may go smoothly and result in Asia's freedom from prison. Finally, please also pray for the many other Christians in Pakistan who are facing blasphemy charges or other false allegations because of their love for Jesus Christ.
Categories: Mission Network News

Short-term mission trips to India

Mission Network News - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:00am
India (MNN) -- Short-term missions are a great tool and opportunity to get involved in spreading the Gospel globally. However, it is important to begin this venture with the right attitude and the right expectations. Otherwise, the entire point of the trip could be missed. India Partners is an organization that ministers to widows and vulnerable people in India. They assist in church planting, establish long-term and self-sustaining micro loan projects, and share the truth of Jesus Christ even in prisons.

(Photo Courtesy of India Partners)

Remo Paul is a national partner of India Partners who works with short-term mission teams on a regular basis. He gets to see the blessings of the trips but also recognizes there are things every person should consider before going on a mission trip. "The success of your short-term teams depend on how and what your expectations are. More often than not, it tends to run into issues when expectations are not right." Sometimes it's what teams don't expect that will catch them off guard and make their trip less effective than what they originally hoped. India Partners has a variety of teams help them. Paul says, "Most often when teams come, they're either dental teams, eye teams, health teams, or there are training teams for pastors that need training in various issues and various aspects of life and ministry." Paul explains that there are three major benefits to short-term mission trips. First, he says, "When a team comes to visit us, it's a huge encouragement for us. I don't find words in my vocabulary that explain how that blesses us and encourages us, uplifts us. That would be the primary benefit." The second benefit is that short-term missions are mutually beneficial. "Ministry is a two-way street, so it also [in] reverse blesses the team that comes," Paul explains. The third benefit is that these teams bring in expertise that many long-term missionaries don't have. Dentistry is an extremely important expertise in some parts of India. Many times, villages are hours and hours away from the nearest dentist. Even if the dentist were closer, most people very likely could not afford treatment. Since often whatever ails them is not life-threatening, they'll deal with the pain and forgo medical care. Having a short-term mission dentist will provide these people in need with the care that they would otherwise never get. They might have waited years more for a dentist to establish himself in their village. While mission trips can often be an eye-opening experience for Christians, there are better and worse ways to prepare for one. One way is to look at how you've engaged your own community right where you are now. "Any mission starts where you are. So if you are planning on going on a mission trip, you should actually be involved in missions at your local church," Paul says. If your heart is already prepared for missions, then it's likely to show up in your activity with your home church. Paul explains that mission work is not dependent on location. "It's in the realm of spirituality that the mission trip actually happens." Starting at a local level will prepare you for more intense challenges you might meet on the field. Paul explains that local mission work "gives you the ability to understand how the evil one would try and stop any work." While not all of India is hostile to the Gospel, many places are. It's important to be prepared for that. If you know that God is calling you to go with India Partners and that He has prepared your heart for this, click here to contact them. If you would like to partner with India Partners through prayer or financial giving, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Anti-Balaka violence a problem for Christians

Mission Network News - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:00am
Central African Republic (MNN) -- Six more people were killed late last week, relief groups are stymied, and transportation is at a standstill in the Central African Republic (CAR). While the country has a transitional government, Anti-Balaka rebels continues to seek revenge in the wake of the March 2013 coup by Muslim Seleka rebels.

Internally displaced in Central African Republic
(UNHCR photo)

Abuses marred their rule, prompting a backlash from the non-Muslim Anti-Balaka militia and their supporters. That backlash forced Seleka leader Michel Djotodia into exile in January. Catherine Samba Panza was appointed as interim president in the transitional government. However, the revenge killing by Anti-Balaka militia fighters continue, forcing minority Muslims and others into safe havens and refugee camps by the thousands. The recent attacks have forced taxi service to cease, says Jim Hocking, Founder and President of Water for Good, a partner with Living Water International and Reach Beyond in the CAR. "The [political] temperature of the country is taken by the taxis. When taxis are running, there are problems, but you can [probably] handle it. When the taxis quit running," the situation is dangerous. That caused difficulties for Water for Good workers. Hocking says, "We had been confined, basically, to the residence in the country. The embassy recommended we don't travel." Water for Good not only provides water for the people of the CAR as a way to hear the Gospel, but also operates a radio station to help the public. While their radio station continues operating, the water drill work has all but stopped. "For a little while now, we've had to lay off most of our staff; [we're] just waiting to gain more contracts to drill more water wells. We're still maintaining the water wells, but they do have to be very, very careful." Water for Life also provides water to a refugee camp near Bangui. However, that work has been turned over to the UN because of the unrest, even they weren't able to provide water for a few days. It's needed now more than ever. Hocking says, "The refugee camp climbed from about 30,000 people to about 40,000 in about two days because of this latest conflict." The conflict is dangerous for everyone. says Hocking. "There are many Christians, almost on a nightly basis, being robbed and hurt. The whole time I was there, almost every night we would hear of something happening to someone in one of the churches." Hocking is asking you to pray. "There are people who are really continuing to seek answers. Our Christian leaders need support. They're still being associated Anti-Balaka are non-Muslims. So, it's really a conflict between Muslim and non-Muslim." When it was time to leave the CAR, Water for Good needed a UN escort. All were able to leave safely. If you'd like to support Water for Good, Living Water International, or Reach Beyond click on the organization's name.
Categories: Mission Network News

Hillsong's Brian Houston on Gay Marriage: 'I Believe the Writings of Paul Are Clear on This Subject'

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 2:20pm
Hillsong Church pastor Brian Houston has issued a statement specifying his position on marriage and homosexuality after a news outlet reported that he "won't take (a) public position on LGBT issues."
Categories: Christian Post

Ex-Mafia Boss Michael Franzese on His Biopic 'God the Father'; Witnessing to Mob Members (CP VIDEO)

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 10:56am
Ex-Colombo Crime family captain and Christian motivational speaker Michael Franzese recently spoke with CP Voice regarding his new autobiographical film "God the Father," and the possibility of preaching the Gospel to mobsters he had worked with.
Categories: Christian Post

Your Body: God's Temple

Christian Post - Living - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 10:01am
The world's primary interest in the body is how it looks on the outside: How can it be shaped differently? How can it become more attractive or gain more attention? Regrettably, by worldly standards, success is often dependent on the condition of our bodies.
Categories: Christian Post

Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston Hammered With Questions About Sex Abuse, Homosexuality, Finances at Start of NYC Conference

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 5:50pm
Brian Houston, senior pastor of Australia-based Hillsong Church, was hit with a series of critical questions during a press conference in New York City on Thursday, just hours before he was to take the stage at Madison Square Garden to preach before more than 5,000 Hillsong Conference attendees.
Categories: Christian Post

Christian Rocker, 10-Year Mars Hill Member Says Mark Driscoll Resignation Is 'Good News'

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 4:17pm
Matt Carter, a former member of Mars Hill Church and lead guitarist in the Christian rock band Emery, recently spoke out about the resignation of his former pastor Mark Driscoll and called the move a "good thing."
Categories: Christian Post

Apple, Facebook Insinuate 'Mothers Are Not Welcomed in the Workplace' With Freezing Egg Benefit, Says Christian Theologian

Christian Post - Living - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 3:20pm
Although some are praising Silicon Valley technology companies Facebook and Apple for offering to pay for their female employees to undergo egg freezing procedures that would allow them to put off childbirth until after the prime of their careers, a Christian ethicist is arguing that companies paying for such fertility treatments send the message that "mothers are not welcomed in the workplace during the prime of their careers."
Categories: Christian Post

Oil spill at Williamsport garage

WGRC News - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 12:18pm

An oil spill at an area garage in Williamsport put city and other officials into action yesterday morning. A 275 gallon plastic tote containing motor oil was being moved at Wood’s Garage on Church Street when a valve at the bottom was knocked off spilling much of the oil. A good amount of it went into the catch basin which makes its way to the Susquehanna River. Hazardous waste teams were called in and protective booms were put into place.

Categories: Local News

City of Houston demands Pastors turn over sermons

WGRC News - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 12:17pm

Christians across the nation are mobilizing to defend a group of Houston pastors who were ordered by the city to turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity issues or Houston mayor.
Dave Welch, one of the five ministers who received a subpoena said, he will not be intimidated by Annise Parker, who is the city’s first openly lesbian mayor, nor will he comply with the city’s demands. My answer to that is — bring it on,” he said. It’s in response to a lawsuit filed related to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. The new law, among other things will allow men who identify as women to use the restrooms of their choice — and vice versa. Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said pastors around the nation should rally around the Houston ministers.

Categories: Local News

Internet Porn Pandemic Threatens World and Church, Apologetics Conference Highlights

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 9:25am
Southern Evangelical Seminary's 21st Annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics shined a light on the problem of Internet pornography with Enough is Enough CEO and President Donna Rice Hughes calling it a pandemic.
Categories: Christian Post

Episcopal Church Still Counting Breakaway Diocese in Membership Numbers

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 9:20am
When The Episcopal Church recently released its statistics on membership among its dioceses for 2013, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina was listed along with the others. There is one problem, however: the South Carolina Diocese's leadership voted to leave the denomination back in 2012, taking most of the members and congregations with them.
Categories: Christian Post

A Word for the Lonely

Christian Post - Living - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 9:09am
Maybe you've been abandoned—perhaps it was by your parents, your spouse, or your children. Or maybe you even feel that you've been abandoned by God Himself. There are many people who feel estranged and alienated from God. Even if they have everything they want in life, they may still face a deep, inner loneliness.
Categories: Christian Post

Heartbreak: Ebola, orphans, family

Mission Network News - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Reach Global)

Liberia (MNN) -- The cost of Liberia's Ebola crisis goes beyond the health emergency. Peggy Maynard, Global Fingerprints Liberia Coordinator, says, "Because the borders are closed, the markets are closed. Food is becoming scarce and very expensive, so it's hard for people to even get enough food to eat. Also, many of the health clinics are closed because people are afraid of Ebola patients coming in. "We are really focusing on providing our children and our staff with food and healthcare--that's our first priority," Maynard explains. They've made a commitment to the children, plus, keeping the staff healthy means they can focus on priority #2, which she says is "reaching out to the newly-created Ebola orphans." A recent UNICEF assessment indicates Ebola orphans could double before the end of the month. Recent government data suggests that the average Liberian household had three children, and you can see the dilemma. Maynard clarifies, "The immediate problem is that people are afraid to even go near these children because of Ebola. Then of course, the long-term problem is finding housing and care for these children in a country that has been ravaged by civil war, and now ravaged by this disease." Kids are emerging as the most vulnerable group in the Ebola crisis in three ways: they're at risk of contracting the disease, being orphaned by it, or losing their options for a future/education. Maynard says that's why they set up the Ebola Crisis Response Fund. "We partner with the Evangelical Free Church of West Africa, which is based in Monrovia, but they reach out across Liberia and even into the neighboring countries. They have seized this opportunity to reach out into new communities with information about Ebola, with sanitation supplies and with hope." Why the Church? Maynard muses, "Crisis brings out the needs in people. People, I think, are more responsive to the Gospel in a time when they are in fear for their lives." Because of the compassion that comes with the Great Commission, Christians are eager to share their hope in Christ. "They see this as an opportunity to actually plant churches. They are looking at this as an opportunity for ministry rather than a tragedy."

(Photo courtesy Reach Global)

How do they do this? "We are reaching out to people's needs--their physical needs, but at the same time, we are reaching out to them with the Gospel and trying to meet their eternal needs. We feel that we can do both. It doesn't have to be one or the other." In this time of crisis, sponsorship makes a huge difference. It provides for a child’s daily meals, medical attention, and an education. "We are in the process now of finding those orphans [and] entering them into our Global Fingerprints system so that people can sponsor them for $35 a month." This is the message a sponsorship sends: "You are cared for, and you belong.” Maynard says it could be the most important response the Church takes in this crisis. "This is our long-term solution to the problem: to get those children into homes and make sure that their needs are met, and at the same time making sure that they hear the Gospel and that they're getting into a local church." Pray for wisdom: Global Fingerprints Liberian staff members are dealing directly with Ebola families. "We're just praying for an end to Ebola. God can work miracles. He can do anything. He was not surprised by this. We were surprised by it, but He wasn't surprised by it." Donations to the EFCA Ebola Crisis Response fund and child sponsorships in Liberia provide both the short-term and the long-term response to the emergency.
Categories: Mission Network News

World Student Day 2014

Mission Network News - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 5:00am

(Logo credit IFES)

International (MNN) -- Today is World Student Day. If you're not sure exactly what that means, keep reading. "It's a great opportunity to pray for future world leaders and church shapers," explains Andy Moore of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), a ministry partner of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. "Many [university] students go on to hold positions of influence in politics and business and church, and the wider society." Not only does the Body of Christ pray for its next generation on World Student Day, but Christian college students worldwide pray for one another. Over 3,500 students have signed up to pray via e-mail and Facebook. "It's a great opportunity for students and staff to hear from one another about the various challenges that face them in their contexts," Moore adds.

(Photo credit IFES)

"This year, we have a multilingual chat site, so people can come along and speak in either English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, or Chinese, and the chat room will automatically translate whatever they type into the other languages. [It's] a bit like the early chapters of Acts, where all of the hearers could hear the disciples speaking in their own language." Technology plays a key role in minimizing language barriers, getting students to engage in conversation, and facilitating prayer. "In the past, we've had Google Hangouts that connect people in different countries with one another to pray for one another," says Moore. "We try to facilitate some things; but equally, it's great to see the creativity of students as they think about how they can connect with their [Christian] brothers and sisters in different parts of the world." Meeting fellow collegiate believers and commiserating about the struggles and challenges that come with bearing the name of Christ on campus builds a special bond among Next Generation believers.

(Photo credit IFES)

"I think [students'] faith is enriched as they engage with students from other cultures, particularly as we get to pray together. There's a unique unity that's expressed in prayer," Moore shares. Learn more about World Student Day and find prayer needs here. "We can keep people in contact with the prayers that have been prayed and the answers to prayer."
Categories: Mission Network News

A different face of Brazil

Mission Network News - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 5:00am
Brazil (MNN) -- Brazil is considered to be a developing country. Yet, in the last few decades, Southeast Brazil has prospered. This wealthy side of Brazil is what the rest of the world knows. So why is it a developing country? Northeast Brazil is very poor. In some ways, it's a different country altogether. We spoke with Jose Carrasco, the director of South America for Compassion International. "The Northeast of Brazil is definitely not like the Southeast," Carrasco says. "The problem with Brazil is disparity, and also the amount of people that are not part of the success of the economy Brazil has had in the last decades." Far from the big cities, extremely poor communities exist, similar to the poorest places of Africa and Asia. "The poverty is really, really amazing," Carrasco says. "The people don't have running water, they have disease, they have infant mortality that is really, really high. And if you compare that with a city like Sao Paulo in the southeast of Brazil, it's like night and day." This area of Brazil presents no opportunities--educational, economical or otherwise--to its residents. According to Compassion, northeast Brazil has a higher concentration of murders than New York City, Detroit, and Chicago combined. "Poverty brings a lot of bad behaviors," Carrasco says, explaining that years of oppression have stunted opportunity. The people of this region have very little hope for a better future and a very little sense of worth. Their living conditions have received little attention, and there has been little help. Carrasco says, "Very few people in the southeast of Brazil--which is the Brazil that most of the world knows--understand this and know about this." These people live in spiritual darkness, as well. One city in which Compassion is working, Codó, is the center of the African black magic religion, Macumba. Carrasco says it is very similar to voodoo in Haiti. "Black magic happens all over that area, and it's very, very strong. We have brought the Gospel there, and to our amazement (I imagine God had it all planned that way), we have been able to present the Gospel openly. "It hasn't been resisted...from the different communities. They've been open to the Gospel. We have opened many projects throughout, and we're focusing on bringing the Gospel to them through our projects." These projects--child development centers--are made possible through partnerships with the local churches. The passion for these people is strong from both Compassion and the churches. Because the churches are small, however, they do not have means to implement the same programs that Compassion has in other areas. Despite this, the childhood development centers address the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of the children. Parents send their children here because of the opportunities, not caring that the Gospel will be shared. Often times, the children bring back the Gospel to their homes and share it with their families. Compassion wants to spread the news about this part of Brazil so that they can offer the communities more opportunities for a better life. Soon they want to start providing programs for children 3-5 years old. Carrasco says he recently presented the needs of northeast Brazil to churches in the United States and the UK. This advocacy is key to expanding the ministry in northeast Brazil. "We have done all this and, obviously, I will say that you should do the same--presenting this to more audiences so they will understand the needs of Brazil." Make Brazil your priority along with Compassion. Click here to find more information and learn how you can help through prayer, giving, and advocacy. Pray that the Gospel will take root and transform individuals, families, and entire communities.
Categories: Mission Network News

SAT-7 gives hope to Middle Easterners

Mission Network News - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy of SAT-7)

Iraq (MNN) -- “They’re not going to school. They’ve been uprooted from their homes. They don’t know maybe where their parents are. They don’t have any sense if they’re even alive.” Speaking of children, Dr. Rex Rogers, President of SAT-7 USA, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, says they are the ones most affected by ISIS attacks. More than ever, children--and their parents--need a message of peace. This message is being aired on SAT-7 24 hours a day, on 6 different channels, in three different languages: Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish. SAT-7 programming is produced by Middle Easterners, for Middle Easterners. Rogers says, “We broadcast who we are. We share Christ and Christianity. We talk about human rights, like liberty and respect for property, respect for religious worship for all people. And we try to reinforce values of peace or dealing with conflict in a different way other than violence. In the Middle East, watching television is a family event. “All of our channels use every kind of television program or genre that you can think of that are legitimate--game shows or drama or movies.” SAT-7 KIDS programs creatively touch the hearts of children through sing-a-longs, puppet shows, and bedtime stories. Children and their families learn the truth of Christ as presented in the simplicity and animation of children’s programs. SAT-7 is completely funded through donations. If you would like to help, click here. Pray that SAT-7 will continue helping families and providing hope across the Middle East.
Categories: Mission Network News

Central India church restored

Mission Network News - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 5:00am
India (MNN) -- The fire stole their church altar, a Bible, chairs, rugs, and several other items, but they didn’t lose faith. On September 26, 2014, a church in Madhya Pradesh, India was burned. Police are still searching for the person or persons who started the fire. Gospel for Asia Pastor R. says that in his ten years of serving in the area, this was the first act of vandalism he has seen. Two days after the fire occurred, believers and Pastor R., gathered outside the charred church for their Sunday service. Despite the incident, they remained hopeful and encouraged about what God is doing in their lives. Locals have stood by believers and Pastor R. offering support. Villagers have been working hard to repair the church. They have cleaned, repainted, and restored the church altar. A GFA field correspondent says, “The work of the church is so good for the villagers, and they have positive views about the church. They even said good things about our church to the police officials.” During the restoration, authorities guarded the church and purchased the needed resources for it. On October 9, 2014, the church reopened its doors with around 300 believers ready to worship and rededicate it. Pray that villagers will remain strong in their faith and stay encouraged despite the fire.
Categories: Mission Network News

State money helps repair Lycoming County homes

WGRC News - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 1:25pm

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency awarded Lycoming County more than $2 million to help pay for housing programs and projects. The money comes from impact fees paid by natural gas companies. It will be used to help build more affordable housing and to improve existing homes and neighborhoods.
County officials say money is used based on need. Part of the money will go toward housing development projects for the elderly, and low income families.

Categories: Local News