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Do not forget about Burma

Mission Network News - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 5:00am
Burma (MNN) -- It's easy to become overwhelmed by the horrific activity taking place all over the world. But God is gracious to keep many of His workers focused worldwide on the ministries to which He's called them.

The conflicts in Burma have affected
countless lives over the past several decades.
(Photo by Partners Relief and Development)

We spoke to a field worker of Partners Relief and Development about the country of Burma. If you've kept up with the country, you know there is a lot of hardship there. Just a couple of weeks ago, fighting along the Chinese border erupted again, and refugees poured into surrounding villages and into China. Read about that here. The Partners worker and his wife are focused on domestic ministry to ethnic people in Burma. Ministry in Marriage One desire the worker and his wife have is to help Christian couples pursue a healthy, biblical marriage. They take groups of up to 12 couples and go through a course with them. He says, "In the grand scheme of things, it's a small part of Partners' work, but it is, we believe in the long-term, significant. We [work] with couples inside the country on marriage issues." The training is simple so that the participants can go back to their communities and replicate it. The field worker says even though the information may seem very basic to us, it's often stuff the people of Burma have never heard before. He explains that they're not trying to teach the married couples how to be American Christian couples, but they also don't want to encourage some of the harmful cultural marriage tendencies. To keep away from any harmful extremes, Partners makes sure they stay grounded: "What we do, which kind of sounds like a no-brainer, is that we just focus strictly on what does the Bible actually say? If the Bible really is transcultural […], then that is the common ground." An example of this is the cultural tendency of married couples to depend on their parents and devote themselves to their parents over their spouses. One of the verses they focus on during the first day of the course is Genesis 2:24 which says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (ESV) Using Scripture is essential to this ministry, as the worker explains, "All of the training material that we are using is essentially straight from the Bible. We have it translated into the Burmese language, and during the week that we do the course with them, we are actually reading it out loud." Not only do these couple brush up against God's Word, but chances are, their community will as well. The worker explains: "We've heard tremendous reports back, not just of marriages literally being saved, but of these marriages becoming kind of a sign and a light to other people in the communities that they're living in--that something is different about them now, something is palpably different in their lives, and they want to know more about it." These discussions open up opportunities to learn about the Gospel. But this isn't the only impact Partners is having on communities in Burma. Community Development

Community development is another way to introduce people to the Bible (Image by Partners)

Using Nehemiah as an example for teamwork, Partners engages communities in working to better how things work. While it may seem weird to use Nehemiah, our contact explains that when this Scripture is read through the lens of community development, it makes sense. He says, "Community development is just finding ways to mobilize and create opportunities within communities." Partof this is helping communities realize that many of the issues they have, even the generational difficulties, can be solved or helped by resources right within the community itself. Helping a community see its independence from outside donors seems crucial to helping the long-term improvement. So What? Have you ever had those days and months, or even longer, where the problems of this world seem too big to be fixed? Have you gotten used to reports of execution, starvation, war, etc.? Then you might be wondering why you should care about the relatively minor problems within marriages and communities. The field worker knows how that goes; there are just so many people in trouble. He says, "I get the compassion fatigue issue. My answer is actually short, but I think it's absolutely right on and it's this: […] 'If God cares about and created those people and will do whatever it takes to find ways to rescue them, we should be finding ways to do the same thing. In other words, if they matter to God, they need to matter to us." He goes on to say that because God created the 16 million people of Burma, they should matter to us just as much as our own children. We can show our love to God by loving and caring for the people He cares about. The field worker explains that often we can learn something from people suffering. Despite what is going on all around the world, the worker says this: "I would really encourage your listeners to not forget Burma, not forget Myanmar and what's happening there." After 60 years of oppression and conflict, these people desperately need the hope of the Gospel. Partners Relief and Development has a unique niche in Burma because they are a small organization. They can move quickly to action. They appreciate the help from partners. If you would like to partner with them, click here. Pray that God would make Himself known to the country of Burma.
Categories: Mission Network News

A new openness to the Gospel

Mission Network News - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Operation Mobilization)

Arabian Peninsula (OMI) -- [Editor’s Note: Nicole James is a freelance journalist, ESL teacher, and adventurer. As a communications intern for Operation Mobilization MENA, she’s passionate about publishing the stories of God’s works among the nations, telling people about the wonderful things He is doing in the world.] In one country in the Arabian Peninsula (AP) outwardly closed to evangelism, workers are encountering new openness to the Gospel amongst locals. Through conversations, children’s comments, and curriculum, opportunities to share truth are increasing. However, these workers also experience intense challenges--both physical and spiritual--as they seek to introduce neighbours, friends, and colleagues to Jesus. Pray for the men and women in this country to persevere, to faithfully and flexibly sow words of truth into its increasingly fertile soil. Wasta with Jesus On the way to pick up a rental car, long-term worker James* ducked into a coffee shop, hoping for a cold drink and a couple of minutes out of the Gulf’s intense heat. Inside, he greeted a local sitting at a table, and the two men struck up a conversation. The local told James a long story about how he had met Mike Tyson. Clearly impressed by the boxing champion, the local man told James he thought it was sad that Tyson would never go to heaven because he had tattoos. “What do you believe?” he suddenly asked James. Praying for words and wisdom from the Holy Spirit, James remembered the concept of wasta, an Arabic word meaning important connections with someone in power. “Jesus had wasta with God,” James began. “Jesus lived a perfect life. When He died on the cross, His sacrifice covered my sin. Jesus has wasta with God, and I have wasta with Jesus. Because I know Jesus, I will go to heaven when I die.” The local leaned back in his chair and stared at James. “Wow,” he said. As he left the coffee shop, James considered the conversation. Simply looking for physical refreshment, he instead had an opportunity to share about Jesus, the Living Water. “This is too easy,” he thought. “Jesus is the way. The locals are hungry, and they’re thirsty for truth.” Pray that James will continue to meet locals who are spiritually thirsty. Pray that the Living Water would drench this desert land. A Child’s Voice Benjamin*, a team leader, said that his family’s role over the last five years has been diverse. “We do some evangelism and some discipleship,” he explained. He and his wife also talk to their kids about why they live there: because they want to share Jesus’ love with their friends and neighbors. To help their children with their studies, Benjamin and his wife hire an Arabic tutor to come to their house once a week. One time, Benjamin’s wife was talking to the tutor after the lesson. Deeply interested in the spiritual conversation, the tutor asked many questions, eager to know more. At the end of the conversation, one of Benjamin’s sons stood up and announced, “And Jesus is God.” Even though his son had brought up one of the most controversial points between Christianity and Islam, Benjamin was encouraged by his boldness. “Of course, he’ll learn the timeliness of when to use nuggets of truth,” he added. Pray that Benjamin, his wife and his children will develop relationships with their friends and neighbours and find fitting times to share the truth. Holiday Greetings Working for an international company, Benjamin also has opportunities to be a light to locals at and outside of work. During the holidays, Benjamin was sitting at his desk when one of his colleagues, a Muslim, walked over to another local and said, “Merry Christmas.” Then, he came to Benjamin’s desk and repeated, “Merry Christmas.” “Thanks a lot for your greeting,” Benjamin responded. “But what’s the background of this?” “I went to my imam [Muslim religious leader] and asked him if it was OK to greet a Christian with, ‘Merry Christmas,’” the colleague responded. At Benjamin’s office, where he is known as a Christian, such connections happen easily. In fact, Benjamin also gave the same colleague a New Testament. Apart from work, Benjamin has been involved in discipling two local believers. “I’m ready for them to come and cut off my head. I’m ready for that, if it comes to that,” one of the local believers shared. In this country, locals can face severe persecution for believing in Jesus. Pray that Benjamin will meet people open to spiritual truth, and pray for local believers to persevere in spite of difficulty. Textbook Answers Joanna*, another long-term worker, has encountered opportunities to share at the schools where she teaches. Recently, she discovered a hidden surprise in the textbooks her students carry to and from school every day: whole sections of the Scripture, including the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Matthew, chapters six to eight, typed out on the pages. The textbook developers “meant to study the Bible as an ancient kind of literature,” she explained. “Of course, the school wouldn’t include this in the curriculum, but the books are there.” For anybody flipping through the pages, the text is clear. By studying 16th century British poets, Joanna gives her students some insight into Christianity. John Donne, for example, became a believer partway through his career. While his talent remained the same, his theme changed completely. After his conversion, Donne confessed that he was no longer afraid of death. Joanna also talks about why the Protestants immigrated to America to find religious freedom. The students “ask me if I am Orthodox or Protestant,” she said. “Before, they asked me if I was Muslim or Christian, but now they learnt something from the textbook.” Her answer is simple: “I believe what the Bible says.” “They want me to be in a box, so they can know who I am,” she said. “In the beginning they were confused because they are so used to this box. I tell them, ‘Whatever the Bible says, I believe in it.’ They are beginning to accept this kind of idea. “Obviously, I cannot really say a lot of things,” she continued. Sharing the Gospel is prohibited where she lives. However, by challenging her students’ religious perceptions--and pushing the labels that they like to give others, she hopes to help them think outside the box. Pray that Joanna will continue to expand her students’ preconceived notions about Christianity and spark curiosity about the Bible. Pray that her students will read Jesus’ teachings for themselves. *Name changed
Categories: Mission Network News

Al-Shabaab threats: a concern for Christians?

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Assist News)

Somalia (MNN) -- Al-Shabaab threats against North American shopping malls have garnered world attention. On Saturday, al-Shabaab released a video threatening some of North America's most-populous shopping centers, including Alberta's West Edmonton Mall and Minnesota's Mall of America. Some analysts dismiss the video's warning because al-Shabaab lacks the resources and manpower to launch an attack of this measure. However, al-Shabaab threats of this type shouldn't be taken lightly. "Al-Shabaab means 'The Youth' or 'The Youngsters.' They're a group that [is] very brutal, when it comes to, especially, Christians," explains Voice of the Martyrs Canada spokesman Greg Musselman. Who is al-Shabaab?

Smoke rising from the Westgate Mall area in Nairobi, Kenya, after the September 2013 attacks and rescue efforts.
(Photo, caption courtesy Kul Wadhwa via Wikimedia Commons)

While they gained the world's attention with their 2013 attack in Kenya, al-Shabaab has largely taken a backseat to groups like ISIS and Boko Haram. In 2006, the group emerged as a radical Islamic youth wing and has since claimed allegiance with al-Qaeda. According to BBC News' profile, al-Shabaab threats have mainly centered on neighboring Kenya. "This is a group that has been able to function because of the dysfunction in their own country," Musselman states. "[Somalia is] known as a failed country and a country of chaos." It's also the world's second-biggest persecutor of Christians, according to the Open Doors USA World Watch List. VOM Canada states on its Web site that al-Shabaab threats are specifically aimed at believers: "al- Shabab has vowed to eradicate all Somali Christians, and they have especially targeted converts from Islam." Learn more about Somalia's "hidden Church" here. "It has been a very difficult place, a horrible place, for Christians, who have to be very careful and secretive," notes Musselman. When people find out their family member has become a Christian, "they will alert the al-Shabaab; and in many cases, these Christians are publicly executed." There's danger for Christians around every corner in Somalia, but there's also hope. Who is helping Somali Christians?

(Graphic courtesy VOM Canada)

Working through their partners in neighboring nations like Ethiopia, VOM Canada is able to support Somalian believers with spiritual and physical resources. They also support "safe-houses" where persecuted Christians can find refuge. Watch the testimony of a Somali Christian who was saved from al-Shabaab soldiers. Pray for encouragement and strength for the Christians remaining in Somalia, as well as for those who have been forced to leave their homes. Ask the Lord to encourage and embolden Somali converts, who often struggle greatly when cast out of their family and clan.
Categories: Mission Network News

She Counts 2015 brings the Gospel to illiterate women

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo Credit to Mission India)

India (MNN) -- Many women in India are treated like second-class citizens and are considered a burden to their families. "She Counts 2015" is introducing a new message to India's women--one of hope. Lindsay Ackerman of Grand Rapids Michigan-based, Mission India says this year's campaign is specifically focusing on women in Bihar state. Of Bihar's 104 million residents, one-in-three are illiterate and 47% of women in Bihar can't read or write. Without other ways of supporting themselves, 60% of girls in Bihar marry by age 18. Illiteracy touches every moment of every day, as it is impossible to successfully get through life without being able to read, Ackerman says. “When your kids come home from school--if they are lucky enough to go to school--and they don’t know how to do their homework, you can’t help them,” she explains. Mission India’s goal for She Counts 2015 is to raise $63,000: enough funding to send 2,100 Bihar women to their Bible-based Adult Literacy Class. Right now, a matching grant doubles every dollar given to She Counts 2015.

(Graphic courtesy of Mission India)

Mission India's Adult Literacy Classes don't just teach men and women how to read and write. They also learn about health, hygiene, basic first aid, and what it takes to start their own business. By the end of the one-year course, Ackerman says, students gain the equivalent of a fifth-grade education. “When the students graduate, they have the minimum requirement for a job and are able to apply for jobs they couldn’t apply for before,” she adds. There's a spiritual component, too. Many women discover for the first time that they are valuable in the eyes of God. On Mission India's blog, you can learn more about the impact of She Counts 2015. This is Mission India’s second "She Counts" campaign; their first one was in 2014. By sharing about the plight of women in India, Mission India was able to raise $43,170 and help 1,439 people.
Categories: Mission Network News

A Tyndale/Gutenberg moment for the Deaf

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Deaf Bible)

International (DB) -- Deaf Bible and DOOR (Deaf Opportunity OutReach) International are announcing an agreement that further aligns the two ministries in their work to both translate and make available sign language Bible content in over 350 sign languages around the world. With only 2% of the global Deaf population having ever been exposed to the Gospel, these partnering organizations are publicly stating their goal to eradicate Bible poverty in this often-overlooked people group. DOOR International has worked for over 15 years in training Deaf leaders in evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and leadership development so they can impact their countries and communities with the Gospel. In 2004 it became clear that this training cannot be done effectively without God’s Word in the heart language of the Deaf: sign language. As a result, DOOR International joined the Wycliffe Global Alliance and began work in sign language Bible translation. DOOR now has projects in 12 sign languages, with 4 more to begin this year. While not a translation organization, Deaf Bible is committed to doing everything possible to assist in the process and support of every project. They will also be prepared to provide ready and free access to the completed Bible content through apps, online, or whatever new technology presents itself to reach the Deaf worldwide with the Gospel. “What we really see ourselves as is translation accelerators,” says JR Bucklew, the director of Deaf Bible. “Whether it’s raising funds, providing support material and labor, or working on the newest tech innovations, we will do everything within our power to open God’s Word to the Deaf.” “This partnership is really a Tyndale/Gutenberg moment in sign language Bible translation,” adds Rob Myers, CEO of DOOR International. In the early 1500s, William Tyndale began making the Bible available to the people of England in their own language. However, it was only possible to distribute Tyndale’s Bible because of Gutenberg’s printing press, which had come along years earlier. In the same way, DOOR International would be hard-pressed to make their translations available to workers in the field if not for technologies that Deaf Bible has developed. Another focus for both ministries is to establish accepted standards to guide current and future sign language translation work. “Just like in written translation work, it’s important that sign language translators are all on the same page and following best practices that have been developed over time by those in the field,” states Myers. Both ministries also encourage others who are working with the Deaf around the world to join this effort. Click if you’d like to donate to either Deaf Bible or DOOR International. “Just as we’re commanded to work together as the Body of Christ, we eagerly anticipate organizations coming together so that all the Deaf can have God’s Word in their own sign language,” concludes Bucklew.
Categories: Mission Network News

The ultimate gift for women

Mission Network News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Women for JESUS)

International (MNN) -- March 8 is a day set aside to recognize the achievements of women, and to be inspired by their gifts and impact in the world. The United Nations reports International Women’s Day started in the early 1900s in North America and across Europe due to labor movements. Over more the past 100 years, it has been chiseling and working away for women’s equality rights. International Women’s Day is not just about several countries, clearly. It’s not about the smaller paychecks, either. It’s about helping women throughout the world realize their potential of becoming more than they could ever dream, and recognizing how far they’ve come already. The Women for Jesus ministry, a branch of The JESUS Film Project, is using the day as a way for women to start fresh and new, by giving them the Gospel. They have partnered with Better Life Bags to create a custom handbag stuffed with JESUS Film products. Women for Jesus is inviting women across the globe to purchase bags and send them to illiterate women and children. Not only would women and children receive custom handbags, but they’d also receive the gift of life. Every woman deserves to have a voice and a chance to hear the Word of God. This International Women’s Day, help make that happen by clicking here.
Categories: Mission Network News

of Beauty and Rage by RED

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
The concept for of Beauty and Rage is the dichotomy of good and evil and finding beauty out of things that people suffer within their own lives. RED has always tried to challenge listeners to be real with themselves and confront their struggles head on. Even in the darkest parts of our lives there is room for hope; it's up to each individual to fill those parts so that he/she can continue to push forward in dark times and be thankful in brighter days.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Just Kids by Mat Kearney

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
Mat says "One morning last spring I jumped out of bed at 5 AM feeling surprisingly rested and inspired. Usually I end up going to bed fairly late, high on the adrenaline that follows a show or working on a new song, but that morning I had the feeling a song was waiting for me and headed to my home studio. I programmed a simple beat and wrote a few chords on the black keys of my piano. All of the lyrics for the song "Just Kids" came as quickly as I could write them down. I instantly knew[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Faith & Family by Jon Micah Sumrall

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
Jon Micah Sumrall is the lead singer of the gold-selling Christian rock band Kutless. For the past 16 years, Jon Micah has toured all around the world with Kutless, having released the radio smash hits "What Faith Can Do," "Strong Tower," "Sea of Faces," "Carry Me to the Cross," along with many others. Jon Micah will be releasing his first solo record Faith Family on Feburary 24th, 2015. The album features both worship songs and love songs, written with his marriage in mind. Fans of Kutless's Christ-centered worship songs will particularly enjoy Faith Family.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

From Heaven's Point of View - The Single by The Lighthouse Boys

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
The Lighthouse Boys came out of 2014 celebrating their 40th year. They are known to their fans for their own brand of Southern Gospel Music, placing their own signature on Southern Gospel classics as well as their own original songs. Now in 2015, From Heaven's Point of View is The first new single released by The Lighthouse Boys in over a decade. They once again blend their signature sound with a Southern Gospel classic. [...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Outsiders by 21:03

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Renegades Never Die by Skrip

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
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Categories: Christian Music News

Like No Other by Christ Fellowship Worship

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
Original worship music recorded live in South Florida, at Christ Fellowship Church. Produced by Dove award winner Michael Neale, this album includes tracks such as "Favorite Word" "See You Again" and national hit "Mercy Tree." Inspired by modern rock and pop, this album is full of powerful anthems and emotional ballads that are inspired by and declare the attributes of the Savior of the world; Jesus! You can also hear these songs played live every weekend at Christ Fellowship at multiple locations in Florida: Gardens, Royal Palm, Boynton, City Place, Stuart, Okeechobee and New York City, New York.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Only Your Love EP by Davis the Band

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:00am
A new husband and wife worship duo provides a fresh sound on vertical praise to our Creator.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News