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United Methodist Church's Highest Court Upholds 'Refrocking' of Pastor Who Officiated Son's Gay Wedding

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 10:14am
The United Methodist Church's highest court has decided to overturn the defrocking of a Pennsylvania pastor who officiated his son's same-sex wedding.
Categories: Christian Post

Gas prices down

WGRC News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 7:32am

Pennsylvania gas prices keep coming down, but we’re not quite to that landmark $3/gallon mark. Gasbuddy.com puts the statewide average price for gas today at $3.17 a gallon, which is down a nickel in the last week, and it’s off about 24 cents in the last month. A year ago the statewide average was at $3.37 a gallon. By comparison, the national average today is at $3.03 a gallon.

Categories: Local News

Local Relay for Life starts fundraising

WGRC News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 7:32am

A kick-off this weekend for the 22nd annual Mifflin-Juniata Relay for Life. The Lewistown Sentinel says this year’s theme is Toon Out Cancer. The Relay for Life will take place at Kish Park. This year, the goal for the teams is to raise $176,000, which is slightly more than what they brought in last year.
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Categories: Local News

Keys for Kids Radio launches

Mission Network News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 5:00am

Photo courtesy of Keys for Kids

USA (MNN) -- 25 years ago in a small closet studio in the back of Cornerstone University's radio station, His Kids Radio (then known as the Children's Sonshine Network) went on the air on October 23, 1989. It was a momentous day and just the beginning of many years of 24-hour broadcast ministry to kids and families. The kids' network aired classic programs like Children's Bible Hour and Ranger Bill, and played songs from the Music Machine and Psalty the Singing Songbook. Through the years, His Kids Radio has grown with the latest technology, shifting from SCA broadcast and satellite delivery nationwide to digital and internet-based listening. What better way, then, to celebrate 25 years than to mark a new beginning with a new name? His Kids Radio is now Keys for Kids Radio. Though the name is changing, the mission stays the same: to point children to Jesus through songs and radio drama. Many favorite programs will still be heard on Keys for Kids Radio, including Paws and Tails, Wee Kids, Karen and Kids, and Kid’s Corner. Kids for Keys Executive Director Terre Ritchie says, “They [Cornerstone Radio] have offered us the opportunity to take it over, and as a focused children’s ministry, we are more than excited.” Keys for Kids Ministries is an international Christian ministry based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, producing and distributing excellent media resources to evangelize and disciple kids and their families. Ritchie asks for prayer as there will be a lot of work shared among only a few people. Also pray that Keys for Kids will help more children and families grow in Christ. If you’d like to donate, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

ISIS attacks create hunger for Scripture

Mission Network News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 5:00am

(Map credit YourMiddleEast.com)

Iraq (CAM) -- In Iraq’s northern areas, where Islamic State (ISIS) militants have extended their brutal campaign to establish a caliphate, coveted copies of the Bible are playing a key role in the lives of displaced people from a myriad of religious backgrounds. Supply is limited (some Bibles are available locally while others need to be shipped in), but the demand appears to be endless, especially among refugees and internally displaced people. “Every time we try to open a box or container to distribute Bibles, we get ‘attacked’ by people in their eagerness to get a copy,” the director of a locally-based ministry said. “We have never had a problem giving them away.” Nominal members of historic churches are seeking the Bible, as are Yazidis and Sunni and Shia Muslims. Yazidis practice a blend of Christian, Islamic, and Zoroastrian rituals. “The religious nature of the region makes faith matters of great interest and an important part of their lives, and the search for the truth has become one of the priorities of the Muslims,” he said, adding that ISIS militants’ religiously motivated murders of civilians have provided a golden opportunity to present the “loving and peaceful Christ.” The native ministry, which Christian Aid Mission assists, provides Bibles along with material aid such as food and blankets. While meeting their immediate needs is crucial, the knowledge of God found in the Bible provides refugees a more enduring benefit, said Christian Aid Mission’s Middle East director.

People of all religious backgrounds
and ages are eager to receive Bibles
in Kurdistan.
(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid)

“Muslims come with a worldview that is full of fear, and the message of a God who gives Himself for you and cares for you as a child of God is new to them,” he said. “It gives them great hope, and as people who have lost everything, this hope is a thousand times more meaningful to them.” “The Bible is the preacher who can reach people, stay with them at home, and talk to them every day about Jesus, which is something we cannot always do due to lack of preachers,” he said. “We don't have so many in the area, and the nature of the ministry among thousands makes the Bible the #1 tool for salvation of people.” While acknowledging that ISIS atrocities, such as religiously motivated beheadings of non-Muslims, were committed in the early years of Islam, the Muslim refugees do not regard the militants as true Muslims. “All the displaced Muslims say ISIS is a criminal gang and that they are not true Muslims,” he said. “Some feel ashamed of such actions, especially as it occurred at the dawn of Islam and its expansion, while others are trying by all means to deny it is part of the Islamic religion and dismiss it as part of a plot by Zionists against Arabs.” Most Muslims who are committing their lives to Jesus Christ were already disillusioned with Islam, he said. “For this reason hundreds find their way to Christ today, in secret or in public.” Besides Muslims and people of minority religions such as Yazidis, displaced persons belonging to historical churches that discourage them from reading the Bible are also showing up to claim copies. The director said nominal members of the Syriac Orthodox, Catholic, and other churches have responded to the evangelical witness by putting their trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life. “They are becoming born again, attending churches, being discipled, and trying to adjust to the new way of learning and reading the Bible,” said the director, adding that the ministry strives to work with historical churches by building ties of friendship.

Displaced people and refugees who
become Christians meet wherever they can.
(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid)

The new Christians from varied backgrounds are mixing together as a new people in Christ, though living as displaced peoples means that some remain in isolated pockets. “According to their geographical locations, many would prefer to come to the local churches and the house churches if they could. But because of the difficulty of travel and making a living and the challenges of life--which predominantly are like those of homelessness, some remain in their places until the brothers reach out to them,” he said. Because of restrictions by countries in the Middle East to print and distribute Bibles, there is a continual need to purchase Bibles, he added. Whole Bibles in Arabic, Aramaic, and Kurdish languages are sought, as well as children’s versions of the same. Also needed are New Testaments in Kurdish, Sorani, and Bahdinani languages. The ministry also distributes Christian literature as well as illustrated Bible stories for all ages, designed for Muslims who know nothing about Jesus. The books of illustrated Bible stories and the children's Bible cost $5 each. A whole Bible costs $4, with hardcover copies going for $5 to $8. New Testaments printed locally cost $2. “For the hundreds of thousands of refugees in the tents in the fields everywhere, in the mountains and the Kurdistan area, it’s the right time for us to give Bibles.” the Iraqi ministry director said. “I strongly believe God’s hand is in this situation, and God brought all these people to us and wants us to act as fast as we can.” If you'd like to help provide Bibles, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

ISIS education reform may stop Syrian refugees from returning home

Mission Network News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 5:00am

Current military situation as of October 20, 2014. The gray-shaded area signifies Islamic State territory.
(Map obtained via Wikpedia)

Middle East (MNN) -- When the school year began last month in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), extremists had adjusted the curriculum. We spoke with Vice President of Operations for Kids Alive International, Jed Hamoud, in Lebanon at their children's home. He explains, "Basically, arts are taken out of school; music is taken out of school; a certain degree of sports are taken out of the schooling system." It didn't stop there. "If you're going to higher education, topics like psychology, psychiatry, or counseling are being removed from the curriculum as well." Hamoud says they're already preparing for one possible outcome. "It's going to increase the duration of our involvement with ][refugees]. The duration of the services that we provide to them is going to increase." Why? Even if the political situation were to change tomorrow, refugees might choose to stay in Lebanon. Hamoud says parents are asking themselves this question: "'Do we want to take our children back to enroll in a curriculum that's a very highly Islamic-centered curriculum?'" Some refugees in Lebanon have enrolled in Lebanese schools and have been following the Lebanese curriculum, which, to a large degree, is modeled around French and English systems. However, others can't get into the schools because their kids have fallen behind due to the disruption of the civil war in Syria prior to the ISIS advance.

(Image courtesy Kid's Alive)

This is where Kids Alive is adjusting their outreach. "What we're doing initially is providing them with a literacy program, helping them to catch up. Many of those children have not been in school for a year or two or three years, in terms of their academic standard; [we're trying] to streamline them into the Lebanese system." Once they're up to speed, "We do have our current Lebanese curriculum that we teach in our school. We have a 35 [student] school setup here in Lebanon at Kids Alive: a registered school with the government that takes the kids up to sixth grade." That's just one aspect of what they're seeing in refugee kids. Hamoud adds, "The kids we're taking in: emotionally, physically, spiritually, psychologically, they're very tender because a lot of them have gone through experiences that no child should go through." Uncertainty keeps a lot of kids isolated, because "many of them are going to come to us wondering, 'Is this going to be the last stop, or just a stop along the way?' The prayer of many people could be that this may be their last stop."

(Photo courtesy Kids Alive International)

As refugees face the possibility of resettling long-term, Hamoud says the new "normal" won't change their mission. "We are Bible-centered, Scripture-centered. The Scripture is the core of everything we do here at Kids Alive in Lebanon." Pray that the ministry of Kids Alive makes a lasting difference in the lives of refugee children and their families. "They see the love of Christ here, they see that we are Christ-centered so that they desire the life that we demonstrate here, and they would want it for themselves as well."
Categories: Mission Network News

Unique image bearers of God

Mission Network News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 5:00am
USA (MNN) -- There's a reason we don't all have the same life experiences. It's through our experiences, good and bad, that we learn life lessons. Can you imagine having to learn all life lessons by yourself? That would probably be pretty painful, and even more confusing than life already is. The Body of Christ is an excellent example of how life lessons can be shared. For David and Sally Gallagher, a big life lesson was learning how precious individuals with physical or mental challenges are, and how they are unique image bearers of God.

(Image by The King's Table Ministries)

Sally's sister was born with developmental disabilities when Sally was three. As the two sisters got older, Sally developed a special bond with her sister. David Gallagher's oldest daughter, Katie, was born with Down syndrome. Sally Gallagher, executive director of The King's Table Ministries says, "My husband and I both, I believe, were sculpted by God over the years to love this people group and become an advocate for them." This advocacy is now a well-extended ministry. Gallagher explains, "We help churches to develop programming in their church for special needs children and adults so that when they're young ,then the parents have the ability to still be able to worship together and join a Sunday school class because now there's a place for their child to be able to learn about God also." Gallagher says a lot of times churches hesitate to institute these types of programs on their own. Why? She says, "I think sometimes churches feel like they're not adequately equipped as far as their staff, their volunteers." Other times, churches may feel they wouldn't be able to afford this kind of programming. "You need a few people who have a heart for it, and a few dollars, and that's about it," Gallagher explains. The King's Table Ministries exists to help equip churches and to let them know it is possible to carry these programs. This ministry doesn't stop in the church, however. King's Table Ministries also works within the local public school system and adult foster care homes. This is done through volunteers from the churches. For residents of adult foster care homes, Gallagher says, "They have a real need for having people to not only love them but just to be a part of their life, to be an advocate to them, and to be Jesus to them." And while public schools usually have a budget set aside to address the different needs for students with physical or mental disabilities, money is tight. The King's Table Ministries helps not only financially, but "when we come in, we bring the nuances that add special touches such as the staff/teacher luncheon that we do once a year, [and] the landscaping. We also do a carnival picnic for a welcome back to school for the families and the children," says Gallagher. The school can help connect families with the resources The King's Table Ministries has. Sometimes they provide a wheelchair or a shower chair, for instance. Families who have a hard time with insurance covering these supplies find it helpful to connect with The King's Table Ministries. The name "King's Table" comes from 2 Samuel 9, where King David invites Jonathan's son to eat with him at his table. As with any advocacy effort, The King's Table Ministries runs into some challenges with their audience. Gallagher says that "the most difficult thing to explain to them is the need for families and for children, and the fact that they're a special image of Christ." To learn more about The King's Table Ministries and how you can help, click here. Gallagher says this is how you can pray: "Pray for protection from the evil one. When you're moving a ministry like this, when you're looking at a special image of Christ in their uniqueness, the spiritual attacks can be really heavy because he doesn't want that to be able to move."
Categories: Mission Network News

Christians in Iraq have no place to call home

Mission Network News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo credit Open Doors)

Iraq (MNN) -- As ISIS digs in their heels and grows their radical Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, hope grows evermore dim for religious minorities in the region. Al-Monitor reports 90% of Orthodox Christians in Iraq are displaced. Only 30 families out of 600 remain in Baghdad, and there are less than 10 families left in Mosul. "The return of those who have been displaced back to their homes is linked to the political and security situation. We cannot urge anyone to go back now, in light of this ongoing war in different regions in Iraq," Greek Orthodox Bishop Ghattas Hazim told Al-Monitor. "We are a main element in this region's culture; Christians and Muslims from all confessions are threatened." Christians in Iraq: a brief history Being forced to flee their homes is nothing new for Christians in Iraq. Emily Fuentes of Open Doors USA says over 75% of Christians have left the country since 2003.

(Photo credit Open Doors)

"That's the ones who've actually had to leave the country, not just the ones who've been displaced," she clarifies. "It's increasing more and more as ISIS continues to target Christians. "We've actually been working in Iraq for more than 20 years, as persecution has been increasing, and it's increased the most in the past 10 years." It's not just Christians in Iraq facing trouble from ISIS; all religious minorities, including moderate Muslims, are at-risk. As Fuentes points out, Islamic State militants are "putting down roots" in Iraq. "That affects everyone," she explains. "It turns countries that once [had] religions living side-by-side peacefully… [and takes] that away, and it changes the face of Iraq." How to help Christians in Iraq While statistics can be overwhelming, there are ways you can help Christians in Iraq, whether they're taking refuge in Iraq's Kurdistan region or in a neighboring nation. Open Doors works with indigenous Christian leaders to provide for every need of persecuted Christians in Iraq, Syria, and surrounding countries affected by ISIS. By providing refugee care, Bibles, Christian training, trauma counseling and other resources, we aim to meet all of the refugees' needs "There's one pastor in particular who's made it his mission to create a church [that's] not labeled as a 'refugee center,' but more of a 'safe area,'" Fuentes shares. The pastor had pools and games for refugee kids during the summer season to help take their mind off of the ISIS crisis. He made it a point to share the love of Christ with kids and their families, no matter what background they came from. As believers respond to the ISIS crisis with the love of Jesus, other religious minorities take note. Suddenly, a new interest in the Gospel develops. "Not only were there doors opened [for the Gospel], but they were caring for all [the children's] needs: physical, emotional, and spiritual needs," says Fuentes. "It's been a great way to reach people with God's love in this region, in spite of all the atrocities going on."

Info graphic created in July 2014 (Courtesy Open Doors)

Stories like these aren't being shared just to keep you informed -- there are ways you can help Christians in Iraq. Fuentes says the first thing those of us in the West should do is pray. "Many of them are just absolutely surprised to know that…they're not alone, that the Body of Christ is surrounding them in prayer," Fuentes shares. "From a practical standpoint, you can give to help not only Christians in Iraq, but in surrounding countries, too." See how you can help Christians in Iraq through Open Doors.
Categories: Mission Network News

The Holy Spirit Empowers

Christian Post - Living - Sun, 10/26/2014 - 10:58am
Our heavenly Father has called us to live a supernatural life—one that is contrary to the world's thinking. In our own strength, it is very difficult to say no to ungodliness, because our flesh yearns to say yes. To live the Lord's way takes His divine power. In order to draw on His strength, believers need to develop attitudes of humility, trust, and perseverance.
Categories: Christian Post

Mars Hill Pastor Dave Bruskas Defines 'New Values' for 'Broken, Repentant' Church; Acknowledges 'Unhealthy Culture'

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sun, 10/26/2014 - 10:43am
Mars Hill interim preaching pastor Dave Bruskas, who may take over as lead pastor, has promised localized governance, financial clarity and cultural change in the Seattle-based megachurch, whose founder and former head pastor, Mark Driscoll, resigned last week due to his admitted "divisive" leadership style.
Categories: Christian Post

Southern Baptist Convention to 'Disfellowshipped' Church Pastor: Denomination's Failings Regarding Divorce Are Not an Opportunity for Gay Marriage

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sat, 10/25/2014 - 11:02am
The Southern Baptist Convention's official news service turned to the writings of the denomination's lead ethicist Thursday to criticize an op-ed asking that the blind eye the church has long given divorced and remarried Christians be given LGBT couples as an apple to oranges argument.
Categories: Christian Post

When God Overrules

Christian Post - Living - Sat, 10/25/2014 - 9:38am
I'm so glad that God will overrule my prayers at times, because I have prayed for things fervently, believing they were the will of God, and they were flat-out wrong. I am so thankful that God said no to those prayers.
Categories: Christian Post

Pastor Bobbie Houston Explains Why Hillsong Church Does Not 'Sideline the Girls'

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sat, 10/25/2014 - 9:08am
Hillsong Church co-founder Bobbie Houston recently explained why she believes "the church needs to come of age sometimes and just grow up" when it comes to fully embracing women in various roles in Christian ministry.
Categories: Christian Post