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The JESUS film reaching the unreached

Mission Network News - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:00am
USA (MNN) -- It's more than 35 years old. It's a tool that has revolutionized evangelism around the world. It's based almost entirely on one book of the Bible. And, it may be the only resource available in the heart-language of many unreached people groups around the world. Of course, we're talking about the film JESUS, a key to evangelism. Director of Global Partnerships with The JESUS Film Project Bill Wolfe tells us partnerships are essential in making the film available. "In order to produce the film, we have to have the book of Luke because about 90% of the JESUS film is just the book of Luke." That's why partnerships with Bible translation organizations like Wycliffe Bible Translators, The Seed Company, and others are vital to fulfilling their mission. Wolfe says it's essential for ministries working among unreached people groups. "Those that want to reach these most unreached groups can hear the Gospel and see the Gospel. Many of these [unreached people] groups are illiterate; they can't read, and so even if they had the Bible translated into their heart language, they couldn't read it. There's another reason why the JESUS film is a great evangelistic tool. Wolfe says, "It would be the ONLY film EVER in their language and it would be such a curiosity that everyone would want to come see it." Wolfe says today there are more than 700 requests to start a JESUS film translation project. "There are still 865 languages that have at least 50,000 speakers each, that have no JESUS film. Our tool, this visual and oral film, could be the only tool they would ever have in that language." Because of this, The JESUS Film Project has had thousands of partnerships with church planting ministries. "They know what to do in terms of getting people into a group and how that becomes a church. Where they needed help is on the front end, with the evangelism side of proclaiming the Gospel," Wolfe says, but also relief and development organizations. "They not only want to come alongside and do wonderful good deeds, but they also want to be able to share the Gospel." Today, there are more than 1,260 completed languages. Pray that God will provide the funding and partnerships needed to complete the task of completing the Great Commission in our lifetime.
Categories: Mission Network News

New reports say ISIS suffering setbacks

Mission Network News - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Iraq (CAM/MNN) -- Atrocities by the Islamic State (ISIS) are softening the hearts of Muslims to Christianity, and evangelistic techniques and technologies are proving effective. But locally-based missionaries say the main reason for the spike in conversions in the Middle East is simply that former Muslims are finding that God is real. Steve VanValkenburg, Christian Aid Mission Director for Southeast Asia and the Middle East, says, "Muslims that have been affected by ISIS are being confronted with their beliefs; and when they hear that there is a God who cares, a God who loves, and a God who forgives, there is something foreign to that--and they're very intrigued." In war-torn areas of Syria and Iraq where ISIS is fighting to establish a caliphate, Muslim refugees to neighboring countries, Internally Displaced People, and people remaining at home are learning about Christ from native aid workers, pod casts and broadcasts. Tent churches among refugees are sprouting like mushrooms. Disillusionment is growing with Islam because ISIS claims the atrocities they are committing come from the Koran. Muslims--who were previously taught to pray by rote to Allah who by Koranic definition was unknowable--can feel the difference of having a relationship with God through Christ. The biggest difference is found in mercy and grace. VanValkenburg explains, "One ministry leader wrote that when they tell the story of the woman who was brought to Jesus to be stoned, in their minds they know that Mohammed would say immediately: 'Stone her.' But they can't believe that Jesus would offer forgiveness. Those kinds of things are totally life-changing for them."

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Partly, the discovery of freedom comes from having freedom. "As displaced people or refugees, they no longer have the inspection; they don't have the imam watching over their shoulder, watching who's doing what. Those kinds of strictures are no longer there. It allows them to investigate Jesus Christ and not be in the same situation that they would have been before." It's discovering that they can pray to a personal God whom they can call Father. Wonder follows. VanValkenburg says, "When they have a sense of 'there is forgiveness' [and] there is a merciful God and a caring God' who takes care of them, the contrast is great between what they've always been taught and indoctrinated with and what they find out when they hear Christians sharing about Jesus Christ." Former Muslims, who once prayed five times a day as a duty, say they don’t quite know how to describe the difference. "They say, 'Now with our relationship with God, we see a huge difference; something has changed in our life,'” said the area director. "You can see it on their faces. They say, 'Every time we pray, there’s a difference.'” Tailoring evangelism to the Muslim worldview has also played a part, and one way of contextualizing the gospel for Muslims, ironically, involves the Hebrew Scripture. Middle Eastern Muslims are familiar with the blood sacrifice and prophets of the Old Testament, and Christian workers build bridges with those references. They talk about why Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, animal sacrifice and the meaning of blood in ancient times: Moses and the saving-blood smeared on doorposts in Egypt, and then Jesus’ shed blood. “So we go from the Old Testament to the blood of Jesus that saves us. 99% of the people I know will use this method,” the ministry director said. The deity of Jesus and the Trinity, by contrast, are the most problematic issues for Muslims. Imparting these doctrines takes time, and although the director and his teams teach the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, he said earthly teachers have little success. “How do you convince them?” he said. “We were never able to convince them. Only when they read the Bible does it come. And then suddenly they say, 'Now I understand. I get it!'” VanValkenburg says, "In the past, they've not had any hope, but now they do have hope." Christian Aid Mission’s Middle East director said the ministry directors and their workers are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances who need prayers for safety and endurance, both emotionally and physically. The ministry director who lost team members last month spoke of their human frailty, even as they exercise immense faith. The reason they stay? "Even among the ISIS-controlled areas, there's still openness to the Gospel. God's Word is still going out, and lives are still being changed." It's painstaking work--emotionally and physically exhausting--because it boils down to one person meeting needs, one person at a time. VanValkenburg explains, "The displaced people are very cautious and wary of anybody who comes to meet with them. But when you reach out with a blanket or food, then there is a bond that begins to develop; and so they're very, very open to hearing what the person says and why they're doing what they're doing." To help indigenous missionaries to meet needs, you may contribute online using the form below, or call 434-977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, PO Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 400REF.
Categories: Mission Network News

9000 families in Syria assisted by Open Doors

Mission Network News - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

Syria (ODM) -- The situation in Syria, ranked No. 3 on the World Watch List, continues to change, but there is still the reality of extreme violence and displacement. The latest United Nations figure shows 3.25 million Syrians are refugees in the surrounding countries. Non-official figures are higher. More than 6 million Syrians are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Based on contacts with church leaders inside Syria, Open Doors estimates about 40% of Christians have left Syria since the start of the civil war over three years ago. Depending on where new battles are taking place, new waves of refugees are reported. The United Nations recently announced it is reducing food support to the refugees and the displaced because of lack of contributions of donors and donor countries. Open Doors is working with partners inside Syria to provide food packages, shelter, medicine, blankets, trauma counseling training. They are also training Syrian Christian in leadership and relief work. Open Doors reports it is partnering with churches and other Christian organizations to help 9,000 families each month. The gospel of Jesus Christ is also going out. An Open Doors worker in Syria says: “We hear church leaders saying that the churches are not empty. New people are coming to church, interested in the gospel and comforted by the message. We hear of people coming to Christ.” Pray that more Syrians will come to faith in Christ.
Categories: Mission Network News

This Christmas, help care for vulnerable children

Mission Network News - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:00am
International (MIS/MNN) -- This Christmas, help care for vulnerable children around the world. When you give to the Children-at-Risk fund, you help children in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Nicaragua, and Thailand experience the love of Christ. The Children-at-Risk fund supports the projects of several Mission Society missionaries who are making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children. Imagine children in Costa Rica having a “birthday party for Jesus.” Bryan and Beth Tatum coordinate the events. Children are treated to a party, a meal, and receive a Christmas gift of their own to keep. In Thailand, 90% of the children who are trafficked--primarily for the global sex trade--are from the Essan region. Mission Society missionaries working in Essan, like the Barbee and Attaway families, are raising funds to establish a shelter for vulnerable children in this area. Ronnie and Angi Hopkins minister in Mira Luz, Nicaragua and are gathering school supplies for the 100 children in this village whose parents cannot afford basic items. In one community in Ecuador, young people tend to leave the church around age 14. Missionaries Tim and Daina Datwyler have helped to start a music group which will become the worship team, to inspire kids to stay connected with the church. The church’s teenagers have a plan to raise money for musical instruments through bake sales. Your contribution will help them purchase an oven. You can provide blankets for children and families in northern India this winter. Winter brings severely cold weather to the people of northern India. Many families have only one blanket to share among all of their children, and unfortunately, many families do not have a blanket at all. Help Peter and Esther Pereira provide blankets and share the story of Jesus with families in remote villages. In Ghana, provide a Hepatitis B vaccine for a child. Affecting one in five children, Hepatitis B can be prevented for a lifetime with one vaccine. Dave and Ellen Bartlett are working with a primary school to vaccinate every child. To help, donate here.
Categories: Mission Network News

International Human Rights Day case study: India

Mission Network News - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:00am

(Image courtesy baba via Flickr)

India (MNN) -- Rights don't match up with reality in India. When the United Nations established International Human Rights Day in 1950, India was among the founding parties. But today, India is one of the world's biggest sources of social evil: human trafficking, child labor, and Christian persecution, to name a few. "The Kingdom of God is about justice, and if people don't have their human rights, it says there's something wrong with us," says India Partners' John Sparks. International Human Rights Day and the Body of Christ International Human Rights Day was designed to call attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes fundamental human rights that should be honored and protected everywhere. Inherent rights like equality, freedom from slavery, freedom of religion, and others are routinely violated in India. For example, while it's been "officially" wiped out, India's age-old caste system continues to dictate social, economic, and educational standing based on class. Families on the lower end of the social strata are stuck in abject poverty. Women and girls born into India's lowest caste are most likely to fall victim to human trafficking.

(Photo courtesy India Partners)

Forced labor and sex slavery are the driving force behind India's human trafficking market, and approximately 16 million people are held in sex slavery. India Partners works with local believers to restore dignity to those whose rights have been violated and meet physical needs on various levels. The Gospel is woven throughout each project. Learn more about their work here. "It's a real long-term commitment that we make to these families," notes Sparks. For example, when a woman is rescued from sex slavery, believers walk with her throughout each step of recovery: taking care of health needs, finding a safe place to live, learning sustainable job skills, discovering Christ through Bible studies and church. In doing so, Sparks says India Partners expresses God's heart in both word and deed. "In Isaiah, it says 'the Lord loves justice,'" he states. "There's something wrong with my relationship with God if I'm not concerned about justice." International Human Rights Day and you

(Photo courtesy Global Advance)

As you stand with India Partners in prayer for this issue and for the at-risk people they help, be ready to respond. As William Wilberforce famously stated, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” "Whether I ignore it or I read [the information], God still holds me responsible for it because it's there, it's available for us [to know]," Sparks reiterates. "When we pray for such things, God's going to say, 'Ok, you're the man who's going to fill in that need'." Searching India Partners' Christmas Catalog is an easy place to start. "Many of these things relate to human rights," Sparks notes. "If you help a woman go to sewing school and get a sewing machine, that allows her to put food on the table and clothes on her children's backs, and that essential human right of self-sufficiency is restored."
Categories: Mission Network News