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Enduring opposition for the Kingdom

Mission Network News - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 5:00am

India is ranked #28 on Open Doors' World Watch List, a ranking of the countries where persecution of Christians is most severe.
(Photo credit Open Doors)

India (MNN) -- India's recent bout of persecution underscores the need for well-equipped church leaders who aren't afraid of opposition. Gary Bishop, President/CEO of  Far Corners Missions, says now that their Bible college expansion is finished, they can focus on sending more pastors to unreached villages. "We have documented 1,250 villages that are 'unreached,' at this point, in our part of Andhra Pradesh, India," notes Bishop. Thanks to the recently-completed expansion of the Word of Life (WOL) Bible College, "We can now add 25 students, and our recruiters are out doing that right now. "These young men launch out with their training to go make the Gospel news available and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The only thing holding back adding some of them is that they require support." Equipping the local Body of Christ Andhra Pradesh is included in a region known as the "Hindu Heartland" of India. Oppression is on the rise in this state, and attacks against Christians often turn violent: stabbings, murder, church arson, and life-threatening beatings.

Photo courtesy of Far Corners Missions

Into this daunting landscape Far Corners sends its WOL graduates. The ministry has been used to do great things in Andhra Pradesh over the past few decades, Bishop adds. "Far Corners has been in India for 47 years now, and we've planted 1,100 churches," he says. "God's opened the door; we are able to [plant churches] in almost any village in our part of India." Of the 1,100 churches mentioned above, 800 are completely "self-sustaining." This means the congregation can support their pastor without help from Far Corners. Bishop says once a pastor is trained and begins work in an unreached village, his church will be self-sustaining after a couple of years. "[Sponsoring a pastor is] a great, great investment in the Kingdom," Bishop states. "It's such a small amount, when you think about education in the United States." According to CollegeCalc.org, the average total cost per year for a two-year Bible/Biblical Studies associate program in the U.S. is $21,258. The average total program cost amounts to $42,516. In comparison, sponsoring a pastor until he completes WOL's two-year program costs $1,560. Based on Far Corners' past experiences, it takes about two years for a village church to become completely self-sustaining, which translates to an investment of roughly $3,120.

(Image courtesy Far Corners Missions)

A pastor would need to be supported by sponsors for over 27 years in order to equal the cost of one year's tuition at the average U.S. Bible college. "For $65 a month, you pay for the complete education [of a WOL student], the living expenses…all of their supplies, three meals a day, and all their practicums of getting prepared to go out into the field and become a village pastor," notes Bishop. Could you and your small group help an impoverished believer reach his people for Christ? Click here to sponsor a pastor through Far Corners. "Once you engage, it's a whole lot more than just writing the check. It's praying for him, it's knowing how he's doing, it's understanding the challenges he may be facing."
Categories: Mission Network News

Can we trust God with our children?

Mission Network News - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 5:00am
International (MIS/MNN) -- The following is an enlightening perspective from a missionary with The Mission Society:

What is it like to raise children on the mission field?
(Photo courtesy of The Mission Society)

What is it like to rear children cross-culturally? How do you respond when people, including close family members, question your parenting skills because you moved overseas with young children? How do you deal with the day-to-day dangers of living in certain areas? Because these questions are near and dear to our own hearts, we asked one missionary couple to weigh in on these common concerns related to rearing families overseas. Here they share their journey as they sought God’s will for their family amid cross-cultural ministry, and how God deepened their faith in the process. Before we had children, I was pretty adamant that having kids would not affect our call to minister cross-culturally, and particularly in a least-reached area. Then, sometime in the first year of our daughter’s life, concerns began to creep in that I had hidden away. These concerns were multiplied by the voices of others, particularly family members, who were not comfortable with the situation in which we live--and our daughter’s safety. I really had to press in to God and ask Him how He felt about these concerns. Having prayed and processed this issue quite a bit, here is my advice to young families considering cross-cultural ministry. We are ill-equipped to give our children absolutely everything they will ever need and to prevent any bad thing from touching them, no matter where we live. There are dangers everywhere. I have discovered that I can be more comfortable with the familiar risks that America presents (car crashes, etc.) than with all the unknown risks of my new country. But that doesn’t mean that one location is actually more risky than another. In truth, these points are a response to the symptom of this issue, rather than its actual cause. The real issue is this: do I really trust Jesus with my children? I’ve come to understand that I do. But it took some processing and some honesty on my part. Also, importantly, I’ve realized I would rather my children learn what it is to be obedient to Jesus than to learn what it looks like to fear man more. The thing that God used to free my worrying heart from all these concerns was that He would take much better care of my children than I could, no matter where we are. I am evil,and yet desire to give my kids good gifts. And He is perfect! So how much more so can He give my children? It does not matter where we live. I believe, though, that each parent will have to seek God about this. Press into Him without relenting until you get a truth from Him that will stick through the hard days. And He will give it. I have no doubt. This couple has two children and they minister in a least-reached area. Their names have been withheld for security purposes.   Whether you're considering heading out to the mission field with your children or are missions-minded, take time to pray for families on the mission field. You can check out missionaries with The Mission Society here to pray for specific families.
Categories: Mission Network News

Christians in India attacked by Hindu mob for singing about Christmas

Mission Network News - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 5:00am

(Stock photo carolers in India courtesy Flickr/CC/SkiptheBudgie)

India (MNN) -- 'Tis the season, but singing about Christ in the Advent Season got a pastor and 15 carolers beaten up in India this weekend. A report from International Christian Concern was confirmed by the Voice of the Martyrs USA. VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton says, "Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence to see a church meeting attacked, to see people harassed and beaten up, and sometimes, even the police are called." The ICC report notes that around 30 Hindu radicals attacked the group in Hyderabad, accusing the Christians of trying to convert people. The report details an assault that left Pastor Bhim Nayak of Banjara Baptist Church and four other Christians severely injured. Christians make up around 2% of India's population, but they face increasing hostility from some of the more radical Hindu nationalists in India. Nettleton says, "With the election of Prime Minister Modi this year, and the rise to power of the radical Hindu RSS-backed government, there is an atmosphere where Christians can be persecuted and the persecutors really don't worry about repercussions." Nettleton says the issues: "they [radicals] don't worry that they're going to face stiff penalties for persecuting Christians. That's the atmosphere that has taken hold in India." Here's why they're concerned about that: in August, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said, “The entire world recognizes Indians as Hindus, therefore India is a Hindu state.... The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva, and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture.” Hindutva refers to Hindu religious fundamentalism and an ideology that all other religions are invalid. Now, an RSS coordinator in the Uttar Pradesh region says his organization plans to convert Muslims and Christians to Hinduism in two separate programs this month. The Indian constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Yet 6 of the 29 state governments have implemented laws forbidding “forcible conversions.” Christians are concerned, especially as Advent draws closer to Christmas Day celebrations. Nettleton urges other believers to pray. "We can pray for their protection, and I think also pray for their response. One of the challenging calls that we have as Christians from the New Testament is to love those who are persecuting us."

(Stock photo Christmas in India, courtesy Flickr/CC/DigantaTalukdar)

Why is it challenging? "You can imagine that if your pastor's being beaten up, as has happened in this case, that's a pretty challenging thing to try to show love and not anger and not animosity toward the people who are persecuting you." Stories of attacks on Christians are coming in every day. Even as churches are beefing up security amid terror threats, this is a season where the hope of Christ is the message behind everything the Church does. "[Pray] that God will supernaturally allow them to show love and to respond in forgiveness and love when they are being persecuted."
Categories: Mission Network News

Pygmy tribes in Africa receiving Treasures

Mission Network News - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 5:00am

World Mission distributes Treasures to third world countries, including these people from DRC. (Photo by World Mission)

DRC/Congo (MNN) -- In a world where technology is always improving, values seem to shift, and the latest craze will be forgotten tomorrow, it's hard to grasp the fact that many people around the world are living life much like they did a hundred years ago. Often these isolated people groups change much more slowly. Some are even resistant to change, and that can include religion. Greg Kelley of World Mission recently sent us a report from the field about a tribe living in The Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. The Gospel has not yet reached this group. He shares more about it and how you can be praying: "I'm looking out over the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and even across the river into the Republic of Congo, where the last remaining unreached people group in both of these great nations lives: it's the Pygmy people. World Mission has two teams--one is on sight right now among the Pygmies in the northern part of the DRC, and another one leaves next week for the Republic of Congo. They will be distributing Treasures in the native tongue of the Pygmy people who have largely rejected the Gospel, and they largely have been overlooked; there's not been mission activity. But we have two teams that are going out, and they'll be targeting these precious people that Jesus died for. So we just would encourage you to be praying for the Pygmies of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo that they would open their hearts to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ." If you'd like to partner with World Mission, visit their Web site here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Spending Christmas In His Presence Instrumental Vol. 2 by Mark T. Jackson

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 5:00am
In efforts to preserve the integrity of traditional Christmas Carols, Mark T. Jackson has arranged 17 Christmas Carols to get you in the Christmas Spirit. This is a Piano Instrumental CD that will soothe your spirit and calm your mind. This is the second volume of the In His Presence volumes. You will love it! [...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Christians, Yazidis, and the needs that unite them

Mission Network News - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 5:00am
Iraq (CAM/MNN) -- The following is an update from Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, on both Christians and non-Christians who have fled from ISIS and have great needs.

A statue of Mary symbolizes the church aid
displaced Iraqis found at a church-run tent camp
in Ankawa, outside Erbil--unlike in Dohuk.
(Caption/photo courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)

The mainly non-Christian Iraqis who went to the northern city of Dohuk after fleeing the Islamic State (ISIS) this year have less help than the many Christians who went to Erbil--a golden opportunity for a locally-based ministry. Displaced people from villages, towns, and cities in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh who made the mountainous trek to Dohuk, a city of 280,000, did not find the large, welcoming church presence that displaced people did in Erbil’s outlying town of Ankawa, which helped to provide tents, food, and medicines. Needs far outstripped supplies even in Erbil. At least 600,000 people--five times as many as arrived in Erbil--went to Dohuk. “They ended up in the streets and under the trees. They live in any building they find, any building under construction, and they just lay their head there,” said the director of a local ministry providing aid in Dohuk. He noted that many of the arrivals were Yazidis, who practice a blend of Christian, Zoroastrian, and Islamic rituals. Long labeled “devil worshippers” by Muslims, the fleeing Yazidis were especially hated and targeted by ISIS. Many came from Sinjar, also known as Shingal, populated mainly by Yazidi Kurds, undertaking the 3-5 day journey to Dohuk on foot. “A lot of Yazidis living in the streets were in a state of shock. They saw a lot of killing of their family members, fathers, brothers, and daughters kidnapped,” he said. “I was giving out a sandwich to a Yazidi man in Dohuk, and the man responded, ‘What are you giving me? Food? My kids are taken. I lost two daughters.’ Some said, 'I lost my wife, what are they going to do to her?' and they would start weeping.” Ministering to these people’s spiritual needs was even more daunting. “You don’t know what to do,” the director said. “These people are Yazidis; they aren’t Muslims and they’re not Christians. We offered to pray for them, but it was sort of meaningless to them because they don’t know Christ. But some of them said, ‘Just pray to any god, because I do need help.’”

In an Ankawa tent camp, a makeshift chapel even emerged. (Caption/photo by Christian Aid Mission)

Bitter cold has begun to bite in the area, and many Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are wondering how they will survive the winter. The director said that the IDPs in Dohuk were among the recipients of his ministry’s recent distribution of 4,035 blankets (at a cost of $40,350), 1,900 electric heaters (at a cost of $57,000), winter clothing and jackets (costing $10,000), as well as 500 oil heaters at a cost of $25,000. “Winter has started, so they need heaters,” he said. “Where the people are living they need tents to be replaced with buildings with real walls. So we started buying huge plastic tarps to cover their area. In Erbil they have tents, but in Dohuk they sleep in the open.” The government provides the IDPs a small monthly food ration, but it’s not enough, the director said. “And the government does not give medicine,” he added. “They don’t give mattresses, or covers or pillows, stuff like that. And we are doing this. In three month,s we distributed over 6,500 mattresses. In October, when it started getting cold, we distributed 3,500 blankets.” The director said that on a recent visit to Dohuk he went to a building used as housing, expecting to find only a few Yazidi families; but his locally-based team was swarmed by 500 children: a sign of their overcrowded quarters. In an Ankawa tent camp, a makeshift chapel even emerged. “Everybody had a need,” said the ministry director. “I took a list; I said, 'OK, who is sick here? Who’s hungry? Who needs a mattress?’ I had three lists, and to my surprise, the list of sick people was the biggest one. One of the children was crying because he had an infection because he stepped on a needle or something. He had a bad infection and he was like less than a year old--almost a baby.” Another child had an ear infection that had begun to affect his brain; he had begun losing his memory. The director asked him if he could find a doctor, and the child along with others only replied, “Who’s going to take us to the hospital?” The ministry has begun operating a mobile medical clinic in northern Iraq to provide for such needs. It is a large van equipped with medical equipment and supplies. The director spoke of a married 17-year-old Yazidi girl he met whom ISIS had taken for 96 days. She was raped nearly every day by four men. “She said, ‘They took me under the cries of "Allahu Akbar" [God is greater]. I was taken from family, from my husband,’” she said. “In 96 days she attempted suicide four times, but she didn’t die for some reason. She tried to hang herself but couldn’t. She drank poison, but for some reason, I believe, God let her live.” At last ISIS sold her as a slave for $500 to a family friend pretending that he didn’t know her. “So when he bought her, he called the family and said, ‘Hey I have your daughter. Come and get her,’” the director said. “This is one of thousands of stories. So we need to do more than just provide help. We sometimes just bow our heads and feel with these people, pray with them, cry with them. When they see the tears, that gives them some healing. And then the next step is, ‘Here is Jesus Who can save and heal.’” To help indigenous missionaries meet these overwhelming needs, you may contribute online using the form here, or call 434-977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 444IRAQ. Thank you!
Categories: Mission Network News

Busiest shipping day of the year

WGRC News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 8:32pm

You’ll likely be standing in long lines if you have Xmas gifts to mail. Today is expected to be the busiest shipping day of the year for the U.S. Postal Service with more than 640 million cards, letters and packages expected to be processed. FedEx also said it’s expected to be the busiest day it has ever seen. USPS says Monday is the deadline to send mail using standard post where it can be guaranteed to arrive in time for Christmas morning.

Categories: Local News

Montoursville State Police investigate a murder

WGRC News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 8:31pm

The investigation continues into a man found dead yesterday morning in Loyalsock Township. State police in Montoursville say that 40 year old Ty Kimble was in a car with a woman along Warrensville Road around 2am when an argument between the two became physical with Kimball being shot and killed. An autopsy was scheduled for this morning. The woman who has not been identified was taken into custody.

Categories: Local News

Home burglary

WGRC News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 8:31pm

State Police continue to investigate a home burglary near Hughesville last month. Sometime from November 21st to the 22nd, someone broke through an exterior door window ata home on Barto Hollow Road in Penn Township. An air purifier was stolen as well as about $2,000 dollars in change and another $250 dollars in cash. Anyone with information is asked to contact State police in Montoursville.

Categories: Local News

God's Royal Seal

Christian Post - Living - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:03am
What does the Bible mean when it says that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit? In the apostle Paul's day, when goods were shipped from one place to another, they would be stamped with a wax seal, imprinted with the signet ring of the owner. This was a unique mark of ownership. People could look at the crate, see its wax seal, and know they had better not open it.
Categories: Christian Post

Food for hungry souls

Mission Network News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 5:00am
International (FFH) -- Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if when we were sick, we could go to one place, take one pill and have that one pill solve any sickness that we have? I don’t know if that will ever happen in the realm of healthcare, but there are cures for many of the issues of life that people suffer from. One woman, Fidelina, who lives in the Dominican Republic, was raised in a culture dominated by witch doctors who held sway over people by keeping them under the dark shadows of fear. Fidelina found herself trapped in fears stemming from tales of unspeakable things the witch doctors reportedly did to babies and young children. Having birthed six of her own, her fears were multiplied. In addition, the witch doctors used fear to promote gambling as a quick fix amongst those under their influence. Winning a lottery became Fidelina’s dream. Once she became addicted to gambling, her dream became her nightmare. The thing she wanted to protect the most--her family--became the thing that suffered the most. In Bolivia, Gertrudiz and her husband, Julio, earned a living by traveling to Chile to work in the Chapare coca-producing region. Either would leave for extended periods of time, effectively abandoning their three children in their home village where the only running water was a single, communal tap. In their quest to provide, they ended up neglecting their family greatly. Though their stories were different, the result was the same. Their families were suffering, but they weren’t broken beyond repair. Food for the Hungry has an outreach program which includes providing food where there is hunger, healthcare where there is illness, and income sources where none exist. They also lead individuals and families to the One who is Truth and who promised He would never leave or forsake them. This is how the women and their families were reunited and rejuvenated. The Bible and God are the pills, which heal everything, even families torn apart by gambling or fighting. No matter who we are, where we live, or what our circumstances are, there is only one lens through which we can view the world correctly. That lens is trusting in God to provide. In that regard, sometimes the cure is not as obvious as food, shelter, or health care. The cure is introducing people to Christ and giving them Bibles to read and instruction in God’s ways. As families learn biblical principles, they are transformed by the renewing of their minds so that their perspectives on life and their priorities change. They learn that the truth of God’s Word never changes; they can depend on it to direct their lives, and on God to provide for their needs. FH's outreach in every area of service includes food for hungry souls. That’s what they had the opportunity to do for both Fidelina and Gertrudiz. These women and their families have completely changed since. Their families are whole, and their worldview is much clearer. Make a difference in a family's life and give hope to those who can no longer see a future. Click here to donate through their gift catalog. When you visit the “Eternal Impact” section, you will discover how to give the gift of Bibles and discipleship training. Your gift could help change a life forever.
Categories: Mission Network News

Quiet persecution in Vietnam

Mission Network News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs, USA)

Vietnam (MNN/VOM) -- Two Asian nations are among the top 20 on the Open Doors World Watch List (WWL), a ranking of 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the most severe. Guess which two? If you said North Korea and Vietnam, you'd be right. North Korea has been the world's worst persecutor of Christians for nearly a decade. Vietnam ranks 18th, far above China, which is 37th on the WWL. Yet, with active harassment, oppression, and persecution of Christians within its borders, the prayer vigil for Vietnam's body of Christ has seemingly gone silent. Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, attributes some of that to improvements made on the human and religious rights fronts. "Over the last five years, we've seen them open up registration to additional churches. We've seen less persecution. We've seen some very large Christian meetings held in Hanoi." Still, he reminds us, "The reality is: there is persecution, and it is a Communist country. As we know in Communist countries, the issue for them, with regard to religion, is control." Specifically, "When the Church says, 'Our first loyalty is to Jesus Christ, not to the Communist Party, not to the Communist government,' that makes them very uncomfortable and they respond with harassment and persecution to try to regain that control." Last year, Nettleton explains, Vietnam implemented a new government policy (ND-92 is a revision of the former, less-detailed ND-22). It's more restrictive, providing the government with additional legal tools for control and repression. By impeding the day-to-day functioning of church groups with even tighter reporting, registration, and permission restrictions, there is the increased risk of diminishing the rapidly growing size and number of churches within its borders.

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

However, he goes on to note, "The Hmong tribe is among the significant ones that has had a great revival over the last 20 years. Tens of thousands of Hmong people have come to Christ. The government doesn’t trust them because they're part of this minority tribal group, and then they don't trust them even more because they're Christians and they're involved in church activity." A case in point: Ho Chi Minh City Bible School has often been the target of police activity in recent years. The Bible school leader, Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang, said last month the school was attacked and destroyed for the seventh time since June. Nettleton adds, "I think the initial intent is to send a message, but ultimately, they would like to shut them down. The government sees this Bible School as a threat." After large scale attacks in June, the water and electricity for the school were cut off, and in October, all roads to the school were barricaded. Why? Nettleton explains, "One of the things that pastor Quang is involved in is training the church leaders from some of the minority ethnic tribal groups across Vietnam, and then they go back to their villages to lead churches, to plant churches."

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

Even with the heavy intimidation, school leaders have continued to operate the school, and students continue to study faithfully, intent on their mission to share Christ throughout Vietnam. However, they wrestle with this: "How do we respond to these laws in a godly, Christ-like way, while still doing what we need to do spiritually--doing the things that God has called us to do, at the same time showing respect for (as the Bible says) those in authority over us?" Harassment isn't likely to go away. The new government policy continues to control, restrict, and penalize religious groups and their organized activities. Under Communist rule, Christians and their church leaders in Vietnam suffer harassment, arrest, and imprisonment, all under ambiguous charges of threats to national security, public order, unity, and national tradition. What can you do? "We can pray for godly wisdom among those church leaders to help them know the best ways to help them do that," says Nettleton. Pray that the faith of these Vietnamese believers will become more fervent despite the government's attempts to implement further restrictions and repression, bringing forth greater blessings to the church as a whole.
Categories: Mission Network News

Breaking the rules of Social Media experts

Mission Network News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 5:00am

Biblica wants to engage all generations with Scripture.
(Image courtesy Biblica)

Int'l (MNN) -- Type "social media, millennials, and the Gospel" into your search engine, and an array of responses will come up. The number of books written on these topics continues to grow. It seems like everyone has an opinion about how to utilize social media to reach the world with the Gospel. We spoke with Carl Moeller of Biblica to get his take on the matter. Over the last 18 months, they've tried a new strategy with their Facebook page only to see their followers climb from 10,000 to over 100,000--in just 18 months! What they did Biblica went out on a limb and did something many social media experts say not to do. They lengthened their Facebook posts. Moeller shares why: "What we're actually finding is that a lot of the conventional wisdom in social media about shorter is better--tighter message, reduce everything down to 160 characters--just doesn't work when it comes to the deep, spiritual longings, in many cases that people have. And they're turning to social media because they don't really know any other place to go to have those questions answered." He says these people want to know about a deeper, richer encounter with God through His word rather than little "nuggets" of information here and there. And so, Biblica provided that availability right on their Facebook page, intending people to be able to read sections of Scripture right through social media. Moeller says there has been an extreme decrease in the number of people reading their Bible. This is especially true of millennials. Part of the reason is that millennials are so used to being fed digital bite-sized pieces of everything, and little bites of Scripture through social media are only exacerbating the problem. Biblica began inviting followers on a daily study of the Bible through their posts instead of posting a verse of the day. In place of quick tidbits of Scripture--maybe with a few words of advice on top of it, they went through entire books little-by-little each day. Biblica says in this way, they are following the natural contours of Scripture. In addition, Biblica began offering weekly tips for reading the Bible and weekly summaries of each book. Essentially they are teaching people who have never learned to read their Bible how to read it. Results

(Image by Biblica)

Aside from the increase in followers, Biblica saw some other interesting numbers. For instance, 85% of their followers are outside the United States. Biblica also reaches 1250,00 to 150,000 people on Facebook with Scripture. Moeller says, "One thing about Facebook is that it's brilliant in its ability to identify what people really do like." And Biblica has discovered a lot of Facebook users like what they have been doing. Are you surprised? Moeller says the hunger for Scripture hasn't necessarily caught on in the United States. One distinction between the United States and countries where Christians are persecuted is that in the United States, Christians don’t read their Bible as a community. Moeller explains: "In America, too many of us have been raised and schooled and trained in sitting and listening to someone preach, and not reading, together, the Word of God. That's one of our main thrusts here at Biblica: to get more people reading the Bible in community." While Moeller knows he is no social media expert, he says the numbers signify something obvious to him: "There is a deep hunger in the American Church for authenticity." He continues to say of the group most engaged in the digital world: "I think there are other studies that say this millennial generation wants more depth, more texture, more nuance in their approach to  issues, not a black and white generation." Looking ahead Biblica is excited with these results. They are breaking the guidelines, and God is blessing them. Because this is so new, it's hard to say exactly how people can get involved. Moeller says of Biblica, "I think where we go from here with our social media and our attempt to engage people with the depths of the Bible through social media is to continue to grow and to continue to challenge people to come to us with their questions and their desire to explore the Bible in its totality." As you consider the exciting prospect of teaching seekers how to learn about God through their Bible, you can pray for Christian organizations using social media to use it effectively and appropriately. And maybe hearts will be changed and transformed by encountering the Word of God on Facebook. Moeller says, "I think anybody who cares about the cause of Christ is thrilled when someone who has been sort of on the fringe, or somewhat skeptical, says, 'You know what? I'm willing to give the Bible a try. I'm willing to read it for what it's worth and to take its message and to understand it." You can find Biblica's Facebook page here.
Categories: Mission Network News

New studio for Mozambique audio ministry

Mission Network News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 5:00am

Audio Scripture Ministries is building a new studio in central Mozambique. (Photo by Audio Scripture Ministries)

Mozambique (ASM/MNN) -- What can make a terminally ill and constantly pained child not only smile, but sing with joy? Audio Scripture Ministries believes in and has seen the power of the Gospel to transform lives, perspectives, and hearts. In Mozambique, ASM is watching their ministry grow. Earlier this month they began construction on a new studio in central Mozambique. As the year comes to an end, ASM shares the following story updating us on their work and what it's doing to change lives: ASM’s ministry in Mozambique is continuing to expand. The political instability and armed conflict that have brought some challenges to the project over the past year have finally subsided, allowing the ministry to move ahead with some new projects. One of the big new projects we are working on is the expansion of the ministry into the central part of the country. In the past years, we have done several audio Bible distributions and recordings from the central part of the country, but the challenges of traveling logistics, poor infrastructure, and limited connections in the area have made ministry there challenging.

(Photo by Audio Scripture Ministries)

In order to more effectively record and distribute audio Scriptures in the central part of Mozambique, ASM has recently broken ground on a new “satellite” training and recording studio/distribution center in the central part of the country. This new studio will be much smaller than our headquarters in the southern city of Xai-Xai, and it will be located 1,000 km to the north in Chimoio. It is our hope to be able to complete this new studio by April of 2015, but that will depend on funding and a host of other factors that we tend to face in a location such as Mozambique. Earlier this year, ASM began an initiative to make audio Scripture materials available to the Chitewe people of central Mozambique. There are about 150,000 people that speak the Chitewe language, but they have no written Bible and virtually no Scripture materials available in any form. We began at square one with trying to collect Scripture songs and by beginning a translation project to at least make some Bible stories available in the Chitewe language. We have been able to assemble several hours of Scripture-based audio, and in the past months we have already started to see an impact. One project we have the privilege of helping with is the first pediatric hospice/palliative care project in the entire country. This is a brand-new project that aims to provide a higher quality of life for children suffering from terminal diseases (mostly AIDS) through comfort care and the use of audio Scripture materials. The first patient in the program was given a Wildlife STORYTELLER loaded with Bible stories and songs just weeks ago, and there has already been an amazing change in his life. This little boy, who never smiled because of the constant pain from his advanced AIDS, is now smiling and singing. The reality is that we don’t know how long he has yet to live, but he now knows that God loves him. He has found that ultimate joy even in the midst of his pain.

(Photo by ASM)

Praise God for what He is doing through ASM. If you would like to partner with them and stay updated on how God is working through audio Scripture around the world, click here. (For giving to this project, look at Chimoio.)
Categories: Mission Network News

Muslims defend Ahok, the new Christian governor of Jakarta

Mission Network News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 5:00am

Basuki Cahaya Purnama, formerly the Deputy Governor of Jakarta and now Governor.
(Photo credit Wikipedia Commons)

Indonesia (MNN) -- The recently-inaugurated Chinese Christian governor of Indonesia's capital city, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, is finding new allies in Jakarta's influential Muslim leaders. Mr. Purnama, who goes by "Ahok," reflects an "acceptance of diversity" agenda being put forth by the newly-elected President and former gubernatorial running mate, Joko Widodo. "He's referred to as a double-minority because he's ethnic Chinese, which is a minority in Indonesia, and he's also Christian," notes a ministry friend with work in Indonesia (who has asked not to be named). "Given the fact that Indonesia has a very large Muslim population, there are some leaders that have been very vocal [about], 'This is not the kind of leader that we need for Jakarta.'" Ahok met a great deal of opposition from Islamic hard-liners when he was announced as the city's leader last month. Earlier this month, a spokesman for one fundamentalist group claimed, "We reject Ahok's leadership. He does not represent Jakarta's residents. "We will elect a new governor who cares about Islam and its citizens, not Ahok." Leaders of large Muslim groups in Jakarta are now slamming the hard-liners' efforts to stir up public unrest against the governor. "The majority of Jakartans and Indonesians are accepting of the values of democracy," says one Islamic leader. "We want to continue to promote pluralism and to limit any violent actions like this. [The Islamic Defenders Front], so far, is only spreading hatred among religious followers and races." Christians in Jakarta are surrounding Ahok in prayer. Will you join them?

(Photo credit 8thirty8 Facebook page)

Pray for continued public support of Ahok. Ask the Lord to thwart attempts by Muslim hard-liners to remove him from a position of influence. Pray for strength and discernment for Ahok so he can continue representing Christ to unbelievers in Jakarta. "There is a great hope that with the new president, and this new governor, there will be increased dialogue and respect for Christians," notes the fore-mentioned believer.
Categories: Mission Network News