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Yemeni rebels storm presidential palace

Mission Network News - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 5:00am

(Map courtesy Wikipedia)

Yemen (MNN) -- Yemen's crisis Tuesday has reached the point of being called a "coup." The country's Minister of Information says Shiite Houthi rebels not only took control of the capital, they overran the presidential palace and attacked the Prime Minister's residence. It shatters a truce that lasted less than a day. Carl Moeller, President and CEO of Biblica, points out that "Yemen, for years now, has been a center of Islamic terrorism training and other elements of destruction." That ideology is behind a lot of other problems in the region, too. "The events of today in Yemen, although still fairly unclear, indicate the continued unrest, instability, and sheer chaos of many parts of the Middle East." The apparent overthrow is troubling for a number of reasons, Moeller adds, chiefly, "While the rebels are themselves Shiites, large elements of Yemen remain under Sunni control." It's a generational sectarian schism. Moeller says because of this, "Clearly, this instability is not going away. It's probably going to be exacerbated over the next several months. I believe that there will be more governments toppled by extreme radicals."

(Photo courtesy Flickr/cc/Anduze Traveller)

The instability also heightens tensions for Christians in the region. Muslims are forbidden to convert to another religion. Yemenis who leave Islam may face the death penalty. Christian converts from Islam face persecution so harsh that many go underground with their faith. Open Doors USA reports that most believers in Yemen are first-generation Christians. This means that their family and clan are still Muslim. The small number of Christians lives in constant fear of discovery and public exposure. Already marginalized, they typically bear the brunt of social upheaval, notes Moeller. "While I can't comment specifically on where we are working, we are working with some of our key partners in this region who are working silently and at great risk to serve the Christian community there." That's why sharing Scripture in the Middle East and North Africa takes a special approach. "At Biblica, we're committed to providing the resources for those Christian communities to stay strong. Our work is an essential part of many of our partner organizations that are reaching into the situation for the Christians that have been displaced." Biblica offers the Bible in audio formats for oral learners and those unable to read. They also operate ministry centers and bookshops to provide God's Word and a Christian witness.

(Photo courtesy Flickr/CC/EU Humanitarian Aid
and Civil Protection)

Finally, despite the immediate instability, Biblica teams are working on the first full Bible translation for the 5-million Sorani-speaking Kurdish community. Here's how you can pray: *Muslim Background Believers face immediate death if they do not convert back to Islam; pray for their safety and protection. *Pray for stability in a country deeply divided and torn by violence. *Pray that the few thousand Christians in the country might be embraced by other believers.
Categories: Mission Network News

Pastor's Wife Admits Wedding Day Sex Was Bad But Says Sex Will Only Get Better in Marriage

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:15pm
Jeanette Gross admits sex on her wedding night wasn't great, though her husband may differ. The couple had remained abstinent until marriage as Christians. So to go from being told "no sex" to suddenly being able to have sex, it made for an awkward experience and less than great sex.
Categories: Christian Post

Homeless survey

WGRC News - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:09pm

Representatives from area organizations who help out the homeless daily in Lycoming County will team up later this month to complete a survey in which they will attempt to count all of the homeless individuals within the county. The Survey is part of an annual nationwide study required by the U.S. Department of Hosting and Urban development. A survey last summer found 66 unsheltered individuals living within the county including 19 children under the age of 18.

Categories: Local News

Tom Wolf takes oath of office

WGRC News - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:09pm

Tom Wolf is now the 47th Governor of Pennsylvania. At noon today he took the oath of office at the state capitol taking over for Tom Corbett. Wolf is expected to sign some executive orders dealing with ethics and accepting gifts then will move onto to some inaugural events this evening. As the new governor of Pennsylvania, his biggest job will be to try to bring in line a $2 billion dollars budget deficit. Wolf says he is already making plans to tackle the pension crisis, of which pensions for former state employees are expected to increase by $500 million dollars this year. It’s also expected that Wolf will ask a republican controlled legislature to impose a severance tax on state gas drillers amongst other revenue raising measures.

Categories: Local News

Should Christians Use Sex Toys? Porn Pastor Answers in 'Best Sex Life Now' Series

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:11pm
"Porn pastor" Craig Gross says sex toys can be used in the marriage bedroom but he draws a line at toys that cause harm, such as the ones used in the 50 Shades trilogy.
Categories: Christian Post

By Divine Design

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 9:53am
The apostle Paul was the kind of guy who liked to get out and get things done. He took action and went out and accomplished things for God. But as a prisoner in Rome, Paul found himself stuck . . . immobilized . . . unable to move. Perhaps you are immobilized in some way right now.
Categories: Christian Post

Willow Creek Megachurch Pastor Bill Hybels Preaches on MLK, 'Selma', Bible's Queen Esther Taking Stand, 'If I Perish, I Perish'

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 9:14am
On the Martin Luther King weekend, Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church urged the congregation to embrace differentness in others and take a stand about justice when needed, just as the civil rights movement leader did.
Categories: Christian Post

Clean water and Jesus needed in rural India

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:00am

This is "clean" water supplied
by the government to remote villagers.
(Photo credit India Partners/John Sparks)

India (MNN) -- Approximately 780 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, and around 20% of them live in India. India Partners President John Sparks is in the field right now, laying a foundation to bring clean water to unreached villages. He and a team of national and U.S. believers are meeting with leaders of isolated villages, assessing clean water needs and Gospel presence. Along with clean water, India Partners will also be bringing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) training to each village. "When you bring in water, you're also bringing in the Living Water," notes Sparks. "Every step of the [WASH] lesson includes different parts of the Gospel." This trip isn't just about identifying needs, though. Sparks and his team also visited some of the villages that received wells and WASH training last year. "It has increased their quality of life as well as given them clean water," Sparks reports. Life before clean water

This woman is harvesting water
for her family from a dry stream bed.
(Photo courtesy India Partners/John Sparks)

Before they received wells from India Partners, some of the villagers were boiling their water, a process which consumed most of their day. Water was collected from a source usually located about two kilometers (1.2 miles) outside the village. Then, wood was collected from whatever source was available, be it trees or brush. Villagers who lacked resources or time to boil their water simply drank it as-is. This resulted in an abundance of water-borne diseases; children missed school because they were sick, and some even died. Life after clean water

(Photo credit India Partners/John Sparks)

Thanks to the WASH training and wells installed last year by India Partners, remote villagers have a much greater quality of life. "All the time that is saved in not having to boil [their] water changes their life," observes Sparks. "It improves their ability to cook their food and do some other chores, earn some more money, help their children with school, or whatever it may be." Can you help India Partners bring this type of change to even more villages? A family Sparks and his team spoke with while surveying villages on this trip lost two children to illnesses caused by drinking dirty water. Their third and remaining child is currently in poor condition. "All of these things combined just leave [villagers] with a quality of life that is horrible, but there's nothing they can do," says Sparks. "They live on the edge of society; they're impoverished, some of them are internally displaced."

(Photo credit India Partners/John Sparks)

Once they finish surveying villages, India Partners and their cohorts will decide which ones need Jesus and clean water the most. Then, WASH training will begin, and wells will be dug. You can sponsor one of the wells here. For now, the India Partners team needs your prayers as they finish up their trip. Please pray for good health and traveling mercies. More about India Partner's work here.
Categories: Mission Network News

10 people killed, churches burned in Niger

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:00am

Evangelical church in Niger torched
by Islamic radicals. (Photo by Danette Childs)

Niger (MNN) -- Picture this: You go to church one Sunday. You worship God, hear an inspiring message, pray, talk to friends and then you leave, hoping to return the following week. Unfortunately, when you return, your church has been burned to the ground by protesters. That's exactly what happened to 61 churches in Niger over the weekend, says missionary Neal Childs who's working there. "Last week, churches all across the nation went on without any idea that churches would be burned." Childs works with churches in the region. "Four of our churches were attacked. Three [they] actually got in and did great damage. Two of our pastors' homes were also burned. A Bible school was also burned." Childs says the attacks happened simultaneously in Niamey. It appears police and other security officers were overwhelmed and couldn't control it.

Despite the hot fire, this Bible wasn't completely burned. (Photo by Danette Childs)

How has this affected the church?  "The church is strong in Niger, and it's growing. And we believe that as a result of the persecution, it's going to grow even more. All this senseless attack will only be turned around for the growth of the church." The good news: not one Christian was killed in the attacks. Childs says rioters and police officers suffered the casualties. President of Open Doors David Curry says protesters in predominately Muslim Niger violently reacted to the Charlie Hebdo comics in France. "What they're doing is lashing out at what they consider to be as their prime enemies--or someone they see is aligned with the West--and attacking churches. It's caused quite a bit of destruction." Niger isn't even listed on the Open Doors Word Watch List of nations responsible for persecution against Christians. But, Curry says, "Christians are always a target in many of these countries." Curry says the last 12 months were the most violent against Christians in modern history. Will it spread? "It's going to continue to spread in Nigeria, Chad, in some of these countries where Boko Haram and al-Shabaab and the like are present in Africa. So yes, it will continue to spread. There's no doubt in my mind about that." Open Doors helps in situations like this. "We help rebuild churches that have been destroyed because we don't want that to be their victory. A lot of times we help with trauma counseling. Those are the kinds of things that Open Doors is doing, and you can be a part of." Support Open Doors USA work here.  You can listen to David Curry's complete interview here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Hewa killings planned in Papua New Guinea

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:00am

Visiting a Hewa village on a previous occasion.
(Photo and caption courtesy of New Tribes Mission).

PNG (MNN) -- Papua New Guinea is a mixed bag of reactions when it comes to sharing the Gospel. Some people respond with joy and excitement and are eager to hear more about Jesus. Others cling to their old religions and reject the life-giving news. New Tribes Mission witnesses many exciting things going on in PNG. This past week, for instance, they were able to present the newly-translated New Testament to the WAXE people after many years of building relationships with the group. However, they also experience hard hearts and the devastation that brings to entire tribes of people. Jonathan Kopf, a missionary with NTM, met with Hewa tribal leaders over the weekend to beg for the lives of four women and their families. NTM's David Abbot reports: In response to a measles outbreak in August 2014, Hewa village leaders called for a “court” meeting to decide which women were causing the deaths. As a result, it was decided that four Hewa women were responsible. Now, men are planning to kill these four women, their children, and their grandchildren. The Hewa have an ancestral practice of killing women and children who they suspect are possessed with evil spirits. During this recent “court,” a “head witch” was asked to join the village leaders to decide which women were causing the deaths. The village leaders have heard God’s Word in the past but have chosen to reject it and continue their ancestral practices. As of now, there's no report on how the meeting went, but you can still pray. The major concern is that the Hewa have not shown any interest in the Gospel, so common ground for discussion will be hard for the missionaries to find. For there to be any change in these practices, it will have to start at the heart. Pray that God will soften the hearts of the Hewa and that they would embrace Jesus as their Lord. Pray for the safety of these women and for the eradication of witchcraft in the land. Pray also for wisdom for Jonathan Kopf and his team as they continue reaching out to the Hewa.

This is Susana and her husband; he was killed shortly after the photo was taken. Susana is one of the four women facing a death sentence.

Categories: Mission Network News

Jesus Revealed by Jason Nelson

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:00am
Worship leader, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and soulful contemporary singer/songwriter Jason Nelson burst onto the scene in 2005 with his independent albums, I Shall Live, Brand New Day, and Place of Worship in 2008. As his ongoing ascent to the forefront of Gospel music continued, Jason penned the title track "Thirsty" for Marvin Sapp's #1 album release of the same name. In 2012 Jason signed with Verity/RCA Inspiration and released Shifting The Atmosphere, which debuted at #3 on the Gospel Album chart and featured two Top 5 Gospel Radio hits, the title track Shifting The Atmosphere and Nothing Without You. His major[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

North Point Music: Beginnings by North Point Music

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:00am
North Point Music continues its tradition of creating accessible, innovative worship music with the label's latest project, North Point Music: Beginnings. The double disc, available Jan. 20, 2015, showcases the best worship offerings from popular North Point Music albums and artists. Produced by two-time GRAMMY Award-winning producer Nathan Nockels (Matt Redman, Laura Story, Passion) and Steve Fee, Beginnings comprises 21 total tracks. The compilation is North Point Music's first, designed to bring together fan favorites from both past and present. Disc one, titled "Then," highlights music from previous North Point Music live releases, including North Point Live, North Point Live: Awake,[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Hearts changed in China

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Bibles For China)

China (MNN) -- Did you know that it IS legal for a Chinese citizen to own a Bible?  Or that there is a printing press in China that pumps out hundreds of thousands of Bibles a year? Did you know that, by some estimates, there are probably 100 million Christians in China? Seems like a ready-made solution, right? So what's the problem? Why do so many Chinese Christians wind up copying pages, memorizing chapters, and sharing a single Bible in a village of hundreds? Bibles For China says many people living in rural China barely earn enough to cover basic needs. A Bible seems like a luxury, but for those who already know the love of God, it's food for existence. So they pray. The following story was shared by a Bibles For China team member on a recent visit: “Each day of our team’s Bible distribution, we handed out thousands of Bibles in rural China. Sometimes it is refreshing when we are able to slow down and get to know the believers in the churches we visit. Such was the case at the outdoor Church in Henan Province. As we were passing out Bibles, so many of the believers smiled and graciously thanked us. But as I placed a Bible into one man’s hands, he openly wept. I really wanted to know the story he had to tell.

(Photo courtesy Bibles For China)

Through his tears he explained, “For three years, I have been asking the Lord if there was any possible way to receive my very own Bible, I would be so happy.” This was his day. As he told the rest of his story, my eyes also filled with tears of joy. This was a holy moment, only made possible by divine planning. We sat down together, and I showed him the 23rd Psalm. I quoted it in English, and then he started reading it, then singing it for me in Chinese. When he reached verse 6, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” he sang it over and over. I turned to Psalm 145, and with hand signals showed him that was my favorite Bible passage. As he read it, he was overcome with emotion, By the time he reached the end of the chapter, the Holy Spirit once again touched both our hearts, and the tears flowed. God gave me a wonderful assignment: to serve on a Bibles for China team and give Bibles to waiting, praying, believers in China. Lives are changed, believers are encouraged, and the church is strengthened. I pray that Bibles for China teams will deliver Bibles again and again so that China becomes a shining light and a nation that gives all glory to God!” BFC President Wendell Rovenstine just returned from a visit to rural China last week. Eight hours away from a major city center, their team finally arrived at a church they partnered with last year. "We were able to give out 6,500 Bibles in that area," says Rovenstine. "It was a wonderful experience, a tremendous opportunity we saw. It gave us real hope that this year we'd duplicate that several times as the Lord leads us and gives us opportunity." Rovenstine is careful to stress the role their teams play alongside the China Christian Council churches. Because BFC works within the regulations China sets down, they're allowed a lot more access and can get more done. Specifically, they are merely there by invitation, and their teams help the CCC churches get their job done. "We're not there to hand out Bibles--that's the responsibility of the local Chinese Christian church. We always have opportunity to distribute the Bibles; but to give Bibles: that's their responsibility, and we're just there to observe and celebrate with them." In this most-recent trip, "While we were there, we gave out twice as many booklets of John as we had Bibles. And we gave out twice as many Bible stories for the children." the kids turned out to be thirsty for Truth, too.

(Photo courtesy Bibles For China)

Gone are the days of smuggling 15 Bibles into China in a suitcase. The effectiveness of thousands of Bibles is exponential, adds Rovenstine, but it doesn't happen without preparation. "First of all, I ask for prayer. Then, we have a Web site; most people that join our ministry start there. And then, if the Lord lays it on somebody's heart to provide a Bible for $5, that converts in my mind to a person sharing that Bible--to a person giving that Bible to their family. So it touches multiple people." According to BFC, one of their “in-country” partners conducted an informal survey one year after a Bible distribution. Notes their Web site, "Their findings were that many of the Bibles had been read cover-to-cover in six weeks, most Bibles were shared with five others (both friends and family), and three of those five committed their life to Christ after reading the Bible." Villages are changing. Lives are changing because people are finally feeding on God's Word. The key is accessibility and availability. Want to be part of the change? Click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

10 million a step in the right direction for Food for the Hungry

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:00am
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a report from Gary Edmonds of Food for the Hungry discussing their call to reach needy people, how they've been blessed, and ways you can help.

(Photo courtesy of Food for the Hungry)

9,400,000 people. It’s difficult to imagine that number of people. It’s about the size of 120 full professional football stadium, or almost equivalent to the population of the country of Hungary. For Food for the Hungry (FH), it is 9.4 million confirmations that God is calling us to walk with the most vulnerable. In 2014, FH helped 9.4 million vulnerable people to improve their lives. For some, this meant they received hygiene or maternal health training. For others, this meant children were fed and received a quality education. And for many, this means they gained access to essential de-worming medications that keep healthy adults and children alike, and improve their chances of maintaining jobs and staying in school. But we believe 9.4 million is only a step in the right direction. It is not the finish line. Our mission is: To walk with churches, leaders, and families to overcome all forms of human poverty by living in healthy relationship with God and His creation. Therefore, our work is not done! God is calling us to so much more. And we hope you do, too. To this end, FH does not work alone. At our core, we seek to “walk with” people. We walk with our partners, our donors, and our beneficiaries. Each of us has a role to play in the fight against extreme poverty. Long ago when I was in college (that’s longer than I care to admit!), I played football at UCLA. Playing a team sport, you must rely on your teammates in order to achieve a collective goal. Ending poverty is not FH’s goal alone. It is one that will require teamwork. And ultimately God will lead our path together. But as we begin a new year, please join me in prayer. Pray that God will grant favor for FH and others like us so that more of the world’s most vulnerable people will find new opportunities to overcome physical and spiritual poverty. Pray that we will follow His calling for how best to meet the needs of the sick and oppressed. And pray that more supporters like yourself will feel called to join this God-led effort to bring about redemption on earth. In 2014, FH and our partners walked with 9.4 million vulnerable people. But in 2015, we feel called to respond in an even bigger way. Will you join us?
Categories: Mission Network News

The peace has ended in Ukraine

Mission Network News - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Slavic Gospel Association)

Ukraine (SGA/MNN) -- The peace has ended in eastern Ukraine. According to AFP, separatists launched a massive rocket assault last week, killing 12 people on an intercity bus. It was the deadliest attack since September 2014, when a truce was negotiated between the Kiev central government and the separatists. The fighting is centered northwest of Donetsk and the village of Tonenko, which is an easy access to the Donetsk airport. Aside from a few, the village has been largely abandoned. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has taken the blame for the attack. Kiev is planning to apply for a NATO membership, which Russia sees as confrontational and a threat to their national security. Though the country seems to be in rubble from all the tragedy and heartache, churches in Ukraine that the Slavic Gospel Association serves are reaching out with the Gospel and proclaiming the love of God. Through SGA’s Crisis Evangelism Fund, missionaries and church workers are distributing food, clothing, bedding, heating supplies, and other assistance. They’re also giving out Bibles and Christian literature to bring back much-needed hope. SGA recently received a letter from the president of the Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. He expressed his gratefulness for all their help. A team from Ukrainian Baptist churches is preparing to go to the eastern regions to also distribute aid and assess other ongoing needs. Pray that families will find hope in Jesus and that the fighting will come to an end. Also if you’d like to donate to refugees, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Burma faces mixed future

Mission Network News - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:00am

Tom Malinowski
(Photo credit State.gov)

Burma (MNN) -- Mixed signals surround Burma at the start of 2015. First of all, the top U.S. human rights official, Tom Malinowski, just wrapped up a six-day visit that included talks with Burma's government. "His visit could signal a more decisive change in the United States' posture toward doing business with Burma, and that in turn could mean increased access, and perhaps increased movement, toward freedom," notes Partners Relief and Development founder and CEO Steve Gumaer. Malinowksi's tour coincided with a ten-day visit by the UN Special Rapportuer for Myanmar (also known as Burma), Yanghee Lee. According to some experts, Lee's visit holds great importance for the country's ethnic people as she's the only one who can "speak out, condemn, and prevent" grave human rights abuses. Whatever positive potential the officials' visits held for Burma dimmed quickly following comments issued by Malinowski. International concern "We expressed a concern that the use of religion…to divide people-- whether it is done for political or any other purposes--is incredibly dangerous, particularly in an election year," Malinowski said, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

(Image courtesy Partners)

Buddhist nationalism is reportedly rising rapidly, presenting a new threat to democratic progress and religious minorities in Burma. In addition, a new law that could limit evangelism is in the works. The Associated Press reports that new legislation--which forbids interfaith marriage and limits religious conversions--has been introduced to the parliament and is soon expected to pass into law. In addition, nothing about the government's current human rights violations is changing or being addressed. "The consistent denial of fundamental justice to the people of Burma continues to this day," shares Gumaer. "The regime is really trying to erase from the planet an ethnic group called the Rohingya people." Regardless, Partners has big plans for 2015. The silver lining

Through holistic action, we demonstrate God’s love to children and communities made vulnerable by war in Burma.
(Caption courtesy Partners; Photo by Ryan Roco)

The work of Partners Relief and Development is poised for Gospel growth in 2015, Gumaer reports. With God's blessing and the support of a dynamic national and international network, Partners helped 250,000 marginalized people last year in the areas of relief, sustainable community development, and child trafficking prevention. "2014 was a tremendous year for us, and we expect to build on that to reach an increasing number of people in 2015," he says. "[The] Rohingya people [were] a massive part of our efforts in 2014 and will continue to be in 2015." Right now, Gumaer is in the U.S. raising support for Partners' work and awareness of the plight Burma's ethnic groups face daily. The Rohingya people's dilemma is perhaps the most dire; Gumaer describes some of the abuses issued by Burma's government:
  • Burning down entire villages and cities to erase any evidence that the Rohingya had been there
  • Denying right of marriage/travel/childbirth to the Rohingya
  • Forcing 150,000 Rohingya people to live in barbed-wire enclosures
"That is, for lack of a better word, genocide," Gumaer states. "That is not ethnic cleansing: that is genocide." This year, Partners wants to increase their ministry efforts and reach more of Burma's ethnic minorities.

(Image courtesy Partners Relief & Development)

"These are people, made in the image of God, who are suffering--not just because they're poor. They're suffering because of the country that they live in," says Gumaer. "In two of the ethnic states, these are Christian people. "All of them require, according to the words of Christ, our compassion. And,all of them compel us to engage, to get involved, and to demonstrate the lordship and love of Christ--not just with our words, but with our actions." You can help Partners achieve their mission here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Winter a brutal enemy for refugees

Mission Network News - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Middle East (CAM/MNN) -- Winter has become a brutal enemy to refugees in the Middle East. Missionaries told Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, that winter has started to claim lives among people from Iraq and Syria who fled the Islamic State and other militants. Last week a 2-month-old baby girl named Layla froze to death. “A little baby died because of the cold,” said the director of a ministry for Syrian refugees in Turkey. “It’s mauling me even more because I have seen the babe with her mother in their tent. Please pray for us so we can do something for them.” A leader of a ministry in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley also reported a fatal cold last week. “Last night a 4-year-old child died, frozen near the school,” he said. “Please pray with us for our brothers in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon who are facing very low temperatures. Please pray for the school, as well; we are closed because we cannot heat the classrooms.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that winter could bring crisis conditions to up to 1 million people displaced by civil war in Syria and ISIS in Iraq. Christian workers in centers for people from both countries have begun to see their worst fears come to pass. “Winter is painful and has disastrous effects on the displaced, especially those living in tents and uncovered buildings still under construction,” said the director of a ministry working in camps for displaced people in two cities in northern Iraq, Erbil and Dohuk. The Iraqi ministry director said some people cannot move from tents into buildings due to unavailability and high rent costs. Those that can often end up in buildings that do not have heating or panes in their windows, and they are overcrowded. “It certainly is not that easy. The number of families living in one house or apartment is between 10 and 20, and this matter carries painful consequences,” he said. The need for electric heaters, kerosene-fueled heaters, and kerosene is “very urgent,” he said. “This bad weather weighs most heavily on the chronically ill.” Christian Aid reported that a ministry director found children wearing sandals in the frigid temperatures. “We bought shoes with all the rest of the money we brought with us,” he said. “There is really much pain and suffering. Babies are sick all the time, and the deaths have started to rapidly increase, unfortunately.” The cost of children’s shoes is $14 per pair and for adults, $21, he said. The ministry would like to buy 1,100 pairs of children’s shoes and 800 pairs of shoes for adults, as well as 1,500 coats for children and babies for $15 each, 500 coats for adults at $25 each, and as many pairs of socks as possible at 40 cents each. Refugees have suffered greatly and for so long, but it’s deepened their faith in Jesus. One refugee said “I have more faith now in Jesus. We are ready to die for our Christianity. We decided to leave because we didn’t want to convert.” A pastor in the camps told Christian Aid, “The people in the churches have said, “We used to hear preaching from you that God as a Father takes care of His kids, but now we are living it. Today we have trust in the Lord more than ever. The Lord did not leave us.’” Please consider donating to families in the Middle East. Click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Storytelling reaches oral learners

Mission Network News - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:00am

(Image courtesy Mission Aviation Fellowship)

International (MAF/MNN) -- Think back to when you were in school. Who were the most effective teachers? Do you remember why? It probably had something to do with how the teacher communicated his/her material to you and what you ferreted out for yourself. In the Bible, Jesus spent a lot of time teaching. As a communicator, He was incredibly effective in exploring Truth through stories. For most of us, teaching in a way that sticks is a skill that is learned, and that requires training. Rather than hold a workshop, Regina Manley with Mission Aviation Fellowship says they launched a 6-part online curriculum called StoryFire. "Bible storytelling and discussion meet this wonderful need by allowing people to hear a Bible story several different ways, learn it, and then discuss it as a group where the people find the treasures in the Word and discover lessons themselves." Why? "We remember what we discover ourselves." For most isolated pastors in rural areas, explains Manley, "The way that they have been taught to teach sermons--with several points and teach the Bible from pulling verses from the Bible--has left their congregation impressed but unable to remember the material," which defeats the purpose. By storytelling and encouraging audience participation, "The audience discovers the Treasures in the story. We have very simple, effective questions that anyone can ask and apply to every story. Those quiet and shy ones can be the best leaders because they allow others to speak."

(Image grab from training video, courtesy Mission Aviation Fellowship)

How is this done? By following the model of Jesus: He used stories to teach adults and frequently answered their challenges with a story or a question. When stories engage our mind and emotions, we are more likely to remember what we hear and be motivated to change. Based on the same principles MAF uses to train isolated church leaders around the world, StoryFire is now available for free download. Manley says anyone can master this effective ministry tool in 25 short audio lessons. For example, "One is geared for people studying with Bibles; another is geared for church planting with evangelism, with people who don't read at all, so they're memorizing God's Word, story by story; another one is geared to small group Bible study at home." They're so effective that "our leaders are using this all over the world for evangelism, Bible study, home and cell groups, and having devotions with the kids at home."

(Image courtesy Mission Aviation Fellowship)

What's the time investment in the training? Most of the 25 lessons are less than five minutes in length. It takes approximately 2.5 hours to listen to all of the lessons, and 30 minutes to view each one of the four StoryFire model videos. Manley says, "They can study at home, at their own pace. They just do need to get a group together to practice." Best of all, she adds, "The individual person who wants to pick up this skill can do it absolutely free. Anybody can learn the skill by going to the Web site and listening to the lessons there, or downloading it themselves." Want to be a more effective Bible storyteller? Give StoryFire a try. Click here.
Categories: Mission Network News