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OM launches Crossfit ministry

Mission Network News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 5:00am
Slovenia (MNN) -- Do you like Crossfit? Operation Mobilization (OM) is launching a Crossfit ministry to Slovenia this summer. If you like working out and sharing how God entered your life, you might want to take a closer look.

(Wikipedia)

As described on OM's website, "Crossfit Slovenia will use the sport of Crossfit as a platform to forge relationships within the gym. Because Slovenes are such relational people, training Crossfit workouts together will immediately give you a connection with them because you will be doing something that they love." For a couple of weeks in July, you'll be able to train Slovenes in Crossfit and introduce them to Christ. Or, if they already know the Lord, your story might help them deepen their relationship with Him. Learn more about this mission trip or send your application here. Crossfit Slovenia a unique ministry approach for a nation steeped in Protestant history but desperate for discipleship and evangelical growth. According to Operation World, Protestants have had a presence in Slovenia ever since the Reformation. Although most Slovenes (60%) are Catholic, the Catholic churches in most cities are primarily there for cultural and societal reasons. Prayer Points
  • Ask the Lord if He would have you serve Him in Slovenia through this opportunity.
  • Pray for evangelical churches within Slovenia to begin reaching their neighbors with the Truth of salvation.
  • Pray for creativity to find new ways to engage Slovenes with the Gospel.
Categories: Mission Network News

Partnership: a mark of missional shift

Mission Network News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 5:00am
International (MNN) -- A new year seems to always bring change -- something the mission field is not exempt from. In 2016, change comes in the form of partnership.

Photo by Afayo of ECM (http://www.afayo.org/)

For years, missiologists have been encouraging people to serve alongside others, rather than doing too much for them. Now, in 2016, their advice is being heeded, but maybe not by who you would think. Mark Luckey with Every Child Ministries explains, “In the work of missions today, it’s the national church and the organizations in these countries saying to mission organizations in the West, ‘We don’t want you to do it FOR us: we want you to train us." The partnership perspective The shift toward doing missions together carries a few implications. “First of all, we can send less missionaries. The work of missionaries is still very important; we still need to send missionaries. But the need for as many, as in the past, has changed. Now the focus for missionaries would be more in areas still [needing] training,” explains Luckey. Partnership creates a more effective dynamic. By walking alongside national organizations, the need for volunteers to learn a new culture or a new language is eliminated. Instead, volunteers can help train and equip nationals. “People who have specific skills and are able to train others...can go for shorter periods of time to provide that training--maybe follow up trips, [but] not necessarily living there all the time,” says Luckey. Part of this goal is not just to train others, but to train them so they can train others, too, thus creating a replicating effect. However, though their capabilities have grown, national churches often still need financial support from churches in the West. This poses a different challenge: accountability.

(Photo courtesy Every Child Ministries)

“We have to find ways to make sure people are accountable for how they use the funds that we do send,” explains Luckey. How this will happen is currently undetermined. But despite this trend showing up in 2016, ECM seems to have been ahead of the curve. “ECM has long been about training. But because now those who we are serving are asking us to partner with them, it makes it a lot easier,” affirms Luckey. ECM provides the following training on top of its other programs: Agriculture: ECM uses "Farming God’s Way" as a tool to help incorporate Biblical principles with sound agricultural principles. It’s a way to share the Gospel and provide important practical training. Vocational Training: Some children are unable to continue pursuing school after completing secondary schooling. Because of this, ECM offers vocational training to these kids so they can one day provide for themselves and their families. Teachers: ECM helps train teachers to become more effective in the classroom. Part of this training includes helping the teachers discover ways to share their faith with their students. Sunday School Teachers: ECM trains Sunday school teachers and other church leaders to effectively share the Gospel and to be able to train others to do the same. Pastoral Training: ECM partners with other organizations to train pastors and lay leaders for serving their communities. You can be a part of this training, too! Here's how: Partner with ECM If these action points are beyond your scope, please pray for ECM instead. Pray for God’s direction as ECM continues to strive to serve others. Also pray for effective partnerships.
Categories: Mission Network News

South Sudan: on the edge of failed statehood

Mission Network News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 5:00am
South Sudan (MNN) -- The United Nations is critical of both sides of the civil war in the world's newest country, South Sudan.

(Photo courtesy Set Free Ministries)

Jeff Stam, Set Free Ministries International Director says, “I just received last week reports from the United Nations Refugee Agency. They’re reporting that there’s renewed fighting, skirmishes going on in the southern part of South Sudan that the refugees are continuing to pour into northern Uganda.” Since the beginning of this year, 6,000 refugees have crossed into Uganda, trying to escape the fighting. In December 2013, an outbreak of violence in the capital of Juba quickly engulfed the entire northern part of the country in conflict, impacting large swaths of the population. What started as a political fight quickly metastasized into a war along ethnic lines, mainly between the Dinka and Nuer communities. Now, with the hopes of a free and peaceful South Sudan dashed after 2009’s hope, there are growing concerns that South Sudan could tip into a failed state. With no fully-functioning government in place, and the displaced numbering nearly 1.7 million, food insecurity is the next man-made crisis, threatening a third of the population. Education falls by the wayside with bigger fish to fry. Set Free Ministries was originally involved in peace and reconciliation process in South Sudan among church leaders. Stam observes, “The schools have not re-opened because the villagers have not returned. Perhaps 25% of the villagers have come back.” However, “It was brought to our attention that there was a primary and secondary school in the small village of Werkok that had been vacant for almost three years.” If it’s peaceful enough to open a school, people will come back. And from there, says Stam, “We approached the government and offered the possibility of opening those schools if they would give us the land and the buildings. We would try to open them in an attempt to draw people back to the villages.” But that’s the hang-up, too. It has to be safe enough to come home. The big question: Is it sate? The answer depends on where you look.

(Photo courtesy Set Free Ministries)

The uncertainty could have been the end of the conversation. Stam says then, they came across a little boy in primary grade 4 inside one of the school’s abandoned offices. He’d found a small opening in one of the grates that led inside. The child had squeezed through the opening and was found sorting through piles. “There were a lot of old textbooks, some of them were in very poor condition. But he was looking through those textbooks trying to find something that he could use to try to continue his education on his own.” Since the government was willing to give the land and the school buildings to Set Free Ministries, their next step was clear. Stam says tackling a school meant dealing with some big issues. First, inter-tribal conflict is always an underlying tension. Because it is inbred from the time people are children up until their adult years, “Our goal for the high school was to very purposefully make it inter-tribal, attracting students from the various leading tribes to try to promote peace and reconciliation through the educational process.” They are aware “that this social experiment could blow up in our faces, if something happens at the school.” It will be especially challenging since “[the government] just made very significant changes in the whole structure of the country. There used to be 10 states; now, they’ve divided up into 28 states, and the boundaries are more along tribal geography rather than the political geography.” The main issues: bitterness and forgiveness. Aside from a quality education, Stam explains Set Free’s spiritual approach. ”We use a process that I like to refer to as a 'spiritual inventory' looking at different areas where Satan can possibly gain ground or possibly a foothold in our lives.” Utilizing the same principles that they use in addressing spiritual warfare in discipling the students, they’re equipping a generation to forge a different identity, “so that they don’t have a crisis as adults that they have to have somebody else address, simply because they learned how to deal with these things at an earlier age.”

(Photo courtesy Set Free Ministries)

They’d like to see the high school re-open at the beginning of the 2017 school year, late January. The primary school should open as soon as possible, because it’s a direct benefit to the village, adds Stam. “The first step we have now is to bring the buildings back up to a usable condition. We’re working with a contractor; we’re praying for somebody that can be our liaison in South Sudan.” Then, they’re looking for the kind of Christian instructors who place education on the same level of importance as discipleship. “We need to find some qualified teachers to be able to start working as soon as possible in the primary school. We’re look at Sudanese teachers, but we’re also open to the idea of expat teachers.” Stam asks you to join him in prayer for wisdom on how to construct the right kind of curriculum to make this idea fly. The staff will need strength to hold discipline in equal parts love and strength. The ministry needs the right people who want to be in on the ground level of a unique approach to generational reconciliation for a country. Big ideas need room to be Set Free. Click here to get started.
Categories: Mission Network News

'The Finest Hours' Movie Highlights Hope, Faith, and Fate of Epic Sea Rescue

Christian Post - Missions - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 11:04am
Disney's "The Finest Hours" brings the faith and hope of a historic U.S. Coast Guard sea rescue to the big screen.
Categories: Christian Post

Pastor Perry Noble Is Wrong About Pastors in Politics

Christian Post - Pastors - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 9:50am
"You're an ordained minister, aren't you?" The question came to me from a staffer in a congressional office where I worked fifteen years ago. I was the congressman's district director and briefly acting chief of staff. Years before I had been a White House aide.
Categories: Christian Post

Pop Quiz: Hillary Clinton or Extremist Rightwing Republican?

Christian Post - Missions - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 9:49am
Hello Democratic Primary voters! Before you cast your ballot, it's time to play everyone's favorite pop quiz game …
Categories: Christian Post

John Piper on Six Ways Christians Should Respond to Cultural Exclusion, Hostility

Christian Post - Pastors - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 4:33pm
Theologian John Piper explained how the church in America is living with "cultural indifference or derision or exclusion or hostility," and why this is not strange but normal.
Categories: Christian Post

John Piper on Six Ways Christians Should Respond to Cultural Exclusion, Hostility

Christian Post - Bible - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 4:33pm
Theologian John Piper explained how the church in America is living with "cultural indifference or derision or exclusion or hostility," and why this is not strange but normal.
Categories: Christian Post

John Piper on Six Ways Christians Should Respond to Cultural Exclusion, Hostility

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 4:33pm
Theologian John Piper explained how the church in America is living with "cultural indifference or derision or exclusion or hostility," and why this is not strange but normal.
Categories: Christian Post

Rick Warren Reveals Secret on How to Find Happiness

Christian Post - Pastors - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 2:14pm
To find happiness, Christians must stop worrying about inconsequential things and find relaxation in the grace of God, Pastor Rick Warren shared recently.
Categories: Christian Post

Rick Warren Reveals Secret on How to Find Happiness

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 2:14pm
To find happiness, Christians must stop worrying about inconsequential things and find relaxation in the grace of God, Pastor Rick Warren shared recently.
Categories: Christian Post

Perry Noble Says Donald Trump 'Trumping' Fox News With Debate Boycott

Christian Post - Pastors - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 10:57am
Megachurch Pastor Perry Noble says that while he's not endorsing Trump, he does feel the businessman successfully turned the tables on the Fox News network that hosted the Republican debate Thursday night in Iowa.
Categories: Christian Post

Greg Laurie's Harvest Festival Carries Tradition of Texas Revivals, Historian Says

Christian Post - Pastors - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 9:12am
Pastor Greg Laurie's annual Harvest festival is part of a long history of revival events in the southern state of Texas, historian Larry Eskridge says ahead of the stadium event in March.
Categories: Christian Post

Greg Laurie's Harvest Festival Carries Tradition of Texas Revivals, Historian Says

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 9:12am
Pastor Greg Laurie's annual Harvest festival is part of a long history of revival events in the southern state of Texas, historian Larry Eskridge says ahead of the stadium event in March.
Categories: Christian Post

Make a difference in the Dominican Republic

Mission Network News - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 5:00am
Dominican Republic (MNN/Buckner) -- As Christians, we are people of action. Because God first loved us, we love others. Because of what God did for us, we shine hope into the lives of others. Because of who He is, we have faith. Because He first sent His Son for us, we go and take His gospel to all nations. If you are a medical professional, you are invited to bring your skills and take the Good News to urban Santo Domingo with Buckner International May 31-June 6.

(Photo courtesy of Buckner International)

You will be working in a medical clinic and conducting hygiene and health education classes in the largest city in Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has the ninth-largest economy in Latin America. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, has slipped and defaulted for the second time in the last five months. The U.S. territory has a debt of $72 billion, according to Latina News. Governor Alejandro García Padilla has said the amount could not be paid. Many Puerto Ricans therefore are packing up and requesting visas to live in the Dominican Republic, looking for job opportunities. "It used to be extremely rare for a Puerto Rican to stop by and seek a work visa," Franklin Grullon, the Dominican consul in Suan Juan, Puerto Rico, told Fox News Latino. "There's been a surge in all types of visas, and we believe this flow will only increase." With the influx of people, there is a greater need for medical help and spiritual help in Santo Domingo. Through Buckner Missions, individuals and groups can live out their beliefs by sharing their faith, loving others, and shining hope into people’s lives. Click here to register for the Buckner trip before it's too late!
Categories: Mission Network News

Water in a dry land

Mission Network News - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 5:00am
Zimbabwe (MNN) -- Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second-largest city and is home to roughly 700,000 people. But it's also home to a rising water crisis.

(Photo courtesy of Global Aid Network via Facebook)

With decreasing rainfall and defective dams, the area doesn't have much promise. "It is very difficult to find water there," says Mark Gaither with Global Aid Network (GAiN USA). "Several other agencies--even government agencies--have tried to find water in this area, and it's been very, very difficult. Part of what we do at GAiN is we choose the difficult areas to go. We go where others find it hard to work. We call it the 'tough places.'" Seeing Bulawayo as a "tough place," GAiN USA began work there, knowing God had the power to spring water up from the dry ground. GAiN USA staff worked with geologists to find good pockets of water that could serve as wells. But the water appeared to be dried up because months passed and nothing was found. It was discouraging, but GAiN USA continued their prayers and hard work, sparking the interests of the locals. "They saw our diligence, and we continued to work on this problem even as we were not finding success in terms of getting water. Our credibility with them increased so that they saw that these Christians are very serious about helping them with their problems. And then, that gave us greater opportunity to share the Gospel with them." GAiN staff shared the hope of Christ and how it affected them and their work. After the months of work and prayer, "God blessed us with success, and we were able to find water! So before long, we'll have a water source that is very rare for that area." Gaither estimates that up to 2,000 people will benefit from the well. It may seem like this is the end to a happy story, but right now, there are a number of ways you can still get involved. First, you can pray that the Spirit of the Lord will be present and remembered as people drink this water. You can also give so others will be blessed with fresh, clean water as well. And finally, you can go to Africa. There are a number of GAiN USA trips coming up in Africa, including to Zimbabwe.
Categories: Mission Network News

Building bridges through language

Mission Network News - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 5:00am
USA (MNN) -- The United States attracts refugees and migrants from across the globe, who speak a diverse array of languages.

(Photo courtesy Cornerstone University)

Three years ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, one out of every five U.S. residents did not speak English in their home. Since 2013, numerous crises have hit the global stage, ranging from the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war and the advent of ISIS, to the ethnic cleansing in parts of SE Asia to the drug wars driving people out of Latin and South America. The result, a global humanitarian crisis: 60 million displaced, according to the United Nations. Those who finally succeed in seeking asylum in the U.S. arrive, relieved and ready to start a new "normal." As they find a place to call home, the reality sets in. Professor of Linguistics and director of the TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) program at Cornerstone University Dr. Michael Pasquale explains, “Beyond food and shelter, the need to communicate is very important.” Learning a whole new language is a daunting task, and one that brings risk to an already traumatized family. Who can you trust? “This is a great opportunity for churches to connect with all these new people in their communities,” says Pasquale. “We think about this in terms of relationship-building. It’s a way to kind of front line ‘what are their most crucial needs?’”

(Photo courtesy ABWE/CUNESL)

For those who have resettled, the longer it takes to set down roots, the harder it is to connect. In order to thrive, it’s important for them to feel like they’re a part of the community. “They need to be able to read signs, talk to people, function in stores, with the doctor, with the schools. This is just, to me, a very basic way to help meet a very basic human need.” People who want to help need the tools to know how to do it well. Enter: 15th Annual Cornerstone University ESL Conference. Attendees ranged from students and professors, to pastors, adoption agencies, and refugee organizations learning how to improve their ability to minister and teach ESL. “Specifically, we’re looking at those that are at local churches,” says Pasquale. “[They] may not be professional teachers but are interested in using their desire to reach people, to build bridges, to say ‘I want to know how to do this.’ This is equipping churches, equipping people. So far, over 100 churches have launched their own programs. “Through building these relationships (we talk about ‘building bridges’), it’s not just to help them into the community, but it’s a way to build the relationships so that the Gospel can be shared. That’s what I see churches are doing (with the material).” Pasquale adds, “Most of the sessions are ‘you are teaching English; how do you do it?’ …different ideas, teaching vocabulary, using stories, those types of things. Others will be ‘how do you start this?’ or ‘how do you connect with local Refugee Resettlement Programs (in order to be able to connect with what’s going on in your community)?’”

(Photo courtesy Cornerstone University)

The keynote speaker is Dr. Michael Lessard-Clouston, Professor of Applied Linguistics and TESOL at Biola University in La Mirada, California. Lessard-Clouston is the co-editor of the International Journal of Christianity and English Language Teaching. The conference will also feature vendors offering specific materials and resources to help get an ESL program off the ground. If this whole idea of Teaching English as a Second Language has you in cold sweats because of grammar-induced anxiety, Pasquale says, “The basic English that people need is conversational. They need to be able to introduce themselves and talk. All of us can do that. We want to equip you or show you the different kinds of materials to be able to do that.” Registration is open now. Early registration is $50 on or before March 15, 2016. $60 after March 15. Early student rate is $30 on or before March 15; $35 afterward. (Registration includes light breakfast, lunch and materials packet. Click here to get started.)
Categories: Mission Network News