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Worst flooding in history hits Malawi

Mission Network News - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy World Renew)

Malawi (MNN) -- Imagine that more than one third of your country has been declared a "disaster zone." How would you respond? Where would you go? That’s what the people in Malawi are wondering. Over the past several weeks, Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar have been hit by severe flooding, with Malawi being the worst. The southeastern African nations have had buckets of rain in the last few weeks from the Tropical Cyclone Bansi. On January 13, Malawi got more than six inches of rain in 24 hours. According to BBC News, over 200,000 people are displaced, and more than 170 people have been killed. CNN cited a statement released by the Malawian Government saying more than 300 people were saved by helicopter and 1,300 more by boat. This is the worst flooding in Malawi's history, according to the report. It has not only dismantled lives and homes, but crops as well. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and much of the population works as farmers. Now they are left wondering where their next meal will come from. CNN cited Doctors without Borders who believe around 20,000 people at the southern tip are cut off from the rest of the country without food nd healthcare. World Renew is working through church partners in Mozambique and Malawi to give displaced persons the relief they need. In Malawi, they are reaching out to people in the southern tip by providing water purification supplies, tarps, small household items, and mosquito nets. In Mozambique, World Renew is providing food, seeds, farming tools, and water purification supplies to about 1,000 families. In each country, they show the compassion and love of Jesus while providing services. They share how Christ impacted suffering people and how He is now pushing them to help others in distress. In the next few days, World Renew workers are going to head to the African countries to work side-by-side with their church partners. They could provide much more to displaced people with a little help. Click here to help World Renew in their efforts.
Categories: Mission Network News

Who is in control of Yemen?

Mission Network News - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Flickr/CC/Brian Harr)

Yemen (MNN) -- The Yemeni government say Shiite Houthi rebels stormed the Presidential Palace and attacked the Prime Minister's residence yesterday in a coup. The rebels deny that, claiming they have not removed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from office, although they maintained a guard over his home on Wednesday. If they're not seizing power, what do they want? David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, says the Houthi want equal rights. "They've been escalating their attacks. They seem reasonable in what they're asking because they have been oppressed, being a minority group." The rebel leader went public with demands yesterday for constitutional changes that would increase Houthi influence in the management of Yemen. Yemen is the poorest Arab country with about a tenth of the wealth belonging to neighboring Oman and Saudi Arabia. Widespread corruption, unemployment, poverty, and violence are blamed for the mismanagement. Right now, nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line. The Houthi finally had enough. The trouble with their uprising is that it taps right into one of the oldest feuds in the world: Shia v. Sunni Islam. Curry says, "There's no doubt that the extremist Shiite group has gained some leverage. I think that through that, you could say that Iran, which is a part of this--they seem to be, at least tangentially, playing a supporting role to this group--has gained some leverage in it all." Add a weak government in, and the balance of power could tilt explosively. "It seems to be playing out similar to Tunisia and Egypt where you have these weak governments that have been propped up for all the wrong reasons." Curry goes on to add that, "Really, you have two extremist groups here that are battling for control of the country," and Christians are caught in the middle of the whole thing. Yemen is #14 on the 2015 Open Doors World Watch List, a ranking of the world's 50 worst countries known for the persecution of Christians. The Constitution of Yemen declares Islam as the State religion, and Sharia--the Islamic law--as the source of all legislation. The government forbids conversion from Islam and proselytizing of Muslims. When a Muslim becomes a Christian, he or she often faces persecution from family and the government. That there are Muslim-Background Believers at all implies that the story of Jesus is still being shared. However, many MBB remain quiet about their faith and are very cautious about expressing it at all. Open Doors helps partners in the region. "Are there people who want to own a Bible in Yemen? Yes. Are there people who want to read a Bible? Yes. Are there people who want to believe and follow Jesus? Yes. Do they do so under tremendous pressure in secret? Yes." While practical support to the church is important, strategically, helping the church grow and mature is vital. Local believers need good role-models and Christians with the capacity to disciple believers and help them follow Jesus. Another need would be strong fellowship among local believers. The risk of being betrayed or exposed by other Yemenis is a real one and cannot be overlooked. This may hinder the growth of trust and strong fellowships. With Yemen's unpredictable future, please keep praying. "Pray for the Yemeni Christians, that they would have Bibles, that they would come to faith, that they would be protected. Just lift them up in prayer, and then, support projects in these regions--if you possibly can--that will help the church to grow and flourish and be a place of salt and light in this community."
Categories: Mission Network News

AIM transforming communities with Kireka Home

Mission Network News - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 5:00am
Uganda (MNN) -- God is doing some really cool stuff in Uganda. Through Africa Inland Mission, God is changing the hearts of people toward children with disabilities.

Kireka homes teaches children skills they can use into adulthood. (Photo courtesy of Africa Inland Mission)

Julie, a long-term missionary with AIM, is heavily involved in this work. "I had the privilege of being born into AIM," she says. She's also a 5th-generation missionary with AIM: her great, great-grandma was a missionary in Kenya. Julie has a passion for showing children with disabilities that they are an important part of the Body of Christ. In some areas of the world, including places in Uganda, there is a misunderstanding toward children with disabilities. "A lot of people think that people with disabilities have been cursed, or their parents have been cursed, or they're demon-possessed, or they're just seen as a real shame in society for the most part," Julie explains, reminding us that not everyone in Uganda thinks this way. However, in places where witchcraft is practiced, adopting the belief that children with disabilities are cursed is a natural tendency. "Because of that, a lot of times they are not treated very well because there's an element of shame involved," Julie says. "Kids with disabilities--I've seen them tied, I've seen them locked in rooms. Often they're the last ones who are clothed or fed." Julie believes that communities and families who do this aren't really sure what else to do with the children. "They are ashamed of them and they don't understand the biblical truth of who they are in the Kingdom of God." A place for change

(Photo courtesy of Africa Inland Mission)

In Kampala, there is a government school called Kireka Home. It is a safe place for children with mental disabilities and other disabilities to grow and learn, and most importantly, a place to be loved. There are about 80 students at this boarding school from all over the country--some even coming from other countries because services like this are rare. The school helps students with their education and daily life skills that will help them when they become adults. Julie notes that there are other places in Uganda where programs like this are being started. The attitude is starting to change. So, how exactly does Kireka Home help kids? It starts with letting them be children. Julie says, "I think one of the big things that often shocks onlookers is that these kids can have fun. They're happy, and they interact with each other. It just helps people start to see that they are people, just like we are, and can learn and have fun and interact with each other." A second way the school helps disabled kids is by teaching the families and communities of these children who they really are. Julie says it's rewarding to help the adults figure out a more biblical understanding of who these kids are: "whether it's at Kireka Home or in churches around the country or different schools that are working with these kid.s That they were made in the image of God is a big concept for them to grasp," says Julie. When the concept is grasped, it makes way for them to learn more about Jesus and His purpose for them. It also destroys the worldview of shame, giving both the families and their children a new sense of freedom, which Julie says is her favorite thing to see. She says, "When you see a kid or a family or a community make that shift from being in total bondage and shame and fear, to being free, to being loving, to being joyful again and to not having that fear of the spiritual (the witchcraft piece of things), it is a beautiful thing to watch." Ways you can help For this freedom to take place, there has to be a transformation in people's hearts. Julie says without your prayer, the transformation won't happen. That's where you come in. You can pray for the transformation of communities and families and children after they come to know Christ. You can pray for that freedom to come over children with disabilities and those taking care of them. You can pray that with that freedom, these people will share Christ with others. Learn more about Kireka Home here. If you'd like to help the development of programs like Kireka Home, you can give online. Click here and select the Other folder; then select subfolder Other4. When you get to the "Gift Comment" field, designate the gift to "Special Needs Development." If you'd like to send your gift in the mail, you can find the address here. In the same way, designate your gift for the "Special Needs Development" fund. Julie reminds us that every member of the Body of Christ is needed to help it function correctly. That is why she wants to make sure that people with disabilities are included. She says, "One thing that I am just so excited and passionate about is helping the Body of Christ--the Church with a capital C--to be whole, to be complete."
Categories: Mission Network News

Constitution craze continues on decision day

Mission Network News - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy: U.S. Pacific Air Forces via Flickr)

Nepal (MNN) -- It's "decision day" in Nepal. Today marks the appointed deadline for a draft constitution, but turmoil continues to surround this long-awaited document. The process first began in 2008, when Nepal changed from Hindu kingdom to democratic republic. Deadlines have come and gone, and power has repeatedly changed hands among political parties. In the run-up to today's deadline, pressures surfaced when lawmakers got violent in parliament, throwing chairs and microphones. Whether officials can agree on a new constitution or not, and what exactly that ruling document entails, will undoubtedly trigger even more ripple effects. As noted in a previous report, Nepal could fall into crisis mode if no agreement is reached by political leaders. Maoist government officials have already called for a nationwide strike, resulting in violent protests and chaos. "In spite of what happens in the next few days, with the government collapsing or surviving or whatever, God's work will continue," notes Audio Scripture Ministries India-Asia Director, JP Sundararajan. "We just hope the door stays open so we can actually be a blessing to those already on the field." Please keep Nepal's leaders and its people in your prayers today. Pray for violence to stop escalating, and ask the Lord to protect ASM's contacts in Nepal. Bringing Jesus to Nepal

(Photo courtesy: ASM via Facebook)

Nepal's long history as a Hindu Kingdom has resulted in lots of opposition to Christianity. "The main concern for a long time, for us, has been the closed door that we've always found in Nepal," Sundararajan states. "But right now, Nepal is probably one of the thirstiest regions in the world, as far as God's Word is concerned." According to Operation World, 93% of Nepal's 30 million people have yet to hear about Jesus. "We are sensing from the believers there in Nepal that they need to get more Scripture…into the hands of their people. So, we're trying to mobilize our resources and get there as quickly as we're able," says Sundararajan. It hasn't always been easy, though. "We have had some problems with a prior translation of the Nepali Bible, and so we've been working with another organization--The Trinitarian Bible Society--who graciously let us record their translation of the Nepali Bible," explains Sundararajan. "It was just a few weeks ago that we had completed and edited a recording of the New Testament, and already we are getting a TON of feedback from pastors as well as the translator that was involved in this work. People are very excited about the imminent release." Help needed

(Photo courtesy WCOI via ASM)

World Cassette Outreach of India (WCOI), ASM's ministry partner in India, mails audio players filled with the Nepali New Testament into Nepal. Shipping restrictions, however, make it hard to keep up with demand, Sundararajan shares. "We're kind of, basically, sending a trickle of audio Bibles into a place where they expect a flood of it," he says. You can help ASM send more Nepali audio Bibles here. "We hope to be releasing this New Testament in the next few weeks, and we are looking forward to what 2015 will do through this recording in the churches in Nepal," Sundararajan says. More about ASM's work here.
Categories: Mission Network News

A Lifestyle of Waiting on God

Christian Post - Living - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 5:25pm
Ever notice how some people will ask a question but then rush out the door before you can respond? We can act the same way toward the Lord when we fail to wait on Him.
Categories: Christian Post

To Drink or Not to Drink? Pastor Says Acceptance of Alcohol in Church Is Like Committing Suicide, Although Jesus Made Wine

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 2:38pm
Although one of Jesus' most well-known miracles is turning water into wine at a wedding party, Mark Spitsbergen, a clinical science researcher in molecular biology and pastor of Abiding Place Ministries in San Diego, California, believes the acceptance of alcohol in some modern day churches is akin to committing suicide and the Bible doesn't support it.
Categories: Christian Post

Calif. Pastor: I Had an Abortion; I'm 'Haunted' Daily by Impossible Dream of Hearing Aborted Baby Say 'Daddy'

Christian Post - Living - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 1:15pm
A California pastor and two Christian men reveal ahead of March for Life week that one or more of their babies were aborted in a recent video, with the pastor saying the dream of seeing his aborted baby's first step and hear it call him "daddy" "haunts" him every day.
Categories: Christian Post

Freedom of expression in the Middle East

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

(photo credit SAT -7)

Middle East (SAT-7) -- [As freedom of expression is discussed after January's terrorist attacks in Paris, Terence Ascott, Founder and International Chief Executive of SAT-7, shares his thoughts on the power of freedom of the media in the Middle East.] Forty nations of about 3.5 million people marched in France in protest after three days of terrorist killings. Satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish cartoons of Islam’s prophet prompted criticism that was unnecessarily provocative and has now been condemned by Middle East and North African governments (Al Ahram Online, 14th January 2015). This has all fueled a public debate about what press freedom really means. Is it a licence (even, in these days, a provocation) to say whatever we want, or are there some universal laws of decency and respect that also need to be adhered to? But we also need to understand that the offence taken by Muslims over cartoons depicting their prophet goes beyond a reaction to lampooning. In Islam, it is widely considered unacceptable to depict a prophet in any way--whether it be Mohammed, Adam, Noah, or any other. Apart from what is allowed, or even considered, by the majority in a given society as acceptable in terms of criticizing or poking fun at different segments of society, there is also the issue of strategy: what is the point of making fun of someone’s religion? It might make some feel good. It might be genuinely funny and thought-provoking. It might be designed to shock and embarrass specific individuals so that certain kinds of behaviour are discredited and eventually discontinued. But if we consider the Muslim community in Europe, is giving offense going to help change the extremists, or instead deepen their feelings of being marginalized and belittled? Will attacking their religion or prophet lead to them learning to better respect Western democratic values and open debate or personal and press freedoms? Or will it create stronger resentment and rejection of the perceived excesses of liberty--a liberty that appears to have thrown away any sense of decency, respectfulness, or personal and civic responsibility for minorities in our society? When SAT-7 was creating its founding documents and programming policies some 20 years ago, we recognised that satellite television presented us, for the first time in history, with the opportunity to go into millions of homes across the Arab World and to say what we like! We were able to by-pass all the usual censorship that is imposed on the press, radio and television in the Middle East! But, did this mean that we should then use this to attack other people’s faith, in order to promote our own and thereby win converts? For sure, some have since chosen this path, but from the beginning we recognised that not only would such a strategy provoke a backlash on local “soft target” Christian communities but it would also be unproductive! The power of television and radio to change lives lies is in the ability to build long-term relationships with audiences, to be “invited” into closed homes in closed countries day after day, to share positive messages--to present the wonderful and good news of the Gospel. Attacking someone else’s beliefs, in any way, simply offends them and helps ensure that they do not again tune in your channel, or allow their family to tune it in--even by accident! As we look at our measured audience today, we find that it is the countries with virtually no churches that are the most responsive and are tuning into SAT-7 in huge numbers! Why? Because we are able to offer hope, help, and the good news without causing unnecessary offence or turning people away from our message by insulting or belittling what they have believed and held sacred for generations. So, just because we have the right to free speech does not mean that we have a licence to pointlessly offend religious and moral sensitivities or incite others to hatred. Freedom of the media is a precious commodity and should be fiercely protected, but so that it can act as salt and light in our society, always seeking the greater good for that society. Click here to learn more about the work of SAT-7 in the Middle East and North Africa.  
Categories: Mission Network News

Church comes to Chuaquenum

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

(Screenshot obtained from Paradise Bound video)

Guatemala (MNN) -- The tiny Mayan village of Chuaquenum will soon have a place to worship God. Dan Smith with Paradise Bound Ministries says their ground-breaking ceremony for the village's very first church is taking place today. "They've been worshiping just underneath plastic and whatever they can find there," Smith shares during a recent call from the field. "Now they have a place where they can come together and worship." Chuaquenum Tucked away in one of Guatemala's most remote locations, rough terrain makes it impossible to access Chuaquenum by car during the 6-month rainy season. When Paradise Bound discovered it in 2009, there were only three Christ-followers in the tiny village of 30 families. "As we left that medical clinic and we left Bibles with them," Smith recounts, "we saw the power of the Holy Spirit just begin to work in amazing ways."

(Screenshot obtained from Paradise Bound video)

Chuaquenum was virtually unreached when Paradise Bound began working with the community. Now, some people from neighboring plantations are walking over an hour to hear about Christ from the village pastor. A new church building will provide them with a place of respite. "It will not only help the believers come together, we have strategically placed this church right across from the school," shares Smith. "We're talking about generation after generation after generation that will come to know Christ in this place." Church build Breaking ground on this project marks the start of a dream-come-true for both Chuaquenum believers and Paradise Bound. Watch a video of the ground-breaking ceremony here.

(Screenshot captured from Paradise Bound video)

"Today is a really exciting day for us as a ministry, especially for this village here at Chuaquenum," Smith shares. "We've got three churches that are coming together to come down and build this, so it's going to involve the locals in the village, it's going to involve three churches--two in Iowa, one in Michigan--and our staff here as well, all coming together." Smith says they hope to have everything finished by late February. At this time, funding is lacking to complete the construction. Can you help finish the church in Chuaquenum? A mere $15 can help build one square foot of the church. "We're about half-way right now on our funding, but we're stepping forward in faith," says Smith. "We know God has called us to do this, and we know that listeners, other contacts we have, are going to come around us."
Categories: Mission Network News

Bring the Gospel to a village

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

(Photo courtesy Reach a Village)

International (MNN) -- There is an African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go in a group!" In our North American context, we tend to make heroes out of individuals. We love to move fast. But the Great Commission of Jesus demands that we go far, to the "ends of the earth," in fact. Reach A Village wants to "go far," and they are doing so by working with national Christian leaders around their world. Their goal is to encourage and equip capable, indigenous Christian ministries and local churches to fulfill the great commission. Reach a Village supports their plans and proposals with a commitment to pray and partner with them to go far beyond where any of us could go on our own. While indigenous leaders are called and capable to carry out the mission, many have little or no resources with which to train or travel. Finding Bibles and other resources is still expensive and difficult in their areas. That is where Reach a Village has chosen to be a blessing to them. President of Reach a Village, Bob Craft, says, “We focus on those countries that have villages that have never yet heard the gospel; they don’t have a fellowshipping group of believers. They don’t have anybody to even ask about the gospel.” Reach a Village works in countries which contain evangelical churches and have heard the Gospel, but still haven’t spread the truth to villages on the outskirts. Craft says, “We find these partners, and then we do our best to equip them, train them in anyway that they need. We come alongside them, and their vision, really, is the bottom line, because our passion is to reach these villages as quickly as possible.” Reach a Village has formed partnerships in 20 different countries in Southeast Asia, Eurasia, and China. Around 300 to 400 people a day are coming to Christ through their partners. “It’s our desire to make sure these new believers have Bibles,” says Craft. You can help provide Bibles to these new believers by clicking here. Reach a Village has daily prayer requests on their Facebook page so you can learn how to pray for countries, people groups and their partners. Help Reach a Village "go far" to reach the remaining 1,000,000+ villages and communities that still do not know about Jesus.
Categories: Mission Network News

Obama in Abedini hometown

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

Share Nagmeh's prayer for Saeed Abedini on Facebook. (Image courtesy 8thirty8 via Facebook)

USA (MNN) -- [EDITOR'S NOTE: We're sharing the following report from ACLJ's Web site, with a few adjustments made for clarification.] [Today], President Obama is making a rare visit to American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s hometown: Boise, Idaho. With a U.S. citizen wrongfully imprisoned and our government seated at the table with Iran, President Obama should meet with Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh. For nearly two and a half years, Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen, has suffered in an Iranian prison merely because of his faith. While we are thankful that President Obama has raised Pastor Saeed’s case with Iran’s President Rouhani, and Obama Administration officials have called for his release, the President of the United States himself has never reached out to Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh. Now, President Obama is traveling directly to Pastor Saeed’s hometown. Naghmeh is writing President Obama asking him to meet with her, to discuss what the U.S. has and will do for Pastor Saeed’s freedom, to know that this Administration has made this U.S. citizen whose human rights are being violated on a daily basis a priority. As she writes in her letter: My heart leapt with hope when I heard that you would be visiting my hometown of Boise, Idaho. Since the Iranian government took my husband, Saeed Abedini, almost 3 years ago, I have been praying and wanting to meet with you. With each of my travels to Washington D.C., I hoped that I would get a call, or an invitation to see you and to speak with you: to have you look into my eyes and see the piercing pain that has been there since my husband’s imprisonment; to see my kids and to know that they have missed the warm embrace of their dad for nearly three years. . . . Serving as President of the United States, you have pledged to protect America, to protect our citizens. My husband loves this country: so much so, he became a U.S. citizen on March 11, 2010. The following day he shared on Facebook these words: “Today is the first day I opened my eyes as an American. . . . I need to be an active citizen for my new country. Lord, help me to do Your will in my country America. Lord, Bless America.” You speak about the need to protect religious freedom and human rights. Saeed is imprisoned merely because of his Christian faith. My husband has committed no crime. He chose to exercise his God-given right to choose his own faith. . . . Mr. President, my children and I respectfully request, as you come to our home town of Boise, Idaho, that you take a moment of your time to meet with us. We’re joining Naghmeh in urging President Obama to take a few minutes to meet with her while he is visiting Pastor Saeed’s hometown. Our letter states: Mr. President, On Wednesday, January 21, you are scheduled to go to Boise, Idaho. Boise is Pastor Saeed Abedini’s hometown. As you know, Pastor Saeed is an American citizen, imprisoned in Iran merely because of his Christian faith. You have publicly called for his release, and your State Department has engaged Iranian diplomats requesting that he be freed. For those actions, we are deeply grateful. Yet he remains in prison, and there are public reports that the United States may reach a nuclear deal with Iran without securing the release of Americans held captive in that country. When you are in Boise, we request that you take a few minutes from your schedule to meet with Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, so that she may make a personal appeal for her husband. After enduring years of fear and uncertainty, she deserves to be heard. We [have asked] thousands of Americans to join with us and stand with Pastor Saeed and his wife, Naghmeh, and sign our letter to President Obama. The letter has already been submitted, but it's not too late to be a voice for Pastor Abedini and his family. Join hundreds of thousands of Americans, and sign our petition to not leave Pastor Saeed behind at BeHeardProject.com Read the original report on ACLJ's Web site here.
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