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Young people Choose Life for tomorrow

Mission Network News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:00am

One of the youth groups of "Choose Life."

Ukraine (MNN) -- While the Russia/Ukraine war is creating uncertainty in the region, it’s also emphasising the need for youth initiated outreach. Over the past 11 years in Ukraine and Russia, youth have been involved in the mission "Choose Life." Young people go into the streets and parks throughout the region with the Word of God in their hands and preach the gospel. They do that by being a testimony and through special activities for children, youth and adults. A variety of methods of evangelism are being used to bring the message of salvation to all who do not know Christ yet. The war has made “Choose Life” even more of a priority. The number of people who need hope for tomorrow, the presence of God's caring hand in their lives, is increasing. "Choose Life is a beautiful Christian project," says one of the participants in this project, a resident of Zaporozhye, Ivan Shostov, tells Mission Network News. "It is a ministry of Youth for children, young people, adults. But first of all, this project helps you to become stronger spiritually. It's so important to talk to Christians, to be around them for a long time. Lots of people take part in this project from different cities and countries and side-by-side come together with the message of salvation to all people.” Shostov tells us, “My first year with the project was in Zaporozhye, the place where I live. The team was very friendly. We talked a lot, laughed, talked with the children about God, played with them. Every evening we went to different parks and sang Christian songs there. It was very cool to feel the touch of the Holy Spirit inside of all of us.” He continues, “My second year was out of my city. I was in the village Konishchev, Vinnytsia region. The village is not big, and there are not many children and young people. But we've just got to make friends with them. Every day we talked with them a lot, sang songs, and did lot of other things. That was blessed time just to talk to people about God and the salvation in Him. "I’m glad that we can give a hope to people and we can help them in this really difficult time.”

"Choose Life" gives smiles to everyone

This project provides an opportunity to learn and delve deeper into the study of the Word of God and of the Lord, not only for those who hear the gospel, but also for those who preach. In these difficult times, the people of Ukraine and Russia especially need God. Pray for the people of Russia and Ukraine. Particularly pray for the leaders of “Choose Life” that they can proclaim the Gospel clearly. Also for those who will hear it. Pray their hearts will be prepared by the Holy Spirit and find boldness to accept God’s plan of salvation.
Categories: Mission Network News

Orphans in India face crisis

Mission Network News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:00am

Amy Norton (right) with "Auntie" (middle) says, "We desperately need sponsors for these children."

India (MNN) -- There are millions of children without caring parents worldwide today. From the United States to India, the need for foster parents, adoptive families, or orphan care is immense. India alone has 15-25 million orphans. Is the problem too big to address? Not according to Scripture. James 1 says, "True religion is caring for the widows and orphans in their distress." Orphan Outreach is doing just that, and today they have an incredible need. Orphan Outreach Program Director Amy Norton is in Manali, India, with a mission team from MNN affiliate 91.3 WCSG in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Orphan Outreach supports The House of Grace, an orphanage there with 80 kids. "We are urgently needing sponsors for the kids here because we recently lost some support that they did have through a local church who had to cut their budget back." The program in Manili is amazing. Norton says the orphanage is in a Buddhist stronghold. Despite coming from Buddhist backgrounds, these children are following Christ. "Their faith amazes us. And that is in large part due to the woman who started this orphanage. We call her Auntie. She was persecuted as a Christian. Her legs were even broken. She fled where the Buddhist were persecuting her for being a Christian for taking in these children."

Team members from 91.3 WCSG in Grand Rapids, MI loved orphans in Manali, India and many became child sponsors. You can, too.

Not only have many children come to Christ, but they're growing, says Norton. "These children are in devotion every morning at 7:00. They are in devotion in the afternoon. They all can quote Scripture. They love the Lord. We were on the bus with them yesterday; they sang worship songs the whole way to the park and back. They just truly love the Lord." It's not an easy place to be a Christian. Norton says, "The Christians are very much in the minority, and so children from an orphanage who are Christians are even more so in the minority." What are American Christians doing to help? "We have been playing with these kids," says Norton. "We have done all kinds of vacation Bible school activities. We do a devotional each day. We've had pizza and movie nights, ice cream, we had a huge bonfire last night, taught the kids dances, and they taught us dances." The Orphan Outreach team is pouring their lives into these needy kids. The need is so great, team members are responding to the sponsorship call. Norton says, "One of the most touching times was this afternoon watching one of our trip participants tell this little boy how much she loved and cared for him and she would sponsor him. He broke down in tears, and she broke down in tears." It costs $36 a month to sponsor a child in India. Norton says, "Every bit of that money comes here to India, and it support these children--not only each child, but it supports the whole orphanage with food, it pays for electricity, shoes, school supplies, monthly for their medical needs." The kids are listed at Orphan Outreach. Sponsor a child today to make a difference for their eternity.
Categories: Mission Network News

Indonesia: training the trainers

Mission Network News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:00am

(Image Indonesia Seal courtesy Wikipedia)

Indonesia (MNN) -- The situation Indonesian Christians find themselves in is diverse. There is much hope related to the newly-elected president and his public statements concerning religious minorities. In other areas, there are huge challenges. In today's story, we'll focus a little bit on the tools and training Forgotten Missionaries International offers through its conferences. The majority of the story is about why they do what they do. Java and Borneo are home to about three dozen church planters supported by FMI. In the larger archipelago, more than 720 languages are spoken by its various indigenous tribes. A former Dutch colony, Indonesia now ranks the fourth-largest in population and has the largest Muslim-dominated nation in the world. FMI's Bruce Allen was in Java and Borneo earlier this month, primarily to "assess the health of the ministry and help them strategize for continued growth or outreach." Many of the church planters supported by FMI work in rural areas. "It was quite an adventure to get out to some of these places, to conduct field visits, to go to the church planter's ministry site and meet with their church leadership elders or deacons, as well as talk with some of their church members." FMI wrapped up their visits just in time to help lead a pastoral training conference. "We're talking about some very practical things that will help their home as well as their ministry: financial management, building and sustaining healthy marriages, and Bible studies from the book of Genesis and Exodus." There's nothing like drinking from a fire hydrant. Aside from field visits and training conferences, Allen says, "We met with the national leadership team, and we were focused on developing strategies that will help them move forward with outreach in the midst of some very challenging situations." What kind of challenges? Minority Christians are often discriminated against in employment and education, and they sometimes face outright persecution. Yet FMI’s church planters have a courageous vision to fan out across the islands to reach their countrymen for Christ. Now we come to the "why" of these meetings. We'd like to introduce you to Mahkuta. At the start of his journey, a friend introduced him to the Gospel. He was curious about Christians and the Bible. Allen shares, "His friend introduced him to a pastor who helped explain the Gospel to him. Mahkuta actually left the island of Sumatra to get a theology degree, to understand [the Bible] better. While he was in Java, he became a Christian." Things went great as Mahkuta enthusiastically shared his story with anyone who would listen. The only people that didn't know about his change of heart were his parents--who were Muslim. He finally plucked up the courage, sent them a letter, and braced for their reaction. "At the same time he was writing a letter to his parents, his parents were writing a letter to him," Allen says. "His parents were informing Mahkuta that they had just put their faith in Jesus Christ, along with six other families from their village." Ecstatic, Mahkuta moved back to his home village on Sumatra, helped with church planting and discipleship, and extended outreach to the villages surrounding theirs. Allen says that "in recent months, Mahkuta moved back to Java, and he's one of our newest church planters, just in the last few months starting a new church in Java."

(Photo courtesy Forgotten Missionaries International)

It's because of men like Mahkuta that FMI emphasizes training, discipleship, and more. His is not the only story like this, which is great news considering the footprint of the Islamic State. "God is calling and drawing people to Himself," raves Allen. "We're thrilled to be able to partner with the people who are on the frontlines making that happen." Pray for pastors like Mahkuta to be bold about their stories with Jesus and that FMI can continue to freely offer training for the upcoming church leaders.
Categories: Mission Network News

Prayer needed for ISIS kidnapping victims

Mission Network News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo credit: Shoebat.com)

Libya (Morningstar News/ODM/MNN) -- Remember those three Christians we told you about last week that were kidnapped by ISIS in Libya? Morningstar News is filling in more details. What follows is part of a recent report describing one of the kidnapped men and his family's reaction to the crime. Read the full report here. Bakhit Nageh Efrank Ebeid, 21, was traveling on July 10 in a 14-seat van from Alexandria, Egypt, to Tripoli with a group of men--most of them Muslims from his hometown of Kom Badar--when IS militants stopped them in Sirte, Libya, according to Ezz Tawfik, a Coptic activist and journalist in Upper Egypt. Two other Christians, Adeola Ibrahim from Nigeria and Sekyere Kofi Frimpong from Ghana, were also in the van. “ISIS soldiers were there to search their car and check their passports,” said Tawfik, who is in close contact with the victim’s family. “They took all their passports, and saw his, and asked if he was a Christian, and he said, ‘Yes.’ So they asked him to stand aside and released the Muslims who were in the same van.” The other two Christians were also taken captive. Later that day, some of those who were released called members of Ebeid’s family, who live in Tripoli, and reported the kidnapping. “His relatives didn’t know what to do, especially because his mother is sick, and such news might kill her; so they didn’t tell his family in Egypt,” Tawfik said. After IS announced the kidnapping, the family in Egypt became aware of the truth.

(Image shared on Open Doors' Facebook page)

Relatives decided to call Ebeid’s cell phone, but to their horror, an IS militant told them that they had beheaded the “infidel.” But in a subsequent call, the militants changed their story and told the family that Ebeid had to pay the Jizya tax on non-Muslims as ransom, convert to Islam, or be killed. When his family said they would pay the Jizya and asked how much it would be, they were told an amount was being decided, and then the phone connection went dead, according to family members. Despite several attempts, all subsequent efforts to contact the militants though the cell phone and determine a ransom amount were unsuccessful, according to Romany Nageh, Ebeid’s brother. “His phone is still working, but we were told [by authorities] not to call much because that might hurt him,” Nageh said. “But our relatives who live in Tripoli call the phone, and every time somebody answers, they make fun of them and hang up.” The last time the family heard from Ebeid was on July 10, just before he crossed into Libya. “He did call his family on that day, when he was on his way to Libya and told his family that he was on his way, and that he is going with a group and it would be safe,” Tawfik said. No information has been publically available about the other two Christians taken captive. Untrue and often contradictory reporting in Egyptian media about Ebeid’s condition has exacerbated the family’s dread, Tawfik said. Several times in the past few days, some news outlets reported that a ransom amount had been set for Ebeid’s release, while others simultaneously stated that he had been killed.

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

Family members said they have now turned to God, hoping that somehow against the multitude of conflicting reports, Ebeid is still alive and will survive the ordeal. “We put the whole situation in front of God, and after Him the authorities, the ministry of foreign affairs, and those who are in power,” Ebeid’s brother said. You and believers around the world can stand together in prayer for these guys. Join Open Doors USA's "One With Them" initiative here. By joining Open Doors' cause, you can stay connected with the latest updates on persecuted believers around the world. You'll also find the stories of persecuted believers, and free resources to get your church or small group "plugged in" to the Persecuted Church.
Categories: Mission Network News

Wolf picks new Chief of Staff

WGRC News - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 2:31pm

Governor Tom Wolf’s legislative liaison will be his new chief of staff. Wolf picked Mary Isenhour Thursday after his previous chief of staff Katie McGinty resigned Wednesday. McGinty is expected to seek the democratic nomination to run against Republican Senator Pat Toomey.

Categories: Local News

A bill that could allow Larger tractor trailers on PA roads

WGRC News - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 2:30pm

Senator Bob Casey is coming out against a federal proposal that could allow larger tractor trailers on state highways. A provision in the federal transportation funding bill would allow for 85-foot double tractor trailers in Pennsylvania and 39 other states that ban them. Casey says it would be nearly impossible for motorists to pass the monster trucks. He adds the state’s mountainous terrain, harsh winters, and structurally deficient road and bridges make the trucks a no-go.

Categories: Local News