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Katey Hearth

Will ISIS go nuclear?

By | news, trends, urgent prayer needs | No Comments

Debate continues over the probability and likelihood of a nuclear ISIS. While reportedly improbable, Central Asia could be a starting point for the Islamic State’s nuclear ambitions.

ISIS in Central Asia

(Wikipedia)

(Wikipedia)

In March, terrorists handed out hundreds of notices on official ISIS letterhead before and after the bombing of a Shi’ite mosque.

Though officials continue to deny an Islamic State presence in Pakistan, “they’re operating there,” says Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI).

“Their recruiting pamphlets are there across Pakistan; brick-and-mortar office buildings.”

Yet, a bigger concern is the growth of ISIS in neighboring Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, the top commander of U.S. forces in the region called for more troops because ISIS and al-Qaeda were increasing in strength.

“The ISIS influence is stronger in Afghanistan than in Pakistan,” claims this security analyst.

“However, Pakistan would not be able to counter the threat alone if he conflict in Afghanistan worsens and Pakistani and Afghani militants inspired by the ISIS try to capture territory along the Pak-Afghan border for establishing a ‘caliphate.’”

(Photo cred: FMI)

(Photo cred: FMI)

While clearly present in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Islamic State’s “hold” on Central Asia as a whole is arguable.

“No Central Asian government has produced much by way of proof that Islamic State is operating in any substantial fashion within the region,” said a blogger on Eurasianet.org.

Meanwhile, indigenous missionaries supported by FMI are pressing forward without fear.

Background check: Rohingya boat people

By | missions, news, persecution, special reports, urgent prayer needs | No Comments
Rohingya starvation

Many Rohingya are facing starvation since foreign aid workers were forced to leave the region by the government.
(Image, caption courtesy Partners)

Most Rohingya refugees currently adrift in the Andaman Ocean fled persecution in Myanmar months ago with the help of traffickers. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place, and had to make a decision.

Myanmar’s government doesn’t allow the Rohingya to move beyond highly-monitored zones resembling concentration camps. Since beginning their work in Rakhine state three years ago, Partners Relief and Development has helped improve daily life in the camps for many Rohingya refugees.

But as time went on, many saw the writing on the wall and took to the sea.

“Two years ago, [the situation] seemed like it was temporary, and that they were going to be able to go back to their homes eventually,” says Partners co-founder Oddny Gumaer.

“Now, it’s looking like this is where they will be for the rest of their lives.”

For most Rohingya, the desperate escape from Myanmar has turned into an unimaginable trap. Boat people keep getting pushed back to sea as nations throughout Southeast Asia continually deny them entrance.

Why are countries turning a “cold shoulder” to the Rohingya?

As government talks drag on, it doesn’t look like the Rohingya crisis will end any time soon. In this article, Gumaer shares what YOU can do about it.

The MISSION in Missionaries: An Opportunity You May Not Have Considered

By | missions, special reports | One Comment

In an effort to share more “everyday missions” stories, MNN is using social media to connect with fellow Christ-followers and hear what’s on their hearts. Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Rebecca Jefferson, our very first guest blogger.

You can connect with Rebecca and find more of her writings at https://gpluslighthouse.wordpress.com/

(Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley via Flickr) cc2.0

(Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley via Flickr) cc2.0

It is easy to think of missionaries and evangelists as “super Christians” who never let anything get them down. However, like any Christian, missionaries experience emotional pain, rejection, health issues, financial shortfalls, spiritual warfare, and of course, their own daily sin with which they have to battle. These life issues are exacerbated by an Enemy who would rather see individuals destroyed than saved from their sins (John 10:9-10), and who will do all in his power to stall the progression of the Gospel message, including trying to eliminate the messenger.

There is an evident need to minister to those who are giving of their time, lives, and families to preach the Gospel. Some missions organizations provide counselors and medical personnel to aid mission workers in the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical aspects of their lives while in the field. Others offer housing and pastoral care to furloughed missionaries while they take some much-needed time off for refreshment.

But what about the rest of us, the laypeople? We have the privilege as blood-bought brothers and sisters in Christ of bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Does not the responsibility of loving and caring for each other depend on us, as the household of faith (Gal. 6:10), since we are all members of Christ’s body? If we don’t inquire about the needs, spiritual and physical, of fellow pilgrims on the narrow road who do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5), how can we help them?

Come alongside a missionary or evangelist and ask them what their needs are. Prayerfully consider supporting them with your money, your time, or both – however God leads you. If there are none in your church you are aware of, pray that God would bring across your path a missionary whom you can bless- and learn from. Oswald Chambers, a missionary himself, wrote, “When you meet a man or woman who puts Jesus Christ first, knit that one to your soul.”2

Woman praying in Cristo buen Viaje Church

Woman praying in Cristo buen Viaje Church

When asked, most missionaries will almost undoubtedly tell you their greatest need is prayer. The apostle Paul repeatedly urged those who received his letters to pray for him (Rom. 15:30-32; Eph. 6:18-20; 2 Thess. 3:1-2, etc.). Mission workers not only need prayer for provision of their physical and financial needs, but also their spiritual needs. They need our prayers, especially when they become deeply discouraged because of Satan’s onslaughts. You can encourage missionaries by asking them what prayer requests they have, and if possible, meeting with them in person for prayer and fellowship.

If you are considering becoming an evangelist (or going into any kind of ministry work), one of the best resources you can lay hold of – next to personal Bible study and prayer – is fellowship with other missionaries. Prepare for a learning curve! Preaching the Gospel and serving people in the name of Jesus is no cakewalk, and you will find it is no easier for those who fall into the category of missionaries or evangelists, as they will tell you. You will discover what a life on mission truly entails and, who knows, maybe even what God is asking of you.

Volunteering with missionaries is another great way to support them and boost their morale. God may provide you with the opportunity to intern for a missions board overseas. But even if you have never gone on an international missions trip, opportunities to share the Gospel abound here in the States. The need for domestic missions is just as urgent as the need for foreign missions, because no matter their income or cultural differences, all people everywhere are in need of the saving Gospel.

Good News Club

A Good News Club introduces children to Christ in Maryland.
(Photo courtesy of Chris Reick)

Domestic missionaries, just like their foreign counterparts, are in need of our prayer and support. One such organization is Open Air Campaigners, a street preaching group which makes it its mission to preach the Gospel in the public square, wherever people gather. Another is Child Evangelism Fellowship, which ministers to children via summer camps, neighborhood clubs, and after-school clubs. See the need in your own backyard and try volunteering for organizations like these on the home front so you can bless missionaries by helping them to reach the lost.

In our haste to get to the “mission field,” we must not bypass the clear and present opportunities God gives us to serve locally. Serving missionaries right where we are is in itself a mission field.

Every Paul needs an Onesiphorus, a Luke, an Epaphroditus. Every Moses needs an Aaron and Hur to hold up his arms (Ex. 17:8-13). Every Jeremiah needs a Baruch (Jer. 36). Why can’t you be the one to stand in the gap, right here, right now?

 

Rebecca Jefferson is a 26-year old volunteer serving the Lord with Open Air Campaigners. She has applied to become a full-time missionary-evangelist with the group, and is currently working through the process. Jefferson is also serving as a part-time administrative assistant for her church, Tree of Life Fellowship in Bowie, MD.

#GiveHope15 to be a voice for the voiceless

By | missions, MNN, special reports | No Comments
#givehope15

(Graphic cred: MNN)

MNN partners with 71 mission groups who are working to build God’s Kingdom globally. Their focus of ministry ranges from Bible translation to child evangelism.

Meet our partners here.

By helping us #GiveHope15, you’re supporting the people who work on-the-ground. MNN gives these missionaries a voice they might not otherwise have. These partnerships allow us to relay news and needs to you, so you can make a difference by praying, giving going, or sharing.

That’s right — by sharing MNN stories you’re becoming a “voice for the voiceless”, too. Whether it’s clicking the “Share” button on Facebook or forwarding one of our Daily Emails to a prayer warrior you know, you’re spreading the word and helping others get involved.

Will you help us continue sharing “news you won’t get anywhere else” in 2015?

What happens when you #GiveHope15?

By | missions, MNN, special reports | No Comments

If you’re following MNN on social (Facebook, Twitter, Google+), you’ve probably caught a glimpse or two of the hashtag #GiveHope15 with one of our posts. In case you’re wondering, there IS a reason it’s there 🙂

For starters, “hope” is a multipurpose theme…

  • Your encouraging feedback gives our team hope
  • Supporting projects & groups that meet physical needs worldwide gives tangible hope to people in need
  • By getting involved in the Great Commission, you’re giving others the ultimate source of hope: Jesus Christ

During the remaining days of 2014, we’ll explore how you can “give hope” in each of these areas.

Today, we’d like to share some of your remarks that have helped “give MNN hope” in 2014:

#givehope15

(Graphic cred: MNN)

“It’s my best source of news! I don’t know what I’d do without MNN!! Thank you SO much for all of the stories you send my way. I feel like I’m so much more informed about what is happening within the body of Christ worldwide. I have a heart to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters and MNN helps me pray with current information. It is the best news service I have ever found. So, so thankful.” –Laura Guarnieri

“Thanks for the [work] being done, we are to be the light & lifeline to a dying world out there.” –Henry Tavune

“I learned about you for the first time as I was on-air with Greg Bullen waiting to be interviewed this morning. All your information made me want to hang up and pray. Thank you.” –Jeannie St. John Taylor

“I heard about you through Yes FM 89.3, Lima, Ohio, this morning…If the Church of Jesus would know more about what foreign Christians go through, it enables us to pray more specifically. [Thank] you for your voice :).” –Bill Cheshire Jr.

“Want to use this opportunity to thank Mission Network News for the update about the religious crisis in my country Nigeria. Thanks to Greg and the entire crew. God bless and protect you all.” –Name withheld for protection

“It helps me to know how to pray and I know the news I get is the truth!!! Thank you.” — Lorraine Gardenier

We LOVE all of our friends and “followers”, whether they’re on email, social media or radio. The encouragement we see on Facebook or website comments and the uplifting call-in’s we get from listeners remind us why we do what we do. Thank you all for reassuring our team of its purpose!!

Our team here at MNN can only accomplish our 2015 goals with your help. Would you consider partnering with us financially?

Urgent Prayer Request from E3

By | persecution, urgent prayer needs | No Comments

Hey friends,

(Graphic cred: E3 Partners)

(Graphic cred: E3 Partners)

E3 Partners’ Tom Doyle shared an urgent prayer reminder with me during a recent interview. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas with family and friends, we also need to be mindful of our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

“We get excited about worshipping Jesus,” Doyle shares. “Believers [in Syria] wonder, ‘What’s the blowback going to be?’.”

Because Christmas is known as a “distinctly-Christian” holiday, Christians in areas controlled by ISIS will be targeted.

“People will die just because they’re known for following Jesus, and [Christmas is] the day that we celebrate His birth,” says Doyle.

During Easter last year, “ISIS and other terrorist groups claimed, ‘we will wash the streets in Syria with Christian blood’.”

A similar reaction is expected tomorrow.

“They (terrorists) hate Jesus, they hate the resurrection; therefore, they’re going to hate the day that we celebrate His birth.”

As you gather with your families for Christmas and celebrate Jesus’ birth, pray for His family.

Join E3’s prayer initiative for Syrian Christians here.

Pakistan: Anti-Blasphemy Laws

By | church planting, missions, news, persecution, trends | No Comments
FMI_Muslim prayer in Pakistan

Muslim workers pause for a few minutes along an alleyway in the afternoon to offer their ritual prayers.
(Image, caption courtesy FMI)

According to Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI), terrorists aren’t the only source of persecution for Pakistani Christians.

Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws were first put into place in 1927, but the amendment that has made the laws infamous for persecution wasn’t added until 1986. Between 1927 and 1986, there were only seven violations of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law; however, from 1986 onward, as many as 4,000 cases were formed.

According to Contributoria.com, half of the people charged were minorities.

Today, the laws are mostly used to persecute Pakistan’s religious minority groups, such as Christians and Shi’ite Muslims.

“What is so ironic is Pakistan itself was founded for the protection of minorities,” says Allen, referring to the Pakistan-India split of 1947.

He says those belonging to the “religious majority” in Pakistan follow Sunni Islam. Shi’ite Muslims comprise 10% of the remaining population, while Christians and Hindus make up less than 4%. Less than one-percent of Pakistani’s are evangelical Christ-followers.

Nevertheless, “They’re ALL being affected by these anti-blasphemy laws,” says Allen.

You can help provide a safe haven for persecuted Pakistani Christians here.

“We operate several safe houses where they can go for crisis or transition and receive medical care, a safe place to live; perhaps some vocational training,” says Allen.

Get more FMI updates here.

“Pray for the repeal of the anti-blasphemy laws. They are being so abused in Pakistan,” Allen suggests.

“[Pray] that God moves in the hearts of the political leadership to see that justice — true justice — gets done.”

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday: where to begin?

By | Giving Tuesday, missions, MNN, special reports | No Comments
Giving Tuesday

(Photo cred: GivingTuesday.org)

Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday) — a global social media initiative tracing its roots back to 2012. A couple of U.S. non-profits wanted to shift the holiday shopping focus from getting to giving. (Read the full history here.)

Giving Tuesday is a great way for non-profit ministries like MNN — which relies primarily on donor finances — to both spread awareness about their work and raise support to keep that work going. Any charities can participate; they just designate a hashtag to single-out their efforts (#GivingToKeysDay or #RICE4LIFE, for example) and include it in all of their social media posts, along with a link to their website.

We’ve got a whole gob of non-profit ministry friends here that are doing great work around the world. To see if they’re doing any special #GivingTuesday campaigns, just click on the website link included on each group’s profile page.

(Just don’t forget about MNN! We need your help too! #Giving2MissionsDay)

To kick-off your #GivingTuesday, we’re spotlighting a few friends for your consideration:

Partners Relief and Development: For the past 20 years, Partners has been caring the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of refugee children living near the Thai-Burma border. What started as a gift of $30 to provide care for one child has grown to 911 children cared for across 16 community based homes.

By making a donation this Giving Tuesday, you are helping provide care for each of these beautiful children and ensuring they can continue to attend school.

Keys for Kids Ministries: Keys for Kids produces radio, print and Internet materials that point children ages 6 to 12 years-old to Christ. This year, Giving Tuesday is vital for their brand-new radio ministry.

“We are trying to raise $135,000 that day so that we can keep the new programs we’ve started on the air on Keys for Kids Radio,” says Executive Director Terre Ritchie in a recent article.

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF): This year, MAF is hoping to raise $24,000 on Giving Tuesday to keep their work going in isolated parts of the world. They’re challenging supporters this year with the hashtag #DoMoreIn24.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday place such a huge emphasis on buying and materialism,” said John Boyd, president and CEO of MAF. “Giving Tuesday is a way to turn our thoughts toward helping others.”

We’d love to hear who you’re supporting this #GivingTuesday & why! Please share in the Comments section below. 🙂

SE Asia trip report

By | india, missions | No Comments

Full trip report from Vision Beyond Borders

“I just returned from a week in India and Nepal. God blessed our trip as we visited our contacts and saw how God is using them to touch and transform lives of women who have been sold into sex trafficking.

The lady we work with in India has been ministering to the oppressed and downtrodden in the Red Light District (RLD) for over 17 years. It is amazing to walk through the RLD with her. The ladies who have been sold, often against their will, are drawn to her as she shines the light of Jesus Christ in this dark place. These women are forced to have eight to twelve customers a day. If they do not service that many customers, they do not eat. The red light areas are dark, oppressive and hopeless.

Our contact knows many of the ladies by name, greeting them with hugs and kissing their children. I have been challenged by her fearless love of these people; she is not concerned with whether they have Aids or other contagious diseases and what may happen to her own life. I am reminded of Jesus concern for the lepers. Our sister works tirelessly to minister to those in need, whether it means waking up in the middle of the night to take a lady or one of her children to the hospital or buying them medicine out of her own money. She loves these women and children as her own family, and many times opens her home to those in need.

We are working with our sister to set up a salon in this area as a point of contact in which to minister openly to those who have been trafficked. We are excited to see how God is going to open more effectual doors of ministry to her as her passion is to serve Jesus Christ in spite of death threats and many challenges. She is truly one of my heroes of the faith. I have also been challenged as a Christian man that we, as men, need to stand against the oppression of women and children around the world.

After spending a few days in India, we flew to Nepal to visit the safe house that we established in January.  One morning, we visited the largest Hindu temple, a holy place that many pilgrims come to worship Hindu deities. The day we were there, there were literally thousands of women dressed in red saris coming to pay homage to Shiva, hoping to find a good husband or to see their husbands become better men. Women were standing in line for hours with empty eyes, holding offerings in their hands to a god made of stone.

The headwaters of the Ganges river, the ‘mother of all rivers,’ flows through this temple.  The water is filthy dirty; but worshipers believe that if they drink of the water, their sins will be washed away. Unfortunately, they have been blinded by the enemy and cannot see that Jesus already paid our debt. ‘Holy men,’ often wearing little clothing and covered with the ashes of humans , looked on while smoking marijuana. The smoke from the funeral pyres coupled with the stench of burning flesh filled the air. This place reminds me of what hell must look like.

After leaving the temple, we made our way to the safe house. It is exciting to see God transforming lives as ladies are being saved and renewed in Christ.  What an incredible contrast between light and darkness. Here the ladies openly read the Bible as they gathered for morning Bible Study. The faces of these ladies are radiant as they reflect their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Their smiles brought joy to my heart and the other two guys with me. There are about 13 women who have been rescued and are living in this home, where they are loved and cared for. After Bible study, we had a time of prayer and worship with them.

Later, we had lunch and enjoyed times of laughter with our new sisters in Christ. There was an 18 year old lady, who recently came to the safe house, after she and her younger sister ran away from home. Their father had raped his daughters for four years, while their mother justified his actions saying, “This is how he shows his love.” The girls ran away and ended up on the streets; we are working to find the younger sister to bring her into the safe house. The father is wealthy and has threatened to sell the older daughter into a brothel in Delhi. We are praying to hire full-time security to protect the women and young ladies in the home. It was encouraging to see the young lady smile as she feels at home now.

Three of the ladies who were rescued have left the home to start a salon and to move forward in their lives. These three ladies have become followers of Jesus Christ, and we are praying about helping them set up a salon/tailoring shop near a church. We pray the local Christians will frequent their shop and encourage them in their walk with Jesus. My heart was thrilled to hear the reports of God transforming lives. With so much sadness and hopelessness in the media these days, I pray it will be encouraging to know that God is still on the throne and saving people. We are excited as we trust God to set up another safe house to provide a safe haven for women and their small children. Please take a moment to thank Jesus for His sacrifice on the cross, His love for the world, and what He is doing around the world.”

How can you have peace in hard times?

By | persecution, Personal Life | No Comments

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

Tornadoes, like the one that came through our neighborhood earlier this year, can cause major destruction in a matter of minutes. How do you find peace when the tornadoes of life come?  (Photo cred: Katey Hearth)

Tornadoes, like the one that came through our neighborhood earlier this year, can cause major destruction in a matter of minutes. How do you find peace when the tornadoes of life come?
(Photo cred: Katey Hearth)

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples in one of their last meetings together. In the hours that followed, Jesus would be severely beaten, mocked, humiliated and ultimately hung to suffer on a Roman crucifix. The disciples’ world was quickly turned upside-down and sideways, simply because they followed a humble carpenter from Galilee.

The same is happening today to hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world.

The list goes on and on; persecution of Christians is taking place on a worldwide basis. Check out this list our friends at Open Doors USA put together. It’s called the “World Watch List”, and it shows you which countries have the most violence against Christians.

Peace may seem hard to find in this chaotic and often-violent world. When peace is elusive, at least in my case, anxiety is quick to set in. When situations and circumstances spiral out of control, my knee-jerk response is to worry and fret.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

These simple statements a two-fold promise: you will face trials, but you will also overcome them. We often don’t know how the Lord will help us get through a hardship, or when we will see Him act. But, the end result is promised: we will overcome.

When you know how a story ends, it often provides peace to “ride out the storm” and endure whatever challenges come your way. Please join me today in praying for peace and endurance for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

How do you find peace in the middle of life’s storms? Let me know in the Comments section!