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Will ISIS go nuclear?

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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

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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.

Commentary: What’s the cure for ISIS? I have an idea

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USA (MNN) — Islamic State is taking lives in the most barbaric ways. Beheading Christians, burning people alive, selling the organs of those they capture, and selling young girls to the highest bidder. Why are they doing this? It’s not because these individuals have offended them, have attacked them, or threatened them. They’re being attacked because members of these terrorist groups want everyone in the world to bow to them and their god.

I’ve heard some pretty outlandish things. First, a U-S State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf  told one news network that the west needs to go after the root causes that leads people to join groups like ISIS and Boko Haram. She says if we could improve the governance of their countries, improve the grievance process, and provide job opportunities that would address the problem.

Following the three day White House Summit on Violent Extremism, President Barak Obama said the world needs to end the cycle of hate by expanding human rights, religious tolerance and peaceful dialogue. He also suggests that Western nations must show that they “welcome people of all faiths,” at a time when “extremists” are saying that Western nations are “hostile to Muslims.

I do believe both of these individuals have a point, but not what you think.

First, let me address Marie Hart’s comments. She’s right, we need to address the root of the problem to fix the ISIS problem. But, the root problem isn’t the lack of jobs, or poverty. If that was the case India would be the home of great bands of terrorists and the homeless in the United States would be nothing more than urban terrorist thugs. The key to getting at the root cause is seeing what is at the heart of this issue — evil hearts.

What do I mean? Man without Christ is evil. As we look at these world events, the only thing that can describe the problem is that it’s utter evil. Where does that come from? A person who is separated from Christ. Satan is the master of using evil to accomplish his purposes.

Secondly, I believe President Obama is correct also, but his assessment is a bit off. I believe we should do more than just bomb the Muslim terrorists and and leave. I think as Christians we have a responsibility to do something for these people. But the first thing we need to do is to tell them about Jesus.

When the Bible says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places,”  we now see what that’s like first hand. We’re seeing people who are blinded by the faith of ‘another gospel.’ We’re seeing people who are searching for truth, only being blinded by the lack of truth taught by a book that’s not God’s spoken Word.

So, what’s the answer? I believe the answer is to start praying for Muslims to see and understand who Jesus is. Many Muslims believe Jesus is a Holy Prophet. Because of that, Christians need to leverage that. If they believe He is holy, why don’t they know more about Him. How will they learn more about Him? By reading the Gospel. How will they read the Gospel if they don’t have access to it.

Today, Muslims can access Scripture in more ways than ever before. They can access it in text on websites in their own language (https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/). It’s also available to people who would rather listen to it (http://www.bible.is/).

What’s the bottom line? Only Christ can change the ISIS problem. Only God can limit the evil man does to each other. Only God changes hearts. Pray earnestly every day that God will do this in the hearts of Islamic State terrorists and others who don’t know they Savior.

 

Pakistan: Anti-Blasphemy Laws

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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.”

Ukraine In Crisis

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Ukraine (MNN) — I have been watching with dismay the situation in Ukraine. The ouster of the government, now the Russian troops that have invaded Crimea, and now an illegal referendum vote, have left the region in chaos. This is Ukraine in crisis.

(Image courtesy Sergey Rakhuba via Facebook)

(Image courtesy Sergey Rakhuba via Facebook)

It reminds me a little of the Cold War days when the Soviet Union would do things that were only in their interests, not the interests of the people. This situation, though, could have serious repercussions for the world both politically and spiritually. How?

Let’s talk about the political side first. Ukraine is wrestling with a new government that has basically divided the country. The pro-Ukrainian side appears to outnumber the pro-Russia side. Unfortunately that divide could  cause the country to lose a portion of a treasured region, Crimea. This pro-Russian mindset may be the spark of sussession. Ukraine is mobilizing troops to try and defend its sovereignty, but they don’t stand a chance.

That leads to other questions. If Ukraine attempts to defend itself, will it ask for help from the United States and he European Union? If those nations respond, will China get involved? If the United States assists Ukraine, what will that mean for the future of USA/Russian relations?

If the United States and the EU are asked to help and they don’t, what kind of message are we sending to the rest of the world? Is it a sign of weakness? Is is a sign of disinterest? Will Ukraine ultimately fall into Russian hands, creating another Soviet-like state? If the U.S. doesn’t respond, will this be the end of U.S. Influence in the region? Will Russia continue it’s invasion into Ukraine, eventually taking over the entire country?

On the spiritual side, the crisis in Ukraine is creating an uncertainty that this generation in Ukraine hasn’t seen before. Openness to the Gospel has never been better. Russia has a similar openness, which I witnessed while I was in Russia this past week.

Will the strained relations between Russia and the U.S. prevent American Christians from being able to go to Russia to help people understand the Gospel? Will short-term mission trips to socially needy parts of the country end?

These are all questions that have no answers, yet. Because there are so many questions we MUST pray. Don’t just pray for the country, pray specifically for the following:
1. Pray that Russia will leave Crimea and that peace would be restored to a sovereign nation.
2. Pray the newly appointed Ukrainian government will be given wisdom from God to be able to handle this difficult situation.
3. Pray that God would use this uncertainty to help Christians share the certainty that can only come though the Gospel.
4. Pray that the EU and the USA would be used by God to help the situation end it peace.
5. Pray each nation’s leadership would be given divine inspiration on what they should do.
6. Pray that God would use this crisis to lead entire cities and communities to Christ.
7. Pray that planned ministries would be allowed to move forward despite the uncertainty.
While these are the requests of men, pray that these requests are also the desires of our Might And Holy God.

Mission Network News will continue to cover the unfolding situation in Ukraine, including the Crimean Penninsula.

Final days in Russia

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Men watching the Russian hockey game in the Fun Zone tent.

Men watching the Russian hockey game in the Fun Zone tent.

Sochi, Russia (MNN) — The final day of ministry in Sochi, Russia wasn’t very nice. A cold rain fell on the Fun Zone all afternoon. It kept many of the usual visitors away, however it wasn’t a complete wash-out. There was both ministry, excitement and concern.

The day started with our friends from Russian Ministries and The Gideon’s International of Canada joining local and national Christians, volunteers from SOAR International in the United States for ministry at the Fun Zone.

Flashmob at the concert. Singer on big screen. Flashmob in front. They kept cutting to the group during the concert.

Flashmob at the concert. Singer on big screen. Flashmob in front. They kept cutting to the group during the concert.

Face painting, balloons animals, and crafts were all moved inside the ministry tent on the church grounds. The other activities were moved into the back annex of the church. Practice for the flash mob, also was moved inside. Oh, I didn’t tell you about the flash mob.

All week long volunteers from Russia and the United States worked on a flash mob that was to erupt during at concert Tuesday night. They worked very hard. A Christian singer was having a concert during the Olympics. When she got to the song of choice, the flash mob was supposed to start their choreography. Even though it was a rainy evening it went well.

Rahim was arrested as he handed out Scripture during a flash mob at a concert.

Rahim was arrested as he handed out Scripture during a flash mob at a concert.

One of the local Christians decided that would be a good opportunity and risk handing out Bibles. He was arrested and later released. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to interview him before we left because we left Wednesday morning. According to our friends at SOAR International, the man was arrested and released. SOAR reports, “Rahim risked it and started to give away New Testaments at during the flashmob. You can’t really do it outside of church territory. He got arrested. Now back and smiling again.”

Pray for the church in Sochi. One of the churches there is facing pressure from the governement. The government wants to reclaim the church property and sell it. The church is located on prime real estate. They city would make a lot of money from its sale. The pastor of the church is working with authorities to try and work out an agreement. If it isn’t overturned, the church will lose it’s home and the community will lose a neighbor who’s investing in their lives helping with marriages, teen problems and the Gospel.

SOAR's Richard Page (left) with MNN's Greg Yoder (left) in front of the church hostel in Sochi, Russia.

SOAR’s Richard Page (left) with MNN’s Greg Yoder (left) in front of the church hostel in Sochi, Russia.

Before leaving Sochi, I interviewed the president of SOAR International Richard Page. We talked about the project, ministry, and the future of SOAR’s involvement in Sochi. You can read the story here: http://www.mnnonline.org/news/olympic-ministry-moves-forward-despite-higher-costs/. Page tells us that the cost for doing this ministry was much more than anticipated. They failed to accurately predict the inflationary prices created by the Olympics hysteria. Food, water, everything went up because of the Winter Olympics.

Today, we’re spending our final day in Russia in St. Petersburg. The team will be spending the day see the highlights of the city. I will be visiting a little girl that I met in 2004, Sveta. She’s now 13 years old. She can’t be adopted because of some family issues. Pray for her. She’s one of those children, in the proper environment, could really thrive. I don’t know where she is spiritually, but she’s a loving little girls with a servants heart.

Russian fans watching the USA vs Russia hockey game in the Fun Zone (photo by Greg Yoder).

Fun zone unity is infectious

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Olympic Park - Sochi, Russia (photo by Greg Yoder).

Olympic Park – Sochi, Russia (photo by Greg Yoder).

Russia (MNN) — We only have one day left in Sochi, Russia and the church Fun Zone. I wasn’t able to update this blog until this morning, so let me give you an update over the last three days.

On Saturday, a few of us traveled to Olympic Park to watch an Olympic event. Curling. The trip to Olympic Park is great. It’s a brand new electric train. It’s free to help get spectators to and from events. As you get closer and closer to the events, the excitement grows. By the time you arrive on the 30 minute journey, you’re ready to almost run to where you’re going. Except, you don’t realize how FAR you have to walk. It’s a haul. It’s got to be over a mile.

Vicki Adams Curler for Great Britain (photo by: Greg Yoder).

Vicki Adams Curler for Great Britain (photo by: Greg Yoder).

We walked to the IceHouse, the home of the Curling event. We thought the USA was playing in the three team event, but they weren’t. But, it was a great time. We sat next to Gordon and Kate Adams, the parents of Vicki Adams, a team member of team Great Britain’s Curling team. We didn’t know any of the rules or strategy surrounding the game. The Adam’s were very gracious in explaining them and event encouraged us to cheer for her daughter. The Great Britain team won on the final stone. It was actually exciting, especially as we watched the parents get nervous for their daughter.

We spent a little more time in Olympic Park. The areas features the ‘Fun Houses’ of Switzerland, Russia, Canada, United States and more (I’m sure). But, unfortunately an invitation is required for the most of the Fun Houses. It was a little disappointing. Coke had and exposition and so did Korea, the host of the 2018 Winter Games. I’ll tell you about that later.

Russian fans watching the USA vs Russia hockey game in the Fun Zone (photo by Greg Yoder).

Russian fans watching the USA vs Russia hockey game in the Fun Zone (photo by Greg Yoder).

Following our time in Olympic Park we traveled back to the Fun Zone. Why in the evening? It was the USA vs Russia hockey game. It was a fun rivalry. The Russians were talking ‘smack’ with us. We were gracious (most of us were). One person wanted to bet 100 rubles. I told him it’s not that important, besides he would lose. So, we shook on it and watched the game together. It was a back and forth contest that could have gone either way. But, the Americans prevailed. The whole Russian crowd was disappointed. However, we waved our American flags very proudly.

Germany vs Finland in women's hockey (photo by Greg Yoder).

Germany vs Finland in women’s hockey (photo by Greg Yoder).

On Sunday, Feburary 16th a number of us had tickets to the Germany vs Finland women’s hockey game. I must tell you that we were looking more forward to being able to walk through Olympic Park, rather than watching women’s hockey. After watching so much men’s hockey, I think I’m spoiled. While we watched closely, the speed of the game is much slower and the skill is much less than the men. It was fun to be a part of the Olympics event, but the level of hockey wasn’t really there for me. Finland won 2-1.

Greg's Coke endorsement with the Olympic torch.

Greg’s Coke endorsement with the Olympic torch.

We spent almost all day in Olympic Park. We knew that would probably be the last day our team would be able to soak it all in. So, we went to Korea’s Fan House. There, they showed us the dream for the Olympics of 2018. Hopefully they’ll be able to get everything done in time, unlike Sochi. After that, we stood in line for the Coke experience. It was two huge blow-up buildings. It was basically a coke informercial, which culminated with a free bottle of coke in a special commemorative aluminum bottle.

Following that, we traveled back for dinner at the hostel.

Russian Ministries' Wally Kulakoff with SOAR International's Richard Page at the Fun Zone in Sochi (photo by Greg Yoder).

Russian Ministries’ Wally Kulakoff with SOAR International’s Richard Page at the Fun Zone in Sochi (photo by Greg Yoder).

On Monday, it was a time of ministry. I spent most of my morning writing, waiting to see my friends at Russian Ministries. They were to arrive at the Fun Zone when it opened at 3:00 pm. I arrived just prior to the opening, but the bus ride to the church was interesting.

Our group of four got on the bus. About four stops in the four people got on the bus. They were speaking broken English. One of them looked around the bus and spotted me, an obvious American. He sat next to me on the bus and started talking to me in Russian. I couldn’t understand him very well, so I told him so. Then he acted like he couldn’t understand me (in English). He asked me where I was from — specifically. When I asked him he said, “Chechnya — Grozny.” That made me a little nervous. But, what happened after that REALLY made me nervous. All four of the people got their Ipads, Iphones and other electronics out and started acting very aggressively. Unbeknownst to each other, we were all feeling VERY uncomfortable. So, our Russian translator said, “Let’s go.” It wasn’t our stop, but we all got up and got off the bus a few stops early. As we got off, we all said, “That just didn’t feel right.”  After we got off the bus and made it to the Fun Zone, we were pulled aside by our hosts that the secret police informed them that a high terror alert was issued. We felt good that we listened to our instincts.

We walked a few blocks to the Fun Zone. That’s when I discovered Russian Ministries had

Russian Ministries Team Gennady Tarkun and Pavel Tokachuk (photo by Greg Yoder).

Russian Ministries Team Gennady Tarkun and Pavel Tokachuk (photo by Greg Yoder).

arrived. It was great seeing old friends: Pavel Tokarchuk, Gennady Torkun, and Wally Kulakoff. Russia Ministries provided the printed materials for the Fun Zone: Bilingual New Testaments and Gospels of John and a little magazine called “Hope.”

Many people attended the Fun Zone Sunday. In an interview with Wally Kulakoff, he told us about their 11 city marathon, sharing the Gospel in 11 cities during the Olympics. This was one of their stops. I’ll tell you more about that in our special report Wednesday.

It has been a wonderful experience being here in Sochi for the Olympics. Keep praying. SOAR International Ministries is helping to support the ministry. They still have a week to go and they need funding to help keep it going. Because of the excitement and popularity of the Fun Zone, they’re running a little over-budget. Could you help support them?  Go here: http://www.SOARinternational.org.

Sochi is not the picture shown on TV

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Taking the train to the Mountain Cluster events at Sochi.

Taking the train to the Mountain Cluster events at Sochi.

Sochi, Russia (MNN) — Day one is under my belt and the Winter Olympics are so different than what you are seeing on television. While the beautiful picture you’re seeing on television is beautiful. The snow, which is beautiful where there IS snow, but there IS not snow in much of Sochi.

Thursday, February 13 I started off on the train. Richard, Anya, John, and I traveled to what’s called the mountain cluster, where the ski events and bobsled competition are taking place.The rest of the team went to the City Center ‘Fun Zone’ to actually work with the kids and adult visiting the center.

The mountains around the Mountain Cluster at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The mountains around the Mountain Cluster at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Yesterday in the mountains, it was 60 degrees. It was amazingly warm. As long as the sun was out, we were warm. But, as soon as the sun fell behind the clouds or the mountains, it got chilly — but not cold.

In the morning, we spent most of the time just taking in the atmosphere. Since the ‘Fun Zone’ didn’t open until 3, we were able to take video, conduct interviews with church members and spent some time being the subject of interviews from CBS News and Russian TV.

We were eating lunch at McDonalds, we were approached by a Russian translator from CBS News. She said they were looking for Americans, but they were hard to find. It was probably because the U.S. media did such a good job scaring away the American public. At any rate, they asked if we would be willing to answer some questions. We agreed. It was fun. We were asked about everything from why we were there, what sports we enjoy (my response was hockey), and why we were there. John told them he love curling. He was so animated. He’s probably going to be on TV.

Teen girls enjoy the fun zone in the mountain cluster.

Teen girls enjoy the fun zone in the mountain cluster.

After our time there, we went to the fun zone. It was a small place connected to the local church. But local kids were very involved in it. They had a trampoline, a blow-up room, and lots of games and interaction with adults. It was a great opportunity to have fun with the kids.

Since this is a battle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness, I found out that our producer (who was filling in for me while I’m in Russia) got the flu. So, I had to head back to City Center to anchor our news broadcast. But, before that I was able to do an interview with Richard Page, John Rysdyck, and other members of the team about what they were going at the ‘Fun Zones.’ That became the story for Mission Network News.

Friday, the whole team is heading to the City Center ‘Fun Zone’ to spend time with visitors both children and adults. Saturday, I’ll be heading to an actual event. CURLING. Unfortunately, I was able to attend my event Thursday because of the emergency at work, but I’m looking forward to that, and watching the U.S.A. vs Russia hockey game in the City Center main screen. It’ll be fun interacting with the Russian during the game.

Pray for us! I’m battling sleep deprivation because of a snorer in our room. 🙂 Pray that I’ll avoid getting sick and that I would be able to get my work done. But, more importantly, pray that the stories I write will be the stories God will use to call His people to his service.

My Take on Terror Threat

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As many U.S. Embassies are closed today because of what the U.S. Government calls ‘terrorist chatter’, I can’t help but wonder what’s behind these alleged threats.

Let me recap what’s going on. The U.S. State Department intercepted messages among senior al Qaeda operatives in the last several days that forced authorities and consulates Sunday across the Middle East and North Africa. Much of their attention is in the country of Yemen, where U.S. drone strikes killed a half-dozen or so radical Islamists.

The question many people are asking is, why? Why are radical Muslims planning attacks on Western governments. Why can’t they just live in peace with everyone? Why is it that they have to do these evil things?

Some Muslims say, “don’t lump us with radical Islam. Islam is a peaceful religion.”  In looking  at that statement, I have to look at facts.

1. There have been thousands of attacks on innocent people  in the last decade alone that have been attributed to Muslims who claim they are doing it in the name of Allah.
2. Islam is the only religion that kills people when they leave Islam. Muhammad set the example for this.
3. Islam teaches that non-Muslims are less than human. It’s also taught that Muslims could be put to death for murder, but never put to death for killing a non-Muslim.
4. The Qur’an is absent of Allah’s love for non-Muslims, but speaks of hatred for them instead.
5. Islamic leaders have dressed women and even children in suicide bombing belts to attack innocent people.
6. Muslims are killing innocent people for comics and videos that depict Muhammad in a negative light. They also strike out against innocent people when the Qur’an is desecrated.

There are many who claim Christianity is just as evil. My question to them is, “when was the last time you heard someone attacking innocent people in the name of Christ?”

This post isn’t designed to hate Muslims. On the contrary. It’s designed to point out the truth, but then take it a step further — to LOVE them?  Why?

The passage of Scripture that comes to mind is what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard that it was said,”You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” While many people stop there, Jesus goes on to say in verse 47, “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than other? Do not even the Gentiles to the same?” If Christians do what is ‘unnatural’ many will notice — including those who mean to harm us.

By Loving our enemies we have a platform to share our faith, and they’ll listen. Let me give you an example. After 9-11 terror attack on the United States, many Muslims were afraid. It would have been a great time to reach out to them in love. How? By simply inviting them into our homes for coffee or a meal. This is cultural. There are many Christians in the western world who don’t even know a Muslim. If they do, they know very little about them. Love give us an opportunity to find out about them, learn their culture, with sharing the same with them.

At Mission Network News, our desire is to talk about ministries that may motivate Christians to get involved. Many Christians are sleep-walking today. They’re walking through life with their eyes closed, not even looking for opportunities to share their faith. We want to change that.

That’s why we’re having a Wake Me Up Summer promotion. It’s inspired by a song for Josh Wilson’s new Carry Me CD. The song is called, Wake Me Up. During the month of August MNN is encouraging you to wake up and do something intentional when it comes to sharing your faith.

We’re also asking you to support the work of Mission Network News with a generous donation. As you do, you’re helping MNN tell  even more stories that will wake up Christians around the world — waking them up to do something intentional regarding their faith. When you do, I’ll send you the new Josh Wilson CD.

If you want more information on the Wake Me Up Summer promotion, watch this video.

To donate to the MNN Wake Me Up Summer campaign, click here.

Greg and Team to Russia

By | missions, MNN, news, orphans, special reports, travel | 5 Comments

Russia (MNN) — You’ll never know what it means for you to love a child. That statement is reverberating around in my head. I have been on many short-term mission trips. Most of them have centered around helping orphaned children. I’ve always wondered what difference it made — until now.

On June 30, 2013 I will be traveling with Orphan Outreach to document a story that’s come full-circle. It’s the story of a woman who discovered a little boy with incredible needs and simply loved him.

Greg with Svyeta

Greg with Svyeta

I don’t want to spoil the surprise because the video that we’ll be producing will give you the details of the story. But, the conclusion is that because of this woman’s love and affection for this boy, now, as a young man he understands that God is the one who orchestrated it.

The bottom line is this young man had a disability that most of his caregivers said he wouldn’t survive. It caused incredible deformity. Yet, this woman’s relentless care for him made it possible for him to get the medical attention he needed to lead a normal life (his words). Even though it took years.

Understanding that she did something special for him, he made it his purpose in his young adult life to find her and thank her for what she did for him. One year ago, he found her. This week we’ll be reuniting these two. We’ll catch it all on video so you can see it first hand.

While I’d love to give you all of the specifics, I would like them to play out naturally. As they do, I’ll pass the information along to you through this blog.

It’s all happening in the city of St. Petersburg, Russia. A city full of history. It’s also home to orphaned children who can no longer be adopted by American families. Their futures are bleak.

The second part of our coverage will focus on what happens to orphaned children when they age out of the orphanages. Who do they look to for guidance. Who helps them understand how to budget, buy groceries, pay bills, take care of their apartment, and help them make important personal decisions? Also, what role does the local church play in all this?

We’re hoping to answer all those questions and develop a tool to encourage Christians in the United States to come along side churches in Russia so they can work together to help orphaned and foster care children in both nations.

Come by my blog all week along and I try to share my heart.