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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.

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

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#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?

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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?

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. 🙂

Pray for Afghanistan: Day 3

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An Afghan worker verifies the identification card of a resident at a polling center in the Matun district of the Khost province of Afghanistan Sept. 18, 2010, during parliamentary elections.  (Image, caption courtesy U.S. Dept of Defense via Flickr)

An Afghan worker verifies the identification card of a resident at a polling center in the Matun district of the Khost province of Afghanistan Sept. 18, 2010, during parliamentary elections.
(Image, caption courtesy U.S. Dept of Defense via Flickr)

Barring Taliban deterrence, some 3.8 million registered Afghan voters are expected to show up to the polls tomorrow.  Logistics challenges mean the final winner may not be known for several weeks, but multiple sources agree that the 2014 elections are a crucial step in Afghanistan’s journey toward democracy.

So-called elections have been taking place in Afghanistan since 2004, but have been marred by fraud and violence. Those issues are once again a concern for this year’s elections; ballot-stuffing could be an issue since Afghans hold multiple voting cards. The 2009 elections were reportedly marred by this occurrence, resulting in a win-by-default victory for current President Hamid Karzai.

New electoral laws passed last year not only made tomorrow’s election possible, they set a up a commission to deal with voter fraud “and other irregularities.” As the BBC notes, there’s a lot riding on tomorrow’s polling: “Donor countries have made it clear that continuing aid depends on fair elections.”

Keep an eye on the 8thirty8 Facebook page for updates.

PRAY: Pray that the Taliban will not stop tomorrow’s elections from taking place. Pray that no more bystanders will die at the hands of terrorists. Pray for a free election and peaceful transfer of power.

Pray for Afghanistan: Day 2

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Dutch military troops in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan (Image, caption courtesy Remko Tanis via Flickr)

Dutch military troops in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
(Image, caption courtesy Remko Tanis via Flickr)

Afghanistan has been a hotspot for conflict in modern history and a common battleground for international troops. As the December 2014 deadline for troop withdrawal draws near, pray it won’t leave Afghanistan in Taliban hands.

The country was taken over by Socialists in 1978, and Western forces came alongside Afghan rebels to try and reverse the Soviet land-grab. According to Peace Direct, the U.S., UK and Saudi Arabia all provided support to resistance groups. Over a decade later, Soviet troops withdrew and Afghanistan was declared an Islamic state in 1992.

As the country descended into civil war, the Taliban emerged as a political and religious power player. Terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies brought Western attention back to Afghanistan, the home base of Taliban leader Osama bin Laden, once more. Sanctions and targeted attacks began in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2001 that the U.S. and NATO began a major push on Afghan soil.

U.S. and UK troops ousted the Taliban government in December 2001. More troops were quickly sent by France, Germany and Italy to fight the Islamic insurgency.  In 2006, NATO took over Afghanistan’s national security, “its first-ever operational commitment outside of Europe”, according to BBC.

After more than a decade of conflict, foreign troops are packing up and heading home. Around 130,000 NATO troops are due to leave by the December deadline; the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops hinges on an unsigned security agreement.

With three days remaining until Afghanistan’s presidential and provisional elections, a strong prayer effort is needed. “Share” this series on social media and encourage more believers to intercede for Afghanistan.

PRAY: Pray that the withdrawal of international forces in 2014 will not lead to a return to civil war.

Pray for Afghanistan: Day 1

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(Image courtesy Hamish Burke via Wikimedia Commons)

(Image courtesy Hamish Burke via Wikimedia Commons)

April Fool’s! Afghanistan hasn’t cancelled their elections. Despite multiple attempts by the Taliban to stop the country’s democratic progress, voting will still take place on Saturday, April 5.

But why is this event so important in the first place?

“As Afghanistan goes, so goes this whole Central Asia area,” E3 Partners’ Middle East expert Tom Doyle explained in yesterday’s article. Afghanistan is a catalyst for change in a region where radical Islam has been a power player for centuries.

Shifting the country’s control away from the Taliban could result in more freedoms and hope for Afghanistan’s people. Decades of instability and conflict have left the national economy and infrastructure in ruins, and refugees comprise most of Afghanistan’s population.

While religious freedom is an unrealistic hope, Doyle noted, the election of a “moderate” candidate has potential to bring them a little more protection. Today, any connection to Christianity is deadly in Afghanistan. People who follow Christ are viewed as apostates and if their faith is discovered, they automatically receive the death penalty.

Watch this video to see what life is like for Afghan Christians. Then, share it with your friends on social media. Ask them to join you in praying for Afghanistan this week.

PRAY: Pray that the Taliban’s influence in Afghanistan will diminish.

world water day

Special Report: World Water Day

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world water day

Gospel for Asia “Jesus Wells” are drilled deep enough so that the water supply doesn’t dry up during hot, arid summer months.
(Image, caption courtesy GFA)

South Asia (MNN/GFA) — Today on World Water Day, our friends at Gospel for Asia share the following report:

Millions across Asia are considered Dalits or “Untouchables,” those deemed inferior simply because of their caste. “Untouchables” are likely barred from using village water wells, placing these individuals and families in desperate and life-threatening situations.

Gospel for Asia plans to drill 5,000 water wells across India and South Asia over the course of 2014 for those struggling to find clean water.  GFA is highlighting its “Jesus Wells” ministry today on World Water Day.

Jesus Wells are often the only water option for “Untouchables” and countless others. The wells not only provide critical access to drinking water, but they also ensure villagers have clean water essential for cooking and other necessary household chores.

“It is our heart to provide clean water to all people regardless of their background,” said Dr. K. P. Yohannan, founder and international director of Gospel for Asia. “Wherever we place our ‘Jesus Wells,’ all people can drink clean water freely.”

An adequate water supply is not only a challenge for Dalits. Millions of others across Asia struggle daily to find sufficient water resources. Traditional village wells often dry up because they were not drilled deep enough. Or they dry up during the hot, arid summer months, putting entire villages at risk. It’s also common for families to walk several miles just to find enough water for basic household needs.

To help address these challenges, Jesus Wells are drilled deep into the ground. They are strategically placed in villages accessible to the greatest number of people. In addition, local contractors are hired to drill numerous wells at a time, ensuring great cost savings.
 
In Andhra Pradesh, India, one GFA worker said the summer drought is a crisis point for his village. They have to wait more than six months for the rain to arrive again. In another village, a GFA worker said people travel at least four miles during the summer to the closest village to retrieve water.
 
The 5,000 wells GFA plans to dig this year will help address water scarcity for tens of thousands. As villagers receive this precious gift of water, they are able to experience the love of Christ, and they seek to learn more about Him.

Through the Jesus Wells project, hundreds of villages have already received clean water for all in the community. Village life has literally been transformed. By the end of 2014, GFA hopes many more villages will find respite from their thirst.  

“I am so grateful for every village that can now have access to clean water for all,” said Yohannan. “It’s another opportunity for people to experience the love of Jesus and know His grace in their lives.”

Donations to the project can be made and additional information is available at www.gfa.org/water.

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.