International Aid is also working in Ethiopia-having recently sent relief supplies despite the war. I-A’s Sonny Enriquez says theirs is a tricky situation. “It’s becoming more complicated-unfortunately, the level of declaration, whether this is now a famine situation or not is a technical matter. For outside people like ourselves, [we’re] waiting for a classification by the United Nations whether this is a hunger situation or a famine situation. But, if your are a member of the population and you are not the one having food, you don’t really care what it’s classified as famine.” Enriquez adds that in spite of the gravity of the situation, there is hope to be found. “I think giving a cup of water to those who are thirsty and handing out bread and food to those who are hungry is evangelism. Especially, if the one giving it is expressing so in the love of God. You don’t even have to open your mouth. People will ask themselves, ‘Who is this person?'”
Next, the Christian and Missionary Alliance reports that refugees continue to return to Kosovo following the fighting that took place a year ago. Agencies immediately sent workers to help the people during the crisis, but AGAPE claims it is the only Evangelical humanitarian aid organization represented in the southeast part of Kosovo. As the group renovates homes and distributes food and clothing to the Albanians, they also share the Gospel through the Jesus film and English classes.
And, American Leprosy Missions is announcing a new spokesman for their organization. Sue Renault, director of communications, says they are honored to have 88-year old Art Linkletter join them in their global fight against leprosy. “Mr. Linkletter has a long history of involvement in religious and humanitarian causes around the world. He has traveled with UNICEF and with World Vision, and has seen, up close and personal, the effects of poverty and leprosy upon people.” Linkletter will help the 96-year old organization promote their cause through mail, radio and TV programming. “Later this year, or perhaps the beginning of next year, we’ll be doing a new television documentary and Art Linkletter will be the host of that documentary. So, when people flip their dials and come across a story about leprosy and about American Leprosy Missions, the person who will be hosting that story will be Art Linkletter.” ALM works to share Christ’s love through restoring people with leprosy, in spirit and body.
We begin today’s news looking at the despair of famine. This is being seen firsthand by MNN’s Greg Yoder, who is in Ethiopia on a special assignment. Greg files this heart-wrenching report. “Farmers have traveled here to Fafen in search of pasture land for their sheep and cattle. Their search, in vain, as many of these animals are dead, victims of the fourth year of drought in this predominately Muslim area. Now, many of these farmers are seeing family members suffer the same fate. A translator shares this story of Haliva, a story echoed by many in this region. “After the drought happened, she came here with a lot of hope. She came here with a lot of cousins, so now she has only three cousins. She came here also with six children; one child has died.” Food for the Hungry and SIM International are partnering together to prevent that. Relief agencies fear Western Christian won’t help financially because of the war with Eritrea. Food for the Hungry’s Thomas Stocker says they shouldn’t be prevented from receiving the physical and spiritual help FH can offer. “Food for the Hungry is a non-governmental organization-it’s not taking sides. Our focus is to help those who are in need, so, we will go out there to help the people that need the food assistance. Hungry bellies know no politics.” A one-hundred dollar gift could feed a family of five for five months. Call 1-800-the number 2-HUNGER to help. Greg Yoder, Mission Network News, Ethiopia.”
Religion Today reports thirty people were injured when a powerful bomb exploded during a Christian meeting in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh earlier this week. The explosion took place in a city just east of Hyderabad, where nearly 15,000 Christians had gathered as part of a four-day festival. Although the government denies violence against Christians, believers say they have been targeted by Hindu hardliners. They think the attackers have been encouraged by the presence of the Hindu nationalist BJP-led government in Delhi.
Elsewhere, international aid agencies are fleeing from Ambon, Indonesia, where Muslims are fighting Christians. However, not all agencies are pulling out of the country. As Medical Ambassadors International’s Terry Dalrimple puts it, they’re watching the situation. “It puts everybody on alert when there is violence that way, because there would be concern that in the long-term, any unrest in Indonesia will have impact on ministries there. Our ministry happens to be quite a distance from Ambon and where the current unrest is boiling. So, it’s not going to affect us as it might other ministries in the area.” Dalrimple says it is unlikely refugees from Ambon would travel to South Sumatra, where their work is although: “If we were to see refugees come into a community, I think they would be served as part of the community. We teach people how to be healthy spiritually and physically. We teach public health and we integrate evangelism and discipleship with our public health teaching.”
And, the Latin America Mission is helping Caribbean churches to no longer be just a mission field, but to take their place as part of the mission force. Ken MacHarg files this report. “Representatives of LAM recently joined 270 delegates from 30 countries at a missions conference in Puerto Rico, offering to share information on financial and data-based systems serve as a connection for U-S and overseas ministry partners, and provide technical assistance. LAM is helping to facilitate the process of a Colombian Christian who will be working as a missionary this summer in Haiti. LAM’s president, David Befus says that the mission’s efforts can help Latin Americans assume their own role in the evangelization of the world. For Mission Network News, I’m Ken MacHarg in Miami.”
Headlining today’s news, while the United Nations isn’t calling it a famine yet, relief and development organizations are. MNN’s Greg Yoder is in Ethiopia on special assignment and files this report. “Thomas Stocker is the Ethiopian Country Director with Food for the Hungry. Stocker says the Somali region of Ethiopia has already been hit by famine. “There are people that are definitely in a very critical situation. As you know the Somali region of Ethiopia is a pasturlist area. People are depending on their animals. And due to the delay of the rains many of their animals have died. So, they have nothing left to survive.” We’re traveling to the village of Jajiga today to see FHI’s new partnership with SIM International in that Muslim region. Stocker says they’re helping to fund a food distribution and eating center. “In relief situation Food for the Hungry, the first purpose is to save lives – so they can survive for the next days and months. But, we’re hoping to bring also some of the Good News to these people.” FHI is asking you to help, as more than eight million people are already affected by malnutrition. Stocker says your gift of 100 dollars will help feed a family of five for five months. Call 1-800-the number 2-HUNGER to help. Greg Yoder, Mission Network News, Ethiopia.”
Elsewhere, Evangelist Sammy Tippit is reporting that Lima, Peru, the site of their most recent crusade, is in turmoil. The political situation remains very tense. Because of the runoff elections in the country, the original meeting dates were changed. Another last minute change threw the country into a constitutional crisis. Despite the uncertainty, thousands responded nightly to the Gospel message. Please pray for the Christians in the area.
Topping today’s news, violence continues in Sierra Leone. Peace talks have failed and the rebels have pushed on. The Christian Reformed Church has been forced to evacuate missionaries out of the area. Peter VanderMeulen explains what’s happening. “When a peace process is forced on a country, and when it’s based on some really unjust things, like an amnesty, that doesn’t bode well for a peace process to actually succeed.” VanderMeulen says the war has had a dramatic effect on their work. “It has completely destroyed most of the physical evidence of that work. People have fled the area, refugees are all over, we had a national staff of 36 people and they are mostly now if Freetown. But the good part is, even though they’re scattered all over the place, they still worship together.”