Meanwhile, increasing tensions in Kosovo isn’t stopping one mission agency from reaching out to these predominately Muslim people. Greater Europe Mission’s Maria Waldsmidt says they have two projects. One is reaching the Kosovar refugees in Germany the other is taking place in northern Kosovo. “There’s a couple hundred thousand of Kosovars that have been in Germany for quite a long time and will be returning to Kosovo this summer. And so, our goal is that they would hear Christ here. We have a crusade this month focusing on that. And the other part is we’ve started a series of projects in Northern Kosovo. It combines humanitarian aid with the goal of a church plant.” That aid is in the form of housing construction. Waldsmidt says people need to pray for peace in the region. “We have a couple of American churches that are planning on coming this summer and Americans coming to work with us (and Germans). And, of course, they’re hesitant to come if the situation is uncertain. It creates a lot of the fear on the people themselves. They’ve gone through so much.”
At least 11 international aid organizations are withdrawing from southern Sudan following a rebel ultimatum over assistance to the war-ravaged region. The pullout interrupts a majority of the aid operations and comes at a time when food is scarce prior to the major planting season. Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says they are still reviewing the situation. “It seems to be that they want control over what aid is going in and where its going…so, we are still trying to figure out exactly what this is going to mean to our work in Sudan. I think it’s premature to say one way or the other. It could mean that we don’t work there or it could be just a small bump in the road.” Nettleton says the ministry is committed to helping persecuted Christians in the area, but: “If, by following all of these guidelines that the rebels want to set down, we’re unable to help persecuted Christians, then how can we help the church and help the Christians there, and if we can’t, what do we need to do differently?”
Elsewhere, medical missionaries are branching out to reach isolated villages in northern Thailand for Christ. Southern Baptist volunteer teams of American doctors and dentists are traveling to the unreached countryside to mix evangelism with their medical work. After treating the people during the day, the team holds worship services that shares the Gospel with the people in the villages. The outreach has been a success because the teams met physical and spiritual needs.
Next, the field of medical missions is ‘booming’-that is to say, it would be, if there were enough missions doctors available. According to Dr. Ken Jones, a 20-year veteran on the field, the need for workers outweighs the numbers available. Jones says medical missions is critical in many places in order to begin ministry. And that is where the problem lies. “I think one of the big problems is getting missionary doctors is getting increasingly difficult. In this country, many people, when they finish medical school, have large debts and it seems once they get established, it’s just very hard because I think, of the advances here and the slow advances overseas to get people willing to go there.” Jones says fortunately, the field is changing because of: “I think short term missions has been a great help. I know several young people that went out during their medical school or nursing training, saw the filed, and did go back as career missionaries.” Jones is staying at D&D Missionary Homes in Florida until he is dispatched as needed
We begin today in Mozambique where the country’s president is appealing to the outside world for more help. Flooding in that region has killed at least 350 people and left 650-thousand people homeless. Food for the Hungry’s Shaun Walsh says they’re stepping forward to help. “We’re hiring helicopters for literally doing rescue for people from trees and the tops of their roofs. Many people literally have been there for four or five days. So, they’re drinking water that is full of disease. And, they’re starving to death.” Walsh says they’re dropping relief supplies in plastic bags to help feed these people. He says it’s presenting the church an opportunity to witness. “The local churches are one and part of the same victims here. But, many of them are asking, even though we are the victims we also want to reach out to the same communities.” Call 1-800-2-Hunger if you’d like to help in this relief effort.
The objective is to learn about missions in the Caribbean-and there could be more painful ways to do it. Evangelism Explosion is offering an imaginative look at their work in the area via a different approach to short-term missions. E-E’s John Sorenson. “We’ve got a cruise with a purpose that we’re going to do in the summertime. It’s a chance for people to spend some time with Dr. Kennedy and to visit three different ports and see the E-E ministries on three islands. We’re going to be visiting San Juan, St. Thomas and Nassau. We’ll be going on to those islands and maybe doing some E-E work there.” Sorenson adds the bigger purpose is to show the passengers the bigger vision of E-E. “If they could just see through the Caribbean, what’s going on with E-E on those islands, then they can imagine what’s going on with all the nations of the world.” The cruise is slated to begin July 15th and ends the 22nd. If you’d like details, check out their website at: www.eeinternational.org.
Meanwhile, missionary radio broadcasters are continuing their efforts to reach the unreached with the Gospel through radio. Words of Hope’s Lee DeYoung, is a member of the World by Radio campaign. DeYoung says the need for radio is great around the world. “There are approximately, right now as we speak today, 84 languages with either definite or probable need that are all spoken by a million or more people that don’t yet have Gospel broadcasts.” DeYoung says those numbers continue to rise as the world’s population increases. “On the one hand the number of mega-languages does grow. If one measures the number of languages that we knew to need broadcasts at the beginning of the project in 1985, and the number added, we’ve added more than we thought we needed back then. However, the number of languages of a million or more has grown in the meantime, so the target keeps moving. But, we’re getting closer to the target even though it is moving we’re moving faster.”
Elsewhere, the Flying Hospital has teamed up with Operation Blessing for a special medical missions trip this month to Pueblo, Mexico. So far, the teams of doctors have already completed dozens of much-needed surgeries. Operation Blessing reports that many lives have been impacted with the love of Christ. The facility is set up to include a counseling area in the clinic site where the patients can sit down with a counselor or get a free Bible. The staff asks that believers pray for the teams during the demanding trip.
The question facing many Bible translation groups is “what will it take to get the job done?” JAARS provides the support for the technology used around the world in this effort. Pat Snyder says they are using the latest technology in order to overcome the greatest obstacles faced by missionaries on the field. “Previously, communications could be maintained-you’d exchange letters, which would take quite a bit of time to physically get from one place to another. The first e-mail was exchanged and it’s reduced the amount of time that it takes to get things done.” Snyder adds that this means greater flexibility for their work. “As folks go out to their allocations, suddenly the satellite telephone takes on an importance for us within Wycliffe to add e-mail capability to the traditional radio/telephones that we use. As a language team goes out to their allocation, they can stay in that communications loop, even when there are no other ways to do it.”
We begin today’s newscast in Kosovo where increasing violence is forcing more troops into the region. However, the increasing tensions are not having an impact on International Aid’s plans to work there. I-A’s Jerry Dykstra. “We’re going to be dedicating a new health clinic we’re rehabbing and that will be done probably around the first of April. And, that will be in a town about 50-miles from Pristina, which is the capitol. And, there’s a real need there for health clinics to get some of the people (treated) who have not been treated very well health wise for many years.” International Aid has already sent 27 shipments of relief supplies to Kosovo. Dykstra says they’ll be helping physically in an effort to change hearts. “In a climate of ethnic and religious hate, we’re planting seeds that God will then grow. That’s just tremendously true. People can pray that this atmosphere of hate as we it, that somehow God change hearts.” Dykstra is encouraging people to give financially so the work can be successful.