World Relief is committed to helping the evangelical churches of Venezuela meet the needs of their citizens following the recent mudslide that killed 30-thousand people. National churches are working to give survivors a means of hope. The churches have access to emergency provisions and World Relief is helping to distribute those supplies while providing temporary shelter and trauma counseling. They also plan to continue to help meet the long-term needs for housing and jobs.
Meanwhile, the Russian observance of Christmas is being used to evangelize the people of Russia. That’s the word from John Creech, the Russian Director of O-M-S International. Creech, who is staying at D & D Missionary Homes in Florida, explains. “They are a nation that is struggling to maintain its Russian identity. And, the celebration of Christmas on January 7th, that is not in sync with the rest of Christianity celebrating on December 25th, really gives them, the Christian missionary, this opportunity to get together with non-believers and say, you know what this holiday is all about and then open up a door to share the Gospel of Christ.” O-M-S International is an evangelistic, church planting ministry. They started in Russia in 1993 with the CoMission project. Creech is asking people to pray that God will call more indigenous workers to help disciple new believers.
We begin today in Indonesia where fighting between Christian and Muslim gangs on the country’s Spice Islands has killed more than 40-people. AMG International has churches and Bible schools in that beleaguered country. Agency spokesman Larry Malone says at last word all their people were safe. “We have not report from our director there that any the ministry or the national works have been affected. Most of our work is concentrated in the Islands of Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and we have some work in Irian Jaya. We were surprised to hear that violence has broken out once again in Maluku, as well as the loss of some 46 lives Ambon.” Malone says there’s one thing that Christians around the world can to help. ” We would urge Christians to continue to pray for the people of Indonesia. And, in particular the believers there as they face, not only violence, but also one of the worst economic situations that’s to be found in the world today.”
Next, in a little over a month, New Tribes Mission will mark the 7th anniversary of the kidnapping of missionaries Mark Rich, Dave Mankins, and Rick Tenenoff. Agency spokesman Scott Ross says they’ve received several leads, half saying the men are dead – half saying they’re alive. “What’s encouraging to us is not that type of news, but that we are now getting movement out of the Colombian military to be willing to go into some of those hotter areas and search out and check some of these leads. So, we have four more of those that we would really like to have followed through, over half of them claiming in some way or another that our men are live.” According to Ross, it’s been a long seven years and he’s asking people to pray for truth. “The wives have always wanted the truth and we do too. We know that this group holds people for a long time, but we also know that it has been a long time and jungle living, especially with the combat that our men might not have survived.” However, New Tribes still believe they are alive.
Even though Christmas is over in the western world, it has yet to be celebrated in Russia. Russian Ministries Peter Deyneka says they’re using the Russian celebration to minister to a few street children, orphans and other needy young people there. But there is still a great need. “Christmas in Russia is not December 25th, it’s January the 7th. We still need $100,000 in order to put together these Christmas care packets that contain food, clothing, Christian literature for these 17 to 20,000 children.” According to Deyneka, the care packets won’t be the only tools used to lead these people to Christ. “We’re doing this in parallel to a Christmas program where the Gospel is being presented to these children, many of them hearing the Gospel for the first time. And, it opens the door to thousands of children’s hearts and to their parents and to orphanage directors. And, this is all being accomplished by our national workers, whom we’ve been training.”
Meanwhile, a pastor of thriving house churches has been arrested in China. Pastor Li DeXian was arrested Tuesday after police in six vans stormed the meeting. According to Voice of the Martyrs, 70-year-old Ah Ling was arrested along with DeXian as she was giving her testimony during the meeting at Haudu, in Guangdong province in southeastern China. DeXain has been arrested several times over the last few months for holding meetings in unregistered underground churches.
We begin today in the Ivory Coast where missionaries are questioning their safety in the wake of a coup in that traditionally stable country. A military junta that took power on Friday ousted President Henri Konan Bedie, who fled the country. Scott Ross is with New Tribes Mission. “We contacted our people out there and they advised us that it looked like it was going to be more of a peaceful coup, if there is that such a thing. It wasn’t aimed at any civilians necessarily, it had a lot to do with the military not being paid and different things. We only have really one couple in the capital city. We have many couple around the country. The coup was taking place in the capital so they didn’t feel that they were threatened at this point, but they were just staying indoors. The U-S embassy had instructed all American personnel to stay indoors and off the streets.” The Ivory Coast has been peaceful since declaring its independence in 1960. Evangelism is not expected to be affected by the new government.
Next, while Russian forces continue their onslaught of Chechnya, missionary radio is hoping to expand its impact on the region. Far East Broadcasting Company is using radio to speak to those impacted by war in the region. However, FEBC’s Victor Akhterov says that impact will be expanding in January. “We hope to switch another better AM frequency and we’ll be broadcasting 16 hours a day, so the impact of FEBC Russia will multiply. At this time we have five hours of daily broadcasts and it is working miracles.” Akhterov says this is just another attempt at helping the church be more effective in ministry. ” We are just letting pastors talk about the every day issues, including these issues of war. We present the Christian point of view and people like it and people come to local churches.” Giving pastors more opportunities to share the Gospel.
Meanwhile, Americans are heading to Venezuela to assess the devastation left by a massive mudslide that destroyed towns and villages near Caracas. The Southern Baptist International Mission Board is helping both physically and spiritually. Last week they released 80-thousand dollars for food, water, and medicines. A team is also on the ground assessing how to help with long term ministry evangelism projects. The I-M-B is asking people to pray that God uses this tragedy for His glory.
Meanwhile, in an effort to stamp out all minority religions Turkmenistan has deported two Baptist pastors and their wives. After suffering months of interrogation, threats, fines, and arrest, the two couples were both deported last Thursday. According to Compass Direct, Turkmenistan is the most religiously repressed of the former Soviet republics and continues to stamp out all religious practices that are not officially sanctioned with Muslims or the Russian Orthodox Church.