Next, we continue with our series on the needs facing Liberians as civil war ends in that country. Feeding Starving Children International’s Dick Proudfit says they’re taking a leadership role in helping the people with food and medicines. He says Liberia has lush farmland and they’re going to help rebuild its agricultural base. “The country is just lush. They have the rain forest there. The surrounding country outside of the rain forest is green, but it is over grown because of the war. We’re looking for large donations of seeds. Two or three containers of seeds.” Proudfit says they also need farm implements. He says this is just another step toward leading people to Christ, but they can’t do it alone. “We’re asking a lot of people to step forward and some of the bigger financial entrepreneurs to step forward and be a part of the organization. And, I believe the big picture that we’re looking at immediately is five-million dollars.”
We begin today’s newscast in Vietnam where the country’s worst flooding in 50 years has left more than five-thousand people dead and thousands more homeless. Evangelical Baptist Missions’ David Haag says they just returned from a medical mission trip to that communist country. “They have completed a two week project of not only hands on ministry with a medical team, but also taking a considerable amount of antibiotics, which are always needed in a situation like that, as well as finances to assist some of the people who have literally lost all of their possessions.” According to Haag this project gives Christians a more open door to share the Gospel. “And, it does enhance their identity in the situation to be seen as the ones who are exercising compassion. I know that it’s provided an opportunity for the church in the west to link hands with the church in the east and I think in that spiritual good will come from that.”
Next, Trans World Radio is making plans to bolster its outreach to listeners in North and South America. After seeing success in the Caribbean Gospel Network, the ministry will be relocating the Bonaire work to Florida. TWR’s Scott Hollinger. “The location on Bonaire, while it served us well, and continues to serve us well for medium wave broadcasting, is not ideally suited for the kinds of interactive ministry that we now have through the Caribbean Gospel Network…but, South Florida suits both our affiliates and us.” Hollinger is excited about the move because: “It’s really a new day for Trans World Radio. We’ve gone to them and said, ‘How can we help?’ We are learning from our partners at the Caribbean Gospel stations and in return then, we’re able to utilize the resources that Trans World Radio has to produce programs that a local station can use that will most effectively reach their people.”
While police are dismantling army checkpoints in Liberia, the needs of the people continue to surface. Feeding Starving Children International’s Dick Proudfit just returned from the country. Proudfit says the lack of food isn’t the only problem. He describes what he saw when he went into a hospital. “I was flabbergasted walking in that building to see nothing. Almost zero medical supplies. Zero equipment because the country has been looted. And so, what they’re asking for is equipment and medical supplies immediately.” Proudfit says meeting their physical needs is vital to reaching them with the Gospel. He says the church will be their link to those who haven’t heard the message of Christ.”The church is already in place. They’re practically in every village around the country. We would like to begin to partner with them to start a feeding programs for the children and the families that they know who are devastated.”
Meanwhile, construction is underway to help a medical mission ship be more effective in ministry. The Mercy Ships, based in Texas, is in the process of building an International Support Center. Among other things, this new 17-thousaand square foot facility will increase by 70-percent the amount of warehouse space Mercy Ships currently has, enabling them to receive millions of dollars more annually in gift-in-kind contributions. The International Support Center is scheduled to open in the spring of next year.
We begin today in Indonesia where conflict in that country is forcing mission groups to modify their work there. New Tribes Mission’s Guy Sire say they have around 65 missionaries working in Indonesia, but their workers from Maluku (mah-LOO-ku) won’t return. “Most of our folks are now in the process of filtering back to Indonesia, but are relocating on the island of Sulawesi because of the difficulties in Maluku. We really don’t see where we’ll be able to put missionaries back into the tribal areas in Maluku for some time.” Sire says they’re also facing another problem. “Our work permit that allows us to conduct ministry is up at the end of this month. The government has gone through a lot of upheaval, and if we do not have that renewed by then we will need to cease ministry. Visas will not be renewed and our folks may have to leave the country.”
Elsewhere, as Russian forces concentrate their fire on Grozny, the military says it is allowing civilians to leave the city unimpeded. That passage of relative safety extends until December 11th, when the Russian government has threatened to unleash a military bombardment. Shelter Now’s Jeff Hollenbeck says although they are watching the situation: “It’s still very much a war zone, there’s not a lot that we’re able to do. It’s different than the Kosovo situation in that there are refugees flooding out into an are that’s relatively safe where we can start taking care of them…but the bombs are still falling over there and it’s still very much up in the air about what the damage is. I think we can just pray that the situation doesn’t get any worse.” Hollenbeck says because of the war, this is a good time to spread the hope of the Gospel. “When there is unrest like this, people are open to different kinds of ideas-those things that they found in the past to be so steady, are now gone…and, some of the things that they were praying to before-all of the sudden, they’re seeing that that hasn’t worked too much, so they’re open to the Gospel and they’re open to the hope that Jesus Christ can bring.”
An evangelical relief and development agency is encouraging Christians not to forget about Central America this holiday season. International Aid continues to help the victims of Hurricane Mitch, which struck over a year ago. While I-A sent millions of dollars in relief to that country, agency officials say relief aid is still needed as over 50-thousand people remain homeless. Christian workers there say the storm has opened many doors to share the Gospel. Donations are needed so that work can continue.
Next, the holiday season is usually the time many churches in the United States gear up for helping the needy in their communities. New Focus National’s Jenny Forner says while that is helpful, there are many churches who believe it may be a different approach that will bring the best long-term results and change lives. “What I really want to challenge churches to is how are they going to minister to the families that they gave gifts to at Christmastime every single week throughout the next year. It’s important for churches to look at how they can build relationships with these people.” Forner adds that the key is the simplicity of the Gospel that allows the New Focus programs to work in the community. “There’s a lot of mentoring programs out there, but what’s unique about New Focus is we provide education, the mentoring, also the life skills that you need, and then it’s a matter of loving them like Christ would love them.”
We begin today’s newscast in the Democratic Republic of Congo where renewed violence is jeopardizing a signed peace deal there. The new fighting is also causing mission groups to question their future. Sam Vinton is with Grace Ministries International. “It puts us constantly as a mission organization to decide what the situation is — when do we restart activities? Though I must say that the national church has returned from the forest. So, this is a wonderful thing to see the church going ahead and doing these things even though no missionaries are there.” According to Vinton some of their schools and one of their medical clinics are open, but supplying these works isn’t an easy decision. “There is equipment that we need, but are we going to put equipment back into our stations when tomorrow there could be bombing of the city or locations where we are working, or would this get the rebels or other factions to come in an loot as they’ve done before.”