Next, the increasing violence against Christians in India is forcing another mission organization to postpone an event. Mission India has rescheduled its annual “Third World Seminar” for November. Agency President John DeVries says the recent murder of an Australia missionary, the attack on 12 Indian church planters, and the concern for the safety of ministry partners prompted the postponement. It was scheduled for February 23rd. Despite the postponement, other indigenous ministry continues uninterrupted.
(BROOKS :13) The Luis Palau Evangelistic Association is excited about an outreach that will target an entire state in the U-S. The event’s being called “Mission Maine” and it begins April 6th. Gary Losey is the Senior Crusade Director for the event. Losey says this is an historic event in the U-S. (LOSEY :12) We’ve done (these) types of things in other countries of the world where it’s been a national crusade or whatever, but we’ve never done like a state-wide crusade such as we’re doing in Maine in the United States to this point. (BROOKS :06) Losey says while the first evangelistic meeting is still almost two months away, evangelism classes have already been held. (LOSEY :23) We had nine different sessions across the state and we actually trained 3,000 people in friendship evangelism. The whole friendship factor is so important in our crusades. Most of the people that come to a crusade event come only because they were invited so we’re challenging people now to target people in prayer and that also becomes their invitation list.
(BROOKS :21) Meanwhile, the need for missionaries in Papua New Guinea is great, because of requests for new ministry by tribal groups in that South Pacific country. New Tribes Mission officials say the Roa (row like “cow”) people are asking them to begin translating the Bible into their language. The Igom (ee-GAHM) people have also made a request. They’re asking New Tribes to send missionaries to teach them about Christ. Agency officials say there’s a great spiritual thirst, but not enough missionaries to fill the need.
We begin today in Ecuador where the government has called for a national day off in an attempt to diffuse a national strike today. HCJB’s Jim Ferrier explains the strike was called on the second anniversary of a former president’s ouster. That has tensions boiling. “Several social groups there have organized a multi-faceted protest against the government’s economic policies. So the military has been activated to try to keep protesters from blocking major highways with burning tires and 12-thousand police officers will be trying to limit damage by strikers.” Ferrier says although HCJB’s broadcast and hospital workers were officially advised to stay home, many of them will do whatever it takes to report to work because… “It lets them [the people] know that our people take the ministry very seriously, that they care about the country…and have been doing for almost 70 years there, reaching out to the people of that country to say we love you and Jesus is the answer for what this country needs.”
Next, a recent change in the law books in Greece could spell trouble for non-European missionaries. Wayne Ritchie is an independent missionary ministering with his family there. He explains… “It used to be that when we’d go into Greece, we’d get three-month visas and then would have to renew them by crossing over into Italy and then going back again the next day or two days later. But now, when you cross over to Italy, it’s not like leaving Greece, because it’s all one nation…so now, they’re closing their borders on all the foreigners that are living within the countries.” Ritchie says the law could be disruptive to mission work. “It’s going to greatly effect Americans because, whereas many of them have visas for a year, now they only get visas for six months…and whereas before they could cross over to another country and turn around and come back again, now they have to be out of the country for six months, so it’s going to disrupt a lot of missionary activity.” The Ritchies are staying at D & D Missionary Homes in Florida while they are in the United States. They return to Greece in May.
Bible Translators are asking people to pray as they begin contacting an Aztec people group for the first time in two years. Wycliffe Bible Translators’ Dave Mason says these people haven’t been open to them, so they’ve held off making contact with them until now. Mason recently discovered a Mexican church has been working with the group for some four years and believes there may be some believers there. Mason hopes to make contact with them Saturday.
Meanwhile, an evangelical missions group is translating scripture portions for use among the Mnong people in Vietnam. Brother Paul of Asian Minorities Outreach says much of the Mnong Bible translation work was destroyed when the communists when they took over two decades ago. “We’re not printing a whole Bible, but we have found that there’s about 500 scriptures that were saved from the 1970’s as well as a large collection of hymns and songs. And, so the Mnong believers asked us if we can print these books which contain very sound theology.” Brother Paul says these scripture portions will have a huge impact on the church there. “Many tribal languages in Asia the believers there don’t really learn God’s word so much by reading big books, or by listening to preaching, but they best learn by singing worship songs that contain God’s word.” Paul says as the Mnong sing the songs, they’re able to introduce people to Christ. A-M-O is hoping to raise some 20-thousand-dollars for the project.
We begin today in Sierra Leone where Christian workers have suffered due to the fighting that has continued in the area. Christian Reformed Church World Missions’ Paul Kortenhoven says a new rebel offensive has unleashed a wave of violence that has swept up some of their workers. “Unfortunately, one of our own, a Sierra Leonian employee, of our mission called CES, Christian Extension Services, was killed by gunfire by the rebels on the 23rd. We had another staff member, our senior accountant, a man in his sixties, who was attacked by a machete, trying to kill him as well, but he survived. In the last month, it’s been a horrendous scene in Freetown.” CRWM has tried unsuccessfully to get supplies into Sierra Leone. When asked what else Christians could do to help, Kortenhoven said… “I think that they should be reminded to just pray for a cease fire and pray for peace-but also remember the thousands of Christians in the country who are trying to survive on bare minimums.”
Next, a food shortage in Tanzania is causing problems for the people. Grace Ministry International’s Sam Vinton, Junior says last season’s harvest was destroyed by too much rain…but things look better this year. “Hopefully, in the next four or five months, when the next crop comes in, they’ll be able to do well because we understand that the rains are not as bad this time of the year as they were last year. Because of the hunger, people are going out in gangs, attacking other people by stealing what they have. This hunger business has turned some of the people into actual bandits.” Vinton says oddly, the famine has led to evangelism. “It has given us opportunities where our missionaries have been able to go into some of the villages and especially where we have pastors, and try to help them out-it has opened up the possibilities, I think, of people listening to us more because they see that the church and the mission are concerned about their physical needs.”
Death threats have become more commonplace in Indonesia during the last several months of chaos. However, The Mustard Seed’s Gary Parker says that doesn’t mean they’re taken lightly. “We take them seriously. These are Indonesians threatening Indonesians. We know, last year for example, we had three attempted attacks on our main campus in South Kalimantan…so, these are very real threats that they receive.” Parker asks that other believers pray and find a way to get involved. He expects that the crisis will strengthen the testimony of the church in Indonesia. “Indonesian Christians have always been people who’ve demonstrated their love by the way that they help their neighbors, in spite of all the difficulties. I’m sure that that is going to continue.” The recent violence adds to the mounting lawlessness sweeping the area which is grappling with the country’s worst economic and political crisis in thirty years.