We begin today’s newscast in Venezuela where the loss of life isn’t the only problem facing to people of that South American country. Bill Gwyer is with New Tribes Mission. He just returned home to the United States and says travel or shipping in and out of the country is at a stand-still. “It’s already effecting New Tribes because we’ve got people that are coming in and going out. It’s going to affect everybody for the next good month. They expect the main airport to be closed down for a whole month, so it’s going to be a real challenge just for us to get back to the country.” Gwyer and his wife are staying at D & D Missionary Homes in Florida. He says evangelism will be difficult during this time. “The physical needs up there in Caracas are so great that everybody is being utilized just to help out in some many ways. In that capacity there’s the great opportunity to share the word. But right now, just trying to get into the city is a major thing with the roads being out.”
Meanwhile, a snowstorm of historic proportions didn’t stop evangelicals from helping the needy in the Balkan region. World Hope’s Joel Samy and his team handed out Boxes of Hope to orphaned children in Bosnia and Croatia. “These boxes were individually wrapped and given by families in the states, but most importantly we’ve been able to include Christian material from Child Evangelism Fellowship and also the God Cares about your Cares booklet. This was all done during the worst snow storm that has hit this central Bosnian region recorded this century.” Samy says five feet of snow feel in a short period of time, causing one of their vehicles to slide off the road into a land-mine zone. Despite that, he’s thankful for the response from these Muslim people. “It’s really special to see these children start opening the Christian material and then start reading the material word by word. So, we are delighted by the response of these children have toward spiritual things.”
Team members of Greater Europe Mission continue their commitment of showing God’s love to the people of Kosovo. “Project Maranatha” uses volunteer members and area pastors in offering acts of compassion. The group has been trying to help re-build homes for war victims in the capitol of Pristina. Especially needy are the people who are physically and mentally handicapped as they are considered outcasts.
Next, Christians throughout the world are asked to pray and remember those who are still denied religious freedom and are persecuted for the faith. Baptist World Alliance has joined with others in protesting the arrest of Baptist pastors, refusal of authorities to register churches and the physical destruction of church building. BWA says authorities in Turkmenistan use tactics that claim the pastors were jailed for legitimate criminal activity.
Topping today’s news, Venezuelan troops began the dig-out process in a coastal area devastated by one of Latin America’s worst mudslides. Food for the Hungry’s Matt Panos (PAN-ohs) says the mudslides and raging rivers swept away shantytowns and left the area in a sea of rock-hard debris. Panos tells us what they’re doing to help. “God has opened an opportunity for us to serve the poor through our connections with those in the United States who are willing to give us services, goods and funds and we act as God’s hands and feet to bring those things to the people of Venezuela who need it. Food for the Hungry has sent a container, about $285,000 dollars’ worth of food, clothes and supplies.” Panos adds: “We, as Christians, need to be praying that they will find shelter and warmth, and we also need to be praying that God’s will strengthen the relief efforts from all over the globe for this area of northern Venezuela.”
Meanwhile, International Aid is encouraging believers to be global Christians in this aid effort to Venezuela. I-A’s Jerry Dykstra says sending relief supplies to the victims presents Christians a unique opportunity. “This is the 11th major disaster this year. So, there are so many needs out there and we just have to show compassion to the people who have been hit by the disaster. We just appreciate so much the people that have responded to our call for help. That’s really being global Christians and I really feel that’s what God wants us to be.” According to Dykstra they’re sending their first container of supplies today. “Initially our response will be sending blankets, medicine, food and hygiene kits and those hygiene kits will be such items as tooth paste, tooth brushes, towels, and those will be shipped there as soon as today quite possibly.” Dykstra says it’s all being done in an effort to lead people to Christ.
Evangelicals hope that providing physical necessities will open doors to share the Gospel with Chechen Muslims this Christmas. Baptist World Aid, the aid organization of Baptist World Alliance, is partnering with members of the Central Baptist Church in Tbilisi, Georgia. They’re helping refugees forced from their homes because of the war with Russia. Funds have been provided to ship food and clothes. Additionally, a container of new winter clothing is being sent in conjunction with Matthew 25 Ministries in the United States.
Next, while children around the world get ready to celebrate Christmas with their family, many children won’t have that opportunity. Bethany Christian Services’ Sharon LaNoue (la-new) says there a many older special needs children that will spend it alone. “In the United States there are over 110,000 children just waiting for families to be identified for them. And, these tend to be older children. Because the children have been through the abuse and neglect system many of them come with some emotional difficulties.” LaNoue says they’re looking specifically for Christian families to help. “Those are the families that by far do the best with adoption. And, they see it not only taking in a child to take care of their physical needs, but really to expose them to Christ and to show on a day-to-day basis what it is like to live as a Christian.”
We begin today in Venezuela where the death toll from mudslides and flash floods could be as high as 30,000. Officials believe the staggering numbers of the victims could make the disaster one of Latin America’s worst natural disasters of the 20th century. Trans World Radio’s Jim Munger describes the scene: “Estimates are that about 90-percent of the population was affected, houses destroyed, apartment buildings that had mud and water up to the third floor, and so forth-just massive destruction. There’s state of panic, of despair-and so Trans World Radio is trying to help to bring people back together to direct them to where they can find help.” Munger says it is in this crisis, that an avenue for ministry is clear. ” There are very few voices that are giving the Christian perspective on this and so,Trans World Radio is trying to provide a perspective that helps people understand ‘What’s God doing in all of this?’ Certainly, the most important thing is our prayers. In this kind of a situation, there are some people that are saying ‘Why?'”
Next, we continue our coverage of the devastation left behind by flooding and mudslides in Venezuela. The disaster has reportedly wiped out whole towns and left thousands dead. Latin America Mission’s Ken MacHarg tells us how the churches are responding: “LAM Missionary Charles Fuller has been taking food and water to towns where thousands are homeless, while churches are relocating people whose homes have been washed away. “Churches are cooperating now to help the people who are refugees in different stadiums here in the city, trying to provide childcare for children who are having to live day after day in these places. They are also doing counseling.” The Latin America Mission says it will immediately channel funds for Venezuelan relief to missionaries on the field. Long term care will involve counseling, relocation and evangelism. For Mission Network News, I’m Ken MacHarg.”