We begin today with a continued look at evangelical ministry in Tibet with a look at persecution facing Tibetans and Christians in the country. MNN’s Greg Yoder is in Tibet and files this report. “Chinese occupation is having both positive and negative implications when it comes to ministry in Tibet. International Aid’s Ralph Plumb says the Chinese military are everywhere. “Every meal at this hotel that we stayed at had someone at our elbow listening. Many of us had phones and computer email traffic monitored or affected somehow. All of our ministry contacts that we have were hyper cautious about their work here and they told stories of Christians being expelled from the country.” However, Plumb says this could actually be good for this country steeped in Buddhism. “In this last generation, because of the Chinese occupation, they’ve raise the last generation under atheistic communism. It’s left a kink in the armor of the Buddhist world view and so it really is in fact a very opportune time for Christian witness in Tibet.” Greg Yoder, Mission Network News, Tibet.”
Next, we turn to this coming Sunday which has been designated “The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church”. Open Doors’ Terry Madison says: “We anticipate well over 100-thousand churches in America this year will join with the body of Christ worldwide in prayer for the persecuted church. It would be my hope that the pastor would preach about suffering and the fact that it is part of God’s economy.” Madison says it is important to participate because it brings encouragement and hope to others. More importantly, he hopes: “…that we remember those who are in bonds and who suffer for their faith. We look forward to people in the pew, and the pastors in the pulpit to offer praise and thanks to the Lord for those who do suffer for their faith, and to intercede on their behalf.” The top five countries on Open Door’s World Watch list are: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, China and Yemen.
Haitian Christians in the Dominican Republic are facing deportation at the hands of the government. We get details in this report from Mission Network News’ Ruth Bliss. “Christian Reformed World Missions’ Dick Van der Vorst says the church is made up of mostly Haitian migrant workers, and the news is troublesome. However, their faith remains strong. “This is a people that have endured a lot of hardship and their whole lives are filled with struggles. And so, I think they take this all in stride; these kind of reports come out frequently, although I think this time it may be more serious than before.” The deportation reports follow allegations of human rights abuses in the Dominican Republic-something the government denies. Van der Vorst says not only would deportation disrupt the church, it would also break up families and place more hardship on the people. The CRWM is involved with leadership training of national pastors and giving them instruction in teaching the church. Reporting for Mission Network News, I’m Ruth Bliss.”
Meanwhile, World Servants reports the impact from short-term mission trips this year. So far, they say there have been more than four hundred decisions made for Christ as a result of the outreaches around the world. The multi-cultural organization has used short-term mission projects to introduce Christians to various missionary work as well as sharing the Gospel in various cultures. This year, more than six dozen communities were impacted by new churches, schools and homes that were built or repaired by the short-term mission groups.
We begin today in the deluged areas of Vietnam where the disaster is being called the flood of the century. Torrential rains have left hundreds hungry and homeless as they fight to survive. Far East Broadcasting Company’s Ai Nguyen (eye nwen). “They say that this is one of the worst in the last 50 years. They have reported that [there are] over 500 people dead and the loss of property is very great. The road system and railroad systems are so damaged so the relief work is very slow” Nguyen says that the situation there is critical and they’re doing their best to encourage people. “Right now, we are not in the land but we put announcements on the air to people in that area of Central Vietnam because most of the people there are our listeners-listening to our programs through the years…so we sent over the air a word of comfort and also call other churches to try to help out brothers and sisters in that area.” So far, they believe all members of the local churches survived the flooding and are actively involved in relief efforts.
Meanwhile, volcanic activity in Ecuador is on the rise, with the energy creating concern in both Quito and Banos (bahn-yos). Quito remains on yellow alert, while Banos’ residents have been evacuated and the city is on orange alert. What all this means for HCJB’s work, Roger Reimer explains. “The way that Mount Tungurahua’s (nearest Banos) eruption has effected our ministries there is that the road that goes to our jungle hospital has been closed. So, our missionary staff has been unable to get in and out, and patients aren’t able to get to the hospital.” Reimer says Mount Pichincha (near Quito) has been spewing ash, but so far, has not affected radio broadcast work from the towers. He says they could still use prayer: “We have a health care ministry that is also involved in disaster relief efforts. We are trying to assist the people that have been evacuated out of Banos. We’re endeavoring to reflect Jesus Christ to those people in a time of need.”
Day three of our investigation into the status of the church in Tibet is bring some sobering information. MNN’s Greg Yoder is traveling there with International Aid and files this report. “Peter, today we discovered just how difficult it is to do minnistry in this country steeped in Buddhism and is occupied and controled by China. International Aid’s Ralph Plumb explains the difficulty. “You have multiple challenges. The shear distance and remoteness of this country. The imposed Chinese restrictions on all levels of society and operation. And then a very, very small Christian presence in a dominate Buddhist presence all of which call for a great deal of prayer.” Plumb explains why this country is so important to International Aid. “The Tibetan people are one of 132 gateway people groups that still need to be reached with the Gospel. They call them gateway groups because they’re influential throughout other tribal areas.” Greg Yoder, Mission Network News, Tibet.”
Next, a harassed Turkmen pastor is due to go on trial today. Compass Direct says Pastor Rahim Tashov fears the case against him will center on the Sunday School program he provides for children in Turkmenistan. Believers are asked to pray over the increasing persecution being reported. Over the past few months children and their parents have been harassed by police, several members of the church have been fined and threatened, and the church has tried unsuccessfully to seek registration.
Due to the conditions facing believers in India, the agency we spoke with about our lead story on today’s broadcast has requested that they remain anonymous. They have also requested that Mission Network News not put the text of the story on our website. Thank you for your understanding.
Elsewhere, the International Bible Society is reporting that Nepal is more open than ever before to the Gospel. IBS’ PLN Murthy (murt-ee) says that he has heard the reports of persecution against Christians, but feels that much of the difficulty lies in understanding the people there. “People within the country can do evangelism very openly because every Nepali citizen has a fundamental right to exercise their own religion and also their free conscience. Nepali Christians can easily do the outreach projects, but the country has strict regulations about foreigners preaching the Gospel.” Murthy says while things are going well for their projects, they still need the support from the body of Christ. “The best way to pray is to ask God to anoint the Scriptures that are being distributed right now. There are over two million homes located on the Himalayan mountaintops and that’s where we are trying to present a New Testament to every home.”