Next, we turn to Saudi Arabia where we get news that thirteen Filipino Christians have been released from custody. International Christian Concern reports the group was detained for 24 days because of their Christian faith. The group was arrested because they were considered to be key leaders in two house churches. However, their ordeal is not over. The group has been given ten days to make preparations before being deported. Saudi Arabia tops Open Doors’ list of the countries most known for persecution of Christians.
Despite celebrating 10 years of freedom next month, mission groups are asking people to pray for evangelical ministry in the former Soviet Union. Next week will be the anniversary of the Iron Curtain falling. New Hope International’s Rei Abrudan (ray AH-broo-dan) conducts youth ministry training in Romania. He says a lot has changed in 10 years. “If I have to try to describe ministry in those times it was high quality, but very low quantity. Now, the quantity of ministry is huge. Like, the churches are involved in all sorts of ministries.” However, the now quality of ministry is lacking. Abrudan says there is a great need of youth ministry training. “Our closest goal is to go in those churches that are opening their doors to help develop their area of youth ministry. Then, there is a huge need for training youth workers. There is no school in Romania that is doing training for youth workers or youth ministers. In Romania there is only one youth pastor that is paid by the church.”
Elsewhere, Adventures in Missions is embarking on a trip this week that will not only help people in Mexico, but also re-shape lives and attitudes toward missions outreach. AIM’s Seth Barnes explains. “The thing that impacts people more than anything else is the opportunity to minister to those who have fallen upon hard times, and are hopeless, and to bring them the hope that Jesus Christ offers. Then, through that, to see that God can use them to impact lives, and as they impact lives, they become turned on to the Great Commission.” Barnes says the impact of the trip is surprising because: “They don’t have much opportunity to get out there and live the life of a missionary, but, when they do, they get out of their comfort zone, and they’re forced to re-invent themselves. It can be a shattering experience where they come back and they can’t live their life in the same way-they’ve been a part of Jesus’ Great Commission, and they’ve got to view everything as new and different.”
Topping today’s news, efforts to deliver aid to India’s cyclone-ravaged state of Orissa are increasing even as violence breaks out in areas where storm victims have gone four days without aid. As the country’s infrastructure reportedly crumbles under the strain, Operation Mobilization’s Peter Dance says they are mounting their response to the crisis. “Our teams are going to go in there as soon as we can. Pray, not only for our O-M teams, there’s several other organizations…because the devastation is massive. They say it’s probably the worst in 30-odd years. We want to raise as much money as we can for food, blankets, wells and also coverings.” Dance says the teams are looking forward to the opportunity to minister to the storm victims. He adds: “We go in to a place like that with food, with blankets, with shelter, and some clean water. Basically we’re showing, and we’re not frightened of sharing the fact that in Jesus’ name, we send this to them; in that way, we’re exhibiting the love of Christ.”
Next, five men have been charged with assassinating the Armenian Prime Minister and seven other government officials. The attack in parliament last week left those with ministries in the country discreetly watching the conditions. The Bridge International’s R.K. Ulrich gives this take on the situation. “It seems that there was dissatisfaction over the corruption in the country, and this group of men basically wanted to overthrow the government. I don’t think it will have an immediate effect on the work, because it is not really a fight against Christians. [But] whenever there is instability, it makes it difficult for everybody, including the church.” Ulrich says despite political troubles, their ministry is seeing fruit. “There is a new surge of people coming out of the old Communist isolationism. There has been a tremendous interest among young people who see a form of Christianity that is attractive because it’s more life-oriented.”
Teaching parenting skills is a tool being used to share the Gospel with parents in the United States. Dick Russell works with Answers for Life, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. Russell says the program, Raising Great Kids was held recently in San Jose, California. “The material presented, of course, meets a felt need in both Christians and non-Christians alike. So, we find that as we promote it to Christians in that way, that it’s an outreach event where they can bring non-Christians to it, hear great teaching on the subject of raising great kids, at the same time hear a good presentation of the Gospel.” Russell says 15 people indicated they came to Christ during the conference. He explains how they follow up. “Our host church divides those up among their folks and they do initial and individual follow up to those people. Where possible we try to follow up with a phone call and a visit if they’re interested.”
Meanwhile, chronological teaching of the Bible is having an incredible impact on people in at least one village in Papua New Guinea. New Tribes Mission officials began the initiative more than five months ago among the Malaumandan (muhl-ah-MAHN-duhn) people. Just a few days ago they began teaching the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Missionaries say after the two hour presentation many came to Christ. Officials say of the local population of comprehendible age, 50-percent have turned to Christ.
We begin today in India’s Orissa State, where devastation from a monster storm has left more than one-million people homeless and has taken hundreds of lives. Food for the Hungry’s Asia director Dwight Vogt (vote). “This particular cyclone is the strongest of the century. The flooding has washed away large areas. fields have been wiped out. Crops have been leveled. All of those types of things appear to have been destroyed in large areas.” Food for the Hungry is gearing up to help those effected by the storm. They’re supplying resources to the church in India to help those in need. Vogt says it’s being done this way to help the church become more effective in evangelism. “And to many, it’s just a demonstration of love. It’s being a Christian and being up front and helping. And, at a time when the church is under scrutiny and under persecution in India. I suspect this is a very important and wonderful way to get involved in people’s lives. And, we’re just pleased that we can help make this possible.” To help in this emergency call 1-800-2-hunger.
Next, according to Religion Today an arrest has been made in the murder of missionary Graham Staines. Staines, along with his two sons, was killed in January after a mob set their car on fire. The suspect, Andha Naik, is believed to be an associate of the accused ringleader of the mob that attacked the Staines family. The killing in Orissa state has been linked to Hindu radicals. They accused missionaries of trying to win converts by offering inducements, a charge the missionaries deny.
Mission groups in the United States are having a difficult time replacing missionaries ending work in the field. Missionary data indicates as five people return from the field through retirement or other reasons, only one takes their place. Action International’s Marvin Graves explains why. “My experience has been that it’s hard to find those who want to commit to a lifetime, or a career, like some of us who started out in the 50’s. We never thought of just short term. We made commitments for life. Many of the folks these days they think more of short term.” Graves says Action has many needs. “We’re needing missionaries in all the fields we’re working in. We have requests from our missionaries for many more workers for just about every job description you can think of. We’re just needing over 170 missionaries at this time.” The United States is quickly falling from the top missionary sending countries in the world.