Next, it’s been 12 months since the bombing ended in Kosovo, but the needs of that predominately Muslim people have not faded. International Aid’s Jerry Kitchel says, initially, they helped with emergency aid. However, on his recent visit I-A dedicated a new health clinic, which will help in two ways. “When people come to hospital and the clinics and they need physical assistance, often times that provides us with an opportunity to talk to them about Christ. Although there’s a great deal of attention to the whole rebuilding effort there’s a tremendous hunger for the Gospel.” While financial support is needed, Kitchel is encouraging people to pray for the ethnic bitterness that exists. “We need to pray that God will just break those strong holds, and touch hearts. And, that we will see more and more ethnic Albanians and Serbians come into a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Headlining today’s news North Korea is keeping its dubious honor of being one of the worst countries supporting persecution of Christians. According to Mike Yoder of Open Doors Ministries the government is killing Christians. “Our folks have found with some good authority that at least 23 believers have been put to death in public by firing squad since October of last year. A very alarming trend. We found the majority of those believers that fit this category are first generation Christians.” According to Yoder these Martyred believers received Christ in China after fleeing the incredible famine and economic trouble in North Korea. “Then felt the call to go back to North Korea to evangelize their own. They’re in particular danger because they haven’t ever lived as a Christian before in North Korea and really don’t know how to carry out God’s work in a place like North Korea and still protect yourself.”
Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, armed black squatters have seized more than one-thousand white-owned farms and 13 people, mostly opposition supporters, have been killed. However, according to SIM’s Jim Pfiffer, the violence has not had a direct impact on their work. “Our work amongst the Zimbabweans goes on as normal, but we’re all affected by the increased tenseness. We’re just before a time of election in May and some believe that part of this occupation of the farms has a link to the elections.” Pfiffer says there’s real uncertainty about the future of ministry in that country. “Are we going to have a country where we’re going to be able to minister freely? Are we going to have a time where we can come out of this with peace? Because the country’s polarized over this issue it has potential for division amongst Christians. We’re just praying that, that won’t take place.”
American Leprosy Mission’s work is continuing in Ethiopia despite a severe famine there. ALM’s Chris Doyle says most of the world’s leprosy cases are in that country, where eight-million people are currently affected by malnutrition. Doyle says they’re not just treating leprosy patients. “Doing a lot of rehabilitation work particularly in the area of literacy and education for children of leprosy affected people. As we go into areas and we’re offering community based rehabilitation health care programs, one of the questions we always encounter is, why are you doing this?” Doyle says that’s how friendships are developed and when they can share a true salvation message. “That just opens the door to say, well, we’re doing it in Christ’s name because he’s called us to do this kind of mission work. And, conversations develop and obviously there’s an open door to sharing the Gospel there.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, more than 400 churches in North Dakota and western Minnesota are supporting the Luis Palau crusade and “Celebration 2000”. Palau has preached at nine events over the past two weeks with the crusades concluding this week in Fargo. Besides the crusades and luncheons, Palau will also have the opportunity to host a live television call-in program. Palau found the residents to be very religious and reminded his audiences that being religious is not the same as being born again. Several hundred have made public decisions for Christ.
We begin today in the Philippines where the hostage situation is forcing mission groups to curtail their work in the south. Dennis Maves with the Christian and Missionary Alliance says they’re trying to evangelize the unreached Yakan (YAH-kahn), Tausug (TOW-suhg) and Samal (sahm-ahl) peoples. “But, at the moment, because it’s not safe we’re drawing many of our workers into safer places. So, we’re not able to do front line work like we used to. And, so much of our work that we’re doing now is through different teams.” Maves says indigenous teams are sharing the Gospel since western missionaries are targets. He explains why the violence is happening. “It’s because of those who have infiltrated into the area and stirred them up and many of them have come from the Afghan war and the Pakistani Muslim factions that have infiltrated through the Philippine backdoor and funded the rebelion.”
Meanwhile, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to help disciple Christians in China. That’s the word from China Partner’s Erik Burklin. Burklin is participating in theological training there this week. However, Burklin says it hasn’t been easy getting there. “Because of the increase of more and more evangelical groups going to China wanting to help the church in China that always has to be answered to by, to the government. So, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to get permission sometimes even to the point of, like in our case, we have been restricted with the amount of time that we can teach.” According to Burklin, because of the lack of theological education cults are forming in large numbers. “So many are coming to know Christ with lack of good evangelical training and discipleship because there are not enough pastors to do that. And, so many veer off and misinterpret a verse here and there and before you know it you have another cult.” Pray that more education will be available in the months ahead.
Homeless children in Brazil and under aged prostitutes in Costa Rica are just two reasons Latin America Mission is participating in the Viva Network’s Worldwide Day of Prayer for Children at Risk June 3rd. Ken MacHarg reports. “Organizers expect participants of the day of prayer to be better informed and motivated to address problems of children in the streets, exploited child labor, and sexual exploitation throughout Latin America. LAM missionaries are also concerned about children who are at risk spiritually and are including Bible studies and evangelistic presentations as part of their outreach. Meanwhile, LAM ministries in the region are lifting dozens of opportunities for short term and permanent missionary service working with children on the streets of Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries. For Mission Network News, I’m Ken MacHarg in Miami.”
Next, Spiritual revival isn’t happening in the United States. According to Religion Today, research by George Barna says If spiritual revival were occurring, you’d see increasing levels of interest in a relationship with God, church involvement, and in commitment to the Christian faith. However, Barna says none of those are evident. He says if revival was happening among teenagers you’d see their levels of unselfish living, modest lifestyle and integrity surpassing adults. But, Barna says that’s not happening either. Pray that God will bring a revival to the United States.
Ethiopia is where we begin today as eight million people face malnutrition. Three years of drought is causing the famine, which is being compared to 1984 where one-million people died. World Concern’s Tom LePage is in Africa and says a repeat of that death toll can be avoided. “There is a different government in place and they have a different attitude toward aid. There’s much more private aid going to private organizations. It is not being done on a bilateral or government to government basis as much. And, therefore, being able to target the people in the greatest need is much easier this time around.” However, it can’t be avoided if Christians don’t get involved. He says donations help keep people alive physically and spiritually. “We’ve contacts that would allow us to be present on the ground and to use local capacity to respond to the physical needs as well as put people in place that could share the Gospel in many different ways.”