Meanwhile, over one-thousand people joined together to celebrate the Centenary of Mukti Church in India. Ramabai Mukti Mission says the four-day celebration included a challenge from the keynote speaker to totally commit to serving Christ and continue building God’s church. Mukti missionaries and evangelists in recent years have planted a number of churches and worship centers and seen many people makes decisions for Christ. Another highlight of the festivities was the dedication of the new Centenary Hall.
We begin today in Indonesia’s East Timor, where violence in the wake of an independence vote has begun to settle down. However, getting things back to normal is another matter. Compassion International’s Maryann Strombitski says: “The infrastructure has been totally ripped apart. They basically have no civil rule of their own right now, fresh food is hard to find, potable water is very hard to come by. Many of our church partners have not been able to return. A few of the children who we were serving have been separated from their parents.” Strombitski asks that Christians pray for their work during this time of change. “Pray that each of these children or parents who have not been able to be reunited as yet that this will be resolved in the next few months. Those who have returned, we continue to let them know that they have the hope and their faith in Christ that He is a constant in all of this [turmoil].”
Next, while a peace accord has been signed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, violence is still plaguing the country. According to reports, hundreds and possibly thousands of Zimbabwean troops are surrounded by rebels and under bombardment in the northeast. Despite the violence, Food For the Hungry’s John Farmer is traveling there today. “We’re going to an area around two towns, Kalimi and Moba. And, we’re going to be distributing seeds and tools to around 80,000 people over the next seven weeks. The area’s just become peaceful enough for people to return. And so, they need some help getting going again.” Farmer says they don’t team up with just anyone, as they’re hoping to further the Great Commission. “We can work through the church, and that’s how we like to work. In the areas that we’ve been working in for the last few years we’ve worked through the church. That’s our preferred method of operation.” Farmer says the new fighting shouldn’t affect their work areas.
The Baptist World Alliance has been invited to hold their year 2001 annual meeting in Beirut. BWA says Lebanon’s President used the invitation to emphasize the religious freedom under the law for different faiths. In area where the religious majority is Muslim, there are 22 churches and 2,000 Baptists practicing their faith. BWA reports there is also a Baptist Seminary that has 55 students from all across the Middle East. As BWA’s work continues to grow, they ask for continued prayer for Lebanon’s peace.
Meanwhile, as the popularity of short-term missionary work increases in the United States, at least one couple is preparing teams to go to the field. George Kibler and his wife will be joining the Christian Retreat Center in Northern Pennsylvania helping with Teens In Missionary Service. He explains how they’re assisting. “The work involved at the camp is, as the teams come in to orient them, to train them, put them through a difficult program to prepare for the difficulties of working in rural subculture types of programs. And, preparing them for witness and help them to share the message with their home congregations when they come back again.” Kibler says participation in short term missions is increasing every year. He’s hoping that through this program many teens will get involved with full time evangelistic activity whether it be at home or abroad. Kibler is staying at D&D Missionary Homes in Florida, while on furlough.
We begin today in India where Christian workers helping in the cyclone-ravaged areas of Orissa state are reporting trouble from radical Hindus. However, Peter Dance of Operation Mobilization says the harassment extends beyond the relief areas. He believes it stems from a threatened upper class. “For thousands of years, the high caste people have ruled the country, and through the missionary work, the lower caste people are being empowered by education, and therefore, the ruling class is beginning to lose its power base and are persecuting because they don’t want to lose their power base.” Dance adds that the body of Christ is heavily involved. “We’re working hand in hand with churches in the U-S to bring aid to these people. We actually have probably 150 people in one particular area, focusing on those (cyclone-damaged) villages to bring the love of Christ, of course, but also what they desperately need. It’s very exciting to be part of what God is doing there.”
Elsewhere, New Tribes Mission is reporting several disasters in Papua New Guinea. Missionary have sent accounts of three major landslides in the area, a strong offshore earthquake in the north coast with aftershocks coupled with several medical emergencies. NTM officials ask that believers pray for the missionaries in PNG as they continue to reach the people with the hope of Christ following the incidents. They also ask prayer for medical workers who are in more remote locations, because supplies and help are scarce.
Years of civil war in Liberia has left the country decimated and looking for answers. Feeding the Starving Children is an evangelical humanitarian relief group. Richard Sandbatch describes the situation there. “A person flies in to Monrovia and they see devastation. They go into the city and building are burned out. You see the land has been raped and ravaged. That’s what people see – the total devastation of an economy and of the land.” According to Sandbatch the people of Liberia need everything – clothing, shelter, food and the message of the Gospel. He says Feeding Starving Children will be using food as a way to share the Gospel. “That’s our main focus is to see a spiritual rebirth as well an economy as well as an economy as well as the children being nourished and back to health, a healthy population of people.”
Meanwhile, Colombia continues to struggle in the throes of birthing a peace process. Christians have been experiencing more violence against them causing their work to suffer. But, Back to the Bible’s Dave Hansen says: “We’re dealing with a civil war that’s been going on for forty years and some say as many as 35-thousand people have been killed in the last decade. It’s in that turmoil that ministry is taking place-there are those that are working among prisons…Back to the Bible’s Spanish ministry is transmitting programs on 199 stations throughout Latin America.” Hansen compares the spiritual climate in Colombia to that of another persecuted church. “It’s a little bit like China. While turmoil is taking place, God is at work. There obviously is fear, but at the same time, at least among the nationals, I’m finding that it is a church that has taken advantage of the opportunities and has had great response.”
U.S. President Bill Clinton has signed a bill giving him the power to send food aid to Sudanese rebels. For 16 years, Sudan’s Islamic government in the north has been fighting Christians in the South, plaguing the country with economic and political problems. Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton shares his thoughts on the change. “As the details of how the food will be delivered and so forth, is worked out, we’ll have a lot clearer picture of what it’ll actually mean for John Q. Christian in South Sudan. Already the United Nations has expressed some concern that their planes and their aid people will become targets because they’ll get confused with Americans who are providing aid to soldiers.” So, Nettleton asks for prayer as the events continue to unfold. “There is a lot of repercussions that could happen. In the past, the northern government has controlled the delivery of aid and used it as a weapon against different parts of the country. We feel like it’s definitely a positive step to help the Christians in south Sudan.”