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.”
Elsewhere, a return to Cambodia’s infamous “Killing Fields” has provided an evangelistic ministry with a new field. Medical Ambassadors International’s Dr. Paul Calhoun explains. “This is a people who are in post-war trauma. We have a team of [Filipino] nationals who are called to Cambodia. We have a preventative health care coupled with evangelism, which is done in a community development style where the community takes ownership for participating in their own healing process.” Calhoun says the Cambodian team’s approach to their work is the basis on which the organization helps in other areas, as well. “We train evangelists and health workers within the community. We work with very fundamental things like teaching agriculture techniques, and micro-enterprise. It’s just very exciting for us to see how God is growing His kingdom throughout the world.”
Intense fighting in Sri Lanka has been fierce as of late in a16-year-old conflict that has claimed more than 58,000 lives. Trans World Radio’s Richard Greene says despite that: “We have been very fortunate at Trans World Radio to have been blessed with protection of our staff as well as our facilities that we utilize in island nation. We’re very thankful to the Lord for how He has given us a continued ministry without hindrance from Sri Lanka to the vast continent of India.” In fact, Greene adds that there are new developments. “We’re going to be dedicating a new transmitter and a new antennae system on December 9th and we certainly praise the Lord that He’s provided this system so that we can have a stronger, more effective ministry to India.”
Next, new drama and radio programs have proven an effective tool in reaching Russian children with the Gospel. Far East Broadcasting Company helped to produce the radio drama “Twelve Adventures in Staritsa”, following the adventures of three Russian children as they deal with issues such as friendships, school and faith. The drama series is the first of its kind in Russia to mix a variety of social and spiritual topics with a strong underlying Christian theme. Its popularity has resulted in a book and plans for future radio programs.
We begin today in China where the persecution of outspoken Christians is nearly as prominent as those preaching the Gospel. Voice of the Martyr’s Todd Nettleton just returned from a trip to China. He gives more details. “Pastor Li (De Xian) was arrested on Tuesday as he was preaching again at the village service in Huadu. This time, he has been transferred to the prison in Guangzhou, which is a lot more serious.” Nettleton says Pastor Li, along with many other believers, is not discouraged by suffering. He compared him to the Apostle Paul. “There’s a man who’s dead to self and alive in Christ. He was totally unbowed by the thought of going to jail the next day. His attitude was if they took him to jail, he’d preach in the jail, and if they let him go, he’d preach at the service. When we said, “What can Americans do?”, every one of the pastors, the first thing out of their mouth was, “Pray for us.”‘