We begin today in Sierra Leone where evangelistic ministry to children is being hampered by continued fighting. Christian Reformed Church World Mission’s Paul Kortenhoven says thousands of children have been kidnapped, indoctrinated and pressed into fighting. That puts them on the path to murder. (KORTENHOVEN: 11) The worst of the killers and butchers are always the younger. And so you literally have 12, 13 year-old mass murderers running around. Our staff member was killed by a teen age soldier last week. (BROOKS: 04) CRWM has also had workers attacked. Kortenhoven says efforts to turn those teens around have been hindered. (KORTENHOVEN:21) A group called Children Affected by War, our group and a group called The Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone, the Mennonites, all of us are involved in trauma counseling and reconciliation, but because of security right now we’re unable to be on the ground and our staff can’t either. There are mechanisms to help, but the fighting has got to stop before we can really do something.
(BROOKS:13) Next, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan opens what promises to be a volatile and violent season of political campaigning that culminates with the election of a president in Indonesia. We asked The Mustard Seed’s Gary Parker how this might effect evangelistic work. (PARKER:20) Pray particularly for the Indonesian election, because that is going to be a crucial election that will determine the kind of country Indonesia becomes. If the radicals take over, there will be violence for three to five years at least. If the moderates manage to retain control, then Indonesia may be able to recover and get back on a path for development. (BROOKS:04) Parker says the unrest brewing has also made some areas more dangerous than others for Christians. (PARKER:18) Two weeks ago, our director for South and Central Kalimantan, told me that he had been visited by an extremist from another religion who had suggested to him that his school and church might be burned down and he probably would be killed if he didn’t stop his Christian witnessing.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is sharing Christ’s love through aiding earthquake victims in Colombia. The group is working with Lutheran World Relief and area churches to purchase and distribute food for those in need. Additional funds are being used for the most critical needs including shelter, medicines, transportation and clean-up material. Relief organizations continue to find it a challenge due to the poor conditions of area roads.
Throughout Africa, thousands of Christians are still without a Bible in their own language. Many are forced to rely on their memories after hearing the Gospel on the radio or through an evangelist. That situation has many mission groups actively working toward remedying the problem. SIM’s Mitch Mittower is in Benin, West Africa with a team of Bible translators. He says their work is involved and sometimes long in coming. “Nowadays, if everything can fall in place, we’re saying seven years-the language is pretty simple to break down and get into written form…and then from there, to be able to get all the phrases matched up.” Mittower says it is at this point where the process gets complex. “If someone has never heard of snow, you have to find an equivalent for it. In Benin, they would use something as white as cotton or something like that…but the process of just checking and re-checking is what takes the most amount of time.”
(BROOKS:12) We begin today in Colombia where looting and violence over relief has marked the days following an earthquake in Armenia. However, International Aid’s Fred Vandenbrand says they are confident their relief shipment will be fairly distributed because…
(VANDENBRAND:16)…we always contract with a partnership down there…and The Christian Mission Alliance is the one where airlifted items are going to go to. We never ship until we know that the shipment will be in the hands of a reliable source…and usually it’s a church or a church agency…(BROOKS:05)…which often leads to a chance to evangelize as well. Vandenbrand says the relief shipments began Monday. (VANDENBRAND:18) We’re sending an air shipment to Armenia and that’s going to be about 25-thousand dollars worth of medical supplies…and then right on the heels of that one, we’re sending a 40-foot sea container with approximately 90-thousand dollars worth, again, mostly medical supplies.
Next, a 1998 report shows two trends surrounding persecution of Christian around the world. The report by Open Doors shows Saudi Arabia still tops the list of the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. Terry Madison with Open Doors says the list includes the Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and China. However, Madison says there is also a growing trend of awareness of the problem by Christians in the free world. Madison says that awareness has prompted new initiatives to fight persecution for religious beliefs.
An American evangelist is making it financially possible for pastors to get the tools they need for evangelism. Mission Network News’ Greg Yoder wraps up his assignment from Andhra Pradesh state in India with this report. Evangelist Sammy Tippit of God’s Love in Action paid for more than eight-hundred pastors to participate in a conference recently in Andhra Pradesh, India. Tippit says most pastors just can’t afford to come. There’s very little resources and people are living in absolute poverty. Many of these pastors don’t get a monetary salary. What they get for their salary is they’ll give them some food or these guys , some of these guys will sweep the streets to make money just to live on. So, I mean, they’re just barely surviving. Tippit explains why they do it. We are going to try to get these pastors to do the evangelism-multiply what we would do a thousand times. Tippit says this is especially important since pastors are really in need of encouragement during these times of persecution. Greg Yoder, Andhra Pradesh, India.”
Elsewhere, a recent news report indicated that Eastern Europe’s abortion rate was one of the highest in the world. However, one evangelical mission group is trying to change that by reaching Romania’s young people with the truth. New Hope International’s Marius Abrudan explains. “We try to teach the youth how to prevent pregnancies rather than having abortions. We also include in our teaching curriculum lessons about sex and how to approach it from a Christian point of view.” Abrudan says part of the problem is very little information is available to help the young people through this stage of their life. He adds their work often opens the door for evangelism. “Everything that we present, we try to combine with a Biblical support. So, every time we discuss sex, it’s not just from a medical point of view, or purely scientific point of view, we also put the Bible in perspective and try to have them see what God intended for men and women and how they should relate to that.”
Our top story today comes from Sierra Leone, where fighting in Freetown has disrupted life. Lutheran Bible Translators’ Jim Laesch (lash) says although the sporadic battles have destroyed many buildings and taken many lives, they are thanking God for His protection. “The eastern portion of the city had a lot of rebel activity and that’s where a lot of the fighting, burning and destruction has been. We’re thankful that those that work with us in translation and literacy programs, to date, are known to be safe.” Laesch says their work has been temporarily suspended, but not halted. He asks that believers continue to pray. “We’re thankful that our office has been spared so far from any kind of destruction or looting. We know of other churches and mission groups where things have been lost. People, for the most part, are all displaced. They’re without anything. We are mobilizing to give some help to our workers and partners in the country.”
Next, a pastor’s conference in India left hundreds of church leaders full of hope and encouragement. Mission Network News’ Greg Yoder has been on assignment all week in Andhra Pradesh state in India. “Nearly one-thousand pastors are heading back to their villages today, excited about evangelism, and ready to encourage their church members to be missionaries. Sammy Tippit of God’s Love in Action completed the 5-day Andhra Pradesh pastor’s conference on revival and evangelism on Saturday. Pastor John Joseph of Hyderabad says because of what he learned, he’s going to be sharing the Gospel of Christ despite the persecution. I have been waiting at the feet of the Lord and praying and decided ‘why not?’ I go to those areas to comfort and encourage my own brethren in Christ…and again, to remind them to love our enemies, to win them–to pray and win them to the Lord. Church burnings, the beatings of pastors and the killing of an Australian missionary are just some of the atrocities brought against Christians in recent months by Hindu militants. Pastors say this conference came at a strategic time in their lives, giving them renewed vigor to lead people to Christ at any cost. Greg Yoder, Mission Network News, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India.”