Next, Christians throughout the world are asked to pray and remember those who are still denied religious freedom and are persecuted for the faith. Baptist World Alliance has joined with others in protesting the arrest of Baptist pastors, refusal of authorities to register churches and the physical destruction of church building. BWA says authorities in Turkmenistan use tactics that claim the pastors were jailed for legitimate criminal activity.
Topping today’s news, Venezuelan troops began the dig-out process in a coastal area devastated by one of Latin America’s worst mudslides. Food for the Hungry’s Matt Panos (PAN-ohs) says the mudslides and raging rivers swept away shantytowns and left the area in a sea of rock-hard debris. Panos tells us what they’re doing to help. “God has opened an opportunity for us to serve the poor through our connections with those in the United States who are willing to give us services, goods and funds and we act as God’s hands and feet to bring those things to the people of Venezuela who need it. Food for the Hungry has sent a container, about $285,000 dollars’ worth of food, clothes and supplies.” Panos adds: “We, as Christians, need to be praying that they will find shelter and warmth, and we also need to be praying that God’s will strengthen the relief efforts from all over the globe for this area of northern Venezuela.”
Meanwhile, International Aid is encouraging believers to be global Christians in this aid effort to Venezuela. I-A’s Jerry Dykstra says sending relief supplies to the victims presents Christians a unique opportunity. “This is the 11th major disaster this year. So, there are so many needs out there and we just have to show compassion to the people who have been hit by the disaster. We just appreciate so much the people that have responded to our call for help. That’s really being global Christians and I really feel that’s what God wants us to be.” According to Dykstra they’re sending their first container of supplies today. “Initially our response will be sending blankets, medicine, food and hygiene kits and those hygiene kits will be such items as tooth paste, tooth brushes, towels, and those will be shipped there as soon as today quite possibly.” Dykstra says it’s all being done in an effort to lead people to Christ.
Evangelicals hope that providing physical necessities will open doors to share the Gospel with Chechen Muslims this Christmas. Baptist World Aid, the aid organization of Baptist World Alliance, is partnering with members of the Central Baptist Church in Tbilisi, Georgia. They’re helping refugees forced from their homes because of the war with Russia. Funds have been provided to ship food and clothes. Additionally, a container of new winter clothing is being sent in conjunction with Matthew 25 Ministries in the United States.
Elsewhere, you might call his journey a full circle–Jaars Incorporated’s Nard Pugyao (POOHG-yow) first read a translation of the Scriptures in the Isnag language of his home village nearly four decades ago. He later returned to the Philippines to bring his tribe the New Testament and now, Jaars’ latest project. “We just got back a week and a half ago from the Philippines, to do the premier showing of the Luke video that was dubbed in my heart language of Isnag. And the exciting part is, it’s a ripple effect of what God has been doing among my people in the Philippines.” Pugyao says the video’s message speaks for itself. He shared this breakthrough moment: “One of my grade school friends said to me after watching this video, ‘Why would God allow such cruelty against His Son on my behalf? Why would He love me that much? But, this video shows me that He really does love me and this video is just encouraging me and it draws me closer to Jesus Christ.’ And I said, ‘Yes! That’s what this video is all about!’ ”
Next, while children around the world get ready to celebrate Christmas with their family, many children won’t have that opportunity. Bethany Christian Services’ Sharon LaNoue (la-new) says there a many older special needs children that will spend it alone. “In the United States there are over 110,000 children just waiting for families to be identified for them. And, these tend to be older children. Because the children have been through the abuse and neglect system many of them come with some emotional difficulties.” LaNoue says they’re looking specifically for Christian families to help. “Those are the families that by far do the best with adoption. And, they see it not only taking in a child to take care of their physical needs, but really to expose them to Christ and to show on a day-to-day basis what it is like to live as a Christian.”
Topping the news today, Communists have claimed a majority in Russia’s Duma in elections over the weekend. However, it’s not all good news for the communists. Russian Ministries Peter Deyneka explains. “A good showing by two pro-government parties, handed a victory to Prime Minister Putin in what the Kremlin called a peaceful Revolution. Though the Communists are likely to remain the largest single parliamentary faction, for the first time the Communist party will be outnumbered by the representatives of a centrist and pro-reform or pro-Yeltsin parties.” According to Deyneka, this is good news for their work as they evangelize, plant churches, and train Christians. “It would appear from what has happened here in this election that the communists will be losing some of their power. And so, it would seem that mission work, evangelistic outreach will have more opportunity into the future.”
We begin today in Venezuela where the death toll from mudslides and flash floods could be as high as 30,000. Officials believe the staggering numbers of the victims could make the disaster one of Latin America’s worst natural disasters of the 20th century. Trans World Radio’s Jim Munger describes the scene: “Estimates are that about 90-percent of the population was affected, houses destroyed, apartment buildings that had mud and water up to the third floor, and so forth-just massive destruction. There’s state of panic, of despair-and so Trans World Radio is trying to help to bring people back together to direct them to where they can find help.” Munger says it is in this crisis, that an avenue for ministry is clear. ” There are very few voices that are giving the Christian perspective on this and so,Trans World Radio is trying to provide a perspective that helps people understand ‘What’s God doing in all of this?’ Certainly, the most important thing is our prayers. In this kind of a situation, there are some people that are saying ‘Why?'”
Next, Koreans world-wide will be able to see and hear the true story of Christmas via the Internet. Manmin World Mission of South Korea is planning to webcast a special Christmas Eve Service this week. M-W-M’s Johnny Kim says the service in Seoul will feature drama, music and God’s spoken word. “I believe it is the time of the digital revolution and a lot of people are getting accustomed to the internet system. So, a lot of people are using email and computer systems. So, through this kind of system we can reach a lot of people in the world especially Koreans and a lot of ethnic groups.” Kim is asking people to spread the word. “Pray for public relations. No matter what kind of great programming we may have unless people in the world know about what’s the use of the good programming? ” Not only can people hear it at www-dot-ManminTV.org, but the service will also be opened to local people.
Next, we continue our coverage of the devastation left behind by flooding and mudslides in Venezuela. The disaster has reportedly wiped out whole towns and left thousands dead. Latin America Mission’s Ken MacHarg tells us how the churches are responding: “LAM Missionary Charles Fuller has been taking food and water to towns where thousands are homeless, while churches are relocating people whose homes have been washed away. “Churches are cooperating now to help the people who are refugees in different stadiums here in the city, trying to provide childcare for children who are having to live day after day in these places. They are also doing counseling.” The Latin America Mission says it will immediately channel funds for Venezuelan relief to missionaries on the field. Long term care will involve counseling, relocation and evangelism. For Mission Network News, I’m Ken MacHarg.”