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Story number 1 for 9 Dec 1999

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We begin today in Indonesia where conflict in that country is forcing mission groups to modify their work there. New Tribes Mission’s Guy Sire say they have around 65 missionaries working in Indonesia, but their workers from Maluku (mah-LOO-ku) won’t return. “Most of our folks are now in the process of filtering back to Indonesia, but are relocating on the island of Sulawesi because of the difficulties in Maluku. We really don’t see where we’ll be able to put missionaries back into the tribal areas in Maluku for some time.” Sire says they’re also facing another problem. “Our work permit that allows us to conduct ministry is up at the end of this month. The government has gone through a lot of upheaval, and if we do not have that renewed by then we will need to cease ministry. Visas will not be renewed and our folks may have to leave the country.”

Story number 2 for 9 Dec 1999

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Elsewhere, as Russian forces concentrate their fire on Grozny, the military says it is allowing civilians to leave the city unimpeded. That passage of relative safety extends until December 11th, when the Russian government has threatened to unleash a military bombardment. Shelter Now’s Jeff Hollenbeck says although they are watching the situation: “It’s still very much a war zone, there’s not a lot that we’re able to do. It’s different than the Kosovo situation in that there are refugees flooding out into an are that’s relatively safe where we can start taking care of them…but the bombs are still falling over there and it’s still very much up in the air about what the damage is. I think we can just pray that the situation doesn’t get any worse.” Hollenbeck says because of the war, this is a good time to spread the hope of the Gospel. “When there is unrest like this, people are open to different kinds of ideas-those things that they found in the past to be so steady, are now gone…and, some of the things that they were praying to before-all of the sudden, they’re seeing that that hasn’t worked too much, so they’re open to the Gospel and they’re open to the hope that Jesus Christ can bring.”

Story number 3 for 9 Dec 1999

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An evangelical relief and development agency is encouraging Christians not to forget about Central America this holiday season. International Aid continues to help the victims of Hurricane Mitch, which struck over a year ago. While I-A sent millions of dollars in relief to that country, agency officials say relief aid is still needed as over 50-thousand people remain homeless. Christian workers there say the storm has opened many doors to share the Gospel. Donations are needed so that work can continue.

Story number 4 for 9 Dec 1999

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Next, the holiday season is usually the time many churches in the United States gear up for helping the needy in their communities. New Focus National’s Jenny Forner says while that is helpful, there are many churches who believe it may be a different approach that will bring the best long-term results and change lives. “What I really want to challenge churches to is how are they going to minister to the families that they gave gifts to at Christmastime every single week throughout the next year. It’s important for churches to look at how they can build relationships with these people.” Forner adds that the key is the simplicity of the Gospel that allows the New Focus programs to work in the community. “There’s a lot of mentoring programs out there, but what’s unique about New Focus is we provide education, the mentoring, also the life skills that you need, and then it’s a matter of loving them like Christ would love them.”

Story number 1 for 8 Dec 1999

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We begin today’s newscast in the Democratic Republic of Congo where renewed violence is jeopardizing a signed peace deal there. The new fighting is also causing mission groups to question their future. Sam Vinton is with Grace Ministries International. “It puts us constantly as a mission organization to decide what the situation is — when do we restart activities? Though I must say that the national church has returned from the forest. So, this is a wonderful thing to see the church going ahead and doing these things even though no missionaries are there.” According to Vinton some of their schools and one of their medical clinics are open, but supplying these works isn’t an easy decision. “There is equipment that we need, but are we going to put equipment back into our stations when tomorrow there could be bombing of the city or locations where we are working, or would this get the rebels or other factions to come in an loot as they’ve done before.”

Story number 2 for 8 Dec 1999

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We turn next to Central Africa, where a deadly epidemic is decimating families there. Action International Ministries’ Doug Nichols says that in Zambia, 16-percent of the population are orphans, and in neighboring Mulawi, 12-percent are orphans. “The reason that there are so many orphans is because of AIDS. The whole population is being effected because of this tremendous situation with AIDS, and missionaries are needed to share the Gospel, to move alongside these people and love them, and care for them and to do something with these kids.” Nichols says their ministry takes care of the physical and opens the door to spiritual care. “It’s not cheap evangelism-it’s a powerful demonstration of the true meaning of the Gospel…in doing whatever it takes to enable them to understand the truth of the Gospel which is the power of salvation.”

Story number 3 for 8 Dec 1999

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Wildfires in South America have virtually wiped out the main food source for one people group. The fires caused widespread damage to villages and destroyed 70-percent of the crops for the Guarayo people in Bolivia. The International Mission Board is working with the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund to provide seeds and New Testaments to those families. IMB is hoping to build new relationships and eventually plant churches.

Story number 4 for 8 Dec 1999

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Next, an evangelical ministry has worked themselves out of work in the Ukraine. Walk Thru the Bible’s Terry Sparks just returned from the country. Sparks says they’ve turned their World Teach program over to national workers. “The whole strategy is based on nationals. So, the world teachers are nationals, the equipers are nationals, the national directors, regional directors – everybody are nationals. We’re working ourselves out of a job and in five years we will perhaps have many more than 1,000 trained Bible teachers, maybe as many as 10,000.” According to Sparks, they plan to expand the work in other provinces, called oblasts. “Of the 25 oblasts, we’re currently in 14. And, our plan is to add another six next year. And, expand World Teach to Russia, Latvia, Armenia, Belarus, and possibly one in Moldova.”

Story number 1 for 7 Dec 1999

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We begin today in Russia where the military has issued an ultimatum telling all Chechens to leave Grozny within five days or face an artillery bombardment. The Russian government guarantees safety to those who evacuate by December 11th. Open Doors’ Mike Yoder says since the border was sealed, they’ve heard nothing from the Christians who were trapped in Chechnya. “With five days, and no possibility of outsiders being allowed in this area, [we] have no way to help those few Christians that are left behind inside Grozny, inside Chechnya-one of the best things we can do is pray for them, that God will sustain them, and that they can join this exodus of terrified refugees and get over the border to safety.” Yoder says the church’s testimony is borne out in years of oppression: “An increasing time of persecution, or pressure, even the intensity of an operation that causes the church to be totally scattered, often is something that God will use to basically spread the Kingdom. God has not given up on Chechnya, and it’s not impossible that somehow they can return and it could be an unprecedented opportunity for the church.”

Story number 2 for 7 Dec 1999

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Next, HCJB World Radio reports that Christians have received government permission to start a Christian FM station near Grozny, the capital of war-torn Chechnya. HCJB officials recently signed a partnership agreement with North Ossetia (oh-SEE-sha) Mission to put the station on the air. Daily broadcasts are expected to begin soon. Since 1990, the mission has worked in more than 70 countries to put Christian broadcasts on the air, often in areas formerly closed to missionary efforts.