Praise and Prayer

Praise: Ex-Con-Turned-Minister Reaches Out to Former Offenders-Mark Olds was a criminal for years, but today the Ohio minister uses his testimony to share God's love and redemption with ex-offenders. He seeks to help others turn from lives of crime through his Cleveland-based Righteous Men Ministries. Olds has reached out to hundreds of men and women, helping them find jobs and clothes and organizing support groups for their families. He also has the distinction of being the first person to be ordained a minister while incarcerated. Olds even led a congregation of inmates behind bars. His decision for Christ at the age of 30 marked the end of more than a decade of drug dealing, gambling, bank robbing, and even murder. Olds continues to reach out to inmates through his "Seven Phases of Change" seminars which help inmates develop the discipline to avoid returning to lives of crime after they are released. He hopes to see the men's ministry, which he launched in 2002, spread across the country.

Charisma News Service via MissionNet

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Praise: 56 Boys Freed from Slavery in Sudanese Cattle Camps-Christian Solidarity International worked with the Arab-Dinka Peace Committee in Sudan to free 56 boys from slavery at the end of April. The boys were working in the cattle camps of Arab nomads near Warawar in the borderlands between northern and southern Sudan. The boys had been abducted during government-sponsored jihad slave raids against blacks and non-Muslim communities in northern Bahr El Ghazal. Interviews with the freed boys revealed a pattern of physical and psychological abuse. They reported cases of beatings, stabbings, rape, racial insults, death threats, and forcible conversion to Islam.

Christian Solidarity International via MissionNet

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Praise/Pray: In-Your-Face Evangelism Impacts New York-New York City preacher Rick Del Rio has redefined what it means to be Pentecostal, with his tattoos and earring. The pastor of Abounding Grace Ministries (AGM) doesn't apologize for any of them because he and his congregation are busy trying to minister to punks, anarchists, Satanists, vampires, bikers, gays, drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, seniors, and families from low-income public housing. "We deal with people nobody wants, so we kind of look like them," Del Rio, 51, said.

Every year the multiracial ministry and its in-your-face evangelism touches thousands of lives. "Our church is a clinic where the sick and broken can come," says Del Rio. Marilyn Martnez, who attends the church now, adds: "This is like a little house of miracles. I'm not doing drugs anymore. It's wonderful to serve Jesus." Programs include a Christian coffeehouse, youth outreaches, evangelistic events, block parties, after-school learning programs, creative arts and a 90-acre camp in the Catskill Mountains. Because of Del Rio's connections in the streets, the police call him regularly to help defuse potentially explosive situations.

Religion Today/Charisma News Service via MissionNet

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Pray: Cuban Court Sentences Blind Christian-Juan Carlos Gonzlez Leiva, a blind Christian human rights lawyer in Cuba, was handed a four-year sentence April 26, for peacefully demonstrating two years ago against police treatment of a journalist. Leiva has been in jail for the past two years. He was tried in his hometown of Ciego de Avila, and no international observers were allowed at the trial, only relatives of the defendants. He was convicted of "disrespect against the head of state" along with other charges of "public disorder, disobedience, and resisting authority." Tina Lambert, Christian Solidarity Worldwide's advocacy director, said: "Once again the Cuban authorities have mistreated and sentenced a man simply for standing up for human rights...."

Christian Solidarity Worldwide via MissionNet

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