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Missionaries Urged to Keep Serving in Dangerous Places

Even though Christians continue to be targets of violence in hard-to-reach areas of the world, they need to go, no matter what the cost. That was the message at the Southern Baptist Convention in June. This year has been a deadly one for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. Missionaries Larry and Jean Elliott, Karen Watson and David McDonnall were killed in Iraq. McDonnall's wife, Carrie, was critically injured. She told the convention why they went to Iraq. "Make no mistake, David and I went to Iraq out of God's call on our lives, to see His name glorified among the nations," she said. "That includes the hard and violent places." Many Christians say it's unwise to enter places like Iraq to share the gospel. McDonnall disagrees. "My Jesus wears scars on His body from the violence He endured. How can we sit back and say, ‘I can't because it's too hard'? For my Jesus, it's the least that I could do."

Mission Network News

Agency Airlifts Supplies To Sudanese Refugees

World Vision teams recently airlifted 45 tons of relief supplies to Chad, for distribution to Sudanese refugees. The shipment consisted of plastic sheeting, water containers, water purification equipment, kitchen sets, and other supplies. Despite a cease-fire agreement in April between rebels and government forces, fighting continued in the western province of Darfur, forcing more than 180,000 people to flee to neighboring Chad. By providing physical help, relief workers interact with those in need, leading to numerous witnessing opportunities. In addition to the refugees in Chad, Reuters reported that another 1.8 million people from Darfur have fled to other parts of Sudan. Rebels launched a revolt in Darfur last year, accusing the government of neglect and of arming Arab units, known as Janjaweed militias, that loot and burn ethnic African villages. The Khartoum government denies the charges. Some UN officials accuse the government of turning a blind eye to a scorched-earth campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur and failing to fulfill pledges to disarm the militias and ensure that aid workers have access to those in need.

Mission Network News/MSNBC/Reuters

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Ukraine Continues to Experience Explosive Church Growth

In 1991 Gregory and Galina Sukhyna planted the Church of Praise in Krivoy Rog, a colorless city of more than 1 million in southeastern Ukraine. Dominated by heavy industry, the city is infamous for violent crime and drug addiction, and has one of the worst reputations in the nation. Still, by June, 2002, the Christian community there had grown to 33 churches, and the main church hosted a three-year Bible school with 75 students as well as a rehabilitation center for 35 people and a program to feed the poor. In the past two years the community has grown to 400 churches. Many of the new churches are in outlying villages, but some have been planted in Armenia, Central Asia, and Moldavia.

Gregory has a rule that churches are only planted in areas where none already exists. The key to church planting is social ministry and the working of the Holy Spirit, he says, adding that many people have been freed from violence, drugs, and alcohol. Others have been healed from serious diseases. Most of the church planters are graduates of the prison Bible schools and rehabilitation centers. The most successful church planter is Galina, a grandmother who has planted 100 new churches with her team in the past two years.

Friday Fax via MissionNet

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Soldiers' Threats Fail to Stop Orphan Outreach In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's policy of nationalizing farmland is making ministry and other work difficult. Christian World Outreach works in the region, supporting AIDS orphans by providing scholarships so they can go to school. However, Christian World's Dean Yoder says soldiers from Zimbabwe are making it difficult for national workers. "Our missionaries there had planned a weekend retreat for 65 of these AIDS orphans," he explains. "A gentleman who owned a large farm there offered his land to our missionaries to use over the weekend. He also offered them all the vegetables growing there to help feed the children. Our missionaries arrived at the farm to discover the military had surrounded the farm and would not let the missionaries take the children in." After negotiations, the soldiers allowed the children in, but not without a catch. "They took all of the vegetables and fed them to the pigs and other livestock," Yoder said. "So we had to buy them food. And every time our missionary would come back to the farm, they would harass him." Despite the difficulties, "many of the children accepted Jesus during the weekend," Yoder added.

Mission Network News

States in India Begin Dismantling Anti-Conversion Laws

Hindu lawyers are trying to convince the Tamil Nadu government not to repeal standing anti-conversion laws, says Mission India's John DeVries. Other Indian states began doing just that-along with trashing a national version-after elections led to the country's first non-Hindu government.

"The minorities in India-the Muslims, the Christians, the tribals, the Dalits-are all very excited because it looks like the pressure is off," DeVries says. "So it's no shock to see believers already in place for outreach. I don't personally expect persecution to end overnight because India is composed of states that are somewhat autonomous, and the [Hindu nationalist] Bharatiya Janata Party is still in control in some of these states. However, there will now be recourse for those who are persecuted."

Mission Network News

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"Church Not Baptizing Enough Teenagers"

Churches aren't baptizing enough teenagers, says Jay Strack president and founder of Student Leadership University in Orlando, Fla. He urged pastors to make a concerted effort to reach more youth. This is especially important because 57% of the world's population is under 19 years of age.

"Play time is over," Strack said in a speech at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention June 15. "We have got to reach this next generation for the glory of God."

Citing the biblical example of the nation of Israel transitioning from the leadership of Moses to that of Joshua, Strack said successfully navigating a time of change involves staying focused on the King and being courageous. A failure to meet the changing needs of today's youth will result in Christians becoming irrelevant, he said.

Baptist Press

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OMS Plants 180 Churches in Africa

Believers sponsored by OMS International are traveling into 10 nations of Africa to share the gospel and plant churches. Bruce Bennett, OMS International's South Africa director, says the program, called "Into Africa," is a village church-planting movement. "In Sub-Saharan Africa there are a number of churches in the cities," says Bennett. "But once you move out of the cities and into the villages there are very few churches. And where there are churches the pastors are generally untrained." OMS is establishing training centers in these communities. "We have found that people who have been trained in cities often don't want to go back to village communities," Bennett explained. "So we're taking theological education into the villages and training church planters right where they live." Sickness is a problem for the outreach, with malaria and AIDS rampant in the region. War in some areas is also causing problems for their outreach, but church-planting work is being established, Bennett said. "Since February, 2003, the village church-planting program initiated 180 churches in six nations."

Mission Network News

Need, Opportunity Open Doors in Central America

Worldwide Christian Schools' Steve Guerink says a combination of need and opportunity opens doors for outreach in Central America and the Caribbean. These are areas where families are looking for education to break out of generations of poverty. As a result, the ministry is looking for teams to help build schools in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. "The schools that we're working with are in poor, developing communities, and without our assistance and help, there's no real good way that they can receive the gospel of Christ through Christian education." While some teams have already left, spots are open for fall and winter mission trips. "The most important element is not whether you are skilled in a trade, such as construction. The most important part about going on a missions trip is, ‘Do you have a servant's heart?' and ‘Are you willing to go and be used of God?'"

Mission Network News

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